How companies make millions off lead-poisoned, poor blacks – The Washington Post

Structured-settlement annuitants are lured by quick cash to unload their future payouts for dimes on the dollar.

The letter arrived in April, a mishmash of strange numbers and words. This at first did not alarm Rose. Most letters are that way for her — frustrating puzzles she can’t solve. Rose, who can scarcely read or write, calls herself a “lead kid.” Her childhood home, where lead paint chips blanketed her bedsheets like snowflakes, “affected me really bad,” she says. “In everything I do.”

She says she can’t work a professional job. She can’t live alone. And, she says, she surely couldn’t understand this letter.

So on that April day, the 20-year-old says, she asked her mom to give it a look. Her mother glanced at the words, then back at her daughter. “What does this mean all of your payments were sold to a third party?” her mother recalls saying.

The distraught woman said the letter, written by her insurance company, referred to Rose’s lead checks. The family had settled a lead-paint lawsuit against one Baltimore slumlord in 2007, granting Rose a monthly check of nearly $1,000, with yearly increases. Those payments were guaranteed for 35 years.

“It’s been sold?” Rose asked, memories soon flashing.

To read the rest of Rose’s story, go here: How companies make millions off lead-poisoned, poor blacks – The Washington Post



In Flint, there’s so much lead in children’s blood that a state of emergency is declared – The Washington Post

Residents of Flint, Mich., complained of persistent problems with their water since the city switched the supply in April 2014. Research showed the number of children with above-average levels of lead in their blood doubled, prompting the mayor to declare a state of emergency Dec. 15. (AP)


For months, worried parents in Flint, Mich., arrived at their pediatricians’ offices in droves. Holding a toddler by the hand or an infant in their arms, they all have the same question: Are their children being poisoned?

To find out, all it takes is a prick of the finger, a small letting of blood. If tests come back positive, the potentially severe consequences are far more difficult to discern.

That’s how lead works. It leaves its mark quietly, with a virtually invisible trail. But years later, when a child shows signs of a learning disability or behavioral issues, lead’s prior presence in the bloodstream suddenly becomes inescapable.

According to the World Health Organization, “lead affects children’s brain development resulting in reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioral changes such as shortening of attention span and increased antisocial behavior, and reduced educational attainment. Lead exposure also causes anemia, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity and toxicity to the reproductive organs. The neurological and behavioral effects of lead are believed to be irreversible.”

The Hurley Medical Center, in Flint, released a study in September that confirmed what many Flint parents had feared for over a year: The proportion of infants and children with above-average levels of lead in their blood has nearly doubled since the city switched from the Detroit water system to using the Flint River as its water source, in 2014.

The crisis reached a nadir Monday night, when Flint Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency.

“The City of Flint has experienced a Manmade disaster,” Weaver said in a declaratory statement.

To read the rest of the story go here: In Flint, Mich., there’s so much lead in children’s blood that a state of emergency is declared – The Washington Post

Michigan: Is Your Big Box Store Ripping Off Your Community?

Michigan’s Trusted Source for Watchdog Commentary and Analysis on Public Policy, Media, Politics and the Democratic Process

Michigan: Is Your Big Box Store Ripping Off Your Community?

Posted on December 16, 2015 by Amy Kerr Hardin

After a decade of contentious litigation, the small community of Acme Michigan — “Gateway to Traverse City” — now has a new Meijer store, just in time for the holidays.

With its 24-7 operation, over 600 varieties of produce, and 30 checkout lanes, the 195,000-square foot supercenter has been drawing crowds since its much-anticipated opening early last month.

Although, not all Acme residents are pleased with the size and appearance of the structure, they are resigned to accepting the change it will bring to their small township.

For the rest of the story, go here: Michigan: Is Your Big Box Store Ripping Off Your Community?

CURMUDGUCATION blog: Thoughts on Homework and Flipping Classrooms — is this REALLY good for students?

Homework and Flipping

Posted: 16 Dec 2015 08:35 AM PST

It was an odd juxtaposition. There on my twitter feed, side by side, a link to an article arguing against homework, and a link to an argument favoring the flipped classroom.

The arguments against homework are many– as many as there are different types of homework. Students don’t really benefit from it. Students don’t really do it. And those are just educator arguments– my students will also argue that after they leave the school building, that time is their time, for work, for family, for whatever pursuits they choose to pursue. That’s the point of view that leads commenters to say that homework is bad for the whole child.

And yet what is a flipped classroom except a classroom that runs on huge amounts of homework.

I have no strong feelings about the flipped classroom– I’ve been doing it my whole career, only instead of saying “Go home and watch this video,” I’ve been saying “Go home and read this book.” I don’t do a lot of traditional homework beyond some occasionally “Go forth and practice this skill on your own.” But my honors students in particular are expected to do the readings and write the papers primarily on their own time.

I read teachers who have success flipping, and I have encountered the following conversation among students many times as well:

Chris: Did you watch that video last night?

Pat: Nah. He’s just going to have to explain it all in class anyway.

I have found technology useful for extending the classroom. Back when my school district still used Moodle, I could run entire units as on-line segments, which made a nice way to compensate for the class time that I was losing. This year I have a class of students who are required to blog, sometimes on prompts related to classwork, sometimes to other prompts, and always on other topics of their own choosing. And I’ve found on-line elements can be a good way to do units that involve “Go figure out what this is and then explain it to me in your own words with either created or found examples” (e.g. logical fallacies). Those then become part of the tool box that I expect them to be able to use in class work.

So am I good teacher because I’m using technology to extend the learning experience beyond the temporal and physical boundaries of my classroom, or am I terrible teacher because I still give homework?

For the rest of the story goe here: CURMUDGUCATION: Homework and Flipping

“All in the Family” conflict of interest: Massachusetts Sec. of Ed. sits on charter school lobby board

Has Massachusetts Secretary of Education Jim Peyser been lobbying himself?Reader: having now corresponded from the wilds of education reform land for some three years now (!), I’ve grown more or less inured to the conflicts of interest that seem to bloom like algae wherever homo reformus sets up shop. But when a tipster contacted me, asking if I was aware that Massachusetts Secretary of Education Jim Peyser sits on the board of a charter school advocacy group, and directs its lobbying arm, even I was agog. So I followed the trail of breadcrumbs that the tipster helpfully provided to the Secretary of State’s corporations division where I typed in Peyser’s name, and voila, there Peyser was, or rather is…

Read the rest of the story here: All in the Family | EduShyster

Did Jesus Pray to Allah? | Sojourners

Several nations have recently banned non-Muslims from using Arabic words, including “Allah” for God. Does it matter?

“The English word ‘God’ comes from an Old English word used long before Anglo-Saxons started converting to Christianity.”

—In light of the Wheaton College decision to suspend a professor after she stood in solidarity with Muslims and said they worship the same God, a helpful reminder from Miroslav Volf and Ryan McAnnally-Linz.

Source: Did Jesus Pray to Allah? | Sojourners