Posts filed under ‘Education’
UPDATED @6:31 EDT below.
People marching this afternoon against the proposed closure of 61 public schools in Chicago.
Remember back in the day when schools had to hold bake sales while the military got everything it needed? Fast forward to today and heck, forget bake sales. They’re just freakin’ closing the schools now.
What kind of values and priorities are those?
And now, of course, the police, representing the establishment — the folks who want to close the schools — are arresting people (in front of Chicago City Hall) who are trying to protect our kids:
What a country.
It’s just amazing what Republicans think is important:
During their first three weeks in power, Senate Republicans [in Washington state] have introduced bills to require parental notification for abortions, allow ranchers to kill wolves and let people ride motorcycles without a helmet.
Also on the list: plans to revamp [read, cut] workers’ compensation benefits, repeal the state’s family leave act [that, among other things, gives new parents five weeks off after the birth of a child] and assign A-F grades to public schools. There’s also talk of dumping the state employee pension system in favor of a less-expensive, 401(k)-type plan.
So, they want supposedly want to protect unborn fetuses but for people who are already born they want to increase traffic deaths and health care costs by letting people ride motorcycles without a helmet; kill wolves; cut workers’ compensation benefits; make it so folks don’t have a guaranteed leave plan so they can take time off when they or a family member needs help due to a medical problem; deprive new parents of bonding time with a new baby and make it harder for people to make ends meet in retirement.
What a vicious, hateful crowd.
So proud of my state, out here in a wild, wild west which is looking saner than some other parts of the country. It’s a state that lived through the Columbine slaughter and the Aurora theater massacre and we’ve said no to arming teachers.
Eileen McCarron, a retired math teacher and the president of Colorado Ceasefire, a group that argues for greater gun control said,
“We Coloradans do not wish to turn our school into prisons or our teachers into prison guards.”
This is a terrible idea. The last thing we need is more and deeper ignorance:
D.C. Schools May Nix High School Government Class as a Requirement
Public high school students in the nation’s capital may soon be able to graduate without taking a single U.S. government course.
The D.C. State Board of Education proposed changes to the graduation requirements in December that would require students to take more physical education, art and music courses instead.
Remember this? (Look at how cavalier and arrogant that cop looks.)
Twenty-one students and alumni filed a federal lawsuit on February 22, 2012 against UC Davis over the University’s treatment of protesters during a Nov. 18, 2011 demonstration in which campus police were caught on video dousing seated protesters with pepper spray.
Bravo! What the campus cops did was outrageous.
The lawsuit charged that UC Davis administration officials set in motion a series of events that they should have known would result in constitutional violations against the demonstrators, and that they and the campus police department failed to properly train and supervise officers.
A settlement was announced on September 26, 2012. The University agreed to pay $1million, including $730,000 to the named plaintiffs and others who were arrested or pepper-sprayed on November 18. Additionally, the case has been expanded to a class action lawsuit, and a portion of the total award will be set aside to compensate individuals other than the named plaintiffs who were pepper-sprayed or wrongfully arrested on November 18, 2011.
On January 9, 2013 a federal judge approved the settlement.
God I hope the University doesn’t appeal, though they might just to set a “precedent.” $1 million isn’t all that punitive. They should shut up, walk away, and be happy they weren’t ordered to pay more.
If you want a good laugh, mosey on over to Freakonomics and their post titled: “Homicide Victims Rarely Talk to Police” and Other Horrible Headlines. Some of the headlines they’ve compiled make your jaw drop.
Two of my faves:
This is an astonishing fact, per the New York Fed: The New York Fed reported yesterday that student debt loads have now hit $956 billion, up $42 billion from last quarter.
And check out this graph showing the disparity between income
growth decline over college tuition increases:
Food for thought tonight (warning to those who are science and fact adverse):
From a stretch of rocky shoreline on this tiny island [Tatoosh Island, Washington], one can, on any given morning, watch otters floating on their backs, elephant seals hauling out of the water and a bald eagle flying past murres huddled along a cliff face. The startled birds perform a synchronized dive into the sea, their ovoid black-and-white bodies resembling miniature penguins.
But for over four decades, with the blessing of Makah leaders, Tatoosh has been the object of intense biological scrutiny, and scientists say they are seeing disturbing declines across species — changes that could prove a bellwether for oceanic change globally.
Cathy Pfister and Timothy Wootton, both biology professors at the University of Chicago, have been trekking to the island since the 1980s, often accompanying their former graduate adviser, Robert T. Paine, a nominally retired zoology professor from the University of Washington. At 79, Dr. Paine still returns to Tatoosh several times a year to continue the ecological research he began in the 1960s.
Among the declines the researchers are noticing: historically hardy populations of gulls and murres are only half what they were 10 years ago, and only a few chicks hatched this spring. Mussel shells are notably thinner, and recently the mussels seem to be detaching from rocks more easily and with greater frequency.
Goose barnacles are also suffering, and so are the hard, splotchy, wine-colored coralline algae, which appear like graffiti along rocky shorelines.
While not entirely understood, the declines are not entirely mysterious. Biologists suspect that the shifts are related to huge declines in the water’s pH, a shift attributed to the absorption of excess carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in ever-greater amounts by the burning of fossil fuels for energy.
“You can predict change,” Dr. Paine said, “and most of the changes are going to be in a direction we don’t want.”
Can’t wait to hear the details. This is all we know right now:
Chicago Teachers Union delegates voted on Tuesday to suspend their strike, several delegates said as they departed a meeting of union leaders.
Some 800 delegates representing the union rank-and-file ended the strike after more than two hours of debate on a new three-year contract with the school district. The compromise deal gave Emanuel part of the reforms he wanted, and teachers got some guarantees on employment.
Here’s President Obama in roughly 2008 talking about how he’d “walk on that picket line” with union workers if they were denied their right to collectively bargain, which is exactly what’s happening in Chicago:
“If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I’ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States of America.”
This is a big deal with the Democratic base, which D.C. Democrats tend to ignore, at their own peril this year, IMHO. See Rahm, Rahm, Rahm.
And there’s this:
How cool is that? Paul Ryan loves Obama’s former Chief of Staff.
Obama, do you want to fu*k your base in this close election?
False News is cheering Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel today because he’s standing against the Chicago Teachers’ Union. Oh, and did you know Rahm is ahem, a Democrat? So Fox is peeing its pants because gosh, this proves even Democrats hate unions, thus EVERYBODY hates unions.
Way to go Rahm:
America, while you wallow in fights over whether zygotes should have Constitutional rights and gay marriage opening the door to people being able to marrying horses, other countries are looking forward. Check this out:
Europe’s First “Green” Train Leaves the Station Thanks to Belgium’s Solar Tunnel
16,000 solar panels installed on the roof of a high-speed rail tunnel in Antwerp, Belgium have been officially entered into service. The solar installation is the result of a collaboration between Belgian rail operator Infrabel, renewable energy developer Enfinity, the municipalities of Brasschaat and Schoten, intermunicipal financing companies FINEA and IKA, and solar construction company Solar Power Systems.
The project, known as the Solar Tunnel, is the first of its kind in Europe as it is the first time railway infrastructure has been used to generate green energy. The solar energy will be used in the Antwerp North-South junction (including Antwerp Central Station) by the trains and station servicing both conventional and high-speed trains.
Look at that beautiful thing.
Oh, wait, back to God striking me down because my dear, wonderful brother is gay.
(H/t Chris L.)
My quote of the day is from Karl Rove:
“As people do better, they start voting like Republicans – unless they have too much education and vote Democratic, which proves there can be too much of a good thing”
Republicans have made no bones about why they hate (and fear) an educated public. It’s a threat to their existence. Between dumbing us down and rigging the vote, they hope to dominate our politics until well, I don’t know until when. Until they’ve sucked the life out of the people of the United States and destroyed our natural resources I guess. Too bad we don’t have a strong second party — I’m lookin’ at you Democrats — to stand up to them.
In case you missed it, the United States isn’t the greatest country in the world anymore. Here’s why:
Beginning scene of the new HBO series The Newsroom explaining why America’s Not the Greatest Country Any Longer… But It Can Be.
This is what happens when you elect a representative who (1) apparently never took a civics class in her life and has no basic understanding of the Constitution and (2) who wraps herself in a Fox News / Rush Limbaugh cocoon and doesn’t read, travel or get out all that much:
… [O]ne Louisiana Republican is learning the hard way that religious school vouchers can be used to fund education at all sorts of religious schools, even Muslim ones. And while she’s totally in favor of taxpayer money being used to pay for kids to go to Christian schools, she’s willing to put a stop to the entire program if Muslim schools are going to be involved.
Valarie Hodges admitted that when she supported Governor Bobby Jindal’s school voucher program, she only did so because she assumed the religious school vouchers could only be used for Christian schools:
I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools or private schools. I liked the idea of giving parents the option of sending their children to a public school or a Christian school.
Hodges is charged with upholding the Constitution of the United States yet she has apparently never read it. She obviously doesn’t know, and she hasn’t internalized, that the First Amendment — the First Amendment! — says there shall be no “making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion.”
Don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I guess I’ll cry because Republicans want to dumb down our education system such that Hodges’ ignorance is the norm.
The corporate media held its breath today, punditizing about the Supreme Court releasing its decision about “ObamaCare” tomorrow. Radical neocons are set to praise the “Roberts court” and liberals are set to demonize it (maybe…if they have the guts).
That said, most Americans will slap their foreheads and say whut
because they have no earthly idea who John Roberts is.
Gotta love No Child Left Behind.
Look at this amazing crowd at a demonstration in Montreal on May 22:
Beginning in February, students throughout Quebec began protesting against a proposed 75 percent hike in the cost of their tuition. Demonstrators staged strikes, sit-ins, and marches, in some cases drawing hundreds of thousands of participants and incurring hundreds of arrests. Quebec’s government responded by passing a controversial emergency law, Bill 78, that places strict limits on free assembly, including a provision that requires demonstrators to submit protest plans and receive police approval. Reacting to the new law, hundreds of thousands more took to the streets to join the broadening protest. Now, four months later, nightly demonstrations continue across Montreal. These marches are called “casseroles,” as participants use pots and pans to create noise and call for attention.
See a larger version of the photo above and 38 more, here.
Notice how the ahem, “liberal media” is all over this?
We’re #1? Not exactly:
You get what you pay for.
Here are some things I heard about today that I thought were interesting but I’m too tired to put an individual post up about:
France’s new government will flesh out plans to cap the pay of top executives at state-controlled companies by mid-June, laying down a marker in a Europe-wide debate fuelled by waves of austerity and rising unemployment.
Elected this month promising to curb the privileges enjoyed by France’s wealthy and powerful, Socialist President Francois Hollande pledged during campaigning to limit senior executives’ salaries [paid by taxpayer's money] to a maximum of 20 times that of their lowest-paid employee.
The tax dollars French citizens are paying are funding these “state” firms so no question about it. Executives shouldn’t reap huge salaries paid for by tax dollars. A no brainer imho. I mean, let’s cap the executive pay of defense contractors wo suck off of the boob of the U.S. tax payer. The scary –yikes! – Socialism can be a good thing.
Ah yes. Republicans. Always looking for a way to protect the corporatocracy and to rip We the People off:
North Carolina science people have determined that coastal sea levels are expected to rise 1 meter [3.28 feet] by 2100 — far more than they’ve traditionally risen, due to the expected impacts of climate change. But developers in 20 coastal counties, see, have determined that such a rise would be bad for development prospects. So they’ve lobbied the state to lower that forecast to only 15 inches instead, because why not? Fifteen’s a nice number. Arbitrary, sure, but can’t the scientists just shut up already?
The difference between 3.28 feet and 15 inches isn’t all that much right? [Yikes!] So hey, WTF. Everyone involved will be dead and buried (w/millions passed on to their ALEC-member-kids who will control the world my neighbor’s 3-year-old boy will live in.)
The sound of casseroles, or banging on pots and pans, has become a common sound of Montreal’s nightlife for the past week or so.
Tonight, the sound is spreading to the rest of the nation as protesters in over 60 cities across Quebec and Canada (and some international locations like Brussels, London and Madison, WA). Organizers want to emulate Quebec’s casseroles movement, which has its roots in the Chilean cacerolazos, anti-goverment protests in the 1970s and ’80s. Tonight’s Facebook page humourously dubs the event “Casseroles Night in Canada.”
The movement in Montreal was sparked by the ongoing opposition to tuition fee hikes and the introduction of Bill 78. Protesters gather on neighbourhood street corners during the evening, clanging pots, pans, and anything else they can grab, and march all over Montreal. Supporters along the way join in by making noise from their balconies, front doors and windows.
One of the things Canadians are protesting is a new law — designed to quash protests (crazy gets normalized) — requiring them to submit a map outlining their protest route eight hours in advance.
This is the map they submitted last Wednesday:
Thumbs up casserole people oh, and if I were you, I wouldn’t buy a home on the Florida coast.
I think this is a great idea and one you’d think the Obama’s themselves would have thought of. After all, Michele is pushing for healthier school lunches and the abolition of “food deserts” in poor neighborhoods:
What could be more American than hot dogs and apple pie? Perhaps it’s no wonder that politicians spend much of their time on the campaign trail hamming it up with voters at diners, burger shacks and other eating establishments that aren’t exactly paragons of healthful fare.
But a group of doctors and activists will be calling on President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other members of the executive branch to refrain from turning calorie-laden pit stops into photo ops this election year. On Thursday, they plan to present the White House with a petition asking Obama to issue an executive order banning appearances with “carcinogenic or obesogenic foods.”
“Increasingly, the use of food in photo ops conflicts with important messages that public health officials are trying to convey in order to safeguard the health of the American public,” explains the petition from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, also known as PCRM.
Ah yeah. Seems like a no brainer to me.
No, this isn’t a headline from The Onion. It’s real but tell me the priorities here aren’t assbackward:
University of Florida Eliminates Computer Science Department, Increases Athletic Budgets
Wow, no one saw this coming. The University of Florida announced this past week that it was dropping its computer science department, which will allow it to save about
$1.7 million$1.4 million. The school is eliminating all funding for teaching assistants in computer science, cutting the graduate and research programs entirely, and moving the tattered remnants into other departments.
Meanwhile, the athletic budget for the current year is
$99 million, $97.7 million, an increase of more than $2 million from last year. The increase alone would offset the savings supposedly gained by cutting computer science.
Well, we might not be able to compete with the Chinese or the Indians in computer science but if they get football teams, we’ll probably be really, really good at those games. Glad to see we’re preparing for the future.
This would be Mitt Romney in early March:
The high school senior who stood up at Mitt Romney’s town hall meeting here today was worried about how he and his family would pay for college, and wanted to hear what the candidate would do about rising college costs if elected. He didn’t realize that Mr. Romney was about to use him to demonstrate his fiscal conservatism to the crowd.
The answer: nothing.
Mr. Romney was perfectly polite to the student. He didn’t talk about the dangers of liberal indoctrination on college campuses, as Rick Santorum might have. But his warning was clear: shop around and get a good price, because you’re on your own.
“It would be popular for me to stand up and say I’m going to give you government money to pay for your college, but I’m not going to promise that,” he said, to sustained applause from the crowd at a high-tech metals assembly factory here. “Don’t just go to one that has the highest price. Go to one that has a little lower price where you can get a good education. And hopefully you’ll find that. And don’t expect the government to forgive the debt that you take on.”
On Friday, President Obama launched a push to get congress to halt a scheduled doubling of federal college loan interest rates on July 1, from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent for low- and middle-income undergraduates (also known as Stafford loans).
And based on a hope and prayer that we don’t remember anything from one day to another, this is Romney today:
Mitt Romney appears to agree with President Obama on student loans, if not on the overall direction of the economy.The likely Republican nominee today called on Congress to “temporarily extend the current low rate on subsidized undergraduate Stafford loans” for college students.
I’m beginning to be as nauseated by Mitt as I was by W.
Thought I’d update ya’ll on the police state going on at the University of Colorado – Boulder today. (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Go here.)
As I said yesterday in the post linked to above, CU police “strongly suggested” I not take my usual morning route through campus on my way to the food bank today. But I left the house and as I approached the campus I could have going one of three ways; my usual way (through the campus), to the west around the campus, or to the east around the campus. I decided to take my usual route and go straight through the campus and well, see what happens.
Turns out nothing happened but it was obvious it was still early. I was on the campus proper for probably four minutes and I traveled approximately half a mile (there are three pedestrian crosswalks along the way and I had to stop at each one). Orange traffic cones lined the entirety of the road, placed roughly every eight feet. A person dressed like this
stood at every driveway and sidewalk leading into the campus to the west. “Campus Closed” signs were visible on folding placards placed in the median.
On my way home I took a different route (my usual route home) which took me along the immediate eastern edge of campus. I saw two electronic road signs along the way, both of them flashing “WARNING TRESPASS PROSECUTED.”
I am so ashamed of the university.
Here are my Tweets of the Day:
And this one which, if true, means CU is spending more to keep the pot smokers away than if it had just let them be. Ridiculous waste of money:
And this would be my photo of the day:
Let’s just legalize marijuana already and be done with this charade.
Like any state legislature dealing with 8 percent unemployment and thousands of its residents facing disenfranchisement, the Tennessee Senate is targeting the menace of underage hand-holding.
Last week, the Senate passed SB 3310, a bill to update the state’s abstinence-based sex education curriculum to define holding hands and kissing as “gateway sexual activities.” Just one senator voted against the legislation; 28 voted in favor.
And uh oh:
How far are the wingnuts going to push this back? Will being born eventually be labeled as a “gateway to sexual activity?” Might as well. That’s how absurd this is getting.
Someone should start a blog consisting solely of insane quotes from Republicans as in stuff nobody in their right mind would say and nobody in their right mind would believe; quotes that 15 or 20 years ago would have been considered so factually ignorant they would have been ignored. Such as this from Rush Limbaugh today:
“…what else would make student debt high? Ah, ha, ha, ha, how could I forget? Birth control pills. So birth control pills and tuition are causing student debt to spiral out of control and threaten the Obama recovery.”
Listen to the audio here.
Wow, I hadn’t heard of anything like this before now:
There are just seven pairs of boots lined up outside the kindergarten classroom in this fading farm town. Just eight crayon drawings are taped to the wall outside second grade.
Enrollment is dropping at the Grant-Deuel School [in Revillo, South Dakota], as at so many rural schools. Fewer students means less state funding and a slow extinction.
But Superintendent Grant Vander Vorst has an improbable plan to save his little school on the prairie – by turning it into a magnet for wealthy foreign students. This year, 11 students from China, Thailand, Germany and elsewhere account for nearly 20% of high school enrollment, bringing cash and a welcome splash of diversity to an isolated patch of the Great Plains.
Grant-Deuel is not alone. Across the United States, public high schools in struggling small towns are putting their empty classroom seats up for sale.
In Sharpsville, Pennsylvania, and Lake Placid, New York, in Lavaca, Arkansas, and Millinocket, Maine, administrators are aggressively recruiting international students.
They’re wooing well-off families in China, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Russia and dozens of other countries, seeking teenagers who speak decent English, have a sense of adventure – and are willing to pay as much as $30,000 for a year in an American public school.
The end goal for foreign students: Admission to a U.S. college.
I haven’t thought much about it yet but this hits me as just plain sad. When I read stories like this I instantly think about all the money we’re spending on wars (something like a couple million per week in Afghanistan alone) and I shake my head and think about how totally f*cked up our priorities are.
My last post about Andrew Breitbart is this tweet from the extremely conservative David Frum:
What a legacy.
I come across so much mind-blowingly crazy stuff like this every day, my whole blog could be dedicated to it. I tend to shake my head and move on at most of it but sometimes I have to stop and scream. And I’m screaming now:
A Republican State Senator from Alabama claimed this week that keeping teacher salaries low is actually an order from the Christian deity figure, imparted in ancient texts written by Jewish tribesmen thousands of years ago.
Speaking at a prayer breakfast recently, Alabama state Senator Shadrack McGill praised giving pay raises to politicians, saying that it helps to prevent bribery. Then he shifted gears and went in the opposite direction with regards to teachers, arguing against a bill that would increase their salaries.
“Teachers need to make the money that they need to make,” he said, according to Alabama newspaper The Times-Journal. “There needs to be a balance there. If you double what you’re paying education, you know what’s going to happen? I’ve heard the comment many times, ‘Well, the quality of education’s going to go up.’ That’s never proven to happen, guys.
“It’s a Biblical principle. If you double a teacher’s pay scale, you’ll attract people who aren’t called to teach. To go and raise someone’s child for eight hours a day, or many people’s children for eight hours a day, requires a calling. It better be a calling in your life. I know I wouldn’t want to do it, OK?”
He continued: “And these teachers that are called to teach, regardless of the pay scale, they would teach. It’s just in them to do. It’s the ability that God give ‘em. And there are also some teachers, it wouldn’t matter how much you would pay them, they would still perform to the same capacity. “If you don’t keep that in balance, you’re going to attract people who are not called, who don’t need to be teaching our children. So, everything has a balance.”
10, 15, 40 years ago, this wouldn’t have made the news. It would have been thought of as, literally, crazy; the rant of a religious nut.
I went to grade school in Bloomington, Indiana. Back then, there was a thing called the separation of church and state.
Facts were taught in schools (not “theories”) and religion was taught in churches. If the Republicans in Indiana get their way, the two will merge:
Indiana’s Senate Bill 89, which if enacted would allow local school districts to “require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science,” was passed by the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development on January 25, 2012.
Good luck Indiana. Pretty soon you won’t be able to complain about the madrassas in the Middle East that combine the teaching of reading and writing and that of religion. That’s where you’re going.
This was one of the headlines on the front page of my local newspaper this morning:
CU-Boulder proposes 15.7% tuition hike for in-state students
Plan would raise full-time students’ tuition to $8,875 next year
In-state tuition for full-time students at the University of Colorado next year could soar 15.7 percent under a plan proposed Wednesday.
Under the proposal, tuition for full-time students in the College of Arts and Sciences — which enrolls the most students on the Boulder campus — would increase from $7,672 this year to $8,875 next year.
The increase, if approved, would amount to an extra $1,203 a year.
CU has raised tuition between 8.8 percent and 9.3 percent each of the last four years.
What a huge increase.
Per that last sentence, let’s presume that on average CU has raised tuition by 9 percent each of the last four years. That means if the 15.7 percent increase is approved, over the last five years tuition will have increased at CU by 51.7 percent, over just five years.
Wow. Soon a college education will either be available only to the wealthy or kids will be saddled with even more debt when they enter the working world.
Too bad we can’t put some of the billions we’re spending on war toward funding our universities.
Screwed up priorities.