Poverty and Student Achievement

poverty and student achievement

“If you think education’s expensive, wait ’til you see how much ignorance costs.”

These were the words of President Barack Obama this past Friday  in Brooklyn, New York, at a local high school where he addressed students and faculty of the Pathways in Technology Early College High School, a joint venture between IBM and the NYC Public School System.… [Read more]

Ask Mrs. Vera: How can I stretch my food stamp allowance to make healthy meals for my family?

Vera with wooly hair worms

Dear Mrs. Vera,

How can I stretch my food stamp allowance to make healthy meals for my family?

Kindest Regards, Emeril J. Lagasse, Fall River, MA

Mrs. Vera Newman,San Francisco, California.Photo: Cameron Wolf

Dear Emeril,

Love your Yukon Gold potato nest recipe, the one filled with tiny creamed onions.  That dish could be scaled up to provide crispy housing for the homeless and starving, and any tiny onion babies they have still clinging to life in those red “right-to-starve” states.… [Read more]

Where Do We Go From Here?

Where do we go from here?

During this past week the debt ceiling was raised and a government shutdown was ended after 16 days of political rhetoric and hand-wringing. The attempt by the radical right wing of the Republican Party to defund the Obama administration’s signature piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), was a complete failure. The Tea Party Caucus of the minority party held the federal government hostage over this one issue — at least initially — and they walked away with nothing and at the end of the day.… [Read more]

Ask Mrs. Vera: Are we still fighting The Civil War?

Vera, with peacock feather

Dear Mrs. Vera,

Are we still fighting The Civil War?

Fond Regards, Charles Rangel (D-NY)

Mrs. Vera Newman,San Francisco, California.Photo: Vinc LeVinc, 2004.

Dear Charo’s Tangles,

So lovely to hear from you again after all this time. My readers may not know this, but before entering politics and getting himself elected into office in New York, Mr.… [Read more]

Collateral Damage

Collateral damage

As a result of their attempt to block the Affordable Care Act, the American people have become collateral damage in the latest Republican assault on the Presidency of Barack Obama. They have shutdown the federal government with smiles and glee in their heart — knowing, but not caring about the ramifications of such actions. Just as Robert E.… [Read more]

Ask Mrs. Vera: So, is it time for the voters of Ohio to recall John Boehner?


Dear Mrs. Vera,

So, is it time for the voters of Ohio to recall GOP Speaker of the House, John Boehner?

Regards, Somehow uncertain independent Ohio voter John Q. Public

Mrs. Vera Newman,San Francisco, California.Photo: Mark Trevorrow

Dear Junk Pukeblitzer,

Thanks for writing in, yet again, as you begin the long process of letting somebody else eventually make up your State’s mind for you.… [Read more]

Into the Wayback Machine to 1000 CE

Social Safety Net

Congressman Joe Barton (R-Texas) stated that harnessing wind power will make the earth hotter because it will make the wind slow down. This is not the first time members of the Grand Ole Party have made absolutely astonishing statements when it come to science. The Party of No is the party of No because they know nothing.… [Read more]

Ask Mrs Vera: Which is worse? The Shutdown or Barilla™?

Vera on scroll

Dear Mrs. Vera,

What’s worse, The Shutdown or Barilla™?

Guido Boehner, Annapolis, MD

Mrs. Vera Newman,San Francisco, California.Photo: Michael Johnstone.

Dear Giovanni NoBarroehner,

This is a very easy question to answer, especially if you are a female lady who ever came from a family, even one of those families that doesn’t count enough to deserve eating a specific brand of dried paste that is for sale in many shops and markets.… [Read more]

The Inequality of Public Education

Public Education Inequality

I recently went to a meeting for the school district I work for. At the meeting other teachers and I were told how the district performed on the Tennessee standardized test issued during the prior year. The director of schools and his staff told us about the state of the school system; he revealed data, graphs and other information that each school can use to analyze student performance and focus our sights on raising student achievement for the current year. … [Read more]

Ask Mrs. Vera: Do filibusters actually accomplish anything positive?

Vera, with Henson magnets

Dear Mrs. Vera,

So, do filibusters actually accomplish anything positive?

Truly Yours, Philip Ulcer

Mrs. Vera Newman,San Francisco, California.Photo: Cameron Wolf

Dear Mr. Cruz,

On behalf of my readers, I must thank you for writing in, even if under a nom-de-plume (that’s Quebecois for faker) and calling attention to this most pressing of issues.  Being subjected to a filibuster-a-thon™ from a stubborn foreigner Texan truly feels like attending a function where everyone is depressed because the host is insisting on playing a party game involving running your head through a letterpress or embossing machine, with the most points going to the person who sustains the least brain damage.  … [Read more]

Make Them Eat Cake

Let them eat cake!

The US House of Representatives voted to defund  $40 billion dollars from the SNAP program of food assistance for the poorest of the poor. SNAP, better known as the food stamps assistance program, is claimed by some in the House to be a program steeped in fraud.   That’s right — people are stealing a whopping $4.50 a day and some people are getting fat off food stamps, making them lazy.… [Read more]

Ask Mrs Vera: Should Starbucks™ provide a place for customers to check their guns?

Vera at Starbucks

Dear Mrs. Vera,

Do you think that Starbucks™ should provide a place for customers to check their guns?

Sincerely Yours, Jerry Baldwin, Seattle, Washington

Mrs. Vera Newman,San Francisco, California.Photo: Ghislaine Alix Loree

Dear Venti Grandewin,

Thanks for writing!  Despite how much everybody hates your company, they all agree that however gross the food is, and however soul-destroying the general aesthetic of these stores is, when Starbucks™  is considered in terms of its manners, nobody is arguing that the basic approach to the customer experience isn’t polite, tidy and nicely thought out — not compared to most addict shacks, opium dens and needle-drug shooting galleries.… [Read more]

A Teacher’s Value

Teacher Appreciation

After 25 years of teaching in some of the hardest and most challenging schools and situations in all of America, the State of Tennessee has determined my experience and my advance degrees mean nothing. Governor  Bill Haslam and his appointed henchman, Commissioner Huffman, have determined that teachers who have a Doctorate and/or a Masters degree should not get paid for the advanced education.… [Read more]

Dear Mrs. Vera: Please explain why people object to Obamacare.

Vera, with purple, wool do

Dear Mrs. Vera,

Please explain why people object to Obamacare.

Regards Sincerely, Mrs. Petunia Kevorkian

Mrs. Vera Newman,San Francisco, California.Photo: Marc Huestis

Dear Please Put A Cork In It,

There are as many reasons for not liking something as there are people not to like out there, and our form of representational government insures that most of these unpleasant individuals will be front and center, right in the debate over Obamacare being held in the delightful thought experiment known affectionately, when you are trying to get in its pants, or abusively, if it lets you get into its pants, as Congress.… [Read more]

Free Your Mind

Free Your MInd

“Before you can read me you’ve got to learn how to see me.”

This week’s “Say It In Song“ pick is “Free Your Mind” by En Vogue.

If you’re paying attention at all to the current political climate, it is as it has been for at last the past 5 years: stuck. Stuck in a place of so much negativity that the nation is unable to truly move forward and, in fact, the actions of many appear to have the intention of taking the country backwards.… [Read more]

Ask Mrs. Vera: Will the Fukushima nuclear plant destroy the world?

Mrs. Vera, in mourning for Sol III.

Dear Mrs. Vera,

Will the Fukushima nuclear plant destroy the world?

Yours Sincerely, Leó Szilárd, Budapest, Hungary

Dear Louis Lizard and all my troubled readers fearing the end of the world before they ever get to see Belgium up close in person and say “Walloon” a lot,

Don’t panic. Let’s all just quickly, quietly and in an orderly manner proceed to the sub-sub basement while thinking centered thoughts about frolicking, boiling dolphins fleeing the Pacific Ocean, um, er, I mean contented piles of algae growing slowly on the shores of Antarctica, as we make our way to the panic room/world headquarters in our new exciting subterranean mise-en-scene, before finally drawing a deep breath and relaxing.… [Read more]

Look up, move forward…

Look up, move forward...

This week the March on Washington was remembered as the spark that ignited the Voting Rights Act and placed the Civil Rights Movement front and center in the minds of the American people. Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King,  Jr., the most visible African-American leader of his day, exhorted the 250,000 people in attendance and the millions around the country and the world to step forward and demand the same rights and freedoms other people have experienced since the beginning of the Republic.… [Read more]

“We Got to Have Peace”…

Peace Sign

“Through our voice, the world knows, we have no choice…” ~ Curtis Mayfield

This week’s “Say It In Song” pick feels appropriate given the global political climate. Whether it’s Syria, Russia or Iran on the international front, all the people know is that we are moving more and more away from a place of peace.

Isn’t there another way?… [Read more]

Ask Mrs. Vera: If Obama says he wants to invade Syria, will the GOP be against it, just because?

Vera with rabbit nose

Dear Mrs. Vera,

I am havink many bells, I even haff one that vhen you ring it, it causink countries to divide themselves bitterly along religiousky lines and gatherink up eye-pokink sticks, yes?  If I can find it again, wherever it has gotten off to, should I send it to President Obama? If he rings it while asking “Who vants to invadink Syria with me, da?” will world peace break out as Republicans prepare to do anything and everything to stop his Socialist plot to try and save some Syrian lives no matter how many Syrians might actually not be helped or killed in the process?  … [Read more]

Conservative ‘Idiocracy’

Idiocy and 'idiocracy'

The other day, a guy I know was complaining about the Obamas going on yet another vacation. When I told him that both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush spent much more time on holiday during the comparable  5-year period in office than President Obama, he told me I must be wrong. I proceeded to show him a graphic indicating the actual number of days George W.… [Read more]