Saturday, June 13, 2009

Why Have We Stopped Talking About Guns?

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship | Why Have We Stopped Talking About Guns?

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, Truthout: "There is much talk about hate talk; hate crimes against blacks, whites, immigrants, Muslims, Jews; about violence committed in the name of bigotry or religion. But why don't we talk about guns?"

Friday, June 12, 2009


On Friday’s call, the Board also adopted a motion of support for the Common Sense for California campaign which seeks to promote reform in the state budget process. The budget – as faculty members are all too well aware – is the root cause of these budget cuts.

To learn about that campaign, go to:

Sarah Palin Is the One Who Is Subjecting Her Children to Public Scrutiny, Not David Letterman -- A BuzzFlash News Analysis

Sarah Palin Is the One Who Is Subjecting Her Children to Public Scrutiny, Not David Letterman -- A BuzzFlash News Analysis

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Evening Walkabout Flowers

2 from Truthout

Climate Change Worsens Disaster Risks for Poor
Alister Doyle, Reuters: "Climate change will aggravate natural disasters and people in developing nations such as Dominica, Vanuatu, Myanmar and Guatemala are most at risk, a UN-backed study showed on Thursday."

Report: "Green" Jobs Outpacing Traditional Ones
Ron Scherer, The Christian Science Monitor: "'Green jobs' are growing nearly two and a half times as fast as traditional jobs, finds a new study by Pew Charitable Trusts. The study, released Wednesday by Pew as the first-ever count of such jobs in all 50 states, concludes that the clean energy economy, while still in its infancy, 'is a vital component of America's new economic landscape.'"

Rumors of Furloughs...


Dear CFA Members, Colleagues and California State University Supporters,

The Chancellor’s Office has informed CFA that its working number for budget cuts to the CSU for the 2009/10 fiscal year is $583.816 million.

Since the state legislature and governor have not yet finalized a 2009/10 budget, that number could change. Nevertheless, because of the severe state budget crisis, the cuts in the coming year will be deep.

Obviously, such a huge reduction will affect everyone on all 23 campuses. The ability to deliver a quality education to our students, already compromised by cuts in the past academic year, is in serious question. Rumors about these cuts and proposals to address them are circulating already.

The Chancellor’s Labor Relations staff has discussed with CFA and the other CSU employee bargaining units the possibilities of furloughs and job losses. According to them, a two-day-a-month furlough of all CSU employees for one year would address about half of the cuts required.

We will be talking with our Board of Directors, Chapter Presidents and other groups about the information that we have received from the Chancellor’s Office staff. We also plan to have another meeting with the Labor Relations staff sometime next week. We will keep in communication with the faculty in upcoming email messages.

Please check your email regularly so that we can keep you updated on the latest developments.

If you have received this email message from someone other than CFA Headlines or the CFA office, it may be that our office does not have your current email address. Please send your current email address to letting us know that you would like to receive regular updates.

Also, CFA has been assured by the Chancellor’s Office that until a state budget is signed into law by the governor, no steps will be taken on the campuses to implement 2009/10 academic year budget cuts. If you are a faculty member who has been told that such cuts will be made to your department or program, or if you have been told that you will not have a job next academic year, please let us know at Your name will be held in confidence.

Obviously, we all have very strong feelings about this situation.

Since the state budget is still not finalized, we urge you to express your views in letters to the editor reminding the public, governor and legislature of the consequences of the cuts already being made to public higher education. Our university and our state needs a balanced approach to budgeting that does not rely only on deep cuts to necessary public services.

We have been through many difficult times together over the past years. We have always known that if we do not panic, avoid rash action, and methodically navigate our way through crises in a unified manner, the outcomes will be better. We must continue to find ways to support each other now.

The officers of the California Faculty Association

Death at the Holocaust Museum and the Degradation of the American Dialogue

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Time to Kill 'No Child Left Behind'

From Education Week [American Education's Newspaper of Record], Wednesday, June 10, 2009, Volume 28, Issue 33, pp. 30,36. See

Time to Kill 'No Child Left Behind'
By Diane Ravitch

The latest release of scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress provides no evidence for the effectiveness of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The scores announced on April 28 reflect long-term trends, measuring progress on the same skills since the early 1970s, as opposed to scores achieved on NAEP's regular, every-other-year tests.
SIDEBAR: "It is too late to tweak NCLB. Seven years after it was signed into law, it is clear that the program deserves to be buried."
In long-term trends, the achievement gap between white and minority students has hardly budged over the past decade. Although average scores are up for 9-year-olds and 13-year-olds in reading and mathematics between 2004 and 2008, the rate of improvement is actually smaller than it was in the previous period measured, from 1999 to 2004.

It is time to ask whether NCLB should be renewed. I argue that it should not. What will President Barack Obama and his administration do with the law?

During the presidential campaign, candidate Obama hinted at sweeping changes in the No Child Left Behind law. He promised that teachers would no longer be "forced to spend the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests." He recognized that subjects like history and the arts had been pushed aside, and that children were not getting a well-rounded education. He pledged to fix the accountability system "so that we are supporting schools that need improvement" instead of punishing them.

To date, the Obama administration has been silent about its plans for reforming No Child Left Behind. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appears ready to propose a few nips and tucks in the program, but leave it fundamentally unaltered. But it is too late to tweak NCLB. Seven years after it was signed into law, it is clear that the program deserves to be buried.

In 2001, the "No Child" legislation was endorsed by large bipartisan majorities in Congress, who agreed that students were not keeping pace with their high-performing peers in other nations. The law requires public schools to test all students annually in grades 3-8 in reading and mathematics, and to disaggregate the test scores by race, socioeconomic status, disability, and English proficiency. The law mandates that all students must be "proficient" in both reading and math by the end of the 2013-14 school year. In a bow to federalism, Congress permitted the states to devise their own standards, their own tests, and their own definitions of proficiency.

Schools that do not make progress toward the goal of 100 percent proficiency for every group are subject to increasingly stringent sanctions. In their second year of failing to make what is called "adequate yearly progress" for any group, failing schools have their students given the choice of leaving to enroll in a better public school. In the third year of a school's failure, students are entitled to free tutoring after school. In subsequent years, the failing school may be converted to private management, turned into a charter school, have its entire staff dismissed, or be handed over to the state.

Results from this multibillion-dollar undertaking have been disappointing. Gains in achievement have been meager, as we have seen not only on NAEP's long-term-trend report, but also on the NAEP tests that are administered every other year. In national assessments since the No Child Left Behind legislation was passed, 4th grade reading scores went up by 3 points, about the same as in the years preceding the law's enactment. In 8th grade reading, there have been no gains since 1998. In mathematics, the gains were larger before NCLB in both 4th grade and 8th grade.

In the latest international assessment of mathematics and science, released this past December, U.S. students again scored well behind students in Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, and Taipei. Our 4th grade and 8th grade students recorded small improvements in mathematics, but not in science, where those in both grades scored lower than in years predating No Child Left Behind.

The decline of 8th grade test scores in science from 2003 to 2007 demonstrates the consequences of ignoring everything but reading and mathematics. Because NCLB counts only those basic skills, it has necessarily reduced attention to such non-tested subjects as science, history, civics, the arts, and geography.

The law's remedies for failing students-school choice and tutoring-have also been a bust. Fewer than 5 percent of eligible students choose to leave their schools, and sometimes those who leave are the ones who are doing well, not the ones who are failing. In many districts, there is often only one school, so choice is meaningless. In some urban districts, there is no better school that is accessible. Many students don't want to leave their schools, even when a better one is nearby.
Similarly, fewer than 20 percent of eligible students sign up to be tutored, even when the extra help is free and convenient. Most apparently don't want another hour of schooling, which would mean giving up their after-school jobs and sports. Some studies show that tutored students are not learning any more than those who refused tutoring.

The law's sanctions don't work. Few schools have converted to charter status or private or state management. Most prefer "restructuring," in which the school gets a thorough shaking-up, in some cases with the entire staff dismissed. This has not made much difference either. Contrary to popular mythology, most failing schools continue to struggle, even after everyone has been fired and replaced.

The worst part of the law is its unrealistic demand that all students must be proficient by 2014. No other nation and no state has ever reached this unrealistic goal. Every educator knows that it is impossible. While the goal remains in place, the number of failing schools grows each year. In the past year, nearly 30,000 public schools-35 percent nationwide-were identified as failing. In Massachusetts, which has the highest-scoring students in the United States, nearly half the state's public schools were rated "in need of improvement." And an article in Science magazine this past September predicted that nearly 100 percent of all elementary schools in California would be considered failing schools under the law by 2014 [see ].

In trying to prove that they are moving closer to the impossible target required by NCLB, most states have adopted very low definitions of "proficiency." Tennessee, for example, says that 90 percent of its 4th graders are proficient in reading, but the federal testing by NAEP says that only 27 percent are. Most states have endorsed low standards and inflated their scores to meet the law's nonsensical requirements.

Congress should get rid of No Child Left Behind because it is a failed law. It is dumbing down our children by focusing solely on reading and mathematics. By ignoring everything but basic skills, it is not preparing students to compete with their peers in the high-performing nations of Asia and Europe, nor is it preparing them for citizenship in our complex society. It has usurped state and local control of education. Washington has neither the knowledge nor the capacity to micromanage the nation's schools.

No amount of tinkering can repair this poorly designed law. The time has come for fresh thinking about the best way for Washington to help improve the nation's schools.
Diane Ravitch, a historian of American education, is a research professor of education at New York University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. She served as an assistant U.S. secretary of education from 1991 to 1993. She co-writes the Bridging Differences blog on

Casey Edwards Stood Up to SC Gov. Mark Sanford, Fighting for Stimulus Money, Wins BuzzFlash's Wings of Justice

Courtesy of Buzzflash

While there has been a lot written about the Southern Republican governors who didn't want to take all of the stimulus money for their states, South Carolina felt like the state that needed the money more than the others did.

The Gamecock State has the highest unemployment rate outside of Michigan. And numerous schools, along the stretch of I-95 known as the "Corridor of Shame," were in really horrible shape.

One of those South Carolina school students, Casey Edwards, a senior at Chapin High School, decided to do something about that, and filed a lawsuit against Gov. Mark Sanford to require him to accept the money.

"The fact that we're going to turn down money when we desperately need it, really bothered me," Edwards told CBS News.

Gov. Sanford had been willing to take the money, but only to pay down the state's debt. The crumbling school infrastructure -- that would have to wait, again. His actions seemed geared more toward running for higher office, perhaps in 2012, than the people of South Carolina.

Edwards filed a lawsuit in April, but that suit was rejected as being premature, since the state General Assembly hadn't acted yet. But that didn't deter Edwards, who subsequently filed a second lawsuit, along with University of South Carolina law student Justin Williams.

The South Carolina Supreme Court heard this suit, and ruled unanimously last week that Gov. Sanford must apply for the disputed $700 million in federal stimulus money. The court also issued a writ of mandamus, ordering the governor to apply for the money.

Edwards' initial lawsuit was a wake-up call that inspired others to jump in to fight for the stimulus money, something that had been lacking before the lawsuit.

Most 18-year-olds learn a little bit about how government works from time spent in the classroom, but Edwards got a broad education on how government works by getting involved. Even though Edwards was graduating and leaving the school system, she understood that the children behind her deserved a better school infrastructure.

One of her attorneys, Dick Harpootlian, summed it up very well at the news conference reacting to the court's ruling:

"For an 18-year-old to step up to the plate and go head to head with the governor, it takes courage and intelligence and she's got both of them. I'm proud of her."

We are too. Edwards wasn't ready to just accept the situation, so she rose up and took action. And she received the satisfaction of knowing that what she did made a difference. For having the courage to rise up to fight for fixing the crumbling school infrastructure in South Carolina, we gladly give her the BuzzFlash Wings of Justice award.

* * *

Nominated by BuzzFlash staff. To see a full list of past Wings of Justice honorees, click here.


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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Both of my devoted readers may have noticed a change to Notorious

You may have noticed a change to Notorious because the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States decided to remove my administrative rights as a member of the Bahá’í Faith... apparently, being an openly gay, married, activist is far too much for them. Confronting the Bahá’ís, about their appalling homophobia is unacceptable to the authorities. I was polite, yet firm here, now I am outraged.

In so doing, I have moved most of GLBT oriented links and material to a a new website: Revoked. Notorious will continue to be Notorious. I hope you will visit and leave comments.

Not to worry. Life is good!

Copyright 2011 by Daniel C. Orey All rights reserved. No part of this website may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.