Monthly Archives: January 2015

The Standards That Matter

By Manuel Barrera

The Department of Education (ED) Public Submission: Comment on FR Doc # 2014-28218 is a comment section at Regulations.gov, The #USDOE is requesting comments on proposed “regulations under title II of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA)” that govern teacher education so as to provide guidance on providing aid to students seeking to become teachers under the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program under title IV of the HEA”.

These new regulations are being proposed in the context of continued support to the failed “No Child Left Behind Act” (Elementary and Secondary Education Act, ESEA/NCLB) that, if passed, will continue the use of standardized testing based on meeting  “Common Core” curriculum standards. The failure of standardized testing to bring anything but continued inequity and disparity in educational achievement for the most impoverished students is now to be written into the expectations for preparing new teachers. The new regulations reinforce what has already been apparent about public schools for decades; continued segregation in educational achievement, continued promotion of preparing teachers racially disparate from the students they teach, and continued privatization of what constitutes educational “success” for the sake of reducing the profession of teaching to a clerical administration of substandard curriculum for substandard and segregated educational outcomes.

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The Honduras Experiment – ZEDE Limits

Ever since the 1980 elections and the Reagan administration, we’ve seen an ever increasing implementation of neo-liberal policies. Disastrous “free trade deals” such as NAFTA, the TPP and TTIP that outsource jobs and cut wages here at home. The privatization of public utilities and our educational system.  Deregulation of industries and the financial sector. The cutting of public spending for such things as infrastructure, education and the safety net for the poor, while giving ever increasing subsidies and tax breaks to business.

All these and more are the implementation of neo-liberal policies, and as the corporations and moneyed interests gain more and more power, those policies have spread throughout the world. But, have you ever stopped to think what a neo-liberal dream state would look like? In Honduras, there’s a serious chance that such a thing may come to pass – and it’s not pretty. Continue reading

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The NFL’s PSA is a “Hail Mary” Pass

On Sunday, February 1, Americans will spend millions of dollars and valuable time glued to television screens across the country to view the events at one of the nation’s cathedrals for athletes and sporting events; the Superbowl. The tradition of Superbowl Sunday takes control of all things commercial.

And then there are the commercials. Known as THE showcase for advertisers, the amount of money paid for the time segments of space during the game is matched only by the obscenity of the amount of money flowing to the teams that play the game. Continue reading

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The Stoning of Soraya

Women around the world face a world of violence and brutality. Regardless of where they live, women struggle daily for rights and protections that are often times denied them despite law.

A film released three years ago captures this struggle in a small village in Iran. We post it here because we believe the message to be relevant and this woman’s life worth honoring by having her story told until the entire world has heard of her. By the time you reach the end of the film, you will understand why. Worth the effort of reading the subtitles, the impact and impression this true story makes will stay with you. That is its purpose.

This is not a “family” film. It is graphic and horrifying. It is, we remind you again, a true story.

This film is presented here for the subject matter of violence against women.
It is not intended as any commentary for or against the Islamic faith.

A review of the film can be found here.

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Tales From The Eurozone- What’s With Greece?

Two days ago, Greece held national elections. The anti-austerity Syriza party was the big winner, coming up two seats short of an absolute majority in the Greek parliament – they won 149 out of 300 seats. But, what does this actually mean for Greece going forward? First, we have to understand how Greece got to where it is today.

Syriza

 

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Obama, India and Avoiding Another Bhopal

Bhopal Memorial. Photo Luca Frediani uploaded by Simone.lippi [CC BY-SA 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Bhopal Memorial. Photo Luca Frediani uploaded by Simone.lippi [CC BY-SA 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons

President Obama and India’s Prime Minister Modi announced a deal has been reached over a years-long delay in the civilian nuclear industry within India during a three day visit from the United States leader.

The U.S. signed a deal with India in 2008 to provide civilian nuclear technology. But implementation has been stalled over an Indian law that makes companies that build and supply the equipment liable in case of an accident.

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Chaos In Caracas

Yesterday, thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets to protest against President Nicolas Maduro’s government and the deepening economic crisis in the country. We’ve written about the protests last spring and the Maduro government’s response; since then, the situation’s only become worse.

Last year’s protests centered around the chronic shortages of basic goods, inflation and corruption in the government. This year, the same things are driving the protests, but the situation’s even more desperate. To understand why, we need to go back to the beginning of the last decade. Continue reading

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Ukraine’s Unity Day

Every January 22 marks Unity Day in Ukraine. How did the country celebrate this year?

In Kiev, the Ukraine government is calling for a truce. The prime minister, Arseniy Yatsunyuk, laid wreaths at a ceremonial rally and called attention to the continuing turmoil.

“I believe that the Unity, reunification of Ukrainian lands, which took place in 1919, will have its future – we will return Crimea, and control over Donetsk and Luhansk. Russian military aggression, which is supervised by the Kremlin, won’t be successful and it will fail, like all the past occupations and aggressions against Ukraine,” stressed the Head of Government. Continue reading

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Friends and Yeminis

Yesterday, Yemen’s president and cabinet resigned. This is just the latest event in a political crisis that began earlier this week when Shiite Houthi rebels took control of much of the capital, Sanaa, and surrounded the presidential residence.

Yemen

Photo via Twitter

Even if your only knowledge of Yemen comes from the national media, we feel you can see why we think it’s important. You probably have heard that the Kouachi brothers, the two responsible for the Charlie Hebdo attacks, trained in Yemen. You might remember the recent failed rescue attempt where the captives, American photojournalist Luke Somers and and South African teacher Pierre Korkie, were killed in the firefight. You’ve more than likely heard of the numerous drone strikes we’ve carried out there against Al-Qaeda; the number isn’t certain, as we’ve seen claims of anywhere from 72 to 200 drone strikes targeting AQAP (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) in Yemen over the last decade. Continue reading

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Outsourcing Our Foreign Policy

Speaker of the House John Boehner (public domain) via Wikimedia Commons

Speaker of the House John Boehner (public domain) via Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday morning, Speaker of the House John Boehner announced that he had invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress.

Now, inviting foreign leaders to address Congress is nothing new; for example, this is Netanyahu’s third time speaking in front of Congress (the first foreign leader since Winston Churchill to appear that many times). However, this time the background story’s rather interesting, not to mention troubling.

First of all, there’s the breach of protocol. Usually, if the leader of a foreign country is going to 1) visit another country, and 2) speak in front of the country’s legislative body, the visiting leader would contact the other country’s leader and tell him/her that a visit and an address was planned, and only then after the other leader’s acknowledgment, announce the visit. This didn’t happen in this case; Speaker Boehner notified the White House just before the announcement.

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