There’s a video floating around that shows Rupert Neate, a reporter from The Guardian, being heaved out of the Shot Show because he walked up to the Smith & Wesson display and began asking a company employee about an assault rifle ban. This conversation took place as a member of Smith & Wesson’s marketing team happily placed an assault rifle in Neate’s hands and kept referring to it as a “modern sporting rifle,” although to be fair the gun, known as the AR-15 Sporter, fires only an itty-bitty 22-caliber cartridge, as opposed to the more lethal 5.56 or .223 military calibers that most so-called modern sporting rifles use.
This nonsense about how a remarkably-lethal weapon used by our armed forces has been transmogrified into a ‘sporting’ gun by the gun industry for the last twenty years has been going on since the imposition of the 10-yearassault weapons ban back in 1994. The gun industry first reacted to the ban by claiming that ‘assault’ weapons were fully-automatic guns used only by the military; hence, any semi-automatic rifle deserved to be sold in the civilian market regardless of its design. And when the ban was not renewed in 2004, the industry went whole hog in trying to convince everyone that an AR-15 gun, as long as it didn’t fire more than one shot with each pull of the trigger, was no different from Grandpa’s old Remington or Winchester hunting rifle except it had a more modern look.
In arguing against any new attempt to impose a new assault weapons ban, the gun industry has …
The problem in Flint, Michigan that now has a lead-poisoned water system; and in Highland Park, Michigan where the for-profit Leona Group, a charter management organization, was brought in by a state-appointed emergency manager to run the public schools but went broke instead; and in Muskegon Heights, Michigan, where the for-profit Mosaica Education, a charter management organization, was brought in by a state-appointed emergency manager to run the public schools but went broke instead, is that Michigan’s poorest cities and school districts can, under a 2012 law, be taken over by the state and operated by an emergency fiscal manager appointed by the governor. And the current governor does not have a background in public service, reports Amber Phillips of the Washington Post: “Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R), (was) a tech venture capitalist who was elected in 2010 on a platform to fix the state’s ‘disaster’ economy….”
Claire Groden, writing for Fortune, explains Michigan’s abrogation of democracy under the current governor: “(A)t the time that Flint flipped the switch in April 2014 to send the river’s highly corrosive water through lead pipes, the predominantly African-American city didn’t have a working local government… Five years ago Snyder signed legislation that expanded the reasons why the state could choose to appoint a municipal emergency manager, then granted those appointees almost complete power over their assigned municipalities. Under Public Act 4, as it was called, state-appointed emergency managers could break collective bargaining agreements, fire elected officials and determine their salaries, and privatize or sell public assets… Emergency management is a way to short-circuit democracy when a city faces financial insolvency, with the idea that a leader free from accountability to voters can make unpopular but necessary decisions. But Michigan voters rejected that law in a state-wide referendum… A month later, the state legislature passed a replacement law that made minor adjustments and one major one: an appropriation banning a referendum on the new law. That was 2012. By 2013, six Michigan cities—and almost half of the state’s African-American population—were under emergency management. In many of these cities, public services were pared down to the minimum. Pontiac’s emergency manager whittled the city’s employees to around 10% of their previous number.” (Here is what happened in Pontiac.)
State emergency managers can override not only elected city councils but also be imposed on public school districts where they can overrule the elected local school board. In Detroit, where the schools have been operated by an emergency fiscal manager for some years, neither have the bills been paid, nor have required contributions been made to the state teachers’ pension fund, nor have the school buildings been maintained, nor has class size been controlled. Even the finances—the specific thing emergency fiscal managers are supposed to take care of—have been mismanaged. Short-term borrowing has been regularly turned into long-term obligations that now total $3.5 billion.
Emergency managers in Michigan are limited to terms of 18 months under the 2012 law, which might curtail the damage any one of them could possibly impose, but Governor Rick Snyder has found a way to skirt that provision of the law. After an emergency manager has served for 17 months and twenty-nine days, that manager resigns and another is appointed. Snyder has continued to shuffle around the same people. Darnell Earley, the emergency manager responsible for the lead poisoning of Flint’s water, is currently serving as the emergency manager of the Detroit Public Schools.
Here is a review from yesterday’s NY Times of what happened in Flint: “From 2011 to 2015, Flint was in state receivership…. Flint, led at the time by an emergency manager who was appointed by the state to help solve the city’s fiscal woes, switched water supplies in April 2014—in part to save money, which… amounted to $1 million to $2 million a year.” State agencies repeatedly lied about the poisoning of Flint’s water, but local leaders lacked the power to expose the statewide cover-up, and the children continued to drink contaminated water. The ultimate result has neither saved Flint nor the state of Michigan any money. The Washington Post’s Phillips reports: “In October, the state paid $12 million to switch Flint back to Detroit’s water system.” Unfortunately the failure over a period of many months to add anti-corrosives to the water leaves the system vulnerable to the continued leaching of lead into the water even after the switch back to Detroit’s system.
Austerity, not structural reform, has been the operating model for the emergency managers in Michigan’s poor cities and school districts. Fortune‘s Claire Groden explains: “Critics of the emergency manager law have long protested that the appointees cut services to realize short-term savings, with little eye to the long-term structural problems the cities face. ‘ The assertion is that these are cities that are running deficits because the elected governments are not capable of keeping spending under control. The problem from my perspecteive is that these really are structural deficits… it’s almost impossible for anyone to solve these problems,’ says Peter Hammer, a law professor at Wayne State University…. Structural problems like the fact that 40% of Flint’s residents live in poverty—presenting an impossible tax base for the city to draw upon—go unanswered.”
Yesterday, Julie Bosman reported for the NY Times on the impact of years’ of emergency management of Detroit’s schools, where the teachers have been staging rolling sick-outs to try to bring attention to the conditions in the buildings where they work: “Detroit’s public schools are a daily shock to the senses, run down after years of neglect and mismanagement, while failing academically and teetering on the edge of financial collapse. On Wednesday, teachers again protested the conditions, calling in sick en masse and forcing a shutdown of most of the city’s almost 100 schools… Things have become so bad, district officials say, that the Detroit public school system could be insolvent by April.”
The stories of Michigan’s poorest cities and school districts demonstrate our society’s willingness to impose austerity instead of addressing our collective failure through federal and state government to provide financial support when local communities and school districts, segregated by race and poverty, utterly lack the capacity to fund essential services. We are further willing to disenfranchise and disempower the citizens of these cities and school districts by destroying the democratic institutions designed to protect their votes and their voices.
Will Michigan find a way to restore democracy for its poorest citizens?
In a commentary published on Monday in the Detroit Free Press,Kary Moss, executive director of ACLU of Michigan, presses for the repeal of Michigan’s law that grants the governor power to impose appointed overseers on Michigan’s poorest cities and school districts: “Little has been said… about… a law that gives a political appointee unfettered power to make decisions that will affect a community, without democratic accountability. This lack of checks and balances on government is a civil rights issue. The law does not require that an emergency manager have any expertise outside the financial arena and, to that end, allowed him (in Flint) to elevate the financial bottom line above all else. It enabled a revolving door of emergency managers in Flint with no ties to that community and yet unfettered power to make decisions that affect them.”
CreditBrittany Greeson for The New York Times
As every major decision was made over more than a year, officials at all levels of government acted in ways that contributed to the public health emergency in Flint, Mich.
Already this month, federal and state investigations have been announced, National Guard troops were distributing thousands of bottles of water and filters, and Mr. Snyder was calling for millions in state dollars to fix a situation he acknowledged was a “catastrophe.”
Yet interviews, documents and emails show that as every major decision was made over more than a year, officials at all levels of government acted in ways that contributed to the public health emergency and allowed it to persist for months. The government continued on its harmful course even after lead levels were found to be rising, and after pointed, detailed warnings came from a federal water expert, a Virginia Tech researcher and others.
For more than a year after an emergency manager — appointed by Mr. Snyder to oversee the city — approved a switch from the Detroit system to water from the Flint River to save money, workers assigned to manage the city’s water system failed to lower lead risks with a simple solution: adding chemicals to prevent old pipes from corroding and leaching metals like lead. Disagreements and miscommunication between state and local officials about what federal law requires of so-called corrosion control measures further delayed fixing the problem, the documents show.
See more of the story at this source: When the Water Turned Brown – The New York Times
We know from Rex Tillerson of Exxon-Mobile and Jamie Meristotis of the Lumina Foundation that those at the top of the economic food chain view our children as products to be used by corporations to boost their bottom line.
(Sometimes they find those products to be defective, and that’s frustrating for them.)
We also know that there is big, huge, major money to be made in the student loan industry, and that if we could just get every kid to take to take out a loan, well then…
So what happens when you combine the agendas of the widget-makers with that of the student loan predators?
You get videos like this, which encourage students not to go to college – because that doesn’t always pay off and who needs all that literature and philosophy and history stuff anyway – but instead to get some type of secondary credential that better aligns with the “needs” of the workforce, which is apparently in peril because everything is so darn misaligned right now.
Check out the propaganda below that was shown to parents in the Westmoreland School District in Pennsylvania:
Then go take out a loan for your very first digital badge:
If you follow me on Facebook you probably already know this, but I’ve been on a quest to lose some weight. A lot of weight. Since August, after I watched a PBS special – it was pledge week actually – about something called The Wheat Belly Diet, I’ve increasingly eating a regimen of less and less grains and refined or process sugars.
The plan, devised by a Wisconsin cardiologist, Dr. William Davis, was originally something he recommended for his heart patients who for the most part were 1) type 2 diabetic or pre-diabetic, 2) insulin resistant, 3) had fatty livers and fat bellies, 4) had lots of weight to lose, and 5) were suffering from disrupted bowel flora that can limit recovering from prior grain consumption.
The long and short of it is this – he determined that eating fat does not make you fat but what does is sugar consumption. Not just refined or processed sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, but it turns out sugars and carbohydrates raised blood glucose levels and caused repeated and lengthy insulin spikes and levels and the body’s reaction to the stress causes the body to store not remove fat.
Oddly enough one food group beyond those containing refined and/or processed sugars, which increased glucose levels and triggered insulin spiking were grains. The worst were whole grains. Wheat in particular, although all grains – corn, oats, and so on – and they did so beyond simple processed foods like candy bars and jelly beans to name two. And the spikes last longer with grains than any other foods.
So, I bought his book and began eliminating grains and refined and process sugars. I became a real label reader too. That was August, as I said above, and when I weighed in at 279.9 pounds. Fast forward and here we are almost the end of January and just above 237 pounds. In November, the first actually, day before my 67th birthday, I accepted a Facebook challenge from a cousin of mine to join a group that was vowing to walk every day in November – rain or shine – snow or cloudy – at whatever pace and over whatever distance.
That was November 1 and today as I write this it is January 23 and I haven’t missed a day. Sometimes inside – on our treadmill – or inside one of our schools – or at a mall – 84 consecutive days! Now no question that has helped with weight loss – but the primary agent of change is my diet. By controlling my blood glucose levels and thus my insulin levels my body is no longer storing fat but eliminating it.
And all that has meant I have altogether too much slack in my slacks. It was time for some new pants because let’s just say my old stretched-out stretch waistband 44/46s were beginning to look like something either Bozo the Clown or MC Hammer could wear and my wife Penny was kind enough to pick out 2 pair from JC Penney online and which she then picked up at one of their stores in Grand Rapids. That was a few weeks ago and the 40/42s slacks are now pretty “slack” too. In fact, this week I ordered two pair of 38/40s.
Finally, speaking of JC Penney, I think you might enjoy this brief bio of the company’s new CEO.
J.C. Penney president and CEO-designee Marvin Ellison is shown at the J.C. Penney store at Stonebriar Centre in Frisco. He came to Penney from Home Depot, where he was executive vice president over its 2,000 U.S. stores.
Marvin Ellison’s story is classic J.C. Penney
It took Marvin Ellison, 50, who is the fourth of seven children and was raised in a small town northeast of Memphis, over six years to get his business degree from the University of Memphis. Ellison worked his way through school on the graveyard shift at a convenience store, as a janitor at a women’s department store and driving a plumbing supplies truck. Ellison’s journey reminded me of how long my own was – 13 years from high school graduation in June 1967 to the day I walked across the stage at the MSU’s Jenison Field House in June 1980. Here’s the link http://www.dallasnews.com/business/retail/20150622-marvin-ellisons-story-is-classic-j.c.-penney.ece
The slightly-cranky voice navigating the world of educational “reform” while trying to still pursue the mission of providing quality education.
Blog Source: CURMUDGUCATION
|The Non-White Teacher Problem
Posted: 23 Jan 2016 08:18 AM PST
And here comes yet an other piece of research to add to the stack.
looked for new information to explain the underrepresentation of students of color in gifted programs. It’s complicated problem, but the researchers came up with one answer– white teachers are far less likely than teachers of color to identify students of color as gifted. (Consider this the second cousin of the finding that police view young Black men as older and less innocent than whites).
And yet, the trend in education has worked the other way
since the days of Brown vs. Board of Education. At a moment when the student population in the US is less than 50% white
, the teacher pool is overwhelmingly white and female.
In some cases, Black educators have been… (follow the link to read the rest of this post)
A grumpy old teacher trying to keep up the good classroom fight in the new age of reformy stuff.
|The GOP, Trump and the Bear: A Parable
Posted: 22 Jan 2016 10:57 AM PST
Once upon a time, a large hunting parties came to live in two gigantic, beautiful lodges high on a mountainside– the red and the blue.
As promised, Governor Rick Snyder released a huge batch of emails “in the spirit of transparency and accountability” late this afternoon.
Included are emails to and from Snyder, related to Flint, from 2014 and 2015.
No emails from 2013, when the option to switch to the Flint River for a two-year period was first floated, were included.
While there is plenty of information to soak in, there were no obvious bombshells.
Emails show a press release from the city of Flint was forwarded to Snyder in April 2014, when the switch to the Flint River occurred.
The next correspondence about the water is in October 2014.
Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality sends the governor’s office a four-page “briefing paper” on Flint’s “drinking water situation.” It discusses the string of boil water advisories, the city’s lack of investment in water infrastructure, and a significant number of water main breaks.
The next correspondence is from January 2015.
Read the rest of the story here: Flint e-mails: 274 pages… 7 replies from Gov. Snyder | Michigan Radio
The slightly-cranky voice navigating the world of educational “reform” while trying to still pursue the mission of providing quality education.
- Free College, Charter Schools, and Irony
- CA: One More Charter Get Rich Quick Scheme
- Drowning Bunnies To Raise Graduation Rates
- Jebucation Follies (Part II: The Nuts, Bolts and Screws)
- Jebucation Follies (Part I: The Conservative Conundrum)
|Free College, Charter Schools, and Irony
Posted: 21 Jan 2016 11:07 AM PST
Yesterday’s New York Times included a Room for Debate argument over free college
, plugging into one of the few education related issues that (some) of the Presidential candidates have been (sort of) willing to (kind of) talk about. The debate unleashed a hurricane of irony from the commenters on the “anti” side.
Here’s Andrew P. Kelly from the American Enterprise Institute arguing that “The Problem Is That Free College Isn’t Free.
” Kelly argues that free college is a “flawed policy,” because rather than being free “it simply shifts costs from students to taxpayers.” If “public generosity” doesn’t keep pace, then colleges won’t be able to keep pace with the level of students, and they’ll have to make cuts to meet their budgets.
Second, Kelly argues, ” free college plans assume that tuition prices are the main obstacle to student success,” and ignores other obstacles to student college success, like students who aren’t fully prepared or who lack the personal resources to fully follow through.
Weighing in against free college is also our old buddy Mike Petrilli from the Fordham Institute, arguing that this would be “A Needless Windfall for Affluent Voters and State Institutions.
Petrilli goes on to toss out some more of the standard old data points about college preparedness, including the NAEP claim that only 40% of 12th graders are prepared for college (a bogus piece of data that presumes that NAEP knows what “college-ready” means, even though previous research finds half the students they labeled unready
going on to get college degrees). He also helpfully suggests that college not admit students “who are clearly unprepared academically and therefor have virtually no shot at leaving with a real degree or credentials.”
On the one hand, this is a logical extension of Petrilli’s thesis that some Strivers deserve an education
and Those Other Students should be left behind in struggling public schools. Petrilli has long argued that education should be about separating Strivers from Those People, going so far as todefend Eva Moskowitz’s push-out policies.
So it makes sense that he would argue that only certain people deserve to be in college. Some day someone needs to explain exactly what society should do with all those undeserving non-strivers. But there’s no irony in this part of Petrilli’s argument.
On the other hand, the rest of the anti-free-college argument seems vaguely like…hmm.. the argument against charter schools.
The promise of the charter movement has been that we can open free private schools for an added cost of $0.00 over what we’re currently spending. The pushback has been that no, charter schools are not free and to exist they must drain resources from other places, including the existing public school system, so that the cost of sending K-12 students to a private school is sloughed off on the taxpayers. (The addition of pricey administrative costs alone guarantees that charters add to the overall cost o
f K-12 education.)
Kelly’s critique– that free school assumes that getting the students into those schools is all that’s needed for success– exactly mirrors the assertion of charter fans that all we need to do is drop the barriers that keep K-12 students from entering charter schools in order for success to blossom. He says that their are other obstacles to their success that must be addressed before students can succeed; when pro-public school folks say that about charters, they are accused of making excuses and blaming poverty.
Meanwhile, as far as Petrilli’s lead goes–