Yup

October 30, 2018

“Insanity in individuals is somewhat rare. But in groups, parties, nations, and epochs it is the rule.”
—Friedrich Nietzsche

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Excited to be in conversation…

October 29, 2018

https://www.semcoop.com/event/fresh-ayers-noliwe-rooks-cutting-school-bill-ayers


Nothing Virtuous About Finding the Middle

October 28, 2018

Slavery or Abolition? You want to find the middle?

Genocide or peace? You want to find the middle?

 

http://time.com/5434381/tayari-jones-moral-middle-myth/?fbclid=IwAR0GjIZ_HUOGG29Fw9gwcSWKqZt99q2aQAv0Uh6jusCjuYbDWnb-3VcnEVo


Now add Robert Bowers, anti-Semitic assassin in Pittsburgh…

October 28, 2018
Mehdi Hasan

The Intercept
Here Is a List of Far-Right Attackers Trump Inspired. Cesar Sayoc Wasn’t the First — and Won’t Be the Last.

Supporters hold up their hats during a rally held by President Trump on March 15, 2017 in Nashville, Tenn., Andrea Morales/Getty Images

 

Update: October 27, 2018, 4:30 p.m. EDT
Minutes after this story was published, news reports confirmed that multiple people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh had been killed by a gunman. The gunman taken into custody has been linked to anti-Jewish and anti-immigrant posts on social media. At least 11 people were killed and six injured at the Tree of Life synagogue.

President Donald Trump is a threat to national security.

He preaches hate. He incites violence. He inspires attacks.

We knew this before Friday’s arrest of Cesar Sayoc, who has been charged with a number of crimes in connection with more than a dozen pipe bombs sent to the nation’s most prominent Democrats, among others. As my colleague Trevor Aaronson has written, Sayoc is “a fervent Trump supporter.” Check out his vanhis posts on social media; the testimony of his colleagues.

I have no doubt that Trump helped radicalize Sayoc. Yet Trump apologists are keen to distance their hero from this particular villain. So too, of course, is the president himself. “We have seen an effort by the media in recent hours to use the sinister actions of one individual to score political points against me,” Trump said at a campaign rally on Friday evening.

“One individual”? Who is he kidding? Sayoc may be the latest individual to have combined his love for Trump with a love for violence against Trump’s opponents, but he is far from the first to do so. In fact, there have been a number of violent threats, attacks and killings linked to Trump supporters in recent years — few of which have dominated the headlines in the same way as Sayoc’s alleged attempt to assassinate top Democrats, including two former U.S. presidents.

Since the summer of 2015, a bevy of Trump supporters, fans and sympathizers have beaten, shot, stabbed, run over and bombed their fellow Americans. They have taken innocent lives while aping the president’s violent rhetoric, echoing his racist conspiracy theories and, as in the case of Sayoc, targeting the exact same people and organizations that Trump loudly and repeatedly targets at his rallies and on Twitter: Muslims, refugees, immigrants, the Clintons, CNN, and left-wing protesters, among others.

We cannot allow Trump’s apologists on Fox News and in Congress to pretend that this was a one-off; that the charges against Sayoc aren’t part of a growing and disturbing trend of violent crimes against minorities and the media perpetrated by far-right, pro-Trump individuals and militias.

So here is a (partial) list of Trump supporters who are alleged to have carried out horrific attacks in recent years — some of them seemingly inspired by the president himself.

Scott Leader and Steve Leader, August 2015

On 19 August 2015, Scott Leader, 38, and his brother, Steve Leader, 30, attacked a homeless man in Boston who they wrongly believed to be an undocumented immigrant.

“Donald Trump was right,” they told police, after beating the man with a metal pipe and then urinating on him. “All these illegals need to be deported.”

Trump’s response? He eventually called it a “terrible”incident but only after an earlier statement to reporters in which the then-Republican candidate referred to his supporters as “very passionate. They love this country. They want this country to be great again. But they are very passionate. I will say that.”

Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright, and Patrick Eugene Stein, October 2016

On October 14, 2016, the FBI arrested three men — Patrick Eugene Stein, Curtis Allen, and Gavin Wright — for plotting a series of bomb attacks against the Somali-American community of Garden City, Kansas. Calling themselves “the Crusaders,” they had planned to launch what the Guardian said “could have been the deadliest domestic terror attack since the Oklahoma bombing in 1995,” the day after the November 2016 presidential election.

Two of these three men were open supporters of Trump, and obsessed with anti-Muslim, anti-refugee conspiracy theories. For Stein, according to a profile in New Yorkmagazine, Trump was “the Man.” Allen wrote on Facebook: “I personally back Donald Trump.” The trio even asked a federal judge to boost the number of pro-Trump jurors at their trial (at which they were found guiltyof conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction and and of conspiring against rights).

Trump’s response? The president, who once suggested that Americans had “suffered enough” from an influx of Somali refugees, has never been asked about these three militiamen and has never condemned their plot.

Alexandre Bissonnette, January 2017

On the evening of January 29, 2017, Alexandre Bissonnette opened fire on worshippers at the Islamic Cultural Center in Quebec City, Canada, killing six of them and wounding 19.

Bisonnette, 27, was obsessed with Trump — he searched for the president on Twitter, Facebook, Google and YouTube more than 800 times between January 1, 2017 and the day of the shooting. A former university classmate told the Toronto Globe and Mail that he “frequently argued” with Bissonette over the latter’s support for Trump.

In his police interrogation video, Bissonnette can be heard telling officers that he decided to attack the mosque after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted a message of welcome to refugees in the wake of  the U.S. president’s travel ban — which was issued two days before the mosque attack.

Trump’s response? The president may have expressed his condolences to the Canadian premier in private, but he has never publicly mentioned the shooting, the killer or the six dead Muslims.

Michael Hari, Michael McWhorter, and Joe Morris, August 2017

In March 2018, three alleged members of a far-right militia — Michael Hari, Michael McWhorter, and Joe Morris — were charged in connection with the bombing of the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, on August 5, 2017. McWhorter is alleged to have told an FBI agent that the attack was an attempt “to scare” Muslims “out of the country.”

Back in 2017, Hari, who owns a security company, submitted a $10 billion proposal to build Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. “We would look at the wall as not just a physical barrier to immigration but also as a symbol of the American determination to defend our culture, our language, our heritage, from any outsiders,” Hari said. Sound familiar?

Hari is also alleged to be the ringleader of the “White Rabbit Militia — Illinois Patriot Freedom Fighters, Three Percent,” which has posted online messages about “Deep State activities” and “the attempt of the FBI to wiretap the Trump campaign and interfere in the election.”

Trump’s response? To date, the president has never publicly referenced, let alone condemned, the bomb attack on the Minnesota mosque. His then-adviser Sebastian Gorka suggested the incident might “have been propagated by the left.”

James Alex Fields, Jr., August 2017

On August 12, 2017, a car crashed into a crowd of peopleprotesting a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. The alleged driver of the car, James Alex Fields Jr., has been charged with, among other crimes, hit and run and first-degree murder.

Fields, according to a former middle school classmate, enjoyed drawing swastikas and talked about “loving Hitler.” The registered Republican, according to a former high school teacher, also adored Trump. In an interview with the Associated Press, the former teacher “said Fields was a big Trump supporter because of what he believed to be Trump’s views on race. Trump’s proposal to build a border wall with Mexico was particularly appealing to Fields.”

Trump’s response? The president called the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville “very fine people” just three days after Fields allegedly killed Heyer.

Brandon Griesemer, January 2018

On January 9-10, 2018, 19-year-old Brandon Griesemer allegedly made 22 calls to CNN. In four of those calls, the part-time grocery clerk from Novi, Michigan, threatened to kill employees at the network’s Atlanta, Georgia, headquarters, according to a federal affidavit.

“Fake news. I’m coming to gun you all down,” he told a CNN operator. Again, sound familiar? Trump has spent his entire presidency slamming CNN as “fake news,” singling out the network for criticism and abuse. According to the Washington Post, a high school classmate of Griesemer described him as a Trump supporter who “came in after the election and was very happy.” The classmate, reported the Post, “compared Griesemer’s reaction to that of a fan whose team had won a big game.”

Trump’s reaction? On the morning of January 23, the day after the news broke of Griesemer’s threats against CNN, the president took to Twitter to mock…yep, you guessed it… “Fake News CNN.”

Nikolas Cruz, February 2018

On the afternoon of February 14, 2018, 19-year-old gunman Nikolas Cruz shot and killed 17 students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

According to an investigation by CNN, Cruz was part of a private Instagram group in which he “repeatedly espoused racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic views” and “bragged about writing a letter to President Donald Trump — and receiving a response.”

Cruz also posted a photo of himself on Instagram wearing one of Trump’s signature red MAGA hats, with an American-flag-colored bandana covering the bottom half of his face. Former classmates have confirmed that he also wore the red Trump hat to school.

Trump’s response? The White House has never confirmed or denied whether they received, or responded to, a letter from Cruz.

I could go on and on. I could tell you about Jeremy Christian, who allegedly stabbed two people to death on a train in Portland, Oregon, and said “if Donald Trump is the Next Hitler then I am joining his SS”;  or James Jackson, who confessed to fatally stabbing a homeless black man in New York, and subscribed to far-right YouTube channels that support Trump; or Sean Urbanski, who allegedly stabbed a black U.S. army lieutenant to death, and “liked memes about Donald Trump”; or Dimitrios Pagourtzis, who allegedly killed 10 people at Santa Fe High School in Texas, and who followed only 13 Instagram accounts, including the official accounts for the White House, Trump, Ivanka and Melania.

The truth is that the sooner we all recognize that the president of the United States is helping to radicalize a new generation of angry far-right men, the better.

It would be wrong, of course, to blame Trump and Trump alone for these attacks. Many of these alleged attackers have mental health issues; quite a few of them were also men of violence, intolerance and bigotry long before Trump launched his political career.

To pretend, however, that the president has nothing to do with these violent criminals or their violent crimes is absurd. To compare the sheer number of Trump supporters who have been charged or convicted for attacks and attempted attacks on Muslims or Latinos or journalists with the single supporter of Bernie Sanderswho shot Republican congressman Steve Scalise in June 2017 is disingenuous. To ignore the way in which Trump has set the vicious tone and created the toxic climate is shameful.

“It’s time we recognize that Trump’s unique social media presence is a weapon of radicalization,” wrote Republican strategist and Trump critic Rick Wilson on Friday. “No one else in the American political landscape stokes the resentments, fears, and prejudices of his base with equal power.”

The president may not be pulling the trigger or planting the bomb but he is enabling much of the hatred behind those acts. He is giving aid and comfort to angry white men by offering them clear targets — and then failing to fully denounce their violence. Is it any wonder then that hate crimes are on the rise? Or that, as one study found, “one in five perpetrators of hate violence incidents referenced President Trump, a Trump policy, or a Trump campaign slogan” between November 2016 and November 2017?

Cesar Sayoc was not the first Trump supporter to allegedly try and kill and maim those on the receiving end of Trump’s demonizing rhetoric. And, sadly, he won’t be the last.


Rick Ayers Writes:

October 25, 2018

Teacher Education Under the Gun:

Narrowing teacher preparation is not good for kids or communities

I am a professor of teacher education, I teach teachers. It feels sometimes that declaring that one is a teacher educator is like confessing, “I am an alcoholic.” So despised are teachers, and teacher educators, in the manufactured dominant narrative, that we often present ourselves defensively, if not apologetically.

I prepare (mostly) young idealistic people to begin a career of working with young people, from kindergarten through twelfth grade — doing everything from fostering wonderful ideas to pursuing inquiry to counseling youth in crisis to negotiating bureaucracies to . . . the list goes on and on.

The demands for greater accountability, the regime of standards and tests, which have been torturing students and teachers for at least three decades are now coming to teacher education programs with a vengeance. The testing and accountability mania begins with a drumbeat of complaints about inadequate outcomes; proceeds to a declaration of crisis; and ends with the whole enterprise in the hands of private corporations more interested in selling off the public space to private entities than in teaching or in developing strong communities.

Marilyn Cochran-Smith of the Lynch School of Education at Boston College has led a group of researchers in a study resulting in the important book,Reclaiming Accountability in Teacher Education. They have produced a stunning evaluation of the new mandates placed on teacher education. Their most striking finding is that none of the initiatives impacting teacher education are based on any research whatsoever. That bears repeating: without research, proof, or evidence, states have rushed to create layer after layer of gatekeepers through testing, curricular intervention, and inspection — and called this accountability.

As an aside, let me note that Cochran-Smith and all teacher educators I know are interested in accountability — an accountability to communities, to students, and to schools for helping to develop first rate teachers. Such teachers should be passionate about understanding students and their subject matter, committed to democracy and equity, and reflective as they constantly strive to improve their practice. Positive outcomes will be different in different communities and at different times, but can certainly be tracked through teacher education programs that are closely engaged with local schools.

Reclaiming Accountability in Teacher Education shows how the current mandates de-professionalize teacher education. The very language of teacher education accountability is saturated with market ideology and a “human capital” paradigm (which sees humans as individual, rational economic actors, to be deployed and moved around for profit). It used to be that the term “accountability” meant the state’s responsibility to see that resources were supplied to support strong school programs, which is not the case today.

Unless you are inside the teacher education colleges, it’s hard to imagine the many layers of accountability, the mandates, the requirements placed on these programs. Let me enumerate what we face in California. I’m leaving aside for now the lowered expectations, the simpler pathways, created by the market-based reformers for the quickie teaching credentials. For while university-based credentialing is under attack, the marketeers happily push through simplified pathways to credentials for education hustles like Teach for America.

At each step of the mandates regime, more powerful and inspiring potential teachers, more teachers of color, more working-class teachers, are blocked from going into the profession. At each step, the definition of teaching is narrowed from a broad project of creativity and curiosity to a narrow training for business-friendly skills. And since the state holds the power to grant or withhold credentials, it is difficult to defy these demands. To do so would mean that our students would not get teaching credentials.

Consider the following layers and gatekeepers:

1) Accreditation:

You should note that university-based teacher education is closely monitored from the get-go. We have a thorough accreditation process — which requires a periodic three-day visit by a team consisting of state officials from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) as well as other teacher educators. The inspection includes rigorous review of our curriculum, pathways, and outcomes. They interview faculty and students. They visit classes and check out the field work practices.

2) Required course sequence:

In addition to this, the CTC prescribes the basic sequence of required courses for a credential, as well as the student teaching field work (extending over two semesters) which we are responsible to supervise and evaluate.

Now, after these two deep evaluations by the state, you might think a university likely has a pretty good teacher education program. You have a faculty with PhDs and EdDs, as well as adjuncts and supervisors with extensive classroom experience. A rational system would say at this point: “You are professionals dedicated to teacher preparation. We trust you to certify that this or that candidate is ready and should be preliminarily credentialed as a teacher.”

But you would be wrong, terribly wrong. For here are the other hurdles and gatekeepers.

3) Standardized tests required before starting a program.

Before candidates are admitted into a teacher education program, they must first pass the general preparation test, the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST), and then the subject-specific battery of tests, the California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET). Someone is making big money here — and that someone is a private corporation which the state pays millions to, Pearson Education, Inc. Of course, the future candidates must pay Pearson too. It costs $150 to take the CBEST and $300 to $400 to take CSET, with $100 to be paid again for any section you need to retake. Requiring no critical thinking, these are basic dull-minded tests, with gotcha questions and obscure details as well as an emphasis on the kind of material that defined the disciplines fifty years ago. They are difficult tests to pass. I would love for us to require our legislators to take these tests (they could pick any subject) and have the results published.

More importantly, these tests stop candidates before they can even sign up for classes. Aspiring teachers, even ones with a college degree in the discipline area, have been knocked out of the process at this stage. As with most standardized tests, the implicit bias in discourse and framing succeeds in blocking many students of color and working-class students. These are the ones, the excellent teachers, who should be in classrooms in schools today. But they never even get to start.

We at University of San Francisco have initiated a cram and strategizing class for the CSET test, free of charge to those who are applying. Again, while we object to the game, we have no way around it now, and we work extra hard to get our students through.

4) Teacher Performance Expectations (TPEs).

Once the student is in the credential program, the CTC has decided that they must poke into what we are teaching in more detail. The required courses, entrance tests, and accreditation visits are not enough. So they have generated a long list of expectations of things teachers should know, known as the Teacher Performance Expectations (TPEs). These expectations are as laudable as they are vague, for example, “Maintain high expectations for learning with appropriate support for the full range of students in the classroom.”

There are approximately 70 of these expectations. One can imagine a group of writers, probably academics making some side money, sitting in a room generating lists of what teachers ought to know. It’s so easy and so banal. How much is each person in the room paid? Never mind that real teachers learn their craft in about five years of classroom work. They take the insights they have gained as well as the habits of reflection and development they have learned to continually grow in their professional practice. The idea that the seventy expectations will be injected into their eager minds during the credential period, well that’s just silly.

Not only must each syllabus in teacher education classes contain a declaration of which TPEs are covered in that class, but the syllabus must indicate which week, which specific class, will “cover” each of these expectations. In order to maintain our ability to get our students credentialed, of course we go along with this. The truth is, it is not so difficult to assign these TPEs — since they are all issues we address as a matter of course.

You might imagine that this is enough. There is so much surveillance on teacher education that certainly the CTC would be satisfied.

5) Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA)

No, apparently this is not enough surveillance. We also have a new layer of “accountability,” a new state rewired assessment known as the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA). Developed at Stanford University’s Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity, the TPAs purport to do better than the dumbed down standardized tests. Instead, they will allow candidates to actually plan lessons, teach lessons (and videotape them), adapt lessons, and reflect on lessons. Good goals all, but don’t forget these are things we ALREADY DO. They are done in all teacher credential programs, but in a process embedded in critical class study and field experience.

The TPAs consist of four sections, two administered during Student Teaching I and two during Student Teaching II. Since these are assessments that will determine whether one gets a credential, the candidate’s focus shifts completely to finishing these rather than the progression of reflective work in the seminars, essentially turning to the TPA writing test and brief video clips. Each stage requires a long write-up, usually 30 to 60 pages long. While the terms are routine, the time required to get it done dominates the focus. In other words, the TPAs have colonized and overpowered our curriculum — marching into our classrooms and dictating how the work should be done. And, while the first rollout of TPAs were locally evaluated with locally hired assessors to review the submissions, this also has been farmed out to Pearson, which hires anonymous assessors. To maximize profits, the assessors are paid $20 per evaluation, so you can imagine the kind of (non) seriousness it is graded on.

These standardized and outsourced teacher performance assessments present the same problems as high stakes standardized tests do for K-12 students — for instance that standardized assessment rubrics tend to be reductive, leaving out much of the complexity necessary to evaluate teacher performance for our diverse classrooms, and privileging dominant cultural norms that reproduce inequities. And it is obvious that credential candidates’ attributes such as kindness, promotion of social justice, the ability to think on one’s feet, or to adjust teaching to the exigencies of the moment are not assessed or assessable by the TPA. In the pressure to complete the TPAs, candidates turn from work on these aspects of teaching to the narrow, transmission-of-information, training vision of teaching.

The very performance of TPA compliance, argues a position paper from the National Association of Multicultural Education, presents credential candidates with a “hidden curriculum” that mandates teaching as a process of obedience to prescribed mandates rather than critical thinking and empowerment. It marginalizes the contributions of teachers, supervisors, and school administrators that should be central to teacher development and it crushes opportunities to learn to teach through critical dialogues and feedback from peers. And it represents an encroachment of corporate control into the intensely personal, human, humane, and democratic endeavor that is public education.

Teacher educators, then, are not invited to do our job but are acting as glorified clerks, administering the mandated curriculum, the non-tested and non-researched curriculum, of these agencies. The imposition of these mandates is faith based, relying on a general idea that this type of gatekeeper would be a good idea. Of course educational research and the struggle for equity in education is a dynamic and ever-changing field. But the demands of the credentialing agency (and Pearson, Inc.) make sure that the important principles are set in stone.

When these assessments were first being developed, a study at University of California Irvine (Sandholtz & Shea, 2012) found in fact that supervisors’ predictions of scores (drawing on their observations of candidates in classroom teaching and other work with them) often negatively correlated with high scores on performance assessments. In addition, most of the candidates who supervisors predicted would fail the assessment ended up passing — so the assessment is not useful in ferreting out those who might not be effective teachers. It turns out that many excellent student teachers are pouring their focus into their students and give scant attention to the long, obligatory write-ups. And some of those who are struggling in their daily classroom work find solace in long hours in front of the computer completing assessment reports.

Alison Dover of the California State University Fullerton did an exhaustive study of the Teacher Performance Assessment in the Midwest. In her abstract, she summarizes the study as follows: “The data reveal that despite institutional pass rates above the national average, the TPA process negatively affected candidates’ sense of self-efficacy, agency, and readiness to engage in culturally and contextually responsive teaching. The article concludes with an analysis of how TPA policies socialize preservice teachers to prioritize compliance over agency, with troubling implications for urban teachers, students, and school communities.”

In addition to the TPA assessment, multiple subjects (elementary) teaching candidates must pass the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA). Pearson has taken this one over too.

6) And more.

And there is more, much more, crowding into teacher education classrooms with the intention of “fixing” the problems. This includes the new teacher education accountability requirements written into the 1998 reauthorization of the federal Higher Education Act (HEA). Researchers such as The National Education Policy Center analyzed these regulations early on, pointing out that they blame individual teachers rather than the systemic causes for the “achievement gap.”

The acronyms abound, from Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) to National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), each one designed to ferret out bad preparation, each one piling on with a narrative of incompetence in schools of teacher ed. The self-appointed NCTQ is an outfit that has partnered with US News and World Report to rank all teacher education programs. Like their ranking of colleges, such list-making not only reduces complex factors to silly competition, it also allows corporate interests to highlight the qualities they value for education without any input from parents, communities, educators, or elected political bodies. The editorial writers repeat the “finding” of NCTQ that only ten per cent of teacher education programs are rated as “adequate.” Those findings mask a noteworthy fact: the vast majority of teacher education programs, including many of those at the most respected universities in the nation like Harvard and Stanford, refused to participate in the survey and thus were rated “inadequate.” All of these initiatives have been analyzed by educators and found fundamentally flawed if not fraudulent.

Teacher education certainly has ample and extensive room to improve. Outside of the big megaphones wielded by the foundations and the millions of dollars bestowed by government “reform” projects, teacher educators continue the work on the ground, just as teachers in K-12 classrooms fly under the radar, doing effective work by enacting what Neil Postman called “subversive” teaching. Powerful examples of deep teacher education can be found, as in the recent book, Confronting Racism in Teacher Education: Counternarratives of Critical Practice (Picower & Kohli, 2017). If we really want to invest in teacher education, we need to listen to teachers like them.

Moreover, anyone who understands the complexity and challenge of teaching knows that we should have an extended induction process, much as we do in medicine. Teacher candidates should have extensive education in the foundations and context, in theory and practice. They need a multiple year internship period with coaching by peers and experienced practitioners. New teachers need to be more than narrow skill trainers and sorters of students. They need the experience to become critical educators, community leaders who advance social justice and critical thinking with their students. But, sadly, the corporate reformers and government overseers don’t actually plan to fund or support more thorough teacher education programs. If anything, their broadsides against university teacher preparation pave the way for quick and narrow programs (and accelerating failure) as part of the privatization of public education in America

As a result of all these top-down state and privately funded initiatives, we find ourselves constrained more and more by these many layers of mandates, controls, and assessments. Each one moves teaching away from the broad and creative art that is needed into a narrow training program based on a transmission of information. But in the end, the data will not support the proposition that such training programs produce better results, even by their own pathetic measures. While we struggle to correct these overreaches, soon it will be too late, as thousands of teacher education programs will be shut down or harnessed to the corporate reform agenda. The effect of these efforts certainly is not to make teacher education programs serve the needs of communities. Instead, they serve to make the teaching corps even more remote from, alienated from, and ineffective with communities.


Adult Teeth…57th St Books on Thursday

October 23, 2018

https://www.semcoop.com/event/fresh-ayers-jeremy-t-wilson-adult-teeth-bill-ayers


LOUD & CLEAR

October 23, 2018