Sunday Open Thread

Happy Easter!!!

Enjoy the day with family and friends.

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15 Responses to Sunday Open Thread

  1. rikyrah says:

    Chicago folks..

    tonight is the last night of the Winter Parking Ban




  2. rikyrah says:

    March 30, 2013 12:32 AM
    Michelle Rhee, Public School Parent?

    Michelle Rhee is a controversial figure. The former District of Columbia superintendent is now trying to spread her take-no-prisoners-more-standardized-tests-and-bust-the-unions education reform plans across the nation.

    This lead to an interesting question. The Los Angeles Times recently asked Rhee where her own two children went to school. Did they attend public or private schools? Rhee’s still having trouble answering this one. According to The Times:

    The… Times asked her spokeswoman a simple question: Do Rhee’s children attend public or private school? The response from [Rhee spokeswoman] Erin Shaw seemed clear. “She is a public school parent,” Shaw told the paper in an email.

    And so the Times, quite understandably, reported that her daughters, who live in Tennessee with their father, Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, both attended public schools. The children famously attended a public elementary school when they lived in Washington, DC, but now it appears they don’t. Or at least one of them doesn’t. After the American Federation of Teachers challenged the accuracy of the Times reporting, the paper asked again:

    Shaw declined to answer the question directly. Instead, after multiple emails and phone calls from Times reporters, she issued a statement apologizing for “misleading” the newspaper with her initial response.

    “It was not our intention to be misleading. It is our policy not to discuss where Michelle’s children attend school out of respect for their privacy,” the statement says. “While it is true Michelle is a public school parent, we understand how that statement was misleading, and we apologize to the Los Angeles Times.”

    Asked whether those remarks indicate that at least one of Rhee’s children attends private school, Shaw again declined to answer.

    Oh my God. Stop it. We can look this stuff up.

    Rhee’s older daughter goes to Harpeth Hall, Nashville’s fanciest girls school.

    Listen, I went to private school. So did Rhee. It’s not a bad thing. It’s not something to cover up. People often send their own children to private schools; that doesn’t mean they’re not committed to public education.

    If you send your child to private school, fine, but own it. Why is this so uncomfortable to admit? There’s a reason you decided a private school was best for your child and there’s nothing wrong with it. But be comfortable enough with your life choices to explain why you made that decision. Saying “I am a public school parent” when you’re also a private school parent is misleading, and deliberately so.

  3. rikyrah says:

    March 29, 2013 11:00 AM
    Affirmative Action in the Trenches

    By Elias Vlanton

    “B” was all he texted me, but I knew Tramon was disappointed. His first report card at Dartmouth College was not straight A’s, matching his high school record. He was already analyzing that single B, he assured me when we talked later, and thinking about where he needed to improve. A few days later Morganne, my future veterinarian and a Cornell University freshman, was similarly disappointed with her B’s; she, too, had only known A’s in high school. My steady, quiet one, Arnetta, a pre-med freshman at the highly-competitive Bryn Mawr College , was pleased with her 3.2 average. So was I. That this was shaping up to be a fine first semester was confirmed when Anngie, knowing that I was waiting, reported hours after grades were released that she had earned two A’s and two B’s at Middlebury College , the fiercely competitive Little Ivy . All received the same heartfelt piece of advice: They were doing extremely well, they were outperforming many of their freshman peers, and doing so at some of the most challenging schools in the country. To me, their A’s and B’s were just, in language they could understand, “awesome.”

    Yes, I am very proud. Tramon, Morganne, Arnetta, and Anngie were all students of mine in Advanced Placement classes at Maryland’s Bladensburg High School . Bladensburg is neither a private school, nor a “we skim the cream of the crop” magnet public school. It is in one of Washington, DCs poorest suburbs, where family income ranks in the bottom quarter of the state, and a school where less than ten percent of any graduating class makes it through college.

    This semester, while Morganne proudly posts videos of her next dissection and Anngie writes another long essay in French, the Supreme Court, in deciding Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, will determine whether my students deserve to attend the colleges where they are being so successful. In addition to attending a low-performing high school, my kids are all African American and Latino. They were accepted into their elite colleges as part of those schools’ commitment to the mission of promoting diversity in higher education, the very diversity that affirmative action attempts to encourage—and that Fisher seeks to declare unconstitutional.

    The anti-affirmative action pitch is succinctly expressed by Chief Justice Roberts: The way to stop discrimination is to stop discriminating. Admitting “unqualified” minority students to schools when they don’t meet the objective admissions requirements, the argument continues, only stigmatizes them and encourages academic failure.

    But from where I sit, the talk of minority preferences misses the main point. The discrimination that I see is the regular advantage that wealthier students enjoy in the admissions process. The admissions criteria we accept as neutral—SAT scores, rigor of high school courses, extra-curricular activities, GPAs—are far from benign. They stack the admissions process against the economically disadvantaged.

    I see an admissions playing field that is not at all level for my students. While wealthier parents improve their children’s SAT scores by paying thousands of dollars to enroll them in summer SAT prep courses or to hire one-on-one test prep tutors, these options are out of reach for my students. Their main preparation comes, if scheduling permits, from the school’s SAT class. Competently taught, the class is partially a dumping ground for students who need to be put somewhere. The result is more than 40 students per class, many of whom neither pay attention nor want to ever take the test. For students who show promise, the teacher offers an SAT prep book for home study—one the teacher has bought at his own expense.

    Students in affluent neighborhoods can select from more than a dozen Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses—all application-enhancing courses heavily favored by admissions counselors. But at schools like mine, where a large percentage of the student body has to repeat classes they have failed, the elective offerings shrink. A high-achiever at Bladensburg reaches senior year with few courses to take. Brown University wanted to know why one of my outstanding students this year had no math class in her senior schedule. The student had to explain that while the school offered pre-calculus, there was only one section, and it conflicted with her AP Chemistry class, also offered in only one section. Since grade point averages are partly a function of course difficulty (most schools boost the value of AP and IB courses), a limited selection of advanced courses undermines the opportunity of getting a higher GPA.

    Many of my college-bound kids have no time for resume building. They focus on a more prosaic goal: family survival. One student cleans office buildings at night to help his diabled mother pay rent while another works weekends to help prevent her home from going into foreclosure. A third student shares her home with an abused, homeless woman taken in by her parents. Am I to suggest they spend a few days with Habitat for Humanity, building homes for the poor, or volunteering at the local women’s shelter to burnish their resumes so they can compete with wealthier college applicants?

    Despite efforts to ease the burden of applying to competitive colleges, admissions is still a process dominated by money and its lack. College visits are largely out of reach for my students, yet visits and on campus interviews increase a student’s chances. When I took a day off from work last year to take Tramon to visit Haverford College , the campus information session stressed the importance of a personal interview. Tramon’s first question afterwards was: “What about the kids who don’t know that it is important and can’t afford to get here?” While the College Board offers our school a limited number of fee waivers for SAT testing and colleges often waive application fees with these vouchers, the system discriminates in more subtle ways. There are no waivers for the cost of sending AP scores ($15 per school) . And to apply for financial aid requires completion of the College Board’s CSS Profile, which costs $16 per school. My students have to ask their families to put aside very scarce family resources just to see if they are eligible for financial aid!

    My four freshmen—my odds-beaters—had SAT scores hundreds of points below the average of the students admitted to their colleges. They took far fewer AP courses, and participated in fewer extra-curricular activities (since our school offers few activities other than sports). What set them apart was their class rank: they were all in the top two percent of the senior class, a function of their love of learning, their desire to do well, and their hard work to rise to the top. Despite the claim that, on the merits of their applications, they were “unqualified” for admission to the schools where they are getting As and Bs, all will graduate with honors from schools that are among the best in the country—joining my former students who graduated from Bowdoin College, Johns Hopkins University, Georgetown University, and Stanford University .

    So Chief Justice Roberts, in the end, we agree: Discrimination is discriminatory. That is why colleges must be allowed to consider the social and economic circumstances of my students when making admissions decisions—as Bryn Mawr, Cornell, Dartmouth, and Middlebury have done. My kids don’t want a leg up; but neither do they deserve a kick in the chest.

  4. rikyrah says:

    March 30, 2013 9:19 AM
    Scripps Howard writes a puff piece on the KKK. No, really!

    By Kathleen Geier

    Is this an early April Fool’s prank, or has everyone at the Scripps Howard News Service been hit with the stupid stick — hard?

    I read the piece with ever-increasing slack-jawed amazement, my eyebrows raised so high they nearly met my hairline. Clearly an attempt to portray the kinder, gentler side of the Klan, it is an epic journalistic fail. Here’s the first line: “There’s a lot to be angry about if you’re in the KKK.” Well, that’s one way of putting it! It goes on from there:

    As local leader of the Loyal White Knights, Edward the Exalted Cyclops organized a barbecue last month to make plans for Saturday’s demonstration to show that white people still have rights.

    Edward curses sparingly, drinks rarely, and keeps his hair clipped short — his tribute to his old-fashioned Christian values

    Does that read like a pitch-perfect Onion parody, or what? I mean, Edward the Exalted Cyclops? Hosting a barbecue?? And yes, you might, I suppose, describe decades of brutal racist terror and violence as “old-fashioned Christian values”— but only if you are a very mischievous atheist or anti-clerical-ist indeed.

    The story describes plans for a Klan rally in Memphis today to “celebrate white people’s rights.” Yes, it really says that — unironically, and without challenge! According to one Klansmen, it is a protest against attempts “to erase white people out of the history books.” There are many other inadvertently hilarious moments in this LOL-rich article; my favorite is “communists (known as liberals today)” (and no, that’s not a quote from a Klansman — those are the reporter’s own words, a clumsy attempt at a paraphrase I suppose).

    Essentially, the reporter is covering a Klan rally as if it were no different than a Sunday school picnic. It should be emphasized that the only people interviewed for or cited in the article are Klansmen and one academic who says something neutral and academicky. No anti-Klan experts or activists are interviewed or cited in this trainwreck of an article.

    I have some advice for the reporter and editor responsible for this wretched POS, which by all rights should be a career-ender. Attempt to save face by passing this off as an early April Fool’s joke gone horribly wrong, and submit your resumes to The Onion ASAP. You may well have a genius for the kind of stories they publish — albeit an inadvertent one.

  5. rikyrah says:

    March 30, 2013 4:43 PM

    What Michelle Rhee doesn’t want you to know

    By Kathleen Geier

    What’s good enough for other people’s kids apparently isn’t good enough for the daughter of Michelle Rhee.

    As The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss reports, one of education reform advocate Michelle Rhee’s daughters apparently attends an elite prep school for grades 5-12 that charges tuition of upwards of $20,000 a year. On one level, the hypocrisy is hardly shocking. Elites tend to educate their little darlings at ritzy private schools, where they can mingle with the scions of other elites. This happens even when said elites are public servants (which Rhee is no longer — though the same cannot be said of her daughter’s father, who is Tennessee’s commissioner of education).

    Still, Rhee is famous for her zealous advocacy of what Strauss calls “a corporate-based school-reform agenda that uses standardized test scores as the major accountability measure for students, schools and teachers.” Yet her daughter goes to a progressive school that takes a very different approach, emphasizing small classes and educating “the whole child.” It sounds very nice, actually.

    But the hypocrisy here really is rich. Worse still is the way she’s handling it. First, her spokesperson misleadingly announced that Rhee is “a public school parent” (because one of her kids goes to a public school. But the point is, the other doesn’t!) Now her representatives are clamming up entirely, saying, “It is our policy not to discuss where Michelle’s children attend school out of respect for their privacy.” But as Strauss points out, Rhee frequently speaks about her children in public.

    This is a minor piece of dishonesty compared to the other scams Rhee has been involved in. But the clear “dogs won’t eat the dog food” inference that can be drawn here is damning. Would you buy for your kids the product that Michelle Rhee is trying to sell?

  6. rikyrah says:

    Sunday, March 31, 2013

    What happens when Republicans don’t have fiscal issues to talk about

    Recently I read something (can’t remember where now) about the fact that Republicans have to talk about the debt/deficit because when they go off that script, all hell breaks lose for them.

    As I was catching up on the news this morning, I realized how true that is.

    For example:

    Republicans are tripping over each other lately to distance themselves from Rep. Don Young’s comments about “wetbacks.”

    And then there’s Dave Agema, Republican National Committee Member, who refused to backtrack on his hateful anti-gay Facebook posting.

    There’s also the problem with rising conservative star Dr. Ben Carson suggesting that gay marriage is some kind of slippery slope to bestiality.

    In general, the lunatics are in quite a tither. Apparently the traditionalists are freaked out that the new Pope washed the feet of a couple of young women and Rush Limbaugh says that the fact that Americans aren’t copasetic with what Dr. Carson said means that conservatives have lost the country.

    But for these folks nothing – and I mean NOTHING – signals the end of the world as we know it more than the fact that the totally extremist company Google chose to honor Cesar Chavez on Easter (this from the same folks who thought it was cool to celebrate Easter with a retrospective on Playboy bunnies).

    What more evidence do you need that the conservative movement is a beast lashing out in its final death throes? Obviously liberals are winning the argument on immigration reform, marriage equality, and gun reform. Perhaps conservatives would be better off going back to talking about taking away granny’s Medicare and Social Security ;-)

  7. rikyrah says:

    Happy Easter, Everyone :)

  8. Happy Easter, everyone!

    Celebrate Jesus celebrate
    Celebrate Jesus celebrate
    Celebrate Jesus celebrate
    Celebrate Jesus celebrate
    He is risen He is risen
    And He lives forevermore

    excited smiley photo: excited smiley zrunningamok.gif

  9. CarolMaeWY says:

    Thank you for sharing the videos. Happy Easter to you.

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