Friday, October 31, 2008
One of the things that disgusted me more than anything when watching the Republican National Convention last month was when Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin bashed community organizing as essentially a meaningless task. The Daily Show (my favorite show on television) takes on this issue in a smart, revealing, and very funny piece by John Oliver.
For more information on what community organizers do, read the description on Wikipedia and idealist.org.
"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). "
When one looks at education policy, not enough people look at the entire spectrum of issues that effects the schools and their students. It isn't just curriculum, or school funding, or teacher pay, or other things specifically related to education. It is also poverty, and social services, and yes, HEALTH CARE. The post concludes with something that anyone who cares about education (liberal or conservative) should remember:
"We want [children] educated, yes - but HEALTHY children learn better than UNhealthy children. It has to be from the bottom up - healthy children learn better. You can’t go ‘top-down’ — you can’t ‘teach a child healthy.’"
It is a great post and I encourage everyone to read it. While your at it, check out the rest of the website, including some of her photographs.
I am not an expert or authority on education policy, and I'm sure there is a good defense of all this. But to me, it seems the money would be better served improving public schools (it is called "public" for a reason). I have always had the feeling conservative education officials want to ultimately privatize education, just like health care (though I could be wrong). Furthermore, I find it hard to imagine that any of this will ever be adequately funded give the deficit and McCain's proposal for a spending freeze. I did find the end of the article rather interesting in how this is addressed:
"Ms. Palin said the costs could be covered by striking earmarks 'for political pet projects' from the federal budget, but Mr. McCain has already pledged that money for other goals."
Thursday, October 30, 2008
"My prediction is Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, a middle-of-the-road Democrat who’s made education funding her biggest priority as governor. Sebelius was recently appointed to a four-year term on the National Assessment Governing Board by Sec. Spellings and is a strong public school advocate. She led the battle against her own state school board (called them “an embarrassment”) over their support for teaching creationism in the state's public schools."
“Just this past week, we saw what Barack Obama said about judges. He said, ‘I’m tired of these judges who want to follow what the Founding Fathers said and the Constitution. I want judges who have a heart, have an empathy for the teenage mom, the minority, the gay, the disabled. We want them to show empathy. We want them to show compassion.’”
"The minority"? "The gay"? Does he not know how to pluralize nouns? Plus, when did Obama ever say he was tired of judges who follow the Founding Fathers and the Constitution? Then there is this:
“He thinks this country should be a government—not a government of laws, but a government of compassion and empathy, not of laws.”
Why can't our government be one of both laws, and compassion and empathy? Come on Senator!
"The company is benefiting from economic downturn through increased demand from parents looking to grab more merit-based scholarships and financial aid for their kids through higher SAT and ACT scores."
I have nothing against companies and corporations providing educational resources per se, but I have always been weary of companies that create tests and test products that are so influential in education today. There is enough criticism that students are being taught how to take a test thanks to NCLB. But some schools are now requiring students to learn how to take the SAT and ACT directly from the test prep corporations themselves.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The New York Times now reports on a school in Virginia called the Leadership Institute that trains conservative pundits who appear on cable news to better able to spew out their talking points (i.e to bull shit to the American people). While the article is primarily about this conservative institute, for the sake of fairness, it also points out that the liberal Center for American Progress started a "pundit project" that helps pundits with "on-air training" at Daily Kos's annual convention.
A good piece of journalism about bad journalism. Except I do have one question: why is the article part of the "Fashion and Style" section?
When an officer asked Banks how much vodka she had consumed the night before, she allegedly replied, "Does it matter? It's vodka."
Maybe this school district does things differently, but here is what I don't get: if your a substitute teacher, you generally have the option of accepting or declining an assigned classroom. If you want to get drunk on a particular night, just decline your requested assignment when you get the phone call from the school district. It is not as if you are fired if you say no. How hard is that?
"There's potential for stigma for all students regardless of whether they're positive or negative."
Not that it matters where it takes place, but the school is located in a suburb of St. Louis.
Today, I am looking at the connections between poor vision and students who are at-risk. At Education Policy Blog, Aaron Schutz (an education professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) has created a post on poor vision linked to a number of stories and studies. Most people probably think this is a relatively minor problem that is usually corrected with glasses or other forms of visual modifications. But it appears that this assumption is wrong.
The most interesting study for me is the connection between poor vision and delinquency that Professor Schutz has posted.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Above is a video of Joe Biden being interviewed by a 5th grader in Palm Beach. It is a nice little video, but when the child asked him what the Vice President does, I thought Biden's response could have been better. Yes, Joe Biden will serve as an advisor (and a good one he will make), but I have yet to hear a Vice Presidential candidate explain the official duties of the office when asked about it. Remember, there aren't that many.
I realized I am making a bigger deal out of this than I should be, and Biden's response wasn't that bad. Maybe it's just the teacher and Political Science major in me. Hey, it's a better response (and certainly more accurate) than Sarah Palin's. Good Lord!
Monday, October 27, 2008
I am an expert at raising a child with special needs. My son is an adult, 26 years of age.
Governor Palin, you have said repeatedly that you will be an advocate for parents of special needs children. It is now time for you to tell us what you mean by that statement. It is not enough that you chose to have a baby with special needs. There are thousands of us who made the same choice - and others like me who did not know until our children were born (or later even) that they had special needs. There are also hundreds of thousands of people with developmental disabilities on decades-long waiting lists for services across the country - and others who are completely unable to access services for their children because they don’t fit some arbitrary criteria.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
His support for getting out of Iraq as opposed to John McCain's belief that any kind of "victory" is still achievable (it isn't).
-His belief that economic policies should be geared more towards helping poor and middle class Americans instead of the wealthier ones.
-His background in civil rights and academics (hey, the guy is actually intelligent).
-His pragmatic approach to decision making.
-His youth and lack connection to the divisions of the 1960s (for more on this one, read Andrew Sullivan's outstanding essay for The Atlantic back in December 2007).
In addition, I really do not want John McCain to be President. Not only because of Senator McCain's stance on Iraq, but for his reversal on other issues. While he is still a man I greatly respect for his long service to America, he is no longer the "maverick" he used to be. McCain, who once ran probably the most honorable campaigns in modern American political history in 2000, has now sold his soul in the hopes of winning the White House this year. For a while I thought that if McCain won the White House, he might actually say "the hell with 2 terms. I did what I had to do to win, and now I'm going back to being the Maverick I really am." However, his choice of the disastrous Sarah Palin proved to me that it isn't just politics. John McCain is a poor decision maker, and would make a terrible President.
Given the past 8 years, now more than ever, I feel we need Barack Obama. If he wins, I will celebrate his victory, but I promise, I will be his biggest critic starting after Inauguration Day (as I would for any President).
I promise that, before the election, I will do an UNBIASED analysis of both candidate's positions on education issues.
The Photograph comes from Barack Obama's website.
I choose a new title not only because it sounds better, but it also emphasizes the fact that this is primarily an education blog (though it will delve into other areas as well). In addition, I have changed the template of the blog, so it looks a little brighter.
Finally, as I have said, feel free to email me or leave a comment if you stumble across this blog. Tell me what you think about what is discussed here. After all, one of the things I want this blog to be about is an exchange of different ideas. Thanks