26 December 2008
Blog 'miracle' saves Christmas for hard-luck family
Shuttered bakery reopens, rehires workers
To me Christmas is not just about Jesus, it's about all of us - finding, and embracing, in ourselves that innate desire to help others, to live in peace with each other, and to make this world a better place one small gift or gesture at a time.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
09 December 2008
I'm not saying that these superficial contradictions make for anything hypocritical: to the contrary, the critics of a possible appointment of Attorney Kennedy to the US Senate are essentially correct in perceiving that something much bigger than symbolism would occur through it. The Kennedy and Clinton tendencies in the Democratic Party have embodied two distinct magnetic poles each trying to pull the party in different directions for the past 16 years, and before that between Kennedy and Carter tendencies.
This was very much at play with Senator and Attorney Kennedy's endorsement of Obama early in the primaries, and intentionally signaled as such. The Kennedy organization was not happy - many of us were not - with the change in direction that the Clinton administration brought to the party, toward a blatant acquiescence to corporate interests, away from the New Deal and the Great Society. And while both families have had their share of public personal scandal, for the Kennedys that hasn't bled much at all into the political or policy realms: we just have never seen Ted Kennedy, for example, go to Malaysia and collect $200,000 for a speech from a corporate power broker, lavishing his benefactor's company with praise, as occurred yesterday with Bill Clinton, now getting a few last international paydays in before his ethics agreement with the Obama administration kicks in to prevent future such embarrassments.
Now, don't get me wrong, I love me some Brother Bill, but Tio Teddy has always been a political hero of mine. His very subtle, quiet, unobtrusive way of pushing progressive causes for the last 46 years is what I think public service is about. Don't worry about getting credit, worry about getting it passed. Results rather than personal aggrandizement, country before self, just like his brother asked. I'm positive the daughter will continue the brothers' work.
08 December 2008
The upshot is - with those white (let's be honest now) students back in the system, standardized test score averages for the respective schools will rise dramatically. The b/w ratio will be more in balance and the security issues will lessen. But that's more class related than anything else, really. The idea that the public schools are struggling to meet standards is related to race is asinine. It's completely linked to flight of middle class families from the system(s), of all races. Economically disadvantaged families (aka "poor") generally do not have the means or wherewithal to support their children with homework and projects, much less the greater school community.
Along that line, I've really been frustrated with Snowden recently - My gripe is this - how is a child whose parents work the 3rd shift at Kellogg's or FedEx for $8/hr supposed to compete with the children of architects and professors? I'm not talking innate intellectual ability, I'm talking stuff wise. Not everyone has a computer at home with on demand Internet access. We have the means to do research at home on say, the Aztecs. (Seriously, Liz had a project on the Aztecs. It was so unfair to the rest of the 4th grade - her partner, yeah, well, her mother is an artist. Who do you think had the most well-researched, historically accurate, aesthetically pleasing triorama?) Anywhoo, back to the middle class guilt - We also can go to the craft store at will and pick up tubes of native American figures, fast-drying clay and glitter. We have color copier/printers at home. The students were supposed to "work on the project at school" in an effort to even this out, but seriously - that's unrealistic as well. So the kids of middle class parents bring their superior supplies to school. How does that make it more equitable?
Now I know some will say nothing will ever be completely equal; inequality is built into nature. There are some that are smarter, stronger, faster. True. (One of my favorite short stories is Harrison Bergeron by Vonnegut.) But that doesn't mean the system should be stacked to favor those already gifted/privileged. And that's what I think many of these projects do - favor those who already have the tools to succeed and further penalize those who do not. I go to awards ceremonies and hear the same names called time after time* and look at the faces of those kids that work their butts off, making do with piecemeal supplies and government cheese, and my heart shatters into a million Catholic, middle-class guilt ridden pieces. Those kids' names will never be called, not because they haven't tried, not because they aren't good enough, but because they're poor.
So, I'm really having trouble finding any sympathy for the whiney-ass SUV-driving, bleach blonde entitled soccer moms and their spawn. Let me try again . . . . nope. Nothin'
*Yes yes, the names are those my children and their friends and I'm proud of their accomplishments but still . . .