Monthly Archives: January 2013

How Low Can He Go?

Yinzercation, 1/30/13

Just how low will our Governor go? Gov. Corbett’s approval ratings are in the tank, the lowest they’ve ever been. And he seems to be trying very hard not to talk about cuts to the state’s education budget, which he will formally propose next week. Yet he appears prepared to hold students hostage in negotiations over the looming pension crisis.

In a new poll, Gov. Corbett’s approval rating sank two more points since November, hitting an all time low of just 36%. Only 31% of the women surveyed approve of the job he is doing. And he actually polled the worst right here in his home county, where only 27% of Allegheny County residents approve of his performance. Do you think it has something to do with those massive state budget cuts to education and social services? Or his refusal to provide leadership on our crumbling infrastructure and transit needs? This administration seems to be deaf to the massive damage it has caused in our communities, so it’s not surprising that the poll found, “There is no strong base of support for Gov. Corbett among any income or age group or in any region of the state.” [Post-Gazette, 1-30-13]…

continue reading at Yinzercation

Leave a comment

Filed under Education and schools, PA govt & politics

Why Do ‘Pro-Life’ Pols Like Paul Ryan Protect Weapons of Mass Murder?

John Nichols, The Nation, January 24, 2013

Congressman Paul Ryan consistently—make that aggressively—identifies himself as “pro-life.”

If the Catholic congressman’s definition of the term is narrowly limited to the debate about reproductive rights, perhaps Ryan can convince himself that his use of the term is appropriate.  But leading American Catholics are telling Ryan and other politicians that they can’t get away with claiming to be “pro-life” and “pro-NRA.”

Theologians, priests and nuns are challenging the House Budget Committee chairman and 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee—who often suggests that his ideas and positions are influenced by Catholic teaching on social and economic issues—and other elected Catholics who trumpet their “pro-life” positions to think more seriously about the meaning of the term.

Specifically, the prominent Catholics thinkers and activists are urging members of Congress such as Ryan to reconcile their use of the term “pro-life” with a seemingly unthinking and steadily unapologetic alliance with “powerful special interests” that seek to block even the most minimal gun-safety legislation.

“We urge you to reflect on the wisdom in our church’s call for a ‘consistent ethic of life’ as you consider legislation in the coming months that can provide greater protection for our families and communities,” write former US ambassadors to the Holy See Miguel H. Diaz and Thomas P. Melady, retired Associate General Secretary of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops Francis X. Doyle and prominent theologians, priests, nuns and social justice advocates.  …

continue reading and follow links at The Nation

Leave a comment

Filed under Guns, violence, crime

Did Obama just perform a “progressive pivot-point’ on education?

By Campaign for America’s Future, January 23, 2013

It was hard for a progressive not to get a chocolate high from President Obama’s inauguration speech.

Indeed it was full of treats: a “dramatic and sweeping argument for equality” . . . “a commitment to community and the common good” . . . “the most liberal speech of his presidency.”

But hardly anyone in the education community had anything notable to say about it. Few if any prominent and outspoken critics of the administration’s education policies, including Diane Ravitch and Randi Weingarten, have bothered to write anything of considerable substance (at least, so far).

A reason for this could be that Obama mentioned education, specifically, very few times – three actually. All three mentions were in the mundane, uninspiring context of “training,” which drew a noticeable yawn from at least one visible member of the audience.

Another reason for the silence is that advocates for education and public schools have heard Obama say sweet things about education before, only to quickly see him revert to tired truisms about America’s “failed” schools that are so in need of “accountability” and “reform.”

But there is something public school advocates should note about Obama’s speech.

Something That Needs To Be Said About Obama’s Speech

An exception to this brownout of punditry on the edu-blogosphere grid was at Valerie Strauss’s inter-hub at The Washington Post. Her guest, Arthur H. Camins, director of the Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education at the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey, posted a critique of the president’s address that spotlighted exactly what advocates for public education should make of the president’s words.

“President Obama issued a call for ‘collective action,’ arguing forcefully that we cannot ‘meet the demands of today’s world’ by acting alone. ‘Now, more than ever,’ he said, ‘we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.’  But, this is not the philosophy that guides education policy today. Bill Clinton nailed the policy choice starkly in his speech at the Democratic National Convention in August.  He said, ‘You see, we believe that we’re all in this together is a far better philosophy than you’re on your own.’ (emphasis original)

This frames current education debate because most of the solutions being promulgated by the U.S. Department of Education and their corporate partners are about the latter . . . being on your own.”

Camins continued with an itemized list of “on your own” aspects of the Obama administration’s education policies, which included:

  • Dual school systems that compel parents to “choose” between charter schools and regular public schools and “compete with other parents on an inequitable playing field.”
  • Merit pay schemes that force teachers “to look out for their own job security” and “look out for their own interests.”
  • Competitive grants that force schools and districts to vie with each other “for limited federal, state and private grant funds” instead of doing “what’s best by every student.”

Camins correctly concluded, “We need a we’re in this together appeal to every educator and parent – no, every citizen – who understands that we are interdependent and that we need each other for each of us to be successful.”…

continue reading at Campaign for America’s Future

Leave a comment

Filed under Education and schools

Resegregation by Charters in North Carolina?

by Diane Ravitch, 1/27/13

A new study of racial segregation in North Carolina shows that 30% of regular public schools are racially imbalanced, but 60% of charter schools are.

These findings echo the work of the UCLA Civil Rights Project, which has found that charter schools are frequently even more segregated than their surrounding district.

In Georgia, there are charter schools that are overwhelmingly white in districts where there are hardly any white students in the public schools. The Pataula Charter in Calhoun County is 75% white, but the local schools are only 2% white.

The first question is whether charter schools will become the new name for segregation academies?

The second question is why our society has turned its back on racial integration?

Leave a comment

Filed under Education and schools