Home > Uncategorized > Best Reads May 30-June 5

Best Reads May 30-June 5

Diane Ratvitch:

May 16, 2011, was a dark day in the history of New York state. On that date, the New York State Board of Regents, once known for careful deliberation and the integrity of its standards, approved a plan to evaluate teachers by their students’ test scores. Students’ scores will count for as much as 40 percent of teachers’ evaluations. This plan has neither research nor evidence to support it. The Regents are making a gamble with the future of educational quality and with the lives of the state’s teachers.

Ta-Nehisi Coates on the death penalty:

And the first thought is base, primal and simple: Why should I have to share the earth with this person? If one is so reckless toward the individual lives within a society, what right has he to remain in that society?
I think a large share of becoming a mature citizen of the world, is, on some level, accepting its imperfections. It will likely always be true that on some days evil people will commit evil deeds, and we will be utterly incapable of punishing them. Moreover on those days when we can, we still will be incapable of balancing the comic scales. Indeed all our acts to attempt just that, tend to redoubt back upon us.
E.D. Kain on education reform:

I mean, fundamentally I’m a radical on education and I want to tear down the entire edifice and start all over. If I had my three wishes we’d have a radically different system of education than the one we have today. But of course this will never happen, and politics has a way of twisting good change into bad. So you have to remain cautious, skeptical, and hopeful that the more we experiment the better the outcomes will be for everyone involved.

To comment on this, I believe that we could radically alter education this way.  How about allow me and some teachers to open a school that does this?  If it works let us expand.  One of the problems that we humans have is that we assume that things are set in their path and nothing will change them.  This is not true.  Not all things are inevitable.  People have the power to change their worlds.

Andrew Bacevich on Memorial Day:

Since 9/11, in waging its various campaigns, overt and covert, the United States military has expended hundreds of billions of (mostly borrowed) dollars. By the time the last invoice gets paid, the total will be in the trillions. Is the money being well spent? Are we getting good value? Is it possible that some of the largesse showered on U.S. forces trying to pacify Kandahar could be better put to use in helping to rebuild Cleveland? Given the existing terms of the civil-military relationship, even to pose such questions is unseemly. For politicians sending soldiers into battle, generals presiding over long, drawn-out, inconclusive campaigns, and contractors reaping large profits as a consequence, this war-comes-first mentality is exceedingly agreeable.


Overwhelming evidence shows that student outcomes in education are connected to out-of-school factors — from about 60 percent to as much as 86 percent. But admitting and accepting that student achievement and education quality are overwhelmed by cultural and social dynamics speaks against our idealized view of our culture and our enduring faith in rugged individualism.


Ratvich again on education reform:

Educators know that 100 percent proficiency is impossible, given the enormous variation among students and the impact of family income on academic performance. Nevertheless, some politicians believe that the right combination of incentives and punishments will produce dramatic improvement. Anyone who objects to this utopian mandate, they maintain, is just making an excuse for low expectations and bad teachers


Neil Young interviewed by Cameron Crowe in 1975:


Was your first solo album a love song for her?

No. Very few of my albums are love songs to anyone. Music is so big, man, it just takes up a lot of room. I’ve dedicated my life to my music so far. And every time I’ve let it slip and gotten somewhere else, it’s showed. Music lasts…a lot longer than relationships do. My first album was very much a first album. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. And I did, thanks to the wonder of modern machinery. That first album was overdub city. It’s still one of my favorites though. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere is probably my best. It’s my favorite one. I’ve always loved Crazy Horse from the first time I heard the Rockets album on White Whale. The original band we had in ’69 and ’70–Molina, Talbot, Whitten and me. That was wonderful. And it’s back that way again now. Everything I’ve ever done with Crazy Horse has been incredible. Just for the feeling, if nothing else.

Greenwald on free speech:

 This is not an academic question.  The right at stake here is absolutely vital.  It is crucial to protect and preserve the right to argue that a government has become so tyrannical or dangerous that violence is justified against it.  That, after all, was the argument on which the American Founding was based; it is pure political speech; and criminalizing the expression of that idea poses a grave danger to free speech generally and the specific ability to organize against abusive governments.  To allow the government to punish citizens — let alone to kill them — because their political advocacy is threatening to the government is infinitely more dangerous than whatever ideas are being targeted for punishment, even if that idea is violent jihad


On Warrick Dunn’s encounter with the police and racial profiling:

Here’s the problem. Those who willingly deny the prevalence of the racism Dunn endured are simultaneously pushing the policy that makes it possible. In today’s hyper-Islamophobic era, many Americans — mostly Republicans — support racial profiling of Muslims as an acceptable counter-terrorism strategy. Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who chafes at being called a racist, believes racial profiling to be nothing more than “common sense.” In fact the same week that Dunn was stopped, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) bemoaned the fact that TSA patted down “an ol’ lady” but allowed a “guy in Arabian dress” to “walk…right through.”

As proven time and again, you cannot remove the racism from racial profiling. The Department of Health and Human Services reported that 77 percent of drug users are white and most drug users have a source who is “of their own racial or ethnic background, regardless of the drug considered.” And yet, black men like Dunn are consistently pulled over. In the case of terrorism, the “Jihad Janes” and “underwear bombers” of the world don’t possess that “Middle Easterner” look. As NYU Prof. Angela Davis notes, “How difficult would it be to recruit a compatriot with a ‘non-Arab’ appearance or plant a weapon in the bag of someone who doesn’t fit the profile?” And yet, Arab-looking men and women are still bear the brunt of a backward policy.

11 essential questions for the next president


“So what happened?”

“I told you what happened. Smart guys started going to Wall Street.”


“I thought you’d never ask,” he said, making a practiced gesture with his eyebrows that caused the bartender to get started mixing another martini.

“Two things happened. One is that the amount of money that could be made on Wall Street with hedge fund and private equity operations became just mind-blowing. At the same time, college was getting so expensive that people from reasonably prosperous families were graduating with huge debts. So even the smart guys went to Wall Street, maybe telling themselves that in a few years they’d have so much money they could then become professors or legal-services lawyers or whatever they’d wanted to be in the first place. That’s when you started reading stories about the percentage of the graduating class of Harvard College who planned to go into the financial industry or go to business school so they could then go into the financial industry. That’s when you started reading about these geniuses from M.I.T. and Caltech who instead of going to graduate school in physics went to Wall Street to calculate arbitrage odds.”

Let’s all just ponder that for a while.
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