Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dr. Woody's Fascinating Factoids: Hand Salute!

No gesture is more quintessentially "military than the salute. The inviolable rule all enlisted folks are taught in boot camp: If it moves, salute it; if it doesn't paint it!~

But, at the hands of the Rightard/Wackloon outrage machine, this simple, emblematic ACT last week fell victim of a woeful misunderstanding--or willful misrepresentation--when when the Wacktards/Rightoids and other pixel-soiled minions of the Grasping Oligarchs and Plutocrats (the GOP? who gnu) flung up at Pres. Shamwow F. LowBar, charges that he disrespected a Marine guard, and by implication, they whole US military.  No, no, not the Umbrella thing.  Please, keep up!

This was later and involved a salute, and the pearls around ALL the necks at the Weekly Standard, where the story ran, were in serious danger of bursting their silken threads under extreme twisting, as their headline shrieked :  Obama Fails to Salute Marine!

Under that baldly accusatory rubric, there was a seven-line"twit-story" recounting how, upon boarding Marine One, the helicopter, Obama had not returned the salute of the Marine sentry. That was it. That's all there was. There was no "there" there.

Yet the Righturds were raging at what they portrayed as an egregious act of disrespect against a "the military." Their rhetoric imputed to the Prez a callous disrespect of that lowly Marine, clearly implying that the damned NEGROW, in his uppity, beige arrogance, again showed he was a Kenyan, muslim, socialist who didn't RESPECT the USofA!  Little Billy  "Daffy-mouth" Kristol's moue-mouth froze in a sneer! The NERVE of this vile interloper, this low-born peasant? They were livid.

All KNOW I am not a fan or defender of Prez. Shamwow F. LowBar, but this shit was just too much. Because the complaint is just so plainly, and purposefully wrong!

As an act of deference, the etiquette of the salute demands that it be tendered by any SUBORDINATE to ANY SUPERIOR OFFICER.  The President IS the Commanding Officer of the whole military machine. Everybody in uniform is his subordinate; EVERYBODY (in uniform) salutes him. 

However, officers are NOT required to return the ANY salutes of inferiors, though they may do so if they're not doing anything else. And NOT doing so is NOT a gesture of disrespect.

Customarily, civilians ARE NOT TO PERFORM the "military salute" at all! The dimwitted, ritual-befuddled, drooling cretin Raygun, in his senescence, made a great show of doing so--he thought it was a macho thing--and presidents since have repeated it, the but it is still a violation of protocol.
So the long and the short of it is: the Marine WAS required to salute the Prez, but the PREZ was NOT required to return it.

One of the casualties of the all-volunteer military has been that fewer and fewer people have intimate (boot-camp deep)  knowledge of the rigid arcanities and intricacies of military decorum without which the machine would cease to function. But without such knowledge, critics like those at the WEEKLY STANDARD should keep their flapping cock-holsters buttoned!

Copy that troops?

Now back to you in hippy central, sarge!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Ed Beat -- Mouths of Babes (Toddlin' Town!); Premonitions; Forging Success; Solidarity; The Privates

"A Child Shall Lead Them":
A "True" Chicago boy speaks up. This is what he's talking about
MSNBC reports, after a heavily protested meeting where multiple people had to be thrown out, the Chicago Board Of Education voted 4-2 to close 49 schools and one high school program in the largest round of school closures that a single American city has ever attempted. 
At one point, a man wearing a shirt from the Chicago Teachers Union stood up and walked out mid meeting saying "This is a farce. If you care about children, you should leave now."
Opponents object to the closures because they say it disproportionately affects black students, that it will disrupt their educations, and that some students might have to cross gang territory. 
Supporters say this is necessary just to keep the system solvent, and to try to fix the schools that remain.  
Chicago is the nation's third-largest school system, and it is beset with issues rooted in the same unwillingness of the "majority" culture to expend necessary resources on educating minority children which afflicts big-city schools everywhere.

Karen Lewis, spokesperson and official for the Chicago teachers' uninon, had this to say:
"Closing schools is not an education plan. It is a scorched earth policy. Evidence shows that the underutilization crisis has been manufactured. Their own evidence also shows the school district will not garner any significant savings from closing these schools.
“This is bad governance. CPS has consistently undermined school communities and sabotaged teachers and parents. Their actions have had a horrible domino effect. More than 40,000 students will lose at least three to six months of learning because of the Board’s actions. Because many of them will now have to travel into new neighborhoods to continue their schooling, some will be victims of bullying, physical assault and other forms of violence. Board members are wishing for a world that does not exist and have ignored the reality of the world we live in today. Who on the Board will be held responsible? Who at City Hall will be held responsible?<
Echo answers: NOBODY!Who benefits?

WAL-MARTNo, really! At least one of the schools being closed will give way to a new, urban/south side big-box store.
The Walton Family Foundation, a big charter school booster, facilitated all of the recent school closing hearings which pitted thousands of people against the city’s drastic and unproven school reform measures. ILLUSTRATION: Walmart action at OvertonMarchers gathered at Overton Elementary School, one of 53 elementary schools on the list of proposed closings by the mayor's office and CPS, for a short program led by Susan Hurley, executive director of grassroots labor group Jobs With Justice. Protestors then proceeded to the Walmart construction site, where speakers including Overton parents and Walmart workers called on the Walton family to stop funding efforts to close Chicago’s public schools. Numerous drivers passing by honked their horns in support.

Zombie Pigs & Angry Birds: Especially when the prime mover in Chicago's educational circus is the notorious O'bot-sycophant-asslicker, Rahm Emanuel, who'd rather provide DePaul University with a huge, new, urban basketball facility than support the city's troubled and poor youth.
It all starts with the person who seems committed to win the current spirited competition as the most loathsome person in American political life: Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The same Mayor overseeing the closing of fifty-four schools and six community mental health clinics under the justification of a “budgetary crisis” has announced that the city will be handing over more than $100 million to DePaul University for a new basketball arena. This is part of a mammoth redevelopment project on South Lakeshore Drive consisting of a convention center anchored by an arena for a non-descript basketball team that has gone 47-111 over the last five years. It’s also miles away from DePaul’s campus. These aren’t the actions of a mayor. They’re the actions of a mad king.
If you want to understand why Mayor Rahm has approval ratings to rival Rush Limbaugh in Harlem, you can point to priorities like these. The school closures are taking place entirely in communities of color while the city’s elite feed with crazed abandon at an increasingly sapped trough. As Karen Lewis, the Chicago Teachers Union chief who led a victorious strike last September fueled by rage at Mayor Rahm, said, “When the mayor claims he is facing unprecedented budget problems, he has a choice to make. He is choosing between putting our communities first or continuing the practice of handing out millions of public dollars to private operators, even in the toughest of times.”
The plan spends $173 MILLION to build a facility for a PRIVATE, third-rate, third-tier hoops program as the anchor for the whole, new facility.

Dystopia!: A distopic education critic, Anthony Cody predictst that, "by 2018 all teaching will be strictly controlled, with frequent testing, classes monitored and taped for regular inspection, and teacher evaluation based, among other things, on value-added analyses of student test scores, and videos evaluated by outsiders." Steve Krashen, emeritus professor of Education at Southern Cal, thinks Cody's being too optimistic: "
 The goal of the war against teachers is to eliminate the concept of teaching as a profession, to be replaced by temps (eg Teach For America) and eventually be replaced largely by technology (ultimate goal of flipped classrooms). The reason is 100% financial -- so that the .01% can grab nearly all of the money teachers earn as well as profit from electronic/virtual teaching.
Hs further speculates that "the reformers will continue to expand testing, will charge students for taking the required tests, and in fact make it illegal for students not to take the exams."

Meanwhile, teacher and student resistance to the imposition of meaningless, expensive, distracting, useless tests in the swchool day isgrowing, prompting responses from the Business elites and their sock-puppets in school administrations, who see the privbate sector as the best prospective source for the funding that will keep them fat. Private actors in states as different as New York and Texas have opened the school governance project up to the influences of big business, to force the so-called "Common Core Curriculum." In New York state, recently:
Amid complaints of disruption and angst in the classrooms, the state's major teachers union launched a petition drive asking parents to protest the use of a new set of standardized tests.
Now, state Education Commissioner John King has enlisted business leaders in what might be seen as a counteroffensive.
King urged a roomful of corporate decision-makers to support the tests and, more importantly, the new Common Core approach to learning embraced by New York and 46 other states.
"We need the entire community to support the standards," King said Thursday during a talk hosted by the Center for Economic Growth.
At the end of the hour-long discussion, CEG Executive Director Michael Tucker urged those in attendance to sign a pledge saying they would support the Common Core by writing letters to the media and generally talking up the concept.
Such efforts are the latest front in the battle for public opinion — and possibly legislative intervention — over the Common Core and its exams, which will also play a role in how teachers are evaluated.


 "Failing schools" are those which do not cram enough test preparation into the school day to compensate for and/or overcome the disadvantages inflicted on mainly poor students by the systemic marginalization of many schools by districts and/or state boards. In Alabama, a former professor of education, Dr. Allison Grizzle, has returned to her first love, the classroom, to try to be a force in the debate over what constitutes "succdess" and "failure." The State teachers' association recognized her recently. Her pedagogy--modeled on "engagement"--seems to be a model for success at ANY level.


Solidaridnosk! There are no few number of Facebook "pages" which focus on educational issues, and this one of the more recent additions. See, also, Dump Duncan.


The Privatizers never sleep. That's because there is a HUGE pot of money to be extracted from the public schools, under any number of noble-sounding rubrics. In Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, locals are set to establish a "military-focused" charter High School, to prepare students for inspiring careers killing, maiming and oppressing brown people the world over in the name of Global Capital.

What do the chateristas want and when do they want it? Everything, now. Here's a comprehensive overview from 2010 from "The Left Business Observer."

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

CJE/WWH Hippie News: Meme Bandit --Anarchic Anachronism

Hola, WinSTONE, and boy's n goyls, hippies and straights around the woyld. I too wanna thank Steve for that terrific hook!

The Meme Bandit rides again, today examining this one (Show Image)! Ya like the tie-dyed bandana, I hope??

Howsoever it may be misused by the misguided, who locate it in the universe of disorder alongside such dread social phenomena as "dead babies, ugly women and drug addiction," Anarchism exerts a strong pull on many folks on the "critical" side of the political spectrum. It is hard to disagree that "we" would all be a lot better off if we were not subject to apparently random exercise of  arbitrary power. With its promise of mutualism and cooperation, Anarchism seems to promise relief.

Much as I admire--even venerate--Noam Chomsky, perhaps the most influential and erudite advocate of the Anarchic ideal in our present discourses, there is one aspect of it which, it seems to me, gets overlooked, and that is thsi: As a functional system of social organization, anarchy requires every bit as much obedience, orthodoxy, and cooperation as any totalitarian state would.
Any system requires the orderly, mutual, cooperative efforts of the participants for it to function and succeed.
No community can function without internal rules.The enforcement of those rules, whether by consent or by compulsion, is a "government." 

As such, for an Anarchist community to succeed on their own terms, it seems, ironically, that they--moreso than even totalitarian states, require absolute unanimity, and the capacity to exclude--by some means or another--those whose disagreements threaten the internal cohesion of the whole.

What does the "anarchist" community do with people who DON'T cooperate?

Exclude them, you say. But how? By what means?

Tribal societies are often held up as models of ideal, "leaderless," anarchic systems.

But tribal societies are NOTORIOUSLY unforgiving of violations of their norms.  Trespasses against community norms are ruthlessly rebuked, usually by some figure in the social order who commands mortal power. They unhesitatingly and swiftly banish or kill violators who threaten the established order. If Anarchic communities must exercise the same control, how do they do it without compromising their ideals?

The thing one notices about anarchic/istic communities over the years is how short are their collective life-spans.
Yes, they are often subject to attack by hostile interests.

But that's just the point. 

What does an anarchist community do when there's some guy with an army and an attitude--which there ALWAYS is--and who doesn't LIKE you?

Anarchism is a dream, unfortunately, a pipe-dream. 

On the large scale of cities and states, anarchist enclaves have been remarkably short lived, moist enduring a couple of years, at most, usually. There were at least FOUR in the 20th Century. The "Free Territory" in Lithuania, after 1918, lasted about three years, but only because it was under the protection of a fierce guerrilla army. The "Shinmin Autonomous Region" in China, endured three years, also in the '20s. Revolutionary Catalonia was subdued in about 11 months between '36 and 37...The rural collectives of Anarchist Aragon didn't survive long after Catalonia fell. The ARCHETYPE of such aspirations, the Paris Commune of 1871, collapsed inside 10 WEEKS. All fell to hostile, external opponents.

When Anarchism been implemented at all, successfully, it has been in small groups.  It is practicable, apparently, from the human record, mainly in monasteries and cloisters, communities of such integrated character and shared purpose that dissent is almost non-existent, and opposition is obviated by strict adherence to local standards.

I'd like to think such sharing and respect is possible. But mebbe only at the beach, chers???

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Ed Beat: Small Success; Ponzi High; Mixed Up; Quiver; Dark Shadows; Classless; Chicago

Ed Beat: Small Success; Ponzi High; Mixed Up; Quiver; Dark Shadows; Classless; Chicago
A Welcome Victory: Seattle teachers refusal to administer or prepare for a meaningless test have been successful! It won't be administered NEXT year.
The MAP test, purported to measure student progress in math and reading, was "required" by the citry's school officials. Earlier this (school) year, teachers at Seattle's Garfield High School balked at the imposition, on grounds that it provided no useful or meaningful information to teachers on their students' skills.
Seattle teachers who took a strong and public stance by refusing to administer a "flawed" but mandatory standardized test earlier this school year are celebrating a victory after an announcement by the school district saying the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test will not be given to high school students next year.
"Finally, educators’ voices have been acknowledged,” said teacher Jesse Hagopian, who teaches history at Garfield High School in Seattle where the boycott movement began. “This is a great moment in the movement for quality assessment.”
"The teachers at Garfield are overwhelmed with joy," Hagopian said. “I think this is a real vindication of the movement that was started at Garfield High School by teachers but was quickly joined by parents and students at our school, and around the city, and really around the country.”
Imagine: Tests which supply actually meaningful, useful data to TEACHERS? Talk about a novel idea!


Ponzi Reform:With virtually limitless funding, the corpoRat/charter friendly, so-called "school/parental choice" advocates of the American Federation for Children, have bought their way onto the school-boards and state legislative councils, and into the school-YARDS of schools in a growing numbers of states. The AFC is, essentially, the ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council, a well-heeled "astro-turf group intent on inserting the CorpoRat agenda wherever they can) of educational 'reform," a virulently anti-union, anti-public school astroturf outfit owned and run by the Amway heirs, the DeVos family of Michigan, especially Betsy DeVos. The DeVos family have been staunch and avid critics of public schooling ever since emerging into these debates in the 1980s.
A fundamental struggle for democracy is going on behind the scenes in statehouses around the country, as a handful of wealthy individuals and foundations pour money into efforts to privatize the public schools.
The implications are huge. But the school privatizers, and their lobbyists in the states, have so muddied the waters that the public does not get a clear picture of what is at stake.
So it was fascinating when investigative reporter Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ripped the veil off a secretive organization and its hidden political activities by publishing a copy of the American Federation for Children's "2012 Election Impact Report."
Read all about it, here.

Mixed Messages:  We all know, politicians must respond to different constituencies. But for Prez. Shamwow F. LowBar, last week marked a new low in the process with regard to one of his MOST LOYAL supporters For instance, President Barack Obama tainted this year's Teacher Appreciation Week by proclaiming that same week National Charter School Week, opting to highlight only what charter schools do to the exclusion of teachers from all school systems nationwide.
Whether they want to admit it or not, America's leaders have fallen in line with the dismissal of—if not outright contempt for—teachers. Talking heads with messages about changing the status quo often use coded language that means, "Let’s get rid of teachers." For instance, former New York City Department of Education chancellor Joel Klein based his entire tenure on making teachers work longer hours, even when teachers there already have the most time with students in the world. Every "pay raise" Klein negotiated with the United Federation of Teachers came with givebacks that made him trustworthy enough to go on to work as Rupert Murdoch's consigliere at NewsCorp.
Klein's not alone in his disdain for educators. Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan, Michael Bloomberg, and a slew of other prominent policy makers and politicians work under the premise that, as long as their friends in the media can gloss over the more deleterious parts of their initiatives, they can continue to depreciate the value of teachers. The American public generally sees right through this, as evidenced by the high approval rating for teachers on Gallup polls year after year.
WhenEVER any teacher, parent, or school advocate sees the names "Joel Klein," "Michelle Rhee," "Michael Bloomberg," or "Terri Weingarten" attached to anything to do with "School Reform," they should seize a shovel and try to kill it; or flee, raising alarums. These people are NOT on the side of good, quality pedagogy.

Quiver:  Home-school has attractions, under the current regime of "reforms," along with cuts to school budgets, revelations about "testing" scandals, and (inevitable) tensions arising in schools from the criminal masl-distribution of resources among social groups. Among the most staunch advocates of the practices are the dedicated,. fundamentalist followers of the middle-eastern death and penance cult called "Christianity."
But, as you might imagine, the ttuth of the situation is not what it is portrayed, often to be:
"The Christian home school subculture isn't a children-first movement. It is, for all intents and purposes, an ideology-first movement. There is a massive, well-oiled machine of ideology that is churning out soldiers for the culture war. Home schooling is both the breeding ground – literally, when you consider the Quiverfull concept – and the training ground for this machinery. I say this as someone who was raised in that world." ...In America, we often take for granted that parents have an absolute right to decide how their children will be educated, but this leads us to overlook the fact that children have rights, too, and that we as a modern society are obligated to make sure that they get an education. Families should be allowed to pursue sensible homeschooling options, but current arrangements have allowed some families to replace education with fundamentalist indoctrination.
Teaching a child to fear an omnipotent, wrathful, capricious, unreliable, mythological "god," whether at home or in "school," before the child has sussed out the fanciful character of Santa and/or the Tooth Fairie is tantamount to psychological child-abuse. Doing it under the rubric of 'education' is criminal.


Speaking of "Dark Sides": In my PhD program a couple of generations ago, in the early '80s, when IT was just beginning to be an influence in the curriculum and practices of pedagogy, a renowned educator visiting LSU at the time told our doctoral seminar that he would rather have an automatic transmission assembly from a car in class than just one computer. Technology in the classroom has, even to this day, been something of a mixed blessing.
Which fact has now been studied, with mixed results, as is attested by this article from The Chronicle of Higher Education, recently (emphasis supplied): 
Companies, colleges, and columnists gush about the utopian possibilities of technology. But digital life has a bleaker side, too. Over the weekend, a cross-disciplinary group of scholars convened here to focus attention on the lesser-noticed consequences of innovation.
Surveillance. Racism. Drones. Those were some of the issues discussed at the conference, which was called "The Dark Side of the Digital" and hosted by the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee's Center for 21st Century Studies. (One speaker even flew a small drone as a visual aid; it hit the classroom ceiling and crashed.)
After a week of faculty backlash against online education, including the refusal of San Jose State University professors to teach a Harvard philosophy course offered via edX, the down sides of digital learning emerged as a hot topic, too.
In a talk dubbed "Courseware.com," Rita Raley, an associate professor of English at the University of California at Santa Barbara, described how societal and technological changes had "reconditioned the idea of the university into that of an educational enterprise that delivers content through big platforms on demand."
... Equating (teaching) with simple content delivery "denudes" what it means to teach and learn, in this view.

Classic: As class distinctions and income inequality become more and more the dominant characterristics of USer culture, the effects have extended far into the lives of poor, or disadvantaged, especially for racial minorities. Mass school closings have become a hallmark of today's dominant education policy agenda, with an undue and excessive numbver of those occurring in schools attended primarily by "minority" students. And rather than helping students, these closures disrupt whole communities. And as U.S. Department of Education data suggests, the most recent rounds of mass closings in Chicago, New York City and Philadelphia disproportionately hurt Black and low-income students, while children of more advantaged circumstances prosper (emphasis supplied).
Here’s a fact that may not surprise you: the children of the rich perform better in school, on average, than children from middle-class or poor families. Students growing up in richer families have better grades and higher standardized test scores, on average, than poorer students; they also have higher rates of participation in extracurricular activities and school leadership positions, higher graduation rates and higher rates of college enrollment and completion.
Whether you think it deeply unjust, lamentable but inevitable, or obvious and unproblematic, this is hardly news. It is true in most societies and has been true in the United States for at least as long as we have thought to ask the question and had sufficient data to verify the answer.
What is news is that in the United States over the last few decades these differences in educational success between high- and lower-income students have grown substantially.
And continue to grow and almost exponential rates. As I have reiterated, countless times, a child's home ZIP Code is a BETTER predictor of their "school success" than ANY test score or other academic indicator. That's because nearly 25% of USer students live in poverty, and poverty has REAL consequences on school success.


Battlefront: Chicago: Chicago Mayor-with-much-higher-ambitions, the skeevy, greasy, detestable, dishonest Rahm Emanuel continues his pogroms against the marginalized students and neighborhoods by pursuing his agenda of radically 'reforming' Chicago's neighborhood schools, closing dozens of them under the guise of financial exigency. His agenda springs entirely from the corpoRat loins od Arne Duncan, and the rest of the O'Bots in charge of turning the schools over to the CorpoRats.
Corporate America has declared war on public education by closing schools, privatizing schools, gaining control over curriculum, imposing a barrage of hi-stakes testing, limiting citizen involvement and attacking teachers unions. The worst attacks are against working class education.
Corporate America sees no reason to educate working class students beyond the most basic level. They are seen as nothing more than future low paid drones in a brutal dog-eat-dog-cat-eat-mouse economy. The war against public education is a class war being waged by the wealthy against a growing working class resistance.
It is a New Civil War.
Chicago has become a major front in this New Civil War. Every war has its battlefields, but in Chicago the New Civil War battlefields don’t have names like Bull Run, Antietam, Gettsyburg or Fort Pillow. Instead they have names like Henson, Chalmers, Paderewski, Bethune, Pope, Manierre and Stewart. These are just a few of the Chicago public schools slated for closings and school actions.
Meanwhile, in an event simply FRAUGHT with unintended ironies which might only be possible in Chicago, one of Ed Sec (and former Chicago Ed Superintendent) Arnie Duncan's Model schools has failed, and the district wants to close it.
No, really.


Class in the Classroom

This has gone viral, but for all the wrong reasons, and it sorta pisses me off:

Dr. Woody'd be a WHOLE lot more impressed if his (spoiled, pampered) child were expressing his frustrations to the local School Board, his parents, and the administration.

The teacher's doing the best she can, I promise. Jeff Bliss, the "star" of the vid, is an 18-year-old sophomore. The majority of kids graduate at 18, if they're gonna graduate at all. An 18-year-old sophomore-going-on-junior-and STILL in high school is NOT the first person from whom I'd think i'd get a useful critique. But that aside...It's the teacher who gets the brunt of the attack, and that's wrong.

Under the regime of meritricious meritocratic "accountability," the teachers' whole livelihood reposes in the hands (and brains) of people over whom she may exert no actual authority, exercise no actual control, and have no say in the care or other education of her students. 

They're evaluated on the basis of test scores, over the antecedent conditions of which they literally have no control.

The teacher's attitude may appear blase--but you're 17 only once; she's taught 17-year-olds for 20 years, and you get used to it.

Besides, the kid's a poser. He's playing for the homeroom. He's learned the drill, he's ventriloquizing the complaints. But he's just showing off for some girl. 

If he were actually serious, he'd follow the example of Damon Fowler, of Bastrop, Louisiana. An atheist and graduating senior at Bastrop High School in Louisiana, Fowler complained aloud, to school officials and the press about the prayers scheduled to be part of his commencement ceremony. After consulting with an attorney, the school agreed to drop the prayer. Unfortunately, though predictably, Fowler has since been ostracized by the community and even attacked by a school official in the local newspaper.

I'll leave you with this account of what Damon Fowler suffered at home:

He got death threats, his mother tried to stop him communicating with his own brother. A group of people who disliked Damon assembled at a local church and Damon soon came to feel virtually everyone in the town where he grew up hated him. [4] His parents first held him in the house and stopped him communicating with anyone else, his sister contacted an older brother who took Damon away. Then Damon's parents cut off financial support and his mother threw out Damon’s belongings onto the front porch. [5
NOTHING like dat good, CHRISTIAN love.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

As the Cookie Crumbles: A Tempest in a Tea-Bag


All this faux outrage from the Fundie/Fuckwitted Righturds at the IRS allegedly paying TOO- close attention to the applications of hundreds of Tea-bagger groups for tax-exemt status is stupefying.

Woody's down-right gob-smacked!

It's not like the GOPhux--such as BOTH Bushes, the Reagan and Nixon regimes DID NOT use the IRS to persecute dissidents. The Chimperor, alone, had his IRS investigate Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, Greenpeace and the NAACP. No, really. And remember ACORN?

This "scandal" is akin to and reminiscent of the brouhaha which erupted after HSA announced findings about potential "Righturd/Fundie" fux' terrorist proclivities, in 09... The screams of outraged purity and innocence coulda resurrected Raygun.  The HSA was FORCED to retract the warning and apologize after the Consevatoids had their hissy-fit of affronted nobility.

But that gutless punk, Pres. Shamwow F. LowBar has AGAIN apologized? What the frack?
What the fuck for?

This is an invented scandal. Federal regulatory agencies routinely monitor the activities of those whom they supervise:

The EPA investigates and monitors probable/potential violators of (some) pollution/water/air quality regs...
The HSA investigates and monitors alleged/potential terrorists; the FBI creates 'em, so they can bust 'em on national TV..
The Treasure Dept investigates and monitors the currency for counterfeits. And so on...

Why shouldn't the IRS more closely monitor the doings of groups of Tea-baggers and such Righturd wackloons which publicly and proudly proclaim their avowed intention to avoid, evade and cheat on taxes?

It's right there in the name: TEA = Taxed Enough Already, innit. There's prima facie evidence for enhanced caution right there.

And it's NOT the returns, themselves, which were examined.

It was their applications for (spurious) tax-exempt status. Political organizations are not entitled. These CLEARLY "political" organizations were evidently trying to run a scam.

Hundreds of these applications were submitted simultaneously, apparently according to some plan that, if enough applications were processed at one time, some frauds would get through.This should NOT have occasioned suspicions among trained, IRS investigators?


What am I missing?

Oh, yeah. That's "right." 

The people being watched are not shiftless negroes,  dirty hippies or volvo-driving tree-huggers.

They're batshit-crazy, conservaturd WHITE neo-revolutionaries.

Oh, silly me. I forgot. No white, conservative, fundie-fuckwitz EVER break the law.  Just move along...Nothing to see here...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ed Beat: Koch-snorters; Adept Adaptation; In Plain SIght; Boooooo!; Drought

 Waddaya Mean, "Trying?"

Koch-Sucking in the Academy: The Koch Brothers have emerged as the bifurcated head of the great serpent of voracious Capital, striking out to secure centers of power for their spawn and kin--all in accord with the Powell Memorandum, the most influential document you never heard of. They have "invested" in more than 120 universities--mainly in business schools, such as George Mason, in Fairfax Va. where they have gotten "Atlas Shrugged" made required reading for the "Business" BA and the MBA. They donate money, with strings which dictate school pedagogical and personnel policies in a MOST undemocratic way. 
If you can think of a LEGAL way of stopping them, I would welcome it.


School Daze: Back in his perfessin' days, Doc Woody always told his student-teachers, you cannot "teach" students to accomplish tasks or to do jobs which don't yet exist. That is a fool's errand. Today's "skills" could well be irrelevant in 10-15-20 years. To be successful, we must be able to adapt.
That's why 'subject-based,' or a 'skills-based' curricula which respond only to the demands of the present and immediate future--such as proposed by the corpoRats, privatizers and charterists--fail to "prepare" students for the nature of their future experiences...
In an age when change is emerging as rapidly as it does today, children do not need to learn specific things; they need to be able to learn to think--to observe, record, organize and analyze what comes at them when what is familiar becomes strangified.
Dr. Tony Wagner, of Harvard, seems to talk the talk quite comprehensibly (I had never heard of him until last week). These are the pedagogic principles he espouses:
- Critical thinking and problem solving (the ability to ask the right questions)
-  Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
- Agility and adaptability
- Initiative and entrepreneurialism
- Accessing and analyzing information
- Effective written and oral communication
- Curiosity and imagination
I don't know if he actually produces, or what. If you do, please contribute.


The Hidden Curriculum

High Stakes: This high-stakes testing shit is right in ol' perfesser Woody's wheel-house.
"Testing" is a part of what I call the "concealed" curriculum.
The testing regimes in place today are designed intentionally to impress on kids that their futures, their prospects, their lives are determined by forces beyond their control: irrational, capricious, random evaluations which need not have any connection to their knowledge of or competence with the subject matter--the "work" they do--exactly as it happens in "real" life. Here's Diane Ravitch, today's edition:
"Bill Gates is wrong. American education is not “broken.”Federal education policy is broken.Testing children until they cry is a bad idea. It is educational malpractice.
I, along with my dozens of like-minded colleagues, have been beating this drum for almost 40 years--back BEFORE Diane Ravitch had her recent epiphany and changed sides; when was still pulling the "Nation At Risk" train for Bill Bennett, Chucker Finn, Lamar Alexander, and the rest of the Raygun "reformers." 


Disrespect: Dept. of Education chief Arne Duncan spoke before a plenary session  of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) last week in San Francisco, and pretended that there was absolutely nothing wrong with his and Prez. LowBar's plans for American schools. He was roundly booed by many participants there in attendance. Which, in turn, caused no small amount of pearl-clutching and hankie-shredding from the up-tight quantoids who seem to have usurped all the power in the organization, especially one educational sociologist named Jennifer Jennings. Jennings felt the audience had been "rude" to Duncan, whose "Race To The Top" plan has been characterized by most progressive educators as "NCLB on meth." The ass-sucking Jennings apologized to Duncan for her colleagues' behavior, later, in Ed Week (another AERA publication), to the disdain of the aforementioned Prof. Ravitch, who excoriated the the Duncan apologist (literally) on her own blog. I posted a reply there: 
“Civility” is the feces-encrusted ball-gag the powerful insist on shoving down the discursive throats of the powerless, to deprive the latter of the only instrument they can still wield: their rage. The pleas for civility by oppressors from the oppressed is the height of victim-blaming. Ravitch should know, from her tenure as a willing, enthusiastic satrap to the Raygunista "reformers"–Bennett, Finn, Alexander, and others– that the officials will ALWAYS be intransigent with respect to the complaints of those whom they are tying to silence and/or eliminate.
 Though I think it got scrubbed...Gee...Will wonders never cease?

 Meanwhile, in the Land of Enchantment: The New Mexico State Legislature has so far refused to pass on the nomination of an ALEC-sponsored, Rove/Bush vetted, former Florida school official named Hanna Skandera. Skandera was named by (then-incoming) Gov. Susanna Martinez, the carpet-bagging, former Texan tea-bagger who was narrowly elected in 2011, but the Legislator has refused Skandera's nomination in three consecutive sessions. This hasn't stood much in Skandera's way, however, as she has busily begun imposing "reforms" on NM schools consonant with the agenda of the aforementioned power brokers. Skandera, who has been associated with notorious Washington, DC, former Superintendent and alleged fraudster Michelle Rhee. 

Even absent confirmation, though clearly with the blessing if not the insistence of her nominal boss, Skandera has wrought her corpoRat mischief (emphasis supplied):
Skandera has been running the department without the confirmation, generating great praise from the Right side of the isle and much criticism from the left. Skandera previously served as California’s assistant secretary of education under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and in a similar post under Jeb Bush in Florida—all without having been a K-12 classroom teacher or principal. She has implemented a grading system for all schools as she did in Florida, on an A-F scale, again, without consideration of the socioeconomic conditions that distinguish schools.
Last February Skandera overruled the Public Education Commission’s decision to deny an online charter school to open in the fall. The school has connections to a foundation that advocates for free markets and less government and will contract with the online, for-profit company Connections Academy to run it. It will serve students from K through 12 and is expected to open with an enrollment of 500 students. Connections Academy also contributes to Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, which supports school grading and virtual schooling. Concurrent with Skandera’s overruling the Commission’s decision, the non-profit In the Public Interest released thousands of e-mails between the Foundation for Excellence in Education and education policy makers in various states: many of these were between the foundation and Skandera.
 The educational drought threatening New Mexico under this regime is every bit as dangerous and damaging as the acute and continuing water shortages here.


Monday, May 6, 2013

CJE Citizen's Dispatch: The Week That Was--May 4-8,1970

Four Dead in Ohio:

May 4, 1970. We remember Kent State, Jackson State (1970), and Orangeburg (1968). At Kent State University (May 4, 1970), the Ohio National Guard shot unarmed college students who were protesting the war and observers. The guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others.
While most people know that students were killed at Kent State in 1970, very few know about the murder of students at Jackson State and even less about South Carolina State College in Orangeburg. In Orangeburg, two years before the Kent State murders, 28 students were injured and three were killed — most shot in the back by the state police while involved in a peaceful protest. Visit this page to learn more and see film trailer: http://bit.ly/10yj6tH The Jackson State killings occurred on May 14–15, 1970, at Jackson State College (now JSU) in Mississippi. A group of student protesters were confronted by city and state police. The police opened fire, killing two students and injuring twelve. Also see the @[121352639676:274:Zinn Education Project] teaching guide on the Vietnam War and anti-war movement: http://bit.ly/ZlKPgX Image: courtesy of NYU Library.

Woody's war story: You know the difference between a war story and a fairy-tale?

A fairy-tale starts "Once upon a time..."

A war-story starts "This ain't no shit man, I was THERE!"

May 4, 1970, the date of the Kent State murders, was a Monday. I was there--not in Kent, OH, but in the mass of students and others who were infuriated by the revelations of Nixon's (and Kissinger's) "secret war" and their apparent willingness, even eagerness, to continue to prosecute this  stupidly unnecessary, unpopular wars.

The storm of protest over Nixon's secret wars in Cambodia and Laos had erupted the in previous week when news reports carried the information about hundreds of "secret" bombing raids. That early May weekend, 1970, students on campuses all over the country were restive. Then, when the news broke of the Ohio National Guard's cavalier, casual massacre of four kids at some obscure school outside of Cleveland, the spark flared and spread, and students all over the country began organizing for a massive protest in response.

May 8, 1970, the following Friday, was the day the shit-storm broke for good and all. It had been brewing all week, with tempers and activity rising all across the country;  meanwhile promises of police repression were filling the air. Popular sentiment--hippies versus hard-hats--tremendously polarized. There were, actually, people who APPROVED to the Guard's slaughter of the four (white, surprisingly) students in Ohio.

Here, in NM, that day, somehow the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General were all elsewhere. That left the Chief of the State Police, Martin Vigil, a tiny, fat, little fucking totalitarian martinet with the brain of a gecko, in charge to meet a widely announced, widely anticipated demonstration on the UNM campus in Albuquerque. The wanna-be 'generalissimo' precipitated a crisis by calling out a National Guard unit from Socorro to "pacify" the UNM campus. 

The Guard parked their 'duece-and-as-half' trucks on Central Ave (right in front of what is now the legendary "Frontier" restaurant), dismounted, bared and fixed their bayonets, and began to march down the mall, to clear it of student protestors. I would guess there were a couple of thousand kids, faculty, and other citizens assembled outside the Student Union building. The Guard were advancing in line abreast, with fixed bayonets, toward the angry and increasingly unruly demonstrators. There were also many hundreds of Albuquerque citizens who'd come out to spectate.

Violence inevitably ensued--in excess of a dozen students were injured, severally badly-- by Guard bayonets and other forms of physical aggression. VVAW members were there acting as marshals trying to keep peace; I was standing near a fellow who was bayoneted in the leg, and his femoral artery was knicked. Blood spurted FEET in the air! Another guy, also a vet, and I got a tourniquet on the leg and carried the kid to the aid tent (which there always were, in those days). Along the way, were subject to vile curses and showered with spittle and invective by the watchers.

My generally tolerant attitude toward "average" Ummurkins" did NOT survive that day, as the good burghers of Burque-town came out in their thousands to watch and cheer as the National Guard kicked hippies' asses. It made the local papers, but news didn't travel as far, in days porior to 'social media,' and the events of that day are now largely forgotten.

It was a truly transformative day, for me, on which I learned once and for all where MY class interests lay...I hope you have such a day, sometime, though perhaps not under such dire circumstances, hippies...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

CJWE/WWH Ed Beat: Testing, Testing, Testing, Testing...

CJE/WWH Ed Beat: Testing, Testing, Testing, Testing...


Resistance Grows:
The folks at the invaluable resource and cite for vital, critical information, FairTest.org, publish weekly links to sites where teachers and students are contesting the high-stakes testing regimes of the official Accountabilists --who, interestingly, never seem to have to face the kinds of evaluations which they foist upon teachers and students. Last week's bulletin contained reports from Florica, Chicago, Georgia, DC, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Louisiana, and California, and highlights efforts to de-escalate the testing madness which imposes huge costs on students and teachers alike for "failing" to successfully pass what are essentially busy-work assignments.


Do-It-Yourself Testing:
A middle-school student in DC has taken the bit in her teeth to craft a test of her own which would replace the blizzard of "officially mandated" tests that kids have flung at them by the Accountabilists.
A 13-year-old eighth grader in upstate New York woke up on Sunday and decided that it would be funny if she designed a standardized test that made fun of standardized tests. (See below) After all, Sophia Stevens was getting ready to take one of the state’s new Common Core-aligned standardized tests on Tuesday, so the subject was on her mind...She designed a mini eighth-grade reading test, complete with tips on taking the test, a complete reading passage and multiple choice questions to answer.
You may read and consider the justice of her claims in the linked article and take the 8th Grade reading test she devised. The kid's got a future...


News out of Florida underscores how bizarre are the testing and teacher-accountability standards, where teachers are being "evaluated' on the trest-scores of students' they've never taught.
And teachers' UNIONS are taking the matter to Court. Last week:
...The National Education Association and the Florida Education Association filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Florida and three local school boards. It challenges the evaluation of teachers based on standardized test scores of students they don’t teach or based on subjects they don’t teach. According to a NEA release, “teachers who are rated unsatisfactory (the lowest of the four performance ratings under the law) two consecutive years or two out of three years in a row are subject to termination or non-renewal.” In turn, teachers’ transfers, promotions, and layoffs are based on the rating. Starting July 1, 2014, salaries will be based on the assigned performance rating.
Who but teachers are "evaluated" for their "competency" on the basis of criteria over which they have absolutely NO control? Evaluating teachers' performance on the bases of test-scores of kids they don't teach, in subjects they don't teach.


Custodians, Too:
The WaPo reported last week that--until just this year--custodial staff in 'at risk' schools were evaluated in part based on the test scores of the students in their schools
Until this year, Washington D.C.’s IMPACT evaluation system, begun under former chancellor Michelle Rhee in 2009, linked student standardized test scores to the evaluations of D.C. school custodians....D.C. officials really thought linking a custodian’s performance evaluation to student test scores would “instill a sense of teamwork among all staff?” And they thought this for years?
Meanwhile, the District  continues to find new ways to link teacher evaluations to test scores.
For example, educators of really young children — who are not old enough to take the D.C. Comprehensive System exams which are the basis of the school system’s test-based accountability system — are still judged on standardized tests, just not the DC CAS.

In re, Rhee:
A well-meaning friend came upon this propaganda piece from the afor-mentioned former DC Schools commissioner Michelle Rhee which illustrates how 'reasonable' this particular brand of gibbering codswallop can sound. The Vid's over an hour long, and is so full of utter, debunked crap that only the bravest souls should probably risk exposure.Meanwhile: The evidence cvontinues to mount that Rhee's so-called "miracle" with the DC schools was a product more of public relations smoke-and-mirrors than of the result of any serious efforts to actuall;y reform the schools. "...Rhee guilty of egregious negligence..." reads the headline in this recent assessment of Rhee's DC career. Her hallmark program puts in the hands of dissident parents a trigger to cause certain "reforms" to be instituted, whether they're educationally or pedagogically warranted or effective.
Rhee continues to claim innocence regardless of the evidence piling up against her.  If she was aware of high erasure rates in her school system and didn’t call for a thorough investigation (only 60 people were interviewed), like Governor Perdue of Georgia had (Perdue hired special investigators, who interviewed 2,000 people to get to the bottom of the Atlanta cheating scandal), then she is guilty of egregious negligence.
We do know that Rhee was very aware of the meaning of high-stakes testing and the implications for advancing her agenda.  After giving a speech in Minnesota in November 2011, she stated emphatically, “I thought at the time that if we produced outsized results, people would want us to continue[.] … I was absolutely wrong. People cared more about the processes.”  Yes, processes do matter, Ms. Rhee.
If Rhee’s intention was to get “outsized results” quickly, then the cheating scandal makes sense.  Principals and teachers would be under the gun to increase scores.  Rhee did reward some principals and teachers with bonuses based on those increases.  If she knowingly paid educators for improved scores which may have come from illegally changing test answers, she would be facing the same consequences as Beverly Hall in Atlanta.

Systemic Collapse at CUNY:
The nation's fourth-largest public university system, with 272,000 students and a $2.6 billion budget, CUNY is on the rocks because so many of its student applicants require "remediation in basic scholastic subjects, mainly "reading" and math. According to the Village Voice, "...New York City officials openly admit that a high school diploma earned in our public schools today does not mean that a student is ready for college. In fact, 80 percent of New York public school graduates who enrolled in City University of New York community colleges last fall still needed high school level instruction—also known as remediation—in reading, writing, and especially math." The need for remediation imposes a huge financial and structural burden on the system, in which The Voice reported:
 Barbara Bowen, president of CUNY's Professional Staff Congress, traces a line from what is happening at the Department of Education to what is now happening at CUNY. A widening gap is opening between aspiration and reality, as both high schools and colleges pursue better-looking statistics. "Many of the agendas that we have seen driving the so-called reform movement in K-12 education are now showing up in higher ed," says Bowen. At the same time, she continues, "we see a nationwide refusal to invest in education. It's very dramatic at CUNY: a 40 percent drop in state funding per student over the last 20 years. In this context of low investment, the drive for completion is going to lead to cutting corners and offering less as one way to speed students to graduation."

More Common Corpse:
New York City apparently has fallen prey to the same idiocies which afflict other, lesser mortals, imposing standards, and testing them, before the "reforms" are even proven effective, according to a report in The Economist:
"Why has New York decided to subject students to these exams well before the standards have been fully implemented in the classrooms?"
The answer is quite simple - the powers that be have a political agenda that they want to push through all at once that has nothing to do with helping students or teachers

They want, as Rick Hess noted here, to show suburban parents that their public schools are failing as much as they say urban schools are.

They want to convince the public that this is the fault of "bad teachers" and "failing schools" and fire the former while closing the latter.

They are using the new Common Core tests with the ramped-up difficulty and the new teacher evaluation system known as APPR that ties evals to test scores as their weapons against schools and teachers.

They claim these radical changes are actually to help students and teachers, but if they really thought that, they would have piloted these changes in slowly over time in a couple of places before thrusting the new Common Core tests and the new APPR system onto the entire state all at once.

But they don't actually care about either students or teachers so they didn't pilot any of these changes at all. 
In fact, the APPR evaluation system remains half-baked at best, as Bruce Baker shows here and here and Carol Burris shows here, and will almost certainly be the target of lawsuits the way the half-baked value-added evaluation system in Florida now is.