Archive for April 6th, 2007

Seed Newsvine

Appearing in the Peninusla Clarion. The writer demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of both the point of the first amendment and the history of ‘In God We Trust’ as a jingoistic slogan. Now I suppose it is okay for a citizen to be ignorant but for an editor to actually choose this letter for publication is simply unconscionable. See for yourself. I am deeply offended by Shannon’s bigotry, intolerance and anti-intellectualism. Her lack of knowledge and understanding regarding alternatives to faith suggests a world view that excludes cognition and rational thought rather than working toward acceptance and clarity. I am tempted to ask Alice Shannon to stay in Alaska and not wander into the lower 48 but that would be falling into her trap. How about an old fashioned face-to-face debate. Maybe that would be enlightening (pun intended).

Believe or else!

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Seed Newsvine

The issue is important enough to simply present FAIR TEST’s plea for action on the part of all concerned citizens. So here it is. PLEASE TAKE ACTION on this one. Save the children, save the entire next generation from a life of basic skills ignorance.

The Bush Administration and its Congressional allies are trying to push through fast-track renewal of the fundamentally flawed “No Child Left Behind” law without the public debate it requires. Now is the time for assessment reformers like you to act. Contact your U.S. Senators and Representative today. Tell them NCLB should not be reauthorized unless all these issues are addressed. Ask them to contact the Education Committee and press for adoption of the reforms listed here.

End arbitrary and unrealistic “Adequate Yearly Progress” (AYP) requirements used to punish schools not on track to having all students score “proficient” by 2014. AYP should be replaced by expectations based on real-world rates of improved student achievement. Academic progress should be measured by multiple sources of evidence, not just standardized test scores.

Reduce excessive top-down testing mandates. The requirement that states assess each student every year in grades three through eight (and once in high school) should be reduced to once each in elementary, middle and high school. Over-testing takes time away from real teaching and learning.

Remove counter-productive sanctions. Escalating punitive consequences, which lack evidence of success, should be eliminated. These include requirements to spend money on school transfers and tutoring, as well as provisions calling for the replacement of teachers or privatizing control over schools.

Replace NCLB’s test-and-punish approach with support for improving educational quality. This includes holding schools accountable for making systemic changes through locally controlled professional development and family involvement programs. Federal funding should be more than doubled so that all eligible children receive support.

The thrust of this approach is outlined in the Joint Organizational Statement on NCLB with details in Redefining Accountability: Improving Student Learning by Building Capacity. http://www.fairtest.org/FEA_Home.html.

Members of Congress are in their home districts during the first half of April. Take advantage of this opportunity to make your views heard. Personal calls, letters, faxes and visits are much more effective than email. Addresses and phone numbers are available at http://www.house.gov and http://www.senate.gov.

Please take action today. The U.S. will continue to leave many children behind unless your voice is heard.

FairTest Home

FEA Website

FairTest’s FEA Page

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In a feed from REUTERS, Yahoo News reports:

President Bashar al-Assad met a Republican member of the U.S. Congress on Thursday, a day after Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ended a visit to Syria that was criticized by the White House. The official news agency said the meeting between Assad and Darrell Issa, a member of the House Committee on Intelligence, discussed ways to improve relations between Washington and Damascus.

If this is not evidence of the paranoia of the extremists on the right than I am not sure what might be classified as evidence. Nancy Pelosi, constitutionally third in line for succession to the presidency, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Democrat travels to Syria to engage with Syrian President Assad in discussions that may prove fruitful in the pursuit of a lasting peace in the Middle East and she is roundly criticized by the Bush administration. But, when Darrell Issa, a 4th term congressman from California, does the very same thing the silence from the White House is deafening. Where is Bush now? Where is Cheney, now? Where is the right wing blogosphere now? How is it that when a Democratic leader in the house takes reasonable steps to engage in the political life of the nation she is portrayed as no less than Satan himself but when a Republican back bencher does precisely the same thing not a sound can be heard from the hecklers. Perhaps it is time to stop the vitriolic nature of American politics, to begin to find a common ground from which to conduct ourselves in the world. That won’t happen until we are, once again, able to talk without shouting here at home.

Less than 655 days left in this administration’s tenure. Can we survive that long?

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Vice President Dick Cheney accused U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday of “bad behavior” on her Middle East trip, saying she bungled a message for Syria’s president that was later clarified by Israel.

Cheney harshly criticized Pelosi’s visit to Syria this week and declared in an interview, “The president is the one who conducts foreign policy, not the speaker of the House.”

Of all people to complain about Speaker Pelosi’s Middle Eastern trip! Cheney, one of the war profiteers, is, of course, correct that the president is the one who is supposed to conduct foreign policy–with the advice and consent of the Senate, a constitutional barrier the president no longer has in his back pocket. Bush’s idea of foreign policy seems to be more or less–more troops, more money, more bombs, more deaths, more destruction –less talk, less truth, less democracy, less trust among our remaining friends. The Bush more or less pursuit of foreign policy seems to be no policy at all; rather it appears to be one new strategy for success supplanted by another leading to failure and more still failure; a seat of one’s pants approach to foreign policy. For Cheney, and architect of the Bush non-policy (a colleague of mine disagrees and calls the Iraq policy the first Oedipal War (after all, Saddam did try “to kill my daddy!”), to complain about one who is constitutionally third in line for the presidency seeking meaningful discussions with those with whom we might disagree is simply disingenuous.

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NeoCon BS blogged this one

They’re Terrorists, but They’re Our Terrorists…

Based on a story by Michael Ware at CNN.com U.S. Protects Iranian Opposition Group in Iraq

I really want to scream. Not only is this a bungled war (actually the war effort was a great success–it is the peace that is being bungled) but the hypocrisy of the Bush White House is without bounds.

NeoCon points out that lessons learned (or forgotten) that resulted from the US support of the muhajadeen in Afghanistan in the 1980’s have largely been mislaid. Of course, terrorism is okay if the terror supports our own goals in Iraq.

While I support NeoCon’s basic premise, I want to take it a bit further. Here, the double standard of fighting a “war on terror” while, at the same time, supporting groups that engage in terror for political purposes is merely another nail in the coffin of international support for the United States. As Bush insists on forcing democracy on the world (or at least that part of the world rich in oil resources) he behaves as if he were king at home. Secrecy, deliberately hiding the facts of the prosecution of this peace in Iraq from the American people, whose tax dollars are being used to pay for the Bush aggression, is not the act of the leader of the “greatest democracy” in the world. It is, rather, much like that of a Fascist despot believing that if he tells a lie long and often enough that lie becomes the same as the truth.

When will the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, or MEK, the Iranian terrorist group being supported by the Bush administration, come back to bite us?

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