Tuesday, August 10, 2010

AZ New & Blogs 8/10/2010

  • Goddard calls for end to private-school credits
    • Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry Goddard is calling for the suspension of tax credits for private schools and the return of state funding for all-day kindergarten as part of an education plan released Thursday.

      Goddard, the current attorney general, also called for more local control of education, saying state lawmakers spend too much time micromanaging classroom teachers.

    • My thoughts: We must fully brainwash your children.  If we don't have them in schools 24/7 then we cannot properly do that.  Oh, and we want you to have local control over your classrooms by making it so you can't give your hard earned money to the schools of your choice.
  • AZ Capitol Times 2010 Election Site
  • Federal Appeals Court Declares Connecticut's Matching Funds System Unconstitutional
    •  Today, the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals barred the matching funds provisions of Connecticut's version of government funding for political candidates. The unanimous opinion mirrors the Goldwater Institute's arguments in a federal lawsuit that prompted the U.S. Supreme Court to block Arizona's matching funds provision on June 8, 2010.

      "The First Amendment requires matching funds to be struck down," said Nick Dranias, Goldwater Institute director of constitutional studies and lead attorney in the lawsuit against Arizona's matching funds provision. "Political speech by one candidate cannot be silenced by the threat of government campaign subsidies to the opposing candidate."

      A three-judge panel for the Second Circuit declared that Connecticut's matching funds "imposes a substantial burden on the exercise of the First Amendment right to use personal funds for campaign speech."
  • Escaped murderers kill NM couple, flee to Yellowstone National Park
    • Escaped murderers Tracy Province, 42, who was serving a life sentence for murder and robbery, and John McCluskey, 45, serving 15 years for second-degree murder, aggravated assault and discharge of a firearm; and Casslyn Mae Welch, 44, McCluskey's cousin and fiancee who helped the men escape from a medium-security prison near Kingman.
  • New Study: Speed Cameras Cause Bad Driving, Increase Crashes
    • We’ve known since they first appeared, but now it’s official: Speed cameras cause bad driving. A recent poll by UK car insurance provider Liverpool Victoria, 81% of drivers said they looked at the speedometer instead of the road when a camera appeared, and 5% admitted to braking suddenly when in sight of a camera. Liverpool Victoria managing director John O’Roarke was quoted as saying, “…while they may reduce speed they also appear to impair driving ability or, at the least, concentration on the road. As this report shows some drivers behave erratically and, at worst, dangerously around speed cameras.”
    • To prove the point that the opposite is true – that removing cameras reduces accidents – the Telegraph reported Saturday on newly reduced data from Swindon (UK). Swindon turned off their cameras 9 months ago, and similar to Arizona, experts predicted a bloodbath. Redflex’s Shoba Vaitheeswaran predicted, “…watch for a large increase in aggressive, dangerous driving” after Arizona ended its statewide contract. Instead, the opposite has happened. Since the cameras were turned off, injury and fatality crashes were down by 4% and 50% respectively in the entire area. At the camera sites themselves, fatalities dropped from 1 to 0 and non-injury accidents dropped from 13 to 12. We expect similar results in Arizona.
  • A good news local public school story
    • There's a wonderful story in today's Star about Principal Ray Chavez and Apollo Middle School in the Sunnyside district, and the positive changes since he took over a few years ago.

      The story is so glowing, it almost sounds too good to be true, but I'm going to take it on face value.

      The story it brings up that old question, if this school can do it, why can't others? My tentative answer is, others can do it as well, but it's not as simple as "Let's see what they're doing at Apollo and do it here." Educational success doesn't transport easily. Education isn't like McDonalds where you can drop a new, identical franchise and expect it to function just like the others around the country. Educational success is much more complicated and fragile. It takes a certain level of genius and determination from administration and staff, and a chemistry that works.

      The story is well worth a read.
    • My thoughts: Public schools = Regression to the Mean
      •  If you are really good at what you do, you have a problem. Some of your peers are gunning for you – not to beat you by outperforming you, but by taking you down or out. To understand why, you would be wise to know the story of Jaime Escalante.
  • U.S. Senate candidate Deakin facing foreclosure
  • CD1 Candidate Beauchamp Named in Lawsuit
    • The suit, filed in Gila County Superior Court on June 21, 2010 (CV2009-0340), charges Trent with intimidation and coercion against current and ex staff members at Globe High School. Beauchamp, a Globe attorney and former GUSD school board member, has been cited as conspiring with Trent to intimidate and cause the termination of staff members at GHS. In one case, Patrick A. Ward, a former teacher at GHS and defensive coordinator of the GHS football team, had 3 potential employment contracts either cancelled or rescinded after Beauchamp or Trent directly contacted the Superintendents of the schools in New Mexico which had offered Ward employment contracts.
  • Texas ranches overtaken by Mexican drug cartels
    • In a series of articles, the Cypress Times has reported that two ranches in Laredo, Texas were seized by armed members of the Los Zetas Mexican drug cartel. The initial report, with links to Diggers Realm, can be read here.

      Today, it is confirmed that multiple ranches have been taken over by drug gangs.
    • My thoughts: Yep, solution is easy.  Legalize the production, distribution, and consumption of all drugs.
  • Is Stuffing Lucrative Private Prisons with Immigrants the Real Motive Behind SB1070?
    • Channel 5 investigates and makes Governor Brewer flee in terror from their questions about links between her key advisors and the private prison industry.
    • My thoughts:  Is this for real?  Don't know.  But neither would I be surprised.
  • Valedictorian speaks out against schooling in graduation speech
    • The following speech was delivered by top of the class student Erica Goldson during the graduation ceremony at Coxsackie-Athens High School on June 25, 2010
    • ...This is the dilemma I've faced within the American education system. We are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn. We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective.

      Some of you may be thinking, "Well, if you pass a test, or become valedictorian, didn't you learn something? Well, yes, you learned something, but not all that you could have. Perhaps, you only learned how to memorize names, places, and dates to later on forget in order to clear your mind for the next test. School is not all that it can be. Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible.

       This was happening to me, and if it wasn't for the rare occurrence of an avant-garde tenth grade English teacher, Donna Bryan, who allowed me to open my mind and ask questions before accepting textbook doctrine, I would have been doomed. I am now enlightened, but my mind still feels disabled. I must retrain myself and constantly remember how insane this ostensibly sane place really is.
      I am now supposed to say farewell to this institution, those who maintain it, and those who stand with me and behind me, but I hope this farewell is more of a "see you later" when we are all working together to rear a pedagogic movement. But first, let's go get those pieces of paper that tell us that we're smart enough to do so!  
  • Grigori Rasputin Bailout
    • Sending billions of federal taxpayer dollars to teachers and other public school employees is the bailout that just won’t die. It’s been sliced, shot up in a firefight between Democrats, and even had a battle with food stamps, but it just can’t be killed!

      Now, let’s be clear: This is not some wonderful crusade all about helping ”the children.” It is pure political evil, a naked ploy to appease teachers’ unions and other public school employees that Democrats need motivated for the mid-term elections. It has to be, because the data are crystal clear: We’ve been adding staff by the truckload for decades without improving achievement one bit. Since 1970 (see the charts below) public school employment has increased 10 times faster than enrollment, while test scores have stagnated.
  • Presidential Dictatorship: Not Thinking Things Through
    • In fact, Obama is not materially different from his predecessor in any significant way. Mssrs. Christian and Robbins depict Obama as a unique threat to our "Anglo-Saxon" tradition of liberty protected by law. But it was Bush -- acting under the influence of his Sith Master, Dick Cheney -- who disemboweled the habeas corpus guarantee, the foundation of common law protections of individual rights. Granted, Obama has embraced and enlarged on Bush's actions, but the damage was done before the "alien" occupied the Oval Office. Perhaps Christian and Robbins intend to intimate that the threat Obama poses to the "Anglo-Saxon" tradition is a matter of identity, rather than performance, given that the chief damage was done by Bush the All-American Boy, rather than Obama the "alien."

      When Awlaki's father -- working with the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights -- filed an emergency appeal for an injunction to prevent the extra-judicial state murder of his son, "a significant and extraordinary problem arose," notes Greenwald: Regulations issued by the Treasury Department under the Bush administration "prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in any transactions with individuals labeled by the Government as `Specially Designated Global Terrorists,' and those regulations specifically bar lawyers from providing legal services to such individuals without a special `license' from the Treasury Department specifically allowing such representation."

      "On July 16, roughly two weeks after Awlaki's father retained the ACLU and CCR to file suit, the Treasury Department slapped that label on Awlaki," Greenwald continues. "That action would have made it a criminal offense for those organizations to file suit on behalf of Awlaki or otherwise provide legal representation to him without express permission from the U.S. Government."

      Timothy Geithner, the career criminal in charge of the Treasury Department, has condescended to issue the requested license, thereby permitting Awlaki's father to press his legal challenge. This also preserves the supposed authority of the executive branch to grant or deny -- on any whimsical basis it considers appropriate -- permission to attorneys seeking to defend the legal rights of people on the president's "kill list."

      Last January, after Awlaki was accused of inciting the attempted Christmas bombing of Northwest Flight 253, his father was asked why he didn't encourage his son to return to the United States to confront the charges.

      "I will do my best to convince my son to do this," Awlaki told CNN, but he understandably doesn't trust a government that claims the right to execute his son without trial -- or even formal criminal charges.

      "They want to kill my son," he pointed out. "How can the American government kill one of their own citizens?"

      The unsettling answer to that troubling question is one terrifying word: "easily." Obama's conservative critics want to make this task even easier still. They really haven't thought this through, have they?
  • President of Mexico Calls for Debate on Legalization of Drugs
    •  For the first time ever, Mexican President Felipe Calderón said yesterday that it was “fundamental” to have a debate on the legalization of drugs. Calderon, from the conservative National Action Party (PAN), had until now been reluctant to pay heed to the growing calls in Mexico and Latin America for a hemispheric debate on drug legalization. Once they left office, two of Calderón’s predecessors—Ernesto Zedillo and Vicente Fox—have also engaged in the debate, calling for the need to legalize drugs as a way to battle the drug violence that is crippling Mexico. Others, such as Jorge Castaneda, former foreign minister of Mexico, have also called for an end to prohibition.

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