"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, April 29, 2024

60 Minutes "Last Minute" Out of Touch

Last updated May 2, 2024

In a final mention of the growing number of campus protests against the murderous war on Palestinians, CBS featured Bill Whitaker in the "Final Minute" segment.  CBS seemingly thinks that the student and faculty protests can be resolved by more Dartmouth U programs that bring together both Jewish and Arab students to share their disagreements in the collegial space of a classroom.  

If the growing protests were about disagreements among Arab and Jewish students, I would agree. But it's not, and methinks CBS knows that.  

In case CBS doesn't know, the civil disobedience spreading across American universities is aimed to put pressure on politicians here and abroad to end Netanyahu's genocidal war machine and the occupation of Gaza. The source of the protests is not Jewish and Arab disagreements on campus.

So when a smarmy Bill Whitaker closes with "American education could benefit from a few more Dartmouths," the effort to place blame for campus disruptions on the colleges, themselves, is clear. Were CBS not such an intricate cog of the military-industrial complex, perhaps we would have more CBS investigations into how and why our own government continues to enable the strategic slaughter of innocents. Instead, we have CBS's misleading and bad-tasting pablum offered as a closing bit of wisdom.


It seems that talk works pretty well in the classroom, but police rot remains police rot--even at Dartmouth.  From WaPo:

At Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, police said they arrested 90 protesters. A Dartmouth professor said in an interview it had been “a peaceful, inclusive protest” and that the police response was disproportionate.

Friday, April 26, 2024

Campus Order Depends Upon Rights to Protest

If politicians and campus bureaucrats were to learn anything from the 1960s campus uprisings that could help them today deal with the rising tide of student and faculty indignation at Netanyahu's continuing murderous war against Palestinians, it should be that expulsions, riot gear, and jail will not restore the culturally-isolated academic order and the myopic careerist environment of the modern corporate university. Alas, "something's happening here."

Just as the Free Speech Movement born at Berkeley embodied a desire by students to involve themselves in off-campus issues, i.e., the emerging Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s, the student rumblings on today's campuses from New York to Gainesville to Austin to Los Angeles echo the same commitment to humane values, the same righteous anger, and the same determination to have their universities embrace policies that are are consistent with universities' traditional humanistic values grounded in celebrating life on Earth and the rights of all people to live free.

Today's students are no longer satisfied with lip service to free speech and the right to protest from pompous administrators like Vanderbilt's chancellor, Daniel Diermeier, who refers to Vanderbilt as "my campus." And especially when the right to protest is conditioned by rules against the disruption of any university operation. As Amna Nawaz pointed out in her interview with Diermeier, "many would say the purpose of protests is to disrupt." 

The students who are participating in this new protest movement agree.  From Columbia student, Sofia Ongele:

She said the university’s response feels contradictory.

“The university wants us to learn about protests and social movements — people like MLK did participate in civil disobedience — but not to take that knowledge and apply it to something that really, really matters,” she said.

But the growing wave of demonstrations sparked by the Columbia protests has made her hopeful for college students around the country, who she said now share a common sense of purpose.

“It’s been beautiful to see,” she said.

So exactly 60 years after the first mass acts of civil disobedience on American campuses in support of free speech, don't be surprised to see civil disobedience on campus once again lighting the torch of freedom for human rights, both here and abroad.


Monday, April 22, 2024

Bill Lee Loses School Voucher Battle, Again

Two days after a stunning repudiation of the Governor by production workers who voted 3-1 for unionization at the VW plant in Chattanooga, Bill Lee has surrendered once again to the reality that parents, school boards, teachers, and students do not want taxpayer money going to fund private schools, de-fund public schools, breach the separation of church and state, and rebuild the apartheid system of education in Tennessee.

It seems that Lee's failure this year could be due to his plan to keep the voucher scheme details secret, even from the Republican legislature, until the last minute, thus avoiding scrutiny from the public.  With the Senate and the House in the dark about Lee's Christian Nationalist scheme, each chamber moved forward with its own version of school coupons, thus making it impossible for all parties to come together at the last minute to shove through the Koch Bro scheme:

While Lee announced his vision for the program in November, he delayed releasing specific details on the plan until well into 2024. By that time, House and Senate Republicans had devised vastly different versions of the plan, and each chamber appeared entrenched in their positions.

So its back to the heifer barn for Bill Lee, where he will stand by for new voucher plans to be devised by his brain trust at Backwards U.

Saturday, April 20, 2024

VW Workers in TN to Governor Bill Lee: Suck It

Updated April 21, 2024

In 2014 when Volkswagen plant workers in Chattanooga held their first vote on joining the UAW, Senator Bob Corker (R) and Gov. Bill Haslam stuck their sharp dirty noses into workers' business ahead of the vote.  That vote failed.

Then in 2019 during the lead-up to a second vote, Gov. Bill Lee actively campaigned for international corporate interests and against the interests of workers in his own state.  Workers lost that vote by 57 ballots.  

So it was nothing new this month when Lee once against chose the side of the corporate elite against the workers of Tennessee.  On April 8, he publicly warned that a vote to join the UAW would be "a big mistake." This time, however, workers ignored the Republican fearmongering and voted in the best economic interests of their families

 A preliminary tally released by the company showed workers favored union representation by a count of 2,628 to 985, a nearly 3-1 margin. The landslide win gives the union a crucial toehold in the anti-union South.

And so VW Chattanooga becomes the first auto plant in the South to unionize by election since the 1940s. 

Congratulations, workers!

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

TN Taliban Votes to Arm Teachers

As parents, students, and teachers lined the gallery with signs calling for gun regulations in a state where are none, a bill sailed through the State Senate to arm teachers.  

The best reaction so far belongs to Senate Democrat, Jeff Yarbro, who posted this on X:

The legislature doesn’t trust teachers to pick out books for their classroom or teach basic history—things they’re actually trained to do, but is authorizing them to carry & use firearms in active shooter situations?!? 

This place has lost its damn mind.

Monday, April 08, 2024

Bill Lee Breaks Law To Appoint Perjurer, Lizzette Reynolds

Even though Tennessee's unqualified Education Commissioner collects over $21,000 per month to wreck the State's public schools with Bill Lee's proposed school voucher scheme, she, nonethless, chose to lie on an official state document about her length of service in order to receive a tuition waiver from UT Martin, where she is now enrolled in order to gain certification as a teacher.  Reynolds became a state employee on July 1, 2023, and on August 14 she swore that she had been a state employee for six months.

Reynolds perjured herself a second time when she submitted another of the same form in November, 2023.

You see, Bill Lee made history by being the first Tennessee governor ignore and, thus, break state law by appointing someone as education commission who has no teaching experience, school admin experience, and who lacks certification in either:

According to the century-old law, the education commissioner “shall be a person of literary and scientific attainments and of skill and experience in school administration,” and “qualified to teach in the school of the highest standing over which the commissioner has authority.”

Sunday, April 07, 2024

The Osteopath Who Now Vouches for Trump's Health

WaPo has a great piece today contrasting the two most recent medical reports issued on the two presidential candidates running this year.  Essentially, Joe's report, written by a real doctor, is 6 pages and includes lots of data, both quantitative and qualitative. 

Don's report is written by an osteopath, Bruce Aronwald, who hangs out at the Bedminster, NJ swimming pool looking to ingratiate himself to rich clients who don't know quackery when they see it.  

Dr. Bruce's report is a three-paragraph gloss on Trump's "excellent" condition, with no test results and no numbers. 

You can check out some numbers on Dr. Bruce, himself, here. Spoiler alert: his reputation is much like all the other "best people" that Trump hires to help him maintain the delusion he calls reality. 

There are many qualities measured in this little assessment, but Dr. Bruce scores highest of all among patient loyalty.  Hmm.