Kierra Bell, You’re a Hero. Monica Conyers, You’re a Thug.

Kierra Bell, an 8th grader at Courtis Elementary/Middle School in Detroit, is one to watch.

In a panel with Detroit City Council President pro tem Monica Conyers, who has proven herself a loudmouthed goon in recent months, Ms. Bell dressed down Ms. Conyers in a remarkable, sensible fashion.

Take a look [RSS readers, click here]:

Note Conyers’ dismissive facial expressions and eye movements as Bell discusses Conyers verbal attack on a Council member whom Conyers called “Shrek.”

Then Bell explains that Council members should be able to set an example for the young and chides Conyers for having done something childish:

Bell: “… but you’re [Conyers] an adult, we have to look up to you.”

Conyers: [condescendingly] “Absolutely.”


Bell: “… calling another adult ‘Shrek?’ That’s something a second-grader would do.”

Conyers: “And so at school, you’ve never done that, you’ve never said anything that you shouldn’t have said inappropriately [sic]?”

Bell: “But we are kids –”

Conyers: [cutting off the student] “But that’s not my question though. Have you ever done that?”

Bell: “I said yes.”

Conyers: “Oh, ok. Alright. So, and you did it out of frustration also, right?”

Bell: “Yes.”

Conyers: “And so we’re all human, right?”

Bell: “We’re human, but you have to know your boundaries. He’s [the man called Shrek] the President –”

Conyers: [cutting off Bell] “Of what?”

Bell: “Of the City Council.”

Conyers: “And so you think that because someone is the President then they have a right not to allow other people to be heard?”

Bell: “They’re allowed to let other people be heard, but not in a disrespectful way.”

Conyers: “… to me he was being disrespectful.”

Bell: “He was, but you didn’t have to call him a name.”

Conyers: “But now you’re telling me what I should have and should not have done.”

Bell: “You’re an adult, you have that choice.”

Conyers: “I’m what?” [surprised]

Bell: “You’re an adult. You had that choice.”

Conyers: “And everybody has choices.”

Bell: “Well, sometimes people need to think before they act.”

Conyers: “Ok, well I’m not going to be combative with you, young lady.”

Too late, Ms. Conyers – you made your bed and an 8th grader put you in it.

Ms. Bell was incredibly measured and respectful throughout this exchange – thank God we have the video to prove that. Despite constant provocation and prodding by Conyers, Bell keeps her cool and sticks to the argument at hand.

Conyers should be ashamed of herself for this one. But, of course, she won’t be. I wonder if she’ll threaten to get a gun and shoot Kierra Bell like she’s allegedly done in the past?

Game, set, match to Kierra Bell.

And to Ms. Conyers, who ought to be removed from the Council post-haste:

ya got served, monica conyers!

Conyers, ya got served by an 8th grader who has likely forgotten more about being a responsible adult in public service than you’ll ever know.

Sometimes leaders lead by example; other times they give us wonderful lessons in how not to go about things. Thanks for that, Ms. Conyers. [hat tip:]


Charlie LeDuff’s exclusive interview with Monica Conyers is here:

Detroit News’ LeDuff is hilarious, Conyers is despicable. It’s a must-watch.

My favorite part might be when LeDuff asks Conyers to give a 15-second pitch to “come live in Detroit.” Part of her answer?

“Good schools.”

LeDuff has her read through a transcript of the “Shrek” incident. She’s incredibly proud of what she said and how she said it.

Good schools? Good grief.

Carnivals, Carnivals, Carnivals!


If you’re as busy as I’ve been for the last few days, you’ll look forward to winding down with a few education carnivals.

What It’s Like on the Inside is hosting the 169th Carnival of Education – and there are lots and lots of good entries here.

Personally, I don’t think that Carl Chew is much like John Adams, the American Revolutionaries or any other American hero, but someone does.

The Carnival of Homeschooling is over at – I particularly liked Jacque Dixon’s post on gardening/homeschooling.

BREAKING: Students Outside America Aren’t One-Dimensional

two million minutes

As we discuss the place of Americans in an increasingly open world – considering A Nation at Risk, how we think about teaching/education and how that fits with future our economic standing – we often hear about students in other countries who seem to be superhuman academics.

We make a serious mistake – and one that’s unkind and insulting – by portraying these kids from India, China, Korea, etc. as being one-dimensional.

But you wouldn’t know that by reading the New York Times, which continually portrays non-American students as being a kindler, gentler version of the 1970′s Soviet athlete, except that the Asian student trains 18 hours a day with calculus books and soybeans instead of freeweights and steroids.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

One of the most striking parts of the film Two Million Minutes is that it shows the remarkable similarity between high-achieving students in the United States, China and India. Socially and culturally, they really aren’t all that different, and that’s a revelation to most people.

If anything, I’d say that China, India and some others are a generation or two behind the US in a good way – that they’re more like the 1950′s/60′s hard-working American with a defined seriousness of purpose.

It’s unfair to our kids for educators and the media to present school as a zero-sum game where other portions of their lives will suffer greatly if they choose to put time into academics. ABC News has a video clip today that features Two Million Minutes’ Apoorva and Rohit, its two Indian students, visiting an American classroom to talk about their experiences. It contains this exchange:

Reporter, to an American student: “Would you want to go to school and work as hard as these young people from India did?

Student: [Pensively] “No.”

You can watch the whole 2-minute clip here.

One can only guess at the thought process of that student, but I imagine his rationale was one of sacrifice and budgeting. Had he understood that he could pursue academics without crippling the rest of his life, “No” might not have come so easily.

And, of course, the clip has the obligatory blind coddling from the American Association of School Administrators’ leading pismire:

Paul D. Houston, Exec. Director of AASA: You know, it’s like telling somebody every day, day in and day out, you’re awful, you’re a failure, you’re terrible – now go out and do better. You’re talking about motivation, that’s not a good motivator.

Houston’s got a problem: he thinks that smiles and goodwill equate to a few years of physics instruction. While there’s no reason to be cruel to our students, we can’t ignore reality, either. Dr. Houston, much of whose work rests on hugs and warm milk before bedtime to ensure academic success, would do well to read Mark Bauerlein’s piece on the state of history knowledge as he reflects on his career after his June 30th retirement.

As you think about the future of education in our country and elsewhere, watch the clip of Rohit, the resume of whom the New York Times would certainly label robotic and freakishly-overachieving, singing John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” I’d prefer “Thank God I’m A Country Boy,” but I’ll take what I can get.

He seems awfully relaxed, comfortable, and like he’s got a handle on more than just engineering.

Rick Monday Reclaims the American Flag, April 25, 1976

Ed Morrissey at highlighted today an event so touching and so important that it’s a shame so many have forgotten it – or never heard about it in the first place.

As HA puts it, “Thirty-two years later, it’s still a great play”:

In 1976, a sense of ennui had gripped the nation. In a year-long bicentennial celebration, many wondered if the economic stagnation that had lasted all decade meant that America’s best years were in the rear-view mirror. The commercialized bicentennial festivities felt forced and false. It seemed that pride in our country had dissipated into cynicism and retreat.

During a game at Dodger Stadium, two protesters ran on the field, knelt down and poured lighter fluid on the American flag with the intention of burning it. As Monday testified, the wind blew the first match out – and as they were about to touch the second match to the flag, Monday came from behind, snatched it and ran it to safety.

Here’s a video of Monday’s rescue and interviews with Monday, Dodger Steve Garvey and Dodger Tommy Lasorda, who was LA’s Third Base Coach at the time. Lasorda was also on a mission to get the flag, but Monday got there first. [RSS readers, click here to watch the video].

The scoreboard flashed “You made a great play Rick Monday,” and the crowd of 40,000 began an unprompted rendition of God Bless America.

Rick Monday was a solid player who played almost 2,000 games over a 19-year career in Major League Baseball. He’s remembered for his iconic defense of the flag, but he should be proud of the way he played in that 1976 season, too.

I took a baseball history class with the late William Gienapp. The scope of the course was from the game’s beginnings to Flood v. Kuhn [1972] and its consequences, but Professor Gienapp took time out to touch on Rick Monday’s flag-saving.

It was the first time many in the room had heard of it.

25 Years On, A Nation Still at Risk

ED in '08

From ED in ’08:

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the release of the landmark education report, A Nation at Risk, which warned that America’s weak education system was undermining American prosperity, security and society.

Their report A Stagnant Nation: Why American Students are Still at Risk is a must-read:

A Stagnant Nation: Why American Students are Still at Risk shows the lack of progress in the school reform movement since the 1983 release of the National Commission on Excellence in Education’s letter to the American people, A Nation at Risk.

ED in 08’s report card explains that key recommendations related to time, teaching and standards have yet to be realized.

I’m impressed – ED in ’08 is really starting to turn things around.

The prescriptions and clarion calls sounded in A Nation at Risk have gone largely unheeded. The report wasn’t perfect, but it identified successfully many of the ills that spent 25 more years further eroding public education.

There are several reasons why Risk didn’t take root immediately – labor interests, teacher education programs, perceptions of and measures of accountability, etc. And, some would argue, a generation has been lost as a result of this failure.

That can’t be helped at this point.

But now we can look to the past, present and future – we really do have a rare opportunity to do this sensibly – and get on with things. We can think about what teaching is and what it should be; we can look at the present economy and match humanistic education with business needs; we can utilize the data/information that our best policy minds wield, mix it up with what history has shown us and work up a plan.

Or, of course, we can do nothing and embrace even more strongly the delusion that we’re doing a wonderful job simply because we’re compassionate, caring and committed to education. That’s worked poorly for 25 years, though.

For some other worthwhile takes on the 25 years since A Nation at Risk debuted, peep the following:

Newsweek: Still at Risk

Fordham’s Chester Finn

George Will: Education Lessons We Left Behind

Ed Sector’s Kevin Carey on George Will’s Commentary

Going to the Mat: A Nation at Risk Turns 25

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