Lenten Carnivals?

March 23, 2007

Euclid, from the School of Athens (Holy See)

Mardi Gras marks the end of merriment for Christians who spend Lent thinking about atoning for past sins, in preparation for Easter. Mardi Gras ends with the arrival of Ash Wednesday. So, why are we talking carnivals?

Learning carnivals can be as onerous as Lent, right?

We hope not, actually. Yes, it’s Lent, but weblog carnivals continue, and those carnivals are to our advantage, entertainment and betterment.

The Education Wonks host the 111th Carnival of Education. One post in that carnival deserves special mention: Friends of Dave.org complains that education reform simply is not happening, but it’s not because we don’t know what to do. We know how to improve schools and educational outcomes, Dave argues, and first on his list is “high quality teachers and staff.”

It’s a marvelous summary of education reform studies over the past 40 years. And almost sidles into the real problems: We lack the will to pay the money to get the job done. You may disagree with my conclusion, but I challenge you to pick anything other than a nit in Dave’s post, and I challenge you to identify a better, quicker, and cheaper solution.

And, let me take this moment to plug the upcoming carnival of Texas history and all things Texas, Fiesta de Tejas! If you blog for history, or for Texas, please pass the plug along to your readers, and invite them to submit entries. We publish on April 2.

Image:  Euclid, from “The School of Athens”

Tuskegee Airmen medal ceremony set for March 29

March 23, 2007

Tuskegee Airmen in Europe, Library of Congress photo

Congress voted to award the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor to the Tuskegee Airmen as a group. The ceremony is set for Washington, D.C., in the Capitol Rotunda, for March 29, 2007.

This is another great story of Americans, otherwise held down in their daily life, who rise to meet a monstrous challenge. They not only met the challenge but achieved a degree of triumph beyond what anyone had hoped. The story is a natural segue to the post World War II civil rights movement, and it fits nicely into studies of the war or studies of civil rights. News items around the time of the ceremony should update the history of the Tuskegee Airmen and provide good photos for classroom presentations.

“It’s sort of an open validation of the Tuskegee Airmen, that we fought stereotypes, overcame them and prevailed,” said Roscoe Brown, an 85-year-old Riverdale, N.Y., resident who graduated from the Tuskegee program in 1944. “This is the ultimate when your nation recognizes you.”

The gold medal, equivalent to the Presidential Medal of Freedom, is awarded to individuals or groups for singular acts of exceptional service and for lifetime achievement. The Tuskegee fliers will join a distinguished group of recipients that includes George Washington, Winston Churchill, Rosa Parks, the Wright brothers and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., introduced identical bills in the House of Representatives and the Senate in 2005 to give the airmen the congressional medal. The Senate bill passed in October 2005 and the House followed in February 2006. President Bush signed the bill into law last April.

It is also a story of racism and bureaucratic bungling delaying appropriate recognition to heroes for 60 years.

Lee Archer, 87, of New Rochelle, is America’s first black flying ace.

“It shows the country is trying to right an old wrong,” Archer said. “I never thought we would get it, but we would have done it without any recognition … . My family is very excited. I am, too.”

Of the 994 black aviators who got their training at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama beginning in 1942, fewer than 385 are still alive. On March 4, Edgar L. Bolden, 85, who trained at Tuskegee and flew P-47s, died in Portland, Ore.

More information:

Tip of the old scrub brush to Resist Racism.

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