Friday, September 28, 2007

Summing up the public schools in one picture

A picture says a thousand words.

Ryan Harriman: Protect education, not institution

A powerful piece in the Utah newspaper The Daily Herald yesterday laid out a systematic assault on movements to give parents freedom to choose how their children are educated by the National Education Association. A few examples of the fundraising implemented by the NEA were laid out by author Ryan Harriman:

â In September 2000, the NEA bombarded California with $4.5 million to oppose Proposition 38, which would have created vouchers.

â In September 2000 and again in January 2001, the NEA slipped $850,000 (for a total of $1.7 million) to its Michigan union in a successful campaign to oppose a voucher amendment.

â In October 2001, the NEA provided $500,000 to its New Jersey union to run a campaign that expanded and solidified the anti-voucher effort in the state.

â In December 2003, the NEA infused $469,000 into Colorado. The NEA's state unions anticipated a major legislative fight the next year and wanted to conduct a public relations campaign to build up political capital. In particular, the state unions were concerned about voucher legislation. The campaign helped the state unions defeat three voucher bills, including a special education bill.

â In February 2004, the NEA gave its Wisconsin union $300,000 to fund a grass-roots campaign to oppose legislation expanding charter schools, vouchers, tax credits, and other "choice schemes."

When I read the term "scheme" that was used by the NEA I actually had a negative physical reaction similiar to what one would experience when feces is placed in their food. Someone has to stop teacher's unions before it's too late.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hitchens believes in Al Gore

During a week where the Holocaust and homosexual-denying President of Iran paid a visit to an Ivy League campus in the biggest metropolis in the Western world, Christopher Hitchens oddly used his Slate column to talk about Al Gore's non-candidacy for President:

Apart from the awards, not only could Gore claim that he had been a fairly effective senator and a reasonably competent vice president, he could also present himself in zeitgeist terms as the candidate who was on the right side of the two great overarching questions: the climate crisis and the war in Mesopotamia. Should I add that, whether or not he really won the Electoral College in 2000, he did manage to collect the majority of the popular vote? Several people, some of them well-informed, have been saying to me that Gore will wait until the Nobel committee's announcement before he makes up his mind. Should he make up his mind to run, he could alter the entire equation.

There were a few very weird moments in the column, such as this:

Sen. Clinton may have succeeded in getting people to call her "Hillary" and to have made them feel resigned to her front-runnership, but what kind of achievement is that? Sen. Obama cannot possibly believe, and doesn't even act as if he believes, that he can be elected president of the United States next year. John Edwards is a good man who is in politics for good reasons, but there is something about his populism that doesn't quite—what's the word?—translate.

Apparently Hitch must not have watched a good share of the Democratic debates. From what I have read of him (which is quite alot), the one thing that Hitch despises the most is religious certainty. Edwards used that card, convincingly or not, in the YouTube debate where he asserted that his opposition to same-sex marriage was founded in his religious faith. That seems like a position designed to raise the ire of Christopher Hitchens.

It might be possible that Hitchens has spent the last half a year debating theology (or the lack thereof) so intensely that he hasn't properly absorbed the goings on in the presidential race. I can't blame him, one human is only so capable of paying attention to all the latest campaign news while also writing a daily column and engaging in a book tour for a New York Times bestseller.

The time has passed for Al Gore to run for president. If he had the inclination to do so, he would have at least had to have set up an Exploratory Committee by now. Fred Thompson was considered late when he announced his candidacy in Labour Day after months of getting his name out there and fundraising. Al Gore has denied any intentions of higher office, and I think we should take him at his word. If he were to run now, he wouldn't have the funds or infrastructure for a successful campaign.

Kanye West: Education needs to be a top priority

Education is an issue politicians don't even seem to touch, and it's good to see people pushing to make it a campaign issue. The real question is whether this group thinks federal regulation is the answer or if they are going to push for schools to be accountable to parents.

Video: Autism Speaks presents "Open Your Eyes"

Autism Speaks is a large organization benefitting those with autism spectrum disorders. They've started a YouTube account and uploaded something I never thought I'd see, a hip-hop song about autism. The artist is named Sean Delaney, and his song is focussed on those with the more severe aspects of autism.