Thursday, February 24, 2011

Republicans don't know what they want

So in February of 2011, House Republicans grandstanded during a floor session that was supposed to be about cutting the deficit. During this deficit debate, GOP House members pushed for cutting funding to Planned Parenthood, a "whopping" three hundred and something million dollars because of some alleged violations that were recently exposed in some undercover videos similar to those discredited videos targeting ACORN.

That's fine if the GOP want to stop federal funds from going to any company that engages is bad behavior, but looking back at September of 2010 those watching Congress got to see thirty GOP Senators vote no on Al Franken's amendment to deny defense contracts to companies that
"equires that an employee or independent contractor, as a condition of employment, sign a contract that mandates that the employee or independent contractor performing work under the contract or subcontract resolve through arbitration any claim under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or any tort related to or arising out of sexual assault or harassment, including assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, or negligent hiring, supervision, or retention."
That's right, thirty GOP Senators wanted to continue giving contracts to companies that force their employees to promise not to report sexual assault. And I can guarantee that defense contractors that did this were getting a lot more than three hundred and something million dollars.

Senate Roll Call #308: Republicans Voting 'Nay' - OpenCongress

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

More problems with Teach for America

Ravitch: The Problem with Teach For America

By Valerie Strauss

This was written by education historian Diane Ravitch on her Bridging Differences blog, which she co-authors with Deborah Meier on the Education Week website. Ravitch and Meier exchange letters about what matters most in education. Ravitch, a research professor at New York University, is the author of the bestselling “The Death and Life of the Great American School System,” an important critique of the flaws in the modern school reform movement.

The Answer Sheet - Ravitch: The Problem with Teach For America

Monday, February 14, 2011

University of Rochester's Campus Times pens another winner

The University of Rochester's Adam Ondo has written an article for the Campus Times calling for more, and faster death penalties in our justice system.  Here is my quick response.  Hopefully we'll get another flurry of activity like we did on James Russell's call for School Vouchers.

My response:
While it’s great that you’re able to prove in your article that Singapore’s streamlined death penalty system is the absolute factor in their low crime rate, perhaps taking your assertions as fact might not be the most intelligent thing your readers could do.
Take for example the fact that violent crime has been on the decline at the same time that America’s prison population has skyrocketed.
Take for example that maybe other factors, like childhood poverty play a role in crime statistics, and that America ranks near the bottom of OECD countries in child well-being might have more to do with crime than whether or not the death penalty is in effect.
While I’m thrilled that you are so enthusiastic to kill a bunch of people quickly so that we can all save some tax money, perhaps if we were willing to address some of the causes of crime instead of just pouring billions of dollars into building more prisons and speeding up executions we might end up in a much better society than the one you are dreaming of.

Monday, February 7, 2011

GOP wants to put Government between women and their doctors

Despite the rhetoric on the right about the Affordable Health Care act of 2010 allowing the government to come between patients and their doctors, new bills proposed by the GOP would do exactly that.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My response to University of Rochester's Campus Times call for School Vouchers

The original article:

My response:
Mr. Russell would probably be thrilled to see America’s public schools fall into the dustbin of history. To that end his creative use of statistics is helpful in making his case against the institution that conservatives have been weakening since Reagan came into office.

To mention that federal spending on elementary and secondary education has gone up 260% since the 1970s ignores the following:

1) Prior to 1965 there was virtually no federal spending on education
2) A fair amount of the money spent since 1970 has gone to wealthy districts/schools while skipping over poor/struggling districts
3) Much of the progress that was being made in the 70s was wiped out by Reagan’s gutting of the department of Education

Of course words like “school choice” sound great because who doesn’t like options, but research has shown Charter schools are not a magic bullet. More than half of all Charter schools are worse/no better than public schools.

The problems that our public schools face is that the worst schools are filled with students whose parents lack the political power to ensure proper funding, teachers, facilities, and supplies. By allowing vouchers and the exodus of students that would follow, this problem would only be exacerbated, leaving those most vulnerable in our society with no education.

Instead of hollowing out our public schools with vouchers, funding them with appropriate student weighting (more money for special education, English Language Learners, impoverished/homeless children) would do far more to improve the quality of education in this country.
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