Banning books is crude, pointless, and alive and well

I read The Bluest Eye many years ago. It was a painful, uncomfortable read. The story of 11-year-old Pecola Breedlove is haunting and raw. A little black girl living in Ohio in 1941, Pecola is a victim of rape and incest, and her life is corroded by low self-esteem and racial self-loathing. This child prays for her eyes to turn blue so that people will look at her as truly beautiful – by mirroring the dominant image of acceptable beauty.… [Read more]

Show of hands: Anyone surprised it was charter school that expelled Tiana Parker?

Charter schools have been in the news recently. This is due in large part to Tiana Parker, an adorable 7-year-old in Tulsa who was unceremoniously sent home the second week of school for violating her school’s dress code policy, which labeled dreadlocks and afros – hairstyles natural to black children – as “faddish.”

After a public outcry, the board of Deborah Brown Community School, Tulsa’s first charter, rescinded the policy. … [Read more]

Closed Schools. Distraught Students. Stunned Teachers. Shocked Community. Buena Vista: An Education Fiasco

“How can you close school…isn’t that against the law?”

This question has been rolling around in my mind for a few days, as I come to the painful realization that we really don’t value education at all. We don’t take it seriously. We pay it lip service. Education is a long-term goal. We worship short-term gain.… [Read more]

Stop Infantilizing and Listen: Teachers Oppose Guns In Classrooms

On any given day I could write a tome on the ways that we infantilize rather than elevate teachers. Little respect for their expertise. Forcing them to teach subjects they weren’t trained to teach. Micromanaging their professional day. Over time, like water wearing away stone, we lose sight that teachers are professionals – not children – and deserve to be included in decisions that impact their lives, as any professionals should be.… [Read more]

Arts Education, Chinese Food and Matt Yglesias’ Tale of Non Sequiturs

You know the saying: one is a coincidence, two is a pattern, three makes you a certified glutton for punishment.

For months I’ve watched Slate writer Matt Yglesias flail away, writing on education issues. First, he tried to pit teachers unions against taxpayers in a smug piece on the Chicago Teachers Union strike. Then he analyzed the phony StudentsFirst report card, treating it like an objective measure of state education policy rather than an ideological wish list of Michelle Rhee‘s pet priorities.… [Read more]

Mr. President, Don’t Paint All Fathers With Broad Brushstroke

What were the chances, in this polarized political environment, that anything in the President’s State of the Union Address would receive accolades from conservatives and progressives. Turns out the odds were pretty good. One sentence, sandwiched between the minimum wage increase and Afghanistan.

“And we’ll work to strengthen families by removing the financial deterrents to marriage for low-income couples, and doing more to encourage fatherhood – because what makes you a man isn’t the ability to conceive a child; it’s having the courage to raise one.” – President Barack Obama, SOTU, Feb.[Read more]

This Week in Foolishness: Five Republicans Who Favor Guns in Schools Over Gun Control

In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, a steady stream of Republican lawmakers is rallying to arm teachers, volunteers and, in some cases, students to defend against would-be attackers. As I’ve written about before, the concept of arming teachers and others in schools as a primary strategy to prevent gun violence is driven by the fantasy that inexperienced civilians can be trained to deliver a kill shot.… [Read more]

Uncorking New Strategy for Funding Schools

Public education is a public good. This can’t be said often enough or stressed strongly enough. Like law enforcement and fire protection, public  schools are offered free of charge on an even-handed basis. But it’s the one public good no one wants to pay for. Instead we come up with one silly scheme after another as the savior for cash-starved schools.… [Read more]

Wacky Wayne Went Up The Hill

In February 1995, a 13-year-old boy walked into Andy Pope’s classroom at Nebraska’s Chadron Middle School and shot the social studies teacher and basketball coach. Fortunately, the bullet hit a rib, missing his heart by an inch. He survived and returned to the classroom less than a week later. Later the same year, in what would become one of his more famous paranoid pronouncements, Wayne LaPierre referred to federal agents as “jackbooted government thugs” in a National Rifle Association fundraising letter.… [Read more]

The Bizarro World of Joe Biden, Where 1,000 School Resource Officers are *Not* Armed Guards

If you’ve never read Superman comics or watched “Seinfeld,” let me tell you a little about Bizarro World.

In Bizarro World, up is down, black is white, ugly is beautiful. Listening to the Google+ “Fireside Hangout” on Thursday afternoon with Vice President Joe Biden got me thinking about this inverted universe, where everything is the opposite of the real world.… [Read more]

For the Love of God, Give Texas Back to Mexico

This week, the White House dashed the hopes of millions of Americans when it rejected a request for Texas to sever its ties with the U.S. Bad news for the more than 125,000 people who signed the online petition for Texas to secede. Far worse news for the rest of us!

My issue with the Lone Star state, aside from the fact that it keeps launching the careers of politicians named Bush, is that Texas is a colossal embarrassment to our country.… [Read more]

Arming Teachers: A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Idea

The unthinkable tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School left us all horrified with an uneasy feeling of vulnerability. Predictably, as we wrestle with questions about why and how something so gruesome and incomprehensible could happen, some reactions have been strong and swift: more gun control, better access to mental health services. Some have been feeble: curtailing violent movies and video games.… [Read more]

Call It What It Is: “Right to Work Against Your Own Interests”

ABC OTUS News

As a writer I love words and language. I like the force of words, how they echo in the mind long after they’ve registered. I never take for granted how powerful words can be, so when people pervert language to delude and mislead, I know stupid things can happen.

There is one long trail of stupid running behind Republican pollster Frank Luntz, aptly described as the godfather of the conservative spin machine.… [Read more]

Dear Media: Get Mitt Romney Off My Television NOW!

This is the final time I should have seen Mitt Romney on my television screen….

But noooo! Election Day is over, the polls are closed, the pundits have moved on to the fiscal cliff. And Mitt Romney is coping with his loss by eating take-out turkey. Why do I know this? Because when it comes to Romney’s post-election life, mainstream media clearly drank the Kool-Aid.… [Read more]

Obama: On Education, Is The President Liberals’ Piñata?

While the rest of us offered thanks for family and friends on Thanksgiving, one D.C. teacher told a colleague, “I am thankful Obama won, now I can go back to hating him for what he’s doing to public education.” You mean like pumping almost $100 billion in new funds into federal education programs and another $60 billion into saving teacher jobs?… [Read more]

Textbooks: The Bad, the Worse, the Politics

If you haven’t been keeping up, since President Obama’s re-election, Republicans have morphed into a bunch of embittered, whiny, cranky crybabies. Mitt Romney, blaming his loss on Obama “gifts” to special groups. Paul Ryan, blowing dog-whistle about the large turnout of the “urban vote.” And then there’s the pièce de résistance, Peter Morrison.

This little-known Tea Party wacknut in Texas is demanding “an ‘amicable divorce’ from…the ‘maggots’” who voted for Obama.… [Read more]

“Oh No, Not Again!” Coping with Perpetual Outrage Syndrome

I feel tired. But not for the usual reasons, like trying to balance motherhood, significant other, full-time job, and all the activities and responsibilities that come with the “Superwoman Myth.” I’m tired because there’s only so much outrage I can muster on a constant basis.

It seems like I once had an inexhaustible supply. But after being whipsawed back and forth with rage-inducing episodes like this and this – and ongoing affronts like this – my storehouse of outrage is depleting.… [Read more]

Education “Reformers” and “Status Quo”: Timeout!

Democracy is messy, but this election season at times was downright filthy. The partisan pot-shots and polarization was most prevalent in social media – let he who hasn’t retweeted @LOLGOP cast the first stone – but the campaigns had their moments too.

In his victory speech Tuesday night, President Obama called for unity. He challenged us to put the rancor of the 2012 campaign behind us.… [Read more]

Gambling on Schools, Rolling Snake Eyes

Next week many voters will breathe a sigh of relief. The political ads that have saturated the airwaves, driving us all insane, will thankfully come to an end. Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, you have my sympathy. Maryland is solidly blue – far from a battleground state – but an epic battle is brewing over a question on the statewide ballot, sparking a $60 million ad war over casino gambling.… [Read more]