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Archive for the ‘Other Topics’ Category

We’re Thirty-Seventh!

In the World Health Organization’s ranking of health care systems worldwide.

Do you think the Fordham Foundation’s Flypaper blog will devote the next two weeks to a Health Olympics, explaining how our showing behind such powerhouses as San Marino and Malta means economic disaster for the United States? More »

Alabanza: In Praise Of Local 100

Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100
By Martin Espada

for the 43 members of
Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees
Local 100, working at the Windows on the World restaurant,
who lost their lives in the attack on the World Trade Center

Alabanza. Praise the cook with a shaven head
and a tattoo on his shoulder that said Oye,
a blue-eyed Puerto Rican with people from Fajardo,
the harbor of pirates centuries ago. More »

Health Care Reform

No need to do a verbal pirouette. Let’s state it outright without caveats: it is indeed a birthright for all Americans to have quality health care regardless of their station in society and circumstance of life. Anyone opposed to that should hang their heads in shame and not have the brass to attend a house of worship where principles of human dignity are in one way or other celebrated.

Thousands of years of social evolution, with all the gory sacrifices made unavoidable because of all manner of pig-headedness and false pride should have amounted by now to a more advanced civilization or at least a less nakedly greedy society. Yet radio hosts with one hundred million dollar contracts begrudge a worker laboring at two full-time floor-mopping jobs the means to obtain chemotherapy for her infant. Taxing them an extra dime would amount to redistribution of wealth and class envy, their two bugaboos of “socialism.” More »

Would you choose this teacher to guide your children?

That is what the far right-wing Family Research Council asks about Kevin Jennings, founder and former executive director of GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network.

Well, since you asked, absolutely yes.

GLSEN has done admirable work in diversity education, and Jennings has been nominated as the new Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education for the Department’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, so the Family Research Council is out for blood. Jennings spoke at last spring’s Representative Assembly of NYSUT, and gave an absolutely dynamite speech.

If you agree that he is fit to guide your children, you might want to sign the GLSEN petition in support of Jennings.

UPDATE: A Fact Check at Think Progress demolishes the Family Research Council’s slanders against Jennings.

A Night at Carnegie Hall: The Junior High School Salute to Music

The Staten Island Borough-Wide Senior Band was joined on the Carnegie Hall stage by the RTC Kids chorus for the Salute to Music finale.

The Staten Island Borough-Wide Senior Band was joined on the Carnegie Hall stage by the RTC Kids chorus for the Salute to Music finale.

How many performers can say they’ve received a standing ovation at Carnegie Hall? On the evening of June 10, at least 350 New York City middle school students joined that exclusive club.

My family and I were in attendance for the 2009 Junior High School Salute to Music concert at the hallowed hall on 57th Street. This year the Bronx Borough-Wide Band performed, along with the Staten Island Borough-Wide Junior and Senior Bands, the Staten Island Borough-Wide Orchestra, and Staten Island’s RTC Kids chorus.

[Disclosure: My father, William Levay, conducts the Staten Island Senior Band; as an intermediate school student, I participated in the Staten Island Borough-Wide program and the RTC Kids.]

Judging from the smiles on stage and in the audience, the waves, the hoots and hollers, the enthusiastic applause, and the camera flashes (despite numerous reminders from Carnegie Hall staff that photos were prohibited), the concert was truly a special event for all involved. More »

Corporate Power, Junk Science And Intellectual Corruption

An Australian court case centered on big pharma Merck’s promotion of the drug Vioxx, even as it knew of dangerous side effects, has provided a remarkable window into the abuse of corporate power. The Guardian‘s Ben Goldacre provides a most interesting account of developments in the case.

It was not enough, Goldacre recounts, for Merck to develop a “hit list” of doctors and academics critical of the company and Vioxx, attempting to interfere with their academic appointments and hinting that funding would “dry up” if criticism continued. They paid an academic publishing company, Elsevier, to produce a pseudo-academic journal, The Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine, for the express purpose of promoting Vioxx, other Merck drugs and Merck itself. Issue 2 of the journal had 29 articles — nine supporting Vioxx and another 12 supporting another Merck drug, Fosamax.

Now it has been revealed that Elsevier has produced six such industry sponsored “journals.” Junk science for sale to the highest bidder.

Puts Wal-Mart funded “Departments of Education Reform” at academic institutions like the University of Arkansas into an interesting context, doesn’t it?

Hat Tip: Henry at Crooked Timber

WFP Wishing Limbaugh “Bon Voyage”

Rush Limbaugh announced that he will leave New York rather than abide the new tax increases on high earners. On Saturday, April 4, the Working Families Party will host a “Bon Voyage Limbaugh” party to celebrate the passage of fair share tax reform — and to send Rush off in style.

Eduwonkette Rides Into The Sunset… For Now, We Hope

Having once undertaken and completed the marathon known as “the dissertion,”  I fully understand the decision of Jennifer Jennings [Eduwonkette] to turn over the keyboard to that task. But academia’s gain is the education world’s — and the edublogosphere’s — loss. Here’s hoping it’s temporary, and that the ability to impact on the real world of schools continues to inspire that masked woman.

Obama as Everyman

Even before its launch, the Obama presidency is larger than life. There’s no arguing its symbolism is the bearer of its own legacy. The world’s nations, regardless of their histories or systems of government, have put their ancestral loathings on hold and are sharing the exhilaration. It’s like the whole planet is an athlete high on endorphins. It is spectacular for Americans especially as we have by this election distanced ourselves just a step from the morally felonious exclusions of the past. By our votes we have repented the bonds of history. Let’s luxuriate in what our nation has overcome and work to ensure that Obama’s victory is not a token, novelty, or fluke of history but rather will make perfectly plausible the election of other racial and other minorities in the future. More »

Change You Can Link To

A redesigned WhiteHouse.gov has launched, including a new blog.

Tell Me What I Believe

“Tell me what to believe and I will believe it sincerely.”

The pull to socially conform is a riptide that can alter individual perception and maybe even overwhelm a person’s conscience. More »

No Civic Duty on Company Time

When teachers are summoned for jury duty they should postpone their service until their vacation and take it then. That would demonstrate professionalism and save the taxpayers money. This proposal, which doesn’t even rise to the level of an April Fools’ Day joke, comes from the City Council, which has otherwise been on the right side on so many issues concerning teachers. More »

No Contest From Us: It’s All Yours, Jay

Jay Greene’s [of the United Cherry Pickers] idea of intellectual discourse?

“My blog is bigger than your blog.”

Don’t worry, Jay. We happily cede the adolescent male demographic to your blog.

A Thanksgiving Day Lesson

Thanksgiving Day stands alone among American holidays. Its inspiration is timeless and universal and it lends itself to teaching across all curriculums and cultures. There’s nothing about that holiday that is irksome to anybody regardless of national, political, or religious ideology.  And its original meaning has not been eroded by entrepreneurs or braggarts of any stripe. More »

Liberty In All Its Splendor: Rights Talk And Education

Eduwonk’s Andy Rotherham has posted a commentary which links the right of marriage for gay men and lesbians to school choice, on the grounds that both are expressions of liberty.  In Rotherham’s view, those who support the right of marriage and yet oppose school choice are inconsistent in their application of the principle of liberty. Interestingly, he  does not make the converse case, that those who oppose the right of marriage and yet support school choice are similarly inconsistent: his fire is directed at the left, not the right, side of the spectrum.

While we support both the right of marriage and public school choice, the subsumption of the two concepts under a common rubric of liberty, the creation of a political and legal equivalence between the two concepts, obscures far more than it clarifies. More »