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January 17, 2011

"American schools are more segregated by race and class today than they were on the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed"

On MLK Day, Some Thoughts on Segregated Schools, Arne Duncan, and President Obama - Dana Goldstein
American schools are more segregated by race and class today than they were on the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed, 43 years ago. The average white child in America attends a school that is 77 percent white, and where just 32 percent of the student body lives in poverty. The average black child attends a school that is 59 percent poor but only 29 percent white. The typical Latino kid is similarly segregated; his school is 57 percent poor and 27 percent white. Overall, a third of all black and Latino children sit every day in classrooms that are 90 to 100 percent black and Latino. This is a sad state of affairs in a pluralistic society, and it is borne of two factors: 1) residential segregation and 2) purposeful drawing of school district boundaries to isolate middle class and white families from poor families of color. So it is absolutely a good thing that last Thursday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wrote a letter chiding the Wake County, North Carolina school board--which has been taken over by Tea Partiers--for dismantling a groundbreaking school integration program. The Wake County program located high-achieving, themed magnet schools within poor neighborhoods, and opened them up to any interested student. For each seat at the magnet school occupied by a middle class or affluent kid from across town, an inner city child was given the opportunity to bus to the neighborhood school the wealthier kid would have attended, if he hadn't chosen the magnet instead. Such schemes are known in wonk world as "voluntary intra-district transfer programs," and in many of the cities where they exist (such as Milwaukee, Hartford, and Seattle), they are popular and vastly oversubscribed. The problem is that Arne Duncan's words of support for the Wake County integration plan have never been backed up by Obama administration policy. Neither of the Department of Education's two big school reform grant programs--Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation--provide any funding at all for districts that wish to pursue magnet school-driven integration as a reform tool. And make no mistake--integration is one of the most powerful school reform tools in the kit.

January 14, 2011

Wow, this seems remarkably poor-spirited

Exclusive: Vicki Lawrence as 'Mama' Calls Out Ted Williams Lawrence,...

Continue reading "Wow, this seems remarkably poor-spirited" »

January 12, 2011

The Tucson Shooter and the Case for Involuntary Commitment

The Tucson Shooter And The Case For Involuntary Commitment | The New Republic

January 11, 2011

Chharlie Stross brings us some good news, some perspective

Read the whole thing. Reasons to be Cheerful - Charlie's Diary
The number of people living in poverty and with unsafe water supplies world-wide today is about the same as it was in 1970. Only difference is, there were 3 billion of us back then and today we're nearer to 7 billion. Upshot: the proportion of us humans on this planet who are living in third world poverty (unable to afford enough food, water, clothing and shelter) has actually been halved. Africa averaged around 5% growth throughout the decade, too. It's unevenly distributed, and there's still the fallout from the hideous war in the Congo, but: net improvement. And Africa is huge — again, over a billion people have, in many cases, seen a significant improvement in their wealth and health. Warfare ... we haven't nuked ourselves. It is now two-thirds of a century since an invading army crossed the Rhine, marking the longest period of peace in Europe since the height of the Roman Empire. Despite certain inadvisable excursions in the middle east and central Asia, the absolute number of people living in states in conditions of civil war or external warfare has dropped significantly since the previous decade, which in turn experienced a massive drop after the end of the Cold War (and proxy conflicts fuelled by it). It would be premature to hail an age of world peace, but we do seem to be fighting a lot less.

Jon Stewart on the Tucson assasination attempt

John rambled, but this was the nugget: "It is important for us to watch our rhetoric. I do think it is a worthwhile goal to not conflate our political opponents with enemies. If, for no other reason, than to draw a better distinction between between the manifestos of paranoid madmen, and what passes for acceptable political- and pundit-speak. "It would be great if the ramblings of crazy people didn't resemble how we talk to each other on TV." Watch Jon Stewart's Poignant Speech on the Arizona Shooting
Tonight, Jon Stewart opened with a segment about Saturday's deadly shooting in Arizona, and immediately noted that he didn't know what to say about it/how to process it. Notwithstanding, his speech that followed was incredibly heartfelt and insightful. Watch inside.
Click through for video.