Stop Crooked Politics In Government
The Jaffe Movement
How? When? Where? What? Why?
To answer these questions ABOUT THE JAFFE MOVEMENT we have to go back to the beginning - 1964 - was the start of my teaching career at Ridgely Junior High School in Baltimore County.
The blackboard and the books
In Education 101 and textbooks such as The Art of Teaching Government, it was drummed into me that a good teacher must:
Motivate his/her students
Get Students Involved
Make the learning meaningful
So.... when I got my teaching assignment - teach Government to the 9th graders, I asked myself, what can I do to make this class really matter to the students.
I decided the best approach would be to discard the traditional or conventional method of conducting a mock session of Congress. Rather something more novel - that is, something more real and actual would be the answer. STUDENT ACTIVISM IN THE CLASSROOM was born.
The real world would constitute the backdrop for all of our learning and activities. Our mission would be to come up with an idea and then try to transform this idea into a bill which would eventually be passed into legislation and signed by the President.
Brainstorming - we did a lot of that in the classroom along with discussing, debating, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses, and merits of our ideas. We finally came up with an proposal that the majority of students liked. Our brainchild was to establish a week called, National Youth-Adult Communications Week whose purpose was to strengthen the connections and communications between parents and children. (This was the time of the Vietnam War when the disconnect between young and old was widening and also disturbing.
Using pen, paper, and the phone
Students put their pens to paper and wrote their idea in formal terms ready for presentation. To whom? Engaging in some research they learned Congressman Clarence Long was their representative in the House of Representatives, and he was the one they would have to present their brainchild and convince him it was worthy of his introducing into the House of Representatives.
The students called upon their parents to make phone calls to Congressman Long’s office expressing their support for this legislation. The 9th graders also extended an invitation to Congressman Long to visit their classroom, meet with them and discuss the virtues of their plan. Not only did Congressman come to the class, but he also agreed to introduce the bill into the House of Representatives.
Setting up an important meeting
I explained to the students that we now had to get the bill introduced into the United States Senate.
One of my students had a connection with Senator Russell Long from Louisiana, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. This connection helped us in our quest to obtain an appointment to meet with him At the time, he was one of the most powerful members in Congress in his capacity as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
For the meeting with Senator Long, I took 5 students, one from each of my classes. A reporter from the Baltimore sun attended the meeting as well.
Making significant strides
Despite a solid presentation of the proposal, Senator Long’s initial reaction was not very positive. At that point, I intervened. I asked the Senator to take a good look at one of the students in the group. I then made it known to the Senator that the boy’s father was currently serving in Vietnam and that his tank battalion was in favor of the bill. What a 360 degree change of heart did the Senator have. He personally picked up the phone, and made a call to Senator Tydings’ office informing a member of his staff that the 5 students wanted to meet with Senator Tydings. We were having a difficult time in arranging a meeting Senator Tydings. Senator Long’s personal telephone call worked magic, helping to turn things in our favor.
A key member of Senator Tydings’ office agreed to meet with us immediately. The Baltimore sun reporter made a comment to the effect that it was very unusual for a Senator to get on the phone himself and ask to speak with Senator Tydings. The spontaneous meeting with a key assistant of Senator Tydings proved to be most encouraging. We were told that Senator Tydings would agree to support the bill.
Strengthening our momentum
Upon my return to the classroom, I informed my classes what transpired at the meetings. What was our next step? We had to organize a national ethical grass roots campaign to get the bill passed by Congress. Students and parents, alike contacted friends and relatives, both in state and out of state, by means of phone and by letters, whereby they explained the project and urged them to contact their representatives and senators to support the bill. The students were pleased with the widespread support they were mustering.
Getting it done
9 months later - we got the word. the bill was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Richard Nixon.
My project was documented in the Reader’s Digest, January 1970 edition. This led to other developments. I was invited to go to New York to make a presentation at the National Council of Social StudiesTeachers Convention for the purpose of explaining my new teaching methodology, Student Activism in the Classroom. I received a request for a copy of my presentation from Violet Wagener who was connected with the Research in Education, part of the Clearinghouse for Education and Social Sciences.
I was invited by the editor for a social studies teachers publication published by Croft Educational Services of New London, Connecticut to submit a “stream of conscience” letter revolving my lessons for activists.
The story of National Youth Adult Communications Week legislation marked the first chapter in the book of STUDENT ACTIVISM IN THE CLASSROOM. Much more follows.
During my time at Parkville Senior High, students drafted a bill that would ban “throw away bottles” and were successful in enlisting the support of Senator Charles MacMathias to introduce it in the United States Senate.
The lessons in activism continued at Parkville when students were spurred to action and came up with a bill designed to give blind people a break, enabling them to be more independent. The bill would prohibit the exclusion of guide dogs from certain facilities engaged in interstate commerce such as transportation facilities, eating establishments, and public accommodations.
Also born in the Jaffe classroom at Parkville Senior High was an idea that eventually led to the formation of P.C.A., the People for Community Action. This non profit corporation which became a community center for teenage drug addicts received a government grant of $60,000 a year for at least 2 years. I was also invited to serve as the Chairman of the Education Committee, a team that was part of the PCA that was also affiliated with the Jaycees in the Towson-Lock Raven and Parkville community.
At St. Paul School for Boys, a bill was born in the classroom which was introduced in the Maryland State legislature. It pertained to the selection of candidates on the ballot. Specifically, at the time of casting one’s vote, if the voter did not like any of the candidates running, then the voter would have the option of selecting, “none of the above.”
Another illustration of the implementation of Student Activism in the Classroom took place at Baltimore Lutheran High School. Students learned how to apply for a grant for the purpose of subsidizing an orphanage. the orphanage was to be named after Lenny Moore, Brooks Robinson, and Johnny Unitas. Unfortunately, the school year ended before we were able to complete the project.
A product of Student Activism in the Classroom: The Jaffe Movement
Fast forward to 1992, the year when Activism in the Classroom became the impetus for
leading the Jaffe Movement. In effect, the Jaffe Movement is an extension of the activism methodology. Advocating and ethical lobbying are its tools to use in the mission of conducting a frontal attack on the corruption, moral bankruptcy and money that are so prevalent in our government. It’s time to say ENOUGH. And so, I entered the political scene by running for office in various elections. My entry though, has been in the role of a TEACHER, providing the citizens of Maryland with a means to advocate - to express their dissatisfaction with what is happening in our government today - because they are FED UP WITH CROOKED POLITICS.
They can join the JAFFE MOVEMENT and vote for the principles espoused in the JAFFE MOVEMENT. To reiterate, the political campaigns are a teaching tool which widen the political vision of my students, enabling them to see the moral bankruptcy in our political system. And, the students are also given an opportunity to directly participate in the MOVEMENT whose mission is to end the moral bankruptcy and help bring about real, true ethical reform.