Friday, June 22, 2012

Parents of Color Need Information about Charter Schools

Parents of students at the Martin Luther King Saturday School in Moses Lake, WA. It is an education and culture enrichment program, founded by Maryamu and Leon Givens (former First Place teacher and counselor) demonstrate the ability of African American parents and community to be involved in their children's academic and cultural enrichment

Getting information to parents and communities of color for Initiative 1240 which when passed will enable the creation of 40 public charter schools in Washington state. Public charter schools are created as public schools open to all children and focuses on  teaching practices that equalizes academic success for children who have lingered at the bottom rungs of academic outcomes. 

What will it take to bring the supporters of charter schools together with African, Asian and Latino Americans? How will they learn all of the elements of a public charter education for their children? It will require intent and purpose on the part of those who believe we should want them. I have been speaking to this for many years and know that voters would vote for public charter schools as a choice, if those who craft the initiatives and legislation include them in the discussions. This can not be done through talking to a few people in any community, black,  brown, white or poor.  There are many questions about public charters that need and deserve to be answered. Our communities need to know the elements of what makes a public school a charter school. They need to know why it is a choice that needs to exist for parents, teachers and students. 

If parents and communities are engaged with getting this initiative from the people I1240 on the ballot and passed, they will be ready to engage in getting a public charter school in their community.  I know of several teachers who are ready to teach, parents ready to enroll their children, children ready have a different education experience, and communities ready to support public charters. Every neighborhood, will not have a public charter school only 40 over the course of 5 years will be created. 

Getting parents and communities engaged during the campaign to pass this initiative will strengthen the movement and bring along with us, the parents of the children who public charter schools were really created to serve. There is something right about changing the status quo of public education, and it is time for this right thing to move forward. It is not the answer to the our entire public education system but it is a choice. When other choices are created that bring equity and excellence to all children and elevate African American children I will likewise work to make it a reality.

Robin Lake and Betheny Gross at the Center for Recreating Public Education at the University of Washington,   edit a report on Charter Schools,  Hopes, Fears, and Reality they support my concerns and those who live, learn and teach in communities with high enrollment of poor, brown, and black students. in Chapter 7, Paul Teske authors Creating Savvy choosers: Informing Families on School Choice. Even with all of the best intentions the lack of informed parents and community detracts;

"...however, none of these advantages can play out if parents do not exercise choice or if they make their decisions based on limited or poor information. Unfortunately, low-income and language-minority families tend to fall behind affluent families in their knowledge of and access to school choices. Low-income families especially face more of a burden when choice systems do not provide free transportation to schools."

Chapter 7, continues with the concern of lack of access to information; 

"Even when low-income parents are aware of choice, some of the parents may lack the political efficacy to exercise their options. these parents may be concerned that they will not be able to effectively navigate the bureaucratic system, or they may be concerned that the system is rigged against them. these concerns are magnified for families with questionable immigration status."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Day focused on Education

Yesterday, Tuesday June 19 was a great day. Education of African American children as well as brown and poor children reigned.

Reporting Back to Community.  All who know me or read my blog and other writings know that I believe that those who use public funds, or represent a community on any issue, owe it to us to prepare and deliver in some way a report to community. Two Rainier Beach Students and their teacher Ms. Wong were our presenters at Rotary this week. We meet every Tuesday morning at 7:30 - 8:30 and hear from a variety of people who are doing something important to Rainier Valley.  The students thanked us for our support and reported on their trip to the Elwa River in the Olympic Peninsula. Two hydroelectric dams are being removed.  I found it quite refreshing that students not only come to us for funding but understand the need to report back on their learning. 

Another Seattle Public Teacher joined us as a visitor and the topic of Public Charter Schools Initiative 1240 came up in our discussion. The issue of public charters has been a topic several times. It looks as if Initiative 1240 as written just might get on the ballot November 6, and pass this time. It is important that African American parents and community understand all elements of what a public charter school is and how it can enhance or diminish the education of their children.  My personal position is that if black, brown and parents and their communities are not informed and included beyond the token few in the conversations there is a danger that if and when they come into being, others continue to maintain control of our children's education. Those who have information should share it widely and deeply.  

Later in the evening Rep. Eric Pettigrew responded to an invitation to meet with a parent who has been traumatized by the lack of services and responses for services needed for her son who is diagnosed with Down Syndrome, extreme Autism, Behavioral disabilities and is non verbal. Any clear thinking person would think that this child and mother is being supported by our state and other funded systems and services. Our systems are complex and too often do not get to those who need them most. This mother is Ethiopian American and her son African American as he was born right here in Swedish Hospital.  She has done everything any would expect her to do. Her story is sad but more usual than any who is not engaged with our parents would think.  She is not unintelligent, she owns her own successful business and her other child entered University of Oregon at age 16.
In advocating for families of the most difficult students, I have learned many things. One thing I know is that privilege is what makes the difference. Privilege comes in many forms sometimes it is money, sometimes it is education, and sometimes is relationships.  Just wanting a good education for your child is not a guarantee that the child will be educated. She had the resources to get her daughter into private schools, but it take great wealth to care for an extremely disabled child outside of our public education, health and social service systems.

I visited Community Center for Education Results but this requires its own Dawn Seattle the Retired One Blog entry. I have to think about the conversation I had and who I had it with.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Jay Inslee for Governor Join the Campaign

As summer approaches we will be hearing more and more about a few very important elections. In January we will have a new Governor. There are many reasons for us to make sure that Jay wins this election.

At the top of the agenda for his opponent is reversing the work that President Obama and Congress has done to assure that health care is available to all Americans. Our families and children need access to health care no matter what their social or economic status might be.  The insurance companies have never been the friend of families, children and workers. And Jay will make sure that we as a State move Forward with President Obama,

We can not sit back and let this important election pass us by.  I have known Jay for many years, and have access to him on issues important to my former constituents and now the many communities I have come to know and respect.  The opposing forces in Washington State and across America would like to see us back at a time when there were great divisions based on race, income, and religion. We have all worked too hard to get to where we are today.  Without us working together across differences, protecting civil and equal rights and yes even having many die for the cause we would be a nation of shame.

Please join me in supporting Jay Inslee for Governor and yes, volunteering and contributing to assure a win for all the people of Washington.

His opponent is using a math program conceived by Norman Alston, and African American parents to give the impression that he has done something for the education of children who need an education system that elevates them to a higher potential.  He has done nothing to support this program.  Just being seen at opportune times is not what we need in a Governor.  We need someone who engage with all communities.

Also, President Obama needs to know that we are with him all the way back to the White House. He has stepped up and to the plate on many issues important to people and communities important to me and thus those I consider friends and allies in the struggle to keep America moving forward for true equal and civil rights.

Has he reversed all of the setbacks that we encountered during the Bush years, of course not. The damage done to working families and children during those years will take more than 4 years to reverse. But he has turned the ship.  We know that stimulus money given to banks has been used and misused to strategically to keep the wealthiest wealthy while small businesses have suffered from lack of loans that would strengthen communities across America. They have illegally foreclosed on homes and failed to invest in communities. This gives the impression that President Obama is not doing a good job of moving our economy forward.

He needs governors and a Congress that will stay the course with him and the only way that will happen is if we make donations, volunteer and of course vote and have all who you know get their ballots filled out and turned in on election day.

Thanks for reading this and join me in assuring that all children and all families are given an equal chance to rise to a full potential. That means we need a Governor, President and Congress who cares more for families than they do for corporate greed.

The Seattle Campaign office for the Obama and Inslee campaigns is located at 901 Rainier Avenue South (at Charles St) just south of Dearborn.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Elders And Rotarians Can Eliminate Illiteracy

Grateful for the Gift of Longevity, Good Health and Energy
Today's Elders who are retired have what elders in times past did not have. We are healthier, we are going to live longer and we are more educated. For all of these I am grateful, and sharing these gifts is important to my well being.  focused on sharing my life. This year I have been graced with five children who have brought me great joy.  Three have major developmental disabilities and two are healthy young boys.

Seeing or schools system through their experiences and seeing parenting children with various gifts and challenges through the eyes of three single moms has expanded my compassion. Each child and each mother has demonstrated extreme differences. Likewise, they have shown the commonalities of getting children educated in systems that are not easy to navigate.

It Takes More Than A Village
"It takes a Village to Raise a Child." A nice saying but it takes wise Elders to raise a village. We read about the need for parents to "Tiger Moms" or "Warrior Parents" to get the kind of education that will bring children to their full potential.  I decided that having a "Loving Elder" from within the community could not hurt. So I have spent time being that Elder for three single mothers with challenges beyond any I faced as a parent. I am their advocate, cheerleader, and strategic partner. It works and I think that we have developed a model to replicate.

Why should an older retired person help with getting children educated? Because they are Elders and need to leave a legacy.  Also, children need to know they live in a community of adults who care if they learn.  Also the kids give hugs and so do their parents.

I have sat through several parent conferences with parents who want the best for their children but lack negotiating skills and too often effective follow through.  They get distracted by competing needs such as food, shelter, multiple children, careers that are not secure and being young and inexperienced.

If I Knew Then What I Know Now
More than two decades ago I co-founded Parents for Student Success with the thought,  "If I knew then what I know now...."  This applies to many things that occur  for young families. They often think that what they encounter is new and that they are alone in their experiences. Often they are conversing with those who like them are negotiating, without much success the difficult waters we know as public school or even private school education.

Through Parents for Student Success a non profit, that is different than many. We are not a place of employment for anyone, and never have been. We exist only to support parents of school age children who are struggling. This is not a job, as a job it would be much too difficult. We do not apply for large grants because it does not take much money to do effectively what we do. And those in the business of making grants, do not understand our logic. It is more common sense and determination than anything else. Parents of successful children should have a way to pass onto parents who are struggling information that works. Principals do this for other principals, teachers do this for teachers, why then not put model parents with struggling parents?  That is what we do and it works.

We are finding Principals who can see the value in this thinking and partnering with them. We know where to find healthy Elders, they are at the Senior Centers, Teachers know what parents are not pulling their weight in the Teacher/Parent partnership needed to bring a child to excellence.

Becoming an Independent and Habitual Reader Takes Practice
Being an independent reader takes practice, daily practice. And just like in contact sports, the future professional must be taught the right way to hold a bat, shoot a ball or hold a tennis racket. And they need to practice until they know that they will hit the mark more often than miss it.
Brian and Aaliyah  

This is Brian and his mom. He is completing first grade with a good teacher.  He was behind academically when his family re-located to Seattle.  He had to catch up and keep up with his first grade classmates. He had the furthest to go but but that is the best kind of champion one who comes from behind. With his mother agreeing that she wanted her son to catch up and become a reader, we created the strategy a game plan.  I am competitive by nature of my being raised by an athlete father and being a contender in political campaigns. I told her  If we can raise black boys to compete on athletic fields and courts, we just apply the same intent, focus and strategies to make them academic contenders and champions. We put them with the best trainers (teachers) we give them time to practice, we give them opportunity to perform and we applaud them.  Assure that they are in communities that see their academic success as a contact sport of sorts. This is not rocket science we know how to support failure and we know how to support success.

We do not have until 12th Grade to Get this Right
There are many studies and assertions that if a child is not reading by 4th grade their chances of being in the criminal justice system spirals upward. Well if reading is the determinate, we do not have forever to get it right. In Seattle there are approximately 250 African American children well below grade level for reading at the Third Grade. That is not an insurmountable number to bring to grade level. The schools know exactly who they and their parents are. When a child can not read and they have been attending school for four years, we have to approach the parent with a different conversation than what they have been hearing.

Turn the Box Upside Down 
I approach problems and issues with What If, or Have You Considered?  Most people are stuck on solving problems the ways they always have even if the outcomes are unfavorable.  Millions of our public tax monies are paying for things that do not work for the children we need most for them to work for. Because those who administer funds are stuck. I was a Systems Analyst for a large City of Seattle Department. I once was called into a meeting because the the billing stock was not packed correctly and could not be fed into the printer. I was not part of the original conversations which ended with we have to send these hundreds of boxes back to the printer. We will be late sending bills, etc. I told them to turn the box upside down and feed from the bottom. End of problem, they all had salaries much higher than my own.  We need to turn the box upside down and approach this problem differently. When I learned the number of students that causes so much concern, I thought they need to do something different for these children.

What If?
What if each Elder in whatever village they see themselves a part of decided they would help a young African American boy or poor girl become a champion reader, brag about their little reader, be present for them, encouraging, help mom or dad see the value of the practice for making their child a strong reader. Maybe that mom would turn off the television because she knows that we are pulling for her and her son or daughter. Maybe dad will read with their kid before shooting a hoop, or playing a video game because their Elder will be asking what they read.  What if the Elder taught the parents  how to listen to their child read, how to ask the questions about the book, write down the words that are challenging so they can be learned and practiced?

While walking at Seward Park, I saw a father with his two young children. I asked them what school they attended and what book they were reading. The little boy told me his book was "Are You My Mother." This book was a favorite for my own children many years ago, I know this book. He was quite pleased that it was likewise my favorite. I told his parent of our interest in having every child a reader. I believe this family will remember this village elder who took two minutes to communicate so positively.  This boy will know that reading is important to not only his parents and teacher.

What if we believed that our Elders could become a school based Peace Corps. There is something special about older people with a purpose with intent.  I believe that any child placed with me can become one of the top readers in their class, poor, black, brown whatever the excuse is not excuse enough for Parents for Student Success.

If Rotary Can Eradicate Polio in Poor Countries.....
We so appreciate that Rainier Valley Rotary is willing to partner with us on this vision of literacy for every child in SE Seattle. Why is this a big thing? Rotary International stamped out polio in the entire world. Well, if they can do that, they can stamp out illiteracy in SE Seattle.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Seattle Mayor McGinn Makes Smart Hire

This week Mayor Mike McGinn brought Chief Harry Bailey out of retirement to help with the mess that Seattle is in with communities and the Department of Justice.  The seriousness of this assignment requires a Police Professional that almost walks on water. I know that Mayor McGinn could have searched the entire nation and not come up with a better person to guide him out of the mess that Seattle Police is in.

I know Harry Bailey well and along with his wife and colleague Emmett Kelsie have watched his entry into Police work and his rise to Police leadership since 1968. City Council Member Bruce Harrell is reported as being curious whether someone the rank-and-file officers think they can trust. "Seeing this as critical to the changes needed..."  

I was once told by a Precinct Commander that then Lieutenant Bailey was a "Cop's Cop." I found this interesting because at the same time, many who had minimum trust for Seattle Police in general likewise knew Lieutenant Bailey as the one they trusted. He has been a Vice President of the Seattle Police Guild and began and ended his career with the Seattle Police force. He never got lazy, he stayed physically fit and I once asked him had he ever discharged his firearm at that time the answer was "No, but I will if I have to."  He explained that as an Officer his gun is not in the forefront of his work even as it is significant to his work. I think I got it.

So from my personal, public and political view here is who Mayor McGinn hired and why I think he was smart in making this decision.  First of all former Chief Bailey is not building a resume, so he gets to do what he thinks is good for the people of Seattle and for the integrity of good police work. He is not running for office, and he does not need the money. He and one of Seattle's most outspoken critics Rev. Harriet Walden who is the founder and primary voice for Mothers for Police Accountability has his personal number on her automatic dial. He gave it to her many years ago because he is not afraid to hear what does not work for community.  What Mc Ginn sees as his greatest accomplishment is what created the most contention between he and Rev. Walden, Weed and Seed. Everyone did not see it as a solution for stemming violence and crime in communities of color.  So Harry listened and tried to make it work.

I met Harry in 1968 when he was new in his job as a Police Officer Trainee, and I new in my position as Seattle's Minority Employment Specialist our jobs were aligned in bringing minorities into key jobs with the City of Seattle. From day one Seattle had a man who loved police work not because it gave him power over others but because he believed in the true nature of keeping a community safe by being part of that community. Over the years of his career he gained more than friendships, he gained respect. That is what it takes to work in the public, respect.

Harry and I had the same philosophy about the best way to know a community; live in it and where it is lacking help to make it better. He has been involved in every community in Seattle. Recently I had the opportunity to be with him on a project that took us to the far reaches of Seattle and he was well known in North Seattle as he was in Rainier Valley.  Assumptions are made about humanity when people protect themselves from all elements of humanity.  There are many stories I could tell about how Harry approached community, how he loved being a "cop" even as a Chief he loved best being on the street with his officers and with the community they were hired to keep safe.

In the 1980's when many professionals were fleeing SE Seattle, Harry and his wife and me and my husband decided to stay in SE Seattle and raise our family. We knew that if all of the strong African American families left, who would help. Many have learned what good policing can be through many of the decisions that Harry made along the way to this appointment. We know that being born poor, brown  black is not an indication that you will be come a criminal.  He knows the ways of a criminal, he knows the ways of good policing, the voice of a committed community organizer, and the tears and fears of a parent whose child is on a road to crime. I have seen him up close and personal in all of these realms.

Rev. Harriett Walden, who single handedly organized Mothers Against Police Brutality for good reason had not trust of Seattle Police.  She experienced what so many have, Seattle Police Officers stopped her sons, beat them mercilessly and then released them with no charge of any criminal activity. Everyone knew the Salisbury boys did not participate in criminal behavior, did not then and as now grown men are well respected contributors to the human good. When then Sargent Bailey moved to the East Precinct he and Harriett worked on forming a mutually respectful relationship. Harriett changed the name of her organization to Mothers for Police Accountability and with a vision for a better police force well before it became popular, she helped Seattle bring into being the Office for Police Accountability. She had Harry ended up on each other's automatic dial because of their willingness to work as allies.

Harry was once Vice President of the Seattle Police Guild, from this position he helped them see why they would want to endorse an African American woman and Democrat for a seat in the Washington State Legislature, and they did. That is because he believed then and his coming out of retirement shows he continues to believe that police work is best when community partnerships are formed at every level with those who agree and disagree.  He is a master in the power of people coming together over a conversation.  Not just those who cozy up but those who will challenge the status quo.

During the time I was a State Representative I had many chances to call upon Harry to help with constituency issues. A mother called me, she was hysterical. There was a warrant for her son's arrest and she believed that he would resist arrest and that would give cause for the police to kill him.  I called Harry and he told me he would make the arrest.  He was quite sure he could make the arrest without having to kill anyone, even though he was a wanted felon, he had made many such arrests.  The mother is best to tell the story of how she felt as comfortable turning her son over to Harry Bailey as she would have putting him into the hands of a preacher. She says he showed up in a suit, presented himself respectfully and arrested him without incidence. Her son was a felon and he did go to prison. This is good police work and it is possible more often than what we have seen from Seattle Police.

Mayor McGinn has a problem with not only Seattle Police Department he has a problem with city divided by race in every way. Our neighborhoods, our jobs, our schools.  Seattle is the 5th whitest city in the USA and the majority of whites in Seattle really like this distinction.  There is major hiring discrimination in our industries and contracting with our governments, this creates economic disparities. Seattle Public Schools  for decades has failed to educate for equity and excellence its diverse student population. An entire "failure industry" dominated by whites with failed solutions is well entrenched.  For too many years the majority population did not care one bit about police shootings and little regard for who they were shooting. This occurs when crime is personalized by race and culture. The culture of African Americans, Latinos and other non whites is not crime. If a bank is going to be robbed in Seattle, chances are it will be a white male robbing it. Who in their right mind would think that all white men are bank robbers or bank robbing is the culture of an entire race?

Chief Bailey might have taken on his toughest job, but it is a job he will rise to and do well. If he can not or is not allowed not to do his job, he will give it back to Mayor McGinn. He is ethical that way.  There is something refreshing about having him back doing what he seemed to born to do, and I believe that if anyone can make a difference Chief Bailey can do it.  I think he might be able to do more for Seattle from City Hall than from within the Police Department as Police Chief. I do not think that Police Officers should become Mayors but I do believe that Mayors need to understand a lot about policing a city.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Students Need an Informed, Intentional and Involved Parent

I spend considerable time on issues associated with parent involvement in education through Parents for Student Success, a non profit I co-founded and Direct in Washington State. The missing link for most students who do not do well in school is an informed, intentional and involved parent. 

Every parent I have met cares about their child's education but lacks the knowledge, a plan and vision needed to manage that education through to a successful young adult.  Parents for Student Success, exists to help parents and schools rethink parent involvement. 

An effectively involved parent understands how to navigate public education systems, they intend for their children to do well in school and in life and they leverage their time, resources and relationships to support this intent.  Their child is clear that their education is a priority for the family.  Our methods are very student based, meaning how does my involvement have a direct and positive impact on my child's education. Many parent involvement programs stop at how parents are attached to the child's school. We call this building based involvement. It has its place and does has an indirect impact. 

If a parent has limited, resources or extended family support, they must leverage their time and energy. For parents of children on education life support, their time must be directed to their child, conversations need to be with their teachers and there must be a plan. 

Getting a child from Pre-School through college or post high school graduation is the most difficult project we will ever undertake.  I have completed that project and have grown children whose success has allowed me to retire early, restructure my life and redirect my resources. 

How we are at home with our children can make the difference between an average education and a great education. Being poor or brown or black or if your parent is designated for special education adds to the challenges of getting the best education. The reasons for the heightened challenge are many but are not reasons that a child can not excel academically and socially. We speak often of intent, a child usually ends up where the parent intends for them to be a failing student or at top of their class. 

Here is an excerpt from research compiled at the Parent Institute,  on the impacts of parents being involved.
 Direct parent instruction of their own children at home positively affects school achievement.
 But parents need specific information on how to help and what to do. 
  1. A study of promising parent involvement programs in the southwestern United States identified seven essential elements of strong parent involvement programs: 
  • A formal, written policy 
  • Administrative support (funding, materials, meeting space, equipment, staff) 
  • Training for staff, parents and community members 
  • A partnership approach (joint planning, goal setting, definition of roles) 
  • Two-way communication (frequent and regular) 
  • Networking (to share information, resources and technical expertise) 
  • Evaluation (to allow districts to make program revisions on a regular basis).53A study of successful federal, state, school district and school building parent involvement initiatives identified the following key themes: 
  • Parents and schools share common goals 
  • Parent involvement programs must continue beyond early childhood 
  • Programs must include all families 
Parent involvement programs make teacher’s jobs easier 
Program development is not quick 
Grants encourage participation 
Family/school coordinators are crucial 
Programs need rooms for parents 
Programs must reach out to parents without requiring parents to come to school 
Technology (radio, TV, audio- and videotapes, computers) can help improve parent involvement 
Programs need to be evaluated.54 
When parents’ time for school involvement is limited, carrying out learning activities with children at home is one of the most efficient ways for parents to spend their time.  Traditionally, teachers tend to favor parents who come to school. 

What Made Me Smile This Week

Living in Seattle Washington as an African American means that much of what occurs in daily life is not about me. As African American, my experience is so often not included in many ways. An example, I was all up for a talk given by a woman I had great respect for, a white woman who I thought was well researched on women's issues. Not far into her talk, she spoke of the time when women did not work outside of the home.

Well, it is nice that she recognized that work inside the home is indeed work, there has never been a time in American history for African American women where as a distinct population we did not work outside the home. We were brought to the United States to work for white women and their husbands.

Though never getting used to be an oversight in the minds and mouths of others, as all humans do, I have adapted and accept that yes, people can be quite ignorant and still be in positions of influence.  It is known as privilege.

So I seek out things that allow me to relate to those who represent the full spectrum of experiences of those living in the African Diaspora.  Today seeing the video of the young people dancing at a mall in Silver Springs MD made me smile.  Take a look they are quite talented.

Harriett Hodge who taught me how to win at Word with Friends (be a bit more focused on excellence) also for the past 6 years has taught a young woman classical piano and has sent her off to Japan for a world competition. We expect that she will come home even a greater pianist because of this great experience. Harriett keeps crying. What made both of us smile is that I finally mastered the game and beat her handily.  A real teacher loves to see the student go a bit further.

Being with two Ethiopian American women who brought me with them to WA Dept. of Developmental Disabilities to advocate for the rights of one of the woman's son with multiple and complex disabilities. I was so proud of  this mother who expressed her determination with the help of a translator. She was not taking no for an answer and had done her homework. As a former public official and known in many circles, I am often asked to help with some issue. Most often, too often the requester wants what they are not willing to fight for. We left and had a great Ethiopian lunch complete with a glass of beer. This coming together across differences in language and origin of birth was diminished by the clear understanding that one woman in the room was of no help, and had no intent of being of help to this mother. I will write her up appropriately for her lack of support to this deserving mother.

Yesterday, Rainier Valley Rotary (Seattle)  celebrated 50 years of existence in the Rainier Valley community of Seattle.  This is a very white, very male organization but I enjoy the people who are members because they are committed to doing good.  It was a fun event and I knew many of the past presidents. Rotary and especially RV Rotary because  Rainier Valley is a community that has vast race and culture diversity.  It is not easy working with white's even those with great hearts. Privilege of being white in America allows them to want and often get their way in how things get done.  They do not know that others who have high regard for them, consider them friends, are much more tolerant of them they they are or have to be of others.  So, Howard Gutkneckt who has become a great friend is a rising abolitionist and keeps me at Rotary because, he buffers so much for me. This makes me smile. And Ruth Moen another abolitionist friend is fun to do anything with.

It is still early in the day. I am sure I will find many other things today to make me smile.