Local Elections Matter

I have been waiting for these election results all day. And since somehow the link I have is borking the site, I’ll paraphrase here:

Jefferson County, Colorado has voted to recall all three board members that were voted in when a lot of out of state money poured in for their campaigns.

You may or may not be aware, but last year students began walking out of class and actively protesting for days when the board tried to turn their advanced college prep classes into jokes.

Teachers and parents took up the cause and started the recall process. The same out of state money tried to swing the vote but were unsuccessful. I’m hoping this starts a tide of recalls in the state.

I’ll post a link to the information in the comments. And yes, I’m contacting Tommy to let him know I broke everything.

ETA: John just PM’d me and said it wasn’t me and it wasn’t the link, so here it is.

No One Could Have Predicted- Schoolteacher Edition

Some unsurprising news:

In a stark about-face from just a few years ago, school districts have gone from handing out pink slips to scrambling to hire teachers.

Across the country, districts are struggling with shortages of teachers, particularly in math, science and special education — a result of the layoffs of the recession years combined with an improving economy in which fewer people are training to be teachers.

At the same time, a growing number of English-language learners are entering public schools, yet it is increasingly difficult to find bilingual teachers. So schools are looking for applicants everywhere they can — whether out of state or out of country — and wooing candidates earlier and quicker.

Some are even asking prospective teachers to train on the job, hiring novices still studying for their teaching credentials, with little, if any, classroom experience.

Louisville, Ky.; Nashville; Oklahoma City; and Providence, R.I., are among the large urban school districts having trouble finding teachers, according to the Council of the Great City Schools, which represents large urban districts. Just one month before the opening of classes, Charlotte, N.C., was desperately trying to fill 200 vacancies.

Nationwide, many teachers were laid off during the recession, but the situation was particularly acute in California, which lost 82,000 jobs in schools from 2008 to 2012, according to Labor Department figures. This academic year, districts have to fill 21,500 slots, according to estimates from the California Department of Education, while the state is issuing fewer than 15,000 new teaching credentials a year.

First things first- if, in a recession, the first thing you cut is teacher ranks, you’re just a moron from a pure investment standpoint (as recessions will generally require re-education and retraining of the workforce) and completely ignorant of basic macroeconomics, because public sector spending should be increased, and expanding education is a better way than most. So let’s just get that out of the way. Additionally, I guess a decade of slashing salaries to give tax cuts to those who don’t need them, vilifying them and their unions and blaming them for every societal ill, cutting benefits and lengthening hours, not supporting them and allowing parents and students to run roughshod over teaches, while acting like their pensions are a gift to ungrateful slobs instead of the delayed salary they negotiated for and took less up front so there would be something for their retirement may not have been the best fucking idea.

People aren’t stupid. They know a shitty job with unstable employment when they see it. Most people who become school teachers are already willing to forgo huge salaries because they love what they do- you add on the rest of the bullshit, and people say to hell with it and pursue other options.


Thursday Morning Open Thread: The Way We Live Now, #473

The Moustache of Understanding is never one to let go a bad old idea, and it looks like his rummaging through the dustbin of such turned up 1994 Newt Gingrich‘s least popular proposal. From Adam Johnson’s FAIR article:

The piece reaches peak whitesplaining when pro-charter school Secretary of Education Arne Duncan chimes in and parrots the pernicious trope that the Baltimore Uprising was the result of “absent fathers”:

I asked Education Secretary Arne Duncan what he thought generally about the public boarding school model, which is expensive. He said, “Some kids need six hours a day, some nine, some 12 to 13,” but some clearly would benefit from a more “24/7” school/community environment. “I went to Baltimore and talked to teachers after the riots,” Duncan added. “The number of kids living with no family member is stunning. But who is there 24/7? The gangs. At a certain point, you need love and structure, and either traditional societal institutions provide that or somebody else does. We get outcompeted by the gangs, who are there every day on those corners.” So quality public boarding schools need to be “part of a portfolio of options for kids.”

The not-so-subtle implication here: Absent black parents caused the “riots.” Not legitimate outrage. Not the brutal killing of a black youth. Not the subsequent lack of an investigation. Not the decades of rampant police abuse. But absent fathers and the catch-all of gangs. This is the type of centrist racist dog-whistling one would expect from the man who once said Hurricane Katrina was “good for New Orleans” because it led to more charter schools.

If only more kids could be funneled into the boarding schools of benevolent billionaires—who, incidentally, get massive tax breaks for running these programs—all would be well with the black community…

Our awesome “meritocracy”, where guys like Tom Friedman and Arne Duncan are well compensated for explaining that all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds!

Apart from keeping a sharp eye out for civic improvers bearing gifts, what’s on the agenda for the day?

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: “The Most Fun I’ll Ever Have”

She was the first known LGBT astronaut, too. Happy birthday, Sally Ride.

From the Verge article where I saw the video:

… “Studies show that the reason kids turn away from STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) is not that they don’t like it or aren’t good at it,” writes Ride’s partner Tam O’Shaughnessy in a blog post for Google. “Instead, young people get turned off because society sends false messages about who scientists are, what they do, and how they work. So Sally decided to use her high profile to motivate young people to stick with their interest in science and to consider pursuing STEM careers.” Hopefully, today’s Doodle will spread that message just a little wider.

Apart from admiring real heroes, what’s on the agenda for the sorta-start of a holiday-shortened week?

The Great White Fright

Apparently, even discussing the notion of white privilege on America’s college campuses in 2015 is causing a massive fit among your local white nationalist groups, to the point where they’re concern trolling everyone in sight about how awful it is being a white guy.

The National Youth Front’s leader, Angelo John Gage, told TPM in a phone interview Thursday that he believes the bulletin board amounted to discrimination. He repeatedly took issue with the portrayal of white people and Christians as having “privilege.”

“State and federal law says you must keep the school discrimination-free. They’re not doing that,” Gage said. “The Civil Rights Act says you can’t have discrimination based on race, sex, gender — all that stuff. Here comes a board that discriminates against people for their race, sex, gender, religion. It’s the complete opposite.”

He defined privilege instead as something “handed to you.”

“‘Oh you’re black, here you go, here’s a scholarship.’ That’s a privilege,” Gage explained. “Or here’s a racial quota. ‘You’re not qualified but you’re black, so here’s the job’ — otherwise it’s racism.”

Exciting new quantum technology will need to be developed in order to successfully play a violin small enough for Mr. Gage here, so I’m really jazzed about those coming scientific advances that will benefit all of humanity. Perhaps these nano-scale breakthroughs can also be applied to locating all the lost fucks I give about “reverse racism” in a country that was founded on the wholesale slaughter of the people living here and then built with the blood of the enslaved dragged here from an entirely different continent.

And yeah, being a straight cisgender male roughly the size and shape of a refrigerator, the internet reminds me almost daily that there are things I don’t have to worry about as much in my life (even though I’m black.)  I’ve learned a lot (mostly when to shut up and listen to others) about basic awareness, which is all this “anti-White” bulletin board seems to involve.

As a side note, aren’t these the same people complaining that making “safe spaces” in colleges and universities is “coddling” students and making them weak, because in college you’re supposed to be constantly challenged by new ideas?

Anyway, it doesn’t shock me that we’re still dealing with stuff like this in 2015, not at all, but at this point the changing demographics of America is just something that certain people are never going to be able to handle, no matter how much you try and educate them.

HRClinton’s First ‘Townhall’

Yeah, it’s long, but it’s worth watching when you’ve got an hour to spare — probably especially if, like me, education is not your specialty. Because the whole roundtable is only secondarily about what Hillary intends to do to get those votes; it’s almost entirely about how a bunch of teachers and administrators and high school-slash-college students do their best to get the education they need to make a living going forward. (Including a side note that one of Hillary’s first jobs in politics, in the 1970s, was going door to door to find children with disabilities who’d been left out of the educational system entirely, because those who “couldn’t keep up” were considered disposable.) And I hope there are people who’ll watch this and think about how they could use the various strategies discussed (vocational certification, college credit for high schoolers, community colleges, Pell grants & work-study) to improve their kids’ or their own chances. Call me a dreamer!

From the Politico article:

Taking her place at a folding table with seven students and educators here at Kirkwood Community College, Hillary Clinton re-emerged in Iowa, the first-in-the-nation caucus state where she suffered a painful defeat in 2008, striking economic populist tones and vowing not to take the state for granted…

For Clinton, letting other people do the talking made for a low-risk launch strategy. She took only one question from the press, commenting on her “great drive across the country” and saying that she was having “the best time” and is “running to be the champion for Americans and their families.”…

A more substantive rollout — she promised “very specific policies over the weeks and months ahead” — is expected to begin next month with her first big rally and speech…

Obama’s Presidential Library

I know at least some of you are interested in the politicking behind presidential libraries (Anthony Clark’s The Last Campaign is due out next month!). So you might just be interested in the Washington Post‘s report on how “Two Chicago universities, one private and one public, vie for Obama library“:

… Sometime soon, probably before the end of March, President Obama’s foundation is expected to announce a development partner for the Barack Obama Presidential Center. Two of the finalists, culled from an initial field of 13, are Columbia University, the private Ivy League school in Manhattan where Obama earned a bachelor’s degree, and the University of Hawaii, the public flagship of his native state.

The other finalists are a pair of universities here that could hardly be more different.

The private University of Chicago, founded in the 19th century, has 15,000 students and a neo-Gothic campus in Hyde Park with echoes of Oxford and Cambridge. It has deep ties to the president and the first lady. Barack Obama was a senior lecturer at the university’s law school for several years until his 2004 election to the U.S. Senate. Michelle Obama was a vice president for community and external affairs at its medical center and also an associate dean of student services…

The public University of Illinois at Chicago, just west of downtown, took shape after World War II during boom years for state-funded higher education. UIC’s stark modernist campus of concrete and brick has a close-up view of expressways and skyscrapers, including the Willis Tower, once known as the Sears Tower. While the University of Chicago is ultra-selective, turning down 92 out of every 100 undergraduate applicants, UIC is far more accessible, admitting 70 percent of applicants and serving many more students from families with financial need.

UIC officials say their 28,000-student research university is in sync with Obama’s philosophy. “We don’t pay attention to diversity just because it’s convenient,” said Alfred W. Tatum, UIC’s dean of education. “It’s truly at our core.”…

The choice is entirely up to the Obamas, and they will work with a recommendation from the foundation’s board of directors, which includes Obama’s friend Martin Nesbitt; his sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng; and political strategist David Plouffe. The foundation, responsible for raising money for a project that could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, declined an interview request. Obama discussed library plans with foundation officials Thursday in a visit to Chicago. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday that no decision had been made….

There’s a not-wholly-glorious precedent for siting the Obama Library in the city of Chicago but away from “his” university. The JFKennedy Library & Museum was built way out on the Columbia Point peninsula, best known at the time for public housing projects & garbage dumps, because the original Harvard-based proposal fell through. (And it’s still folk legend that the well-to-do Brattle Street Cambridge owners volubly rejected any connection with that ‘jumped-up bootlegger’s brat’ JFK and the busloads of Catholic-school kids the ‘unseemly shrine to an accidental martyr’ would attract.) The Harbor Point area, as it is now known, has gentrified considerably since then… but then, of course, so has most of the city of Boston.