Archive for January, 2006

Switcheroo: The War in Iraq and Public Schools.

Events | Posted by admin
Jan 11 2006

f Republicans treated education like the War in Iraq:

* Funding for the Department of Defense Education would not be an issue. In fact, Bush and Company would clamor for a twenty percent increase and not argue much for a proper or clear accounting of those funds.
* “Support Our Troops Teachers” magnetic ribbons and bumper stickers would adorn cars and SUVs.
* “Freedom Education Isn’t Free” bumper stickers, too.
* “Liberate Iraq Children” signs would pop up on front lawns.
* The White House press secretary would warn the press and the public that criticizing public schools could embolden those who wish to do the United States harm see our children remain ignorant.
* Wingnuts and Republicans would criticize the Left for “not seeing all the good news” happening in Iraq public schools and come within a whisker’s width of calling them traitors.
* Bush, Cheney, and others in the administration would make surprise visits to Iraq public schools to proclaim that all is going well and that soldiers, officers, and other Pentagon employees teachers, administrators and other public school employees should “stay the course.”
* Pentagon Department of Education R&D and analysis would spend what it needed to develop new technologies and tactics to help soldiers and commanders teachers and administrators conduct the war classes.
* Private contractors would be awarded no-bid, high-profit contracts to work in Iraq public schools.

Okay. Upon reflection, maybe those are not really good ideas. Be that as it may, wouldn’t it be nice to hear Republicans and their media supporters demanding a fuller and more comprehensive accounting of the War in Iraq, the president, and the Pentagon as they call for more support and funding for public schools?

Update: Wha-huh-what??? Bloggers are being solicited to write posts favorable of the War in Iraq??? No way!(Thanks to Paul at Eyeteeth for noticing this.)

I’d be willing to write favorably of public schools, if anyone with a checkbook at the Department of Education is reading this… Hello? …Over here… Hello? …Favorable postings on public schools for sale… Hello? …Reasonable rates. I’ll even develop my own material… Hello?

Drat. No takers.

That’s okay. I am not going into teaching for the money, anyway.

Who’s “irresponsible?”

Just Thoughts | Posted by admin
Jan 11 2006

This comes from the guy who runs an administration that a) hasn’t proved that there were WMD in Iraq, b) said the war would not last long almost three years ago, and c) said the war could be paid with Iraq’s oil revenues instead of hundreds of billions of US dollars?

Bush says some war critics irresponsible (Yahoo! News – AP)

President George W. Bush denounced some Democratic critics of the Iraq war as irresponsible on Tuesday and he wanted an election-year debate that “brings credit to our democracy, not comfort to our adversaries”

In a speech, Bush made clear he was girding for battle with Democrats in the run-up to the mid-term congressional election in November, when he will try to keep the U.S. Congress in the hands of his Republican Party amid American doubts about his Iraq policy.

“There is a difference between responsible and irresponsible debate and it’s even more important to conduct this debate responsibly when American troops are risking their lives overseas,” Bush told the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

The president predicted more tough fighting and more sacrifice ahead in Iraq in 2006 but said he believed progress will be made against the insurgency and on the Iraqi political process and reconstruction.

When do we impeach this yutz?

Switcheroo: The War in Iraq and Public Schools.

Events | Posted by admin
Jan 11 2006

If Republicans treated education like the War in Iraq:

  • Funding for the Department of Defense Education would not be an issue. In fact, Bush and Company would clamor for a twenty percent increase and not argue much for a proper or clear accounting of those funds.
  • “Support Our Troops Teachers” magnetic ribbons and bumper stickers would adorn cars and SUVs.
  • “Freedom Education Isn’t Free” bumper stickers, too.
  • “Liberate Iraq Children” signs would pop up on front lawns.
  • The White House press secretary would warn the press and the public that criticizing public schools could embolden those who wish to do the United States harm see our children remain ignorant.
  • Wingnuts and Republicans would criticize the Left for “not seeing all the good news” happening in Iraq public schools and come within a whisker’s width of calling them traitors.
  • Bush, Cheney, and others in the administration would make surprise visits to Iraq public schools to proclaim that all is going well and that soldiers, officers, and other Pentagon employees teachers, administrators and other public school employees should “stay the course.”
  • Pentagon Department of Education R&D and analysis would spend what it needed to develop new technologies and tactics to help soldiers and commanders teachers and administrators conduct the war classes.
  • Private contractors would be awarded no-bid, high-profit contracts to work in Iraq public schools.

Okay. Upon reflection, maybe those are not really good ideas. Be that as it may, wouldn’t it be nice to hear Republicans and their media supporters demanding a fuller and more comprehensive accounting of the War in Iraq, the president, and the Pentagon as they call for more support and funding for public schools?

Update: Wha-huh-what??? Bloggers are being solicited to write posts favorable of the War in Iraq??? No way!(Thanks to Paul at Eyeteeth for noticing this.)

I’d be willing to write favorably of public schools, if anyone with a checkbook at the Department of Education is reading this… Hello? …Over here… Hello? …Favorable postings on public schools for sale… Hello? …Reasonable rates. I’ll even develop my own material… Hello?

Drat. No takers.

That’s okay. I am not going into teaching for the money, anyway.

The seventy percent non-solution.

Just Thoughts | Posted by admin
Jan 09 2006

Our governor — through the Yecke years — tried to take control of the curriculum one year. Now it appears he wants to take control of local school spending decisions.

Pawlenty proposes education spending reform (Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal):

Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Monday unveiled a proposal that would require school districts to direct at least 70 percent of their spending toward classroom instruction.

Pawlenty said the proposal will redirect more than $112 million from school administration and other non-classroom expenditures statewide.

“Requiring at least 70 percent of funding to be dedicated to the classroom is common sense,” the governor said. “Taxpayers expect state funding to be targeted on children, not bureaucracies.”

Under the proposal, classroom expenditures would include salary and benefits for classroom teachers and personnel, as well as spending for special education, vocational education, classroom instruction supplies, instructional aides and activities. Non-classroom expenditures would include district and school administration and support services, operations and maintenance, staff development, pupil and instructional support services, athletics and co-curricular activities.

Some expenses would be excluded from the calculation altogether, including transportation, capital expenditures and building construction, food service, tuition expenditures and community education expenditures.

Districts that fail to meet the 70 percent threshold would be required to submit a three-year plan for increasing their classroom spending.

Minnesota school districts currently spend an average of 69.2 percent of their funding in the classroom, according to Pawlenty. Sixty-seven districts exceed the 70 percent requirement, while the state’s other 276 districts fall short.

“There are many school districts that are near or at the 70 percent solution and we commend them for making such a strong commitment to classroom education,” Pawlenty said. “However, other districts are at a lower percentage. We believe the students, parents and teachers in those districts deserve to have similar resources dedicated to the classroom.”

A similar proposal was introduced during the 2005 legislative session, but was not included in the final education budget bill. That initiative called for 65 percent of spending to go toward classroom education, but that formula differed somewhat. For example, it included transportation and food-service costs as non-classroom expenses, whereas those expenses are excluded from the new formula.

It is no surprise that I — a prospective teacher — would be very much in favor of increasing classroom spending. I have seen too many classrooms without the basics — not enough books for students, or desks and chairs. That said, however, teaching without that “non-classroom” expenditure in place could be a challenge. School administration, support services, operations and maintenance and all the rest are integral to our public school system. Try teaching without having such “outside-the-classroom” support to help manage student discipline issues, maintain a computer network, or even keep the classroom properly maintained in the short or long term. I have a feeling that this 70 percent threshold is a red herring to a much larger and more complex issue of whether or not Minnesotans are willing to pay for a public school system that meets the needs of all our children.

Or, if you think as Tracy at Anti-Strib does, you could simply chalk everything up to nebulous “inefficiencies,” buy into Pawlenty’s simplistic “solution,” while possessing little apparent understanding of how public schools actually work or don’t work.

RIP – NYT’s David Rosenbaum.

Local | Posted by admin
Jan 08 2006

I can’t recall any specific articles I have read with David Rosenbaum’s byline attached, but I am certain that in the decade or more of “my morning coffee” (what I call my copy of the New York Times) I relied on his reporting. This political junkie will miss his presence.

David Rosenbaum, Reporter for Times Who Covered Politics, Dies at 63 (New York Times):

David E. Rosenbaum, a retired reporter and editor for The New York Times who for more than 35 years wrote about the intersection of politics, economics and government policy with uncommon depth, clarity and a keen eye for the story behind the story, died Sunday. He was 63.

His death was caused by a brain injury suffered when he was struck in the head and robbed Friday night while walking near his home in Northwest Washington, police officials and his family members said.

Mr. Rosenbaum served at various times as chief Congressional correspondent, chief domestic policy correspondent, chief economics correspondent, assistant news editor and business editor in the Washington bureau of The Times.

My sympathies go out to Mr. Rosenbaum’s family, friends and colleagues.

They got it tough down here in Florida.

Interesting, Local | Posted by admin
Jan 05 2006

To my fellow Minnesotans: Get a tight hold on your battery-heated thermal socks and Sorel boots before you check this out.

South Floridians advised to protect pets, plants as weekend temperatures plummet (Miami Herald):

Even South Florida can get pretty chilly sometimes.

Want proof? Stick around for the weekend.

Residents may wake up Saturday and Sunday to the coldest temperatures felt in South Florida so far this winter, forecasters said.

The National Weather Service issued a ”special weather statement” warning of near-freezing temperatures caused by a cold front moving today into Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

The possibility of temperatures dipping to the low 40s to mid 30s means owners of plants and pets may want to bring them inside tonight and Saturday night.

Also: Dress the kids in layers before letting them play outside, and consider wearing a sweat shirt for this weekend’s jogs.

”Oh my God, I think I might die if it gets that cold,” said Susan Wilson, office manager at American Pool Service in Plantation.

A warning for “near-freezing temperatures?” “Consider wearing a sweat shirt?” Quick! Close the schools, rush the grocery stores for supplies, and declare the state a disaster area.

Heh. If Wilson thinks the mid-30s will bring her close to death, she should come up for a visit in The Land of Thirty Below.

Weather. It’s all relative, eh?

Someone may need to find a new safe-speaking venue.

Events | Posted by admin
Jan 04 2006

Now here’s a headline you don’t read everyday: Military Confidence in Bush Hits New Low
So, which Librul rag was it that dared to utter such treasonous, enemy-embodenering claptrap? Well, the headline came from Inter Press Service, but before anyone goes running for the pitchforks and torches, check out this part:

Military Confidence in Bush Hits New Low (Inter Press Service):

Although morale among members of the professional corps of the U.S. military remains generally high, their confidence in U.S. President George W. Bush and other civilian government leaders slipped substantially during 2005, according to major new survey released Monday by the “Military Times”.

The survey, the third in an annual series, found that approval of Bush’s Iraq policies by military professionals fell from nearly two-thirds at the end of 2004 to just 54 percent in late 2005, while their support for his overall performance dropped from 71 percent to 60 percent over the course of the year.

While both ratings remain significantly higher than the approximately 40 percent approval given Bush and his Iraq policy by the general public in late 2005, the military levels appear remarkably low given the fact that 60 percent of the military respondents identified themselves as Republicans — twice the percentage of the civilian population.

Among self-described Republican civilians, Bush’s approval ratings have been much higher — 80 percent or more — while support for his Iraq policy among civilian Republicans stands at about two-thirds.

“The military had been so steadfast behind Bush,” said Times managing editor Robert Hodierne, who said he was surprised by the decline in confidence. “When (the president’s ratings are) dropping nine and 11 points — especially in this community, which is very Republican and noticeably more conservative than the general population — then the president needs to pay attention.”

If support for Bush and the Iraq intervention among the professional military appears to be waning, however, lack of confidence in other civilian institutions — particularly Congress and the media — is even more pronounced, according to the survey. It found that the estrangement between the military and the country’s civilian leadership, a concern since the early 1990s, appears, if anything, to have grown over the past year.

And the civilian leadership in the Pentagon also appears to be viewed with scepticism. Fifty percent of respondents said they did not believe the civilian leadership of the Defence Department had their “best interests at heart”.

No, Bush isn’t in the doghouse — numbers-wise — with a majority of military folk, but the fact that he is not enjoying the support he has in the past could suggest that the effects of the our war in Iraq on our troops over there is becoming a drag on the president and his administration. Is this promising or or problematic? I don’t know. The thought of an increasingly disgruntled military, however, should be food for thought for all of us.

Speaking about food for thought, Bush may need to rethink his idea that speaking before military-only settings may not be so safe before the crowd decides to start lobbing rotten tomatoes at him.