Archives for posts with tag: US

CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard is on record saying both that CTU leadership is deciding whether or not to strike, and that “everyone knows that a strike would only hurt our kids.”

I just wanted to educate my boss a little on the history of Chicago, as he is relatively new to the area. Chicago is founded on the hard daily struggle of working people. It is the birth of the labor movement—not a movement just for wages and benefits, but a movement that stopped child labor so that each of the kids in CPS schools could attend school instead of working. It was a movement that stopped the practice of working conditions so unsafe that consumers were eating the actual workers who fell into the mix while they were making hot dogs. It was a movement that fought so that workers could have some tiny measure of time with our families rather than spending all waking hours working for the enrichment of their bosses.

But even more importantly, I wanted to educate Mr. Brizard about what it means to “help or hurt our kids”.
When you make me cram 30-50 kids in my classroom with no air conditioning so that temperatures hit 96 degrees, that hurts our kids.

When you lock down our schools with metal detectors and arrest brothers for play fighting in the halls, that hurts our kids.

When you take 18-25 days out of the school year for high stakes testing that is not even scientifically applicable for many of our students, that hurts our kids.

When you spend millions on your pet programs, but there’s no money for school level repairs, so the roof leaks on my students at their desks when it rains, that hurts our kids.

When you unilaterally institute a longer school day, insult us by calling it a “full school day” and then provide no implementation support, throwing our schools into chaos, that hurts our kids.

When you support Mayor Emanuel’s TIF program in diverting hundreds of millions of dollars of school funds into to the pockets of wealthy developers like billionaire member of your school board, Penny Pritzker so she can build more hotels, that not only hurts kids, but somebody should be going to jail.

When you close and turnaround schools disrupting thousands of kids’ lives and educations and often plunging them into violence and have no data to support your practice, that hurts our kids.

When you leave thousands of kids in classrooms with no teacher for weeks and months on end due to central office bureaucracy trumping basic needs of students, that not only hurts our kids, it basically ruins the whole idea of why we have a district at all.

When you, rather than bargain on any of this stuff set up fake school centers staffed by positively motived Central Office staff, many of whom are terribly pissed to be pressed into veritable scabitude when they know you are wrong, and you equip them with a manual that tells them things like, “communicate with words”, that not only hurts our kids, but it suggests you have no idea how to run a system with their welfare in mind.

When you do enough of this, it makes me wonder if you really see our students as “our kids” or “other people’s children”.
And at that moment, I am willing to sacrifice an awful lot to protect the students I serve every day. I am not hurting our kids by striking, I’m striking to restore some semblance of reasonable care for students to this system. I’m doing to tell you, “No, YOU are the one hurting our children, and you need to STOP because what you are doing is wrong, and you are robbing students of their educational opportunities.

I ask anyone who does remotely care about the kids we teach and learn from and triumph and cheer and cry and grow with., to stand with us and fight for a better future for our kids.

See you on the picket line, my friend.

The mass homicide in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater this July had a predictable arc in the media voicebox. Fervently ricocheting, on TV and online, opinionators tried to one-up each other about What’s Really Wrong with, well, just about everything.

That the arguments settled on the matter of assault munitions being as easily purchasable as tennis balls is both inevitable and proper.

But other cultural factors are entangled with James Holmes’ pathologies, including, obviously, movies. The discussion about the shooting’s relationship with violent films and The Dark Knight Rises appeared immediately and was quickly vanquished. Critics, editors and columnists barked en masse—don’t blame the movie!—as if their very industries depended upon it. Which they do, to some degree. And, yes, the vast majority of ticket-buyers for The Dark Knight Rises did not, in fact, hurt anyone.

But so? Amid the dread of having a cause-and-effect line drawn between viewership and berserk action, one reality has been overlooked: Our mass entertainment culture has changed, and we have changed with it. In her new book In Broad Daylight: Movies and Spectators After the Cinema (Verso), Gabriele Pedullà, an Italian professor of literature, builds a cogent and alarming argument about how much change we’re talking about. Pedullà’s concern is with how we watch cinema, and the ways cinema was and is produced to accommodate that process.

In Portuguese, and a translation (a google one, sorry) of this important article on Syria war and Syria resistance

For whatsoever greater the wickedness of the media campaign, this cannot overshadow the truth of the ongoing war in Syria. A war instigated, architected, financed and conducted from abroad, exacerbating the expression of the class struggle internationally.

Without the criminal action of U.S.,powers aligned with NATO (which pontificates in the colonial revival trio Erdogan, Hollande and Cameron fighting for a greater role and higher profit), Israel and the Gulf petrodollar dictatorships, the current terrorist war in Syria would not be possible.

This is the crucial element that overrides the other. So it isn’t odd the cloak of silence of the media about the character, driving forces and regional and international context of this war. We would not assist the bloody escalation, or the framework of “civil war” in Syria without the fresh trail of imperialist wars in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. In Afghanistan the war drags on. More than 2000 soldiers from the United States lost their life only there. But after the inevitable withdrawal of the bulk of NATO military presence, announced in 2014, the U.S. intends to continue using flammable focus of Afghan instability as blackmail directed to the borders of neighbouring states, including the autonomous province of Xinjiang from China.


As we know Beijing is a major concern already assumed by the US. The sinister retroactive gear of Al-Qaeda terrorism  (a culture of greenhouses CIA in the 80s), the barbaric attacks with unmanned devices operated daily in the territory of Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, etc.  constitute an organic soup of not only military’s own projection of U.S. imperialism, as the forces that destroy Libya yesterday and today is dumped into the reckoning caught in Syria.

All in the name of freedom and democracy. Here we see the modus operandi of promoting religious extremism and network of swarming sects of radical Islam, the fostering of fratricide ethnic-confessional divisions, as already seen in the recent occupation of Iraq.

This is the scenario of fragmentation and destabilization sponsored envisaged in Washington for the region called the Greater Middle East, where important interests intersect to control the world economy and its geopolitical. A vision that is nonetheless symptomatic of imperialist megalomania in the limbo of the world capitalist crisis.

The war “without quarter” against Damascus, the obsession with overthrowing the ‘regime’ of Bashar al-Assad does not forget for a minute the legacy of decades of post-colonial Syria, Arab resistance bastion of anti-imperialist solidarity with the Palestine cause, despite the vicissitudes of a nonlinear route.

Trampling and bury the flag of patriotism and dignity of Arabs, violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, is a vital task for the attackers. The sovereignty of Iran emerges as an ‘obstacle’ background (and one should remember the CIA coup that overthrew Mossadegh in 1952). But the ramp propagation of “conflict” Syrian goes further, pointing also to the multinational Russia (see the recent terrorist attacks in the Caucasus and Tatarstan).

Notwithstanding, the incendiary mission led by the U.S. has no hands free. The Syrian patriotic resistance is an example of courage and dignity deserving of wider solidarity; and the summit of the Non-Aligned freshly held in Tehran, despite the contradictory elements it contained, is an important sign of hope for the people.

Low performance begins with American racism. Our society, Delpit writes, has a “deeply ingrained bias of equating blackness with inferiority,” and it “seems always ready to identify African Americans with almost all negative behaviors.” At tender ages, black students undergo a series of “microaggressions…small psychic insults” that debilitate them. Black males perform poorly because “our young men have internalized all of the negative stereotypes.” Sometimes black students are invisible, unnoticed, and disrespected, and sometimes they are “hypervisible,” their normal youth behaviors magnified into pathologies. They end up estranged from school culture (“disidentification”), mistrusting their own capacities and fulfilling belittling expectations.

Teachers misinterpret them again and again, Delpit alleges, mainly by disregarding the culture black students inhabit. This is the second cause of low achievement. The classroom is a white, middle-class space often hostile to African American norms. It downplays collaboration, she notes, even though these students need it to “feel more secure and less vulnerable.” It ignores past contributions to learning and science by African Americans. It neglects spirituality, whereas “traditional African education” incorporates “education for the spirit” into everyday lessons.

Delpit assembles classroom anecdotes, including her daughter’s experiences, with research on “stereotype threat” to prove the point. Voices of black students bespeak the demoralizing results, as with the middle schooler who announces, “Black people don’t multiply; black people just add and subtract. White people multiply.” On the other hand, Delpit provides counterexamples of success, for instance, Afrocentric assignments, inspiring teachers who love and sympathize but maintain rigor, and a beloved white teacher whom the students consider “black” for this reason: when asked “how he felt as a white man teaching black history…tears came to his eyes as he answered that when he learned about Emmett Till and other terrible things white people had done to black people, it sometimes made him ashamed to be white.”

Of course, tales and profiles and selective research don’t amount to proof, nor do they serve as grounds for policy revision. Delpit identifies a significant problem—the clash of school culture with African American out-of-school culture—but her racial lens casts it simply as one of respect and morale, not of effective education. She believes that the former produces the latter, for “African American students are gifted and brilliant,” and they would prosper if schools and teachers became sensitive to their culture.

But this translation of teacher sensitivity into student achievement is precisely what remains to be demonstrated. Delpit praises Afrocentric curricula, but her support focuses entirely on inputs and premises, not on outcomes. A unit that instills math by taking racial profiling as the subject wins her admiration, but her only evidence for its effectiveness comes from a student who professes, “now I realize that you could use math to defend your rights and realize the injustices around you.” But what about the math scores those students attain in 12th grade? What grades do they get in first-year college calculus? Delpit claims that schools impart the message that “you must give up identifiably African American norms in order to succeed,” but she never shows that embracing those norms produces higher college enrollment or workplace readiness.

If that evidence doesn’t exist, then Delpit’s argument isn’t with schools. It’s with U.S. history, society, culture, economics. Many pages in “Multiplication Is for White People” suggest that this is, indeed, the case, such as the indignant section on racist actions after Hurricane Katrina. If society at large is racist, though, then schools should receive more credit than Delpit allows. She asserts that “Typical university curricula leave out contributions of people of color to American culture, except in special courses in African American studies,” a flatly false claim. Syllabi in U.S. history, literature, music, and other areas at nearly every campus amply represent African American creators. Her complaint really is that schools haven’t sufficiently countered popular attitudes.

Delpit’s prescription that schools show more respect for African American culture, then, may have the effect of cultivating an adversarial posture among students. If American society is anti–African American, then a “culturally relevant curriculum” necessarily conflicts with it. If high schools offer an Afrocentric curriculum, will students find university offerings uncongenial and drift toward African American studies and away from STEM fields, where job prospects are brighter? Will a high school teacher ashamed of his whiteness alienate students from white college teachers and employers not so ashamed? Delpit notes that yelling is often assumed in African American culture to be a sign of caring, but won’t failing to inform students of the inappropriateness of yelling in public and in workplaces set them up for future tensions?

These are open questions, and this book doesn’t begin to consider them. We might easily dismiss it as an expression of resentment—the shadow of Jim Crow looms on every page—but we do better to take the starting point seriously: we have a culture clash in the classroom. Rather than expounding the pains and injustices and prescribing a “sensitivity” reform, however, let’s examine various schools and curricula on the standard accountability measure. Do they produce graduates who proceed to college and workplace and thrive?

a text to be read

Texas currently ranks fourth in the US in number of multi-millionaire residents, yet 24 per cent of Texan children live in poverty. In Dallas, home to some of the state’s most affluent families, it is estimated that 80 per cent of children in the Dallas Independent School District live in poverty.

We aren’t creating opportunities for these children when economic policy in the state creates jobs that are low-wage, part-time and devoid of benefits. These children will grow up reliant on government programmes because they don’t make enough money to meet their basic needs. The jobs that provide that are already disappearing.

Imagine what the Texas job market will look like when these children are adults. If we keep following Perry’s economic model and investing in companies that really don’t need government support, Texas will have plenty of jobs. The only problem is that none of them will be any good.

I have spent the last 10 years working with low-wage workers in Texas, most of who labour in the construction industry. These blue-collar jobs used to be thought of as good jobs; they would allow you to earn a decent wage, plan for retirement and support your family.

“Workers in many Latin American countries are guaranteed paid sick and vacation days, and maternity leave… In Texas, rest breaks are considered a benefit, not a right.”
But today, nearly half of full-time construction workers in the state’s capital live below the poverty line. More construction workers are killed on the job in Texas than in any other state. In the Lone Star State, a construction worker is killed on the job every 2.5 days.

Deregulation, a major component of Governor Perry’s economic vision for the Lone Star State, has made life easy on business but hard on families. Texas is the only state in the country that doesn’t require employers to carry workers’ compensation coverage to help those who are injured on the job.

Leaving taxpayers stuck to pick up the tab for employers who don’t have insurance and aren’t willing to pay for expensive hospital bills, and of course neither are the workers that most frequently make $10/hr.

Perry’s policies direct investment away from small businesses, which are the true engines of economic growth. This year Apple, Inc received a $21m incentive package from the Texas Enterprise Fund to build a million square feet campus in Austin. Large businesses do create jobs.

This image of Earth (on the left) and the moon (on the right) was taken by NASA’s Juno spacecraft on Aug. 26, 2011, when the spacecraft was about 6 million miles (9.66 million kilometers) away. It was taken by the spacecraft’s onboard camera, JunoCam. The solar-powered Juno spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Aug. 5 to begin a five-year journey to Jupiter. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured a wicked looking filament eruption on the Sun. NASA says the video shows the eruption of a long filament of solar material that was hovering in the sun’s atmosphere. The eruption was recorded on August 31, 2012. The coronal mass ejection (CEM) traveled at over 900 miles per second.

Here you’l find a link to an academic article that highlight other dimensions than test scores in assessment

Abstract Around the world we hear considerable talk about creating world-class schools. Usually the term refers to schools whose students get very high scores on the international comparisons of student achievement such as PISA or TIMSS. The practice of restricting the meaning of exemplary schools to the narrow criterion of achievement scores is usually premised on the view that test scores are closely linked to the provision of a capable labour force and competitive economy. In fact, the measured relationships between test scores and earnings or productivity are modest and explain a relatively small share of the larger link between educational attainment and economic outcomes. What has been omitted from such narrow assessments are the effects that education has on the development of interpersonal and intrapersonal skills and capabilities that affect the quality and productivity of the labour force. This article provides evidence on some of these relationships, on the degree to which the non-cognitive effects of schooling contribute to adult performance, and on the evidence that deliberate school interventions can influence non-cognitive outcomes. It concludes with the view that the quest for world-class schools must encompass a range of human development characteristics that extend considerably beyond test scores.

Book reviews

That the United States may soon have to ration health care resources, including mental health services, will almost certainly require its people and governments to take into account the needs of adult prisoners, civilly committed mental hospital patients, and a growing number of juvenile offenders committed to the care of the states. The questions of whether public resources are being used effectively in behalf of juvenile justice, and whether they can be used more efficiently, are of crucial importance at this time. Who Gets a Childhood? by historian William S. Bush illuminates the historic mistreatment and outrageous abuses of poor African American, Latino, and white youth in the training schools of twentieth-century Texas. Equally important, the book makes an argument in behalf of a constitutional “right to treatment” that would provide mental health rehabilitation services for juveniles committed to state custody. Bush thus makes a distinctive contribution to the history of racial discrimination and juvenile injustice in a multicultural southern state. Furthermore, his juvenile justice reform advocacy rekindles decades-old moral and political debates that implicate directly the currently strained budgets of numerous states and the federal government.

Writing in response to the 2007 sexual abuse scandal at the West Texas State School near the tiny town of Pyote, Bush tells the 120-year story of the Texas juvenile justice system that spawned this notoriously dysfunctional institution. Organized into seven chapters and an epilogue, Who Gets a Childhood? seeks to explain how Texas’s regime of juvenile justice reached its current position as one of the more controversial systems in the United States, while also advocating aggressive juvenile justice reform across the nation. Examining closely the experiences of African American, Mexican American, and Euro-American girls and boys in the Texas training schools, which racially segregated inmates into the 1960s, Bush unpacks the historic relationship between race, juvenile justice, and, importantly, competing understandings of childhood. In this account, the history of the Texas juvenile justice system, which began in 1889, is marked by a cyclical pattern of abuse and scandal–from humanitarian reforms in the 1910s, 1940s, and 1970s, to juvenile crime panics and “get-tough” “law and order” crackdowns in the 1950s and 1960s and from about 1985 to 2009. Public fears of “teenage terrorists” at the height of the Cold War and of “super-predators” in the Ronald Reagan era and early 1990s generated the growth of expensive and remote lockdown facilities, which failed to deter juvenile crime but unleashed unconscionable physical and psychological abuses on inmates. This was so notwithstanding the fact that, since the 1940s, experts had reached a consensus on the superior effectiveness of smaller, community-based, rehabilitative programs. Texas consistently failed to sustain its periodic reform efforts–a pattern Bush attributes most to a widespread willingness to view juvenile offenders as fully responsible adults. He also argues that the inadequacies of the Texas system have been a consequence of structural necessity; white racism; the ideological commitments of administrators; the resistance of juveniles placed in state custody; recalcitrant townspeople who staffed, ran, and protected the institutions; legislators who were generally hostile to expenditures for juvenile delinquents they deemed morally suspect’ and the transience and disorganization of child advocates, at least until the 1970s.

 

William S. Bush. Who Gets a Childhood? Race and Juvenile Justice in Twentieth-Century Texas. Politics and Culture in the Twentieth-Century South Series. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2010. Illustrations. x + 257 pp. $69.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8203-2983-3; $29.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8203-3719-7; $24.95 (e-book), ISBN 978-0-8203-3762-3.

Reviewed by Mark Carroll (University of Missouri)

On May Day, tens of thousands of Americans took to the streets. Invoking labor’s militant past, Occupiers in many cities called it a “general strike.” But few have asked why even the traditional strike has become almost an anachronism for America’s labor movement. In 1974, there were 424 major work stoppages, each involving at least 1,000 workers. By 2009, only five such stoppages occurred.

It’s easy to see this trend as damning evidence of labor’s irrelevance and the need to find a fresh wellspring of social and economic change. It’s even easier to place the blame squarely at the feet of conservative union leaders. Both these views lack nuance. Labor unions face a legal framework stacked against them. Laws can’t be casually broken: Unions have an important responsibility to their members and the financial assets they safeguard. Yet it’s worth remembering that past labor leaders believed in industrial action on a scale that would seem revolutionary even to radicals in the movement today. Figures like Samuel Gompers, Dave Beck, George Meany and Walter Reuther thought the strike was the most effective weapon of the working class. The decline of this venerable tactic has been devastating to our unions.

What’s changed?

Wider economic trends have worked against labor for decades. Internationally, the 1970s saw the intersection of weak growth and persistent inflation. This structural crisis was resolved against the interests of working people, with the aftermath especially stark in America. Real wages have declined and our social safety net has eroded, while hyper-mobile corporations are glossier and equipped with slick public-relations departments, but just as exploitative as ever.

The response from reformers within the labor movement hasn’t helped matters. As Joe Burns writes in Reviving the Strike: How Working People Can Regain Power and Transform America, “Adapting their own ideas to match this new conservative reality, these activists created the one-day strike, the corporate campaign and social unionism – tactics that functioned comfortably within the existing structures imposed by management and the legal system.”

If unions need to strike like they used to, but can’t because they’re justifiably afraid of the legal repercussions, what can be done?

Circumventing the law is a provocative tactic, but it may just be the Hail Mary we’ve been looking for.

Burns argues for the erection of independent worker organizations without assets or property that would be able to get around laws that make it difficult for unions to legally strike. Though this idea was endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers in a 2005 memo on possible future labor strategies, it’s considerably more militant than most unions are ready for now.

But in a sense, the Occupy movement may be a positive influence. Labor lends its numbers, discipline and organization, while Occupy invokes a rich history of American civil disobedience.

During the past 30 years the U.S. union movement has become more progressive on issues of immigration, foreign policy and the environment, but union membership continues to fall. Yet the return of mass demonstrations offers a new climate for labor. Now is the perfect time to remember how to fight.