Education

West Wing Week 03/14/14 or “What’s Up, Captain America?”

The White House

This week, the Vice President and Dr. Biden traveled to Chile to attend the inauguration of Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, while President Obama worked on improving access to college for students, raising the minimum wage, and negotiating a peaceful settlement to the conflict in Ukraine. He also got out the word about the March 31 deadline for health insurance applications, congratulated NCAA champs, and designated a new national monument.

 

Friday, March 7th

·       The President and First Lady visited Coral Reef High School in Miami, Florida to speak about the importance of signing up for Federal financial aid.

Monday, March 10th

·       The President participated in a conference call with healthcare enrollment leaders.

·       The President congratulated the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Division I Champions at the White House.

Tuesday, March 11th

·      Funny or Die released an interview with President Obama on the web series Between Two Ferns.

·      The President added the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands to existing National Monument land in California

·      Later that day, the President visited a Gap Store in New York City to highlight Gap’s choice to raise the minimum wage for their               employees.

Wednesday, March 12th

·     The President met with a group of advocates who are getting the word out about the Affordable Care Act.

·      Later that day, the President held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk of Ukraine.

·      Then, the President hosted a meeting with women members of Congressto discuss the 2014 women’s economic agenda.

Thursday, March 13th

·       The President spoke on the urgent need to get hardworking Americans the overtime pay they deserve.

·       Later, the President took a photo with the 52nd Annual U.S. Sentae Youth program.

 

School Allegedly Told Buddhist Student His Faith Is ‘Stupid’ & He Should Convert Or Switch Schools

shutterstock_71761258

CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK

So, what happened to the Constitutional privilege of the free exercise to practice one’s religion  (or not) for EVERY AMERICAN?   These folks will not let us ever forget the so-called “right to bear arms”, but just like the Taliban, anything other than their proscribed religion is an abomination to them.   This really boils my blood!

I can’t believe this stuff happens in the United States…

Think Progress

A Louisiana teacher who taught her sixth grade class that evolution is “impossible” and that the bible is “100 percent true” ridiculed a Buddhist student during class and announced that those who don’t believe in god are “stupid,” according to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana.

When the child’s parents reported the incidents, the Sabine Parish superintendent allegedly told them “this is the Bible Belt,” and asked whether the child, referred to as “C.C.” could either change his faith or transfer to a school where “there are more Asians.”

According to the ACLU, the teacher, Rita Rourke, works at a school in Sabine Parish, La., that consistently touts Christian beliefs through portraits of Jesus Christ in the halls, a “lighted, electronic marquee” outside the school that scrolls Bible verses, and regular staff member recitation of prayers with students during class. “The day after meeting with the Lanes, the Superintendent sent a letter to Negreet Principal Gene Wright stating that she approved of Negreet’s official religious practices. Wright read the letter to the entire Negreet student body over the school’s public-address system,” according to the complaint.

C.C.’s parents did transfer him to another school to curb his daily physical nausea and anxiety, even though it is a 30-minute drive from their home. But the school is in the same district, and also promotes religious beliefs. The District posts a belief statement on its website that says, “We believe that: God exists.” And C.C.’s new school begins student assemblies and events with prayer. The ACLU lawsuit alleges that the school and the district are improperly coercing religious practices by students and endorsing beliefs in violation of the First Amendment.

C.C.’s original teacher, Rourke, has also continued to promote religious beliefs, giving students extra credit points for including a bible verse or the phrase, “Isn’t it amazing what the Lord has made,” at the bottom of exams. She told her class that Buddhism is “stupid” and, “no one can stay alive that long without eating.” And she told her students that “if evolution was real, it would still be happening: Apes would be turning into humans today.”

The Tea Party’s Next Bogeyman: Obama’s Common Core Conspiracy

Barack Obama

Mother Jones

The educational community is divided on new national curriculum standards. But conservative activists see something more sinister.

Last week, conservative talk show host and media mogul Glenn Beck decided to let his listeners in on what he dubbed “the biggest story in American history.” It’s called System X. “If you don’t stop it,” he warned, “American history is over as you know it.”

As Beck explained it, a little-known Department of Education program, supported by rich philanthropists, business interests, and the United Nations, was turning public schools into the world’s next great data-mining frontier. Using carrots offered up in the 2009 stimulus bill, the federal government and its contractors could compile hundreds of points of data on your kids and use it for who knows what. The result: “System X: a government run by a single party in control of labor, media, education, and banking; joined by big business to further their mutual collective goals.”

The gateway to this dystopian future, which Beck predicted would lead to some portions of the United States embracing Nazism, was President Barack Obama’s controversial push for a new national curriculum known as Common Core. The conspirators are far-ranging. Rupert Murdoch is in on it. So is the American Legislative Exchange Council, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Jeb Bush.

Beck’s not the only person fighting Common Core. Lawmakers in 18 states have considered legislation to block the implementation of the curriculum standards. Five—Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia—have successfully rejected or partially rejected Common Core. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell reiterated his opposition to Common Core in late March, just one week after Texas Gov. Rick Perry went on Beck’s program to denounce it.

On the most basic level, the fight over Common Core is same fight parents and policymakers have been waging over public education for the last century, centering on two basic questions: What is the appropriate level of federal involvement in local schooling? And if we did settle on an umbrella curriculum, what should it actually look like? Education reformer Diane Ravitch, for one, opposes Common Core on the grounds that, while there should be a set of national education tenets, she believes “such standards should be voluntary, not imposed by the federal government.” 

But in the hands of activists like Beck, Common Core has taken on a more ominous tone. The long-standing fever swamp fears of enforced secularism and multiculturalism, like those promoted by now-Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) in the 1990s, have been given a digital makeover.

The core itself is what it sounds like—a broad curriculum standard. States that choose to accept Common Core gain access to a pot of billions of federal dollars. Social conservatives have never liked that kind of incentive game, especially when it’s connected to a Democratic president. (GOP Rep. Rob Bishop, whose Utah district is ground zero for the anti-Common Core movement, called the Common Core a “hook” from which the state could never extricate itself.)

According to its critics, the most nefarious consequence of Common Core is a data collection program that’s part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the stimulus). The idea is to better track student demographic and achievement data to figure out what’s working and what’s not, and respond accordingly. Some of the biggest names in American politics and business support the idea. In 2011, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation teamed up with the Carnegie Foundation and an educational subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. to develop a database of student data that states can access for free until 2015. (After that it will charge an annual fee.) At a speech at the White House last November, Shawn T. Bay, CEO of the education data company eScholar, called Common Core “the glue that actually ties everything together” in the Department of Education’s Big Data push.

A writer at the anti-core site Truth in Education synthesized the movement’s fears thusly:

There will be a massive data tracking system on each child with over 400 points of information collected. This information can be shared among organizations and companies and parents don’t have to be informed about what data is being collecting. They will collect information such as: your child’s academic records, health care history, disciplinary record, family income range, family voting status, and religious affiliation, to name a few. Big brother will be watching your child from preschool till college (P20 Longitudinal Data System). You, the parent, are UNABLE to opt your child out of this tracking system.

According to anti-Common Core activists, the government won’t only collect student data from test scores and paperwork—they’ll also use actual lab experiments. Beck cited a Februarydraft report released by the Department of Education on the future of learning technology. Among other things, the report highlighted studies that had used tools such as a “wireless skin conductance sensor,” “functional magnetic resonance imaging,” and a “posture analysis seat” to measure how students learn. As Beck put it, “This is like some really spooky, sci-fi, Gattacakind of thing.” But the Department of Education draft report didn’t actually recommend that these tools be incorporated into the classroom.

Critics also take issue with what’s in the standards—particularly the math portion. Writing about the math standards in The Atlantic last November, retired educator Barry Garelick fearedthat kids would become “‘little mathematicians’ who don’t know how to do actual math.”

But as Kathleen Porter-Magee and Sol Stern point out at the conservative National Review Online, much of the criticism about the contents of  Common Core has been based on misinformation, if not “deliberate misunderstanding.” Although conservative critics like Michelle Malkin allege that Common Core brushes aside classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird, it in fact holds up Harper Lee’s novel as an “examplar” of what students should be taught.

For now, most GOP lawmakers’ concerns about the Common Core focus on the curriculum and the idea of federal control, not Big Data. But the Obama administration is wary of Common Core taking on a life of its own in the conservative fever swamps. Last February, when South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley suggested she might block the implementation of Common Core in her state, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan released a statement punching back.

Citing the endorsements of Republican governors like Mitch Daniels of Indiana, Bill Haslam of Tennessee, and Chris Christie of New Jersey, Duncan dismissed Haley’s concerns as little more than tinfoil-hat trolling: “The idea that the Common Core standards are nationally-imposed is a conspiracy theory in search of a conspiracy.”

Then again, when has that ever stopped Glenn Beck?

Chomsky: Corporations and the Richest Americans Viscerally Oppose Common Good

Noam Chomsky

The Masters of Mankind want us to become the “stupid nation,” in the interests of their short-term gain — damn the consequences. ~ Chomsky

Alternet

Whether public education contributes to the Common Good depends, of course, on what kind of education it is, to whom it is available, and what we take to be the Common Good. There’s no need to tarry on the fact that these are highly contested matters, have been throughout history, and continue to be so today.

One of the great achievements of American democracy has been the introduction of mass public education, from children to advanced research universities. And in some respects that leadership position has been maintained. Unfortunately, not all. Public education is under serious attack, one component of the attack on any rational and humane concept of the Common Good, sometimes in ways that are not only shocking, but also spell disaster for the species.

All of this falls within the general assault on the population in the past generation, the so-called “neoliberal era.” I’ll return to these matters, of great significance and import.

Sometimes the attacks on education and on the Common Good are very closely linked. One current illustration is the “Environmental Literacy Improvement Act” that is being proposed to legislatures by ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-funded lobby that designs legislation to serve the needs of the corporate sector and extreme wealth. This act mandates “balanced” teaching of climate science in K-12 classrooms.”

Read more here…

 

Dear GOP – F#@K You!

Love it!  This song can apply to so many different political situations….

Veracity Stew

Warning: Contains explicit lyrics because we’re pissed! 
After promising to concentrate on jobs, jobs and jobs, the Republicans instead have concentrated on their culture war bills and further attacks on the working class by siding with their wealthy masters. For their treasonous acts, we send this love letter to all Teapublicans.

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Pat Buchanan Won’t Disavow Idea That Minorities Have Inferior Genes on the Thom Hartmann Show

Herr Pat Buchanan is at it again…

Crooks & Liars

As we already know, Pat Buchanan has been out there pushing a new book of his Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? Buchanan showed up on Hannity’s show earlier this week where he was treated to the softball interview I posted about here — Pat Buchanan: America is Disintegrating Because White America is an Endangered Species.

Needless to say, he didn’t get quite the same treatment when he appeared as a guest on Thom Hartmann’s radio show this Thursday. The relevant portion of the interview starts at just over three and a half minutes into the video above and the portion quoted below is about eight and a half minutes in.

From Media Matters — Pat Buchanan Won’t Disavow Idea That Minorities Have Inferior Genes:

Yesterday, radio host Thom Hartmann challenged guest Pat Buchanan over his recent writingabout minorities and test scores. Hartmann said that “a lot of people are taking what you’re saying as code for inferior genes” and twice pressed Buchanan to disavow that theory. Buchanan did not, instead claiming that he doesn’t “know anything” about the topic.

From The Thom Hartmann Program:

HARTMANN: A lot of people are taking what you’re saying as code for inferior genes. Please tell me that’s not what you’re talking about.

BUCHANAN: Well look, I’m not — don’t know anything about what genetics or something like that. What I’m saying is, is these are the test scores and we haven’t been able to –

HARTMANN: So do you disavow that?

BUCHANAN: Pardon?

HARTMANN: Do you disavow that idea, that concept –

BUCHANAN: Well, I don’t know anything about being — look. The Coleman Report –

HARTMANN: I mean, you’re being quoted over on –

BUCHANAN: The Coleman Report, and I think I’ve got in my book, the Coleman Report said what a child brings to school is far more important than what he finds in schools, in other words, heredity and home environment, nature and nurture. Do I know the differences, or what percentages, or this and that, of course not. I’m not going to get into that. I’m saying is here’s the test scores now, and this is the problem, and in our future, quite frankly, Hispanic Americans, and African Americans, because of test scores, because of the dropout rate is fifty percent, they’re going to be in the service economy and the rest of us are going to be up there in the knowledge industry and that doesn’t make for a united America.

Much, much more that in the Media Matters post with details following this statement up so go read the entire post, but as they noted, Buchanan is actually fully aware of what Hartmann was asking him about, so his denial that he doesn’t “know anything about what genetics or something like that” is just flatly false.

While Buchanan didn’t disavow the idea, he’s written about the matter throughout his career and was forced to clarify a controversial memo regarding the subject he wrote to President Nixon.

The Boston Globe reported in a January 1992 article that as a White House aide, Buchanan “suggested in a memo to President Nixon that efforts to integrate the U.S. might only result in ‘perpetual friction’ because blacks and the poor may be genetically inferior to middle-class whites.”

At the time of the report, Buchanan was running for president and under criticism for his history of controversial racial statements. The Globe reported that “Buchanan said yesterday he does not believe blacks are genetically inferior to whites and did not have that belief in the past. Buchanan said he sent the memo to Nixon as a routine matter of intellectual curiosity.”

They wrapped the post up by noting Buchanan’s praise for some of the writings of white supremacist Sam Francis on the same topic he denied knowing anything about to Hartmann here:

Near the conclusion of his section on race and education, on page 224, Buchanan quotes the writing of white supremacist Sam Francis, in which Francis writes that “the doctrine of equality is unimportant, because no one save perhaps Pol Pot and Ben Wattenberg really believes in it, and no one, least of all those who profess it most loudly, is seriously motivated by it…. The real meaning of the doctrine of equality is that it serves as a political weapon.”

Buchanan eulogized Francis in a May 2005 column, writing, “When God created him, He endowed Sam with a great gift – one of the finest minds of his generation. Sam did not waste it.” In Buchanan’s book State Of Emergency, as noted by Think Progress’ Judd Legum, Buchanan lamented that Francis was fired after he suggested that only whites have the appropriate “genetic endowments” to keep America from collapsing.

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Gilbert Brown, Famed Green Bay Packer, Urges Wisconsin Voters To Recall Republicans

Today may just turn out to be a pivotal moment for the progressive movement across the nation.  All eyes are on Wisconsin and the re-call efforts of its citizens.  Go Wisconsin!

The Huffington Post

As Wisconsin voters head to the polls Tuesday for the first of two critical recall election days, the labor backed coalition We Are Wisconsin is pulling out the big guns.

The group released a robocall campaign on Tuesday featuring mammoth former Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Gilbert Brown. The call urges voters to replace six Republican state Senators who supported Governor Scott Walker’s controversial budget bill.

“Hello this is Gilbert Brown, defensive lineman for the ’97 Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, calling on behalf of We Are Wisconsin. I have a message for you about Tuesday’s election, I know a little bit about playing defense and right now it is time to defend Wisconsin. We are holding the line, putting our children’s education before big corporate tax giveaways. It is up to voters like you to make the difference. Please gather your friends and neighbors and go to the polls on Tuesday from 7 am to 8 pm and support Nancy Nusbaum for Senate.”

Famous for his girth — he weighed in, by conservative estimates, at 340 pounds during his playing days — Brown anchored a Green Bay defensive line that led the Packers to two Super Bowls, one of which they won. Nicknamed the Gravedigger, Brown wasn’t exactly known for getting involved in progressive political causes. But perhaps his time as a member of the National Football League Players Association compelled him to help push back against a Walker budget that stripped collective bargaining rights from public sector unions.Tuesday is a big day for union forces on the ground in Wisconsin. Picking up three seats would give Democrats control of the state Senate. More broadly, losses by multiple sitting Republicans would send a message to other state legislatures that there are consequences for pushing harsh anti-union measures.

With those stakes, there are few spokesmen in the state more revered than beloved former Packers. Current Packer cornerback Charles Woodson spoke out forcefully against the Walker budget when it was being debated in February.

Santorum Opposes Early Childhood Education: Government Wants To ‘Indoctrinate’ Children ‘From The Womb’

Rick Santorum has got to be one of the craziest right-wing nut-job presidential candidates out there.   This article proves how far on the fringe he really is…

Think Progress

Last month, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) — a long-shot contender for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination — said American students scoring low on history tests is proof of “a conscious effort on the part of the left, who has a huge influence on our curriculum, to desensitize America to what American values are so they are more pliable to the new values that they would like to impose on America.” During a campaign appearance at the Perry Public Library in Perry, Iowa this week, Santorum took this line of thinking a step further, explaining that he is opposed to early childhood education programs because he feels they are a government attempt to “indoctrinate your children“:

It is a parent’s responsibility to educate their children. It is not the government’s job. We have sort of lost focus here a little bit. Of course, the government wants their hands on your children as fast as they can. That is why I opposed all these early starts and pre-early starts, and early-early starts. They want your children from the womb so they can indoctrinate your children as to what they want them to be. I am against that.

“Obviously, socialists love children, just like they love people in groups of one million or more,” Santorum added.

Santorum’s bizarre conspiracy-theorizing aside, study after study has shown that federal early childhood education programs have substantial benefits. For instance, students enrolled in Head Start are more likely to be reading and writing at the appropriate level in their early school years, have better health outcomes, earn more money, and commit fewer crimes. Parents with students in Head Start and Early Head Start are also more likely to be involved in their child’s education and cost states less in Medicaid outlays.

One long-term study in California found that “our society receives nearly $9 in benefits for every $1 invested in Head Start children.” Meanwhile, conservative projections show that the real fiscal rate of return overall on public early education investments is about 10 percent. The Center on Children and Families has found that investments in pre-school not only boost GDP, but pay for themselves in the long-term.

As Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said when discussing the value of investments in education, “the payoffs of early childhood programs can be especially high.” But Santorum would rather play the socialist card than ensure that the richest nation on Earth do all it can for its youth.

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ARKANSAS HIGH SCHOOL APPOINTS CO-VALEDICTORIAN BECAUSE TOP STUDENT WAS AFRICAN AMERICAN

Little Rock is Arkansas' capital and most popu...

Image via Wikipedia

Think Progress

A high school student in Arkansas was blocked from receiving sole valedictorian honors this summer, despite earning the highest G.P.A. in her class and receiving only a single B in her four years at McGehee Secondary School.

Kymberly Wimberly’s offense? She’s black. School administrators worried that Wimberly’s accomplishment would result in a “big mess” at the majority-white school, so Principal Darrell Thompson told the student’s mother “that he decided to name a white student as co-valedictorian,” even though the white student had a lower G.P.A.

The matter is currently pending in federal court.

Santorum Blames Liberal Plot For Students’ Bad History Scores (VIDEO)

All I can say about this clown is: Google the word –  Santorum

TPMDC

Another day, another entry for Rick Santorum’s list of liberal conspiracies.

This time Santorum is arguing that the reason so few U.S. students perform well in U.S. history is because of “a conscious effort on the part of the left who has a huge influence on our curriculum, to desensitize America to what American values are so they’re more pliable to the new values that they would like to impose on America.”

Santorum was speaking to the Story County GOP Central Committee in Iowa, and referenced a report that found that only 13% of high school seniors nationally are proficient in history. Only 22% of fourth-grade students and 18% of eighth-graders were proficient.

“How can we be a free people?” Santorum asked. “How can we be a people that fight for America if we don’t know who America is or what we’re all about?”

Watch: