Monday, September 30, 2013

TBGO: The Negrow Did It!

"Little Buddy Gonna Shut "em Down!"
Woody thinks the risks entailed by a Govt. shut-down are substantial, but as The Shrill One notes, "Unfortunately, many Republicans either don’t understand this or don’t care."
They understand. And they don't care because they are pretty sure that they've got the public relations 'get-out-of-jail' card: They can blame the Negro, and the "people" (a substantial majority) will buy it, particularly in retrospect, next year, no matter WHAT the "press" says, even if it records that Tea-hadist intransigence created domestic and international havoc.
The Righturds and Fucktards and Wackloons can be sure that, no matter what happens, with enough atttention from the Rightard media 'echo chamber,' enough of the "people" will blame Prez Lowbar, for anything at all--already 40% of folks in Louisiana blame LowBar for the poor Katrina response--that the Tea-hadists can escape electoral responsibility. It's a "perfect storm," for 'em: Win-win.
The conditions are very different from the Gingrich shut-down, in '96. Then there was a presidential election and Clenis had coat-tails. This time, the next election is still a year away and the Prez won't be on the ballot (though he will, of course, still be the major issue). The Tea-hadistas will be safe as houses, because--as HL Mencken cynically noted--"No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost political office thereby."
No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.
No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.
No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

TBGO: Report From The Front Lines of Pedagogy

Report From The Front Lines of Pedagogy

Amid all the rancor about uncaring, unprofessional teachers, and the clamor for standards and accountability from people who, mostly, do not have measurable experience in the "trenches," it is perhaps useful to consider and reflect upon the untenable positions into which the best as well as the worst teachers are forced by the interests pushing "reform."
Via the Facebook page, Dump Duncan, here's a wonderfully expressive, perceptive, and ultimately frustrating letter from a frustrated teacher:

You want to hear something really stupid now?   In my school, where I'm an elementary special ed teacher, I had a sit down meeting with a few administrators a ouple weeks ago and explain to them that the new state math module was just too damn hard and developmentally inappropriate for my class.
With IQs averaging in the low 70s in my room, kids were not going to be learning to multiply and divide in a two week time frame, at least not the way it's taught in these ridiculous modules.
I was told to teach it anyway, because otherwise the kids wouldn't be ready for the state test.
I said they won't pass the state test,they're two grade levels behind already in reading and writing and math, and in my nine years as a teacher of this population, less than five percent have ever been able to score at a proficient level. They tire out, they don't have the stamina for tests like this, etc. etc.
They subtly accused me of having low expectations for kids, which I told them is not true, I will teach them at the pace at which they can learn. What good is teaching a kid how to throw a spiral if he doesn't even know where the end zones are?
Then the conversation got even more bizarre. I said I wanted to modify my mid-unit and end of unit assessments to match what I'd actually taught the kids out of the modules (yeah, radical) and I was told no, I couldn't do that, because how else would anyone know what progress the kids were making toward the state test.
Stupid. I had already told them I was wasn't teaching every single lesson in the unit; I had to cut a lot so we could focus on what mattered most. They didn't care one bit about MY opinion of the students I was teaching every single day. It just doesn't matter anymore.
Reformers will sometimes acknowledge that, okay, some kids definitely learn slower than others ... but then do nothing about it. The conversation ends right there. With smirks and condescending grins and handshakes. Some of the stupidest conversations I've ever had in my life have happened in meetings at school...
> Bottom line, no matter what anybody tells you, teachers have been de-professionalized in America. The evidence is clear, the subject is closed, and the only question is how in the hell we're going to escape this fatalism that is setting in among teachers (and parents) that there is nothing to be done about it, so shut up and get back to work and stop making people feel uncomfortable and depressed.

Unfortunately, letters like this one do not ultimately help prevent discomfort and depression about the future of the schools, and NOT because of the teachers or their students.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

TBGO: "Revolution" Ainna Gonna Happun

In Woody'z view, Reich is delusional, as is Moyers, because they believe the current system can be "fixed." It can't be--or, more significantly, it WON'T be; it is just too sweet a deal for those who own it, and who have no incentive to change.

And it's ludicrous to believe otherwise.

The ONLY way change will come is through catastrophic, social upheaval, of the kind the French Revolution represents.

Neither Reich nor Moyers (nor Krugman, nor I, nor anyone else, with any sense or humanity, really) wants to bring down all of civilization--which is, in essence and effect, what the 'revolutionaries' call for, and what 'change' will require.

Revolutions SELDOM do more than merely REPLACE the asswholes at the top; it NEVER supplants them. The only way there will EVER be a "non-violent revolution" will be if the elites voluntarily forsake their wealth and privilege.

I don't foresee that happening.

Gandhi was able to lead the (so-called) non-violent revolution in India because, after the horrors of WW II, the Brits who wanted out, anyway, were not in the mood for MORE slaughter. User elites won't be so scrupulous.

The USer system has from the start been afflicted with one overwhelming flaw:
Our elites do NOT have in their genetic memory the thump of the blade, the rattle of the firing squad, and the howling fury of the mob. Without 'em, there's no dis-incentive for asswholery on the scale we now experience.

We have no history of "heads on pikes." It's is the BIGGEST flaw in the whole system.

Monday, September 16, 2013

CorpoRat Reform ("Deform") Schematic

(Original chart by Morna McDermott, Power Point reproduction by Karen Bracken with permission by M McDermott.)

This'n's Right in yer ol' perfesser's wheelhouse:
The "reform/deform" strategies are nothing but hyped-up, fancified, spuriously "researched" versions of the repressive, subordinating pedagogies which Paolo Freire led the way to decry as destructive of the emancipatory possibilities of education more than 40 years ago...See, e.g., "Pedagogy of the Oppressed."
The "standards" curricula basically hypostatize ED Hirsch's 'laundry lists' of "what Americans need to know," while the pedagogical methodology echoes the failed, "deficit" model by which students are thought to be 'empty' vessels in need of filling from the teachers' stores of 'approved' knowledge.
There is nothing "reform" about ANY of it, unless it is to reform the method by which Private Interests extract public money for their 'charter" schemes--a large number of which are effectively real estate scams along with being educationally suspect--and abandon the neediest students. (I shall only note in passing that Prof. Ravitch was once (circa 1980-1990) one of the foremost advocates of what she is now criticizing.)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

TBGO: Damascus in the Crosshairs.

 syria protest

Woody's talked before about "real politik," the pragmatic, unvarnished way things really are in the ways of power, bereft of niceties, despite what we'd prefer or have been led to believe.

A story from Syria this afternoon on the webs told how a band of "Syrian rebels" had stopped a bus and then murdered and beheaded all the passengers, including a baby.

Note to self: It's civil war in Syria. Civil wars are notoriously un-civil.

Civil wars, at least in the present era, are fought with terror; much more terror than conventional battles. Civilians are the targets, but also the prize.

As the fates of Saddam Hussein and Libya's Ghadaffi have assuredly reminded him, the Dictator Assad is fighting for his life. But not only for his own literal life: Also the lives of his whole "confession," the Alawites. They are only about 10% of the population, in a country of around 22 Million, and have been the "masters" of Syria since the French set things up in the 20s of the last Century. They have incurred fierce enmities. If/when he falls, there probably will be an Alawite genocide in Syria. 

Assad is a murderous brute. He should have held elections after the old man died. Perhaps, if he'd done so, Syria could have started to negotiate passage into a "Lebanon-style," flexible, domestic truce--though probably it was already too late for that. His father was also a brutal, murderous, sadistic bastard, too, whose secret police were hated and feared, and or good reason.

The "rebels" --it's kinda irrelevant who they are, really, since nationality and religion are to an extent interchangeable; there are non-Syrian "jihadis" among them, apparently--are also murderous brutes. From what pieces I've read, they seem mainly to be creatures of the Saudis, who see the conflict as a proxy fight with their foremost Islamic rival, Iran. Possibly, the foot-soldiers, the thugs, the murderers of the bus passengers are inspired by religious zeal. They are holy, murderous brutes, I guess.

Real-Politik break: In fact, it has been exceedingly, rarely actually possible to unseat existing power which is reluctant to let go without unleashing the murderous brutes.
Recorded incidents have been extremely rare. Gandhi "won" non-violently against the British, but only because the Brits had already decided the Raj was up, and were really pretty happy to dispense with the whole mess--which they'd created, of course.  

In Syria, these blood-soaked djinni are long since out of the bottle, and they are not easily--nor, indeed, even likely--to be recaptured, recontained.

 Not to mention the "bigger" implications involving Iran, Turkey, the Kurds (there are a lot of Kurds in Syria, and who, I take it, fear for their lives if the "rebels" win), the fucking Saudis and the fucking Israelis. And the Sunni/Shi'a thing. And don't forget the Oil. The terminals, pipelines, refineries, and the ports. None of it bodes well for peace. Syria's headed for the ash-heap of Levantine history, no matter what, it seems from here. There seem to be just too many contesting forces and interests.

A fact not without its own peculiar poignancy in our own situation, for our own consideration, where we hear more and more strident cries for "revolution" in our own lives. I'll be pondering it surely, when I see you at the beach, chers...PAZ!