Sunday Cartoon Fun

Fire The Teachers (Bloggers)

Band of Bloggers?

One of our brethren has been released from his teaching position due in part to the reflective teacher writing that he posts anonymously on his teacher blog. Instead of being reprimanded, or even censured, he’s been fired.
Great. A teacher gets fired for speaking up on a blog. I don't know what he said, but I guess it was enough. I can guarantee it was not because he was doing anything pedagogically unsound; surely it was because he presented another view on NCLB, testing, and the rest. This is how things are going to go far a while--at least until parents and teachers take back the schools from the politicians!

Let's Talk Turkey

unedited version!!

I understand the outrage about Sarah Palin's "death-to-turkeys" interview. People in America who don't kill their own food (most of us, except Ted Nugent) are taken aback when they see the slaughter. Well, gross as it is, deal with it. If you want to eat turkey, then you might have to see one get dispatched.

My dad used to say that if you want to drive, you're going to have to put up with the occasional oil spill. I think he was right. We lefty, vegan, holier than thou types should probably just shut up about the Palin Turkey Interview as it relates to interviews and interview etiquette.

And that nonsense that Sarah Palin did not know about the slaughter? Bullshit. She is so full of shit her voice is straining to hold back more shit. If she had stood by her moose-killing, caribou-eating, wolf-hunting persona--her true persona--I would (as you see above) have no problem with the interview. But when she starts lying about it to make her seem like she is taken aback, when indeed she would probably be happy to slit the turkey's throat herself, then I get confrontational.

She is a lying liar, and she tells lies.

ObamaTube II


Friday Big 3 Cartoon fun

Secretary Of State Clinton: Done

WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton has decided to give up her Senate seat and accept the position of secretary of state, making her the public face around the world for the administration of the man who beat her for the Democratic presidential nomination, two confidants said Friday.



A Teacher's Dilemma

I want to take my kids on a field trip to the zoo. I want to because I found out that one of my second graders has never been to the zoo! That's right, never. He lives no more than 10 miles from the nearest zoo, and no more than 20 miles from a really big-city zoo. I can get it done, no problem. I have some money (? mom2015) for the bus, and probably enough for admission; I hate asking parents for money.

In order for a zoo trip to be any fun for the kids, I need parent volunteers to come with me so I can break the kids into small groups, facilitating easy access and transit to and from display to display. I am sure I will get enough parents, and I will make it clear that any extra parents will need to pay their way. Also not a problem, usually.

Now the dilemma: I am pretty sure one of the parents who will want to come is a tweaker, a methhead, a drug addict. The grandmother (bless her) is raising the kids because mom is in and out of rehab. She happens to be out this month. I cannot give her a group of kids at the zoo. I cannot make that obvious to her, or her kid, or the other kids. It's a dilemma.

Have a nice day!

Michelle Rhee: Self-Important Bitch

This Examiner story shows a couple things: First, that Michelle Rhee seems to realize that parents are a huge (79 pages worth) problem with the education of children, and second, that Ms. Rhee would like all parents to realize that it is the teachers/schools that are the problem. Rhee has 2 faces, the one that knows the truth, the other that wants a job. I hate her. She deserves my hate. She is worse than Hitler (almost!)
DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee proposes teaching parents ‘basic skills’

Mention the name Michelle Rhee in education circles and you will get a very mixed set of emotions. Her less than tactful methods of approaching school reform have brought about a variety of reactions from various members of the educational community.

Many welcome her methods and praise her no-nonsense approach towards ‘reforming’ the DC Public School system. She has affectionately been called "a maverick" and "the Ax" by those who see her methods as bringing about necessary change to the DC School system.

Critics, however, fear that her lack of experience and refusal to collaborate with educational stakeholders – parents, educators, community members - will create even bigger problems for the failing school system.

Most of her zealousness has been aimed at teachers and their unions and people tend to like a good old fashioned teacher-bash; but what happens when she starts to apply "the Ax" towards parents?

Bill Turque at The Washington Post reports that Rhee has presented a 79 page "action plan" which discusses proposals to address important issues in the DC school system. Among the issues discussed are security and discipline policies, more specialized schools and interestingly enough, the creation of a "Parent Academy". Turque reports:
The academy would be created as a part of other community outreach programs and proposes to :teach parents "the full set of basic skills necessary to be a successful participant" in their child's education.
The academy seems to have been proposed in response to the fact that Rhee does not feel that parents quite understand what is best for their children. Turque writes:
The report also addresses at length the issue of parent involvement and is at one point bluntly critical of families for accepting, even supporting, mediocre schools.

"Too many of our students' parents are uninformed consumers of public education who blindly support the District's public schools without full knowledge of the significant deficiencies of the schools," the document says.
Rhee has come under fire lately by some parent groups who feel that the chancellor has been ignoring their input and refusing to include their opinions.

Educators make the claim that Rhee fires individuals who oppose her methods, but what can be done with parents who do not agree?

I guess you can always send them to a "parent academy".

To Test, Or To Teach, The Story Of Every Teacher (These Days)

From miss brave, a typical teacher who wishes she could teach. This post could be about every teacher I know:
Does testing equal teaching?

It's been a while! This is mostly because I spent all week grading my students' TC assessments. One month ago, they took these new Teachers College spelling assessments. We were told we would eventually get together as a grade and go over the procedure for grading them (it's not as simple as "correct" or "incorrect"; they actually get points for various word features like initial consonants and short vowel sounds).

The giant pile of assessments sat on my desk for a month, until Thursday, when we had our meeting where we learned how to grade them and were informed that our administration would like us to finish grading them by Monday so they can be plugged into the computer. Excuse me? We sat on this for a month and then we're given three days (two of which, I might add, are weekend days) to get it done? Most of the teachers I work with had fewer than 12 to grade; I have 51 students. Two lists of 25 words each equals 102 spelling tests on which I had to analyze every word and then add up the number of "feature points" per word. Plus, the grading grid is naturally microscopic, as to fit all the information in, so I was hunched over my desk all day yesterday trying to fit the numbers in my tiniest handwriting. Not to mention the fact that my students cannot spell, so I had a lot of deciphering to do to make sure they were still getting credit for all the "word features" they did include.

Allegedly, all this data is going into a computer that will spit out oodles of fascinating information about exactly what my students need to work on (I can tell you right now: most of them have their consonants down cold, but those long vowel patterns like the o-e in hope and the i-e in shine? Ouch), but what's killing me is that November is a week away and we'll be starting running records and this assessment again. Are we really going to see enough of a seismic shift in a month's time that it's worth taking away our instructional time to administer this blasted thing again, not to mention our personal sanity to grade it? I mean, we haven't even looked at the data yet, let alone made any attempt to use the data in order to drive our instruction, so it's highly unlikely that we'll see any growth...so why are we wasting our time?

Part of the assessment is sitting with one kid at a time while he or she reads eight lists of high-frequency sight words. It's easy to do -- they (hopefully) just shoot down the list, all "the a and he she it they will" without stopping to take a breath -- but it takes forever, and meanwhile no one's getting a guided reading group or a strategy lesson or an individual conference that day because I'm checking off sight words. I'm thinking it'll take at least two weeks to finish all my running records and these assessments, especially in the midst of all the other stuff that goes on that precludes reading, so that's two weeks where I'm not actually, you know, teaching reading, and then our administration wonders why our kids aren't improving, like they're supposed to learn these reading strategies by osmosis or something...unless they think that testing actually equals teaching?


Wednesday Cartoon Fun, At The Clintons' Expense

Hertzberg On Palin's Choice (Pro!)

Perfect, unless you are a right-wingnut-crusader type:
A Choice and an Echo

Via Andrew, here is Kathryn Jean (K-Lo) Lopez, head honcha of National Review Online, explaining why Governor Palin is her leader:
What is it about Sarah?

For many folks on the Right, she represented an influx of social conservatism in the campaign. All she had to do was arrive at the scene with her son Trig to demonstrate her pro-life bona fides. Some estimated 90 percent of Americans faced with the knowledge that they might give birth to a child with Down Syndrome wouldn’t have made the choice she and her husband, Todd, did to let the child live.
I detect some assumptions here. (1) Palin’s carrying Trig to term was a choice. (2) The choice was hers and her husband’s to make, not God’s or the government’s. (3) She deserves praise for having chosen the choice she chose.

But if Palin (and Lopez) were truly “pro-life”—if they truly believed that abortion, especially elective abortion in the first trimester, is murder or at least unjustifiable homicide—then having Trig was not a choice. It was a simple matter of obedience to God’s law, which is infinitely more sacrosanct than man’s law. Palin no more deserves praise for it than I deserve praise for not having lately gunned down any friends, colleagues, or strangers.

What this demonstrates is that even in the minds of anti-abortion zealots, abortion is now implicitly viewed in the same light as divorce: an unfortunate choice, a reprehensible choice, a choice that may even contravene the will of God, but still a choice. And, again implicitly, the choice that Sarah Palin had every right to make. In both directions.

This is why, even if Roe v. Wade is eventually overturned, it will always be legal to get an abortion somewhere in the United States of America.

Rhee And Opinions: Who Cares?

From The Duke Chronicle:
Rhee pushes contentious education reform policy
By: Ryan Brown
Posted: 11/18/08

When it comes to school reform, Michelle Rhee doesn't care what you think.

The chancellor of the Washington, D.C. public school system has had about enough of adult opinions and adult priorities.

"It's our kids who have no due process," she said. "We still allow the color of a child's skin and their zip-code to dictate the quality of their education, and that's the biggest social injustice imaginable."

Rhee, 38, has set off a firestorm of controversy among education reformers with her bold plans to overhaul the school system in D.C., widely regarded as one of the worst districts in the nation. But Monday night, she played to a different crowd.

Filling every level of the building, members of the Duke community packed the Fleishman Commons at the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy to hear Rhee speak about her experiences in the field of urban public education, and to ask their own questions of the young leader who has made a name for herself in the education world as a scrappy, no-nonsense reformer.

"Her parents hoped for her to become a doctor or a lawyer or at worst an investment banker," President Richard Brodhead said in introducing Rhee. "But in spite of that, she became a teacher."

Rhee's meteoric rise to the chancellorship took her down a path familiar to many Duke graduates. After graduating from Cornell University in 1992, she joined Teach For America, a program that sends recent college graduates to some of the nation's worst schools to teach for two years.

The program currently counts 3,800 first-year teachers among its ranks, and 10 percent of Duke's Class of 2008 applied for a spot last year, said Caroline Davis, a senior recruitment director for the program. This year, there are 43 former Duke students teaching in the program, which has for several years been one of the largest employers of recent Duke graduates.

As for Rhee, she jumped from TFA to graduate school at Harvard University to a job organizing a TFA off-shoot called the New Teacher Project.

Then one day last spring, she got a call from D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty. He had a request: He wanted her to take the reins of his city's struggling schools.

"I said, are you kidding me?" Rhee recalled to the Sanford audience. "There was no worse job I could think of than being an urban superintendent."

But Fenty wasn't prepared to give up that easily. He and Rhee eventually struck a deal. He would dissolve the school board and give her nearly full autonomy to run the district, and she would come to work in the D.C. schools.

Rhee didn't waste any time. Only weeks into her tenure, she began to slash the jobs of a group of teachers and administrators who she said were "egregiously incompetent." Almost immediately after, parents and teachers began to complain, but Rhee was unphased.

She charged forward, unleashing a controversial idea: a pay-for-performance plan that would reward teachers whose students made marked improvements in state and national standardized tests.

"We have lots of teachers in our system who are heroic, who go beyond what they have to do every single day, but the current system doesn't reward them," she said.

Her comments generated a stir in the Sanford audience as well. When moderators opened the floor to questions, audience members asked questions about the economics, sustainability and practical implications of Rhee's plan.

But Jacob Vigdor, an associate professor of public policy studies and economics whose research focuses on education reform, said however her initiatives play out, her creativity as a reformer should be lauded.

"There's only so much you can figure out sitting around talking about hypothetical situations," he said. "The more people try things, the more we'll learn."

Sophomore Nikhil Taneja said he walked away from the speech inspired by Rhee's tenacity.

"She's not afraid to say what has to be said," he said. "She's putting kids first and that gives me confidence."

NCLB Debate

Over at newtalk, they are having a little NCLB debate. Here is a response from Richard Rothstein:
NCLB is a failure, and should be scrapped, for these reasons:
a) By requiring accountability only for math and reading, it distorts the goals of education. In any institution, if principals hold agents accountable only for some of the institution’s goals, agents will distort their behavior to accomplish only those things for which they are held accountable. This is rational behavior. It is the reason the Soviet command economy was so inefficient (textile mills required to make adequate yearly progress in the production of yards of cloth produced only useless narrow widths; trucking firms required to cover more miles drove around in circles, etc.); it is also the reason that NCLB-type accountability programs in job training, welfare reform, and health care have been abandoned. Local agencies held accountable for placing workers in jobs concentrated on placing workers most likely to be placed without agency assistance, not those most in need of assistance; hospitals required to improve the survival rates of cardiac surgery patients refused to operate on the sickest patients, etc. The biggest tragedy of all this is that goal distortion has been most severe for disadvantaged children, because these are those for whom there is the biggest payoff for substituting math and reading drill for instruction in other subjects and behavioral traits.
b) Leave aside any racial or socioeconomic differences in achievement. There is sufficient variation among youth, irrespective of social background, that a single standard of proficiency cannot possibly be “challenging” (to use the NCLB term) to below-average, average, or above-average children. The problem is not whether proficiency is defined too high, or too low, or differently among states. Any standard of proficiency is irrational if applied to all students.
c) NCLB permits no adjustment for socioeconomic differences, although these are the most important determinants of student achievement, on average. (Yes, I know, some poor students excel, just as some smokers don’t get lung cancer, but on average, socioeconomic disadvantage has a big impact. As you know, I’ve written a book on this topic, but forget me as an authority - Janet Currie has estimated that 25% of the black-white school readiness gap can be explained by differences in a few measurable health characteristics of children and their mothers; our own Rick Hanushek and colleagues have estimated [for Texas] that about 14% of the racial achievement gap can be explained by differences in student mobility rates. Etc.)
d) An accountability system based on test scores alone has stimulated nationwide score inflation, as teachers and administrators have naturally learned how to game the system, both by legal means and by unlawful cheating. The nationwide improvement of state test scores, relative to NAEP scores, is evidence alone that NCLB and its required state accountability systems have resulted more in gaming than in improved instruction. We are back to the “Lake Wobegon effect” of the minimum competency movement of the late 1970s.

The above does not mean that, in principle, the federal government could not design and administer a satisfactory accountability system. But federal micromanagement of education (NCLB) has now proven to be so incompetent, for reasons stated above, that it would be foolish to rush headlong into another federal system, as poorly thought through as NCLB was. Why not let the states struggle with these very difficult challenges? Some may design better accountability systems, some may stick with NCLB-type systems. But after the NCLB fiasco, we’ve got little to lose by letting states experiment with alternative accountability systems.
Go on over and read the crazies defend NCLB, and the more reasonable explain why it should go away.

Well Done

Victory Globe


It's A Beautiful Day!

Willacy County Grand Jury Indicts Vice President

Tuesday , November 18, 2008 Posted: 02:38 PM

Several political figures also indicted

WILLACY COUNTY - A Willacy County grand jury has indicted a number of political figures, including Vice President Dick Cheney.

Indictments have not yet been made public and we're told a district judge still has to sign the indictments. Two state district judges are also indicted along with Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr.

NEWSCHANNEL 5 is digging to find out more. Senator Lucio has already issued a statement in response to the indictment. It says a motion will be filed to quash Senator Lucio's indictment this week.

NEWSCHANNEL 5 is working in Willacy County right now and will bring you the latest when it becomes available.

Depressing Depression. Depressed?

The modern Depression might look like this:
Today, a depression could reverse that process altogether. In a deep and sustained downturn, home prices would likely sink further and not rise, dimming the appeal of homeownership, a large part of suburbia's draw. Renting an apartment - perhaps in a city, where commuting costs are lower - might be more tempting. And although city crime might increase, the sense of safety that attracted city-dwellers to the suburbs might suffer, too, in a downturn. Many suburban areas have already seen upticks in crime in recent years, which would only get worse as tax-poor towns spent less money on policing and public services.
Expand and read the whole Boston Globe piece...
Depression 2009: What would it look like?

Lines at the ER, a television boom, emptying suburbs. A catastrophic economic downturn would feel nothing like the last one.

By Drake Bennett | November 16, 2008

OVER THE PAST few months, Americans have been hearing the word "depression" with unfamiliar and alarming regularity. The financial crisis tearing through Wall Street is routinely described as the worst since the Great Depression, and the recession into which we are sinking looks deep enough, financial commentators warn, that a few poor policy decisions could put us in a depression of our own.

It's a frightening possibility, but also in many ways an abstraction. The country has gone so long without a depression that it's hard to know what it would be like to live through one.

Most of us, of course, think we know what a depression looks like. Open a history book and the images will be familiar: mobs at banks and lines at soup kitchens, stockbrokers in suits selling apples on the street, families piled with all their belongings into jalopies. Families scrimp on coffee and flour and sugar, rinsing off tinfoil to reuse it and re-mending their pants and dresses. A desperate government mobilizes legions of the unemployed to build bridges and airports, to blaze trails in national forests, to put on traveling plays and paint social-realist murals.

Today, however, whatever a depression would look like, that's not it. We are separated from the 1930s by decades of profound economic, technological, and political change, and a modern landscape of scarcity would reflect that.

What, then, would we see instead? And how would we even know a depression had started? It's not a topic that professional observers of the economy study much. And there's no single answer, because there's no one way a depression might unfold. But it's nonetheless an important question to consider - there's no way to make informed decisions about the present without understanding, in some detail, the worst-case scenario about the future.

By looking at what we know about how society and commerce would slow down, and how people respond, it's possible to envision what we might face. Unlike the 1930s, when food and clothing were far more expensive, today we spend much of our money on healthcare, child care, and education, and we'd see uncomfortable changes in those parts of our lives. The lines wouldn't be outside soup kitchens but at emergency rooms, and rather than itinerant farmers we could see waves of laid-off office workers leaving homes to foreclosure and heading for areas of the country where there's more work - or just a relative with a free room over the garage. Already hollowed-out manufacturing cities could be all but deserted, and suburban neighborhoods left checkerboarded, with abandoned houses next to overcrowded ones.

And above all, a depression circa 2009 might be a less visible and more isolating experience. With the diminishing price of televisions and the proliferation of channels, it's getting easier and easier to kill time alone, and free time is one thing a 21st-century depression would create in abundance. Instead of dusty farm families, the icon of a modern-day depression might be something as subtle as the flickering glow of millions of televisions glimpsed through living room windows, as the nation's unemployed sit at home filling their days with the cheapest form of distraction available.

The odds are, most economists say, we will yet avoid a full-blown depression - the world's policy makers, they argue, have learned enough not to repeat the mistakes of the 1930s. Still, in a country that has known little but economic growth for 50 years, it matters to think about what life would look like without it.

. . .

There is, in fact, no agreed-upon definition of what a depression is. Economists are unanimous that the Great Depression was the worst economic downturn the industrial world has ever seen, and that we haven't had a depression since, but beyond that there is not a consensus. Recessions have an official definition from the National Bureau of Economic Research, but the bureau pointedly declines to define a depression.

What sets a depression apart, most economists would agree, are duration and the scale of joblessness. To be worthy of the name, a depression needs to be more than a few years long - far longer than the eight-month average of our recent recessions - and it needs to put a lot of people out of work. The Great Depression lasted a decade by some measures, and at its worst, one in four American workers was out of a job. (By comparison, unemployment now is at a 14-year high of 6.5 percent.)

In a modern depression, the swelling ranks of the unemployed would likely change the landscape of the country, uprooting people who would rather stay where they are and trapping people who want to move. In the 1930s, this took the visible form of waves of displaced tenant farmers washing into California, but it also had another, subtler effect: it froze the movement of the middle class. The suburbanization that was to define the post-World-War-II years had in fact started in the 1920s, only to be brought sharply to a halt when the economy collapsed.

Today, a depression could reverse that process altogether. In a deep and sustained downturn, home prices would likely sink further and not rise, dimming the appeal of homeownership, a large part of suburbia's draw. Renting an apartment - perhaps in a city, where commuting costs are lower - might be more tempting. And although city crime might increase, the sense of safety that attracted city-dwellers to the suburbs might suffer, too, in a downturn. Many suburban areas have already seen upticks in crime in recent years, which would only get worse as tax-poor towns spent less money on policing and public services.

"You could have a sort of desurburbanization phenomenon," suggests Michael Bernstein, a historian of the Depression and the provost of Tulane University.

The migrations kicked off by a depression wouldn't be in one direction, but a tangle of demographic crosscurrents: young families moving back to their hometowns to live with the grandparents when they can no longer afford to live on their own, parents moving in with their adult children when their postretirement fixed incomes can no longer support them. Some parts of the country, especially the Rust Belt, could see a wholesale depopulation as the last remnants of the American heavy-manufacturing base die out.

"There will be some cities like Detroit that in a real depression could just become ghost towns," says Jeffrey Frankel, a Harvard economist and member of the National Bureau of Economic Research committee that declares recessions. (Frankel does not, he emphasizes, think we are headed for a depression.)

. . .

At the household level, the look of want is different today than during the last prolonged downturn. The government helps the unemployed and the poor with programs that didn't exist when the Great Depression hit - unemployment insurance, Medicaid, food stamps, Social Security for seniors. Beyond that, two of the basics of existence - food and clothing - are a lot cheaper today, thanks to industrial agriculture and overseas labor. The average middle-class man in the late 1920s, according to the writer and cultural critic Virginia Postrel, could afford just six outfits, and his wife nine - by comparison, the average woman today has seven pairs of jeans alone. So we're less likely to see one of the iconic images of the Great Depression: Formerly middle-class workers in threadbare clothes lining up for free food.

If we look closely, however, we might see more former lawyers wearing knockoffs, doing their back-to-school shopping at Target or Wal-Mart rather than Banana Republic and Abercrombie & Fitch. Lean times might kill off much of the taboo around buying hand-me-downs, and with modern distribution networks - and a push from the reduce-reuse-recycle mind-set of environmentalism - we might see the development of nationwide used-clothing chains.

In general, novelty would lose some of its luster. It's not simply that we'd buy less, we'd look for different qualities in what we buy. New technology would grow less seductive, basic reliability more important. We'd see more products like Nextel phones and the Panasonic Toughbook laptop, which trade on their sturdiness, and fewer like the iPhone - beautiful, cleverly designed, but not known for durability. The neighborhood appliance shop could reappear in a new form - unlicensed, with hacked cellphones and rebuilt computers.

And while very few would starve, a depression would change how we eat. Food costs remain far below what they were for a family in the 1920s and 1930s, but they have been rising in recent years, and many people already on the edge of poverty would be unable to feed themselves on their own in a harsh economic climate - soup kitchens are already seeing an uptick in attendance. At the high end of the market, specialty and organic foods - which drove the success of chains like Whole Foods - would seem pointlessly expensive; the booming organic food movement could suffer as people start to see specially grown produce as more of a luxury than a moral choice. New England's surviving farmers would be particularly hard-hit, as demand for their seasonal, relatively high-cost products dried up.

According to Marion Nestle, a food and public health professor at New York University, people low on cash and with more time on their hands will cook more rather than go out. They may also, Nestle suggests, try their hands at growing and even raising more of their own food, if they have any way of doing so. Among the green lawns of suburbia, kitchen gardens would spring up. And it might go well beyond just growing your own tomatoes: early last month, the English bookstore chain Waterstone's reported a 200 percent increase in the sales of books on keeping chickens.

At the same time, the cheapest option for many is decidedly less rustic: meals like packaged macaroni and cheese and drive-through fast food. And we're likely to see a move in that direction, as well, toward cheaper, easier calories. If so, lean times could have the odd effect of making the population fatter, as more Americans eat like today's poor.

. . .

To understand where a depression would hit hardest, however, look at the biggest-ticket items on people's budgets.

Housing, health insurance, transportation, and child care are the top expenses for American families, according to Elizabeth Warren, a bankruptcy law specialist at Harvard Law School; along with taxes, these take up two-thirds of income, on average. And when those are squeezed, that could mean everything from more crowded subways to a proliferation of cheap, unlicensed day-care centers.

Health insurance premiums have risen to onerous levels in recent years, and in a long period of unemployment - or underemployment - they would quickly become unmanageable for many people. Dropping health insurance would be an immediate way for families to save hundreds of dollars per month. People without health insurance tend to skip routine dental and medical checkups, and instead deal with health problems only when they become acute - meaning they get their healthcare through hospital emergency rooms.

That means even longer waits at ERs, which are even now overtaxed in many places, and a growing financial drain on hospitals that already struggle to pay for the care they give uninsured people. And if, as is likely, this coincided with cuts in money for hospitals coming from cash-strapped state and local governments, there's a very real possibility that many hospitals would have to close, only further increasing the burden on those that remain open. In their place people could rely more on federally-funded health centers, or the growing number of drugstore clinics, like the MinuteClinics in CVS branches, for vaccines, physicals, strep throat tests, and other basic medical care. And as the costs of traditional medicine climbed out reach for families, the appeal of alternative medicine would in all likelihood grow.

Higher education, another big expense, would probably take a hit as well. Students unable to afford private universities would opt for public universities, students unable to afford four-year colleges would opt for community colleges, and students unable to afford community college wouldn't go at all. With fewer applicants, admissions standards would drop, with spots that once would have been filled by more qualified, poorer students going instead to wealthier applicants who before would not have made the cut. Some universities would simply shrink. In Boston, a city almost uniquely dependent on higher education, the results - fewer students renting apartments, going to restaurants and bars, opening bank accounts, buying books, taking taxis - would be particularly acute.

A depression would last too long for unemployed college graduates to ride out the downturn in business or law school, so people would have to change career plans entirely. One place that could see an uptick in applications and interest is government work: Its relative stability, combined with a suspicion of free-market ideology that would accompany a truly disastrous downturn, could attract more people and even help the public sector shake off its image as a redoubt for the mediocre and the unambitious.

. . .

In many ways, though, today's depression would not look like the last one because it would not look like much at all. As Warren wrote in an e-mail, "The New Depression would be largely invisible because people would experience loss privately, not publicly."

In the public imagination, the Depression was a galvanizing time, the crucible in which the Greatest Generation came of age and came together. That is, at best, only partly true. Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam has found that, for many, the Depression was isolating: Kiwanis clubs, PTAs, and other social groups lost around half their members from 1930 to 1935. And other studies on economic hardship suggest that it tends to sap people's civic engagement, often permanently.

"When people become unemployed in the Great Depression, they hunker down, they pull in from everybody." Putnam says.

That effect, Putnam believes, would only be more pronounced today. The Depression was, famously, a boom time for movies - people flocked to cheap double features to escape the dreariness of their everyday poverty. Today, however, movies are no longer cheap. Nor is a day at the ballpark.

Much of a modern depression would unfold in the domestic sphere: people driving less, shopping less, and eating in their houses more. They would watch television at home; unemployed parents would watch over their own kids instead of taking them to day care. With online banking, it would even be possible to have a bank run in which no one leaves the comfort of their home.

There would be darker effects, as well. Depression, unsurprisingly, is higher in economically distressed households; so is domestic violence. Suicide rates go up in tough times, marriage rates and birthrates go down. And while divorce rates usually rise in recessions, they dropped during the Great Depression, in part because unhappy couples found they simply couldn't afford separation.

In precarious times, hunkering down can become not simply a defense mechanism, but a worldview. Grant McCracken, an anthropologist affiliated with MIT who studies consumer behavior, calls this distinction "surging" vs. "dwelling" - the difference, as he wrote recently on his blog, between believing that the world "teems with new features, new things, new opportunities, new excitement" and thinking that life's pleasures come from counting one's blessings and appreciating and holding onto what one already has. Economic uncertainty, he argues, drives us toward the latter.

As a nation, we have grown very accustomed to the momentum that surging imparts. And while a depression remains far from inevitable, it's as close as it has been in a lifetime. We might want to get a sense for what dwelling feels like.
h/t MY

Lieberman Wins!!

Bad move!
Lieberman Keeps Committee Chair In Senate Vote

WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Lieberman will keep his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security Committee despite hard feelings over his support for GOP nominee John McCain during the presidential campaign.

The Connecticut independent will lose a minor panel post as punishment for criticizing Obama this fall.

Lieberman's colleagues in the Democratic caucus voted 42-13 Tuesday on a resolution condemning statements made by Lieberman during the campaign but allowing him to keep the Homeland Security Committee gavel. He loses an Environment and Public Works panel subcommittee chairmanship, however.

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he was very angry by Lieberman's actions but that "we're looking forward, we're not looking back."

Added Reid: "Is this a time when we walk out of here and say, 'Boy, did we get even?'" said Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Lieberman's grasp on his chairmanship has gotten stronger since President-elect Barack Obama signaled to Democratic leaders that he's not interested in punishing Lieberman for boosting McCain and criticizing Obama during the long campaign.

"This is the beginning of a new chapter, and I know that my colleagues in the Senate Democratic Caucus were moved not only by the kind words that Senator Reid said about my longtime record, but by the appeal from President-elect Obama himself that the nation now unite to confront our very serious problems," Lieberman said after the vote.

Anger toward Lieberman seems to have softened since Election Day, and Democrats didn't want to drive him from the Democratic caucus by taking away his chairmanship and send the wrong signals as Obama takes office on a pledge to unite the country. Lieberman had indicated it would be unacceptable for him to lose his chairmanship.

Lieberman, who was Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore's running mate in 2000, was re-elected in 2006 as an independent after losing his state's Democratic primary. He remains a registered Democrat and aligns with the party inside the Senate.

"It's time to unite our country," said Lieberman supporter Ken Salazar, D-Colo.

On the other side were senators who feel that one requirement to be installed in a leadership position is party loyalty.

"To reward Senator Lieberman with a major committee chairmanship would be a slap in the face of millions of Americans who worked tirelessly for Barack Obama and who want to see real change in our country," Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said in a statement Friday. "Appointing someone to a major post who led the opposition to everything we are fighting for is not 'change we can believe in.'"
The Dems bailed him out. He doesn't deserve it!

Update: It's Laugh At Lieberman Day!


Note To Obama: Don't Let Them Slide!

The Rule Of Law

by hilzoy

From the AP:
"Barack Obama's incoming administration is unlikely to bring criminal charges against government officials who authorized or engaged in harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists during the George W. Bush presidency. Obama, who has criticized the use of torture, is being urged by some constitutional scholars and human rights groups to investigate possible war crimes by the Bush administration.

Two Obama advisers said there's little — if any — chance that the incoming president's Justice Department will go after anyone involved in authorizing or carrying out interrogations that provoked worldwide outrage.

The advisers spoke on condition of anonymity because the plans are still tentative. A spokesman for Obama's transition team did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

Additionally, the question of whether to prosecute may never become an issue if Bush issues pre-emptive pardons to protect those involved."
This is a big mistake. It is enormously important that we establish the principle that members of the government cannot break the law with impunity, and we cannot do that without being willing to prosecute them when, as in this case, there is overwhelming evidence that they violated the law. This is especially true of the most senior members of government, like the Vice President.

That said, I can easily see why Obama might not want to do this. The problem isn't just that it would be bad for him to be seen as carrying out a partisan witch hunt; it would also be bad for the law, and for these prosecutions, if they were seen as a partisan witch hunt.

Luckily, there's a fairly obvious solution to this problem. Obama should appoint a special prosecutor. (If current laws do not allow for this, they should be changed.) This prosecutor should be someone with an unimpeachable reputation for wisdom, rectitude, and non-partisanship. (Think Archibald Cox.) He or she should be given complete independence, and should decide, without any interference from anyone in government, whether or not to bring charges. That would allow charges to be brought if they are merited, while minimizing the chances that they would be seen as partisan.

Altogether too many people believe that the laws do not apply to people in power. This is always a dangerous thing for people to think in a democracy; it is especially dangerous since some of the people who believe this are in power now, and others might attain power in the future. It is very, very important that this belief be wrong. And whether or not it is wrong depends on President-elect Obama. I hope he chooses wisely.
Yes, yes, and yes. As a teacher I think consequences are necessary to learning. This administration has violated many laws, yet nothing has happened to them. Obama needs to think about the world he is leading, and who lives in it--like his daughters and my son. To do nothing would be silly season!

Kids These Days...

Michelle Rhee: Worse Than A Union Assassin

Rhee affects us all! Read how she wants to privatize the schools! We are on our way!
Union Chief Seeks Contract Talks With Rhee

By Bill Turque
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 17, 2008; 1:54 PM

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said today she has asked for a meeting with D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee in an effort to reach agreement on a contract between the District and the Washington Teachers' Union (WTU).

"I've reached out to the chancellor," said Weingarten, who heads the 1.4 million-member parent organization that includes the WTU.

The AFT has been providing behind-the-scenes support to WTU President George Parker for many months. But Weingarten's statement, which came during a question-and-answer session following a morning speech at the National Press Club, is the first acknowledgement of her direct involvement in the year-long talks, which are being closely watched by educators and labor leaders nationwide.

Negotiations have stalled over Rhee's two-tiered proposal to provide huge raises and performance bonuses to teachers who agree to give up their tenure for a year, risking dismissal. Teachers unwilling to risk tenure would receive smaller, but still significant, bonuses and raises.

Weingarten said she was not sure a date was set but that a meeting seemed likely soon.

"George Parker and I are anxious to meet with the chancellor. I hope that will happen. There's been a lot of buzzing back and forth trying to find a date," she said.

Dena Iverson, Rhee's spokeswoman, said late this morning that she could not immediately confirm whether a meeting was scheduled.

Weingarten's comments came following her first major policy speech since her election to the AFT presidency this summer. Weingarten, who remains president of the United Federation of Teachers, the New York City teachers union, appealed to elected officials to protect schools from deep budget cuts as a result of the financial crisis. She also said that without close collaboration with teachers, school reform would be difficult.

"Without the buy-in of teachers, student success is unlikely," Weingarten said. "With teachers' buy-in, student success is unstoppable."

She said the union was prepared to find common ground with school officials on controversial issues such as performance pay and tenure -- the job security system regarded by many critics of public education as a safe harbor for ineffective teachers.

Weingarten said the AFT had called on local unions to make the process of winning tenure more rigorous, through programs that featured peer assistance and a system of "master teachers" who could help novice teachers improve and "counsel unsuccessful colleagues out of the profession."

She also cautioned school administrators, policymakers and opinion leaders to reconsider their demonization of teachers unions as the main impediment to school reform.

"Think of a teacher who is staying up past midnight to prepare her lesson plan . . . a teacher who is paying for equipment out of his own pocket so his students can conduct science experiments. . . . These are the people the AFT represents. Make no mistake about it -- when you attack us, you attack them."

Weingarten did not mention Rhee by name in her prepared comments. But during a brief interview after her speech, she criticized Rhee's consideration of measures that would release the District from legal obligation to bargain with WTU. These include seeking revival of the city's ability to open non-union charter schools, and legislation that would declare a post-Katrina-style "state of emergency" that would effectively allow Rhee and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) to create a new, union-free school system.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that Fenty and Rhee are considering pursuit of the measures.[emphasis mine]

"I completely disagree," Weingarten said. "It's totally at odds with what I talked about today."
Update: D2 route has some interesting stuff about Rhee, and DC, and WaPo, and Kaplan, and other interesting stuff.

If you care about education, and not Rheeform, you need to educate yourself. Read blogs. Read teacher blogs. Read my blog!

Don't Let Them Send Me To The Camps....

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at 236.com.


Torturing Democracy: What They Did In Our Name!


You need to go watch this. If you don't think we should demand prosecution, you're not in your right mind.

The Socratic Method In Grade School? Yes

My principal once gave me grief about my use of the Socratic method with my students. Hey, Principal, you like apples? How 'bout these apples?
Scots primary pupils to learn philosophy in a bid to boost IQs and concentration

I think, therefore I am a primary pupil.

Primary schools across East Renfrewshire are adopting philosophy lessons as part of efforts to raise attainment.

The new project, called Wondering, has been developed in partnership with Dr Catherine McCall, a philosophy expert with Strathclyde University.

The lessons have already been trialled at secondary schools in the area and a version will be rolled out to the council's 24 primary schools by 2011.

Lessons encourage children to think about a variety of simple dilemmas to develop critical analysis and decision-making skills. The lessons are also designed to extend their concentration span.

Topics include bullying, making friends, wearing school uniform and making the school greener.

John Wilson, East Renfrewshire's director of education said: "Developing philosophical skills has a key role to play in boosting attainment and achievement in our schools and is more important than ever in an age in which pupils handle a great deal of information."

And Fiona Loudon, headteacher of Crookfur Primary School, which has trialled the programme, said: "Philosophy is having a very beneficial effect across the school. At a time when some claim the internet changes the way children think, we're relying on tried and tested philosophy to encourage and traditional thinking skills."

Philosophy has played an increasing role in schools in recent years.

The subject has already seen a revival at Higher, and last year it emerged that teaching primary school children philosophy and the thinking skills of Socrates resulted in a lasting gain in intelligence.

Clackmannanshire Council in Central Scotland pioneered the teaching of philosophical inquiry in primary schools when it introduced the subject in some of its most run-down areas six years ago.

An initial study carried out in 2003-04 showed that children aged five to 11 who were taught so-called "philosophical inquiry" showed intelligence gains of more than seven IQ points.

Another study showed that the gains were maintained years later, even in children who no longer had access to the programme.

On Friday, a group of Icelandic teachers will visit Crookfur Primary School, in Newton Mearns, to see P2 and P4 pupils taking part in the lessons.

Dr Catherine McCall said of teaching philosophy: "It helps children to develop inquiry, thinking and decision-making skills and also extends their concentration span, something that may be diminishing at present."
I tell people all the time that talking is important if you want to be able to communicate. Talking, asking, answering, thinking, dialogue, all of these contribute to thinking, literacy, and competence. Too many people never think, or ask, or answer. Staff meetings come to mind as one of the least thinky things teachers do.

I am confident that if we just spent the time teaching/talking with kids, they would learn a lot more than what some district-mandated curriculum can provide. Of course, this philosophical method can only work if teachers aren't morons. So, let those teachers who can, do!

The Facade

Parental Responsibility

How It Feels?

Blacks v. Teh Gays

LAS VEGAS — Comedian Wanda Sykes says the passage of a same-sex marriage ban in California has led to her be more outspoken about being gay.

"You know, I don't really talk about my sexual orientation. I didn't feel like I had to. I was just living my life, not necessarily in the closet, but I was living my life," Sykes told a crowd at a gay rights rally in Las Vegas on Saturday.

"Everybody that knows me personally they know I'm gay. But that's the way people should be able to live their lives," she said.

Sykes, who is known for her feisty and blunt style, said the passage of California's Proposition 8 made her feel like she was "attacked."

"Now, I gotta get in their face," she said. "I'm proud to be a woman. I'm proud to be a black woman, and I'm proud to be gay."

Sykes' appearance at the Las Vegas rally surprised organizers. She was in town performing at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.
So, the next time you hear some moron say Prop 8 passed because of black people, remind them that they are wrong, that there are lots of gay black people, that black people couldn't marry white people until I was about 4 years old, and the Mormons spent like a billion dollars to pass it.

Gay marriage is right around the corner, finally! Imagine, people who love each other, already live together, many with children and grandchildren, getting married!

Sunday Cartoon Fest

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