Sunday, October 26, 2014

#185 October 26, 2014- Public Education Held to a Higher Standard

Seeking Educational Perfection. . .
We are constantly hearing from those who would "reform" public education about how they are seeking to make our current public educational systems more equitable in terms of opportunity and outcomes.  They either imply, or explicitly state that the current system is a failure, and that a "new" privatized system of specialized schools is the best way to address the inequities that exist in our current public educational systems.  The arguments make good sound bites, and seem to be logical and even "common sense" in nature, but the reality that the "reform" movement creates is based on faulty logic and too often actually harmful to those students it is supposed to help.

One of the major flaws in the "reform" argument is that we can completely eliminate all gaps in opportunity and achievement.  This is something that few people in educational policy making positions are willing to admit.  By making this statement we open ourselves up to criticism and accusations of having low expectations for our students.  Yet, to my knowledge, there has never been a society where everyone was equal in outcomes, and where every individual was able to achieve proficiency in all skills.  However, that's what we are asking our schools to do when we look at the evaluation and accountability standards that we are holding our public schools and public educators to.  The 100% proficient goal set by NCLB is the most obvious of these goals of perfection, but there are countless other examples of ways that we expect our schools to perform flawlessly for every student in every circumstance.

Once again, this isn't an excuse for not meeting all our student's needs.  Instead, it is an argument that by setting uniform standards and expectations for all students we are creating situations and expectations that don't work for all of our students.  We test, assess and evaluate our students based on a narrow set of standards that frustrate and limit our student's potential.  In the name of "rigor" and "grit" we label students, schools and educators as failing when they don't achieve specific goals that have been established by policy makers who have no idea what any given student's needs really are. 

Many parents (and kids) are pushing back against the Common Core Standards. And they might be right to do so.|By Alice G. Walton

In the name of change, we too often repeat, and even amplify, the mistakes of the past.  The result?  If one test gives us data, then two-three-four-etc. tests can give us even more data.  The time for real reform and change is upon us, before it's too late for our public schools.    

A couple of years ago, early one morning, I received an SMS advising “resadents to stay indoors because of a nearby insadent”. I was shocked by the spelling, as much as the message. Surely, I thought…|By Misty Adoniou

"Why destroy public education so that a handful can boast they have a charter school in addition to their yacht?"

The pressures of daily life and the challenges that our students face in their communities where poverty, racism and inequity is too often the norm, is compounded by the pressures to perform in school.  Our students are not responsible for our nation's current struggles politically, socially or economically, and they certainly shouldn't be players in a global test score competition that quantifies little and destroys educational opportunities.  By pushing our students to "achieve" we are putting stresses on our young people that are causing them emotional harm.  The result is a large number of students who are labeled behavior problems and who develop an identity that is distorted by a sense of failure that is imposed on them by a flawed system.  Instead of punitive and harmful policies, we need to give them the tools to deal with the reality that they experience.     

Punitive Schooling by Owen Davis The education reform movement has brought “broken windows” policing into the classroom. “Women’s School Jail.” Library of Congress When police grappled Eric Garner into a chokehold and left him to die...

With eyes closed and deep breaths, students are learning a new method to reduce anxiety, conflict, and attention disorders. But don’t call it meditation.

While the simple premise that all students will develop academically, emotionally and socially at the same prescribed rate is in and of itself unrealistic, there are other problems with holding our schools responsible for all of the inequities and societal ills that exist in modern America.  One of the most glaring is the fact that most political leaders and policy makers don't really understand education, nor do they pay much attention to public schools except during election season. 

Dear Editor: As a school board member from South Milwaukee, I am insulted and embarrassed — for my constituents and the children in my district — by the refusal of

We are asking our public schools to address issues that go well beyond the school walls.  These issues are deeply entrenched in our society and have been a constant source of struggle and conflict throughout our nation's history.  Issues around poverty and race are not easily resolved, but education "reformers" often dismiss them as either irrelevant, or simply ignore their impact on student learning.  The idea that students can come to school and not be impacted in their learning by external forces is ridiculous and puts educators in a challenging position. 

Can we really expect teachers and schools to overcome so many obstacles by preparing kids for "college and career" without addressing the inequality and poverty their students experience everyday?...

We are also asking our schools to "fix" these issues and provide opportunities for all students while operating on budgets that don't allow for adequate resources to be deployed to our most challenged schools and communities.  Funding to schools is cut, and then our schools are criticized for "failing" our students.  The simple fact is that education is a labor intensive endeavor and the labor that is required must be well trained and well supported in order to be most effective.   

The deadline for states to apply for the $250 million in grants from the U.S. departments of Education and Health and Human Services is Frid…

How does Wisconsin provide the necessary funding to invest in quality education?

While we hold our schools to high standards, the "job creators" and business community escapes this scrutiny. 

Hard to rise, and harder to fall: Poor college grads stay poor about as much as rich high school dropouts stay rich.

A common refrain from tech companies about their woeful staff diversity figures is that there simply aren't enough African American and Hispanic programmers to fill the demand. The numbers don't support them.

In the end we know that perfection isn't attainable.  We will have gaps, miss opportunities and struggle to meet our students' needs.  Knowing that, we must strive to minimize the inequities and close the opportunity gaps that exist.  Failing to achieve perfection is one thing, knowingly perpetuating policies or procedures that are inherently flawed is another.  Public education has the potential to make significant, positive societal change happen.  It is up to educators, families, students and supporters of public education to make sure that the potential is realized.   

Chicago teachers show how to organize an effective boycott of standardized tests, and offer advice to others.

The Good, The Bad and
The Ugly. . .

The Good . . . The fact that collective bargaining rights being used as a threat against an opposing candidate shows just how little the public understands about organized labor.  Unions and collective bargaining have firm roots in our democratic traditions and should be a given in a society that claims to believe in equality and justice for all.   

Burke supports other parts of union rights law

The Bad . . . Whether it's the fact that there is such a thing as a School Reform Commission, or the fact that Philadelphia's educators are seeing their contracts violated this is clearly in the Bad category.  However, taking to the streets and exercising a collective voice, Good. 

Thousands of Philadelphia public school teachers and their supporters protested outside of the Philadelphia School District amid the School Reform Commission's meeting inside Thursday evening.

The Ugly . . . While most people would probably say that they have a right to vote, the reality is quite different.  Making voting a constitutional right would help in so many ways.  Ironically, our most "patriotic" citizens and most vocally "pro-American" leaders would oppose an amendment, but support voter ID. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

#184 October 19, 2014- Equity and Education

Equity, Public Education
and Revolution. . .
We have a great dream.  It started way back in 1776, and God grant that America will be true to her dream.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

America's public schools have been a topic of intense debate for years.  Many of the key issues have always been centered around defining student success and determining how effective our public education systems are in providing access to opportunities for our students.  Public education has been advertised as the pathway to success and a way to escape poverty.  At the same time it has been chastised as another example of how our society is failing a significant number of students, especially our children of color and students of poverty. 

The attacks against public education have come from a variety of sources, but supporters of public education are pushing back and the debate has been intense.  Unfortunately, we have found that defining success or failure for our public schools is more difficult to do than one would imagine. 

A historian of education argues that despite the widely held notion that American schools are failing, things have actually never been better.

We find ourselves engaged in a societal debate about issues that are very personal and individualized in nature.  Attempting to create a perfect system for a collection of diverse individuals is difficult at best, and the results we are achieving demonstrate just how tough it is to try and institutionalize something like education.  The terms we use, the policies we implement and the ways we instruct and assess all lose their meaning as we travel further away from the central focus of education, the individual student.  Things like Achievement Gaps are examples of issues that are immense in scope, but made up of single components that need to be addressed as such.  There is no perfect system in place that can effectively meet the needs and fulfill the wishes of every student, family and community in our diverse nation.  Yet, we also need to have a public education system in place that can provide opportunities for all students.  Quite a challenging prospect.  No wonder issues around public education are so controversial and spark such intense debate.  Yet, these discussions and the solutions we arrive at are vital to the survival of our nation and the ideals that we have based our national identity on.     

While the debate about defining education and providing equity in such a difficult endeavor are enough of a challenge, we also find that there are other issues that impact our public education discussions.  Money is one of the biggest of these.  We can't forget that there are those who view education not as a tool to improve society, but as a vehicle to pad their bottom line.         

A specter is haunting America - the privatization of its public schools, and Big Money has entered into an unholy alliance to aid and abet it. Multi-billionaire philanthropists and others are making common cause to hasten the destruction...

Economics also impacts education by creating an unequal playing field for the students in the system.  There is ample evidence that poverty has a significant impact on student success in our education systems, public or private, and the gaps between social classes exist inside and outside of our schools.  It is very troubling that these gaps are widening in modern America.

Students from high-poverty public schools are less likely to attend college than those from wealthier ones, regardless of whether they're from urban, suburban...

With the discussion about poverty comes a needed conversation about race in America and its impact on outcomes whether educational, economic or any other.  Race and poverty are closely linked in our nation, and this is compounded by the history of injustice and inequity that mar our nation's history.  This combination of present problems, and historical struggles puts our nation's young people in a difficult position.  They are growing up in a more diverse America than ever before, but they are doing it in a society that is still controlled by archaic and inequitable systems.  Breaking through these barriers is difficult and must be supported by all of us.  This means changing the current ways of doing things and looking towards the future, not being controlled by the past.   

Telling young black males they are “endangered” is no favor.

Our current systems are driven and supported by "data."  Nowhere is this more true than in the realm of public education.  We assess our students non-stop, and then use the results as weapons against progress.  Instead of using assessment to promote better instruction, it often is used to sort, classify and suppress learning.  Students who don't test well are relegated to remediation or to "interventions" that simply continue to further separate them from their peers.  Assessment becomes, not a vital part of instructional practice, but rather a way of justifying institutional segregation and tracking systems.  While masked by righteous rhetoric, the end result too often is that we use the results to put students into categories that will impact their entire life. 

When defenders of the Common Core say these standards are tools that belong to teachers, they are ignoring the historical roots of such standards.

Behavior and the public's perception of what is happening in our schools is also an important aspect of the debate.  There are many competing ideas about how to make our schools safe and orderly.  Yet, the policies that are created are often imposed from outside of school buildings.  Each student is an individual and needs individual attention.  Nowhere is this more true than in their emotional engagement in learning and the relationships that are built as they move along their educational journey.  While we may want to return to the "good old days" of supposedly quiet and obedient students, we need to recognize that those days were filled with challenging students and "pranks" that today appear on police reports.  Go to any high school reunion and listen to the stories that make the case that kids of the past were far from angelic.

In no way is this an effort to ignore the reality that we face significant behavioral challenges in our schools.  Discipline is an issue and the difficulties are compounded by societal pressures, mental health issues and the stresses that our families and student live under.  What makes these problems even more challenging is the fact that there are many who don't recognize the importance of relationships, time and the resources needed to make any school building a safe and positive one for all who work and learn in it.   

Joanne Lipman writes that today's educators are too soft. It is time to go back to the discipline of the past.|By Joanne Lipman

The Madison School District will receive about $6.1 million less in state aid for 2014-15 than expected, according to final state aid numbers released...|By Molly Beck | Wisconsin State Journal

Non-partisan research and policy institute working on federal and state fiscal policies and public programs that affect low- and moderate-income Americans

Instead we turn to "fixes" that actually harm our students and our educational systems.  We operate under the illusion that an educational marketplace will improve outcomes when in reality it simply stratifies and segregates our students.   

MADISON — Wisconsin taxpayers have paid about $139 million to private schools that ended up being barred from the state's voucher system for failing

We've always had gaps and groups that have failed in our schools.  We know that a utopian ideal where all are equal is a dream, but never has been a reality.  Yet, we also know that we can do better for our students, especially those of color, with disabilities and who come from diverse cultures.  As the diversity of our nation increases the exposure to those different from us also increases.  This can be a frightening experience for many of us.  Suddenly the view of what is "normal" and "expected" needs to change and adapt in order to incorporate others who have different experiences and opinions.  This causes a number of responses, unfortunately many of which are centered around fear and anger.  It is time that we leave these negative emotions behind and build a better future for all of our citizens. 

This change can begin in our public schools.  However, positive change for all students doesn't just magically happen.  It involves a lot of work, some very difficult discussion and even conflict at times.  It doesn't happen unilaterally, nor does it occur in a vacuum.  It involves entire communities coming together to talk about what they need and want for all children.  It must begin by breaking down barriers that have been built over the years, and moving forward under the premise that we all want a successful society where all of us are valued and respected.       

Why the current wave of reforms, with its heavy emphasis on standardized tests, may actually be harming students|By John Tierney

Overcoming years of tensions and divisions, parents and teachers are linking arms to save public schools.

The Good, The Bad and
The Ugly. . .

The Good . . . As the debate continues about voter ID, a great argument against the law, written by a Conservative judge. 

Conservative icon/federal judge changes mind on photo ID laws, issues blistering dissent against them. Read it here

The Bad . . . Teaching is a tough enough job without all of the legal and political struggles, not to mention the disrespect that we are too frequently shown by our employers.  No wonder the attrition rate for new teachers is so high. 

A panel of education experts says that the nation's understaffing problem is about retention, not recruitment. The solutions? Better leadership and more freedom for teachers, they say.

The average teacher salary in Wisconsin dropped last year and trails the national average.

Representing the Skokie Organization of Retired Educators IEA Retired, we walked the line with striking Waukegan teachers this week. "There they are," Harriet pointed. A couple dozen striking Wauke...

Union president Mike Lipp calls the standard needed to prevail “punitive.”|By Pat Schneider

The Ugly . . . So sorry to hear about Karen Lewis' illness.  Hoping for a speedy recovery.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who just pulled out of mayoral contention, is suffering from a cancerous brain tumor that was diagnosed shortly after she experienced a severe headache on Oct. 5. As a result, Lewis...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

#183 October 12, 2014- Fixing Education- The Right Tools

Voting Information…
The Supreme Court has done its job!!  Now it is up to every citizen in Wisconsin to vote in November.  Winning a legal battle is a hollow victory if people don't fulfill their responsibilities as members of a democratic society.

The U.S. Supreme Court blocks Wisconsin from implementing a law requiring voters to present photo IDs.|By WISN

Fixing Education- The Wrong
Ideas from the Wrong People. . .
Issues around public education truly are complex.  There aren't too many easy answers, and those of us who work and learn in our state's public schools know this all too well.  From issues of classroom discipline to curriculum to holding everyone involved in the educational process accountable for academic achievement, the issues are many and the challenges are intense.  Over the years we've turned to "experts", and we've looked to those who have been "successful" for solutions to these issues.      

Bill Gates had an idea. He was passionate about it, absolutely sure he had a winner. His idea? America’s high schools were too big. When a multibillionaire gets an idea, just about everybody leans in to listen. And when that idea has to...|By Bob Herbert

Not surprisingly, the results haven't led us towards a more socially just system that provides equality of opportunity for all students.  In fact, despite what may very well be noble intentions, we are seeing the exact opposite trends happening.  Trends that are leading us towards more segregation, more standardization and bigger gaps in opportunity and achievement between groups of students.

Where you live should not determine the type of education your child gets, but several local schools and a new study are saying that is exactly what is...|By Emily Davies

Fans of market forces for education simply don't understand how market forces actually work. What they like to say is that free market competition breeds...|By Heather DuBois Bourenane

Acknowledging the myriad ways in which school districts can undermine curiosity and academic exploration by over-stressing test scores and technical training, one can emphasize the importance of structured explorations that can expand a...

A Letter to Commissioner King and the New York State Education Department:I have played your game for the past two years. As an educator, I have created my teaching portfolio with enough evidence ...

Why is this happening?  How is it that in a nation with the resources that America has available we can't seem to get education (public or private) "right"?  We continue to struggle and experience societal frustration, even as we claim to support public education as a concept.

We hear more and more from educators who are frustrated and too many who are leaving the profession because of the negative climate around our public schools.

Surrounded by piles of student work to grade, lessons to plan and laundry to do, I have but one hope for the new year: that the Common Core State Standards, their related Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium testing and the new teacher...|By Hartford Courant

We see too many people who are leaving the fight and deciding to look out for their own children or neighborhood, while choosing to ignore the plight of those in other places.  We want a system to work, but not at the expense of our own interests, and certainly not because of the challenges that other people's kids present.  Along the way, we forget that all kids are our kids.  As a society we can't survive and succeed if we don't help care for all of our fellow citizens. 

It's an issue affecting children and their families across the country but is hitting Wisconsin harder than most, even occurring more often in our local schools.|By Jessica.Bringe

It becomes easy to blame others, or to claim that the problems we face are too big and too difficult for us to solve.  We are frustrated by the apparent inability of anyone to address issues of poverty, inequality and discrimination.  The blame falls squarely on the shoulders of those who are most directly involved in the struggle, and we find ourselves drawn to "common sense", bumper sticker solutions.  Solutions that sound good, but lack the depth necessary to really address the challenges we face. 

This creates a disconnect between what we the people claim to want and what the policies that our decision makers and elected officials implement.  According to the polling done by the Democrats for Public Education about 2/3 of those polled want neighborhood schools staffed by educators who are accountable to the community, not standardized assessments.  The people want money devoted to our schools and not to other interests.  Yet, we face the all to real prospect of seeing a governor elected in Wisconsin who has been a vocal supporter of educational policies that do the exact opposite.  While education isn't the only issue in the campaign, it certainly is one of the high profile ones.  It is troubling that the rhetoric around education can drown out the real impact of policies like Educator Effectiveness, voucher schools, and standardized testing.

All of these pressures on educators create an environment that limits creativity and perpetuates a system that has not fulfilled its potential.  We blame educators and call public education a failure, all while ignoring the fact that, as a society, we've never given careful thought to what we are really expecting from our schools.  While everyone can agree that we want our students to be prepared for success as citizens and individuals by our schools, we really haven't considered what that really means.  We end up asking our schools to do everything for everyone and create the most responsible citizens, the best possible employees and to meet the needs of every possible individual circumstance.  At the same time we restrict educator voice and freedom, and complain that it all costs too much money. 

HAVERHILL, MA—Conveying their eagerness to dodge the possibility of any classroom role-playing exercises or featured guest speakers, 10th-grade...

There are many voices calling for reform of our public education system.  In many cases the word reform has become synonymous with the privatization and standardization of our schools.  The so called experts and the other voices of reform have been heard loud and clear.  They have shaped the dialog about education and moved us in directions that threaten the very heart of our democratic ideals.  Education for profit, and a system that serves only a small segment of the population isn't really public education.  True public education should serve all students and be available no matter where a person lives, how much a person makes and what demographic a person comes from.  This is what so many public educators and supporters of true public education are fighting for. 
On Monday a grassroots coalition calling itself...
Blogging Blue

UOO Calls on Unions to Support Teacher Refusals to Administer Tests - UNITED OPT OUT: The...
United Opt Out National serves as a focused point of unyielding resistance to corporate ed. reform. We...

What kind of support remains unclear.

On Monday a grassroots coalition calling itself...
Blogging Blue

Homework: An unnecessary evil? … Surprising findings from new research
A new study on the academic effects of homework offers not only some intriguing results but also a lesson on how to read a study -- and a reminder of the...

So, while the issues may be complex, there are a few places we can look to for answers.  One of the best sources for solutions should be educators themselves.  It is time that we listen to those who work in school buildings all around our state and nation.  The next time you hear an idea for "fixing" public education, look at who is offering the solution and what their interests are.  What real experience do they have in working with students?  What connections do they have to the communities being affected?  Our public educators have chosen their profession because they truly care about their students and want public schools to be the best possible place to learn and work in.  If we can combine the voices of educators, families, students and community members we can create a powerful force that can begin to work towards truly fixing our public education system.    

The Good, The Bad and
The Ugly. . .

The Good . . . The simple truth is that we can't afford to have a society where only a few people profit from the work that all of us do.  The American Dream shouldn't be based on personal achievement at the expense of our fellow citizens.

In Germany, auto workers get paid well and their companies still profit. Author Thom Hartmann on...

The Bad . . . It is troubling that we live in a nation where this type of action isn't just possible, but is even supported by some.  Here in Wisconsin there are too many who don't understand that if we can take power and voice from our public employees, then we can just as easily take power and voice from anyone.

There's only one thing worse than the Philadelphia School Reform Commission's early morning assault on unionized teachers -- and that's the underhanded way they did it, in a fog of near secrecy, with a determination to squelch public...

The Ugly . . . Get ready for a long October Wisconsin!!

Sixty-two percent of the ads in the governor's race so far were negative and just under 4 percent were positive|By WKBT
Should people who have achieved their positions through the support of campaign efforts like those under investigation really have the right to decide how we proceed with the John Doe probe?

Challengers to the investigation have spent millions to boost the campaigns of the four-member conservative majority.|By Dee J. Hall | Wisconsin State Journal

Sunday, October 5, 2014

#182 October 5, 2014- American "Democracy"

Voting Information…
Make sure that you are prepared for the upcoming election!!

This election year Wisconsin voters have to deal with several new voting restrictions passed by the Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Gov. Scott Walker (R).

America- Love It or
Own It. . .
Americans don't like to examine their politics or history.  We prefer to believe that we live in a democracy, and that our nation is built on the ideals of equality and justice for all.  We want to continue to pretend that our nation's history is filled with great people, doing great things, and that we should be revered by the rest of the world.  Those political and historical "facts" are enough for most people, and they are not terribly interested in learning or hearing about any other possibilities.  In fact, many of us are willing to ignore ideas that contradict our dogmatic beliefs, and will even go to great lengths to destroy alternative viewpoints.  

The conservative majority in the JeffCo School Board has passed its controversial US History Censorship proposal.

When we avoid unpleasant information and suppress opposing viewpoints, we veer off the path of equality and justice and end up charting a course away from democracy.  This isn't anything new to our modern version of American democracy.  In fact, the constant tension between social justice, and the existing political, social and economic systems that we have in place have been a source of conflict throughout our history.  We can't ignore the realities of our history and gloss over the injustices that have existed if we are ever going to move forward towards a truly equitable and just society. 

When asked, most of us would agree that we want to live in a nation where equality and opportunity for all are the norm.  We want a place where we, and those close to us, can live in safety and enjoy a standard of living that allows us to be comfortable and happy.  We also want our neighbors and fellow citizens to enjoy these same opportunities.  However, it is only natural that we put our own needs first.  This is where government, laws and a social order come into play.  In a democratic society we need to have rules that advance the good of the many so that no individual or small group is able to dominate and control our social, political and economic systems. 

Yet, in 2014 we are experiencing a trend that is stratifying our society in ways that are troubling and destructive towards our national ideology.  We are seeing small groups of people control a great amount of our nation's wealth, and they are using that wealth to impose their will on our entire society. 

Together, Charles and David Koch control one of the world's largest fortunes, which they are using to buy up our political system.

This raises several questions.  Is it possible to be self-interested and still be a patriotic citizen?  Is our national ideology of freedom and opportunity being used against the majority of us?  What really is our national identity and historical legacy?  Is it one of freedom and opportunity, or have we always been "ruled" by an elite class?  Do capitalism, democracy and equality blend well together?  The answers to these questions are significant as we move forward into a future that is uncertain and filled with barriers to our achievement of a socially just society.

America asked two prominent members of Congress, both Catholics with famous names, to respond to Pope Francis’ repeated calls to empower the poor.Paul...

The answers to these questions are not fixed and absolute.  They have been debated for centuries and will continue to be topics of debate in the future.  When we look back over our history we see a pendulum swinging between different types of representation.  Groups have been excluded from power, included, and then excluded again.  Regulations have tightened and eased.  Rights have been granted, restricted and then expanded.  All of this inconsistency has been the result of the world we live in, major events and individual leadership.  Yet, through it all there are some common threads that bind the fabric of our history together.  There is the thread of Progressive social activism and democratic ideology.  There is also a thread of oligarchy and the dominance of the elite (Robber Barons, Job Creators, Founding Fathers, etc.)  Where we, as a nation, fall on the political spectrum depends on which group is able to control the most power at any given time.   

The pendulum has definitely swung towards oligarchy in recent years.  We are seeing a small number of individuals and groups exploiting the indifference and apathy that too many citizens are demonstrating.  Because only a small number of citizens are actively participating it is relatively easy to control our "democratic process."  Once power is achieved, those in power will do their best to maintain control and to cement their status in our system.  This is currently being done in several ways.

One of the ways to control a democratic society is to dominate our ability to engage in discourse around controversial issues.  While it is difficult to engage a nation of millions in a substantive debate, the voting process allows each citizen to express their opinion in what should be a meaningful way.  Voting is a right and a privilege that should be available to every citizen if we are truly going to have a representative government.  Yet, we are seeing efforts to restrict voting in almost every state in America.      

Wisconsin's new voter ID law could keep me from voting at age 87
Ruthelle Frank: I’ve been registered to vote since 1948. But once Republicans passed the law, I was asked to prove I’m not an ‘illegal alien’|By Ruthelle Frank
Because of the complex nature of any system that sets guidelines and rules for a nation of millions, our decision making processes are too often accessible only to those with time and/or money to influence them.

If Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is reelected this November, he may be able to thank a liberal Democratic senator for his victory.

In case there was any remaining confusion with regard to the precise political intentions of the U.S. Supreme Court’s activist majority, things were clarified Monday. The same majority that has made it easier for corporations to buy elections (with the Citizens United v. FEC decision) and for…
Our national discourse about important issues is also shaped by the media.  Too many Americans are currently getting their "news" from outlets like FOX that are really editorializing and not reporting.  This changes our conversations and eliminates dialog and discourse.    

Jon Stewart has a message for Fox News on #LatteSalute: "SHUT UP." The network's talking heads have been attacking President Barack Obama for saluting two U.S Marines with a coffee cup in his hand. But on "The Daily Show" on Th...

We can also see the influence of the elite in our public services.  One of the most vital of these is our public education system.  A democracy can not function without an educated population.  Our current battles around public schools are an outgrowth of the conflict for power in our society.    

The influence of an extreme version of economic idealism can be seen in other places as well.  Market driven public services eventually cease to become public in anything but name only. 

High recidivism rates mean more people behind bars, and Corrections Corporation of America depends on more and more incarceration to make its billions. Since when do they actually want people to do well after they get out,...

Organizing efforts, like those of labor unions, are curtailed in an effort to silence the voices of the majority. 

Yet, the power of the people isn't so easy to ignore or quiet.  Across Wisconsin, and around the country efforts to resist the centralization of power are continuing.  These efforts are vital as we seek to definitively answer those important questions about our national identity.  Standing together we truly can become the nation that all of us were promised.  

American Airlines reservations agents just voted to unionize. It's been a long time coming.

The Good, The Bad and
The Ugly. . .

The Good . . . There are plenty of opportunities to get involved and work to elect a candidate who will be more willing to listen to, and work for Wisconsin.

People volunteered in droves across Wisconsin this weekend to give Scott Walker a pink slip and elect Mary Burke our next Governor. Union members and...

The Bad . . . We have a real problem in our country when it comes to how we shape our children's views about their appearance and in how we stereotype boys and girls. 

I went back to Target today with my daughter after my discussion with them. I wanted to take pictures to document the current state of the clothes in their...

The continuing sexism that exists in our "free and equal society" is reflected in our public discourse as well as the choices in clothing that are offered. 

Dear Mr. Bolling and Mr. Gutfeld, We are veterans of the United States armed forces, and we are writing to inform you that your remarks about United Arab... 

The Ugly . . . This election hinges on voter turnout, and the Conservative base historically dominates mid-term elections.