Old Ideas Won’t Win the Day

5 04 2011

Ben, the problem you have is that JJ is smarter than you. She is miles smarter than you, me and the next six people combined. JJ develops ideas and new thinking about life and education as she experiences them. You fall back on shopworn phrases — being taxed is having your money stolen, there’s nothing wrong with vouchers going to religious schools, JJ’s tone is elitist, etc. And you hide behind religion and deny its importance as it supports your argument.

The sad part of all of this is that JJ is not the one being injured. She’s a strong woman, capable of thinking about what you write without getting upset about it.

The people being injured are those who are stuck on the treadmill with you, rehashing old ideas which were never very good and have soured with time.

And those liberals, like me, who agree with you. At least in part. I think, once I get past the tax bluster and the vehement anti-public school rhetoric, you have a few points to make. And they will never make it into anything like a productive discussion. They are weighed down to the point of sinking under the old notions, the ones that are all about taking the tack that ends up supporting your politics, right or wrong. These ideas are not about learning and changing and growth. They are about making sure the other political wing is demonized.

Me? I’m a bleeding-heart liberal born and raised to value unions and everything government does to help those in need. I vote Democratic.

And yet I have wondered why teachers weren’t protesting in the streets until their rights and income were on the line. Public school has sucked for a very long time. Teachers complain about it as much as anyone. And yet. . .

I don’t see the same fights you do. I don’t see people still not acknowledging that charter schools are public school. Just as I don’t see homeschoolers contending that virtual schools will be the end of homeschooling as we know it. Maybe I don’t move in the right circles.

What I see are very wealthy people manipulating our system of government to get their way. Over and over again. Among their preferences, like you, is that they pay as little in taxes as possible. Now, they don’t spout off about theft. They hide behind the old chestnut that tax money in their hands will trickle down and all will prosper.  And they have the lobbyists and the clout and our collective taxes decrease along with the government’s ability to function properly.

Maybe some of them hope to starve the beast. You know that line. The impression I get is that they just don’t care. It isn’t changing anything in their life if my child doesn’t have access to a quality public school. At least in the short run. And that’s as far as they seem to look. Or they feel they will be safe, no matter what. Let them eat cake!

Try really seeing that middle class people and working people and poor people are constantly set against one another and feeding into that fight is just as wrong as starting it in the first place. Urging people to vote against their own interests, to battle over scraps, to encourage anger instead of  “doing unto others” as JJ advises, this is only helping those wealthy members of our society who are happy to fund the fight and pick up all the pieces while everyone is distracted.

We can do better than this. It will be very hard work and we may even need some help from an “elitist” or two. But we can do better.

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Monsters and Men in Morals of Money and School

3 04 2011

“There’s nothin’ worse than a monster
who thinks he’s right with God.”

–Firefly captain Malcolm Reynolds, episode 13,
seen on Netflix last night with Young Son

Closing the computer down for the night later, I spotted this in my feed reader:

“I guess all I want at this point in the debate
is a little intellectual and moral honesty.”

–Conservative Christian homeschool dad Ben Bennett,
Admit It, Liberals, You Hate School Choice

And this morning the Sunday NYT business section has just given me Cornell economics professor Robert H. Frank’s thoughts on gauging the pain of the middle class with The Toil Index:

Context matters because the brain requires a frame of reference to make any evaluative judgment.

Yep, just like a frame of reference to define the difference between monster and man.

Rising inequality has shifted the context that governs. . . the cost of achieving basic goals, like sending one’s children to a good school. School quality is an inherently relative concept, too, and good schools tend to be in more expensive neighborhoods.

The toil index rests on the positive link between a neighborhood’s average housing price and the quality of the school that serves it.

This link implies that the median family must outbid 50 percent of all parents to avoid sending its children to a below-average school. Families that failed to rent or buy a house near the median of the local price range would have to send their children to below-average schools. The only alternative to seeing their children fall behind is Read the rest of this entry »





Shame

10 03 2011

My last post quoted Dale’s observation days before it was proven true again last night:

If a minority point of view is on the verge
of gaining a fair hearing within the rules, someone in the majority will simply change the rules. . .

It’s not just one state’s megalomaniacal “majority” doing whatever the hell they please with their naked political power these days, of course. Florida was even sneakier — why persecute American icons like Big Bird or “huddled masses” of immigrants much less dignified, educated middle-class teachers, nurses and other trusted public professionals, until you’ve simply changed the rules to disenfranchise those you already imprisoned for profit and won’t allow to then (understandably) vote against you?

Governor Rick Scott’s draconian plans to slash education funds brought out protesters all over Florida yesterday. Among the waves of angry Sunshine Staters who spoke out was goth maestro Stephen King who quipped, “Maybe my next horror novel will star Rick Scott. ”

Well…why not? Wouldn’t you love to see what Stephen King could do with these?





“Sure, I shot you, but you’re the one that fell over”

8 03 2011

Dale McGowan at Parenting Beyond Belief:

If a minority point of view is on the verge
of gaining a fair hearing within the rules, someone in the majority will simply change the rules. . .
Though religion is in play in both of these situations, the principle applies to countless others as well.

I could have tagged this with every label Snook has got. With examples. (This for instance.)

I managed to stay three more years, trying to improve
the climate of inquiry on campus,
before nausea led me to resign . . .

Learning this principle the hard way, struggling against it like sticky spider silk until I finally gave up and came home, was overriding power of story throughout my career. I heard but tried to rise above dark mutterings of “life isn’t fair.” You might even say I had FAITH. I believed!

I was wrong.

We seldom grab public problems from the right end, or should I say from the right beginning? Start from a false premise and we’d be better not to start at all.





Psy-ops of “Strategic Communications” Busted Wide Open by Rolling Stone

24 02 2011

Read first.
Then discuss.

“My job in psy-ops is to play with people’s heads, to get the enemy to behave the way we want them to behave,” says Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes.

Power of story. This exposes and then explains everything we’ve ever talked about here imo.

According to Holmes, the general wanted the IO team to provide a “deeper analysis of pressure points we could use to leverage the delegation for more funds.” The general’s chief of staff also asked Holmes how Caldwell could secretly manipulate the U.S. lawmakers without their knowledge. “How do we get these guys to give us more people?” he demanded. “What do I have to plant inside their heads?”





JJ Spending This Week With Economist Jeffrey Sachs

22 02 2011

Free! — no admission, registration, tuition. Materials not included and I may need to buy a book or two, maybe not. We’ll see.

It only took a cup of coffee, some battery power and less than ten minutes to get started with a world class professor (see his vita at end of post):

“Both [parties] are completely unrealistic . . . what’s happening in this country? . . .Both parties are financed by wealthy people . . . everyone caters to the top. . .
American influence is waning, American infrastructure is crumbling . . .except if you’re rich and you have a lot of money to invest, you’re investing in China. . . our politics is SO ODD right now, because it’s driven just by the very top. . .pure propaganda [of] Big Oil . . . food prices are at all-time highs, there’s instability all over the world. . .energy crises, food crises, do we talk about any of that in our country? Absolutely not.”

‎Next I found a short profession of his thoughts on education. Real education, not schooling: education to help our kids learn about the real world IN the real world, to “Think Big”, to experience and understand what’s being systematically twisted and lied about for the basest motives, in our textbooks and classrooms and broadcasts, even in the hallowed halls of the capitol buildings and courthouses we built to express and effect our American Dreams. So what does the Doctor order? Unschool them in the real world and encourage every opportunity for them to get out in it and unschool themselves:

“The irony is not that we are at an abyss that is unavoidable . . .it’s almost the opposite. We’ve unlocked the ability to promote economic development in all parts of the world. We have at our hand, the ability to end extreme poverty. We have before us either already existing or within reach, technologies . . .the question is whether we can BRING KNOWLEDGE TO BEAR on these solutions and then Read the rest of this entry »





Bagpipes Supporting Civil Rights in America!

18 02 2011

Talk about Learning Without Schooling, one of my ubiquitous tags here. Those who complain there’s no learning happening in Wisconsin this week clearly have lost touch with what real learning is, if they ever knew in the first place!

Wisconsin firefighters march into the Capitol, bagpipes filling the rotunda.

Intelligent cock of the snook to Rachel Maddow’s blog, where you can watch a really moving music video in the best sense of the word, peaceful and committed young people out to make a difference, for the first time in a generation (okay, to be honest, more like two generations) and near the end, the same firefighter bagpipers show up, playing On Wisconsin:

(On Wisconsin! On America!The kids are all right.)