Standing Rock Is the Civil Rights Issue of Our time – Let’s Act Accordingly

Standing Rock Is the Civil Rights Issue of Our time – Let’s Act Accordingly

By Bill McKibben, Guardian UK, 29 November 2016

The US government sent helpers to protect integration efforts in the 1960s. Why not do more to protect the Dakota Pipeline protesters today?

McKibben writes:

When John Doar died in 2014, Barack Obama, who’d already awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, called him ‘one of America’s bravest lawyers.’ Without his courage and perseverance, the president said, ‘Michelle and I might not be where we are today.’

Read the full essay here: FOCUS: Standing Rock Is the Civil Rights Issue of Our time – Let’s Act Accordingly


Research review by Journalist’s Resource:”Do environmental regulations really hurt jobs?”

Environmental regulations can hurt, but also create jobs, our newest research review finds. It depends on the health of the economy and the type of industry.

Source: Do environmental regulations really hurt jobs? Research review – Journalist’s Resource Journalist’s Resource


(David Trilling)

One of the most persistent arguments against efforts to stop man-made global warming is that environmental regulations — mandates to reduce carbon emissions or require polluters to pay, for example — put people out of work. Proponents of such laws argue that they can create jobs by encouraging technological innovations. Critics say they burden business.

Barack Obama has hoped his legacy will include strong mechanisms to limit global warming. But President-elect Donald Trump — who has called climate change a “hoax” — has promised to undo much of Obama’s effort and gut the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. government body founded in 1970 to “protect human health and the environment.” Trump’s promises hew to traditional Republican doctrine.

Despite the rhetoric, economists have not found clear evidence of the net effect of environmental regulations on employment. The impact often depends on the type of industry and the health of the economy. But there is little indication that environmental regulations substantially impact overall employment figures.

When an economy is strong and unemployment low, workers displaced by a regulation — one that would shutter a coal-fired power plant, let’s say — will soon find work elsewhere, according to a 2015 study in the Journal of Benefit Cost Analysis. The trouble is, these jobs may be in a different location — at a solar-powered plant in another state, perhaps — requiring a costly move. Put another way, “environmental regulation reallocates labor demand,” argues a 2015 paper in the Review of Environmental Economics and Policy.

Costs: A 2013 paper in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management describes how pollution-abatement regulations appear to affect larger businesses more than smaller ones. The increased costs required to comply with such regulations rise along with the size of a firm; firms with more than 1,000 employees spent between $1.92 and $5.49 more per $1,000 of output on pollution-abatement efforts than firms with between 1 and 49 employees.

Eco-friendly policies could help companies save money on energy and materials, thus becoming more efficient, argues a 2016 paper published by the University of Bonn’s Institute for the Study of Labor. That efficiency can help competitiveness or even offer a firm a first-mover advantage, both of which would lead the firm to hire more workers. But higher costs can also have a negative net effect on employment by reducing demand for the firm’s goods and thus demand for their labor.

Taxes vs. standards: A 2016 paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research examines the impact of potential environmental regulations on unemployment by comparing the effect on firms of a pollution tax (a fee a firm pays for polluting) with a performance standard (a restriction on the amount of emissions per unit of output). The tax would substantially reduce employment in the polluting sector, the paper argues, while employment would increase in sectors not impacted by the tax. The net job impact is small, even in the short-term.

But a performance standard may have less of an effect on employment: “The price increase for polluting goods is much smaller under a performance standard than under an equivalent emissions tax, and thus the substitution in consumption and corresponding shift in employment is correspondingly smaller.” The authors suggest that if policymakers wish to reduce employment sector shifts, legislating a performance standard is more helpful than a tax.

Health benefits and the greater good: An award-winning 2013 paper by Berkeley economist W. Reed Walker points to “increasing evidence that benefits from environmental policy far exceed the costs.”

After amendments to the Clean Air Act in 1990, the average worker in a newly regulated plant lost 20 percent of his or her income during relocation and retraining over the next few years, equivalent to about $5.4 billion in foregone earnings. But that cost is dwarfed by the national health benefits the EPA estimates the regulation encouraged over 20 years — valued between $160 billion and $1.6 trillion. “In light of these benefits, the earnings losses borne by workers in newly regulated industries are relatively small,” Walker writes.

Walker is a co-author of a forthcoming paper (draft here) in the Journal of Political Economy that calculates how lower pollution at birth is correlated with higher salaries later in life: “We show that the approximate 10 percent reduction in TSP [total suspended particulates] that resulted from [the 1970 Clean Air Act] is associated with a 1 percent increase in age-30 earnings.”

Wage disparities: European Union-funded research observes that in the U.S., so-called “green” jobs pay roughly 4 percent more and tend to be concentrated in areas with high-tech firms. These jobs are driven less by regulation and more by local green activism and federally funded research labs — in short, these often are in highly educated areas with universities.

A 2015 working paper from the University of Calgary observes that a comprehensive carbon tax on all polluters in British Columbia increased employment by 2 percent a year between 2008 and 2014: “The most carbon-intensive and trade-sensitive industries see employment fall with the tax while clean service industries see employment rise.” But the growth in labor supply may have depressed wages.

Designing compassionate policy: New environmental policies can be designed to minimize harm. Though most policies will result in no net change to employment, policies that could result in large job losses in regions with high unemployment (especially at times of high nationwide unemployment) could be offset by targeted assistance and job-creation programs such as targeted tax credits, argues a 2015 paper in the Review of Environmental Economics and Policy. The paper holds that the social costs (like unemployment) are still outweighed by the net benefits (like healthier children) of scrapping dirty energy in favor of green alternatives.

Attitudes: Labor union members are more likely than the population at large “to display pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors,” a 2016 study in the Labor Studies Journal finds. Different unions, though, have often come out on different sides of arguments about regulatory change, such as the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

Other resources:

  • The EPA has a vast database of numbers relating to the implementation of environmental policies. Employment data published by the U.S. government is available from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • The EPA also publishes a list of environmental regulations and executive orders.
  • Examples of complaints about regulations some members of Congress have raised can be viewed here, here and here.
  • Journalist’s Resource has profiled research on how environmental regulations can impact manufacturing.


“Are Union Members More or Less Likely to Be Environmentalists? Some Evidence from Two National Surveys”
Vachon, Todd E.; Brecher, Jeremy. Labor Studies Journal, 2016. doi: 10.1177/0160449X16643323.

“Do Environmental Regulations Disproportionately Affect Small Businesses? Evidence from the Pollution Abatement Costs and Expenditures Survey”
Becker, Randy A.; Paskura, Carl Jr.; Shadbegian, Ronald J. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 2013. doi: 10.1016/j.jeem.2013.08.001.

“Estimating the Job Impacts of Environmental Regulation”
Belova, Anna; et al. Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, 2015. doi: 10.1017/bca.2015.14.

“Impacts of Regulation on Eco-innovation and Job Creation”
Horbach, Jens. IZA World of Labor, 2016. doi: 10.15185/izawol.265.

“The Effect of Endangered Species Regulations on Local Employment: Evidence from the Listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken”
Melstrom, Richard T.; Leez, Kangil; Byl, Jacob P. University of Minnesota working paper. 2016.

“Measures, Drivers and Effects of Green Employment: Evidence from U.S. Local Labor Markets, 2006‐2014”
Vona, F.; Marin, G.; Consoli, D. French Economic Observatory working paper, 2016. doi: 10.2139/ssrn.2815393.

“The Social Value of Job Loss and Its Effect on the Costs of U.S. Environmental Regulations”
Bartik, Timothy J. Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, 2015. doi: 10.1093/reep/rev002.

“The Transitional Costs of Sectoral Reallocation: Evidence from the Clean Air Act and the Workforce”
Walker, W. Reed. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2013. doi:10.1093/qje/qjt022.

“Every Breath You Take – Every Dollar You’ll Make: The Long-Term Consequences of the Clean Air Act of 1970”
Isen, Adam; Rossin-Slater, Maya; Walker, W. Reed. Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming.

“Unemployment and Environmental Regulation in General Equilibrium”
Hafstead, Marc A. C.; Williams, Roberton C. III. National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, 2016.

“What Shapes the Impact of Environmental Regulation on Competitiveness? Evidence from Executive Opinion Surveys”
Peuckert, Jan. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 2013. doi: 10.1016/j.eist.2013.09.009.

“Jobs and Climate Policy: Evidence from British Columbia’s Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax”
Yamazaki, Akio. University of Calgary working paper, 2015.


Keywords: job cuts, environment, utilitarianism, environmental policy, manufacturing, factory jobs 


Writer: | Last updated: November 21, 2016

Sunday mishmosh.

Fred Klonsky

oceti-sakowin-campToday we were notified by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that on Dec. 5th, they will close all lands north of the Cannonball River, which is where Oceti Sakowin camp is located. The letter states that the lands will be closed to public access for safety concerns, and that they will allow for a “free speech zone” south of the Cannonball River on Army Corps lands.

Our Tribe is deeply disappointed in this decision by the United States, but our resolve to protect our water is stronger than ever. We ask that all everyone who can appeal to President Obama and the Army Corps of Engineers to consider the future of our people and rescind all permits and deny the easement to cross the Missouri River just north of our Reservation and straight through our treaty lands. When Dakota Access Pipeline chose this route, they did not consider our…

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How’s Trump Going To Pay Back All Those Gun Votes? He Won’t.

Every four years the GOP trots out something from their ‘family values’ arsenal – abortion, school prayer, traditional marriage – to help define their electoral message and in 2016 they trotted out guns.  Not that these stalwart defenders of a pretended status quo ever really reward their supporters with anything beyond attempts to cut taxes for themselves and you would think that after thirty-five years of getting nothing that those legions of fervent followers would finally begin to realize that top-down, right-wing populism is nothing but a big, fat con.

           And in the aftermath of this election the biggest, single con job of all is the one which Trump sold at every, single campaign stop that he made, namely, the idea that he’s going to change the landscape when it comes to how America owns and uses guns.  I watched at least a dozen of his campaign rallies, and…

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Why is the GRPS Superintendent praising Betsy DeVos as Trump’s choice for Education Secretary?

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Last Wednesday, in an article that appeared on MLive about Trump’s choice for Education Secretary, Teresa Weatherall Neal, superintendent of Grand Rapids Public School district, endorsed and even praised Betsy DeVos as Trump’s choice for Education Secretary. Here is part of what that MLive article stated:screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-12-09-45-am

Neal says she has worked closely with DeVos since she began her job five years ago. The relationship started with DeVos asking for a meeting.

“She wanted to know what I was going to do, what was my plan for the children in the district,” said Neal. “I appreciated her asking the question. She was part of the transformation that we have done in the district.”

When Neal said she needed the expertise of a superintendent coach, DeVos picked up the tab, and she continues to send notes of encouragement.

The DeVos clan, especially Amway President Doug DeVos and his wife, Maria, have channeled…

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CURMUDGUCATION: FL: Testing Students Into Oblivion

CURMUDGUCATIONThe slightly-cranky voice navigating the world of educational “reform” while trying to still pursue the mission of providing quality education.

Source: CURMUDGUCATION: FL: Testing Students Into Oblivion


FL: Testing Students Into Oblivion

Friday the Tampa Bay Times reported on a great new program being pursued by Pinellas County schools to raise school ratings. The program could best be described as “Just stop having school and devote your time to test prep instead.”

The article focuses on differences that are emerging between biweekly test results for 3-6 grade students and K-2 students. In doing so the article completely breezes past the fact that these schools are giving biweekly tests to K-2 students.

There is so much educational malpractice jammed into this whole stupid package.

The biweekly testing is being done in Pinellas “transformation zone” schools, aka “schools with lousy ratings” aka “poor schools.” Pinellas County (that’s St. Petersburg etc) schools have seen a transformation common in Florida, with shrinking enrollment and huge piles of money being funneled into mismanaged charter scams. But the story in Pinellas County is even worse than that, because the Pinellas County school board purposefully manufactured these failing schools. Let’s pause for a history lesson.

You can read the full story here, or my shorter versionhere. But let me lay out the short ugly version. But if you remember the story of “failure factories” in Florida from a year or so ago– well, that’s where we are.

So the district created transformation zones in which they promised to focus on these poor schools and get them what they should have had (and used to have) all along. Last spring Pinellas County was looking for “transformational leaders” to run their elementary and middle schools. So what do transformational schools get?

They get Antonio Burt, a roving ronin of school transformation with experience within Tennessee’s “innovation zone.” What else do they get?

They get testing every other week for their littles. Every other week. What possible justification is there for biweekly testing? Well, according to the Tampa Bay Times:

The tests, which are new this year and are only being given in those schools, are being used to help teachers identify how well they have taught the state standards and to catch students’ weak areas earlier in the year. 

Oh, bullshit. This is training. This is the rankest kind of test prep. This is making the students well-rehearsed little test-taking machines. It is throwing up your hands and admitting that the Big Standardized Tests are not legitimate measures of anything except test-taking prowess, and while I applaud the recognition of reality, this is terrible education malpractice.

First, a generation of students is being taught that you go to school to take a test, and that’s all education is. This is the worst kind of lie, a selfish inexcusable lie told to our most vulnerable children.

Second, just what has been cut out of the curriculum to make room for all this testing? If each administration of the test only ate only one day, that would still be eighteen days of school given over to testing, which is a almost four weeks, a month. A month of actual instruction lost to these students.

Third, these are the students who are going to be least helped by an education that is all about doing well on a Big Standardized Test. The deck is already stacked against them, and being well-versed in the taking of standardized tests is not going to help them.

This kind of baloney is most damaging to the small children, but it’s bad news for all the students in Pinellas County.

Other misguided “transformational” ideas are hinted at in the article.

Antonio Burt, who is leading the Pinellas transformation effort, said teachers are not waiting to expose students to advanced concepts. For example, a standard usually scheduled to be taught in February — one that could count as much as 40 percent on the Florida Standards Assessment — now is introduced to students in August, giving them more time to practice.

SMH. First of all, this is the very definition of test-centered curriculum, which is an absolutely indefensible practice. Second of all, how does this even work– students, I know we haven’t laid the groundwork for any of this, and it involves concepts you haven’t been taught yet, but we’re just going to skip to chapter twenty-three on the text-book. I mean, I guess this is genius– we can just “introduce” the quadratic formula to Kindergartners because if we introduce it sooner, they’ll do better on the test, right?

Transformational schools are all about the test. Here’s one super-swell motivational piece–

At Sandy Lane Elementary, principal Tzeporaw Sahadeo adds some encouragement for the children. She created the 80 Percent Club to recognize students who scored at least an 80 percent on their biweekly tests. 

Those students get to cut the lunch line for the week and are given 80 “shark shillings” — enough for a bag of coveted Takis spicy chips from the school store. Incentives also are given for children who barely miss the mark and earn 70 percent.

Yes, the school ties when you get to eat to your test score. That’s not just a bizarre example of an extrinsic motivator, which we’ve long known is not a healthy sort of motivation to saddle a kid with. It also means that every day at lunch, students are lined up publicly in the cafeteria according to test results. If you thought a data wall was bad, how do you feel about a data lunch line?

The hook for this article is the mystery of decreasing test scores. The littles do well on the tests, but older kids do not, particularly on the literacy test. What could explain it? The article considers two explanations. One is that the standards get harder and more complex. And Burt suggests that there are “pockets of teachers” who “need reinforcement on what the standards are.” I would suggest some other theories. One is that the standards are bunk. Another is that standardized literacy tests don’t really test literacy. Yet another would be that the older students get, the less inclined they are to jump compliantly through hoops that they see as useless and pointless and part of an educational system that is not offering to give anything to them, but instead only wants to get them to produce scores for the school’s benefit.

Test-centered education is ultimately always backwards. The school is not there to serve the students by providing them with an education. Instead, the students are there to serve the school by generating the numbers the school wants to get.

It is possible to have some understanding for Pinellas school leaders, who are staring down the barrel of Florida’s immensely stupid, damaging, and unhelpful test-based school grade system. Throughout Florida, many schools face that one basic choice– do they actually work at providing students with a real education, or do they make their school test centered in an effort to avoid punishment for low scores? In a state that is determined to break down its public schools, the better to drive parents and students into the arms of the charter industry, that’s not a small or easy dilemma for public schools to face.

But Pinellas County has chosen poorly (and the Tampa bay Times has, on this occasion, reported lazily by not asking for evidence that any of these practices actually work). Test-centered education isn’t good for anybody except the businesses selling test materials. Pinellas County has lost its way, but it’s the students who are getting abandoned in the wilderness.


CURMUDGUCATIONThe slightly-cranky voice navigating the world of educational “reform” while trying to still pursue the mission of providing quality education.


Slowing Down

For the past several years, I have sometimes felt like Indiana Jones just a few feet in front of the damn giant boulder.

This is not entirely the result of various education reforms. We’ve been through some changes locally, including but limited to some schedule changing that has resulted in slightly shorter periods, and some changes in staffing that have led to slightly larger classes.

But of course like many other schools, we are being trickled down upon by the dripping ooze of school reform. We have lots of additional paper– well, computer work that is meant to show how we’re aligning our instruction to the standards (spoiler alert– mostly by completing computerized paperwork). We spend time worrying about the numbers and part of my week is now set aside for sitting and fretting over various slabs of data. And when you add up all the days I lose to testing, or pre-testing, or practice testing, it all adds up to days and weeks of school during which I don’t get to actually teach.

Meanwhile, the mountain of material that I feel I should be getting through looks more and more like, well, like two mountains, piled on top of each other and sitting on top of a third mountain that has been smushed into the ground so far that I’ll have to dig it all out before I can deal with it. And so there is a voice yammering away in my ear, strained and urgent, reminding me that I only have X days left and if I don’t hammer through this stuff today, and quickly, I’ll never get to the other material which I really need to get to because these students are less than two years away from going out into a world that will demand every possible skill set from them and oh my good lord in heaven how am I ever going to get anything done if they want to talk about stuff and holy crap the boulder is right on my heels—–

It has become almost routine for me. Maybe it happens when I’m home unwinding with family and vacation, or maybe it happens when I suddenly see what I’m doing and realize I am losing the thread. But either way, I catch myself, I stop, I slow down. I breathe.

Today I used an exercise that I absolutely do not recommend for anyone. I started my forty minute classes with twenty minutes of material.

My solution is not the obvious one; I’m not allowed (by me) to fill up a class period with “study hall.” The taxpayers pay me perfectly good money to work with students. So I have to find those other twenty minutes in the moment, in my students’ concerns, in whatever jumps up and demands attention. I do stack the deck in my favor– I don’t try this on a day where, for instance, the lesson is about participial phrases. Today I wanted to talk to my students about what skills they think they’ll need for adulting that they think the school hasn’t, or may never, provide. And because I don’t have enough “teaching” to fill the period, I have to shut up and let discussion flow. Maybe I listen. Maybe I prime the pump. Maybe I’ll tell a personal story (my pedagogical justification being that modeling vulnerability in a safe place is important, as is their seeing that I’m a human). I can’t plan this, not for every single second. I have to slow down and listen and watch and be there.

I confess that I used to work like this more often, and I’m not proud of doing it less. If I’m not careful, instead of a safe place where everyone can be heard and relationships are built, my classroom can become a racquetball court with one of those tennis ball cannons sitting in a corner firing off a ball every ten seconds. But we change in our practice– when I began teaching, I had to put all my effort into creating energy, pushing it out, pumping it out, being, as my co-op said, punchy-quick. I was a quieter, more guarded person then. Now, in a classroom, I have to be sure to breathe, to lay back, to listen.

It’s important to remember that while we are there to do the work, our conception of the work has to include the students as actors, as co-conspirators, as participants with agency. One of the most corrosive aspects of the modern reform movement is the conception of education as something that is done to students, who are supposed to sit there passively while we perform our magic tricks and pull numbers out of them like so many standardized rabbits out of identical hats. We can not, must not reach the point where we are so focused on getting away from that giant boulder that we trample right over the students in front of us.

The students are more important than the numbers. They are more important than the test results, more important than the lesson plans, more important even than the personal goals we set to “cover” exactly This Much material by the end of our days with them. The students are not there to serve us; we are there to serve them. Sometimes you just have to take a moment to get the thread back. Slow down.The boulder is just a fake, a movie prop, and you are tougher than it is.

Passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – $8 Million from the Gates Foundation and the Myth of Local Control

Passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – $8 Million from the Gates Foundation and the Myth of Local Control
by seattleducation2010
Remember when a return to local control was the biggest selling point for the passage of The Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA)? States would be allowed to set their own education policies. Principals, teachers, and parents could escape the long shadow of the “broken” No Child Left Behind. I’ll let Randi Weingarten, President of the American […]

Read more of this post:

Seattle Education


Remember when a return to local control was the biggest selling point for the passage of The Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA)?

States would be allowed to set their own education policies. Principals, teachers, and parents could escape the long shadow of the “broken” No Child Left Behind.

I’ll let Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers take us back.

For years, educators, parents and members of our broader communities were the canaries in the coal mine, crying out that hypertesting was hurting students, demoralizing teachers and frustrating parents. We will continue to be vigilant as work shifts to the states to fix accountability systems and develop teacher evaluation systems that are fair and aimed at improving and supporting good instruction. This new bill promises the creation of better accountability and support systems, and our students, their parents and their educators deserve nothing less.

To be fair, Lily…

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Writer’s Weekend Resources – What You Need Right Now

Jamie Lee Wallace writes: “Back before blogging evolved into “content marketing,” it was just a bunch of people journaling for an audience. We weren’t trying to sell anything or build a platform or create a brand for ourselves. There was no strategy or editorial calendar. We were just writing. We were just sharing whatever was on our mind that day. It’s all much more sophisticated now, and there’s nothing wrong with that; but the freeform part of my brain revels in telling the Type-A part to relax a little and just enjoy the ride. I hope you will stick around and enjoy the ride, too, even when it takes an unexpected detour.

_jamie sig

A Few Blog Posts:
Continuing on the theme of blog posts about the importance of writing in challenging times, I have these posts to share. They provided me with comfort and inspiration, and I hope they do the same for you.”

Live to Write - Write to Live

Writing Missives in the Moment Writing Missives in the Moment

Though the Type-A part of my brain would very much like to be the kind of blogger who always has several posts “in the can,” so to speak, I’ve never managed to pull it off. Despite my good intentions, I’m always writing more or less in real time – putting my thoughts down and hitting “Publish” in a single sitting.

It’s not something I’m exactly proud of. In my perfect world, I’d be able to take more time and even (gasp!) do a second or third draft. As it is, my best case scenario is a week in which I was able to spend twenty minutes (usually while sitting ringside at my daughter’s riding lesson) to jot down rough notes or even a loose outline for my weekend edition in advance of sitting down to write.

For the past few weeks, that best case scenario hasn’t…

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