Author Archive: Marie Corfield

Let Your Light Shine Today!

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Depending on your viewpoint, those two phrases can either bring a smile or a scowl today. But the latter actually encompasses its universal celebration of light. And in light of the fact that our state—and much of the world—is suffering from a great lack of enlightenment right now, here's a little bit of history of this special day…

Having its roots in celebrations surrounding the Winter Solstice and the returning of light to the world as the days grew longer, ancient Babylonians celebrated the feast of the Son of Isis, Goddess of Nature, on December 25. Later, the Romans would honor Saturn, the God of Agriculture. Both celebrations included eating, drinking, singing (which later evolved into caroling), time spent with family and gift-giving. Sound familiar? In 350 Pope Julius l declared December 25 as the official date of Christ's birth as a way to bring Pagan Romans into the fold of Christianity.

The light of the Christmas Tree comes from German traditions. According to History.com:

Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes… It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles.

So, no matter what light you honor, whether its gazing at the stars, eagerly anticipating the return of sunlight to our dark days, or celebrating the birth of the “light of the world”, they all come together in one day of celebration. This day belongs to the world. It reminds us of the deep connections we have to each other as fellow human beings in a world that is so often so polarizing.

And what's so bad about that? 

So, to my fellow Blue Jerseyans—and yes, even those not so blue—Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! And Happy Hanukkah! I'm so happy that the light of my Jewish brothers and sisters shines brightly today, too!

Education Reform: For Profit, Not For Progress

Before the end of the year Governor Christie wants the legislature to pass the remainder of his property tax ‘tool kit’ including his education ‘reform’ agenda. And the fate of one of the nation’s best public education systems and thousands of its students hang in the balance.

Out of over twenty four hundred schools in this state, about two hundred are not doing a good enough job educating their students. These schools are mostly in the former Abbott districts, some of the poorest cities in this country, where the Black unemployment rate is almost double the state average, and one in five children live in poverty.

The governor and Acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf, along with their education advisors, Better Education for Kids (B4K) and Excellent Education for Everyone (E3), do not address this almost criminal disparity of wealth despite the fact that one of the DOE's earlier Abbott district reports cites poverty as a major roadblock to student achievement:

 

Ed Reform 101 Extra Credit: Marie Corfield

Early in Chris Christie’s tenure, a Hunterdon public school teacher stood up to him at one of his early “Town Hall” meetings carefully stacked with adoring Republicans. To their delight, he used the opportunity to dress her down for the benefit of his cameras (paid for with your tax dollars) in his first “YouTube Moment”. Corfield has since become a lightning rod for national coverage of the governor, and of education privatizers whose first step is denigrating public school teachers. And Corfield is also now a candidate for the NJ Assembly, in the 16th District. She wrote this postscript to our Ed Reform 101 series, at our request. – promoted by Rosi

My favorite hero of fiction is Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. Set in Alabama during the Great Depression, Atticus, an attorney and single father, defends Tom Robinson, a black man, wrongly accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a white woman, and in the process teaches his children invaluable lessons about tolerance, compassion and understanding.

During the trial, Atticus asks Mayella’s father, Bob Ewell, why he called for help from everyone except the one person who could really help his daughter-a doctor-because a doctor would have seen right away that Mayella was indeed beaten by her father, and not raped by Tom Robinson. But in the end, prejudice won, and Tom was convicted.