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Archive for November, 2019

No Evidence Supports Fear-Based Stop-and-Frisk Policy… Just as No Evidence Supports Most Fear-Based “Solutions”

November 11, 2019 Leave a comment

NYTime columnist Charles Blow wrote a column today damning the latest candidate for the President, former NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The basis for Mr. Blow’s condemnation was Mayor Bloomberg’s racist and failed stop-and-frisk policy, a fear-based policy that was presumably designed to seize illegal weapons and contraband. In the final analysis, though, the policy failed to accomplish that goal and instead resulted in the increased incarceration of people of color who were overly represented in the group that was stopped and frisked on the street.

After reading the column, I left the following comment:

Fear of “the other” drives many bad policies.

Have the billions spent on the so-called global war on terror made made us any safer? What data have we collected to prove it?

Has the caging and separation of immigrant children from their parents made us any safer?

Has millions spend on the widespread installation of surveillance cameras and the placement of police officers in public schools made us any safer?

These practices designed to protect us from “the other” are as odious as stop-and-frisk and yet we continue to spend billions based on the faith that we are protecting ourselves.

In the meantime we are unwilling to face the cold hard data of climate change. Why? Because in order to address climate change we need to accept that the enemy is US….

Alas, it is far easier to stoke fear in “the other” than it is to look at ourselves. And if we DID examine ourselves we might find that our fear of “the other” is baseless.

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“Personalization” Exacerbates Loneliness… and Loneliness Undercuts Our Well-Being

November 10, 2019 Leave a comment

Nicholas Kristof’s NYTimes op ed piece today describes England’s War on Loneliness, a national effort to address a phenomenon that adversely impacts their culture— and one that also impacts ours. As Mr. Kristof acknowledges, the root causes of loneliness are complex and may defy the reach of government intervention. In describing how England is attempting to address the problem by creating a minister for loneliness, Mr. Kristof sidesteps a description of how our country is making things worse. I left this comment to underscore how skewed our spending priorities have become in terms of education spending:

I fear that our schools are not helping the situation. Instead of spending money to fund counselors who might help those children who are lonely we are instead spending money on good guys with guns, surveillance cameras, and ways to “harden” schools. When it comes to measuring the “effectiveness” of schools we focus on things that are easy to measure like standardized test scores, per pupil spending, and the number of computers. Since it is difficult to measure the happiness or connectedness of children and even more difficult to address the underlying causes of those problems they are ignored. And worse, in the name of personalization, we have students spending more time isolating themselves on computers and less time interacting with each other. If we want to improve our connections with each other, we might start by disconnecting from technology in classrooms and re-engaging in dialogue.

Flint, Michigan a Canary in the Coal Mine

November 7, 2019 Leave a comment

My stomach was churning after reading Erica Green’s article in today’s NYTimes about the Flint, Michigan public schools. The article describes how the school system has become overwhelmed with special education students as a result of the lead contamination in the public water supply, contamination that resulted when cost-cutting business-minded officials took over the governance of the town several years ago. Rather than address the root cause of some of the city’s problems, which would have cost millions of dollars in infrastructure upgrades but also created scores of jobs, the State’s overseers decided to privatize the water system. The result was devastating to the residents— particularly the residents who lived in poverty.

As I noted in a comment I left, Michigan’s schools are the fruits of the GOP leadership in the state and a harbinger of where we are headed if we continue down the path of adopting the plan to privatize public services. This article fails to emphasize is that the “problem children” in Flint schools are the result of a political decision to privatize the provision of drinking water to avoid paying for needed infrastructure upgrades.”School choice”– a privatization scheme if there ever was one– segregates “problem children” from those who behave well and play by the rules— the children of parents who can afford to pay for water. The GOP seems happy to live in a world of privatization where the victims of cost-cutting are segregated from those who can pay their way out. This is what the GOP wants when they decry the government and offer free-market “choice” as the solution for clean water, for schools, for health care, for retirement.

Flint is a canary in a coal mine. We would pay heed.

 

Wake Up Call: Teachers WILL Mobilize When They Are Disrespected!

November 6, 2019 Leave a comment
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