from a public HS teacher (Gov't, Religion, Soc. Issues), who is eclectic (Dem-leaning) politically and Quaker (& open) on everything else. Hope you enjoy what you find here.

Saturday, June 25, 2005


NOTE: this entry is a duplicate of something posted on dailykos which contains an annotated list of my education-related diaries at dailykos. Many of these have been crossposted here as well, but there are other educational related diaries on this site, most of which pre-dated the December 22, 2004 start of this list

In the past I have periodically done my meta diaries on education, which have provided an annotated list of diaries on education and related subjects.  Each of these has been nested, that is, metadiary #2 imbedded a link to metadiary#1 and then an annotated list of all education diaries since.   There have been four such metadiaries in the past.

Today I am going to do something different.  Below I will provide a chronological list of ALL my dailykos diaries (since Dec 22, 2004)on education and related subjects.  Thus readers will have one link on which they can click to find anything I have written in diary form about education.   Some of these diaries got lots of traffic, others did not.  You can decided on your own what if any value THIS diary offers you.   NOTE:  some of the imbedded links to publications may have expired.


HOW NCLB ENRICHES BUSH CRONIES AND OTHERS has a self-explanatory title.  It is based on a report written by Gerald bracey and put out by the school of education at Arizona State University.  It gives specifics of individuals and companies that are benefiting rom NCLB while showing their contacts with the Bush family and the President. I provide a link to download (PDF) the entire report.

BILL MOYERS:  "A MORAL TRANSACTION" is about Public television.  This is related since public tv started as educational tv -- our local station in DC is WETA, founded as  (Greater) Washington Educational Television  Association.  Moyers paid himself for a two page spread in the Washington Post to present his defense of the purposes of public education.  He was involved with the founding of public broadcasting, and has been a powerful advocate for its independence.

SOMETHING GOOD & EXCITING IN PHILADELPHIA is about a new charter high school  opening this Fall and dedicated to peace studies and conflict resolution.  It includes the organizers request for mentors for each of the students.  I wanted people aware of what good things could be done under charter school legislation, and to let those people close enough to get involved about the opportunity to participate.

Three Things TO THINK ABOUT put together information from three emails I had received from different lists in which I participate.   The first two items were clearly about education.  The first was about an article entitled "A Teacher Falls In Love, Over and over" and the second was about the "opt out" provision for parents to prevent the military recruiters from having personal information about their children.

AN EDUCATION LEADER ON NCLB will connect you with an interesting piece entitled "Zen and the Art of Bill's Philosophy" from District Administration, a professional journal for superintendents and the like.  It focuses on a many who has been regional superintendent in Vermont for 23 years.

GEORGE LUCAS -EDUCATION NOT STAR WARS introduces readers to Edutopia and the work of the George Lucas Educational Foundation (for which Edutopia is the primary informational outlet).  It  includes an extract from the lastest issue to whet your appetites.  If you don't know about GLEF, this is your chance to find out and sign up for free.

What's wrong with Education??? is the text of a post to the Assessment reform network by George Sheridan, who gave me permission to post it on dailykos.   George is a teacher in California, and a union rep, who is quite articulate about the problems teachers and schools really face.

HIGH STANDARDS from Virginia was posted May 4.  It is also the result of a post on the Assessment reform network, this from a woman who is a former Virginia teacher of the year, but is posting in her capacity as parent of a middle school student.  it is well worth the read, even if I say so.

If you truly care about education was my attempt to provide a brief annotated list of some online resources about education.  Anyone with a serious interest in education policy should know these sites.

Responsibility, posted May 11, is my reaction to a posting on an educational listserv about the issue of affixing blame and responsibility.  I explain within the piece, which was my response back on list, why it is relevant to issues of education and of testing.

Testing Insanity gets even worse? is largely the text and background of a press release on a really absurd situation that occurred in Washington State.  Perhaps one can respond with a sardonic laugh or comment, but it is illustrative of what we doing destructively to our schools and our students.

Education -- You won't believe  -- or will you ?? has selections from four articles on education, the first from Texas about Sandy Kress, a major influence on Bush and the creation of No Child Left Behind, the other three being from a variety of Virginia publications.   All four articles are worth the read, and the diary will give you a sense of each.  You may have seen this one, since it made the recommended list.NOTED link has been corrected

being a teacher - some end of year good and bad are my personal reflections as I approached the end of this school year.  You may or may not find it relevant, but it will give you a sense of how I operate, and what matters to me.

And now ... reflections & questions is another personal reflection.  I drafted it as I begin this my 60th year, and posted it in the early hours of May 23, my 59th birthday.   Since my vocation is as a teacher, personal reflections are inevitably connected with my life at school.  THis piece is very personal.

Need a Tutor?  Call India was also posted on May 23.  It is about a phenomenon of outsourcing in education.  The implications are scary, given that one part of NCLB is the transfer of federal education funds to provide tutoring for students in schools that fail to meet Annual Yearly Progress.  This one is not all that long, and it is an issue about which we should be watchful.

PEN Public Education Network provided some selections from the weekly email from the Public Education Network, which is an invaluable source for anyone interested in education, providing not only links for news articles, but also things like sources of funding for teachers and schools, etc.  Take a look, and if you have any interest, I point you at how you too can sign up for this weekly Newsblast.

Finally, Memorable teacher(s) - whom do you remember?.  This was inspired by a visit yesterday to my alma mater, Haverford College, for a glee club reunion, where we were conducted by the long time 928 years) choral director at the College, Bill Reese, now 95 years old.  I give my memories of four teachers, one high school and three at Haverford, who had a huge influence on me, and I encourage others to offer their memories in the comments.   Some of those, such as that by Plutonium Page, are by themselves worth the read.  This was on the recommended list for several hours, and has over 90 comments, most of which I promise are not by me.

If you care about education, posted on April 16, gives an explanation of the Public Education Network, with some samples from that week's electronic newsletter.   This is a good resources for those that want an easy way of following major issues in educational policy.

Some education resources, posted April 18, contains some selections without comment from the newletter of the Coalition for Essential Schools, and organization based on the work of Ted Sizer.

warning about a new "report" on teachers  was posted on April 19.  This is the diary in this group most likely to have been read, as it was on the recommended list for about 24 hours.  It addressed a report issued by the Progressive Policy Institute with which I found a number of problems, but which since it was getting some publicity was important to discuss.  I will note that for this diary the discussion in the comments is worth taking the time to read perhaps in its entirety.  WARNING  -- there are over 300 comments, and the thread stayed active for several days.

commercializing all of education? explores the decision of the US Department of Education to defund the work of the Eisenhower  National Clearing House for Mathematics and Science Education.  It is based on an email bulletin from Eschool News online  -  another valuable resource on educational issues, and was posted on April 20th.  This is a diary you may well not have seen.

Teachers and the law was also posted on April 20, and similarly scrolled by without much action.  It contains information from the Reach Every Child website of Alan Haskvitz, and contains information that may prove useful to some on this list

Don't let my critics in explores a conflict at George Mason University.  Posted on April 27, it includes selections from the online column the day before by Jay Mathews, principal education writer for the Washington Post.  It shows how even in education people on the right (in this case Checker Finn) are unwilling to have meetings where those who oppose their views (in this case Jerry Bracey) are even allowed to attend.

What does it mean to be a teacher? A reflection on what life as a teacher is like, from my perspective as a high school social studies teacher.  Posted March 20. As I note in the intro,

it will instead be a personal reflection, drawn from my experience in this time and place, inspired in part by the self-examination I am undergoing as part of preparing to submit my portfolio for certification by the National Board for Professional teaching Standards. It will also be influenced by the active role I have taken in writing about educational issues here at dailykos.

The least of the problems is a response on the issue of cheating on tests required by the Federal "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) law.  It was an extended version of something I began as a comment on another thread, and includes a quotation from Walt Haney's magnificent analysis of how the so-called Texas Miracle in education was actually the result of cooking the books in other ways.  I believe this diary provides a good summary of some of the issues confronting public education, and I asked people what they were doing to help save public education.

Do you REALLY want to read THIS diary?, posted March 31, was my reflection on the process of National Board certification for teachers, written just after I had completed my last part, the Assessment Center Testing.  Like many of my diaries, it is very much of a personal reflection and analysis, but perhaps may give some insight into the process.

Saving Public Education - Saving Democracy largely consists of a statement posted with permission by five researchers in education, E. Wayne Ross, Kathleen Kesson, David Gabbard, Sandra Mathison, & Kevin D. Vinson.  I felt it was very much on point as to what is really at stake in some of the battles currently going on in the field of public education policy.

Education and "The Mighty Wurlitzer"  is the title I place on a piece by well known education writer Gerald Bracey, who gave me permission to post a piece he had written on how the right manipulates public discourse on education.

F for Assessment - today's education diary was posted on April 3.  It contains selections and analysis by me of an article by Jim Popham, noted expert and former president of AERA, on how our current program of assessment is badly flawed.

Cheapskate Conservatives Cheat Students, posted April 4, takes you through a few selections of an article by that title written by Richard Rothstein, who used to write the education column in the NY Times.

Teacher quality and NBPTS certification posted April 5, takes the reader through an article by Andy Rotherham originally published in Education Week .  As one who had been undergoing the NBPTS process, I thought it worthwhile to consider his points and offer a brief response of my own.

More than an exit exam? offers selections from a report strongly recommending the use of multiple measures to determine high school graduation, with as usual a few personal comments by me.  The piece itself comes from the School Reform network based at Stanford, and the best-known of the authors is Linda Darling-Hammond.

The loss of hope? , written on April 10 as I sat in a Starbucks with my wife, is only partially about education.  It is an explanation of why I keep teaching even as I can hold out little hope that anything I do will make any kind of difference on big picture issues. Perhaps as much as anything, it is a self-exploration shared with the community.

Fed Educ Law Causes Cheating? discusses a new report done by Nichols and Berliner on behalf of the Great Lakes Center.  Includes executive summary of report.

Bush Proposed Education Cuts relying  on an analysis originally prepared by National School Boards Association, the information passed on by Fairtest provides a detailed look at what Bush's budget would do to Federal support of education

Among School Children, Class Size Does Matter an op ed I wrote a number of years ago that appeared in a now-defunct chain of suburban DC papers, in their Montgomery and PG editions.  This piece was also picked up by a number of email services.  it represents my musings on how the issue of class size can be explained.

A Teacher's View - the Real Battleground This includes some musings on my own teaching, which serves as the basis for my concern that the kind of teaching I can do now is under real threat, and ultimately challenges readers  -- what will they do to support public education?  This diary stayed on the recommended list for the better part of 24 hours.

EDUCATION: If you oppose NCLB, read this is based on an item enclosed in a email I received from an educational listserv.  I had the author's permission to post the email, which describes a forum of progressive educators that "agenda of promoting a progressive, democratic vision of public education that supports the good work many schools are doing while pushing the public policy agenda in a direction counter to the current prevailing wisdom."   The organization is funded in part by Soros.  I encourage people to explore it.

So who knows what something means? starts with a tale about how the author of a piece used in a standardized test who discusses real problems with the questions used  and the answers accepted.  I then go into an extended set of remarks of my own about the problems with the kinds of testing we are now doing.

What is a good teacher? offers for your reading the text of a piece of that title by Alan Haskvitz, an award-winning teacher (his cv blew me away) .  I was glad to see that many of the traits he discusses others find in me.

IMPORTANT - 3 Articles on Education  describes 3 important commentary pieces, by Nel Noddings, Ronald S. Byrnes, and John Merrow, that appeared in a single issue of Education Week .  I provide extracts from each article, a wee bit of my own commentary and background on the authors, and encourage others to go read the pieces.

But is it SCIENTIFIC? discusses in detail a symposium on educational research,  that were available on line,  from Teachers College Record .  The symposium was framed around a set of questions, which I provided in a blockquote in the diary, and which I do so here:

What constitutes scientifically based research in education? How should it be defined? Who should definite it? Should it be privileged over other forms of educational research? Should it be defined at all? What role should qualitative or interpretive methods play in educational research? What are the consequences of different answers to these questions?

.  This was actually my second diary on the same subject, because the first one, an important TCR for educational issues, scrolled by so quickly.  

on the finances of public school education was actually originally written as a comment way down on another diary.  I offer some details about systems I know here in Washington, and invited others to participate in a dialog, which ultimately got 23 comments.

How the Right will kill Public Education used a story in the Charlotte Observer about the possibility of granting tuition tax credits for attendance at public schools.   This diary provoked a lengthy discussion, with 233 comments.

Thoughts on a teacher's week was cross-posted from my own blog because I wanted some feedback, and I don't get many comments on my own blog.  It uses some of the events from a week in my classroom to talk about teaching, but also about more.

so how many kossacks are teachers? included a poll, and got a number of us to offer some information about our own roles in the world of education

I hope this diary has been of use to at least some readers.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Does it matter? 

Now that summertime has come, and I do not have my students to deal with, I have been able to spend more (too much) time online, reading blog entries and making some of my own. In this process, I have encountered writing ranging from the superb (thank you Meteor Blades) to the execrable (you shall remain nameless). I have been exposed to ideas and information that challenged me and forced me to rethink my positions, and I have seen far too many entries that were electrons a natural resource would represent a major despoliation of our environment for little constructive purpose.

Next week I will be in a workshop preparing to teach AP government. between travel time and the time in class, it is possible that I will be off-line and unconnected from 7 AM until at least 6 Pm for the first 4 days of the week (although if the campus has free wireless, perhaps not --I am assuming I will not have access). So as I confront the real possibility of being disconnected in such a fashion, I have to ask myself, does it matter?


When I was younger, I spent 8 summers at the National Music Camp in Interlochen Michigan. During the 8 weeks of each summer, we might see a Detroit paper on Sunday, but otherwise we were disconnected form the goings on around the world. By my last summer, in 1962, transistor radios were becoming somewhat more common, so we might here the news or a baseball game in the evening. Of course, if off on a 3-day canoe trip on the Pine River, we would not even have that. But we did not seem to suffer from that remove from the latest goings on -- except of course that we might not hear the latest “hot” rock song during its meteoric three-week stay on the top-40 list.

Later in life, when I was 19, I enlisted in the Marines. During our 10 weeks in boot camp, we were quite disconnected from the ‘real world,” although as I have noted, those of us who attended Jewish services at Parris Island on Sundays got at least a glance at the local (Savannah and Charleston SC) Sunday papers.

So it was possible at least as an adolescent to live without ongoing contact with the latest goings on. But then, maybe I was not as yet as much of a news junkie.

We were married on December 29, 1985. We wended our way west, eventually spending a bit over a week in French Polynesia -- Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora-Bora. During that entire time we did not once read a newspaper nor watch television. When we came back to the US, i realized sitting in the terminal at Los Angeles International Airport how much had happened while we were gone, but did not feel too badly disconnected. After all, it would have been possible -- even those days that compared to now were so technologically impoverished -- to have stayed semi-connected had we so desired. We even met some Americans who had videotapes of the NFL playoffs, and we could have watched the games we had missed had we so desired.

I have experienced being truly out of touch. I have often been drawn to monasteries. I spent the summer of 1974 in an Episcopalian Benedictine monastery near Kalamazoo, but that was no so far removed from connection to the larger world -- I remember that we were invited into the monk’s Common Room to watch the opening of the House Judiciary Committee’s hearings on Watergate impeachment, and thus I got to see Barbara Jordan’s memorable remarks in in real time.

But my three stays on Mount Athos -- in 1981, 1983 and 1989 -- were far different. While by 1989 the monastery that was my primary domicile on my visits had telephone connections both to the “capital” of the monastic republic and to the outside world, on my first two visits, one of which was for a month, there was no such connection, and no television or radio. I was totally disconnected from the outside world, except for remarks made by new arrivals among the tourists and visitors who would arrive. As I remember, I thus totally was unaware of the disaster of the Exxon Valdez until about a week after it happened. I surely missed many sporting events. By 1982 I lived here in Arlington, and was involved politically. Yet on the final two trips I really did not feel “left out” at not knowing the latest goings on in Washington, even though in 1983 I was actively involved in the presidential campaign of Fritz Hollings.

So as I now confront the possibility of a 4-5 day period where I may not be able to regularly check my email, or browse various blogs, or offer my own thoughts by posting comments and diaries, I again return to the question --- does it matter?

That I may not “know” as much of what is being discussed seems almost liberating. If I don’t know, I will not feel as obligated to respond.

And that I might not be posting could be seen by some as a great blessing -- after all, I am as wasteful of electrons in my bloviations as anyone whom I might have criticized. of what importance is ti really that I point out and summarize a news article in a major paper, as I am wont to do from the Boston Globe? Are my posts on education so time sensitive and so crucial that the world would not go on in their absence?

I am reading a book about writing, by Anne Lamott, entitled bird by bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. While it is primarily oriented towards those who would write fiction, much of what she offers is applicable to those of us who offer our ideas in fora such as this. For any writer, there is a need to write -- one only develops skill as writer by writing, and by reading the written work of others.

And yet -- here in the electronic universe much of what we encounter and we ourselves produce is but first drafts. I wonder how much more precise our writing would be were we not so tempted by the speed of the blogosphere. I am reminded by this every time I turn to dailykos and see among the recent diaries a number which attempt to emphasize their immediacy with titles that begin with “BREAKING” often in screaming capital letters such as I have just used.

I know that my own writing could do with much editing. I know this from the process of wrestling with an op ed piece that by the time it was published was in its 8th complete version (if you really want to read it, I have it linked at my own website (you may have read it when I previously posted it in several locations). it is not merely that far too often what I write -- in diaries in in comments -- has typos, grammar errors, is unnecessarily verbose. The real issue is whether that posting adds anything to our public discourse.

Certainly I would say that much of what i read in the blogosphere does not. Often even when pieces are far more skillfully crafted than I could ever hope to accomplish, the actual content they contain really does not advance our understanding of issues, or move people to action.

For myself, I value my participation in these electronic discussions. I began doing it several years ago on a now defunct bulletin board on educational issues. For me, often my best thinking comes in response to a stimulus offered by someone else.

And I have been a writer / reflector since my adolescent years, often pulling a spiral notebook out of my pocket, or if one were not available grabbing any paper including cocktail napkins, to write down my thoughts, my perceptions. I usually had two do several pages of writing before i could come up with several good and clear ideas, well expressed. I rarely rewrote anything -- it was, after all, primarily a journal not shared with other people, except periodically with the woman now my wife of almost 20 years.

Like many people, perhaps, I derive satisfaction when the words and ideas I offer evoke a positive response from others. But that is not a sufficient reason to impose so many of my words upon others. Yes, i would like to be able to influence policy discussions -- and if possible policy decisions - in areas that matter to me. That in itself is insufficient justification for the time and energy I have been spending in blogging. I think it is good that on dailykos I am limited to two diaries a day, because there have been days where I would otherwise have been tempted to post four or more times. Really, I don’t have that much of value to offer.

Similarly, with almost 400 diaries a day at dailykos, even were I not to read other sources, I would never have time to read more than a handful. And I certainly cannot devote my waking hours to perusing all the comments to most diaries or front-page stories. I value the insights I obtain that are missing from main stream news and analysis sources, but I can and will survive without such a close connection.

Does it matter, therefore, that I may be less (if at all) visible at various electronic sites -- dailykos, boomantribune, teacherken, elsewhere -- next week and perhaps in the future? I think it may be healthy for me. I won’t disappear, I will probably post occasionally, perhaps in the evening next week.

But if I post less frequently, then what I post should be more considered. Methinks then that the words I offer will be of greater value to those who encounter them.

I truly value my experience electronically. And I hope that what I offer has, more often than not, been of positive value for others. For my own well-being, it is an opportune time next week, that i will not be so connected. So I intend to use that as a period for some level of removal, lest I become addicted and/or dependent upon my electronic connection. And for what is left of my vacation from teaching, I want the time and energy to read books, to sit with my five cats on and surrounding me, to simply sit outside and listen to the mockingbirds and watch the clouds go by.

Does it matter?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Bush's Empathy Squeeze - an important read 

I hadn't planned to post a diary today, but I just received email from TomPaine which includes an article which appears at TomPaine now and will appear in the next issue of American Prospect.  The author, Arlie Hochschild, is a sociology prof at Cal Berkeley.  As usual, I urge you to read the entire article, which can be found here.

Let me offer one snip here, and few more, with comments below, to encourage you to read.

The piece begins w/ a scenario of a chauffeur driving a rich man, who orders the car stopped, then snatches a loaf of bread from a homeless woman and her two children.  The chauffeur obeys instructions to drive on, despite his own experience of poverty.  This is what the piece calls the chauffeur's dilemma.

It's not hard to understand why the millionaire, with the power to satisfy so many desires, might want to claim another's bread. But why does the chauffeur open the door? Why do about half of lower- and middle-income Americans approve of tax cuts that favor the rich and budget cuts that deprive the poor?

I will not quote the scenario which I described.  I will note what Hochschild says immediately after the beginning, and before the part that I quote above:

. Absurd as it seems, we are actually witnessing this scene right now. At first blush, we might imagine that this story exaggerates our situation, but let us take a moment to count the loaves of bread that have recently changed hands and those that soon will. Then, let's ask why so many people are letting this happen.

    *     On average, the 2003 tax cut has already given $93,500 to every millionaire. It is estimated that 52 percent of the benefits of George W. Bush's 2001-03 tax cuts have enriched the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans (those with an average annual income of $1,491,000).

    *     On average, the 2003 tax cut gave $217 to every middle-income person. By 2010, it is estimated that just 1 percent of the benefits of the tax cut will go to the bottom 20 percent of Americans (those with an average annual income of $12,200).

    *     During at least one year since 2000, 82 of the largest American corporations--including General Motors, El Paso Energy, and, before the scandal broke, Enron--paid no income tax.

Hochschild lists a lot of the cuts to social programs that this administration is making, and then poses the following:

It's not hard to understand why the millionaire, with the power to satisfy so many desires, might want to claim another's bread. But why does the chauffeur open the door? Why do about half of lower- and middle-income Americans approve of tax cuts that favor the rich and budget cuts that deprive the poor?

Before directly addressing this question, Hochschild takes time to note the difference in American society since 1970, a time when people were far less likely to object to the government taking care of those less well off (even though Nixon, a Republican, was president).  She then notes the following:

But three things have changed since 1970: attitudes toward governmental redistribution, economic times and the shape of empathy. Attitudes toward redistribution are different--even among those who would stand to benefit the most. When asked in a 2003 Hart and Teeter poll, "Do you think this (Bush) tax plan benefits mainly the rich or benefits everyone?" 56 percent of blue-collar men (those without a college degree) who answered "Yes" (the plan favors the rich) still favored the plan. For blue-collar men living on annual family incomes of $30,000 or less, half supported it. Apart from the super-rich, who overwhelmingly vote Republican, an interesting pattern emerges: Even many of those with a fragile grip on the American dream go along with taking bread from the poor and giving it to the rich.

What is being forged, then, is a strange, covert moral deal between the millionaire and the hard-pressed chauffeur, sealed by the right-wing church. It is a deal that says, in essence, "Let's ignore the needy at home, exacerbate the class divide, wage war after war abroad, and sustain the idea that all this is morally good."

She immediately follows with this question

What is happening in the heart of the chauffeur? He has himself known hard times, and is as capable as anyone else of compassion. What about his circumstances, his religious beliefs and Bush's manipulation of these might lead him to harden his heart?

She answers in part by noting how people tend to identify with their aspirations:

However underpaid, our chauffeur dreams of becoming a millionaire more than he dreads lying homeless in the street. If others can rise to the top, he figures, why can't he?

For 150 years until 1970 these aspirations seemed to have a reality base, and the piece offers some evidence to that point.  And then?

But after 1970, the real earning power of male wages--and I focus here on men, for they are the closer fit to the profile of the chauffeur--stopped rising. Their dream was linked, it turned out, to jobs in an industrial sector that been automated out or outsourced abroad. Their old union-protected, high-wage, blue-collar jobs began to disappear as new nonunion, low-wage, service-sector jobs appeared. Indeed, the man with a high-school diploma or a few years of college found few new high-opportunity jobs in the much-touted new economy while the vast majority ended up in low-opportunity jobs near the bottom. As jobs in the middle have become harder to find, his earning power has fallen, his benefits have shrunk and his job security has been reduced.

This leads, according to an economist named Wolff to whom Hochschild refers, to tougher life at home and the resulting empathy squeeze.  People are working longer hours, wives have had to go to work, the  real family income is shrinking.

Tougher times have led, in turn, to an "empathy squeeze." That is, many people responded to this crisis by withdrawing into their own communities, their own families, themselves. If a man gets fired or demoted, if he can't make his house payments, if his wife is leaving him, or if his son is failing in school, he feels like he's got enough on his hands. He can't afford to feel sorry for so many other people. He's trying to be a good father, a helpful neighbor, and friend to people he knows who themselves need more help. He localizes empathy. He narrows his circle of empathy in a way that coincides with George W. Bush's hourglass America. Pay a tax to help a homeless mother in another city? Forget it. Charity begins at home.

People still may feel some "Christian" responsibility, they want to do the right thing.  And here are for me the critical two paragraphs of the article:

And here is where Bush and his social-issues team make a stealthy empathy grab. How? They "privatize" the chauffeur's morality, and in two ways. They do it first by redefining "good" as a matter not of giving or of sharing but of judging. The chauffeur is offered the chance to feel good by disapproving of homosexuals and of economic failures while quietly setting aside the idea of helping the poor, the disabled, the mentally ill and the unemployed. Second and more importantly, Bush proposes the idea of giving through private, religious channels and thus offers moral cover for the idea of giving less. We will stop giving to the less fortunate as citizens through our government and start giving as parishioners through our churches. But, quite apart from this as a bid to expand the fold, it is a way of offering a moral free pass to the act of replacing a lake with a drop of water.

Rather than fixing the problems that make people anxious, Bush takes advantage of the very feelings of anxiety, frustration and fear that insecurity creates--and that his policies exacerbate--while deflecting hopes away from government help. He makes life quietly harder at home while pointing a finger of blame at one enemy after another abroad. He is, I think, deregulating American capitalism with one hand while regulating the resulting anxiety with the other. And to do this, he has enlisted powerful allies on the corporate and religious right.

Hochschild goes on to discuss how the Bush people use the idea of the Rapture to divide people.

Internet images of the Rapture often portray thin, well-dressed white people rising up into heaven to join awaiting others. The excluded are welcomed. The rejected are accepted. The downwardly mobile become upwardly mobile. The Rapture creates a celestial split between haves and have-nots, with no one in the middle. And in this vision, those caught in a social class squeeze are at last securely on top. The Rapture absorbs the sting of being hardworking losers in the harsh and rigged winner's culture of the radical right.

She points out that an economically just society need not have a permanent economic underclass, that we have addressed economic problems far worse in the 1930's.   He follows with two brief but pointed paragraphs:

But today's impulse to protest goes into blockading abortion clinics and writing Darwin out of school textbooks. The inner-city homeless, children in overcrowded public schools, unemployed in need of job retraining, and the 18 percent of American children who don't get enough to eat each day become part of the glimpsed world the chauffeur passes by, and his church can only do so much for them.

Like many others, I felt moved by the Christians who knelt in prayer for the family of the late Terri Schiavo, the comatose patient on life support in Florida. But it made me wonder why we don't see similar vigils drawing attention to near-comatose victims of winter living on city sidewalks. They've been taken off life support, too.

Let me skip to the final paragraph, and then offer several final remarks of my own:

In a sense, Bush is exploiting the common man twice over--once by ignoring his own plight and that of the poor and twice by covering it over with military drums and tin-man morality. We really need to turn both things around. But to do that, we need to remind the chauffeur, wherever he is, that it's within his power to stop the car--tax the millionaire, help the homeless and offer new hope to those in between. Otherwise, the deal Bush is brokering between millionaire and chauffeur will impoverish the chauffeur--in his pocketbook and in his soul.

Progressive blogs like dailykos and boomantribune have seen many discussion on why the political left is failing to connect with many whose economic interests would seem to align them with the left but who vote with the right.  We have seen queries about how to make those of faith feel that the political left is not hostile to them.  We have, unfortunately, also seen comments that are totally disrespectful of people of belief, people who perhaps COULD be reached on the basis of their sense of Christian responsibility.

I doubt that one can say there are many people who are totally good or totally bad.  There are far too many who can rationalize doing things that in their heart of hearts they probably know are not quite correct.  So long as they have not irretrievably slipped over to selfishness and even "evil" one must presume that they can still be reached.   Christianity has scriptural and liturgical sources that make this clear, whether it is the story of the Prodigal Son, the man in the sycamore tree (Zacchaeus - I use the expression of which Merton was fond), the Easter homily of John Chrysostom, etc.).  As a teacher I am something of a constructivist  -- I do not believe that I can have someone learn unless I start with where she is, and then prod her to go a bit further.  We must be willing to address people of faith not merely on the basis of their economic needs  -- which we cannot ignore  -- but also in some way connect with whatever is the BEST of their religious traditions.  

A salesman is far more effective when he approaches his customer and tries to persuade him how smart he is to make the choice the salesman is offering.  It is very hard to sell to people by telling them they are total idiots.  

I believe this article can help us understand the nature of the problem before us.  Insofar as we seek to divide  -- to say there are those who are good and those who are not  -- as we far too often see rhetorically on liberal and progressive blog entries, we fall into a framing on which we will lose -  that allows others to demonize those who oppose them.

If instead we appeal on the basis of inclusion, of showing once again how people are interconnected, we may again be able to  motivate people towards seeing a common good.  It happened for most Americans with the New Deal, with  the Civil Rights movement, with the Great Society.  We can and should acknowledge the fears people have, but then challenge them to be better than their dears.  Remember that FDR was quite clear on this point: " the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."  

I commend this article to your attention.  I hope it sparks a thoughtful discussion.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

IVINS on DSM: Don't Ignore Downing Street 

The irreplaceble Molly Ivins "gets" it, as is shown in a column distributed today by Alternet (which is where the link will take you).  

Whenever Molly writes something, it is worth reading the entire thing.  I will as is my practice offer some snips to encourage you to read the entire thing.  The beginning follows here, the rest below.

I hope this is not too insider baseball, but I am genuinely astonished by what the bloggers call "mainstream media." (In my youth, it was quaintly called "the Establishment press.")

Now that I have your attention, I am going to offer only a select group of snippets, because YOU SHOULD BE READING THE WHOLE PIECE.   Here's some more, with a few ellipses:

Like many of you, during the entire lead-up to the war with Iraq, I thought the whole thing was a set-up.

I raise this point not to prove how smart we are, but to emphasize that I followed the debate closely ....unconsciously searched for evidence that reinforced what I already thought. .... I read some of the European press and most of the liberal publications in this country. I read the Times, the Post, the Wall Street Journal and several Texas papers every day. It's my job.

But when I read the first Downing Street Memo, my eyes bugged out and my jaw fell open. I could not believe what I was reading. It was news to me, and as I have tried to indicate, I'm no slouch at keeping up.  

By now you SHOULD want to read the whole thing.  But let me offer more.

It was always weird that the White House kept saying it knew Saddam Hussein had WMD, but it would never tell the U.N. inspectors where. Yes, I suspected all that, but I was not the head of British intelligence in the summer of 2002, for pity's sake.

She takes Tom Friedman to task for criticizng Liberals for not wanting to talk about the war because we opposed it to begin with:

Good Lord, who does he think we are? Does this man actually think we are out here cheering every time another American is killed?

Mr. Friedman, real, actual, honest-to-God American liberals are out here in the heartland, and we know the kids who are dying in Iraq. They are from our hometowns. We know their parents. That's why we hate this war. That's why we tried to tell everybody else it was a ghastly idea.

We are not sitting here gloating because it is the horrible mess we said it would be. We're in agony. There is nothing pleasurable about being a Cassandra.  

She truly "nails" the MSM:

The second aggravation is that the very prestigious papers that are now dismissing the Downing Street Memos have already themselves admitted that their pre-war coverage was -- I don't know, you pick the adjective. Slack? Inadequate? Less than rigorous? Wrong? And now they're saying, oh hell, this isn't news, we knew it all along.

And her final two paragraphs:

I don't know if these memos represent an impeachable offense -- although I must say, I don't want to bring up the Clinton comparison again. But they strike me as a hell of lot worse than anything Richard Nixon ever contemplated. He used the government for petty political vindictiveness. Heck, I'd settle for that again, over what we're looking at now.

The irony of Deep Throat surfacing after all these years in the midst of this memo mess is almost too precious. Does the Washington Post have any hungry young reporters on Metro anymore? I'd say, start with: Who did Dearlove meet with besides George Tenet?  

Two comments

1) somebody nominate this lady for a Pulitzer for this

2) if you've gotten this far, you may not as yet have gone and read the entire piece. PLEASE DO SO NOW!!!

And thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

How NCLB enriches Bush cronies and others 

I hope that title got your attention!!.

There is brand new report showing how the implementation of NCLB enriches for-profit organizations, many with a close connection to George W Bush.  The entire report, which has an executive summary of 5 pages and with footnotes is perhaps another 50 pages, may be downloaded in PDF from for free from here.  Thus if your are already convinced of the importance of the report, you can download and skip the rest of this diary.

If not, you can go below to read the press release on the report.   I will then offer some comments of my own, with some details I have extracted, and one brief snippet (typed btw, not cut and paste) from the conclusion.

Here's the press release as I received it (with phone #s and emails xxx'ed out  --  you can go to the website for the document if you want that information).



Education Policy Research Unit (EPRU)


NCLB Funds Enrich For-Profit Companies, Study Says

Contact: Gerald Bracey (703) XXX-XXXX (email) XXXXXX@XXXXX.net or Alex

Molnar (XXX) XXX-XXXX (email) XXXX@asu.edu

Tempe, Ariz. (Tuesday, June 21, 2005)- No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) funds flow from the government, through the states, and into the hands of private,

for-profit companies, according to "No Child Left Behind: Where Does the Money Go?" a policy brief released by the Education Policy Studies Laboratory at Arizona State University.

The brief's author, Gerald Bracey, finds that the money schools and districts spend on implementing NCLB requirements and on sanctions for failing to meet NCLB achievement goals are funneled mostly to private companies in the testing, curriculum, and Supplemental Education Services (SES) industries.  Some of these companies have close ties to President George W. Bush and his family.  In addition, Bracey says testing companies and SES providers are rarely held to the same level of accountability that NCLB demands of public schools.

"It is clear that several billions of taxpayer dollars will be spent each year and it is equally clear that, at present, no real process of accountability is in place to monitor where the money is spent or how effectively it is spent," Bracey wrote.  "History shows that under such conditions money is wasted and fraudulent expenditures are likely."

Through an analysis of the essential workings of NCLB, highlighting inherent costs of the law and costs that come with each successive year of failing to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), this brief found the following:

--According to a Government Accounting Office study, NCLB funds cover only the cost of testing all Title I students on a multiple-choice format.  If a district or state wants to test all schools (not just Title I schools) or include open-ended questions, costs would exceed revenue.

--Reading First, a $1 billion a year federally funded primary reading program, requires states to apply for funds.  The states' proposed programs must pass a panel of experts, many of whom have authored approved Reading

First curriculum materials.  States use a narrow range of criteria to approve their Reading First grants to districts, the criteria favoring programs authored by some of those who also wrote the criteria.

--President Bush's ties with Harold McGraw III of McGraw-Hill (a testing and textbook publishing company), lobbyist Sandy Kress, and researchers-turned-appointees have caused conflicts of interest and the appearance of an "interlocking directorate."

--After the second consecutive year of failing to make AYP, students are given the choice to transfer to a "successful" school, and the transportation costs are to be paid by the "failing" school.  This school-choice option has not worked as envisioned, and few students have transferred.

--After the third consecutive year of failing to make AYP, schools are expected to offer Supplemental Education Services (SES).  More than 1,800 companies have their name on various state SES approved-provider lists. Twenty-three of the 25 most listed SES providers are for-profit companies.

--Unlike public schools, SES companies are not required to hire "highly-qualified" teachers.

--SES companies are not held to the level of accountability expected of public schools because U.S. Department of Education officials have said they want "as little regulation [of SES providers] as possible so the market [for SES] can be as vibrant as possible."  It is unknown if these services

increase student achievement.

Bracey calls on the U.S. Department of Education to establish policies and procedures to account for the money and to hold private companies to the same standards of accountability which it demands of public schools.

Find this document on the web at:



Gerald Bracey, Associate Professor

George Mason University



Alex Molnar, Professor and Director

Education Policy Studies Laboratory




Let me offer a few notes beyond what appears in the press release (and executive summary).

Bracey's report is an excellent primer on many details about NCLB  -- it helps if you know how the law actually works when it comes to imposing penalties, and how the structure of requirements has been a gold-mine for certain businesses, many of whom have long-time connections with George W. Bush.

You will read about Harold McGraw Jr., head of the eponymous firm, a man who likes to give "awards" in education, one of which just happened to go to Rod Paige (and by now everyone should know how phony the Houston "Mriacle" actually was).

You will of course read about lawyer Sandy Kress, about whom I have blogged before here.

You will read about Edward Rust, Jr., chair of the Business Round Table's Educationa Rask Force.  What else?   He's a Board member of McGraw Hill (hmm, overlapping cronyism) and he served as a member of the Bush transition team.  

Voyager was owned by a guy named Randy Best who -- after NCLB increased its value -- sold it for $380 million.  It employed a number of people who had prior contacts with GWB.  

There are other concerns that Bracey brings to light.  Let me list a few, some of which was discussed in the press release.  NCLB requires schools to use highly qualified teachers, but no such requirement exists for thoes vendors who get certified to provide SES in cases where the test scores mean the school is not making the necessary Annual Yearly Progress (AYP).

Some of the money provided from tax revenues to these vendors can be used by the vendors to bribe the children.  Let me explain.  The vendors only get paid if children show up for the tutoring.  In New York, they are not allowed to pay bonuses to sign children up for tutoring, but they MAY pay the students who have signed up to show up.  This is money that in no way is going towards instruction or helping the students academically, although it may provide a very small amount of financial relief to the families.  However, Princeton Review [disclosure -- I did SAT prep for them for 3 years in the 1990s] gives the students vouchers that may be redeemed for things such as MP3 players.

BTW, most of the approved providers appearing on state lists are for-profit entities:  according to Bracey, only 2 of the 25 most frequently appearing are non-profit.  By the way, this figures are the result of a survey taken BEFORE the US DOE ruled that SYSTEMS in need of improvement could not themselves provide (directly or through contractual arrangements) SES.  The total list of providers bracey found included 14 colleges and universities, 15 faith-based organizations (!!!), 32 private online companies and 231 private for-profit organizations.

Let me quote from the Conclusion, because it makes the case as bluntly as it can be:

    Looking at the consequences of failing to meet the requirements of NCLB over differing periods of time on is struck by two things:

    -  The large sum of money that flows through states and districts into private coffers, especially to those coffers politically close to the Bush administration


    -  The stunning double standard of feet-to-the-fire treatment of public schools contrasted with the lax treatment of private corporations that provide materials or services the law requires the schools to use.

Bracey notes that there estimates that the annual cost of test development will be $2.29 billion by 2006, and the potential revenue from the adoption of Reading First could reach an annula amount of $1.1 Billion.

Folks, this report WILL be attacked by the educational right-wing.  After all, Checker Finn of Fordham Foundation even refused to appear on a stage at George Mason U if Bracey were going to be present.  But for those who understand how important a POLITICAL issue education is, print out this report, mark it up, and make others aware of its content.

Bill Moyers: "A Moral Transactions" 

A Moral Transaction is the title of a piece written by Bill Moyers that appeared online yesterday at [FreePress htttp://www.freepress.org].  Today the same thing appeared under the title "A Message from Bill Moyers" in pages A10-11 (that's rigth -- two full pages) in the Washington Post.

The piece is strongly in support of an independent PBS.  It is absolutely a must read.   And the link I have provided will take you to the FreePress version which allows for email it to everyone you know.

Selections below the jump, offered w/o comment.   Go read the whole thing.

It begins:

A moral transaction

Henry Thoreau got it right: "To affect the quality of the day, is the highest of the arts."

From Free Press, June 20, 2005

By Bill Moyers

I must be the luckiest man in television for having been a part of the public broadcasting community for over half my life. I was present at the creation. As a 30-year-old White House policy assistant in 1964, I attended the first meeting at the Office of Education to discuss the potential of "educational television," which in turn led to the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. When I left the White House that year to become publisher of Newsday, I did fund-raising chores for Channel Thirteen in New York and appeared on its local newscasts. Then in 1971, through a series of serendipitous events, I came to public television as the correspondent and anchor for a new weekly series called This Week.

after some background about public television,

This is a big, sprawling, polymorphic community: in our best days an extended family; in our worst days, a dysfunctional one. Right now, however, we're facing some hard choices. Competitive forces are razing the landscape around us and turf wars are breaking out the way they once did between sheepherders and cattlemen. Funds for new programming are hard to come by. And fevered agents of an angry ideology wage war on all things public, including public broadcasting.

key ideas about public tv:

The best thing we have going for us is a strong and consistent constituency. Millions of Americans look to us as the best alternative to commercial broadcasting, and even when we let them down, they seem to keep the faith and grant us a second chance. Deep down, the public harbors an intuitive understanding that for all the flaws of public television; our fundamental assumptions come down on their side, and on the side of democracy.

What are those assumptions?


That public television is an open classroom for people who believe in lifelong learning


That the medium can dignify life instead of debase it


That it can help us to see more clearly, understand more deeply, and laugh more joyously


That human creativity and this incredible technology can provide us with a fuller awareness of the wonder and the variety of the arts and sciences, of scholarship and craftsmanship and innovation, of politics and government and economics and religion and all those mutual endeavors that shape our consciousness


That commercial broadcasting, having made its peace with "the little lies and fantasies that are the by-products of the merchandising process," is too firmly fixed within the rules of the economic game to rise more than occasionally above the lowest common denominator


That Americans are citizens and not just consumers; in the words of the educator Herbert Kohl, "if we do not provide time for the consideration of people and events in depth, we may end up training another generation of TV adults who know what kind of toilet paper to buy, who know how to argue and humiliate others, but who are thoroughly incapable of discussing, much less dealing with, the major social and economic problems that are tearing America apart."

Some additional supporting info:

I keep on my desk a report delivered a few years ago by Gale Metzger of Statistical Research. It found that:

  • When people look for a program on science or the arts, or a program their children can watch, they look first to public television.

  • We rated higher with people who want to understand issues that are important to society.

  • Two-thirds of the people see our news and public affairs as a mixture of political persuasions--they think we are fair.

  • As for the charge of elitism, public television rated about the same with people who have a high school education or less as with people who have college degree or higher.

  • Most important, two out of three people said it would make a difference to their lives if public television did not exist.

framing some key issues:

This was the Founders' idea of an informed citizenry: that people in a democracy can be entrusted to decide all-important matters for themselves because they can communicate and deliberate with one another. "Economic issues can be discussed in public. The moral dilemmas of new medical knowledge can be weighed. The broad implications of technological change can become subjects of informed public disclosure," writes Hirsch. We might even begin to understand how--and for whom--politics really works. A few years ago, we produced a special on money and politics. We showed how private money continues to drive public policy and how our campaigns have become auctions instead of elections. As the broadcast came to a close, we put on the screen the 800 number of a non-partisan group called Project Vote Smart. When you call the number, they send you a printout showing the campaign donors to every representative in Congress. In response to that one broadcast, almost 30,000 Americans got up from their chairs and couches, went over to their phones and dialed the number!

But informing citizens is not all we're about.

Americans are assaulted on every front today by what the scholar Cleanth Brooks called "the bastard muses":


propaganda, which pleads, sometimes unscrupulously, for a special cause at the expense of the total truth


sentimentaliy, which works up emotional responses unwarranted by and in excess of the occasion


pornography, which focuses on one powerful drive at the expense of the total human personality.


How to counter the debasement which comemrcial television and other media have become:

How do we counter it? Not with censorship, which is always counterproductive in a democracy, but with an alternative strategy of affirmation. Public broadcasting is part of that strategy. We are free to regard human beings as more than mere appetites and America as more than an economic machine. Leo Strauss once wrote, "Liberal education is liberation from vulgarity." He reminded us that the Greek word for vulgarity is apeirokalia , the lack of experience in things beautiful. A liberal eucation supplies us with that experience and nurtures the moral imagination. I believe a liberal education is what we're about. Performing arts, good conversation, history, travel, nature, critical documentaries, public affairs, children's programs--at their best, they open us to other lives and other realms of knowing.

There is much more.   Go read.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Something GOOD & EXCITING in Philadelphia 

I originally put this in a comment on dailykos earlier today.  Since I do not expect to do another diary this evening, I am using my second to tell you that

Philadelphia will have a new high school this fall dedicated to Peace and Conflict Resolution.

I have known about this since January.  Today I received an email on a Quaker list asking for mentors, the entirety of which is below the jump.  I will, also below the jump, make a few comments before giving a blockquote of the email in question.

My understanding is that the new school is a public charter school.  It is an example of the kind positive creative things that can be done under charter school laws.  It is also exciting given the main focus of Peace and of non-violent conflict resolution.

If you live in or near Philadelphia, I strongly suggest you consider getting involved, as a menotr or in some other fashion.  I am too far away, or else I would jump at the chance.

Mentors sought for Parkway Peace High School

In 2005, the School District of Philadelphia will be opening a school dedicated to the pursuit of peace.  The Parkway High School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, located at the New Covenant Campus on Germantown Avenue, will open in September 2005 with ninety freshmen.

The school will offer students a safe, supportive learning environment with a strong rigorous core academic program.  It is designed to help students learn the tools for managing conflict, decreasing violence, advancing justice, working with people form different ethnic backgrounds,

and helping create a culture of peace.  It is the mission of the school to prepare our students to face a complex world prepared with the skills necessary to effect positive change locally and globally.

There is an Advisory Committee that includes organizations as diverse as Philadelphia Citizens for Children and Youth, Mothers In Charge, Philadelphia Anti-Drug Anti-Violence Network, American Friends Service Committee, Men United for a Better Philadelphia, Good Shepherd Mediation

Program, Arcadia University, United Nations Association of Greater Philadelphia, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.   The Advisory Committee is dedicated to providing a mentor for each ninth grader as well as tutors to support the students academically. WE ROC, a group of

retired professionals, is responsible for recruiting the mentors and tutors. Our primary emphasis is to recruit a mentor for each of the ninety students in the freshman class of September 2005.  Secondarily, we are interested in

creating a bank of tutors for all academic subjects.

If you are interested in being a mentor or tutor for the Parkway High School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, please contact GJC member Dena Lake at 215-233-1414 or denareva@aol.com.  

Three Things to think about 

The first offering today is about teachers.  From the LA Times on Saturday, it is entitled A Teacher Falls In Love, Over and Over.  I really wish I could simply cut and paste the whole thing.  Let me offer the usual snippets.  The piece is written by Linda Kovaric, who has been teaching since 1969.

I will not begin with the beginning, but several paragraphs in, when her students have asked her how long she has been teaching, and were shocked and amazed by her answer.

"I am still teaching," I replied without hesitation, "because how many people my age are lucky enough to spend every weekday with people your age? How many people my age are fortunate enough to talk to you about world issues and the latest music and discuss why you think many Chinese embraced Buddhism instead of Confucianism? How many people can say they laugh out loud every day at work? How many people can drive home every day and smile because a young person they know said something or did something wonderful?"

That paragraph to me is as much about teaching as anything I have ever read.

Kovaric talks about how many teachers leave  -- over 50% in the first five years.  Why does she stay?  Let me offer the last three brief paragraphs (thereby pushing the limit on fair use:

There is, nevertheless, the most important reason to stay: Every year you have a chance to fall in love again -- with your students and with teaching. To remember why you decided that the classroom was where you belonged. To remember how much that one special teacher influenced your life. To remember the magic in your classroom when your students could do it without you.

Every day for a teacher is one of infinite challenge. No day is the same as the one before. No class is the same as the one that just left. You are not always a model of perfection and rarely everyone's favorite teacher; however, you have the time and the opportunity to try to be one of the best.

I continue to teach because every August I still get butterflies thinking about that first day of school. I hope I will be a better teacher than the year before, and I hope I will remember how profoundly confusing it is to be 13. I also hope that each new teacher will be smitten and stay.  


Let's stay in education for a moment.   As many know, I am a Quaker.  As such I participate in a number of Quaker lists.  What I am about to present to you was sent out on a list of Quaker Public educators maintained by Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.  Since the intent is the widest possible distribution of the information, I know the author would not object to my pasting it in in it's entirety.  I will split it into two parts, and include almost all of it.

The first part is forwarding of a message about opposition to the provision of NCLB requiring the provision of information about students to military recruiters:

Opt Out check-in Wednesday, June 22, 6-7:30pm

Youth United for Change office 1910 N. Front St in Philadelphia

For more info, contact Global Women's Strike or Payday, a network of

men, at 215-848-1120 or philly@crossroadswomen.net

Did you know that Bush's "No Child Left Behind Act" requires schools to give students' home phone numbers & addresses to the military?  You have the right to OPT OUT - refuse to have the school release that info.

On May 23, building on a growing grassroots movement, a Community Dialogue of students, parents, veterans, military families and others - Black, white, Latino, and Asian - launched a Philadelphia area campaign to "OPT the military OUT of our schools and communities." The first "check-in" meeting will be held on Wed June 22 where we will get reports and have discussion on the growing Opt Out movement, what is happening in Black and Brown communities and in suburban neighborhoods, a public information campaign, actions and other activities to broaden that movement. Included in the discussion will

be building for the opening of school in the Fall, when high schools will be sending students' home phone numbers and addresses to military recruiters  - unless we do something about it.  We will have the opportunity to hear about what is happening with military refusniks in other parts of the world from Selma James, international coordinator

of the Global Women's Strike from London England, who will be in Philly and planning on coming to the meeting.  All who are interested in or have been working on this campaign are welcome.

The YUC office is located at the corner of Front & Berks Sts.,

Berks El stop or 3 Bus on SEPTA.

Global Women's Strike www.globalwomenstrike.net

Payday www.refusingtokill.net

Website coming soon - www.optoutofwar.net

Of greater interest, and possible as useful for the opt out campaign argument as anything I've seen, is the following set of statistics. provided by the organizers of the rally.  Let me note that (a) I have not verified their statistics, so use with caution; (b)I am not opposed to military service per se -- I am an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC.  I do object to misleading recruitng, and I think people need to realize in more detail what is going on.

Schools are for learning, not a military hunting ground! $Billions for war & occupation, but there's "no money" for schools & communities

FACT:  Military recruiters offer $30,000 or more to sign up, while on average only $7,000 is spent on education per student in public schools.

FACT: Military recruiters have been caught lying to young people to get them to enlist, making unrealistic promises and coaching students to cheat on exams and drug tests.

FACT: Five times the $ is spent to keep a young person in prison than to educate them. One in four Black youth are in prison, jail or under the jurisdiction of the courts.  In low-income communities the options often are prison or the military. The US has the world's largest prison population.

FACT: 50% of women soldiers in Iraq reported rape by fellow soldiers; 80% reported sexual harassment.  A torturer at Abu Ghraib was a former PA prison guard.

FACT: $160 million or more is spent on war in Iraq each day. Meanwhile schools are under-funded, welfare is cut, we are told there is not enough $ for social security, there is no national healthcare plan, women lack pay equity & most families barely make it on wages that don't keep up with inflation, and they don't earn a living wage.

FACT: 85% of the parents in Montclair NJ schools have opted out and so can you!

Congress is proposing that those who die in combat are worth $100,000, but what are we worth alive?  Mothers did not raise our children to be cannon fodder!


Finally, on another Quaker list devoted primarily to Peace-related issues (we dp get offtrack fairly frequently), a man who is forcefully a Republican (he describes himself as a "progressive Republican"  even though he supports Jeb Bush, but he is absolutely rock solid on most social justice issues), offered something quite valuable.   He would not agree with the politics of most on this list, but would want the information about which he wrote us as widely distributed as possible.  Here it is:

I just came across this link that includes some frightening

information.  For example it states that there are only 4 counties in the United States where a person earning the minimum wage could afford a 1 bedroom apartment.  It also states that if you drew a line 10.5 inches off the ground on a 3 story house,  half of Americans would fall below that line in income while the other half would take up the rest of the three stories.  Somewhat graphic.  While I'm not stating that I may or may not agree with all that the writer writes,  there is much to ponder about our society.


I hope this diary has given you material worthy of pondering.  Having fulfilled my task of making useful information more widely available, I now leave what happens to your best judgments.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Preparing for a draft? 

There is an article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer (registration required) entitled Peace churches plan alternatives to military draft.  It gets the name of the President of Haverford College (my alma mater) wrong.  But what caught my attention is that the Selective service system is encouraging Peace Churches (Quakers, Mennonites, Brethren) to prepare for alternatives to the draft.

Here is the applicable part of the article:

The draft ended in 1973. But the Selective Service System, which is charged with maintaining machinery for a draft, is encouraging the peace churches to make contingency plans.

"We do encourage it," said Cassandra Costley, who was appointed last year as director of a new alternative-service division within Selective Service.

"It's not because we expect there is going to be a draft in the next year - or the next five years," Costley said from her office in Rosslyn, Va. "But our mandate is that we be prepared."

Let me offer just a few other snippets from elsewhere in the article.

But members of what are often called the historic peace churches - Mennonites, Brethren and Quakers - believe a draft appears more and more likely as U.S. troops continue to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Army fails to meet its recruitment goals.

"We are probably one terrorist attack - one 9/11 - away from a draft," said Dan McFadden, director of Brethren Volunteer Service in Elgin, Ill.

There were a batch of Peace Church leaders who held a telephone conference last week:

McFadden was among three Brethren and Mennonite leaders from across the United States who held a telephone conference last week to go over options for alternative service.

"There aren't any definite plans at this point; we are just going to keep talking," he said.

The conference followed up on a March meeting of Anabaptist leaders in Elgin, which also drew Quakers. Costley and another Selective Service official attended.

An article in the May issue of Quaker Life, a magazine published by Indiana Quakers, advised men with pacifist views to lay the groundwork now for C.O. application later on.

It urged them to "begin to establish a way of life that demonstrates your beliefs actually mean something to you" by attending Quaker worship, doing service projects, and joining peace events.

There is then discussion of the approaches of the various groups.  Mennonites and Brethren usually run one-year service programs which they believe could be expanded to two years to provide for alternative service for their young people, of whom they beleive a large number would opt of alternative service.   The article notes that during Vietnam there were 154,000 who were registered, of whom about 65,500 actually did alternative service.

 One thing the article does not mention is that any future draft is likely to have to include women.  The person who is appears in the next block quote made that point at a session for Quaker public schooll educators that I attended -- given all the jobs women now do, and their admission to the service academies, it would probably be a violation of equal protection for women to be exempt.  Here's what she has to say on other issues:

J.E. McNeil, a Quaker and director of the Center on Conscience & War, in Washington, said that Quakers - also known as Friends - had not been as active as Mennonites and Brethren in beginning to prepare for alternative service.

McNeil, who believes a draft is likely, said: "Friends don't move very fast. We move at a glacial pace in most things. We're kind of looking around and thinking."

One is not required under current law to have a religious basis to qualify, this having changed since Vietnam.

"Beliefs which qualify a registrant for C.O. status may be religious in nature, but don't have to be," the Selective Service reports on its Web site, www.sss.gov.

"Beliefs may be moral or ethical; however, a man's reasons for not wanting to participate in a war must not be based on politics, expediency, or self-interest," the agency writes.  

Most students do not currently think much about a draft.  What is important, as McNeil pointed out in the session I attended, is the necessity of building a paper trail if one wants to qualify as a CO.  I strong suggest anyone concerned about the draft explore the website of the organization she runs.  

This administration will continue to try to avoid a draft by things such as activiating IRR, involutarily extending active duty commitments, and perhaps beginning a skills draft.  But I think the latest time at which a darft would be imposed is immediately after the elections in 2006.  Necessity may require action before then.    Whatever you predict, I thought the information in this article might be of use.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Blogging - TIM KAINE 

With no Federal elections this year and with New Jersey considered to be a probably Democratic victory., the Governor’s race in Virginia is probably the most closely watched race this year. Yesterday, Thursday June 16, I attended on fundraiser on behalf of Tim Kaine, current Lt. Governor and Democratic Gubernatorial candidate in the Old Dominion. This was my first personal encounter with Kaine, with whom I got to speak several times, and he knows that I will be posting this blog entry.

The setting were the house and garden of a lawyer in Arlington, VA, who when they were both young lawyers fresh out of law school had offices a few doors apart in the same small Richmond law firm. Although they have stayed in touch over the years, it has been primarily by phone, and this was their first direct encounter in about 15 years.

I have lived in Arlington since 1983. At the time I moved here my college classmate John Milliken was on the County Board, and quickly got me involved in local Democratic politics. I saw lots of familiar faces, including elected officials such Sheriff Beth Arthur, State Senator Mary Margaret Whipple, Delegate Al Eisenberg, Commissioner of the Revenue Ingrid Morroy, and School Board Members Mary Hynes and Barbara Favola. Many former elected officials, such as former delegates Judy Connolly and Karen Darner and County Board Member Ellen Bozman, were also present, as were most of the important county activists, for a total attendance of over 100. Ticket prices ranged from $100 (poor teachers like me) to $1,000 (there were at least 3 such patrons), with discounts to $75 for members of the Roosevelt Society, ongoing contributors to the County Dems, but most of those members gave more.

I had several chances to talk with Tim Kaine, one before he addressed the crowd and took questions, and two briefly afterwards. Before his formal remarks, I mentioned that I was a teacher and concerned about NCLB and how the state related with the US DOE. He immediately noted the need for states that were doing a good job to have greater flexibility, which has been an ongoing issue here in Virginia. He remarked that while he was not greatly enamored of the legislation, the one good thing was the requirement to disaggregate the scores (I point on which I would agree). I mention this exchange not so much because education is my issue, but because it is illustrative of how knowlegeable and on point he was about issues that people raised.

I also overheard interchanges he had with two people on their issues, and got to talk with them immediately thereafter. The first was Commissioner Ingrid Morroy. She wanted to see greater coordination between state agencies and the local governments that deliver services. In this case she was specifically concerned with the Virginia Department of Transportation, because her Commissioner of Revenue office does a number of services which can be more efficiently done to serve the community that are in coordination with the licensing authority of the state. Kaine new the details of her issue, the personalities of the people she was dealing with, and made a commitment to follow up.

The second issue was serving the people across the Commonwealth who are identified as disabled. The person who spoke with him, Susan Prokop, has been actively involved in Arlington politics since I moved here, and her husband, Jim Turpin, is the current chair of the Arlington Democrats. Kaine actually is in charge of the effort to serve disabled in the state, so naturally he was knowledgeable on this issue.

Our hostess, Joanne Schehl, introduced Tim to the crowd by saying that it was “hard to believe he became a politician because he is such a nice guy.” He met his wife (daughter of former Republican Governor Linwood Holton) when the two of them worked on a death penalty project at Harvard. When they married they moved into an integrated neighborhood. She also said that Tim’s political success made her less cynical about the political process.

Kaine then spoke to the crowd. He noted that his wife’s father was the first Republican governor in Virginia not installed by the Union Army. This remark was an exemplar of the quick, dry, and gentle humor that was characteristic of his remarks.

Since we are just two days past the primaries, he noted the contrast between the two tickets was very strong. He felt this was going to be good for the Democrats, because it would allow them to offer the voters of the Commonwealth a clear choice. He introduced Larry Roberts, an Arlington resident, who is chair of his campaign and who has taken a leave of absence from his law firm to work on the campaign full time.

Kaine described the event as both an Arlington event and a Woman for Kaine event. he then talked about three women who have had a major influence on him. The first was his mother Kathy, who at age 70 is a cancer survivor. He talked a bit about her and growing up in Kansas City. The second is his mother-in-law, Jinks Holton. When Linwood Holton integrated Virginia’s schools (after previous governors had resisted integration -- here I note that Mills Godwin ordered schools shut rather than let them be integrated), Jinks and Linwood put their kids -- including Kaine’s wife Anne - into integrate schools, where sometimes they were the only white children in their classes. Anne is now a Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court judge and she cannot attend political events because of judicial ethics [note -- she did not even attend his official announcement of candidacy]. He repeated her remark that “it’s nice to have an excuse” not to attend, and then joked that when Lisa Warner (wife of our current Governor) heard that she asked when she could become a judge.

Kaine talked about working as a missionary in Honduras for a year when he was 23. He later mentioned that he began his advertising in rural Virginia, that he became the first Democrat to run ads on Christian radio stations.

He talked about how Virginia is doing well since Warner’s election in 2001. The state has the 2nd highest job growth and is considered the best run state -- he repeated this point several times, and I expect it to be a focus of his campaign. But he also noted that the campaign has to address the needs of those people for whom things are not going right.

He remarked that Mark Warner had proven that a Democrat can win, and added
Now I’ve got to prove that a Democrat can win who can’t write himself a check for $8 million.

He talked about the race being closely watched. He acknowledged that he started well back in the polls and in fundraising, but noted that things have closed up, and that in fundraising might even be moving ahead. he later noted that he is outraising Kilgore within the state, but that Rove has already been in state, and that Bush will be coming in to help Kilgore raise funds.

He talked about how this administration has succeeded in investing in education and enrolling kids in the state’s health insurance program. He then painted a clear contrast:
Each of the guys on the other side fought against everything we did. Now 61% of Republicans support what we did for fiscal responsibility, but the 3 Republican candidates still oppose it.

He said that he really didn’t like to be a fundraiser but
I’ve turned myself into a pretty good one.
In April and May he did 37 fundraisers in 60 days.

He focused on four key issues:

- find a smart way to help local officials with targeting tax relief for homes

-invest in high quality education

- keep the economy sharp, with a focus on Southside and the Southwest since these areas have not shared as much in the recent growth

- tackle transportation and land use issue

He argued that public officials ned to be about finding common ground in order to solve the problems facing the people of the commonwealth.

Kaine then took and answered questions. When asked about concentrating within the Beltway, he noted that 30% of the electorate is in Northern Virginia. His headquarters for GOTV is in Tyson’s Corner, and he will be doing local events, including walking some neighborhoods on Saturday morning. (I note that in my conversation with him when he first arrived, he had expressed that his secret wish had been realized when Connaughton, from Prince William County, had not won the Republican Lt. Gov slot. He was realistic -- the Dems have an advantage in having Byrne from N Va on the ticket, but the Republicans have a candidate from Hampton Roads and the Dems will have to work hard to offset that).

When asked about affordable housing, he noted that his law practice had been largely about housing issues for 18 years. he talked about how there ae things that can be done through state agencies and under state law to target aid on housing. He described that when in local government in Richmond (city council and Mayor) they took advantage of a provision that allows exemption of rehabilitated housing and additions to encourage people to go in and fix up degraded and abandoned housing -- they were able to exempt such housing from taxes for up to 15 years. He acknowledged that degraded housing was not an issue in Arlington, but suggested that there might be ways to target such tax relief to housing being added on to with the intent of pricing it as affordable housing.

He was asked about his response to Kilgore’s negative ads. He said “I’m just a sunny and positive guy.” But he was also forceful. I hope I’ve got this word for word except where noted, but if not, it is close, so here goes the block quote again:
When the other side attacks, i will always spin it to a positive, but I’ve always responded. I’m Irish (here I can’t read the next sentence in my notes). I’ve got teenagers, you’re not going to rattle me. The Republicans are not used to Democrats who stand up to their attacks.

He noted that the Republicans were running the same attacks they ran against Warner and Beyer. He then talked about why he his first ads were about his missionary work. He then made a clear statement that needs to be noted:
We cannot let the Republican party be the faith and values party.

I asked a question about Schiavo (and I talked with him afterwards on this point). He noted that Virginia had some experience with this (the Hugh Finn case, where Gov. Gilmore tired to intervene in a court decision, but got slapped down by the Courts), He feels strongly about this that we need to follow the law and the courts. His wife in her role as a judge deals with these kinds of issues, and there needs to be a way for families to deal with these issues confidentially, which is what in theory the law provides.

The last question was what people could do to help, and he did an excursus on the old line of the preacher about giving your time, your talent and your treasure.

He noted he had been knocking on doors since March, that he would be out again on Saturday, and encouraged people to get involved. he then said that since he didn’t have another event to go to, he would hang around and talk for a while.

Afterwards I made a suggestion to him. I should note that when I approached him he immediately thanked me for my question on Terri Schiavo. I said that I had an idea for how it could be addressed. One problem is that the laws are not uniform on living wills and medical directive from state to state, and that there are problems when it is na interstate situation, which the Hugh Finn case had been (Finn was in a car accident in Kentucky, but was transferred to a care facility in Manassas Virginia), which he said he had not realized. I suggested that the state set up a formal registry for living wills and medical directives, and actively encourage citizens of all ages to file the papers with the state. Then not only would the state have a formal record, but in the even the person were out of state, the wishes might be able to be honored under the full faith and credit provision of the US Constitution, since it would be the state’s registry of the person’s intent. He immediately reacted, and noted that it would not be politicizing the issue, but rather finding a creative way of the state providing a service for the people, and asked me to write it up and give it to his policy people.


My reactions to the event were overwhelmingly positive. My sense is that if Kaine does not get overwhelmed by money he will win. For one thing, he is part of an administration that hs financially put the state’s house in order, and that plays well in Virginia. For another, his opponent will eventually have to appear on stage with him and debate him, and Kilgore comes across as very weak. Kaine is imaginative, as his advertising on Christian radio talking about his missionary work demonstrates. it is similar to Mark Warner's having sponsored a Nascar race vehicle.

I hope this gives readers a sense of the man, and of why people involved in this campaign are excited. If you want to get involved including but not limited to giving money, or if you just want to find out more, go to his web page

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

A possible progressive agenda 

is offered in today's Boston Globe by Robert Kuttner in his op-ed piece  Head in the sand.   I suggest taking some time to glance at it.   I will offer a very few selections and then list the topics he included.

the intro

SOMEWHERE, in a parallel universe, real leaders in a country very much like our own are dealing with real problems. Imagine what America might be like if our top officials were addressing the genuine challenges that confront us.

Domestically, the president might have responded to the 9/11 attacks by calling for equality of sacrifice, as presidents have done in every other wartime emergency. Instead, our president pushed through a succession of upscale tax cuts and urged people to go out and shop.

In the parallel universe, the American leader is serious about securing our country. Here, it fell to the opposition party to demand that something as basic as airline security not be left to private, minimum-wage contractors. Nearly three years after 9/11, America's ports and other vital infrastructure are still sitting ducks. While the Department of Homeland Security played Keystone Kops with color-coded alerts that seemed suspiciously timed to alarm the public in an election year, the different agencies that were merged into one are still working on how to communicate with each other.

In that other universe, the president surely would have enlisted America's allies to combat terrorism. Had war between the United States and Iraq come, it would have come with the full participation of the world community, so that Iraq's reconstruction and the burden of keeping it secure would have been broadly shared instead of falling upon American taxpayers and GIs.

One can imagine a whole to-do list of the president's national priorities:

The things he describes in detail are as follows:

Repairing American democracy.

Fixing our retirement system.

Keeping America healthy.

Dealing with global climate change.

Saving the economy.

Giving every child a chance.

Using science to the fullest.

Kuttner's conclusion is

In a decade, historians will ponder how the American people could possibly have reelected a president who lives in a fantasy world and who is doing such damage to the real world.

The poet e.e. cummings wrote, at the end of a fine poem lamenting the condition of humankind, ''Listen, there's a hell of a good universe next door. Let's go." We, alas, don't have that option. We have to bring sanity to the world we are living in.

Read the article.  While the points in bold above should be clear, his explanations of what he means on each point are "right on."

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