Last night, John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” discussed the disturbing fact that school segregation still exists in America. While the Supreme Court ruled in 1955 Brown v Board of Education that separate was not equal, it was not until 1964 passage of the Civil Rights Act that school desegregation actually started. Unfortunately, …
Oct 31 2016
Sep 15 2016
The United States is the only industrialized country that does not have guaranteed paid maternity leave (pdf) and invests less of its GDP on child care and early childhood educations than 32 other industrialized countries around the world. The lack of programs to assist working class mothers and fathers has not been a very high …
Aug 22 2016
Many people recognized, particularly teachers’ unions, from the start that Charter Schools are a sham and a tax payer rip off with little or no accountability to the public or the parents. Despite the publicity about children being dropped from these schools because of learning disabilities or alleged disciplinary problems and fudged statistics about their …
Sep 13 2015
John is back tonight. Yeah!
Jul 25 2015
Last month I wrote a couple of diaries about New York’s struggles with its own Dignity for All Students Act:
Indignity in New York, one of my least successful diaries ever, concerned an NYCLU report on the status of transgender students in the state
Outraged focused on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Angry Letter to Acting Education Commissioner Elizabeth Berlin demanding action to ameliorate the situation.
Funny thing about that letter: As well-publicized as it was, Education Department spokesman Dennis Tompkins says that Berlin never received it.
Be that as it may, this past Tuesday the New York Board of Regents issued guidelines to schools about how to treat transgender students. The Regents called for schools to respect the self-identity of youngster whenever the subject of gender arises.
Jul 18 2015
Back in April I wrote about the denial of tenure for Dr. Rachel Tudor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University because Dr. Tudor’s “transgender lifestyle” offended the religious beliefs of the school’s vice president for academic affairs Douglas McMillan.
The Department of Justice sued both Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the Regional University System of Oklahoma for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The suit alleged that the University terminated the employment of Dr. Rachel Tudor, an assistant professor, based on her gender, gender identity and gender expression, as well as in retaliation for making complaints of discrimination.
Dr. Tudor intervened in that law suit by bringing her own complaint in early May, additionally claiming that she had been subjected to a hostile work environment.
Southeastern and the RUSO asked the court to dismiss Dr. Tudor’s suit, arguing that transgender people are not entitled to protection from sex discrimination because we are not a protected class under the law.
Last Friday Judge Robin Cauthron of the US District Court in the Western District of Oklahoma denied the motion to dismiss.
May 06 2015
I don’t often delve into the dark world of what education in the United States has become since my child was in school in the 70’s & 80’s. But lately it has factored into politics here in New York State and across the country with the advent of Common Core, standardized testing and for profit charter schools that are encroaching on America’s once excellent public system of education. The arguments in the past were mostly over funding, teachers’ salaries and contracts. Parents used to just worry about homework, grades and snow days. Some things remain the same, but now, add to the list: teacher evaluations, tenure, funding charter schools, teaching to tests, vomit and incontinence:
The principals’ letter on the new exams lists a number of problems with the exams and said many children reacted “viscerally” to the tests:
We know that many children cried during or after testing, and others vomited or lost control of their bowels or bladders. Others simply gave up. One teacher reported that a student kept banging his head on the desk, and wrote, “This is too hard,” and “I can’t do this,” throughout his test booklet.
It urges parents to help children who scored poorly understand that it isn’t their fault.
It has become so bad that in NY state as many as 200,000 students opted out of the mandatory testing:
New York’s rejection of the Common Core tests crosses geographical, socio-economic and racial lines.
There are also reports that student opt-outs were suppressed by administrators in some districts, who called in non-English speaking parents and pressured them to rescind their opt-out letters. Parent activist Jeanette Deutermann states that she “was contacted by dozens of NYC teachers who were horrified by the scare tactics being used on parents in their schools, to coerce them into participating in this year’s assessments. Language barriers and the absence of a social media presence resulted in a lack of knowledge about their rights to refuse the test. Teachers reported that administrators exploited this language and information barrier, telling parents that their children would not be promoted if they refused, or that they simply had no right to refuse. This is blatant discrimination at best.”
Despite attempts to suppress opt out, refusal rates were over three times last year’s 60,000, and activist parents are already planning to increase numbers next year. The opt-out movement is spreading across the nation. PARCC opt out is taking off in Colorado, New Jersey and California, especially among high-school students. [..]
Opt out is far bigger than a test refusal event. It is the repudiation of a host of corporate reforms that include the Common Core, high-stakes testing, school closings and the evaluation of teachers by test scores. These reforms are being soundly rejected by parents and teachers.
Leave it to John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” to hammer home everything that is wrong with standardized testing:
“Something is wrong with our system when we just assume a certain number of students will vomit,” Oliver said. “Standardized tests are supposed to be an assessment of skills, not a rap battle on ‘8 Mile’ Road.”
Mar 20 2015
Everyone knows the right wing oratory. When it comes time to adress LGBT…especially T, rights, the religious conservatives are all, “Think about thew children!”
I do. All the f’ing time!
Let’s think about some of the children whose stories I have recently run across, shall we?
Let’s think about Tom Sosnik.
I am no longer Mia. I never really was. And now I finally stand before you in my true and authentic gender identity as Tom. I stand before you as a thirteen-year-old boy.
For a while, I dismissed the fact that I hated my body. I pretended to be content with what I was assigned until, at a certain point, I broke.
I went through a series of horrible breakdowns. And I would stand under the water in the shower crying. I knew I wasn’t happy.
I really hope that you all will support my decision to embark on a harder route in life as the boy I truly am. Any form of support I receive with much gratitude and I hope that everyone can really support me because you guys are like my second family. And if you support me, I’ll feel like the luckiest boy in the world. Thank you for letting me share my story.
In my heart, I am still the same person. Whether you like that person or not, it’s me.
Tom adds: “To all those struggling to embrace their true and authentic gender or sexuality, I want you to know that if no one else accepts you, I always will.”
Nov 08 2014
It’s Transgender Awareness time. In some locations it’s the entire month of November. Some locales are celebrating for a week…generally around November 10-20…ending with Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20 and/or Transgender Day of Celebration on November 21.
So I guess it is my job to help make you aware. 🙂
I’ve got some videos from the I Am project and some news bits which I hope fit that agenda.
Oct 26 2014
It’s an old book, but I was in my local thrift store yesterday and among the other RW books on sale for $1.99, I saw this one and was reminded that I ignored it when it came out but was also reminded that I had a college classmate who edits this line of conservative books, which always seemed odd for someone who had a BMW in college and lived on the upper east side of Manhattan. And having met a couple of the 101 if only as casually as PBO has met Bill Ayers, it continues to baffle me that the false consciousness of the US RW, cannot see education or Liberalism in its classic sense of the Trivium and Quadrivium, rather than reinforcing existing status and class warfare in the basic college curriculum and its prerequisites. The modern college/university is seen by the RW as Educational Ebola, where sharing the tropes of bodily fluids with liberal professors reifies the hypodermic needle model of (banking-style) education where liberal cooties stays with one without the inoculation of RW talk radio and its pastiche of higher education – for example its offering the scholarly heraldry of Photoshop…
The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America is a 2006 book by conservative American author and policy advocate David Horowitz….
Following the Ward Churchill September 11 attacks essay controversy, Horowitz argued that there were many “careers like Ward Churchill’s”. He wrote that “Not all of the professors depicted in this volume hold views as extreme as Ward Churchill’s, but a disturbing number do” and “it would have been no problem to provide a thousand such profiles or even ten times the number.”
The review in the industry news digest Publishers Weekly stated that Horowitz’s “intention to expose the majority of these professors as ‘dangerous’ and undeserving of their coveted positions seems petty in some cases, as when he smugly mocks the proliferation of departments dedicated to peace studies or considers ‘anti-war activist’ as a character flaw… the most egregious crimes perpetrated by the majority of these academics is that their politics don’t mesh with Horowitz’s.
Fortunately there are critiques of Horowitz’s work even as it has become a reactionary cottage industry and without indulging his biography truth does will out, although it is curious that Michael Savage and David Horowitz are never seen at the same time:
Nonetheless, there is a spectre haunting Academe, and the reality is that a majority of US college faculty are actually more conservative or grudgingly centrist – in departments that are in the aggregate, predominantly white, male, and decidedly reactionary considering the trend toward more mechanical, menu-driven college degree requirements and attacks on core-curricula / general education requirements. Some of the evil 101 Horowitz cites are retired or passed on so the Pantheon in the eight years has declined since the book emerged yet still supports in spirit the stupidity of RW radio. More interesting is that the democratization of public education not unlike the democratization of suffrage threatens political discourse such that the Kochs through Koch Industries now sponsor a significant number of college sporting events (ESPN College Game Day and The Pac-12 Network) and television channels in their continuing effort to reprivatize it, just as Accuracy in Academia concurrently attacks MOOCs while promoting online efforts to leverage more false consciousness.
Welcome to Conservative University! CU is a project of Accuracy in Academia and will offer free online courses promoting conservative principles. The courses will primarily be geared towards college students, but are open to all lovers of liberty and free speech!
Each course will be taught by expert faculty, will offer continued education resources, class summaries, and an optional brief quiz to test your ascertained knowledge about the class topic.
Thank you for visiting! To see our first course trailer, click here. (“Sex, Lies & Women’s Studies”)
Conservatives have been criticizing academia for many decades. Yet only once the McCarthy era passed did this criticism begin to be cast primarily in anti-elitist tones: charges of Communist subversion gave way to charges of liberal elitism in the writings of William F. Buckley Jr. and others. The idea that professors are snobs looking down their noses at ordinary Americans, trying to push the country in directions it does not wish to go, soon became an established conservative trope, taking its place alongside criticism of the liberal press and the liberal judiciary.
The main reason for this development is that attacking liberal professors as elitists serves a vital purpose. It helps position the conservative movement as a populist enterprise by identifying a predatory elite to which conservatism stands opposed – an otherwise difficult task for a movement strongly backed by holders of economic power.
Even if Galileo was a dangerous academic, one can use the global warming denialist movement as yet another example of the less-than-palpable effect of scholarly rationality on public policy in a world that still believes the planet to be only 6000 years old.
The FSFG supports organizations like Accuracy in Academia, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, the National Association of Scholars, the Madison Center for Educational Affairs (their “Collegiate Network” links over 70 student newspapers), the Institute for Educational Affairs and others. These organizations work to transform academia toward the right’s ideological agenda.
Apr 12 2014
Lumberton, TX Independent School District substitute teacher Laura Jane Klug has been suspended for being transgender. The school district says they are “looking into the matter”…and that Klug has not been terminated…yet. Klug is supposed to hear about the resolution of the school board today, after the school board met on Thursday.
Klug substituted for a teacher in a fifth grade class last Thursday, which was the first day she discovered that someone might have “issues”.
Parents of some of the students at the school say, of course, that they don’t have any problems themselves with the teacher being transgender, but that the teacher may be confusing the 11-year-olds who are in her charge.
Within an hour of them being exposed or dealing with this, there’s a few issues here, I think these kids are too young for this issue, so that’s our main focus is, if it happens in older grades, high school, ok but too young for this.
Other parents say there has not been an issue before with Klug and they don’t see why it is an issue now…and that they have no problem explaining to their child what a transgendender person is.
My son knows who he is and I don’t think any outside influence is going to change that, I’m more concerned about straight predatory teachers rather than I am someone who lives an alternative private alternate lifestyle, I don’t worry about my son.
–Jammie Marcantel, parent with a pronoun problem
Texas, of course, has no employment protections for transgender people.
Mar 28 2014
Sunnie Kahle, 8, prefers to have short hair and dress comfortably (t-shirts, jeans and sneakers). Officials at the school she has attended, Timberlake Christian School near Lynchburg, VA, decided that wasn’t appropriate for one of their students. So they wrote to Sunnie’s grandparents, who are also her guardians, to inform them that Sunnie would have to dress more femininely if she wanted to attend that school.
Despite what you may see in any headlines, Sunnie is not transgender. She is perfectly satisfied with being a girl.
The school officials, however, expressed their concern about her appearance and cited their policy against condoning sexual immorality, practicing a homosexual lifestyle, or having an alternative gender identity.