Class Notes May 2017

I awoke yesterday morning (May 10) to the furor over the firing of James Comey by Donald Trump and, as I am sure with many of you, my mind flashbacked to October 20th 1973 and the infamous Saturday Night Massacre where then President Nixon fired Archibald Cox leading to the resignations of Elliot Richardson and William Ruckelshaus. Since this is my flashback, as Rocky Rococo might say, I have no intention to indulge in current political commentary but only to stir your ever fading memories of what it was like to be in college at that particular moment in history. The night before, I had attended a production at the Yale Rep during which actors playing the Connecticut National Guard marched in and “seized” the theater. It was very much like “what can’t happen here” was, in fact, happening here. I still get chills thinking about it. By October 1973, the Watergate Investigation had been going on for about 18 months, and, although the Vietnam War was winding down, all of our futures seemed scary at best. Was there life after college when, as Stu Rohrer so aptly put it, “the world had split apart”? It seems there was or else I would not be writing this column 43 years after we left Yale.

Since our last reunion, which in addition to honoring the women of 1974, focused on the theme of then and now, I have spent a good deal of time reflecting on the beliefs I held then, the beliefs I hold now and how the intervening years have affected both. This became a topic of conversation at a recent class lunch where I found myself sitting with Marion Suter, Fred Peters, Sharon Worthing, Stu Rohrer and Al-Noor Jiwan-Hirji. We were discussing the last reunion, so I popped the question, “what shall we do for the next one?” And that’s when Marion posed the question that seem not only to encompass the question I had been asking myself but a much broader one about then and now:

What promises did you make to yourself while at Yale, how have you kept them, how have you not and what promises are left to fulfill?

There followed a very intense discussion of the sort often held in the 70’s that was about as stimulating as any I’ve had in many years (Promise to self: have more!). After lunch I ran back to the office and began making notes for 2019. What you all may not know is that Yale has a pretty strict template for a reunion where the powers that be give you time slots and then “suggest” how you fill them. Your reunion committee rebelled somewhat against this in 2014 (probably because I was the new guy and didn’t know any better) so I am determined to get out in front of this for 2019 and have a proposed agenda when the official planning process starts in about six months. I don’t intend to use this column as a forum for reunion planning, however. Rather, we will use Stu’s Yale74.org website and his facility with email to get your reaction to ideas. We may also use Facebook, so if you haven’t joined the class page, here’s how you do it:
* Join Facebook (it doesn’t hurt)
* Friend me
* I friend you back and then invite you to our class page
Three steps is all it takes. And from the above paragraph, I think you may glean where the theme is going. The goal is willing participation from everyone who chooses to attend.

And now, for the news:

David Mielke writes:

“I guess we’re old enough to use the word ‘still’ when we describe to others what we’re up to, so i can report that i’m STILL teaching psychology and sociology at Culver City High School, recently recognized as the 4th most diverse high school in the country.

As President of the Culver City Federation of Teachers/AFT and a Vice-President of our state organization, California Federation of Teachers, I’m proud to report that our local union is featured prominently in a new book by Ken Futernick, The Courage to Collaborate:  The Case for Labor-Management Partnerships in Education.  The bottom line:  when labor and management work together as partners in our schools, student achievement increases.

On a personal note, I was the guest on the January 18th episode of the Dr. Peter Breggin Hour.  Peter Breggin has led a movement to reform psychiatry, questioning the safety and efficacy of ECT and drugs to treat mental health issues and has been a strong, persistent and persuasive voice for understanding and loving people in distress instead of shocking and drugging them.

Peter invited me to discuss some of the challenges involved in teaching a high school class in psychology with a curriculum informed by this point of view.  Peter’s site (breggin.com) has archived years of these episodes with some of the best-known members of this reform movement as guests.  How I made it onto a list of guests which includes Irving Kirsch and Robert Whitaker is a mystery to me!”

Jim Brennan may no longer hold elective office but he is no less active. Jim writes, “My new post, ‘Education Aid and Tax Cuts’ explains how recent tax cuts are slowing the growth of school aid in NY. You can find more from Jim at jimbrennanscommentaries.wordpress.com or twitter@JimBrennanNY.

And from Sandy Wood “just enjoying retirement with much of my time split between caretaking of two fabulous grandchildren and a feisty 89 year old mother and travel. No place exotic this year but hopes for the future.” Sandy, think Kilimanjaro! Jessica and I are seriously considering as the next “must do” at least while our legs still function.

Speaking of grandchildren, Jessica’s and my eighth was born yesterday to my son, Sam and his wife Casey, a beautiful baby girl who has everything going for her except a first name. Hopefully, by the time this goes to press, they will have come up with one! In the meantime, my three daughters are also pregnant with one due in July (her third) and the other two due in late September (a third and a first, respectively). That will bring us to eleven all of whom are under seven. I’m gonna need a bigger house.

Best to all of you.


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