Education, Politics

Opt Out: 21st Century Civil Disobedience

Diane Ravitch (whatever would we do without her) posits the following on her site:

What if every parent said, “I refuse”?

What if every parent said, “My child is not taking the test”?

What if everyone said, “No, thank you, I’d rather not”?

If change is gonna come, it’s got to start in every home of every child whose parents are fed up with weeks upon weeks of unnecessary testing. If parents say no, school administrators will have to take notice, and so will state legislators, and members of Congress, and the Secretary of Education, and the President (and those seeking to replace him).

It’s civil disobedience. It’s democracy in action. It’s desperately needed to change the education “reform” movement.

It’s up to you. Act in your child’s best interest.

It’s time to opt out.

Media, Politics

MoDo Shows You How Not To Write a Transition

Once, Maureen Dowd was a very insightful, acerbic columnist for The New York Times.


In today’s column, she attempts to use a timely story – the death of Robin Williams, no less – as an attention-getting device. Not a bad way to get your audience’s attention, unless you follow it up with this:

So when I think of Williams, I think of (Michael) Kelly. And when I think of Kelly, I think of Hillary (Clinton), because Michael was the first American reporter to die in the Iraqi invasion, and Hillary Clinton was one of 29 Democratic senators who voted to authorize that baloney war.

MoDo’s has a bit of a Clinton fixation, and some of her criticism is warranted.  But for the love of Strunk and White, how the hell do you justify using Robin Williams’ death as an opening to that piece? 

To borrow a phrase from Charlie Pierce, the mind, it boggles. 

Education, Politics

RNC’s Shorts In A Bunch Over. . . AP US History?

Oh, this is just priceless. The Republican National Committee wants Congress to investigate the College Board because of its new AP US History curriculum, claiming it has a “radically revisionist view” of American history. Yes, the folks who revise history whenever it’s politically convenient are getting their fee-fees hurt by something that closely resembles the truth. Take a look at the new curriculum here.

Keep in mind that the College Board is now run by David Coleman, the “architect” of the Common Core. Can’t wait for Glenn Beck’s tin foil brigade to gets ahold of this.

Education, Politics

Rhee-Invention: Same Stuff, Different Name

Michelle Rhee has decided to step down as Grifter In Chief CEO of StudentsFirst. She’s also changed her name to Michelle Johnson (she is married to former NBA star, now mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson).

What will keep this fierce “change agent” occupied now that the bloom is off her reforming rose?

She’s joined the board of Scotts Miracle-Gro.

Michelle’s an expert at shoveling sh. . . fertilizer. She’ll fit in just fine.


Life, Media, Politics

Protecting Your Data in The United States of Secrets

Tonight’s FRONTLINE presentation is the definition of must-see broadcast journalism. (Watch it  online here.) Everything we do via the Internet is collected by the NSA in the name of national security. Not only does this raise questions of violating the Fourth Amendment, but the NSA hasn’t collected one bit of data responsible for stopping any recent terrorist activity in the USA.

Not one.

How can we protect our data? Check out this FRONTLINE podcast with two privacy experts:


Literature, Miscellany, Pop Culture

This Is What Happens When Bookstores Leave Your City

Here in Grand Rapids, where you can’t find a bookstore north of 28th Street, a lack of literary outlets leads to this kind of thing:

Police blocked off an area of downtown Grand Rapids for a time Monday evening after a suspicious package was found in a parking garage. A GRPD bomb squad was called to the scene and X-rayed the package to find that it was a Dick Tracy book.

An entire city block roped off for nearly three hours because of a book. Or, perhaps, a lack of a decent bookstore. 

Education, Politics

Mad as Hell and Not Going to Take Common Core Anymore

It’s been too long since the last post, but, apparently, the Tspelczechquer is ringing up traffic for the opt-out movement. Good.

Now it’s time to get our states and schools to opt out of Common Core. Why?

It wasn’t created by teachers.

It’s not a state-led initiative, no matter what Coach Arne Duncan would like you to believe.

It’s driven by a desire to sell flawed tests that schools can’t afford.

It’s terribly flawed, especially the K-3rd grade standards.

It’s “architect” – College Board’s David Coleman – is an arrogant so-and-so who doesn’t “give a $hit” about your kids’ personal opinion. Any true teacher would tell you otherwise.

It’s supported by Bill Gates, the Wal-Mart family, and most every state’s Chamber of Commerce. (Look at all of the educational experience there!)

Hell, even the venerable Louis C.K. realizes that Common Core is killing our kids’ love of learning.

It’s time to go all Howard Beale, people.

Literature, Pop Culture

A Few of My Favorite Books, 2013 Edition

Not that you asked (or care), but here are some of my favorite books of the past year.

The absolute best is Diane Ravitch’s superb Reign of Error. Anyone who cares about public education (and, to a larger extent, our future as a democracy) must read this book. It’s that important. When any public servant tells you he or she is “for education reform,” find out if he or she has read Ravitch. If they have, good. If not, put a copy of Reign of Error in their hands now.

Rounding out my top ten, in no particular order:

The Circle, Dave Eggers – What if a company took over Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, and Amazon, and had the capability of knowing everything about everyone? In the age of NSA and Edward Snowden, The Circle has come around at the right time.

The Dog Stars, Peter Heller – After a flu epidemic wipes out most of North America, two men and one dog struggle to survive in the flatlands of Colorado. Dystopian, heartbreaking, and hopeful, with shades of Cormac McCarthy.

A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemmingway – Yes, I know it’s been around for awhile. I finally took the plunge this summer. I knew what was coming, but Hemmingway still managed to break my heart.

Continue reading

Education, Politics

Coming Soon to a “Failing” School Near You: The EAA!

Thanks, Michissippi State Senate! You approved the statewide expansion of the clusterfk that is the Educational Achievement Authority. Soon to be outgoing State Superintendent Mike “Pontius Pilate” Flanagan had this to say about the EAA:

Flanagan released a statement Wednesday morning defending his actions, saying he has “a moral obligation to do so for the sake of the children suffering in a handful of schools where they are not learning.”

“Shame on anyone who insists on maintaining the status quo, to keep kids in this handful of failing schools where I wouldn’t dare send my grandkids,” Flanagan said in a statement.

Moral obligation, my ass. Mike, you wouldn’t dare send your grandkids to those failing schools because they’re located in Detroit. Also, the “status quo” that’s been maintained in Michissippi involves the wholesale transfer of public money to for-profit charter companies that provide craptastic educations to their students. The EAA has fared even worse:

In October, the EAA reported having 7,589 students enrolled in its 15 schools — 2,369 fewer than last fall, when it had 9,958 students across 12 direct-run schools and three charter schools. That’s a drop of 23.6 percent.

The startup district struggled with cash-flow during its first year, relying on short-term loans  and donations from private foundations (ed. note: millions from the Broad Foundation) to cover its costs. Putting the EAA on par with other schools under state law would stabilize the district’s finances, Esselman said.

The EAA plans to cover its costs by borrowing from MIPSERS, the state pension fund for teachers. Peter, pay Paul.