The Governator Plans To Cut Programs For The Neediest Californians

From the L.A. Times:
Proposing a budget that would eliminate the state's welfare-to-work program and most child care for the poor, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday outlined a stark vision of a California that would sharply limit aid to some of its poorest and neediest citizens.

His $83.4-billion plan would also freeze funding for local schools, further cut state workers' pay and take away 60% of state money for local mental health programs. State parks and higher education are among the few areas the governor's proposal would spare.

The proposal, which would not raise taxes, also relies on $3.4 billion in help from Washington — roughly half of what the governor sought earlier this year — to help close a budget gap now estimated at $19.1 billion. Billions more would be saved through accounting moves and fund shifts.


How Do I Get To School If Mom's In Jail?

I am not sure how good an idea this is:
California may jail parents if kids are truant

Talk about parental responsibility. The California Senate just passed a bill that could send parents to jail for up to a year if their kids -- from kindergarten through eighth grade -- miss too much school.

Senate Bill 1317 is actually a public safety measure, according to State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), because children who don’t attend school regularly or drop out early are more likely to turn to crime.

"Three-quarters of our state inmate population are high school dropouts," Leno was quoted as saying by the Fresno Bee.

According to the Associated Press, parents whose kids miss too much school could be subject to up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine, though judges could put the punishment on hold to give parents a chance to get their kids to class.

The Fresno Bee reported that the bill would apply to parents or guardians of children age 6 or older in kindergarten through eighth grade.
The rest at the link.


Icelandic Bankers Arrested

Hey America, it can be done...
REYKJAVIK — More than a year and a half after Iceland's major banks failed, all but sinking the country's economy, police have begun rounding up a number of top bankers while other former executives and owners face a two-billion-dollar lawsuit.

Since Iceland's three largest banks -- Kaupthing, Landsbanki and Glitnir -- collapsed in late 2008, their former executives and owners have largely been living untroubled lives abroad.

But the publication last month of a parliamentary inquiry into the island nation's profound financial and economic crisis signaled a turning of the tide, laying much of the blame for the downfall on the former bank heads who had taken "inappropriate loans from the banks" they worked for.

On Wednesday, the administrators of Glitnir's liquidation announced they had filed a two-billion-dollar (1.6-billion-euro) lawsuit in a New York court against former large shareholders and executives for alleged fraud.

[...] In addition to its New York suit, Glitnir said it had "secured a freezing order from the High Court in London against Jon Asgeir Johannesson's worldwide assets, including two apartments in Manhattan's exclusive Gramercy Park neighbourhood for which he paid approximately 25 million dollars."

Gudbjartsdottir said Johannesson had just 48 hours to come up with a satisfactory list of his assets.

"If he does not give the right information he faces a jail sentence," she said.

Four former Kaupthing executives, who all live in Luxembourg, have meanwhile been arrested in Iceland in the past week and Interpol has issued an international arrest warrant for that bank's ex-chairman, Sigurdur Einarsson.
From C&L

James Lu Dunbar's "Bang!"

James Lu Dunbar has created a science book for everyone. I happen to know James and his family and he is a wonderful kid (Yeah, he is still that little kid I used to know--to me).

Check out his website and his book, Bang!

Apparently Test Scores No Longer Matter. WTF?

From Jim Horn:
...Which is what happened on May 5, as the New York Times published an op-ed by racialist charter advocate and co-author of The Bell Curve, Charles Murray, who now declares that the real reason that parents should advocate for charters and vouchers should have nothing to do with test scores anymore, test scores that are made irrelevant by the facts based on factors beyond the school—and, no, he’s not talking about poverty:
Cognitive ability, personality and motivation come mostly from home. What happens in the classroom can have some effect, but smart and motivated children will tend to learn to read and do math even with poor instruction, while not-so-smart or unmotivated children will often have trouble with those subjects despite excellent instruction. If test scores in reading and math are the measure, a good school just doesn’t have that much room to prove it is better than a lesser school.
So, then, if the good voucher schools of Milwaukee or the good charter schools of the U.S. are made bad by “cognitive ability, personality, and motivation [that] come mostly from home,” then it is not the fault of the good voucher and charter schools, which remain good, according to Murray, even as we stock them with urban students of defective cognitive ability, personality, and motivation. Apparently it is not the fault of perfectly good medicine that the unresponsive patients remain ill. (Note that the terms “poor” or “poverty” are unmentioned in the Murray op-ed).

The real reason for parents to choose charter schools, Murray argues, is that they offer a choice of “highly traditional curriculum long on history, science, foreign languages, classic literature, mathematics and English composition, taught with structure and discipline.” Aside from the total compliance “structure and discipline” that would make the “best” urban charters entirely unacceptable to middle class parents in the leafy suburbs, the kind of curriculum-rich charter school that Murray describes is even harder to find in poor neighborhoods than the 17 percent of charters that simply do a better job at raising student test scores...
Read the whole thing at the link.


Charter Schools: Follow The Money

From Juan Gonzales:
Albany charter cash cow: Big banks making a bundle on new construction as schools bear the cost

Wealthy investors and major banks have been making windfall profits by using a little-known federal tax break to finance new charter-school construction.

The program, the New Markets Tax Credit, is so lucrative that a lender who uses it can almost double his money in seven years.

In Albany, which boasts the state's highest percentage of charter school enrollments, a nonprofit called the Brighter Choice Foundation has employed the New Markets Tax Credit to arrange private financing for five of the city's nine charter schools.

But many of those same schools are now straining to pay escalating rents, which are going toward the debt service that Brighter Choice incurred during construction.

The Henry Johnson Charter School, for example, saw the rent for its 31,000-square-foot building skyrocket from $170,000 in 2008 to $560,000 last year.
More at the link.

End-Of-Year Testing Comes Before End Of Year

From John Merrow:
Solving a Man-Made Problem

One of education’s dirty little secrets is that schools give what they call their ‘end of the year’ tests about six weeks before the end of school. The school year is only 5/6th of the way done, but it’s testing time, and everything stops.

Think about that for a moment, maybe put yourself in the shoes of a teacher or a student. If you’re a kid, the message is clear: the year is over! Time to kick back and relax. However, if you happen to be a conscientious teacher, you have to climb a big hill every morning and afternoon for the next five or six weeks, because you have to try to interest your students in what they know doesn’t matter.

Left unexplored is what’s being tested. Do these tests cover everything that the students are supposed to have learned, or merely 5/6ths of the material? If they cover everything, isn’t that unfair to those who are being judged by the results (students and, increasingly, their teachers)? If they cover just 5/6th of the course content, will that mean that many students will never get past, say, World War II in history?
More at the link.


Monday Bonus Cartoon Fun: BP Edition

Monday Cartoon Fun: Choices, Choices Edition

Lena Horne: R.I.P.

Lena Mary Calhoun Horne (June 30, 1917 – May 9, 2010) was an American singer, actress and dancer.

Horne joined the mike chorus of the Cotton Club at the age of sixteen and became a nightclub performer before moving to Hollywood, where she had small parts in numerous movies, and more substantial parts in the films Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather. Due to the Red Scare and her progressive political views, Horne found herself blacklisted and unable to get work in Hollywood.

Returning to her roots as a nightclub performer, Horne took part in the March on Washington in August 1963, and continued to work as a performer, both in nightclubs as well as television, and releasing well received albums. Horne announced her retirement in March 1980, but the next year starred in a one woman show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, which ran for more than three hundred performances on Broadway, and earned her numerous awards and accolades, and she would continue recording and performing sporadically into the 1990s.

Testing Boycott Working

Nearly half of schools to boycott SATs as teachers rebel

As many as 300,000 11-year-olds will find their national curriculum tests cancelled this morning.

The estimate of the amount of disruption caused by a boycott of the tests - in maths and English - increased yesterday. Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said that the number of schools backing the boycott ranged from 30 per cent to 75 per cent from local authority to local authority. Overall, about half of the 17,000 schools due to sit the tests are set to abandon them.

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