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Monday, September 18, 2006

A bunch of things to start your week

  • Welcome USA Today readers! The article I was interviewed for about teacher bloggers is running today. I get two whole paragraphs. If you're here for the first time, you may want to read my reactions to being interviewed generally--and some of the issues raised by the reporter specifically--in this post from last month, as I go into much more depth than the article indicates.

  • The USA Today story also has a great list of blogs in the sidebar, including some I read regularly. You should read them, too. One note: Ms. Frizzle has un-anonymized herself and is blogging her Fullbright exchange year in Turkey. (Hat tip to Edwise on that one. And, yes, I still haven't changed that link in my own sidebar, either.)

  • New Rule: Anyone who thinks that conditions at Guantanamo Bay are so great--people like a certain pundit wannabe that some say I have an unhealthy obsession over--should spend time there. And not just like visit as a reporter, either. They should be kidnapped from their houses in the middle of the night, flown there in the company of people who don't speak their language and without being told what's happening or why, and forced to stay there without contact from their families, attorneys, or anyone more helpful than the Red Cross every few weeks. They could even take a detour on the way to some prison in Eastern Europe somewhere for treatments at the day spa waterboarding and more. After five years, without charge, we'll see if they still think it's the greatest place on earth. (The Journal Corp. blogging software is still returning errors when I try to link to specific posts, but the one I'm talking about is the "Ooh, it's so degrading" one.)

  • The National Council of Teachers of English did a massive survey last spring about how No Child Left Behind is affecting (or not) teaching and learning in English teachers' classrooms. I participated, but I don't remember what all of my answers were. I can tell you, however, that my feelings are generally in line with the results:
    This study confirms findings from several recent public opinion polls that the more people know about NCLB, the more inclined they are to have an unfavorable opinion about its effects on public schools, teachers, and students.

    Virtually every poll shows public support for the four goals established by Congress when the No Child Left Behind Act was passed in 2001. But, literacy educators agree with the public that the law has failed to improve the education system for schools, teachers, students, and their families by not effectively meeting these goals. The table below shows a striking majority of literacy educators see NCLB as being ineffective when asked how well it was meeting its four stated goals:

    Based on what you’ve seen in your school and classroom over the past four years, to what extent do you think NCLB has been effective in reaching the four reform goals described by the U.S. Department of Education? [Number of teachers answering g]enerally ineffective (1 – 3 on a six point effectiveness scale).
    • Encouraging stronger accountability for results?--58%
    • Providing more freedom for schools and communities?--93%
    • Encouraging proven educational methods?--81%
    • Providing more choices for parents?--81%

    In addition, only 15% of literacy educators reported that NCLB has been effective in improving educational equity in their schools, a core rationale for passage of the Act in 2001.
    Read the whole thing, as they say, including some actual statements from literacy teachers about how NCLB has not improved literacy education.

  • Michael J. Mathais has written probably the best post to come out of the Cheddarsphere in the last week:
    Although her picture stayed at JSOnline for two days at the start of this week, it seemed crowded away by the election news and speculation over whether President Bush had delivered too partisan a 9/11 speech.

    The picture was gone by Wednesday, but the story had garnered some interest. By 10:00 p.m. that day it was on a list of “most viewed” stories.

    Merideth Howard, an Army reservist from Waukesha, told relatives she didn’t know why she had been sent to Afghanistan, fretted about her training, and worried that, at the age of 52, she was too old to be in a combat zone.
    Please, please, please read the rest.

  • Seth nails the budget debate between Jim Doyle and Mark Green:
    So getting back to the contradictions laid out by Doyle and Green in this current election race, the key to electoral success is really not what the candidates say about the budget -- they're both going to say contradictory stuff -- but rather how they say it. And on this point, so far, Green is getting slammed.

    A look at the JS article this morning tells us that Doyle's election year proposals would cost an estimated $66 million per year, while Green's would run at least $148 million per year. I bolded the "at least" because it's central to the problems Green has been having when discussing the budget.
    The significant difference on budgets, to me, between these two, is that Jim Doyle took office four years ago with a massive structural debt and budget shortfall from the Republican Thompson-McCallum years, and had to fix it. His fixes have been imperfect, but this state is now on a course that doesn't add up to insolvency. Mark Green, on the other hand, has been a part of Bush's Congress, where the mantra has been "cut taxes, raise spending." And look at where the national debt has gone. Is that the kind of budgeting experience we want in Madison? I think not.

  • All those Republicans--I'm looking at you, Fred--who said they'd disapprove of ABC's phony "Path to 9/11" if it contained invented scenes about Bush, well, it does. I'll wait here for the condemnations.

  • Along the same lines, a number of conservative bloggers are sure that the Valerie Plame outing controversy is over now that Richard Armitage has been revealed as one of Bob Novak's sources. But Novak keeps changing his story, so you gotta wonder what else he's hiding.

  • Kudos to Fair Wisconsin for a good fight so far against the anti-civil-unions-and-any-substantially-similar-arrangement amendment. They've done some great organizing locally, and they have another knock-out ad (opens to a Quicktime movie).

  • Those wacky white supremacists. Always rallying around something.

  • In the Wisconsin 8th CD, where Steve Kagen is going to beat John Gard in a few weeks, the National Republican Congressional Committee is, as I first reported here, planning to spend a ton of money on independent expenditure ads. Carrie Lynch comments here, and Cory Liebmann suggests that the NRCC really needs to look at their own candidate before making ads against Kagen.

    Nationally, the story is much the same. As Chris Bowers points out, the Republicans so far have outspent Democrats, but the Dems have spent zero dollars in defense while Reps have spent 85% of their total defending seats like the WI-08. Chris has it laid out quite clearly in handy table format for you.

  • The tax cuts didn't create jobs. Period.

  • Anyone like me, who plans to do candidate advocacy on-line this year, should spend some time with the Net Democracy Guide.

  • Finally, a question for Milwaukee-area iPod + iTrip users. What channel are you using? I've kind of settled on 88.5, but I still get static sometimes driving around town.

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