Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Don't know the answer but I know who to blame

Stuff I've been reading:

1. The dissolution of the Philly public school district:

From the CityPaper: Who's Killing Philly Public Schools?
In short, it was a plan to shutter 40 schools next year, and an additional six every year thereafter until 2017. The remaining schools would be herded into "achievement networks" of 20 to 30 schools; public and private groups would compete to manage the networks. And the central office would be reduced to a skeleton crew of about 200. (About 1,000-plus positions existed in 2010, and district HQ has already eliminated more than a third of those.) Charter schools, the plan projects, would teach an estimated 40 percent of students by 2017.
 From the Inquirer: The end of public education in Philly
There is no assurance that these Achievement Networks will be funded equitably. A bidding process — yet to be explained by the SRC or Mr. Knudsen — would determine who controls each network. Anyone may be chosen: former district personnel; charter-school operators; corporations such as Mosaica, KIPP and Kenny Gamble’s Universal; or politicians, including State Rep. Dwight Evans, who last year bullied the CEO of one charter school behind closed doors in order to override the choice of parents at Martin Luther King High School.
How have we arrived at a point where the public-school system can be auctioned off to the lowest bidder?
2. On the death penalty:

Yes, America, We Have Executed an Innocent Man
The ultimate villain of this awful story, Hernandez died in prison, in 1999, boasting to the end that he had killed Wanda Lopez and allowed another man to take the fall for it. The cops knew this. The prosecutors knew or should have known it. Witnesses knew it. And yet no one did anything to stop the state executioners from carrying out their job. Why no one listened to Hernandez for all those years, and why no one hears the cries of others today, is a question Justice Scalia and many others have to answer for themselves.

3. Jobs, and stuff:
The Fastest Dying Jobs of this Generation (and What Replaced them)

....apparently, sociologists are a dying breed.

4. Another take on gay marriage:

What Straight Allies Need to Understand about Gay Marriage and States' Rights

5. Just 'cause I love my home state:

Massachusetts is the best state in the union

(Maybe not the drivers, though)


  1. I appreciate the article about state-by-state marriage. I have heard Obama's announcement called "tepid" elsewhere, and I just don't see how that's the case. If you take him seriously as a person of faith, then his account of his personal struggle with the issue is anything but. If you view the issue politically, there is no conceivable motivation for him to make this announcement: he had no trouble garnering the gay vote in 2008 when he was still "evolving" and as the N.C. vote shows, the Republicans aren't about to triangulate left on this (or pretty much any issue.)

  2. Re: School District of Philadelphia

    There is a paper called The Notebook (www.thenotebook.org) that is committed to informing the public of issues regarding education in Philly--you'll get a little more up-to-the-minute information that way.

    Also, we were told at a PD, before Knudsen made his announcement, that the goal of this "school reform" is actually to have 80% of children in the city enrolled in charters by 2017.

    Politically speaking, this plan serves two purposes. On the local level, if the SRC/City Council/Mayor Nutter can push this through, they will have broken the teachers' union, and if they do that, they can break any union in the city (we're the biggest union). At the state level, they're looking to privatize so that Philly teachers will no longer be eligible to receive state pensions. As long as they charge $1 per student per year, the school is considered private and the teachers are out of PSERS. Those are powerful motivators, and I suspect this SRC is more than willing to invoke Act 46 to override the union contracts.