Thursday, January 23, 2014

One of my favorites!

I found this on Facebook!

The War On Personal Choice posted by M Caulfield

The war on drugs has proved that the supply of heroin, cocaine, and other substances cannot ultimately be stopped. Police are unable to keep drugs out of their own prisons, let alone out of neighborhoods and cities entirely. The aggressive attempt to do so has destroyed property, homes, neighborhoods, and countless lives of those directly and indirectly involved. In this drug-chase, many thousands of innocent people have lost their lives due to the drug-war, and gang related violence. All the while, the efforts of the state largely ignore the underlying causes of drug use, and actively under fund facilities which aim to treat and reduce recidivism (repeat use).
For many, the war on drugs began in 1971 with Nixon’s declaration, but many policies which were implemented were a continuation of drug policies which started in 1914. The battle has been raging for decades, and it has cost billions of dollars. In 2010, the U.S. Federal government spent over $15 billion on the war on drugs, which is roughly $500 per second. Thousands of arrests for non-violent drug law violations are made every year. Roughly $1 billion in taxpayer funds is spent every year to incarcerate cannabis offenders alone. With growing accessibility to the internet, more individuals are seeking alternative information, and finding the truth about “evil drugs”. The truth leads them to see how illicit drugs are arguably no more dangerous than synthetic poison, cigarettes, alcohol, many pharmaceuticals, or other items we “legally” indulge in or feel that we need.
Anything in excess, whether good or bad, can be unhealthy for the human body. Marijuana has even been shown to be safer and more efficient in treating symptoms than “legal” painkillers and synthetic medications. Alcohol, excessive tobacco use, and prescription medications have each contributed to the deaths of millions of individuals, and can also be blamed for ruining the lives of thousands of people who are indirectly involved (such as their family members).

Most Regretted Job (Monster)

I found this post on the website monster.  I just had to post it!

Secondary School Teacher 

With an average yearly salary of $43,800, the highest in the the top 5, secondary school teachers rank third in regret with 43%. They problem is that would-be teachers often don’t fully understand what the job involves until after they have started, McLeod says. “I had a friend who was a secondary school teacher and realized on day two she had made an enormous mistake. She was awash in the paperwork required of an educator, as well as the unending parent interventions and the reluctance of students to do the work. She didn’t realize the politics of working in a secondary school system.”

Parker says the challenges that face teachers are daunting. “Although teachers are responsible for preparing the next generation to lead our nation, the education profession is often marred by a lack of resources, dwindling support, and modest salaries,” she says. “Instead of simply teaching children, teachers must simultaneously parent and counsel all while navigating the stressful terrain often found in the bureaucracy of school districts. It takes a remarkable human being to become a teacher but it takes a golden human being to stay one.”

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Teach For America’s pro-corporate, union-busting agenda by CHAD SOMMER, EDUSHYSTER.COM

When I joined Teach For America in the spring of 2011 I had no idea that my belief in social and economic justice was about to be cynically exploited by the corporate class.  As a former development manager for a nonprofit that serves low-income Chicago public school students, TFA’s claims that its  corps members and alumni are helping lead an educational revolution in low-income communities across the country spoke to me. Naively seduced by TFA’s do-gooder marketing pitch, I charged ahead on a mission to close the academic “ achievement gap” that TFA blames on incompetent (read unionized) teachers.
Today, having completed the two-year program and seeing how it operates from the inside, I’m convinced that TFA now serves as a critical component of the all-out-effort by corporate elites to privatize one of the last remaining public institutions of our country: our public schools.
Adored By the Corporate Class
TFA and the privately managed, non-union charter schools that its corps members often staff are adored by the corporate class. Elites shower both TFA and charter schools with private contributions from their own tax-exempt foundations, as well as taxpayer dollars funneled by their courtiers in Washington and statehouses across the country. Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, The Walton Foundation (Walmart), The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Eli Broad Foundation, and a small army of billionaire hedge fund managers are just a few representatives of the corporate class that bankrolls TFA and the various networks of privately managed (but taxpayer funded) charter schools. Wendy Kopp, founder of TFA is even married to the president of KIPP, one of the country’s largest networks of charter schools.
In Chicago, where I participated in TFA, the organization maintains its own extremely close partnerships with privately managed charter schools. Their relationships are so close, in fact, that earlier this year, after the Chicago Public School system closed forty-nine traditional, unionized public schools, claiming the schools were “underutilized,” it was revealed that TFA was working behind the scenes with a number of privately-managed, non-union charter school operators to open fifty-two new charter schools in Chicago over the next five years.
The alliance between TFA and charter schools is cemented by an arrangement that few people know about outside of the organization. The teacher placement policy of TFA explicitly states in bold letters, “It is our policy that corps members accept the first position offered to them.” The effective result of this policy means that corps members have no bargaining position to negotiate wages or benefits, meaning that whatever offer a school makes, the corps member must accept it. TFA provides a rather benign explanation for this arrangement, claiming that it allows for the quick and efficient placement of hundreds of corps members into teaching positions in each market. However, in practice, this mandate is a lynchpin of the corporate class’ privatization plan for education.

Should Schools Teach Social Media Skills by By Aarti Shahani

Taking selfies at funerals. Tagging pictures of teens drinking alcohol at parties. Kids (and adults for that matter) post a lot of silly stuff online — and although most of it is chatter, some of what might seem harmless leads to tragic consequences. But is it the job of schools to teach kids the dos and don’ts of social media?
At Lincoln High School in San Francisco’s Sunset district, counselor Ian Enriquez teaches students three very big words: “Disinhibition, reputation, anonymity.”
Enriquez is using a curriculum created by the non-profit Common Sense Media, a media watchdog group for parents that also offers resources for teachers. Schools in nearby Santa Clara county have adopted this curriculum into a semester-long course for all middle and high school students. Enriquez, who’s doing just a one-day workshop, jokes that despite the title, “It’s not common sense.”
“You want the kids in the homerooms to start thinking about what it means to be disinhibited,” he says. Disinhibition, for those who might not know, means acting impulsively, without showing due restraint, in a way that’s aggressive or plays up another personality trait. The teenagers get it right away.
“Would you say that your friends act differently online than they do in person?” Enriquez asks.
“Yeah, and they look different!” responds sophomore Megan McKay.
“It would be very difficult for schools trying to keep up with Instagram, Facebook, all of the apps that exist out there that are essentially market driven.”
Like many schools throughout the country, Bay Area schools hold workshops on cyberbullying, but don’t have uniform practices for teaching social media etiquette beyond that. While teachers use platforms like Facebook as a tool to engage students in learning, ongoing instruction on digital citizenship itself is the exception, not the rule.
Enriquez, who counsels students on health, racism, homophobia, and other topics that aren’t purely academic, believes the district should institute a mandatory social media curriculum. Enriquez says cyberbullying and viral rumors have been a problem ever since kids posted on that once-popular site MySpace. “When I started at this high school 10 years ago, almost every school fight I was aware of occurred because of something that happened in the virtual world.”
To read more click on the following link:

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Crisis in America's K-12 Education System

To listen to the program, click on website listed below.  Next, click on the green download MP3 button to listen to the program.

On our debut episode, we will look at the fight to save America's educational system with guests Todney Harris, author of Battle Grounds - America's War in Education and Finance: A View from the Front Lines. We will also speak with Dr. Philip S. Cicero, author of The Seven Deadly Sins of the K-12 Education System - Costly and Ineffective Programs and Strategies

Episode Segments:

Educvii: Todney Harris

Mr. Harris' book Battlegrounds is a call for urgent action to parents, the government, community activists, and all advocators of education that a plan must be enacted in order for our children to realize the importance of education and stay in school.

The Effect of Poverty on Student Achievement

A financial time bomb': State pension system is one of the country's most underfunded By Johanna Somers

State pension system is one of the country's most underfunded
Retired Connecticut state employees received the highest annual pensions in the country in 2011, despite contributing less out of their paychecks than the national average. That meant the state's pension system was the second-most underfunded in the United States, in worse shape than every other state's except Illinois'.
Connecticut would have to allocate about $70 million in additional funds each year for 18 years to close the funding gap in the major state employees' pension system, according to actuarial estimates. And that wouldn't address the $11 billion gap in the teachers' retirement system, which would need tens of millions of dollars more every year during that same period.
To demonstrate the size of the problem: It would cost each man, woman and child in the state $12,157 to close the $44 billion funding gap afflicting the state's two largest pension systems and its two retiree health benefit programs. Since the mid-1990s, the state rarely has met its required contribution, although it did so in 2013.
Now, closing the gap means either higher taxes, more borrowing, new sources of revenue or less to spend on education and social services or - more likely - all the above.
"There is a financial time bomb that is ticking," said Art Renner, executive director of the Connecticut Society of CPAs. "If we continue to let elected officials ignore these problems at some point in time, we are going to find ourselves in a similar situation as Detroit or Illinois, which are in bad shape. We would prefer Connecticut to avoid that."
The Day conducted a months-long investigation of the state's union-negotiated employee pensions and the system that administers pension and health benefits for retired public school teachers. The investigation, which included dozens of interviews and Freedom of Information requests for documents, shows:
• The average annual pension in 2012 was $31,666 for a retired state employee and $47,386 for a public school teacher or administrator. Most state retirees also earn Social Security; public school retirees do not.
• The average total employee contribution is $20,355. For teachers, it's about $271,333, although that figure includes payments for annuities for about 40 percent of the retirees.

• In 2012, the top state pension earner was a retired state employee who received $276,364, according to data from the state comptroller's office. He is in the state's Tier I for retirement - the oldest, most generous and now closed tier. Of the 45,455 retirees who were collecting retirement in 2012, two-thirds (30,472) were in Tier I.

CNN analysis: Some college athletes play like adults, read like 5th-graders By Sara Ganim,

CNN analysis: Some college athletes play like adults, read like 5th-graders

By Sara Ganim, CN
CNN) -- Early in her career as a learning specialist, Mary Willingham was in her office when a basketball player at the University of North Carolina walked in looking for help with his classwork.  He couldn't read or write.

"And I kind of panicked. What do you do with that?" she said, recalling the meeting.
Willingham's job was to help athletes who weren't quite ready academically for the work required at UNC at Chapel Hill, one of the country's top public universities.
But she was shocked that one couldn't read. And then she found he was not an anomaly.
Soon, she'd meet a student-athlete who couldn't read multisyllabic words. She had to teach him to sound out Wis-con-sin, as kids do in elementary school.

And then another came with this request: "If I could teach him to read well enough so he could read about himself in the news, because that was something really important to him," Willingham said. Student-athletes who can't read well, but play in the money-making collegiate sports of football and basketball, are not a new phenomenon, and they certainly aren't found only at UNC-Chapel Hill.

A CNN investigation found public universities across the country where many students in the basketball and football programs could read only up to an eighth-grade level. The data obtained through open records requests also showed a staggering achievement gap between college athletes and their peers at the same institution.
This is not an exhaustive survey of all universities with major sports programs; CNN chose a sampling of public universities where open records laws apply. We sought data from a total of 37 institutions, of which 21 schools responded. The others denied our request for entrance exam or aptitude test scores, some saying the information did not exist and others citing privacy rules. Some simply did not provide it in time.

To read this more click on the link: