Michelle Rhee: Union Assassin

Michelle Rhee is the superintendent of the DC school system (she is called "The Chancellor"). She is controversial, to say the least. Here is her great idea on how to further screw teachers--only this time, she will screw them out of their retirement!

Rhee Seeks Tenure-Pay Swap for Teachers
Giving Up Seniority Would Boost Salary If Benchmarks Met

By V. Dion Haynes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 3, 2008; B01

D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee is proposing a contract that would give mid-level teachers who are paid $62,000 yearly the opportunity to earn more than $100,000 -- but they would have to give up seniority and tenure rights, two union members familiar with the negotiations said yesterday.

Under the proposal, the school system would establish two pay tiers, red and green, said the union members, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are confidential. Teachers in the red tier would receive traditional raises and would maintain tenure. Those who voluntarily go into the green tier would receive thousands of dollars in bonuses and raises, funded with foundation grants, for relinquishing tenure.

Teachers in the green tier would be reviewed yearly and would be allowed to continue in their jobs only if they passed an evaluation and boosted students' test scores, the union members said.

Under Rhee's proposal, raises to the green tier would be more than the 19 percent increase over five years she is proposing for all teachers, the union members said.

They said teachers are opposed to giving up seniority and tenure, no matter the size of their raise, and probably would reject such a proposal.

"You may be trading off your future, your tenure, your job security," a union member said. "When you trade that, it seems to me you're not getting much."

Rhee, who declined to comment yesterday because of the ongoing negotiations, has said she wants a contract that would "revolutionize education as we know it." She also has said she wants to improve instruction by ensuring that the District "has the most highly compensated and competent" teachers in the country.

Education experts who follow teacher contract issues said that D.C. teachers would be among the highest-paid educators in the nation under Rhee's plan and that a proposal eliminating seniority and tenure would be groundbreaking.

"Fixing teachers' contracts is a high priority everywhere," said Bryan Hassel, co-director of Public Impact, an education research and consulting organization in Chapel Hill, N.C. "If Rhee accomplishes this, it would be earthshaking reform that would have implications everywhere."

Rhee can restrict seniority rights through a little-used District law that allows principals to diminish seniority rankings and use them among several other factors -- including evaluations, military service and whether the teacher is in a high-demand area such as math or special education -- to make changes during staff cuts.

The law was aimed at addressing "bumping rights," which allow senior teachers losing their positions during cutbacks to displace less-experienced peers at other schools.

"Bumping rights had been viewed as a problem for those of us trying to get quality teachers in the classroom. But we knew it was a challenge getting it out of the contracts," Kevin P. Chavous, who was on the D.C. Council when the law passed, said in a recent interview. "Even after the law was passed, superintendents operated under the assumption that bumping rights were still there."

The union members said Rhee wants to get seniority out of the contract so that it will no longer be a factor in the legislation.

The two union members said Rhee wants to use donations from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and the Broad Foundation, in part, to pay for the raises and bonuses. Officials from the Gates and Broad foundations would not comment on proposed future funding.

Megan Matthews, a Michael & Susan Dell Foundation spokeswoman, said the foundation has had general discussions with D.C. school officials but has not committed funds to the teacher contract.

So. Do you really want to see this happen nationally? Rhee is the state-of-the-art, and what she does influences the education makhers (it's Yiddish for "influential person"). Please, please, start the revolution!


Without The Pen Of Paine, The Sword of Washington Would Have Been Wielded In Vain

Thomas Paine was radical, dude!

Greg Palast Sends An Email

Greg Palast is one irreverent dude, that's why I like him. He is righteously angry, and he sends emails. Here is his latest:

The House I Live In

America is a nation of losers. It’s the best thing about us. We're the dregs, what the rest of the world barfed up and threw on our shores.

John Kennedy said we are "a nation of immigrants." That’s the sanitized phrase. We are, in fact, a nation of refugees, who, despite the bastards in white sheets and the know-nothings in Congress, have held open the Golden Door to a dark planet. We are not imperialists and that’s why Bush lies and Cheney lies and, yes, the Clintons lied.

Winston Churchill didn’t lie to the Brits about their empire: He said, These lands belong to the Crown, we own'm and we’ll squeeze the value from them. "Imperialism," as Karl Marx complained, was a good word in Britain, a word that got you elected in Europe until too recently.
Ignore the fey university hideouts of Europe. Go to Vietnam or to Brazil or to Morocco or to Tibet and you’ll find the same thing: America's music, America's freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of spirit and the heartfelt friendship of Americans for others have made the USA truly “the light unto the nations.” Americans are not liked worldwide, but loved-sometimes. I find that weird, but it’s true-and that drives Osama to bombs and madness.

We are a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the cause that all men and women are created equal. It’s silly and precious to point out that these ideals have been mangled, abused, ignored and monstered by those with plans to make us an empire. We know that.

America is indeed exceptional. That's not a boast, that’s a job we have to do. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson burdened us with that exceptionalism in crafting the most important international law signed up until the Geneva Convention: The Alien Torts Act, in which the USA takes onto itself the right to bring civil penalties against any act of torture, political murder and piracy that occurs anywhere in the world (emphasis mine). It is now being used in suits brought against Chevron Oil in Ecuador and against IBM for the death of slave laborers in Nazi Germany.

Damn right America is exceptional. It is America that defiantly walked out of the first “world trade organization,” known as the British Empire, announcing, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and are ENDOWED BY THE CREATOR with INALIENABLE rights, and AMONG THESE are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Now, think about that. These rights don’t come from Congress or Kings or Soviets, they come from The Creator, that is, we are born free-and “we” are Sri Lankans as much as Minnesotans. Our rights are “INALIENABLE”: no one, NO ONE, may take them away, not the Ayatollahs of Tehran or Generalissimo Negroponte at the Department of Homeland Security or the kill-o-crats in Baghdad pre- or post- Saddam.

Will the snarling closet imperialists try to turn America from its cause and soul? Damn right they will. That’s why two U.S. military lawyers resigned from their posts at the Guantánamo prison camp. They wouldn’t put up with Bush-niks tearing up their Constitution. ("We the people" own it, not "them the Republicans.") In Iran, these two guys would have been shot, in Britain arrested. In America, Bush fears them-that their story would come out-as it did. Only in America could that happen.
No question, the USA holds itself exempt from the legal standards of this world-which are execrable. Whose standard should we adopt? China’s torture standard? Britain’s Secrecy Act as a standard? Switzerland’s Nazi-money-protection standard?

Only in America would a Lyndon Johnson order federal troops to protect Black school kids' right to attend class. You don’t have to tell me that Johnson then ordered the slaughter of three million Vietnamese-I know, I went to jail to oppose it. But go to Vietnam today and ask what people they most admire? Mention Russians, they laugh; mention Chinese, they may hit you; mention Americans and they say (to my astonishment, I’ll admit), “We love Americans.”

They don’t love Bush. That’s because George Bush is not an American. Look, I didn’t think much of Bill Clinton, and he dropped into some of the worst quasi-imperial habits of the New World Trade Order. But Clinton was also more popular worldwide than the pope and pizza combined because he represented that American sense of giving- a-shit, empathy and sincere friendship which are hallmarks of America’s Manifest Destiny.

Yes, America does have a Manifest Destiny-to Let Freedom Ring-which the evil and greedy and pernicious would twist into a grab for land and resources and ethnic cleansing. And so the Manifest Destiny of the journalists in our shitty little offices in New York and London is to expose these motherfuckers.

Ronald Reagan said, "America is the shining city on the hill." And he hated it, doing his best to turn it into a dark Calcutta of the helpless. And when that didn’t work, George II tried to drown us in the Mississippi.

Go back to Taos, New Mexico, Voting Precinct 13. What you’ll find there is Pueblo Native war veterans who raise the flag every day and will fight and die for it knowing full well that the fight must also be taken to the pueblo’s racially biased voting booths.

Howard Zinn, a shining historian on our hill, reminds us, "It should be understood that the children of Iraq, of China, and of Africa, children everywhere in the world, have the same right to life as American children."

Damn right, they do. That’s what Jefferson meant by "inalienable."

And they won’t get their rights to life and liberty from Osama's Caliphate of oil states or China’s money-crazed "Communism" nor half of Africa’s neo-colonial presidential Draculas or the puppet princes installed today in Iraq by George Bush.

Bush is so far away from his refugee loser roots that he just doesn’t get what it is to be American. So he steals the one thing that every American is handed off the boat: a chance. When they take away your Social Security and overtime and tell you sleeper cells are sleeping under your staircase, you don't take a chance, you lose your chance, and the land of opportunity becomes a landscape of fear and suspicion, an armed madhouse.

You want to say that George Bush is an evil sonovabitch? I’d go further: he’s UN-AMERICAN.

And that’s why he lost the election. TWICE.
Happy 4th of July!

Everything Old Is New Again

And Pelosi took impeachment off the table! Imagine, if you will, the declaration as seen through contemporary eyes.

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.—Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

(from Discourse.net)


MOTO: Video Extraordinaire

From Gizmodo:

Italian artist BLU is famous for painting politically and socially charged street murals, but his recent project involving street animation may be his most visually stunning. Called MUTO, the video is a series of digital stills assembled from sequential paintings on the streets/walls of Buenos Aires, Argentina. It's been floating around a bit, but if you haven't seen it, the effect is a sort of living, evolving mural that follows a dramatic, character-drive storyline. And if you watch one thing online today (or tomorrow or the next day), this should be it:
It is pretty awesome!


Educational Testing: A Brief Glossary

Another bit of test-explaining from eduwonkette. You want to understand terms? I got your explanations right....in that eduwonkette link above.

Where The Hell Is Matt?

Found this at Shakesville. Ms. McEwan says "Some things just make me cry with happiness. And I'm not even sure why. This is one of them." I must say, I know what she means. Watch, then dance!


Chocolate Egg Smashing

I know what I am doing this summer now!

See more funny videos at CollegeHumor

Hero Worship? (updated)

What is a hero? With the Clark/McCain dust up it's a question I think we need to answer. Here is the Dictionary.com version:


1.a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.
2.a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal: He was a local hero when he saved the drowning child.
3.the principal male character in a story, play, film, etc.
4.Classical Mythology.
a. a being of godlike prowess and beneficence who often came to be honored as a divinity.
b.(in the Homeric period) a warrior-chieftain of special strength, courage, or ability.
c.(in later antiquity) an immortal being; demigod.
5.hero sandwich.
6.the bread or roll used in making a hero sandwich.

[Origin: 1605–15; back formation from ME heroes (pl.) <>hérōs (sing.), hérōes (pl.) <>hrōs, hrōes]

So, do we continue to call soldiers heroes? How about not all soldiers, but just the ones who were wounded? What about calling only those who got shot down heroes? No? The one's who dropped the most bombs, or blew up the most civilians, or killed the most enemies? The one's who were held prisoner--for 1 year; 2 years; 3 years; 5 years? Prisoners who were tortured (did we just make heroes out of a bunch of prisoners at GITMO?)

I say none of the above. Being a soldier does not make you a hero. Being a prisoner does not make you a hero. Being the Supreme Allied Commander does not make you a hero. Doing something heroic makes you a hero. Neither McCain nor Clark are heroes.

Wes Clark's comment about McCain's being shot down is being heralded as a definitive "Kinsley
" (when a politician makes the accidental mistake of telling the truth). And the media is hyperventilating over it. Look, Clark spoke the truth; the fact that McCain was shot down and subsequently held prisoner, and tortured, does NOT mean that McCain is more prepared to be president than anyone else. The zeitgeist says the opposite, and the zeitgeist is wrong. Clark spoke the truth, a truth that needed to be spoken. That Obama is hyperventilating about it is very, very disappointing. To me, Clark's comments were of the sort that I expected Obama to make during this general election cycle. Oh well. Here is a nice mashup of how the whole clusterfuck is going:

Thanks Digby

UPDATE: Here is a great response from Clark himself debunking the notion that he "Swiftboated" McCain. His last line in this video is my favorite...

UPDATE II: Obama makes his statement about the brouhaha:

UPDATE III: I just need to mention the fact that one of our greatest presidents had no military experience, and he got elected 4 times! They even had to amend the constitution so nobody could be president so many times. Oh, and he got elected so many times because he was such a "war" president! The whole I-am-qualified-to-be-POTUS-because-I-was-a-soldier thing just needs to stop. So, thanks FDR, and thanks Wes Clark. Now, back to Rube Goldberg!


North Carolina!

I know there is someone in NC reading this blog. You should say something! My other reader from Berkeley does!

Some fun Neil Young:

Total Pageviews