Monday, December 29, 2008

Alternet looks at the Bush legacy

Specifically, they count down "The Top 10 Most Awesomely Bad Moments of the Bush Presidency."  It's a pretty good list, except for the pithy, humorous comments.  The Bush legacy is one of death, destruction, and a loss of nation's integrity.  It is a sign of the WORST our country has to offer.  The problems this administration has left us will take many, many years to fix.  This isn't Best Week Ever on VH1.  Famous Bushisms aside, the legacy of the Bush administration is anything but funny.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Holidays 2008

I hope everyone has had a good Christmas.  I have taken some time off from the blog to relax, as well as enjoy the company of friends and family.  I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know some things going on in my life.  First, I had a wonderful Christmas with my family.  The only thing that was missing from it was my fiance when she was visiting her family.  She is back now, and I can't wait for our wedding this summer.  Secondly, I am starting a new book The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging.  Huffington Post is one of my favorite websites, and I am hoping I can learn a thing or two to improve my work on this blog.  

Finally, I will begin my student teaching here in a couple weeks.  I am not sure if I will have time to maintain the blog the way I have been.  While I will still post, it will probably be less commenting on stories in the news, and more keeping some type of journal of my day-to-day encounters as a student teacher.  I will spend six weeks working with 9th grade students, and another 6 weeks working with students in grades 3-5.  I am both nervous and excited about the upcoming weeks.  I look forward to sharing all of my experiences with you.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Facebook, Teacher Bullying, and Lawsuits

A girl who attended a Miami High School is suing her old school for suspending her for cyberbullying. Katherine Evans (now a college freshman) wrote about a teacher she didn't like on Facebook, and opened a forum for other students to complain about that same teacher. She is suing because she is afraid that the charge of cyberbullying will not get her into a good graduate school or get her a job. The ACLU is even stepping in to support her cause (for the sake of disclosure, I am a card carrying member). Her exact words on Facebook here as follows:

''Ms. Sarah Phelps is the worst teacher I've ever met! To those select students who have had the displeasure of having Ms. Sarah Phelps, or simply knowing her and her insane antics: Here is the place to express your feelings of hatred.''

I understand there is freedom of speech, and there is really nothing wrong with students talking trash about teachers amongst other students (especially if it is, in fact, a bad teacher). But I also see the school board's point of view. It is one thing to trash talk a teacher, but to do it on something so public as Facebook is another thing. Maybe I am more sympathetic to the cause of the school because I worry that when I start teaching, some student who has a beef with me is going to write bad stuff about me all over the internet. But it is not like this is ever going to go away. Has anyone seen RateMyTeachers?

Perhaps Ms. Evans should not have been suspended, and she definitely shouldn't have been pulled out of her AP classes. But as to whether or not she won't get into a good grad school or not, let me just reassure her she will probably be ok. It was a relatively minor thing she did in high school, and she is now in college. All she needs to do is get good grades, and involve herself in some positive activities in college that will help out her resume (college clubs, internship, etc). A lawsuit isn't worth it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Craig Cunningham on Arne Duncan

He gives a generally positive, and well written review of Obama's Pick for SOE. He even gives some implications about what this means (maybe) for education in this country. Cunningham even predicts the next Chicago School Chief:

"1. NCLB will be drastically restructured to focus on supports for improvement rather than negative consequences for failure.

2. Opponents of charter schools have lost a huge battle. Their expansion will continue dramatically.

3. Urban school districts will receive special attention from Washington.

4. Washington will now begin to push a longer school day and longer school year, and the public will be gently pressured to force the unions to accept this without getting higher pay.

5. Funding for educational research will no longer be tied to ideological criteria such as "evidence-based" practices. Rather, research will be judged in terms of its likely benefit to generalized issues of educational practice.

6. The bowling alley in the White House will be replaced with a Basketball Court.

7. Barbara Eason-Watkins, who has been the quiet but effective and resolute Chief Education Officer of the Chicago Public Schools for the past 6 years, will become Chicago Schools Chief. Barbara (who was also my boss for about 3 months before she took her current position) is smart, friendly, tireless, effective, and has deep experience at all levels of the system. Expect Eason-Watkins to make news within the next few years, most likely by saying things that no white man could say in that position. She may shake things up a bit in Chicago (which would be quite welcome)."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

George W Bush and the Free Market

For such a supporter of free market capitalism, it was funny to see Bush say the following:

"I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system."

Response from Andrew Sullivan:

" . . . Just as he used torture to defend freedom. And occupied a country in order to liberate it."

Over the next few weeks up to the inauguration, I am going to do the best I can to look at the Bush legacy. I won't promise something everyday, but it is important to look at what our country has gone through, and what it looks like today after eight years of his presidency.

Time's Person of the Year: Barack Obama

As if it would be anybody else (click here for article).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Good Case for the Arne Duncan Pick

The Washington Post gives their support to Arne Duncan. The first two paragraphs essentially summarize my own ideas for why I am supportive of the Duncan pick, as of right now:

"IT WAS WIDELY expected that President-elect Barack Obama's choice of an education secretary would finally reveal which of the warring approaches to school reform he favors. Instead, his selection of Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan cheered both the disrupters and the incrementalists of education change. That could be a good sign for America's schools -- if Mr. Duncan is able to unite the two sides in support of meaningful improvements.

"In announcing his nomination of Mr. Duncan, Mr. Obama rejected the notion that there must be an either-or approach to making schools better. Both sides, he said, have good ideas and intentions, and he held out Mr. Duncan as someone not beholden to one ideology but capable of creating a new vision for the country's education system."

I have generally fallen on the Linda Darling-Hammond side of the Education Secretary debate (as opposed to the Michelle Rhee side). However, the more I think about it, the more I like the Arne Duncan pick because he really is a decent consensus candidate. He shows that people who aren't gung-ho reformistas in the school reform debate can still work to reform our public schools. Duncan has a lot to work on, so don't expect any miracles. But at the end of the day, Duncan is a high quality choice who seems very capable of handling the job.

Who Will Take Over at Chicago Public Schools?

Alexander Russo lists 4 potential names:

Scoping Out the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

I was surfing the web today, and I came across the some good stories and features on the Post-Dispatch website.

First, I found out there was an education blog at their website called The Grade. The following is a description of their blog:

"An blog on education in the St. Louis region, with a focus on efforts to improve student performance. Our team of reporters tackle a broad range of topics from school testing and charter schools, to discipline and bullying, while providing a forum discussion by parents, educators and readers."

Check out their most recent post on the Arne Duncan appointment.

Then it appears that the Missouri Supreme Court is letting the state keep control of the St. Louis Public School System.:

"The decision backs the appointment of a three-member governing board that has run Missouri’s largest school district since it lost accreditation in June 2007. Members of the elected school board have remained in office, but are mostly powerless."

Finally, the AP announced the 2008 All American Team in football. 1st Team picks consist of Jeremy Maclin (All Purpose Player) and Chase Cauffman (Tight End). We also have a third team player with Sean Witherspoon (Linebacker). GO TIGERS!!!

Substitute Teacher tells Kids that Santa isn't real

It happened to a class of 7 year olds in England. I know that being a substitute can be stressful, but what a dick.

Weingarten on Duncan

AFT's President likes Obama's Secretary of Education pick. I suppose that is a good sign.

Pros and Cons of Arne Duncan

A rundown of his record in Chicago from Alexander Russo:

"Strengths: ▪ Lasted seven years -- a lot longer than many predicted. ▪ State test scores have increased every year Duncan has been in office, according to the board of education. ▪ Duncan has by all accounts improved tremendously as a public speaker. ▪ Sends his daughter to a local public school. ▪ Strong supporter of community schools. ▪ Early critic of NCLB testing, tutoring, and transfer requirements ▪ Chicago participates in Roland Fryer "learn to earn" program. ▪ Tall, skinny, and with a funny name -- just like his soon-to-be-boss! ▪ Has more gray in his hair than it seems from this AP pic.

Weaknesses: ▪ Chicago has never been a finalist for the Broad education prize for urban school reform. ▪ Chicago ’s NAEP scores lag many other big city districts, according to TUDA. ▪ Failed to win substantial concessions from the Chicago Teachers Union in the last contract. ▪ Failed to expand the highly restrictive charter school cap for Chicago (30) . ▪ Renaissance 2010 disrupted the education of thousands of students in the early years esp. ▪ Duncan ’s reform efforts have failed to attract (or retain) white and middle-class families. ▪ Criticized by Blagojevich for only having offered free school bus rides in exchange for the Senate seat."

Arne Duncan: A Safe Choice

There couldn't be a better time to start writing on my blog after a week off from posting (sorry, I've been kind of busy). We now know who the next Secretary of Education is going to be: Chicago School Chief Arne Duncan.

And based on everything I have read about him so far, his choice seems to be about two things. First, he is a politically safe choice because he will most likely not upset either side of the current education reform debate. On the one hand, he is appealing to education "reformistas" because he is a big city school chancellor with a history of trying to reform schools, just like his old boss Paul Vallas (who is now in charge of New Orleans Public Schools) Also, his name isn't Linda Darling-Hammond.

On the other hand, he is at least partially appealing to the more traditional/teacher-friendly (for lack of a better term) side of the debate because he isn't as controversial as a Joel Klein or Michelle Rhee. In addition, Teacher Unions don't hate his guts. AFT head Randi Weingarten even says that Duncan "reaches out (to unions) to do things in a collaborative way."

The second thing his choice indicates is that, simply, Duncan is someone Obama can personally trust. He is from Hyde Park in Chicago, has worked with Obama over the years, and has even played basketball with him (in fact, Duncan apparently has a fairly nice basketball career). Just like other Presidents will pick people for their cabinets from back home (including our present Education Secretary), Obama has done the same thing.

I do have some concerns. While he is clearly a safe pick, is that all he is? Is the fact that he didn't pick either a Linda-Darling Hammond or a Michelle Rhee a sign that Obama wants to reach out to both sides of the education reform debate? Or is it just a sign that Obama wants a politically safe pick because education won't be that high of a priority? Plus, as good of a job as Duncan has done in Chicago, will that actually transfer over to a national level? Duncan was in charge of just one school district (even though it is a huge one), but will now be in charge of thousands of school districts in 50 states. Needles to say, it is harder to micromanage things.

Also, it would be nice to have an Education Secretary who has actually taught inside a class. Oh, well.

I personally would have preferred a Linda-Darling Hammond, but I am not opposed to Duncan as a choice. Maybe he is exactly what our education system needs. Let's give the guy a chance and see what he can do.
Picture comes from This Week in Education.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Call to Education Journalists

Alexander Russo calls out to education journalists to do their job regarding the potential new Education Secretary:

"Do your jobs, reporters and editors. Bug someone who was on the working committee into talking to you, or report that they won’t. Track down Wendy Kopp and ask her straight out what she thinks about Darling-Hammond or Duncan (or Rhee, for that matter). Look up campaign donation records and tell us what you find. FOIA some shit. Sending out a few emails and rehashing tired claims or old speeches just doesn’t cut it."

This is an interesting piece, and I am always in favor of journalists in any area "doing their jobs". And I love the "FOIA some shit" line. Just as interesting though is the comments section to this article which debates the necessity of Russo's suggestions.

For my own two cents in this debate, I feel that education journalists should be taken just as seriously as journalists in other fields, but they aren't. The reason it doesn't is that, sadly, education in general doesn't get taken as seriously as an issue as it should be. This is not to say that there aren't issues just as important, and even more important, than education (i.e. the economy, war) But if we valued education as much as we should, we would see just as much speculation about Education Secretary as we do about Secretary of State, Defense, and Treasury. Instead, the speculation is left to us who are wonks, experts, and education bloggers/journalists.

Speaking Tongues in Class

A girl spoke in tongues in a Mississippi High School, where she also spoke the names of several of her classmates and how they would die. Fundamentalist Christians do the darnedest things, don't they? Over at the Deadpan Ann blog, she lists the reasons why this story (and the reaction it caused) is stupid for so many reasons:

"1. The kids believed it.
2. They took Bibles to school to ward off the demon.
3. The student claimed God was speaking through her, and her mother says God is using her to speak to the kids at her school.
4. News reporters actually showed up, and this was aired on the nightly news.
5. The only point of controversy for the people of Pelahatchie was NOT which psych ward to send Lashundra Clanton too, or how long she should be suspended for disrupting class, no. The only thing people can think of to talk about? Whether it was God or the debble speaking."

By the way, I don't want to ridicule all religious people (there are very smart, rational individuals who worship and believe in God). However, we must point out the crazier, unhealthy examples, and expose them for what they are.

Monday, December 8, 2008

2008 Edublog Award Nominees

These awards are a good way to learn about new education blogs that exist. It is partially through looking at these awards that helped me get into education blogging.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Promoting NCLB

From Chocolate News on Comedy Central. This is very funny (and very inappropriate):

D.C. Reacts to Rhee's Time Cover

Some people are happy about Rhee's Time cover because it brings more support and attention to reforming the D.C. Public School (and reforming the nation's education system in general). Other's aren't fans. A quote from the by Cathy Reilly, head of the Senior High Alliance of Parents, Principals and Educators from the Washington Post:

"I don't know what she was thinking," Reilly said. "I don't think sweeping things out is the way to go, and that way of relating to people metaphorically sends a message right down to the children."

Overall, the Post article was filled with mixed on reactions to the Time cover.

President-Elect Obama on Meet The Press

Isn't it encouraging to have a President that will value science again? Another education quote from the interview:

“There is an incredible bully pulpit to be used when it comes to, for example, education: Yes, we're going to have an education policy; yes, we're going to be putting more money into school construction. But ultimately we want to talk about parents reading to their kids. We want to invite kids from local schools into the White House.”

2008 Big 12 Championship Game

Well, Crap. So much for a preseason ranking of number 4. I am surprised we are even ranked in the Top 25 still. Oh well, we have the Alamo Bowl to look forward to. And as disappointed as Mizzou fans are, we would have been ecstatic to even be this far a couple of years ago.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

"They Tried To Teach My Baby Science"

The Onion features this shocking story. What kind of sick bastards would do this to a child? This is America, damn it!

Proposition 8, the Musical

Via Funny or Die. It is funny, and it hits it right on the head.

Congresswoman hangs up on Obama and Rahm Emanuel

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) thought is was prank from a Miami Radio DJ, but no, it was really Obama and Emanuel. Apparently that sort of thing happens all the time, and some politicians actually fall for it:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

More of the Same

In my earlier post on Michelle Rhee and her Time cover, I compared her to Crazy Joe Clark of Lean on Me fame. Then there is this cover from 1988 with the real Joe Clark on it. How funny is that?

The Ball Buster

I am referring to the woman in the picture above, D.C. School Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Some might gasp at such a description, but I can't think of a more appropriate description. Michelle Rhee is a ball buster. And yes, you do need a ball buster to do the job that Ms. Rhee is trying to do. For better or worse, she is now the de facto face of education reform in this country.

Certainly, she has a tough task at hand, and no one can doubt that she needs to get tough to do it. But there is also a lot of room to worry. This part of the Time article has already given a lot of people pause, including myself:

"In many private encounters with officials, bureaucrats and even fundraisers–who have committed millions of dollars to help her reform the schools–she doesn’t smile or nod or do any of the things most people do to put others at ease. She reads her BlackBerry when people talk to her. I have seen her walk out of small meetings held for her benefit without a word of explanation. She says things most superintendents would not. “The thing that kills me about education is that it’s so touchy-feely,” she tells me one afternoon in her office. Then she raises her chin and does what I come to recognize as her standard imitation of people she doesn’t respect. Sometimes she uses this voice to imitate teachers; other times, politicians or parents. Never students. “People say, ‘Well, you know, test scores don’t take into account creativity and the love of learning,’” she says with a drippy, grating voice, lowering her eyelids halfway. Then she snaps back to herself. “I’m like, ‘You know what? I don’t give a crap.’ Don’t get me wrong. Creativity is good and whatever. But if the children don’t know how to read, I don’t care how creative you are. You’re not doing your job.”

Fair enough, but standardized tests also don't take into account the seriousness with which most students take them given there is no link between the test scores and grades. Don't even get me started with the issue of human grading of more subjective test questions. And as far as education being too "touchy-feely", students are not robots. People, especially young people, are highly emotional, and complex beings that come from numerous different backgrounds. They respond to different methods of teaching, discipline, evaluation, etc. in different ways. Don't get me wrong, there should be strong discipline, tough standards, and accountability. But it isn't so black and white.

Another concern with Rhee that myself and others have is that she may go too far in trying to shake things up. Yes, things need to be shaken up, but how much is too much? Robert Pondiscio makes a better argument than I can on this point:

"Here’s what worries me: accurate or inaccurate, fair or unfair, the increasingly confrontational, impatient, blunt, even rude public persona that’s affixing itself to the Washington, DC schools chancellor runs the risk of getting in the way of what Michelle Rhee wants to accomplish. I’ll put it bluntly: piss off enough people whose help is essential to your success, and your failure becomes inevitable, a consummation devoutly to be wished. Then for years to come, the answer to the reforms anyone proposes becomes, “Oh yes, we tried that in Washington under Michelle Rhee and you remember how that worked out.” If she fails, Michelle Rhee’s failure will not be hers alone. At worst, she runs the risk of damaging the ed reform “brand” for a generation."

Rhee kind of reminds me of another famous education reformer:

Granted, this is an exaggerated comparison, and I'm not saying that this is the way to do things. But Crazy Joe and Ms. Rhee both have more in common than people think. And without question, both are ball busters when it comes to education reform. Let us all hope that Rhee does what she needs to do to get the job done without going overboard.


Some have doubted that we will be getting out of Iraq within 16 months, as Obama promised, since he has announced his national security team (particularly keeping on Robert Gates). But Matthew Yglesias lays out some convincing points to those critics:

"The reality, obviously, is that the SOFA and the security agreement have made 2007-vintage disagreements about timeframes for withdrawal essentially irrelevant. Between an American government that wants to set an end to our involvement in Iraq and an Iraqi government that wants to set an end to our involvement in Iraq, it really does become a question of hammering out the logistics and framing the politics. The strategic debate about the wisdom of things like John McCain’s plans for a hundred years of occupation is over."

It also helps that Gates supports a withdrawal:

Now putting troops from Iraq into Afghanistan is another matter. I haven't quite made up my mind on that one yet.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Problem with Curriculum Pacing

John Thompson lays it out in a well written post. This is one of the many problems that NCLB doesn't take into account:

"I earn my paycheck by "reading" teenagers. I probe the students' background knowledge to determine what information they have retained from previous years. More and more, it is clear that previous lessons have "gone in one ear, and out the other." As teachers feel increased pressure to "cover" the material, teaching for understanding has decreased.

The pace at which a class moves must be determined by the rate that students master skills and conceptual building blocks. Listen to the kids and they will teach you the rate at which the class must move. Assessment data can be invaluable, but there is no substitute for the professional judgement of an experienced teacher. And different children in different classes learn at varying rates. Each class always develops its own personality."

For those of you don't know what "curriculum pacing", here is a totally biased, but still appropriate description:

"Before NCLB, teachers had considerable control over the speed at which they presented the curriculum. After a new curriculum was adopted though, they had to move at a one-pace-fits-all because district tests had to be given at a certain time."

Bad Week for Mizzou Football

First, we loose to our rivals Kansas in one hell of a football game. By the way, I had the pleasure of watching the game with my future in-laws this weekend. They are Kansas fans.

Then, we loose our outstanding Offensive Coordinator to Wyoming. Oh well, we at least have the Big 12 Championship game against Oklahoma to look forward to (where we are undoubtedly the underdog).

Ohio School District requests $100 Million Dollar Bailout

I love this! Now granted, TARP is "meant to stabilize financial institutions", and $100 million is a little more than they should be asking for (especially for a school district of only 3,800 students). However, I think there is an excellent point here. If we can give all of this money to companies who are about to go bankrupt (completely their own fault, by the way), then why can't we give more money to public schools?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Why is the Nation Really at Risk?

Over at Education Policy Blog, Kenneth Bernstein just posted something that is very important. It sums up many of my own views regarding the problems of the education reform debate, and I feel anyone who cares about American education should read it.

The post starts off with a long expert from Carl Glickman's post, the Latest Nation at Risk Report, at the Forum for Education and Democracy blog. Glickman edits parts of the famous Nation at Risk report so that it reflects the realities of today's America, specifically, it's economic problems. The following comes from the epilogue:

"There will be some angry readers out there who will bristle as I have lifted some of the exact wording of the Nation at Risk Report of 1983 and changed the word “schools” and “public education” to "business and financial institutions." And yes, I have taken plenty of liberties to extend and add sentences to define all business and financial leaders and stock market manipulators as untrustworthy, immoral, dangerous people who have let our country down; crushing the day to day lives and long term hopes of the large majority of Americans who can not afford to lose their jobs, their homes, and their savings. And my business friends -- if there still are a few left -- will bristle at the idea that educators and lay people, with no experiences in business or finance, should be taking charge of what they need to do. If so, the point has been made and hopefully, sincerely taken before further policy making."

This leads into Bernstein's argument about the problem with modern American education reform: it is dominated by businessmen and politicians, as opposed to educators. He tells and interesting story about a conversation between him and Iowa's then Governor Tom Vilsack about this problem:

"In that context, let me repeat part of the first face to face conversation I had with then Governor Tom Vilsack. I noted that the Governors had just had a conference on education and each governor had brought a business leader. Tom acknowledged that was true. I asked why each governor had not instead brought a teacher, a principal or even a student? He was genuinely surprised at the idea."

This leads right into a passage from Jamie Vollmer's famous "Blueberry Story":

"I have learned that a school is not a business. Schools are unable to control the quality of their raw material, they are dependent upon the vagaries of politics for a reliable revenue stream, and they are constantly mauled by a howling horde of disparate, competing customer groups that would send the best CEO screaming into the night.

"None of this negates the need for change. We must change what, when, and how we teach to give all children maximum opportunity to thrive in a post-industrial society. But educators cannot do this alone; these changes can occur only with the understanding, trust, permission and active support of the surrounding community. For the most important thing I have learned is that schools reflect the attitudes, beliefs and health of the communities they serve, and therefore, to improve public education means more than changing our schools, it means changing America."

This is in many ways what the modern education reform debate comes down to. It is not just about students who can pass tests, go to college, and become leaders in the field of (insert your profession of choice here). It is about the overall well being of our society, and thus, the students as well. Do we need to do better in math and science? Yes. Do we need to get rid of "bad teachers"? Yes. And no, we shouldn't rule out charter schools or alternative teacher training programs as part of the solution. But they aren't the only solution. And putting the opinions of businessmen and politicians ahead of educators (as opposed to "in cooperation with") isn't a solution of any real use.

I am reminded of a blog post from Jill, a wedding photographer and a parent of a child with special needs, who raised some important points during the campaign in response to Sarah Palin's proposal on behalf of the McCain campaign regarding special education reform:

"As [Palin] rightly said 'For many parents of children with disabilities, the most valuable thing of all is information.' What she totally glossed over, though, is that the information comes through sources her ticket is NOT endorsing: guaranteed medical coverage for all children. Where does most of our early information about our children and their ‘condition’ come from? Our doctors. Doctors our children won’t see without insurance. Therapists that our children won’t see without coverage. Visiting nurses that will no longer ‘visit’ us because our child isn’t able to get insurance (’pre-existing’ and ‘congenital’ often are treated the same by insurance companies). "

I raised similar points in response to her post.

Bernstein's post does critique the Nation At Risk report, and I must admit that I cannot agree of disagree with said critique. I have not read the report, let alone studied it's results to the extent that others have. I do agree that our society is "being eroded eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people". But this is America. We can do something about this if we really want to.

For Uber Cardinals Fans

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has created a Mount Rushmore of Cardinals Players. After a vote of who should be on it, they have narrowed it down to a 4 very good players: Stan Musial, Albert Pujols, Ozzie Smith, and Bob Gibson.

Some people think Pujols's selection is premature. I say nonsense. He has won 2 MVPs (so far), and has been arguably the baseball's best hitter for the past 8 years in the league (how long he has been playing). Oh yes, he can also field and run well for a 1st Basemen. You could substitute Lou Brock, Dizzy Dean, or even broadcaster Jack Buck for Pujols, and I would be ok with the list. But Pujols is still the better pick.
The Picture was created by Tom Borgman of the Post-Dispatch.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend

Well, so much for blogging over the week of Thanksgiving. I ended up going to Iowa with my fiance for a few days to visit my future in-laws. I was under the impression that there would be wireless internet. I was wrong. Thus, I have not posted for a few days. Oh, well.

But hey, I still had some fun. I got to spend some quality time with some future relatives, I played Nintendo Wii, I ate a bunch of food, and I started a new book: Democracy and Education by John Dewey. It is an incredibly slow read, but from what I can tell so far, the book makes some excellent points. Assuming I finish it, I do promise to write more about it in the future.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Just How Big Is The Economic Bailout?

Bigger than all of these combined:

• Marshall Plan: Cost: $12.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $115.3 billion
• Louisiana Purchase: Cost: $15 million, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $217 billion
• Race to the Moon: Cost: $36.4 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $237 billion
• S&L Crisis: Cost: $153 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $256 billion
• Korean War: Cost: $54 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $454 billion
• The New Deal: Cost: $32 billion (Est), Inflation Adjusted Cost: $500 billion (Est)
• Invasion of Iraq: Cost: $551b, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $597 billion
• Vietnam War: Cost: $111 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $698 billion
• NASA: Cost: $416.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $851.2 billion

I am no opponent of big government, but really, fiscal conservatism has to play a role at some point.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Running into Old, um, Friends?

The Onion has a piece that I, and probably many others, can relate to during the holidays. The article begins:

"For the fifth straight year, Jordan McCabe will return home for the holidays and spend the night before Thanksgiving running into every smug and unlikable asshole he ever went to high school with, the 26-year-old reported Monday."

I am sure I will be feeling Jordan's pain at some point during the next month and a half.

At-Risk Watch: No Bus Transportation for Special Needs Children

Yep, it has come to this. This is apparently an all too common problem in Chicago Public Schools. An interesting and unfortunate statistic noted in the report: of the 50,000 special needs students in Chicago, only about 9,000 are eligible for bus services. The piece does remind parents of special needs students to have transportation services detailed in their child's IEP. Also, the article features Special Education lawyer, and one of my favorite education bloggers, Charles Fox.

The Obamas are Sending their Daughters to Sidwell Friends

It is a private Quaker School that Chelsea Clinton attended, as well as Albert Gore III, and Joe Biden's Grandchildren.

On the one hand, it would be nice to see a major political figure send their children to a public school, or at least a charter school. On the other hand, it is unfair that such a decision is so open to public scrutiny, and we must all understand that the Obamas have to do what is in the best interest of their daughters. Besides, it is not like the DC public schools offers the greatest education environment.

An Elementary School in New York renames itself after Obama

I like Obama too, but this is a bit premature.

Top 15 Shows that take Place in a School Setting

This list is composed by the Britain's Times Online. They always come out with the most interesting lists relating to American culture, and this one is no exception. Some noticeable omissions from the list include: Boston Public, Welcome Back Kotter, Freaks and Geeks, and of course, the great Saved By The Bell (just kidding). The one thing the shows on the list do have in common: I have never watched any of them.

Sorry, I have been a Little Busy Lately

I took this past week to take care of some school work, as well as some things in my personal life. I think with Thanksgiving this week, I will have a little time off and I will be able to post a little more. Things I hope to post on this week include:
  • About a handful of movie reviews.
  • More discussion on the next potential Education Secretary (assuming they aren't picked this week).
  • Updating the "At-Risk" Watch.
  • Whatever else pops up in education news.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

You Can Be President Too

I promise that right after Inauguration Day, I will stop glowing about Obama's victory. But I had to post this cartoon. This election was a great sign of progress in America. It comes from No Teachers Left Behind.

A Good Week for Missouri Sports

The Tigers won the Big 12 North after defeating Iowa State, and Albert Pujols becomes the second Cardinals in history to win 2 MVP Awards (despite the fact we finished 4th this year).
The picture of Pujols accepting the MVP award comes from St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Differentiation in Kung Fu Panda

At my work, they have been showing Kung Fu Panda repeatidly because it is promotional movie of the month. So I have had the opportunity to watch the movie, A LOT. Constantly watching the movie, it occured to me that we see something in the movie that many special education teachers know a lot about, and many general education teachers do not know enough about: differentiation of instruction.

In the movie, Master Shifu (voiced by Dustin Hoffmann) has to train Po the Panda (voiced by Jack Black) how to be the next Dragon Warrior, the one that must protect their village from the wrath of Tai Lung (a white tiger voiced by Ian McShane). The problem is that Shifu does not believe Po is supposed to be the Dragon Warrior because he sees him is big, fat joke, and his selection as the Dragon Warrior was an accident. But as the movie progresses, he begins to realize that, while Po cannot be trained the way other Kung Fu warriors are trained, he can be trained. The way to do that is with food. Po, who wants nothing more in the world than to be a Kung Fu artist, is also an overeater. Shifu sees this, and alters his teaching methods a little to help Po train in the arts of Kung Fu.

As dorky as this sounds, teachers everywhere can learn from Master Shif. Look at a student's strengths, and interests, in order to better teach them content (although food may not be the best way to go about doing this, given the raising numbers in childhood obesity).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Petition against Joel Klein

I found this petition via Educational Justice for Barack Obama. It is supposed to be signed by "teachers, educators, and future teachers." Perhaps I would sign it if I knew more about how Klein ran the schools in New York City. I know that Klein supports expanding charters schools, which may or may not be a good thing, so I am fairly indifferent on him. Perhaps he could do a better job at talking to teachers, but this seems a bit much:

"The NY City Department of Education under Joel Klein has been run like a ruthless dictatorship – with no input from parents or educators"

Friday, November 14, 2008

10 Best Cabinet Members

This is for the political nerds like me. It actually should be called "The 10 Best Cabinet Members since FDR was President". Part of the list was Clinton's Education Secretary Richard Riley. Time's description of him:

"Formerly a popular South Carolina governor — in fact, he was so popular that the state's citizens amended the constitution to allow him to run for a second term — Riley was tapped by President Bill Clinton in December 1992. Among his accomplishments, Riley spearheaded initiatives to improve academic standards, made education more accessible for lower-income families and expanded college grants and loan programs. "

What is so wrong about Traiditional Teacher Training Programs?

A few days back, I posted on a story from Eduwonk having to deal with "traditional teaching programs" vs. newer, alternative teaching programs. The program I am currently in probably falls under that first category. I am not against the alternative programs, but the more blogs and education websites I read, it seems the more hostility I find towards programs like mine. The attitude seems to be, "alternative programs like Teach for America are the wave of the future, and more traditional programs need to get out of the way".

Then Monday, Alexander Russo (my favorite education blogger), posted about Linda Darling-Hammond as a potential appointment to Education Secretary by Obama. Russo's post is as much about Obama as it is about Darling-Hammond. But he warns that if Darling-Hammond is Obama's nominee, there could be a backlash against her by those in the education community who believe in major reforms in education. The reason for such a backlash? She was one of the earliest critics of Teach For America:

"The possibility of Darling-Hammond being named Secretary has emerged as an especially worrisome possibility among a small but vocal group of younger, reform-minded advocates who supported Obama because he seemed reform-minded on education issues like charter schools, performance pay, and accountability. These reformistas seem to perceive Darling-Hammond as a touchy-feely anti-accountability figure who will destroy any chances that Obama will follow through on any of these initiatives."

Russo goes onto explain:

"Yes, Darling-Hammond is an ed school professor who talks in nuanced, academic terms--not scripted talking points (see her debate here). Yes, she was among the first and most prominent critics of Teach For America--and still favors a more intensive, residency-based approach to training new teachers.

But she also has authored a recent study that acknowledged T.F.A. teachers were in some ways better than traditional teachers. And she has helped start several charter schools in California. Darling-Hammond says there's no real daylight between her positions and Obama's policy proposals, and I haven't seen any convincing evidence to contradict that claim.

So what's going on then? Part of it is just a knee-jerk response against someone who dared criticize T.F.A., the reformistas' most cherished accomplishment to date. Another part of it may be the desire for a younger, fresher name picked from their own ranks--D.C. superintendent Michelle Rhee, or New Leaders founder Jon Schnur."

I have been trying to figure out the genesis of this movement among different education wonks that alternative programs are better than traditional teaching colleges. I know I am a somewhat of a novice when it comes to education policy, so will someone please explain this to me? Have I waisted the past 2 1/2 years in my college program? Would I have been better off to have gone into Teach For America? Somehow, I don't think so.

Reading about this continuing debate reminded me of an editorial I read a couple of years ago when I first started attending my program, and I wanted to learn more about education policy. It is a column from George Will entitled "Ed Schools vs Education" (my apologies for this being in Word Format. It was the only way I could look it up on the internet as it is no longer easily accessible from the Newsweek archives). He begins the article with the following:

"The surest, quickest way to add quality to primary and secondary education would be addition by subtraction: Close all the schools of education."

Will believed this was because education schools are only focused on espousing progressive political beliefs, not teaching teachers how to teach. He does a good job at pointing out SOME extreme examples of teacher colleges where such activities take place. But he seems to have no problem branding ALL teacher's colleges as following this phenomena. While I can only really talk about my program, I think he is generalizing, to say the least.

By what Mr. Will and these "reformistas" appear to say, you would think that teachers all across the country are being taught to have the students sit in circles, give each other hugs, sing "Kum Bi Ya", and finger paint. True, things such as trying to promote change and fairness are themes that I have learned about in some of my classes (as if those are evil things to promote). But by and large, the overwhelming majority of what is taught in my classes are highly technical skills and techniques that are needed to teach in a variety of areas in the pubic schools (contrary to what some think, these do include the importance of discipline and accountability). We are taught how to be professional teachers, and we take it seriously. If you disagree, please speak up. I am ready to win that debate.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Missouri's New Governor

The other result from the election that I have been excited about is Jay Nixon's victory. I originally supported him for two reasons: First, because he is a Democrat. As moderate as the Democrats are in Missouri, they are better than the alternative. Second, because he has served honorably as Attorney General for several years, and I am confident that will transfer over to his Governorship.
I have studied his education proposals from his campaign website, and there are only two things that stick out:
  • He opposes Governor Blunt's decision to take money away from MOHELA, one of many decisions I did not like from Blunt.
  • Nixon wants to build onto the A+ Program with the Missouri Promise.

I like the Missouri Promise proposal, but I wish he had more to offer in terms of education policy proposals. After all, what happens at the state level in education is just as important, if not more so, than what happens at the federal level.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A reason why Physical Education is as important as ever

As an old professor would say, this is a "manifestation of disorder" in America (i.e. our society is fucking up):

"Obese children as young as 10 had the arteries of 45-year-olds and other heart abnormalities that greatly raise their risk of heart disease, say doctors who used ultrasound tests to take a peek inside."

New School Superintendent in St. Louis

Recently, St. Louis Public Schools hired Kelvin Adams as their new superintendent. He originally worked as Chief of Staff at the Recovery School District in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Will he be the next Joel Klein or Michelle Rhee? That is definitely possible.

"Adams said he would not rule out St. Louis following the lead of New York City and New Orleans by perhaps integrating a charter school into a building where traditional public education is taking place."

Consider the status of New Orleans Public Schools as of June 2008:

"Three in every 10 D.C. public school students are in charters, a much larger percentage than in most cities. The New Orleans charter school penetration rate is much greater: 53 percent of the post-Katrina enrollment of 33,200 students, according to school officials. Before the hurricane, charters had about 2 percent of the city's 67,000 public students."

Is it possible that he will be considered a failure and be replaced? Absolutely, since St. Louis has had eight different superintendents since 2003.

Is it possible that he will make St. Louis schools succeed and thrive? The odds are against him, but let's hope so.

Picture is from

Monday, November 10, 2008

Autism and Rainfall

Putting it mildly, I am VERY skeptical about this possible connection between autism and rainfall. But then again, I am not a scientist. I know this is a serious matter, but the American Voices portion on The Onion has some very funny things to say.

Computer Brain Interface

Watch CBS Videos Online
This is amazing. There is still along way to go in terms of response time and availability with this technology, but think of the possibilities for disabled individuals, including students with severe or multiple disabilities. I got this from the blog Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs.

Sharing = Socialism

From No Teacher Left Behind. This is funny!

Top 10 Movies about Government and Politics

Being the movie buff that I am, I have decided (once again, for my own enjoyment) to occasionally create my own top 10 lists regarding film. Since we just had the election, my first one will be my top 10 movies about Government and Politics (non-documentary). I realize that I am about a week late with this list, but it's my blog, and well, I can do what I want with it.

NOTE: These are only movies that I have seen, so if I have omitted one that you feel deserves to be on there, it may be because I have never seen it (hey, I can't see every movie, I do have a life).

10. Dave
9. Wag The Dog
8. The American President
7. The Candidate
6. Bulworth
5. Path To War
4. Election
3. Primary Colors
2. The Manchurian Candidate
1. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

If you disagree with the list let me know. Like I said, I may not have seen a movie you think deserves to be on the list.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

NCLB and Special Education on "King of the Hill"

I just watched the new King of the Hill which made fun of No Child Left Behind, standardized tests and special education. I know it is a comedy show, and you can expect some inaccuracies, but I can't help but feeling a little pissed off at just how many. I understand making fun of NCLB, and I have no problems of making fun of special education per se (I don't think it isn't so taboo that it shouldn't be touched). But apparently according to Hill, special education is used by principals to put poor test takers into a separate classroom to work on preschool activities (and take field trips), so they don't have to take standardized tests and lower test scores. Oh, and the parents have no say whatsoever in their children's SPED placements. Can't SOMEONE in Hollywood give at least a semi-accurate portrayal of what special education is actually like in this country today. I realize there are bigger problems in the world, and I still think King of the Hill is a great show. But this just irked me a little. Oh well.

The Issue of Teacher Training (and How it relates to me)

I realize that I am about a week and a half late in responding to this post, but I have to address this. Eduwonk recently posted a piece dealing with the subject of "traditional teacher training" vs. more alternative training methods. I have to say that I am a little confused by what the author of this post is trying to say:

"It’s not that [teacher] training doesn’t matter, but training on the job does seem to make a lot more sense than the traditional education school approach."

I guess I don't know how a lot of states do it, but is the author saying that traditional teaching programs don't bother with actual classroom time? Is it generally an either/or, meaning either go through a training program period, or skip training and go right into the classroom? Why not a combination of both? That is what I am currently doing (it is required in the state of Missouri). The past couple of years, I have been doing nothing but taking education classes, and in a couple of months, I am about to start working directly inside an actual classroom (student teaching/field experience).

Unless he is saying that "traditional teacher programs" do require classroom experience, but that isn't working either. If that is the case, than this really scares me:

"In general the evidence from methodologically solid studies is not encouraging in terms of the value of traditionally prepared teachers being more effective relative to those coming through other routes."

So, if what I am in is a "traditional" teacher training, am I essentially waisting my time? Is my program doing me very little good other than helping me get certification? I have to say that my training so far has given me a lot more confidence in my ability to enter a classroom and teach (certainly more confidence than before I started in my program).

I understand the current trend of looking for new and radical ways of doing things in education, and I am certainly not against that (we do need a major paradigm shift in education). But I also worry that more traditional methods might be labeled as obsolete, and thrown away. Certainly, traditional teaching programs (like, I suppose, the one I am in) still holds some merit and credibility. Perhaps I am just hoping that my current program is actually going to help me be a better teacher.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Even more speculation

The AP is reporting a list of potential list of cabinet positions, including Education Secretary. Their potential nominees includes Colin Powell (which I have already mentioned in another post), Former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt, Arne Duncan (the chief executive of Chicago public schools), and Inez Tenenbaum (the former superintended of South Carolina public schools).

I will throw out my own three names: Linda Darling-Hammond, Michael Johnston, and Christopher Edley. All three were education advisers to Obama during the primaries. Whenever one looks at potential appointments to anything, always check out the advisers.

Problems with line spacing

My apologizes to readers who find problems with the line spacing in this blog (i.e. too many spaces between paragraphs or paragraphs bunched together). I try to properly space out my paragraphs but there is some glitch with Blogger that screws with them.

Friday, November 7, 2008

My First Movie Review

As I have said before, I am a huge movie buff. However, I have not had the real opportunity to write about any movies yet. I have decided that (admittedly for my own enjoyment), I am going to start to writing up my own movie reviews. Sometimes, I may write a review for a new release. Sometimes, I will go back to an older film I have never seen. Sometimes I will even write a review for a film I haven't seen for a while, but saw recently again. I have decided to use the ever-popular, but still reliable 4 star rating system in my reviews.

For my first movie review, I will be discussing a romantic comedy that was recently put out in the theaters. I hope my review is done with the amount of class and sophistication that a film of this caliber deserves. I am reviewing . . .

Zack and Miri Make a Porno (IMDB info found here)

This is the latest film by writer, director, and Silent Bob himself, Kevin Smith. It is about two longtime friends, played by Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks, who live together in an old apartment in Pittsburgh. Neither one makes a lot of money, and what they do make is usually wasted on unnecessary crap on the Internet (like a flashlight with a vagina on it that men use to pleasure themselves with). When the two attend their High School reunion, Banks's character hits on an old High School crush, who turns out to be gay. His character's boyfriend, a gay porn star, is played hilariously by Justin Long. Long's character likes to speak in a deep voice, and name some of his own films that have very graphic titles (which I will not name here.) The gay porn star is by far the most memorable character in the entire movie.

When Rogen's and Bank's characters have their water and electricity shut off, they suddenly find themselves desperately in need of more cash. After realizing that they have no dignity, and no living relatives to shame, they grow inspiration from Justin Long's character and decide to make a porn movie. Both characters get financing by one of Rogen's coworkers at a coffee shop, played wonderfully by Craig Robinson. They then hire a camera man (played by Kevin Smith regular Jeff Anderson), assemble a cast of porn-star wannabes, and of course, hilarity ensues.

"Zack and Miri" is not Smith's best film nor his funniest. But it is still very good, and very funny. It is perhaps his filthiest film, and that is saying something (who can forget the donkey show in "Clerks 2"). This movie is filled with adult references, graphic language, "frat boy" humor, and of course, sex. There are at least two scenes in particular that will make your jaw drop in shock and disgust (they are really funny if you're not too grossed out).

But while there is certainly filth, there is also heart, which is also a part of every Kevin Smith film. Without giving away too much, "Zack and Miri" tackles the tricky subject of sex between friends, and the common misconception that it will end up being nothing but meaningless fun. Kevin Smith fans, and fans of adult comedy in general, will enjoy this film.
*** (3 out of 4 stars)
SPOILER ALERT: You get to see Jason Mewes fully naked (yes, Jay of "Jay and Silent Bob"), and he is naked in very graphic detail (even more than you might think). I was certainly not expecting to see that. Fellas, be forewarned.

Inspiration for a New Generation

Here is another article on the reaction to Obama's victory in a largely African-American school, this time in Brooklyn. It discuses the reaction of 6th graders at the Eagle Academy of Young Men, which was founded by the group One Hundred Black Men of New York City. Here is an expert:

"[Academy President David C. Banks] said Mr. Obama’s victory offered minority children a new sense of possibility.

'It raises a level of hope for young men of color who I think have been besieged by a culture of low expectations,' he said in an interview. 'Part of our model at One Hundred Black Men is ‘Boys will be what they see,’ and it’s hard for kids to dream about things they’ve never seen.'"

Dumbest Generation Ever?

I know one of the major beliefs today in education is that we are raising the dumbest, most uninformed generation in the history of our country. But according to USA Today, this is not the case:

"As the results of the election sank in Wednesday, teachers in high school classrooms across the USA found themselves debriefing a group of young people who are, by all accounts, more informed and civic-minded than any in recent memory. They came of age after 9/11, after all."

I understand the temptation to question the intelligence of youth, as so many have done throughout history. But this article gives me hope, and reassures my skepticism of "the dumbest generation". Another part of the article I like follows the quote above:

"But they're also less obsessed with race than their parents and more cynical about the world and the ability of government to change it for the better."

The matter of their color-blindness is a positive, but also not that surprising. As far as being more cynical goes, this might actually be a positive. Being a civic-minded generation is good, but doesn't necessarily translate into civic-action. Cynicism, by-itself, isn't good because it might only lead to apathy. But civic-mindedness AND cynicism together can (and I believe will) translate into a passion to try to change things in our government, and the world, "for the better". Perhaps this is what we saw with this past election. Here is another part of the article that helps explain the high voter turnout among youth, which voted overwhelmingly for Obama:

"For much of the past 20 years, school districts nationwide have pushed parents to hold off registering their children for kindergarten until they're 6 years old. In many cases, schools even prohibit parents from enrolling 5-year-olds if their birthday falls late in the year.

As a result, perhaps as many as half of the nation's 3.2 million high school seniors on Nov. 4 were eligible to vote, making discussions in high school classes more urgent."

Think twice before branding out nation's youth as stupid or ignorant about what is going on in the world. It seems they have already started to make their mark.

The Passing of Proposition A (Missouri)

One issue from this past election that I should probably address if the passage of Proposition A here in Missouri. For those of you who don't live in Missouri, Prop A was a ballot initiative that will:
  • repeal the current individual maximum loss limit for gambling;
  • prohibit any future loss limits;
  • require identification to enter the gambling area only if necessary to establish that an individual is at least 21 years old;
  • restrict the number of casinos to those already built or being built;
  • increase the casino gambling tax from 20% to 21%;
  • create a new specific education fund from gambling tax proceeds generated as a result of this measure called the "Schools First Elementary and Secondary Education Improvement Fund";
  • and require annual audits of this fund?
One might think that, since I am going into education that I would have automatically supported it. The truth of the matter was that I couldn't make up my mind. On the on hand, I am very excited that it may bring over $100 million to public school funding in Missouri. The schools will definitely need it, as they always do. But there were definitely problems that I could not overlook. For starters, the law will essentially set up a monopoly for existing casinos in the state of Missouri, and not allow other Casinos to be built on the Missouri River that might economically benefit different towns. In addition, the money raised for schools is expected to benefit more rural school districts instead of larger ones (i.e. Kansas City, St. Louis). While rural districts deserve more funding, the larger cities are just as deserving, if not more so. Let me be clear that whatever doubts I had about the proposition had nothing to do with loss-limits or the moral questions of gambling itself. I have no problem with taxing vice to benefit public schools, and if someone blows all of their money gambling, that is their own fault.

In the end, I left the Prop A part of my ballot blank because I believe that when someone truly cannot make up their mind about something in an election (as I couldn't here), their is no point in forcing yourself to take a side. I apologize to anyone who is offended by my indecisiveness. Now I kind of know what it is like to be one of those undecided voters you see on cable news panels that seem so damn clueless. I would like to think of myself as more informed than then though.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

More Speculation

Huffington Post is throwing around Caroline Kennedy as a potential Secretary of Education.

The Day after in D.C. Public Schools

The Washington Post writes on the different discussions going on in classrooms all over the Washington, D.C. area about the election. I am sure these types of discussions were going on in classrooms all over the country, but it is significant in D.C. because of it's large African-American population, not to mention it's the nation's capitol. A quote from one student:

"Today, I said the Pledge of Allegiance for the first time in three years," said Grant Durando, 17, an Obama supporter and a student in Justin Brown's Advanced Placement government class at Potomac Falls High. "I said it because I'm proud -- that our country can go from killing millions of people on slave ships to one that puts a black man in office. I think I meant it for the first time, too."
The picture comes from the same article.

Who will be the next the next Secretary of Education?

The speculation has been going on even before election night, and continues to go on. Possible names I have found so far include NYC School Chancellor Joel Klein, DC School Chancellor Michelle Rhee, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, and even Colin Powell.

ABC and Politico has speculated three other potential names: University of Oklahoma President and former Senator David Boren, Former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean (R-NJ), and Rep. George Miller (D-CA).

My favorite suggestion so far has been . . . William Ayers. HA! That comes from conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly. She wrote that before the election, so I wonder whether or not she actually believes that or if she was trying to put more fear into the conservative base. Perhaps a little of both.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

An Open Letter to Obama on Education

This was written by Patrick Riccards of Educommunications Blog. It is insightful and highly detailed.

A Memorable Image from Election Night

I have not exactly been a fan of Jesse Jackson these past few years when it comes to racial issues and publicity, and I think he did not do Obama any favors during the campaign. However, this image of him at the rally in Chicago last night is something that really got to me, as it probably got to many Americans. Remember, Jackson grew up in the segregated South, he was active in the Civil Rights movement, and he was there when MLK was killed. Like many African Americans, he has gone from living in segregation to having an African American elected to the White House. Yes Reverend, this is really happening.
The picture comes from The Guardian.

Election Reaction

Picture from Huffington Post

Well, to say that I am feeling ecstatic is an understatement. Truth be told, I am probably more proud than I have ever been to be an American today.

History has been made on a number of fronts. First, of course, is the fact that he have elected an African-American to the White House. It isn't just a major racial barrier that has been torn down, but it is a sign of hope to young children from culturally diverse backgrounds all over America that they can become anything they want to. Second, it is a sign that our reputation and popularity around the world will be restored to what it was before the Bush administration. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, it is a bold move away from the past eight years and a sign that, yes, we are ready for change. I realize that what I am about to say is contradictory to my agnostic beliefs but:

God Bless America!

Now, as Jed Bartlett would say, "What's Next?"

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Next President of the United States

Photograph Courtesy of Barack Obama


Schools and Elections

Alexander Russo points out how great it is that many voting stations are located inside public schools. I agree, and would add that this is especially true since our schools are a function of government and the people who run the districts are, in many places, there as a result of the democratic process. To me, elections inside public schools is wonderful symbol of American democracy.