Yoo And Bybee: Just Poor Judgment

NEWSWEEK has learned that a senior Justice official who did the final review of the report softened an earlier OPR finding. Previously, the report concluded that two key authors—Jay Bybee, now a federal appellate court judge, and John Yoo, now a law professor—violated their professional obligations as lawyers when they crafted a crucial 2002 memo approving the use of harsh tactics, say two Justice sources who asked for anonymity discussing an internal matter. But the reviewer, career veteran David Margolis, downgraded that assessment to say they showed “poor judgment,” say the sources. (Under department rules, poor judgment does not constitute professional misconduct.) The shift is significant: the original finding would have triggered a referral to state bar associations for potential disciplinary action—which, in Bybee’s case, could have led to an impeachment inquiry.


Linda Darling-Hammond Should Have Been Ed Sec

Arne Duncan Said What?!

In an interview to be broadcast this weekend on Washington Watch With Roland Martin, Arne Duncan says, "I think the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina. That education system was a disaster, and it took Hurricane Katrina to wake up the community to say that 'we have to do better.'"
h/t KL

Do You Know This Kid X? Updated Again

Dolly Parton

Here we have a young lady who was born in 1946. She is very famous for a couple of big accomplishments, among other smaller accomplishments.

Update:  It is not Ellen DeGeneres, Patsy Cline or Hillary Clinton.  This young lady was born poor and is now not poor.  There is a hint in the original description, though a bit cryptic.

Update II:  I think the hint is more obvious now.

Update III:  Some crazy Deadhead figured it out.  It's Dolly Parton!

"They Don't Hate, They Don't Fight..."

The nature of Tea Baggers from Joe Bageant's blog:
Second is the responses the Tea Baggers have solicited from progressives in general and the very large well funded Obama political organization. The Obama machine has no interest in fending them off since they have been excellent foil in keeping progressives in line and have pushed the health care debate in the direction of the deals they have already cut with the health care industry (pro-corporate and to the right), and away from more progressive vision of health care reform. And the progressives are fucking worthless -- they don't hate, they don't fight and then they wonder why no one is afraid of them.

Lastly and most importantly, I think the Tea Baggers are really our canary in the mine that we are entering our late empire period. Crisis and decline in such situations does not lead to discrediting the failed ideologies that caused the given crisis, but rather the belief that we are failing because we where not faith full enough to those ideals. (Think of the crisis in Islamic world and the rise of fundamentalism.)

When it comes to history, shit just flows down hill.


Robert Reich: 3 Things...

SOTU & Education & Poverty

President Obama:
This year, we have broken through the stalemate between left and right by launching a national competition to improve our schools. The idea here is simple: instead of rewarding failure, we only reward success. Instead of funding the status quo, we only invest in reform -- reform that raises student achievement, inspires students to excel in math and science, and turns around failing schools that steal the future of too many young Americans, from rural communities to inner-cities. In the 21st century, one of the best anti-poverty programs is a world-class education. In this country, the success of our children cannot depend more on where they live than their potential.
The notion of competition, very present in the SOTU, is so very American and Capitalist. Look where it has gotten us, though--financial meltdown due to greed and competition, political gridlock due to greed and competition, RTTT based on greed and competition, and on and on. Some things need not be a competition, like who gets to eat and who gets a roof and who gets medicine and who gets a fully funded school.

In the SOTU last night President Obama made it clear that in order to get an education in America, your school/district/state has to compete. That seems, on its face, to be a negative; it's like competing for food or water--stuff we all need and deserve. Governments exist to provide that stuff for all, not for the "winners."

Then there is the notion that "one of the best anti-poverty programs is a world-class education." I suppose that's pretty hard to argue with unless you realize that it is not necessarily true in our case. Students today, in America at least, are pretty connected and savvy. They don't lack an education, nor do they lack the promise of one; they lack the means and motivation, in large part due to poverty, to get a "proper" one. Obama has it backwards, IMHO.

Poverty keeps many kids from performing well in the public schools America funds so abysmally. Lack of a world-class education is not keeping these kids impoverished or from graduating--racism and poverty are the culprits. And now we have charters sucking all the energy and money, leaving even less for the impoverished.

Impoverished families are focused on their day-to-day survival. Imagine if they did not have to worry about health care. I think a world-class health care system would do more for the kids Obama and Duncan are targeting than a competition to see who can write a better proposal to win desperately needed money for severely underfunded public schools.

We need to fund schools and pay teachers more. About teacher salaries, I have said it before: double the pay and see who shows up. It's not rocket science.

J.D. Salinger, R.I.P.

From HuffPo:
J.D. Salinger, the legendary author, youth hero and fugitive from fame whose "The Catcher in the Rye" shocked and inspired a world he increasingly shunned, has died. He was 91.


Howard Zinn, R.I.P.

Howard Zinn has died.
Howard Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist who was an early opponent of US involvement in Vietnam and a leading faculty critic of BU president John Silber, died of a heart attack today in Santa Monica, Calif, where he was traveling, his family said. He was 87.

Wednesday Cartoon Bonus: Don't Forget Haiti Edition

Wednesday Cartoon Fun: Dems And Jobs Edition


Michelle Rhee: "[They] Hit Children...Had Sex With Children..." Updated, Updated and Updated

She looks mean

The Washington Teacher, who you should bookmark, is worried Michelle Rhee might be insane. She points us to Jeff Chu at Fast Company as evidence:
Eighteen months after we profiled Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee ("The Iron Chancellor," September 2008), she still hasn't won union approval of a new contract. After the October layoffs of 266 teachers and staff, the union claimed Rhee used a budget crunch as a pretext for dismissing veteran teachers, since seniority rules don't cover cuts for fiscal reasons. "I got rid of teachers who had hit children, who had had sex with children, who had missed 78 days of school," Rhee says. "Why wouldn't we take those things into consideration?" The release of 2009 test scores was good news for Rhee: Only D.C. and four states showed gains in math for fourth and eighth graders. "We're not good yet," she says, "but I'm seeing the quality of instruction improving."
So, that's Rhee's claim. Hard to believe.

If you go to the article link you can read some comments. One, by someone who claims to be a psychologist, is very worried about Ms. Rhee's mental state. I think there are a few of us who are worried!

Update: Candi sent along this email of Bill Turque's followup:
Rhee says laid-off teachers in D.C. abused kids
By Bill Turque
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 23, 2010

Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee told a national business magazine that some of the 266 teachers laid off in October's budget reductions had sex with children or had hit them, a claim immediately and angrily challenged Friday by leaders of the Washington Teachers Union.

Rhee's comments appear in the February issue of Fast Company, a magazine aimed at young entrepreneurs and change-minded corporate executives. In a brief item, Rhee addressed the union allegation that she contrived the budget crunch to circumvent seniority rules and rid the system of older teachers.

"I got rid of teachers who had hit children, who had had sex with children, who had missed 78 days of school. Why wouldn't we take those things into consideration?" she said.

Rhee declined to provide specific numbers Friday or details to substantiate her remarks about sexual misconduct and teachers striking students. Neither did she respond when asked by e-mail why such teachers were allowed to remain in the school system before the Oct. 2 job cuts. D.C. police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump said late Friday that she was researching the matter.

"I cannot comment at this time," she said.

George Parker, president of the teachers union, called Rhee's statements "reckless" and without basis in fact. The union usually receives notice from the District when a teacher faces disciplinary action, Parker said, and he has received no information that any of the 266 had been under investigation for sexual offenses against children. One of the 266 faced action for administering corporal punishment, he said.

"This paints all teachers as being a group of child molesters who assault children and don't come to work," Parker said. "It damages the reputation of a lot of innocent, hardworking, dedicated teachers."

Rhee said she had made similar statements in other venues, including her October 29 apearance before the D.C. Council. Rhee's sworn testimony then did not mention teachers having sex with students. When council member Michael A. Brown (I-At Large) asked whether she would fight any attempt to reinstate the 266 teachers, Rhee said she would.

"There were some promising or effective people who were [laid off], but there were also some people who, quite frankly, if you saw what was in their file and what their situations have been in this city, you would be shocked," Rhee said. "Just to give a little sampling of this, six of the [laid off] employees had served suspensions for corporal punishment. One was suspended four times, three times for being AWOL."

As Brown attempted to cut her off, she added: "For you to say, 'Would I fight all 266 people coming back into the system,' I would, because a number of these people are not people that you or I would want to put in their classroom."
Word of Rhee's comments to Fast Company rippled through the teaching ranks, with some expressing outrage.

The union's general vice president, Nathan Saunders, said Rhee owes the city's teacher corps an apology. "The statements are not only an affront to every single teacher that was [laid off] but every single teacher currently employed in D.C. public schools," Saunders said. "It's irresponsible, and she needs to be taken to task for it."

Other union activists said they were especially offended by Rhee's remarks, in light of the recent investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by her fiancé, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson.

Before Johnson's 2008 election, the inspector general for the federal Corporation for National and Community Service filed a criminal referral with the U.S. attorney in Sacramento about Johnson. It included allegations that Johnson had inappropriately touched a minor girl and climbed into bed with a teenager who worked for the charter school he founded. The school received funding from Americorps, which is part of the community service corporation.
Johnson was not charged.

"I'm ready to recommend that Chancellor Rhee submit for a fitness for duty examination because these are the rants of either a mad or very confused woman," Candi Peterson, a teacher and member of the union's board of trustees, said on the Washington Teacher blog.
This seems to me to be among the most egregious abuses of power I have ever seen. Michelle Rhee is claiming, with NO support/proof, that she fired teachers not for the reasons given at the time but because now, with no substantiation, she has decided to say that these teachers did horrible things to kids--with no proof (well, there is the one case of corporal punishment, but to paint the entire group with this broad brush is wrong, and maybe criminal)! And if it turns out there is proof of abuse of students by teachers, why were they not fired for it, or at minimum placed on paid administrative leave while it was investigated? Who has the responsibility to see that every student has a safe learning environment? Guess who...The Chancellor (they really need to change that to Superintendent)!

The little people, like you and me, need to speak up and expose these abuses by the powerful. We need to do it more, and with real paper/envelope letters. Blogs are great (especially Candi's and this one), but we can't really do anything except preach to the choir. I am in California, but what happens in DC is illustrative of what is happening nationwide.

I support the wrongly accused. I stand with them. We are all RIFed Teachers!

Update II:
ABC News7:

Update III: Michelle Rhee responds.

Tuesday Cartoon Fun: Wimper Edition


Monday Cartoon Fun: God Becomes Atheist Edition

Quote Of The Day: Doug Noon

When we honor human freedom and dignity in our schools, in our workplaces, and throughout our communities, then corporations might find their rightful place in our service, not the other way around.--Doug Noon

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