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Weekly Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Opinion

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Peggy McCracken

Squarely Pegged

By Peggy McCracken

Cemetery stroll
down memory lane

My great-granddaughters took me on a stroll down memory lane Sunday evening when we went to Mt. Evergreen Cemetery to visit their great-grandfatherís grave.

It was a pleasant evening, and the mosquitoes hadnít started stirring when we arrived about 8:30. I showed them Leonís headstone with his World War II service record, and a similar one nearby. Jasmine wondered if the two men, one serving in the Navy, the other in the Army, knew each other.

She read the Lordís Prayer engraved on the large stone on the west side of the cemetery, near Leonís grave, dedicating that prayer to him.

Then she became intrigued with names on other headstones, and we wandered farther and farther afield, Cieara running ahead of us and calling for us to follow. As we stopped at each headstone to read the inscriptions, Jasmine noted that many have the names of both husband and wife.

I showed her where the date of death is absent underneath some names, indicating that partner has not yet died. That interested her, and she began calling out the names, adding that one or the other is still alive.

What struck me is that I knew most of the names she called out. Walter and Nora Holcombe. Maxine Oglesby. Raul Florez. Melton Rasberry. Johnny Montoya. Arlene Hill. These and many others I knew personally, but nearly all were familiar because I had read about them in the newspaper or heard their names on the radio over the past 52 years.

As we walked and I reminisced, I realized that the cemetery probably had not been there much longer than I have been in Pecos. Or maybe not even as long. I am not sure whether it was established after Leon and I moved here in 1953, when I was 18 years old.

There are older graves in nearby cemeteries. I believe one is dubbed the Pioneer Cemetery, and another the Cowboy Cemetery. I looked in those a few years ago for Leonís great-grandmother, who was buried in Pecos in 1910.

One of the oldest cemeteries in Pecos is on the north side of the tracks, on the east edge of town. When I didnít find a grave with the McCracken name, I looked in that old cemetery, but found only one a few broken-down headstones. Most of the markers were wooden or red sandstone, and they deteriorated long ago, I am told

Since that cemetery closed around the time Margaret McCracken died, I am guessing she was one of the last to be buried there.

Evergreen Cemetery is nice. The headstones are all flat, so vandals canít knock them over, as they have in Fairview. Flowers and flags are placed in permanent vases that donít tip over in these furious West Texas winds.

I may return there to traverse the whole area and write what I can remember about some of the people who built Pecos from a railroad stop on the river to a bustling agricultural and oil producing center.

ďSearch me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.Ē Psalm 139:23, 24 NIV

EDITORíS NOTE: Peggy McCracken is Enterprise business manager. Contact her at peg2@pecos.net

Sage Views

By Smokey Briggs


Henry Ford and the
enhanced education debate

Not all ideas are good.

That sounds like common sense, and it is.

But determining whether an idea or concept is good is not always easy.

Usually my gut is a pretty good judge of an idea - whether or not I can state the particular whys and why-nots.

Sometimes, though, I want an argument that is a little more persuasive than ďmy gut.Ē

One test of an idea that I have come to respect is that of extending an idea to its logical conclusion.

Good ideas hold up under this test. Bad ones do not.

The reasons behind eliminating the enhanced education program is that it labels one group of kids as ďsmart,Ē which is ďbad,Ē and that the kids-formerly-labeled-as-kids will be pushed just as fast and far as they would have been in an enhanced classroom.

The idea is that the teacher will modify his or her teaching for each child and the kids that need to be pushed faster will be while the kids moving slower will not be left behind.

So instead of having a group of kids with similar abilities, motivation and maturity, the teacher will have an entire cross-section of kids to cater to.

Obviously good teachers do this to some degree. No two children are exactly alike.

On the other hand, common sense says that the less of this a teacher has to do in a classroom the more efficient the class room will be and the more effectively the teacher will be able to convey knowledge to the kiddos.

The logical basis of the lets-get-rid-of-the-enhanced-program crowd is that we donít need to divide kids up by ability - the teacher can simply modify the lessons for each kid.

That sounds great in theory.

It sounds stupid when you extend the idea to its logical conclusion. The logical end is that we do not need to divide kids up by ability - period.

If dividing kids by ability is bad, why do we have grade levels?

If dividing kids by ability is bad, why donít we just stir the pot each year and give each teacher 22 kids, ages 5 to 18 and call it good?

Each teacher could then modify her lesson plans according to the individual needs of each student and they would all be better off than if they had been ďgrouped and labeledĒ into arbitrary grades.

Right?

Of course that is exactly what frontier families did.

Why? Because they could not afford more teachers.

We can.

Henry Ford put America on wheels by making automobile assembly more efficient. He took the process from a one-room schoolhouse operation and added grades and all kinds of divisions of labor.

If he were in charge of our schools he would be dividing kids into grades, and then further dividing those grades by ability.

Why?

Because it is efficient and efficiency breeds success - not just for the kids-formerly-known-as-enhanced, but for all the kids.

If a teacher has a group of kids of similar abilities his or her time will be more efficiently spent and those kids will learn more than if the teacher has to deal with a wide range of talents and abilities.

The final goal here is for all these kids to get a good education. Lumping them into a classroom with no regard to ability will diminish each childís chance to get that good education.

It is illogical. It defies common sense. And it would make Mr. Ford cry.

Thursday is election day in the current school board race. David Flores has promised to revive the enhanced program if he is elected. Billie Sadler voted to kill the program.

I already cast my vote for Flores and the enhanced program.

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