“If America ever passes out as a great nation, qe ought to put on our tombstone: ‘America died from the delusion she had moral leadership.’ Say, if we had any morals, we’d use ‘em ourselves.” ~Will Rogers
I learned more about the First Amendment of our Constitution in my high school senior literature class than I ever did in any college journalism class.
Not to knock some of my fine professors at the University of Arkansas, but back in the previous century, we sort of thought that the freedom of speech, expression and so on was….just there. What I learned in senior lit class from Mr. Irv Dunlap is that there was this journalist/movie star/cowboy from Oklahoma named Will Rogers.
He was, in the 1920s and ’30s until his death in 1935, a multi-media star. He wrote a newspaper column which was widely distributed across the country. He was a star on the radio as well as showing up in movies.
But often Rogers picked on the president and congress – and the entire political system.
Mr. Dunlap had all of us scholars read Rogers’ newspaper columns and writings – as well as to teach us the value of humor and satire – mixed with a bit of reporting.
He also taught us that we had the same rights as Will Rogers to skewer our government.
“Calvin Coolidge is the first President to discover taht what the American people want is to be left alone.” ~Will Rogers
A part of Rogers’ brilliance was his ability to pick on both sides of any question – and both Republicans and Democrats.
“I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.”
“About all I can say for the United States Senate is that it opens with a prayer and closes with an investigation.”
“The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.”
“Alexander Hamilton started the U.S. Treasury with nothing, and that was the closest our country has ever been to being even.”
A big part of Rogers’ brilliance was his ability to make his point in a “golly-by-gosh” manner, known as “homespun humor” back in the day. Rogers was folksy, but he was also well-read and he stayed in close touch with the common man. But he was also willing to give pick on the common man as well:
“The problem in America isn’t so much what people don’t know; the problem is what people think they know that just ain’t so.”
The amazing thing about Oklahoma’s favorite son is that his writings are petinent today. When you read them, consider the governement we have today – more than 80 years later, even when you consider our current problems, challenges and national discussions:
“Liberty doesn’t work as well in practice as it does in speeches.”
“I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.”
Of course, one of Rogers’ best: “A fool and his money are soon elected.”
READING AND TEST SCORES
Last week’s Journal trumpeted the significant achievement of our high school students, noting that they scored a full point higher than the average Missouri student on the ACT test scores.
In another story, Primary School students and their parents were invited to the school’s Book Swap, held a dozen more times this school year.
“Wait, there’s a correlation between the two,” you ask?
With some very basic stats provided to me by Primary reading teacher Jessica Bach, we can give a great example why reading is important:
• If student “A” reads for 20 minutes per day at home, that would total 3,600 minutes per school year and they would read 1,800,000 words per year.
• If student “B” reads for 5 minutes per day, that would be 900 minutes per school year and 282,000 words per year.
• If student “C” comes home and reads 1 minute per day, that would be 180 minutes per school year and 8,000 words per year.
Student A, with all that reading, scores in the 90th percentile on standardized tests.
Student B, with moderate reading, scores in the 50th percentile on standardized tests.
Student C, with little reading, scores in the 10th percentile on standardized tests.
Reading is fundamental to getting a solid education at Southern Boone Schools and elsewhere.