Saturday, December 14, 2013

USA Today: U.S. Has a Poverty Crisis, Not a Schools Crisis

From Diane Ravitch's blog [A site to discuss better education for all], Saturday, December 14, 2013. See  -- see, also,
USA Today: U.S. Has a Poverty Crisis, Not a Schools Crisis

By Diane Ravitch

Believe it or not, USA Today published a powerful article by Oliver Thomas, a member of its Board of Contributors, acknowledging that the latest PISA rankings reflect the crisis of poverty in the United States. Our Students in low-poverty schools are doing fine; some analyses place them at the very top. But the more poverty, the lower the test scores.

He writes:

"As researchers Michael Rebell and Jessica Wolff of the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College, Columbia University, have noted, there is no general education crisis in the United States. There is a child poverty crisis that is impacting education.

"Here's one data point worth remembering. When you measure the test scores of American schools with a child poverty rate of less than 20%, our kids not only outperform the Finns, they outperform every nation in the world.

"But here's the really bad news. Two new studies on education and poverty were reported in Education Week in October. The first from the Southern Education Foundation reveals that nearly half of all U.S. public school students live in poverty. Poverty has risen in every state since President Clinton left office.

"The second study, conducted by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, reveals that poverty - not race, ethnicity, national origin or where you attend school - is the best predictor of college attendance and completion.

"Chew on that. The causes of poverty are complex and varied: excessive immigration, tax policy, and the exportation and automation of manufacturing jobs. Yet the list of solutions is strikingly short. Other than picking a kid's parents, it amounts to giving all children access to a high-quality education.

"Here's the catch-22. While the only long-term solution to poverty might be a good education, a good education is seldom available to children living in poverty.

"One reason is that spending on education has not kept pace with the rise in child poverty. While poverty grew by 40% in the Midwest and 33% in the South from 2001 to 2011, educational spending per pupil grew by only 12% in these regions over the same 10-year period."

Unfortunately, the article goes on to praise the Gates Foundation for providing college scholarships to low-income students but fails to recognize that Bill Gates has done more than any single individual (other than Arne Duncan) to promote the idea that we can't "fix" poverty until we "fix" schools. He has promoted Teach for America, charter schools, and teacher evaluation as the way to "fix" schools. Better to do something about poverty. It is a scandal that the world's richest nation has nearly one-quarter of its children living in poverty, and the best we can do is to privatize school management and test students with greater frequency.

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Friday, December 13, 2013

JMG HomoQuotable - Andrew Sullivan

"It has been fascinating lately to watch Fox News go after the Pope for reiterating long-standing Catholic and Christian doctrine about the false god of materialism. By echoing Jesus’ insistence that you cannot know the kingdom of Heaven if you are bound up in wealth and possessions, the Pope drew charges of Marxism (which is anathema to Christians for the same reasons that unrestrained market capitalism is) and engaging in politics (from a channel that has long insisted that Christianity cannot and should not be relegated to the private sphere). [snip]

"When you absorb the constant racial undertones on Fox, and its constant worship of the god of money, when you absorb their long list of fears about the 'other', whether immigrants or gays or the poor, when you recall their glee at the torture of human beings, or their passion for the death penalty, you can’t help but wonder if they are not one of the most powerful forces against Christianity in our culture. They have competitors out there, but Roger Ailes is never satisfied with being Number Two, is he?" - Andrew Sullivan, writing for his blog.

Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via Howard Zinn / FB

Howard Zinn shared his photo.
"The challenge remains. On the other side are formidable forces: money, political power, the major media. On our side are the people of the world and a power greater than money or weapons: the truth.

"Truth has a power of its own. Art has a power of its own. That age old lesson - that everything we do matters - is the meaning of the people's struggle here in the United States and everywhere. A poem can inspire a movement. A pamphlet can spark a revolution. Civil disobedience can arouse people and provoke us to think. When we organize with one another, when we get involved, when we stand up and speak out together, we can create a power no government can suppress." - Howard Zinn, from the essay "If History Is To Be Creative," published in the book A Power Governments Cannot Suppress (City Lights Booksellers & Publishers, 2006).
This photo was taken in January 2007 in his hometown of Boston during the filming of The People Speak.

Via Being Liberal / FB:

Via Daily Kos / FB:

Interesting information from Mother Jones on the "untouchable budget" of the Pentagon.

More from @Mother Jones here:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Via Teabonics / FB:

Via I fucking love science / FB:

Pareidolia is a phenomenon that allows us to "see" faces and other objects in completely unrelated objects and settings. Carl Sagan theorized that this provided an evolutionary advantage, as it allows humans to better recognize each other, even under poor visual circumstances.

The important thing to remember is that even though these images may seem significant and life-changing, they aren’t. It's all just a really fun figment of your imagination.

JMG HomoQuotable - Nancy Goldstein

"NBC has been dodging attempts from activists to hold them accountable since the laws were enacted. A letter from the gay lobbying group Human Rights Campaign’s president asking NBC to include news of Russia's human-rights violations alongside their standard Olympics coverage elicited a mealy-mouthed response from the network, which said it would 'provide coverage of Russia's anti-gay laws if the controversial measures surface as an issue during the upcoming Winter Olympics.' As though the fact that Neo-Nazis keep luring gay men to hotel rooms by baiting them online, then kidnapping and torturing them and posting their videos online isn’t an issue at all so long as no queers are actually forced to drink their own urine in front of NBC’s cameras during the snowboarding finals." - Nancy Goldstein, writing for Prospect.
Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via Storm is Coming/ FB:

Does God Believe in Atheists?

Via JMG: FLORIDA: Beer Can Festivus Pole Goes On Display In State Capitol Rotunda

Earlier today I posted a clip of the folks at Fox News freaking out about this. Here's the report from the Associated Press:
A Festivus pole made of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans is on display at the Capitol across the rotunda from a Nativity scene. Chaz Stevens of Deerfield Beach put up his 6-foot-tall pole Wednesday, an act that even he described as ridiculous. But Stevens says he opposes religious displays in government buildings and if the depiction of Jesus' birth is allowed, so should his Festivus pole. Festivus is a non-secular holiday created in a 1997 episode of "Seinfeld." Pam Olsen organized the Nativity display. She stopped at the Capitol to see the Festivus pole and told Stevens she welcomes his decision to exercise his right to free speech. She did, however, say a more traditional plain aluminum pole would have been more appropriate rather than Stevens' beer can version.
The Festivus pole is located next to a winter solstice message from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. A commenter at Breitbart is furious: "I happen to be a great great granddaughter of Capt Frederick Pabst and he would flip over in his grave if he saw his beer being exploited by a bunch of atheist punks."  Photo source. (Tipped by JMG reader Rafael)

Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via Being Liberal / FB:

Via Steve Marmel / FB: All of it in a nutshell.

Via JMG: TIME Names Pope Francis Person Of The Year

TIME Magazine today named Pope Francis as its person of the year.  In second place is Edward Snowden, with DOMA champion Edith Windsor placing third.  Syrian President Bashar Assad is ranked fourth, and Tea Party hero Ted Cruz finished out the top five.  Has TIME previously revealed the runners-up in this manner?

Reposted from Joe Jervis

VIa FB: Hey, conservatives! Shut up again!

Photo: Hey, conservatives.

Shut up again.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

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Nelson Mandela R.I.P.

See Keith Knight's FULL-SIZED COMIC here:

Via Being Liberal / FB:

(W) US President Barack Obama shook hands at Nelson Mandela's memorial Tuesday with Raul Castro, leader of long-time Cold War foe Cuba, in what Havana called a 'gesture of hope'... And personally I am hopeful too. How about you?

Furor en las redes sociales por breve apretón de manos entre Obama y Raúl -

Via JMG: Top 50 Coming Out Stories Of 2013

Click over to Towleroad for Andy's recap of the top coming out stories of 2013.  On the list: Tom Daley, Jason Collins, Jodie Foster, Chelsea Manning, Robbie Roberts, Wentworth Miller, Rep. Michael Micaud, and many more.

Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via Daily Kos:

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