“Partisan Polarization” Just Another Pathology of Hypercompetition?

13 09 2011

Conservative ideology and racial resentment swamp every other factor. Maybe that doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s counterproductive to even mention racial resentment these days. Maybe it’s unfair to lots of tea partiers who care only about taxes and big government. But unless there’s a problem with Abramowitz’s data, it’s there. Pretending that it’s not doesn’t make it go away. . .

These fears and resentments were of course stoked by right wing politicians, media commentators and websites . . .

There’s been an exhaustion of all patience followed by widespread progressive grumbling (or was that just me?) about the single-minded, spittle-flecked viciousness of win-at-all-costs in our politics, denying the humanity of one’s opponents let alone enemies, up to and including television caesars pandering to the bloodthirsty hordes, Dick Cheney still defending torture for personal profit, Rick Perry supporters cheering executions as pro-life governance.

“How you play the game” isn’t much of a consolation prize for the defeated even when it’s just a game, much less when the stakes are so high that you literally can’t afford to lose. “Living well as the best revenge” only adds insult to injury in forced competition that puts your health, wealth, dignity, liberty and life itself at risk.

We’ve cocked a snook several times at competition versus collaboration in different spheres, wondering whether it’s gotten all out of whack and what those experiences can do TO kids rather than FOR them. We’ve even looked at killer-instinct gameplay about chess specifically, the power of this next story:

I dare say this chess board may survive a nuclear blast! The pieces are made using .223 caliber bullet shell casings, decorated with cuts, slashes, curls and bends.

Photo source

She was, and is, a ferocious competitor, a psychological attribute that is quite separate from purely intellectual ability. As the former US chess champion Joel Benjamin reported after playing her: “It was all-out war for five hours. I was totally exhausted. She absolutely has a killer instinct.

Well, there you go! If only all our daughters were so ferocious about “winning” think what Read the rest of this entry »





“They Were Wrong”

9 08 2011

“They thought that after thirty years of soaring inequality, in the middle of a recession, they could take away the last little things that gave people hope, the benefits, the jobs, the possibility of higher education, the support structures, and nothing would happen.
They were wrong.”

The real news is that this isn’t just about the conservative anti-government Murdoch-dominated nation across the pond. The real news (and it shouldn’t be news to anyone with half a brain during a half-century on this planet at least) is that although this picture shows the UK going up in smoke, that’s no help or comfort for us in the US.

The real news and the real history and the real science — if not the real ethics and morality and values of any religion, philosophy or culture — all show a very clear picture, that “They” is US.





Teacher Union Bashing on Morning Joe-Ho-Ho

29 03 2011

I wrote this draft two days after Christmas 2010 while watching MSNBC in gaping shock. I couldn’t figure out *why* they all were reading from the same playbook, bashing the unions and the teachers they represent. But they clearly were.

Now in late March 2011, since the Scotts (Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Florida’s Rick Scott) are working that playbook and it’s nearly Game Over for all of us, I am asking myself just how much of a conspiracy this has been all along.

********************
[I think this was a “rewind” from sometime in 2010 that re-aired this morning.]

Public school is all a big hustle, a heist — did you know that? It’s all about bad public schoolteachers ruining America for money (wait, isn’t that Wall Street, bankers, insurance and oil companies, oh and politicians– teachers aren’t exactly the idle rich comparatively) and the union leaders who protect them. All they care about is “their own money” and not working for children and the good of the people.

NJ’s GOP Thug-Gov said it, and he said even the President of the United States Barack Obama agreed, that destroying the teacher union or “persuading” them to roll over for the GOP union-busting juggernaut, was the obvious forced choice and everyone in both parties and everywhere in America knows it and agrees, except of course Read the rest of this entry »





Woe is me, Wobegon is gone . . .

10 03 2011

In a dramatic reversal of the Lake “Woe-Begone” Effect, in which all the kids are above average, we now labor under the Lake Woe-Is-Me Effect, in which all the kids are failing . . .


Sec of Ed Arne Duncan: 82 Percent of Schools Could Be ‘Failing’ This Year

Yes, JJ knows the correct spelling and is playing with words to make a point:

[Garrison] Keillor says the town’s name comes from a fictional old Indian word meaning “the place where we waited all day in the rain [for you].” Keillor explains, “Wobegon” sounded Indian to me and Minnesota is full of Indian names. They mask the ethnic heritage of the town, which I wanted to do, since it was half Norwegian, half German.”

The English word “woebegone” is defined as “affected with woe” and can also mean “shabby, derelict or run down.”

A point that reminds her of Minnesota’s many-minnie quaint confusions again . . .





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.





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.)





JJ Is No Fan of Teacher Unions But . . .

16 02 2011

. . . she’s on their side in this war.

Wisconsin teachers in peaceful protest take over state capitol building -- will the governor carry out his threat to call up the National Guard?

Workers’ rights — and with them, the fate of the American middle and working classes — took over the capitol in Wisconsin yesterday and again today. Governor Scott Walker has been demanding wage concession from the state employees. He also wants to take away their unions’ right to collective bargaining. Last week, Mr. Walker said he’s ready to bring out the National Guard if need be to carry out his plan.

What he seems to have brought out instead is tens of thousands of peaceful protesters, two days running, and Madison schools closed while their teachers demonstrate.

Former Senator Russ Feingold joins us tonight to talk about the situation in his home state . . .





Forget China’s Tiger Mom, Import Swedish Pay-to-Plays Instead??

8 02 2011

I was pondering the hot new documentary blaming teachers for charter school lotteries with a fellow Thinking Parent (Lynne) the other day. Not necessarily for-profits, just all charters and the desperate lifeline they represent in a rigged system and why that should be so, and who the real villains are, what the real solutions might be.

Then today I’ve been talking with another fellow Thinking Parent (Daryl) about the odd results of GOP mayors and governors seeming to be against the public in fact but all in the name of public service! See Chris Christie, Rick Scott, Rudy Giuliani, for example. See also how universities and even community colleges are being forced into more private funding as for-profits get more and more from the “public.”

Then along comes a story that both fits right in and warps the narrative further out of whack: Read the rest of this entry »





New and Improved Obama! Brought to You By Corporate America

29 01 2011

as epitomized at rise-worldwide dot com

“[G]overnment is now said to be the problem. . .
The favor shown to charter schools by the president and his secretary of education Arne Duncan, in their endorsement of the testing regime of Race to the Top, draws on that ideology without much skepticism; and as Diane Ravitch has shown, it has encouraged a broad disdain for the supposed lack of ‘results’ in public education that is not supported by facts.”

I’ve been wanting to write about “venture philanthropy” too, but it’s so big, so important in how it pulls together the impact of what’s really been going on in the corporatization of education — for my parentthood if not my lifetime — that so far I have been daunted:

A few billion dollars in private foundation money, strategically invested every year for a decade, has sufficed to define the national debate on education; sustain a crusade for a set of mostly ill-conceived reforms; and determine public policy at the local, state, and national levels.





Can Parents Stay Home, With Kids in School?

29 12 2010

One of my administrative responsibilities for the large southern school system I served in the 80s (as a paid professional, not as a volunteer!) was “parent and community involvement.” I supervised a fulltime coordinator with a small office staff helping 40 schools and centers with volunteer issues.

But is it volunteering when it’s systematically coerced or even mandatory?

As local and state economies continue to struggle, budget cuts to rich and poor school systems are increasing the reliance on unpaid parent help. . .

Many parents are happy to volunteer uncoerced, and most everyone recognizes the worthiness of the cause. But the heightened need and expectations are coming at a time when many parents have less and less time to give.

America’s public school systems are funded by all taxpayers just as America’s military and justice systems are funded by all, regardless of individual use or personal involvement. And the collective’s claim on individual citizens isn’t limited to our money. The dormant military draft remains the law; registration still is required, and it still could reactivate its public claim to your literal life. Jury duty is not voluntary now; under force of legal penalty, you come when called and stay until dismissed, for involuntary hours, days, months or — if it turns into an OJ Simpson trial — even years of your real life, away from your real life.

The public schools certainly do tax us, heavily compared to other public “goods” imo, but our law so far hasn’t empowered schools to draft parents (much less the general citizenry) into direct service, too. School donations and personal volunteering have actually been “voluntary.”

Maybe not for long.