Staff Sergeant Edward Carter Jr.

Posthumous recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor

At the end of the American Civil War, 21 African American soldiers had been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.  American soldiers with dark skin earned Medals of Honor in every subsequent war until, strangely, World War II.

As a child, Edward Carter Jr, an African American, lived in Shanghai, China with his missionary parents.  At 15, he joined the Chinese Army and rose to the rank of lieutenant before it was discovered that he was a child.  Discharged, he enrolled in a Shanghai military school where he received extensive military training and learned four languages, including Mandarin Chinese, Hindi and German.

During the Spanish Civil War, Carter joined the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, a volunteer unit fighting General Franco’s fascist regime and his NAZI allies.  After that he insisted in the U.S. Army, just months before the Japanese attack on Perl Harbor.  Some time in 1942, a counterintelligence service put him on a watch lists because of his service in Spain.  The Lincoln Brigade’s administration had socialist leanings – and he spoke Chinese.  In 1944, he was shipped to Europe but delegated to supply duties, in-spite of his military experience.  Later that year, General Eisenhower, running short of combat soldiers, instituted the volunteer Ground Force Replacement Command.  Early in 1945, 4,562 darker skinned soldiers, were serving in previously all white units, including Staff Sargent Edward Carter.  He came to the attention of General George Patton who selected him to serve as one of the general’s guards.

Later Carter relinquished his rank so that he could enter combat duty as part of the general’s “Mystery Division” and he was recommended for the Medal of Honor by his superiors.  Instead the Army gave him the second highest honor, The Distinguished Service Cross.  After recovering from wounds and being re-promoted to Staff Sargent, Carter finished the war training troops.  By that time, Staff Sargent Edward Carter had received the Distinguished Service Cross, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, American Defense Service Medal, Combat Infantry Badge and numerous other citations and honors.

When he tried to re-enlist, the Army barred his enlistment without explanation.  Carter died of Lung Cancer in 1963, a result of shrapnel that was still in his neck.

In 1997, Sergeant Carters body was exhumed and taken to Washington where he was moved in a horse drawn caisson and full military honors to a finally resting place in Arlington National Cemetery and President Clinton posthumously award the Congressional Medal of Honor to Carter’s son, Edward Allen Carter III.

Source: Military Museum – https://goo.gl/dQmefP

If no NCLB, then what?

So What!I have decided to elevate my response to Benjamin Meyers’ recent comment to a blog post.  He mostly agreed with my sentiments over the demise of No Child Left Behind, with his personal experience of test-prepping high school students for the ACT.  It was his first teaching job and it was what he was hired to do.

I certainly found incredible resistance and boredom from the students. It seemed like the harder I tried to teach the test to my students, the more they hated the subject of science. Indeed, high stakes’ testing has a nasty way of creating negative feelings toward school in students.

Indeed, it seems that the more we seem to care about our children knowing the answers, the less they seem to care about the questions.

But then, Meyers put forth a relevant challenge,

NCLB was created for a reason. Our schools seem to be lagging behind in performance compared to the rest of the world. This in spite of the amount of money that we spend on education and the number of hours that our students spend in the school building. If we are not going to improve education through legislation such as NCLB, then what is the best policy adjustment that our country can make that will actually make a difference?

But were our schools lagging behind?  The scientific research that we never saw was the proof that a generation who could pass tests could, as a result, prosper in a world and time of rapid change.

Were the the countries that were out performing us on tests, also out performing us in the real world?

Of the 32 countries who topped us in the Science PISA test, in 2012, only 7 ranked above the U.S. in the “World Happiness Report,” compiled regularly by an international team of economists, neuroscientists and statisticians.  They were Finland, Canada, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and Denmark.1

I’m not saying that our schools were good enough in 1999.  They weren’t, and they left many, many children behind.  But to improve education in the U.S., we need to rethink what it is to be educated.  Being an educated person is no long based on what you know, as much as it is what you can resourcefully learn and what you can inventively do with what you can learn.  The job of the science teacher is to help students learn to think like scientists and to care about science – and even want to become scientists.  The same for other disciplines.

Once we understand what we need to be doing for our children, as a society, then we need to pay for the very best ways of accomplishing it.  Personally, I don’t think we’re paying enough to our teachers and for the infrastructure required to prepare our children for their future.  I also do not believe that our children need to spend as much time in classrooms as they do.  Learning is not as place-based as it use to be.

Four hours in school a day and redefine homework.

1 Brodwin, E. (2015, April 23). The happiest countries in the world, according to neuroscientists, statisticians and economists. Business Insider. Retrieved December 18, 2015, from http://www.businessinsider.com/new-world-happiness-report-2015-2015-4