The Herald Bulletin

November 14, 2013

Primus Mootry: Observations on various topics

The Herald Bulletin

---- — Obama-snare — the roll-out of President Obama’s signature legislation, The Affordable Care Act (better known as Obamacare), has been riddled with website and other problems. Late-night talk show hosts, the media, and right-wing Republicans are having a field day. Dismayed Democrats and liberal supporters of the law are begging the public to be patient.

Lost in the shuffle is the Act’s purpose — making health care affordable to 50 million uninsured Americans. Beyond that, because of the scope and complexity of the law, like Medicare in its beginning, enrollment snares and a degree of skepticism, often partisan, were totally predictable.

I believe it will get worse before it gets better. Could the initial rollout have been better managed? No doubt about it. I just hope the website and other problems are not fatal to the intent of the legislation. It will work if given a chance to work (which is something partisan opponents fear). As they say, let’s not throw the baby out with the bath.

Incognito — the Dolphins’ offensive lineman should have stayed that way — incognito. Since public knowledge of his bullying and use of the dreaded N-word, he’s the talk of the town. Self-righteous coaches and pundits collectively have denounced his offensive language. Every bad thing he ever publicly said or did for the past 10 years is under a magnifying glass.

Richie Incognito is a bad boy. In the game of pro football, you’d better be. The problem is that nowadays it’s hard to voicemail, email, tweet, text or talk into a microphone without your words coming back at you. That’s the game today, and Incognito, who has been suspended, will have to pay whatever additional cost the NFL requires of him.

As a side note, those who are so anxious to condemn Incognito for his foul-mouthed bullying are curiously silent or ambivalent about the suggestion that the Washington Redskins change their name. Did they forget? There was a time, not too long ago, when “redskin” was as offensive to Native Americans as the N-word is to most blacks. Name calling by any other name is no one’s rose.

Grading our schools — what kind of crackpot idea is that anyway? I’ve studiously avoided trying to learn too much about it. I’m against grading children up to about the third grade, let alone a school full of them.

Let’s say, for example, you have three young children. Every year you give each one a grade. The slow one gets an “F.” The not-so-slow one gets a “C.” The quick one gets an “A.” Do that, and you will soon start treating each child with the expectation you labeled them with — slow, not-so-slow and the quick-study one.

Of course, that is preposterous. We love our children all the same. We recognize that each delights in certain things, learns a different way and takes life at a different pace. That “slow one” who spends most of his or her time looking out the window may, in fact, be the artistic genius in the bunch.

Similarly, when it comes to grading schools, it seems to me the bureaucrat graders would have to factor in the full range of things that collectively determine what grade a school receives. To the point, the most important factor determining student outcomes is the level of education and income of the parents.

The bureaucrats don’t get it. In poor or low-income communities, the whole family must be brought into the educational process, not as teachers, but as supporters of teaching and learning processes. Otherwise, at the rate we’re going, we will continue to have “F” schools, and the thing sociologists call a “permanent underclass” will remain just that — permanent.

Climate change — they say anyone who doesn’t like the weather should spend a week in Indiana. A few days ago, I was out on the golf course hitting little white balls hither and yon, and enjoying the sunshine. Today I’m looking for my long johns.

Veterans Day — this is a belated “shout out” to veterans. Without regard to what battles you fought, when or where they happened, or whether or not you even saw a battle, I thank you.

In my view, the only thing greater than your service ought to be the nation’s moral and financial obligation to you and to your family after your period of service has ended.

Have a nice day!

Anderson resident Primus Mootry is a retired school teacher. His column generally appears Wednesdays in The Herald Bulletin.