Quote of the moment: John Adams, on government debt

December 12, 2012

John Adams, by Asher B. Durand

President John Adams, painted by Asher B. Durand; U.S. Navy image, via Wikipedia

Our second President, the author of the Constitution and Bill of Rights of Massachusetts, John Adams was quite pragmatic about debt — use it when you have to, don’t use it too much. In his first Annual Message to Congress, on November 22, 1797, Adams said:

Since the decay of the feudal system, by which the public defense was provided for chiefly at the expense of individuals, the system of loans has been introduced, and as no nation can raise within the year by taxes sufficient sums for its defense and military operations in time of war the sums loaned and debts contracted have necessarily become the subjects of what have been called funding systems. The consequences arising from the continual accumulation of public debts in other countries ought to admonish us to be careful to prevent their growth in our own. The national defense must be provided for as well as the support of Government; but both should be accomplished as much as possible by immediate taxes, and as little as possible by loans.

Taxes over loans.  Who would have guessed that?

In contrast to some of the things circulating around the internet today attributed to John Adams, he actually wrote this in his message to Congress.


Bernie Sanders’ righteous anger at deficits caused by “two wars, unpaid for”

November 21, 2011

Slightly more complete story at Raw Story:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Thursday urged the congressional debt committee not to propose any cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

“This country does in fact have a serious deficit problem,” he said to about 200 people packed in the Senate Budget Committee room.

“But the reality is that the deficit was caused by two wars — unpaid for. It was caused by huge tax breaks for the wealthiest people in this country. It was caused by a recession as result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street. And if those are the causes of the deficit, I will be damned if we’re going to balance the budget on backs of the elderly, the sick, the children, and the poor. That’s wrong.”


Ronald Banks: Keep EPA’s regulation

August 26, 2011

In a letter to the editor of the Leavenworth (Kansas) Times, July 11, 2011, Ronald Banks makes the case simply, succintly and quite accurately, for keeping regulatory agencies that protect our health and the environment:

Ronald Banks
Leavenworth

To the editor:

As an independent, I often find my political opinions “between a rock and a hard place.”

A big concern is cutting or defunding programs or agencies to save money. I can’t say much about SEC, FDA, or any other alphabet agency, except the EPA. As a retired Registered Environmental Manager, I have some experience dealing with those pesky, business-busting regulations.

I would like to persuade the spending hawks to reflect on why the regulations were enacted in the first place. Pesticides were abused and found in our water, air and accumulated in our food as described in the seminal 1962 book, “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson.  Hazardous waste dumps were uncovered at Love Canal.

A dump site was also found in Leavenworth.  Water contamination as shown in the movie, “Erin Brokovich,” from PG&E plants in California; not to mention BP’s oil spill.  E. coli bacterial contamination in hamburger, produce and water, lead in paint, smog/particulate smoke in the air, acid rain, constant oil/gas/ diesel spills on land and sea, have been caused by ironical business cost-cutting on environmental compliance.

Just today I learned Massey Energy compromised safety in its coal mine accident that killed 29 workers.

Don’t get me wrong, I know environmental up-keep is expensive; but it is a public good that must be placed in the fixed costs of a business.

It is not that this information is not known to be true, most would agree they want safe water, air and food. Maybe a reason is in our own psychology? I have recently learned in the latest “Scientific American Mind” that a study by psychologist Ullrich Ecker showed that “our memory is constantly connecting new facts to old and tying different aspects of a situation together, so that we may still unconsciously draw on facts we know to be wrong to make decisions later,” (p12).

In a more political way we also like to see the other party hurt, it feels so good that the feeling unifies a party, even if it hurts us all. As long as the EPA is cut and you are passionate for the cuts factual consequences of the cuts and the emotional consolidation of cheer-leading, may overshadow the good of not cutting.  Remember, cuts at the top filter down to our state, county and city; our water, air and food.

Face it. If there isn’t someone guarding the environment, we won’t have a safe and clean environment.

So, what I have said above will be a “hard sell” no matter how good my argument. Let’s not jeopardize the nation’s health for lobbied cost-cutting budgetary reasons.

Copyright 2011 Leavenworth Times. Some rights reserved

Do you agree?


Hard truths about the U.S. economy

June 15, 2011

Robert Reich tells the truth.  Can you be bothered to listen?

Tip of the old scrub brush to MoveOn.org.  Is there any wonder why the would-be oligarchs work so hard to discredit MoveOn.org?


Scary idea: Obama is now the greatest tax cutter in history

April 24, 2011

Why is that scary?  Because cutting taxes as a policy to fix our ills, doesn’t work.

Politicususa explains:

According to the Orange County Register, “For the past two years, a family of four earning the median income has paid less in federal income taxes than at any time since at least 1955, according to the Tax Policy Center. All federal, state and local taxes combined are a lower percentage of per-capita income than at any time since the 1960s, according to the Tax Foundation. The highest income-tax bracket is its lowest since 1992. At 35 percent, it’s well below the 50 percent mark of much of the 1980s and the 70 percent bracket of the 1970s.”

The problem is that the tax cuts have not promoted economic growth and have caused the federal deficit to explode, “Those lower taxes have helped give the U.S. government the lowest revenues as a percentage of gross domestic product of seven industrialized countries surveyed in 2010 by the Congressional Research Services. (The other countries were Japan, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and France.) The U.S. also had the lowest spending as a percentage of the GDP. But with the biggest gap between revenues (31.6 percent of GDP) and expenditures (42.2 percent of GDP), the U.S. also posted the largest deficit as a percentage of GDP – 10.5 percent.”

No conservative would dare give Obama credit.  Is Obama a noble enough leader to decline ownership of the tax cutting title?


Ironic anniversary: Marshall Plan, April 3, 1948

April 4, 2011

Texas Republicans rammed through their radical budget cut program on April 3, 2011 — ironically on the anniversary of another legislative decision made in the depths of deficit spending.

President Truman signing legislation to create the Marshall Plan, 1948 - Library of Congress, Averill Harriman collection

Caption from Library of Congress: "Surrounded by members of Congress and his cabinet, on April 3, 1948, President Harry S Truman (1884-1972) signed the Foreign Assistance Act, the legislation establishing the Marshall Plan. His official statement said, "Few presidents have had the opportunity to sign legislation of such importance. . . . This measure is America's answer to the challenge facing the free world today." The Marshall Plan was a bipartisan effort--proposed by a Democratic president and enacted into law by a Republican Congress in a hotly contested presidential election year. The plan's supporters shown in the photograph are (l-r) Senator Arthur Vandenberg (R--Mich.), Treasury Secretary John Snyder, Representative Charles Eaton (R--N.J.), Senator Tom Connally (D--Tex.), Secretary of the Interior Julius A. Krug, Representative Joseph Martin (R--Mass.), Representative Sol Bloom (D--N.Y.),and Attorney General Tom Clark." Copyprint from The Marshall Plan at the Mid-Mark. Averell Harriman Papers, Manuscript Division

April 3 is the traditional anniversary of the Marshall Plan.  From the U.S. Census Bureau:

SUNDAY, APRIL 3: MARSHALL PLAN

Profile America — Sunday, April 3rd.  One of the major programs that helped to shape history after World War II was signed into law on this date in 1948.  The European Recovery Program — far better known as the Marshall Plan, was suggested a year earlier by Secretary of State George Marshall. It had become clear that the economies of the nations battered by the war were not recovering on their own, and millions of people were not only jobless, but were also going hungry.  The Marshall Plan lasted for four years, distributing some 130 billion in today’s dollars, and helped many nations on the road to recovery.  Recently, the U.S. has given nearly $34 billion a year in economic aid and some $15.5 billion in military aid to countries around the world.  Profile America is in its 14th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Sources:  Chase’s Calendar of Events 2011, p. 204

Statistical Abstract of the United States 2011, t. 1298

Profile America is produced by the Public Information Office of the U.S. Census Bureau. These daily features are available as produced segments, ready to air, on a monthly CD or on the Internet at http://www.census.gov (look for “Multimedia Gallery” by the “Newsroom” button).

SOURCE U.S. Census Bureau

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/04/02/3523990/us-census-bureau-daily-feature.html#ixzz1IY7ec6mu

On that date in 1948, the U.S. faced the greatest deficits the nation had ever seen, leftover from World War II. Faced with the choice of deeper deficits or no Marshall Plan, Members of Congress chose to borrow the money to rebuild nations hammered by the war,  including our enemies, Germany, Italy and Japan.

What would have happened had the U.S. said “we can’t afford a Marshall Plan?”  Santayana’s Ghost shakes his head.  The U.S. would not have had the aid of growing, free-market economics in France, Germany, Italy, England and Japan, during the Cold War.  Advantages would have been conceded to the Soviet Union and communism, worldwide.

Notice the photograph includes Republicans and Democrats.

What are Texas and U.S. legislators thinking these days?

Resources:


Now is the time for all good citizens to phone legislators for the sake of their country . . .

March 31, 2011

Ready to start dialing?  It’s time to dial to save your country.

MoveOn.org asks Texans to phone their U.S. senators for help:

Dear Ed,

Heads up: Congress is debating a budget plan that would be devastating to Texas. Will you pass this along?

Senators Kay Hutchison and John Cornyn need to hear from all of us about it right now, before they cut a deal in the next few days.

Please spread the word about all of these proposed cuts to Texas:

  • $98 million would be cut from federal funds for clean and safe water in Texas.1
  • 12,000 Texas children would be immediately cut from Head Start, which provides comprehensive early childhood development services for at-risk children ages zero to five.2
  • $391 million would be cut from Pell Grants, affecting all 664,000 higher education students with those grants in Texas.3
  • Job training and employment services would be effectively eliminated for 5,800 dislocated workers, 99,000 low-income adults, and 16,000 youths age 14 to 21.4
  • $10 million would be cut from law enforcement assistance, taking cops off the beat.5

It’s especially galling when the same budget protects tax breaks for corporations like GE and the very rich.

Just last night the news broke that Congress may be close to striking a deal on the budget. Now is the only time we can influence the outcome.

Can you call Sens. Hutchison and Cornyn and ask them to oppose these cuts in the budget? You can pick one of the cuts in this list to highlight in your call.

Senator Kay Hutchison
Phone: 202-224-5922

Senator John Cornyn
Phone: 202-224-2934

Click to report your call. Then pass this email along locally!

http://pol.moveon.org/call?tg=FSTX_1.FSTX_2&cp_id=1547&id=26722-5763840-yqXs_sx&t=2

The cuts that the Republicans are proposing would disproportionately hit those who can least afford it in Texas, and it’s up to us to stop them.

Thanks for all you do.

-Daniel, Amy, Milan, Tate, and the rest of the team

Sources:

1. “House Bill Means Fewer Children in Head Start, Less Help for Students to Attend College, Less Job Training, and Less Funding for Clean Water,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March, 1, 2010
http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3405

2. “Projected Reduction in Children Served in Head Start Based on H.R. 1—Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Resolution,” Center for Law and Social Policy
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=207278&id=26722-5763840-yqXs_sx&t=3

3. “House Bill Means Fewer Children in Head Start, Less Help for Students to Attend College, Less Job Training, and Less Funding for Clean Water,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March, 1, 2010
http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3405

4. Ibid

5. Ibid

Want to support our work? We’re entirely funded by our 5 million members—no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. Chip in here.

Meanwhile, the Texas House of Representatives scheduled the start of debate on H. 1 for Friday, April 1 — the budget resolution that would gut Texas schools and higher education, and set Texas on a course of decline that will make California’s troubles look serene by comparison.

NEA’s Texas affiliate, the Texas State Teachers’ Association, asks teachers to call their Texas representatives to weigh in against the drastic budget cuts (and you can call, too):

March 30, 2011

House Bill 1 is an assault on the public schools!

This Friday, April 1, the Texas House of Representatives is scheduled to begin debate on House Bill 1, its version of the state budget for 2012-2013. If this bill were to become law in its present form, it would cut almost $8 billion from public education and, with it, tens of thousands of school district jobs.

Unfortunately, this is no April Fool’s joke.

It is, instead, the proposal of a state leadership that would rather plug a huge hole in the state budget by firing teachers, packing kids into overcrowded classrooms and closing neighborhood schools than by adequately investing in our state’s future.

NOW is the time to call your legislator and let him or her know what these budget cuts will mean in your classroom, your school and your community. We must stop House Bill 1, and your call is critical!

To contact your state representative, call 800-260-5444, and we will connect you [That's the number for TSTA members, but try it -- I'll bet they'll accept your help!]. You can call any time, day or night, but you need to call before Friday. Leaving a voice message with your representative’s office is just as good as talking to a staff member.

It is important to include the following points in your conversation or message:

  • Your name, that you are a TSTA member and that you live and vote in their district.
  • An overwhelming number of people in your community – parents, teachers and other taxpayers – oppose cuts that would harm public schools.
  • Your own story, how laying off educators, cramming children into crowded classrooms and closing neighborhood schools would have a harmful impact on your students and community.
  • Ask your representative to find the revenue necessary to avoid harmful budget cuts, restore full education funding and end this assault on our public schools.

This will take only a few minutes of your time, and it will be time well spent. Your representative needs to hear from you before Friday!

Pick up your telephone and strike a blow for freedom, democracy, education and sanity in government.


EDUSolidarity Day After, Part 3: Why would a teacher like me hang with a union?

March 23, 2011

I mean, really.  I have two degrees after attending three colleges.  I’ve taught at three different universities.  My parents were (nominally) Republicans.  I worked the Republican side of the U.S. Senate, for Orrin Anti-Labor-Law-Reform Hatch, for heaven’s sake.  I sat  through the hearings on the graft in the Operating Engineers local, the graft in the welders union in Pennsylvania that provided workers to the nuclear reactors, and the graft in the Central States Teamsters Pension Fund.  Two of my staff colleagues went on to chair the National Labor Relations Board, one is a well-known anti-labor lobbyist, and I’ve sat through the “no union here, ever” courses at three different corporations as a member of management.

What gives?

Why do I and other teachers stick with the union?

Diagram of a Liberty Ship

Diagram of a Liberty Ship

My father did carry a union card, though he was a Republican.  He had lots of stories about the difficulty of working with unions from his days with the United Cigar Stores in Los Angeles, and he probably had plenty of reason  to dislike them — but he got a job as a pipefitter building Liberty Ships.  He had to join the pipefitters union, and so he did.

Deep at heart, my father wanted to be a successful businessman.  After the war, he went back to sales.  He wound up in Burley, Idaho, managing a Western Auto store, when he struck out on his own.  Well, he and a partner.  Sedam and Darrell Furniture.  They had a disagreement, and it ended up as Sedam’s on one side of town, and Paul Darrell Hotpoint on the other.

Liberty Ships under construction during World War II

Liberty Ships under construction during World War II

It was about that time that he got a lung x-ray for something, and they found the spot.  He’d given up smoking in the 1930s, but as a pipefitter, he put a lot of asbestos on pipes to shield merchant marines from heat, to insulate the pipes, to prevent shipboard fires.  That was before the dangers of asbestos were well understood.  On the x-ray, it looked like cancer.

But it didn’t grow.  The spot just stayed there, for years.

The store in Burley fell victim to a bad economy when the union at J. R. Simplot Potatoes struck one year, in November.  The strikers weren’t buying Christmas gifts.  There were about 16 furniture and appliance stores in a county with about 16,000 people total.  Several of them didn’t survive the strike and my father’s was one of them.  A lot of people in town cursed the union for causing the strike.  On one of our trips moving to Utah, I rode with Dad and asked him about it, and why the union went on strike.  As a victim of the strike, he could have unloaded.  But he didn’t.

He explained how workers organized to get power to negotiate with big businesses.  Jack Simplot was a man we knew, a good man and a customer from all we knew — but the workers were good people, too, my father explained.  Sometimes workers and employers can’t agree.  My father explained that a strike was one of the few tools workers could use to get an employer to change his position against his will.  I told him I thought it was unfair that workers could strike and force other businesses out.  My father explained that it was tougher on the workers who didn’t buy from us — they needed the stuff they didn’t buy.

Over the next few years I watched as my father got screwed over by good people running good companies, people who were anti-union, but more, anti-employee.  He lost guaranteed bonuses.  He lost promised promotions.  He didn’t get promised raises.  My father never again owned his own business.  Instead he was an employee, unprotected by unions in a string of positions where union protection would have been a good deal for him.  He could not strike, as the workers at J. R. Simplot had.

One of the investigators for the Senate Labor Committee was a character of great proportion — no central casting bureau could have thought up a character like Frank Silbey.  Silbey headed Orrin Hatch’s investigations into unions, and he was a marvel to watch.  Soon after Hatch took over as chair of Labor, Silbey and I had a long lunch to work out just how we would work together.  I expressed to him my concern that any investigation of a union might hurt unions, and hurt workers.

Silbey thought for a minute, and took in a deep breath.  He started to put his finger in my face, but he stopped, and used it to doodle on the table cloth at the old Monocle, near his office in an odd building the Senate owned.

“Listen,” he said.  “You need to know that I am not anti-union.  I can’t be.”  And he told me about his own father.

I don’t remember the business.  I remember that Frank talked about how his family was not rich by any stretch, and his father worked hard at a union job.  The old man had not a lot of time for friends off the job, not after spending the time he wanted to with his wife and kids.  And so it was that, when he died unexpectedly, too young, Frank’s mother knew that it would be a sad funeral, with very few people attending.

When they got to the synagogue for the funeral, though, there was a huge crowd.  The place was literally overflowing with people.  The union had closed the business in honor of Mr. Silbey, and the union turned out for the funeral.  Each of the workers spent time meeting the widow, and telling her what a great man and good friend her husband had been.

“And that’s why I can’t ever be anti-union,” Frank said.  “When all is said and done, the union will stick by you when nobody else does.”

Over the next five years we found a few unions where that was not exactly true, but in most of those cases, those people who made that not true, went to jail.

The health care side of the Senate Labor Committee had a hearing into lung diseases, including black lung, brown lung, and the mesothelioma, the disease pipefitters got from asbestos.  One of the witnesses came from a pipefitters union.  Among other things, he testified to the astonishing rates of illness and untimely deaths among the pipefitters on the World War II Liberty Ships.

On the way out of the hearing I mentioned to the guy that my father had worked on the Liberty Ships, as a pipefitter.  He looked stricken, and paled.  He pulled me off to the side of the hallway, and said, “I am so sorry for you.  Your father did heroic work and the nation owes him a deep debt.”  No one had ever spoken about my father like that to me before, and I teared up.

“How long has he been gone,” the guy asked.

“Well, he’s got a spot on his lung, but it hasn’t changed.  He’s still alive,” I said (my father would die within the decade).

The pipefitters representative smiled, then laughed.  “He’s one of a very small band of survivors.  He’s still a hero, though.”

Throughout his life, my father was a very good man.  Think of the character Jimmy Stewart played in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  That was my father.  He organized across party lines for local elections.  He organized blood drives.  During the Korean War he headed the local program to take care of soldiers passing through town who ran out of money, or got sick, or got thrown in jail.  My father served on more Troop Committees for the various Boy Scout units my brothers and I joined than anyone had a right to expect.

For all his good work, he didn’t get anything but his own satisfaction out of it.

It was a staffer who never met him, for a union he hadn’t worked in for 40 years who called him the hero he was.

“When all is said and done, the union will stick by you when no one else does,” Frank Silbey said.

It’s still true.  In America, we still need that kind of loyalty to working people, especially to teachers.  We need it now more than ever.


EDUSolidarity Day, Part 2: Stanley Fish, formerly opposed to teacher unions, changed his mind — “We’re all badgers now”

March 22, 2011

WordPress was down for a few hours this afternoon, and I had a longish meeting this evening.  I’m running behind.

While I’m gearing up to get my promised comments up, take a look at Stanley Fish’s post at his New York Times blog:

In over 35 years of friendship and conversation, Walter Michaels and I have disagreed on only two things, and one of them was faculty and graduate student unionization. He has always been for and I had always been against. I say “had” because I recently flipped and what flipped me, pure and simple, was Wisconsin.

When I think about the reasons (too honorific a word) for my previous posture I become embarrassed. They are by and large the reasons rehearsed and apparently approved by Naomi Schaefer Riley in her recent op-ed piece “Why unions hurt higher education” (USA Today). The big reason was the feeling — hardly thought through sufficiently to be called a conviction — that someone with an advanced degree and scholarly publications should not be in the same category as factory workers with lunch boxes and hard hats. As Riley points out, even the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) used to be opposed to unionization because of “the commonly held belief that universities were not corporations and faculty were not employees.”

Good discussion from smart guys.  Go see.


EDUSolidarity Day

March 22, 2011



From the EDUSolidarity site:

Throughout the day of March 22, teachers will be sharing posts entitled “Why Teachers Like Us Support Unions”.  For those of you here to share, thank you for doing so.  To submit your posts, click here.

For those of you not sharing, we hope you will take the time to read from an extremely varied and wide variety of teachers across the country and world.  We ask that you read with open minds.  You will read many different reasons for support, some of them contradictory.  What all stories will share though is a desire to serve students.  We all feel that teachers unions give us the best shot to give our students the best possible education.

The full list of posts can be found here.

If you’re a blogger and you want to join us, please do.  Send the link to your post to the EDUSolidarity site — and let us know about it here, in comments.

Teachers in New York City are wearing red in support of union teachers (so are some in Dallas).

Of course, this is a part-time activity for those of us who teach.  I don’t have my post up yet, and may not until the school day is over.

We’re professional teachers, not professional lobbyists.  We don’t have billionaires paying for our political speech, only our hearts and minds.

Other bloggers’ contributions

  1. Rachel Levy at All Things Education
  2. Sarah Puglisi at A Day in the Life
  3. Leo Casey at EdWize
  4. Sherman Dorn
  5. f(t)
  6. Gregg Lundahl at Edwize
  7. Doug Noon – Borderland – Fairbanks, AK.
  8. Jamie JosephsonDontworryteach – Washington, DC.
  9. Kate Nowakf(t) – Syracuse, NY.
  10. Sabrina Stevens Shupe – Failing Schools – Denver, CO.
  11. Jonathan – jd2718 – Bronx, NY.
  12. Anthony Cody – Living in Dialogue – Oakland, CA.
  13. Stephen Lazar – Outside the Cave – Gotham Schools – Bronx, NY.
  14. Nancy Flanagan – Teacher in a Strange Land – Cedar, MI.
  15. Ken Bernstein aka “teacherken”teacherken at Daily Kos – Arlington, VA. teacherken
  16. Jose Vilson – The Jose Vilson – New York, NY. thejlv
  17. Sophie Germain – A Brand New Line – Santa Clara, CA. sophgermain
  18. Sarah PuglisiA Day In the Life – Oxnard, CA.
  19. Jeff Silva-BrownA Passion for Teaching and Opinions – Ukiah, CA. ukiahcoachbrown
  20. Dan Anderson – A Recursive Process – Saratoga Springs, NY. dandersod
  21. Mr. A. TalkAccountable Talk – New York, NY.
  22. Frank Noschese – Action-Reaction – Cross River, NY. fnoschese
  23. Lisa Butler – Adventures with Technology – Harrisburg, PA. SrtaLisa
  24. Rachel Levy – All Things Education – Ashland, VA. RachelAnneLevy
  25. Jason BuellAlways Formative – San Jose, CA. jybuell
  26. The Reflective EducatorAn Urban Teacher’s Education – New York, NY. urbanteachersed
  27. Apple A Day – Apple A Day Project – Boston, MA. appleadayproj
  28. Amy Valens – August to June: Bringing Life to School – New York, NY. augusttojune
  29. Chana – Blogging at the Edge of Democracy – Durham, NC. democracysedge
  30. Bud Hunt – Bud the Teacher – Fort Collins, CO. budtheteacher
  31. ChazChaz’s School Daze – Queens, NY.
  32. Marc Bousquet – Chronicle of Higher Education – Los Gatos, CA.
  33. David Coffey – Delta Scape – Spring Lake, MI. delta_dc
  34. Leo CaseyDissent Magazine – New York, NY.
  35. Brent NyczDon’t Settle – New York, NY. BNiche
  36. Peter – Ed in the Apple – New York, NY.
  37. Norm ScottEducation Notes – Rockaway Beach, NY.
  38. Deven Black – Education on the Plate – New York City, NY. devenkblack
  39. David Andrade – Educational Technology Guy – Bridgeport, CT. daveandcori
  40. educator4WI – educator4WI – Madison, WI.
  41. Francis S. Midy – EduSolidarity Essays – Bronx, NY.
  42. Suzanne Donahue – EduSolidarity Essays – Rockland County, NY.
  43. Eric BrunsellEdutopia – STEM Blog – Appleton, WI. Brunsell
  44. Esther BerksonEdwize – Bronx, NY.
  45. Jason LeibowitzEdwize – New York, NY.
  46. Jessica JacobsEdwize – Staten Island, NY.
  47. Lissette VelazquezEdwize – New York, NY.
  48. Marc KorashanEdwize – New York, NY.
  49. Roseanne McCoshEdwize – Bronx, NY.
  50. JennyElementary, My Dear, or Far From It – Springfield, VA. jenorr
  51. Marie Levey-Pabst – English Teachin’ Vegan – Boston, MA.
  52. Christal WattsFive Feet of Feisty – Fairfield, CA. christal_watts
  53. Jay Bullockfolkbum’s rambles and rants – Milwaukee, WI. folkbum
  54. Fred Klonsky – Fred Klonsky’s Blog – Chicago, IL. fklonsky
  55. Zeno – Halfway There – Northern CA.
  56. Mimi YangI Hope This Old Train Breaks Down… – El Salvador (formerly NYC). untilnextstop
  57. Cathy B – I.M.O. In My Opinion – Detroit, MI. Cathy_Brackett
  58. David B. Cohen – InterACT – Palo Alto, CA. CohenD
  59. Ruben BrosbeIs Our Children Learning? – New York, NY. blogsbe
  60. Lynne Winderbaumjd2718 (friend’s blog) – Rockland County, NY.
  61. Larry Ferlazzo – Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of The Day – Sacramento, CA. larryferlazzo
  62. Julia TsyganLearning (by) Teaching – Stockholm, Sweden.
  63. Kathryn Coffey – Literacy Gurl – Spring Lake, MI. literacygurl
  64. Gregg LundahlLundahl – New York, NY.
  65. Brian CohenMaking the Grade – Philadelphia, PA. bncohen
  66. Mark Anderson – MAnderson’s Bubble – New York, NY. mandercorn
  67. Nick Yates – Maryland Math Madness – Baltimore, MD. nyates314
  68. CurmudgeonMath Curmudgeon – VT.
  69. Chris Hill – Math is a Shovel – Seattle, WA. hillby258
  70. Sue VanHattum – Math Mama Writes – Richmond, CA.
  71. Owen Thomas – MathEdZineBlog – Columbus, OH. vlorbik
  72. John Goldenmathhombre – Grand Haven, MI. mathhombre
  73. Miss Adventure – Miss Adventure’s Adventures – GA.
  74. Michael Dunn – Modern School – San Francisco, CA. ModSchool
  75. Bill IveyMy Blog at ISENET.ning.com – Shelburne Falls, MA.
  76. Tricia DiPasqualeMy Life – Somerville, MA. PDiPasquale
  77. Kristen FoussMy Web 2.0 journey – Cincinnati, OH. fouss
  78. Courtney FerrellNo Teacher Left Behind – New York, NY.
  79. Miss EyreNYC Educator – New York, NY.
  80. Christopher SearsOmega Unlimited – Maysville, KY.
  81. Stephen LazarOutside the Cave – Bronx, NY. SLazarOtC
  82. John Mcrann – Outside the Cave (guest post) – Bronx, NY.
  83. Penelope MillarOutside the Cave (Guest post) – VA. PetiteViking
  84. Alexa – Pas Pour Tout Les Yeux (personal blog, mostly private) – Chicago, IL.
  85. Chris Spiliotispassing notes – Enterprise, FL. _thelink
  86. Pat BallewPat’s Blog – USA.
  87. Peggy RobertsonPeg with Peg – Centennial, CO. PegwithPen
  88. Brendan Murphy – Philosophy Without A Home – Waukegan IL. dendari
  89. pissedoffteacherPissedoffteacher – Queens, NY.
  90. Chris LehmannPractical Theory – Philadelphia, PA. chrislehmann
  91. Gamal Sherif – ProgressEd – Philadelphia, PA.
  92. Alice Mercer – Reflections on Teaching – Sacramento, CA. alicemercer
  93. Chuck Olynyk – Remember Fremont – Pomona, CA.
  94. Nancy Cavillones – Se Hace Camino al Andar – Bronx, NY.
  95. Shakespeare’s SisterShakespeare’s Sister – CO. shakes_sister
  96. Sherman Dorn – Sherman Dorn – Tampa, FL. shermandorn
  97. Chris Janotta – SOS Million Teacher Blog Site – Tinley Park IL. SOSMTM
  98. Ira David Socol – SpeEdChange – Holland, MI. irasocol
  99. Maria AngalaTeacher Sol – Washington, DC. TeacherSol
  100. Mary Rice-BootheThe Education Traveler – New York, NY. Edu_Traveler
  101. Jose VilsonThe Jose Vilson – New York, NY. thejlv
  102. Timothy Boyle – The Notebook – Philadelphia, PA.
  103. Samuel ReedThe Philadelphia Public School Notebook – Philadelphia, PA. sriii2000
  104. Kelly Mueller – The Power of Accomplished Teaching – St. Louis, MO. lkelly46
  105. Rich Trash – The Trashman’s Disposable Reader – Queens, NY. RichTrash
  106. David ReberTopeka K-12 Examiner – Lawrence, KS. David_Reber
  107. Tuba BauhoferTuba Bauhofer – Kent. springrose12
  108. Mary Tedrow – Walking to School – Winchester, VA. mtedrow
  109. Katie Svoboda – What’s on Katie’s Mind? – Sturgis, MI.
  110. Paul Wagnerzenbassoon at Daily Kos – Hebron, IN. BssnistPaul

“I Have Sex” — students speak out against ideological attack on Planned Parenthood

March 20, 2011

Here’s something to think about, from students at Wesleyan College:

The film’s producers on Facebook.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Dana Goldstein, Lady Wonk.


Homework for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (and it was due a few days ago . . .)

March 13, 2011

Eric Brehm teaches in Wisconsin. Now you know the answers to any questions about bias you may have.

It’s been more than three weeks, and Mr. Brehm has gotten no answer from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.  It’s not exactly like Walker is a student who hasn’t done his homework, but it’s close enough.

From Brehm’s blog, Bang the Buckets, the letter:

On Saturday, February 19, 2011, I sent the following letter to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.  It has since been reposted and blogged a number of times, for which I am grateful.  However, this blog would not be complete unless I included a copy of it here.  And so, here is where it all began:

To the Duly-Elected Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker (and anyone else who gives a hoot):

It has only been a week, and I grow weary of the political struggle that your Budget Repair Bill has caused.  I am tired of watching the news, though I have seen many of the faces of those I hold dear as they march on the Capitol.  I am tired of defending myself to those who disagree with me, and even a bit tired of fist-bumping those who do.  I am tired of having to choose a side in this issue, when both sides make a certain degree of sense.  And so I offer you this desultory (aimless or rambling) philippic (angry long-winded speech), because at the end of the day I find that though this issue has been talked to death, there is more that could be said.  And so, without further ado, here are my points and/or questions, in no particular order.

1.  You can have my money, but. . .. Ask any number of my students, who have heard me publicly proclaim that a proper solution to this fiscal crisis is to raise taxes.  I will pay them.  I have the great good fortune to live in a nation where opportunity is nearly limitless, and I am willing to pay for the honor of calling myself an American.  Incidentally, Warren Buffett, the second richest man in the nation (and a Democrat) agrees with me.  Your proposed Budget Repair Bill will cost me just under $3000 per year at my current salary, with the stated goal of saving $30 million this year on the state budget.  I say, take it.  You can have it.  It will hurt me financially, but if it will balance the budget of the state that has been my home since birth, take it with my blessing.  But if I may, before you do, I have some questions.

According to the 2009 estimate for the U.S. Census, 5,654,774 people live in the state of Wisconsin.  Of those, 23.2% are under the age of 18, and presumably are not subject to much in the way of income tax.  That still leaves about 4,342,867 taxpayers in the state of Wisconsin.  If you wished to trim $30 million off of the budget, that works out to about $6.91 per Wisconsin taxpayer.  So I must ask:  Is it fair that you ask $3000 of me, but you fail to ask $6.91 of everyone?  I know that times are tough, but would it not be more equitable to ask that each taxpayer in the state contribute an extra 13 cents a week?

  • Would you please, kindly, explain exactly how collective bargaining is a fiscal issue?  I fancy myself to be a fairly intelligent person.  I have heard it reported in the news that unless the collective bargaining portion of this bill is passed, severe amounts of layoffs will occur in the state.  I have heard that figure given as 6,000 jobs.  But then again, you’ve reportedly said it was 10,000 jobs.  But then again, it’s been reported to be as high as 12,000 jobs.  Regardless of the figure, one thing that hasn’t been explained to my satisfaction is exactly how or why allowing a union to bargain collectively will cost so much money or so many jobs.  Am I missing something?  Isn’t collective bargaining essentially sitting in a room and discussing something, collectively?  Is there now a price tag on conversation?  How much does the average conversation cost?  I feel your office has been eager to provide doomsday scenarios regarding lost jobs, but less than willing to provide actual insight as to why that is the case.  I would welcome an explanation.
  • Why does your concern over collective bargaining, pensions, and healthcare costs only extend to certain unions, but not all?  Why do snow plow drivers and child care providers and teachers and prison guards find themselves in “bad” unions, but firefighters and state police and local police find themselves in unions that do not need to be effected by your bill?  The left wing news organizations, of course, state that this is because these are unions that supported your election bid, while you seek to punish those unions that did not; I would welcome your response to such a charge.  You have stated that the state and local police are too vital to the state to be affected.  Can I ask how child care, or prison guards, or nurses or teachers are not vital?  Again, I would welcome a response.
  • Though you are a state employee, I have seen no provision in your bill to cut your own pension or healthcare costs.  The governor’s salary in Wisconsin was about $137,000 per year, last I checked.  By contrast, I make about $38,000 per year.  Somewhere in that extra $99,000 that you make, are you sure you couldn’t find some money to fund the state recovery which you seem to hold so dear?  As you have been duly elected by the voters of Wisconsin, you will receive that salary as a pension for the rest of your life.  I don’t mean to cut too deeply into your lifestyle, but are you sure you couldn’t live off $128,000 per year so that you could have the same 7% salary reduction you are asking certain other public employees to take?

2.  Regarding teachers being overpaid and underworked. I don’t really have many questions in this regard, but I do have a couple of statements.  If you haven’t already figured it out, I am a teacher, so you may examine my statement for bias as you see fit.  I admit I find it somewhat suspect that teachers are mentioned so prominently in your rhetoric; those protesting at the Capitol are indeed teachers.  But they are also students, and nurses, and prison guards, and plumbers, and firefighters, and a variety of other professions.  If you could go back to “public sector employees,” I would appreciate it.  But as far as being overpaid and underworked . . . I grant you, I have a week’s vacation around Christmas.  I have a week off for Spring Break.  I have about 10 weeks off for summer.  With sick days and personal days and national holidays and the like, I work about 8.5 months out of every year.  So perhaps I am underworked.  But before you take that as a given, a couple of points in my own defense.

  • The average full-time worker puts in 40 hours per week, 50 weeks per year, with two weeks’ vacation time.  That makes for a grand total of 2000 hours per year.  Part of the teachers’ arguments regarding their time is that no one sees how many hours they work at home to grade papers, or create lesson plans, or things of that nature.  I am in a rare state, in that I am not one of those teachers.  I work an hour from where I live, and I like to keep my work at work.  I, therefore, do not bring work home with me, but rather stay at school, or come in early, so that I can grade papers or create lesson plans while at school.  So I am more prepared than most to explain the hours it takes to do my job.  I also supervise an extra-curricular activity (as many teachers do), in that I serve as the Drama Coach for my school.  The school year, so far, has lasted for 24 weeks.  I have, in that time, averaged 78 hours per week either going to school, being at school, or coming home from school.  If you remove my commute, of course, I still average 68 hours per week, thus far.  That means I have put in 1,632 hours of work time this year, which works out to over 80% of what your average full time worker does in a calendar year.  If you include my commute, I’m over 90%.  If ikeep going at my current pace, I will work 2,720 hours this school year (or 3,120 hours if you include my commute).  That means I work 136% to 156% as much as your average hourly worker.
  • As to underpaid — I’m not sure I am underpaid in general, though I do believe I am underpaid in terms of the educational level expected to do my job.  I have two Bachelor’s Degrees, and will be beginning work toward my Master’s this summer.  By comparison, sir, you never completed college, and yet, as previously stated, you outearn me by almost $100,000 per year.  Perhaps that is an argument that I made the wrong career choice.  But it is perhaps an argument that we need to discuss whether you and others like you are overpaid, and not whether teachers are.

3.  Regarding the notion that teachers that are protesting, or legislators currently in Illinois, are hurting the state. Very briefly, if I may:

  • Teachers have been accused of shirking their duties by protesting for what they believe to be their rights instead of being in school.  The argument has been, of course, that no lessons have been taught when classes aren’t in session.  I must submit that lessons in protest, in exercise of the First Amendment right to peaceable assembly, in getting involved as a citizen in political affairs, have been taught these past few days.  The fact that they haven’t been taught in the classroom is irrelevant.  Ultimately a very strong duty of the school system is to help students become citizens — I think that has clearly happened this week.
  • As to the legislators, it seems to me as though they feel their constituents deserve to have a length of time to examine the proposed bill on its merits, not vote it straight up or down three days after it was presented.  As the current budget does not expire until June, this seems to me like the only response left them in light of your decision to fast-track the bill without discussion.  Give them another option, and perhaps they will come back.  I can’t say that I agree with their decision, but I can say that I understand it.

4.  Regarding the notion that protestors at the Capitol are rabble-rousers and/or thugs. Such name-calling on the part of conservatives in the state and the conservative media could be severely curtailed if you would speak out against it.  True, most of the people protesting, if not all, are liberals.  Historically, liberals have always tended to think that they have far more support than they actually do.  They also (in my opinion) have a tendency to get extremely organized about three months too late, if at all.  So you can fault them for their decision-making, but I would ask you to speak out against the notion of thuggery.  Again, very briefly:

  • So far, 12 arrests have been made.  Estimates say there were about 25,000 people at the Capitol today, and about 20,000 yesterday.  Let’s be conservative (mathematically) and say that 40,000 people protested over two days.  That would mean that officers arrested .0003% of all protestors.  By almost any definition, that is an extremely peaceful demonstration, and of course you are aware that the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of peaceable assembly for a redress of grievances.  So in the main, these people have done nothing wrong.

5.  If I may provide you with a sense of history. You work in the largest and most magnificiently appointed state capitol in the nation, built by Bob LaFollette (a Republican).  You work in the same building where Phil LaFollette (a Republican) helped guide Wisconsin out of the Great Depression.  You work in the same building where Gaylord Nelson (a Democrat) was the first in the nation to offer rights to unions of state employees, rights that you now seek to overturn.  And you work in the same building where Tommy Thompson (a Republican) provided more state funding to education than any other governor before or since.  Are your current actions truly how you would choose to be remembered?

6.  Finally, Governor, a note of thanks.  Whatever the outcome of the next several days, you deserve a certain degree of credit.  As an educator, I understand how difficult it can be to get young people interested in politics.  You have managed to do this in the space of one week.  A number of Wisconsin’s youth support you.  A number of them do not.  But whatever else can be said of you, you have them paying attention, and thinking about voting, and walking around the Capitol, and turning out to be involved.  You have taught your own lessons this week, Governor, and that has its own value.

Thank you for your time,

Eric Brehm

XXX North XXXXXX Street

Endeavor, WI  53930

While I recognize that the governor has many issues on his plate, I should note that I am still waiting for a response.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Mother Jones, and Positively Persistent Teach.


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