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February 18, 2015


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Some keen observations. Conservatives, at least those who hog most of the media limelight these days, seem to have developed an obsession with labels. They blast President Obama for refusing to declare war on "radical Islam," forgetting or conveniently ignoring that his predecessor, President Bush, had exactly the same policy, specifying that it was a war on evil, not on Islam. The diplomatic practicality of such a position, made in public speeches by a sitting President of a country for which the cooperation of Muslim nations is deemed essential in any effective fight against extremism, should be fairly obvious to informed adults, as should be the dangers of encouraging the very polarization which radicals seek to engender.

President Obama has likewise drawn heat for mentioning versions of Christian fundamentalism in the same speech about the fundamentalism of Muslim movements in the news today.

Yet, you don't have to look at the Crusaders or the Klan to find parallels: just open your Bible to the New Testament books of First and Second Timothy.

"Let a woman learn in silence with all submission...do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man." Shades of the Taliban.

"Let all who are under the yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor..."

As for ISIS atrocities, let them who are curious investigate the mercy shown to the Amalekites, then decide whether President Obama's caution to humility is justified.

For the lazy: the Amalekites are referenced from I Samuel 15:3

"Now go and attack Amelek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and suckling child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey."

It's hard to fight an enemy when you don't know what to call them. Plus, calling someone a "social progressive generally with libertarian stances on spending and defense" is less fun than calling them a "libtard."

Lables are dangerous and lazy. It's very easy to demonize someone with a label- as you point out, once someone's branded a racist, who is going to engage them about racial issues?

Both sides cut and paste and take quotes of out context in order to paint someone with a broad brush.

To allege that someone is a sociopath based on blog postings is a classic example of the danger and intellectual laziness of labels. Easy, vapid, ad hominem branding will get us nowhere.

There are a million shades of grey between all of the black and white.

One other thing- both sides impugn the other's motives and I think that is dangerous, too. I think we all want the best care for veterans (as an example). I just think that we might believe in different methods to achieve that.

One really effective warning sign for fascism is total party line votes. One of my favorite quotes is “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross,” which may or may not have been said by Sinclair Lewis.

Words are powerful. Labels - and jumping to them - are one of our biggest issues and downfalls.

Jon, this is another well-written column with which I largely agree. One of the side-effects of the polarization that has taken place is a political equivalent of "the grass is always greener." In this case, it's [the other guy's party] is more extreme. Democrats think that Republicans have moved right, and Republicans think that Democrats have moved left. In my opinion, they're both correct.

Traditionally, we think of ideology as a straight line continuum, with communism on the far left and fascism on the far right. I suggest that ideology can be better represented as a circle--with freedom at the top and dictatorship at the bottom. Going clockwise (to the right) from the top center, we get conservatism evolving into fascism. Going counterclockwise (to the left) from the top, we get liberalism evolving into socialism or communism. Here, of course, I mean Soviet-style communism, not the "ideal" of a commune (which has historically worked occasionally at a purely local level) Regardless of which way one travels around the circle, one reaches dictatorship at the bottom.

As a conservative, I reject the idea that "...someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties..." has to be liberal. But, then again, I am a Goldwater/Reagan conservative, not a Tea Party "conservative."

Thanks for this, Jon. For me, the reluctance to use "liberal" is more about the knee-jerk reaction it engenders from people, but then I've grown weary of Facebook arguments that remind me of nothing more than the torturous taunts of my big brother when I was a girl. This is the true legacy of the Limbaugh years, coupled with a lack of civics education and hyper-competitive workplaces with superiors who think "management" means acting like low-rent Simon Cowells.

Jacob Hughes wrote:

"It's hard to fight an enemy when you don't know what to call them."

I suppose we could call them by their names (e.g., Al Qaeda).

The media is already blurring the line, referring to groups that a few decades earlier would have been called rebels, revolutionaries, or guerrillas, as "terrorists".

It cheapens the word, makes it easier to manipulate public opinion, and pushes U.S. foreign policy toward military interventions that may actually make the problem worse.

Obscuring the differences between (and within) groups can lead to bad decisions. Not every Islamicist is a guerrilla. Not every guerrilla is a terrorist. Not every terrorist has aspirations to attack the United States. And existential threats to the United States are few and far between.

If the U.S. bombed or invaded Lebanon or Gaza, we might expect attacks from Hezbollah or Hamas. Otherwise, not so much. Today it's virtually forgotten that the response of Cold Warrior Ronald Reagan to the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut was not escalation, invasion, and occupation, but withdrawal from Lebanon.

ISIS was the latest manifestation of Sunni/Shia conflicts and was a local problem primarily for the Shia government of Iraq and its mentor/protector Iran, and for the Shia (Alawite) dictatorship of Assad in Syria.

Then the U.S. intervened militarily and ISIS started executing western hostages (not the other way round). Before, ISIS was concerned with the "near enemy" -- an important distinction obscured by lumping all Islamic radicals into the same pot labeled "enemy"; now it's urging anyone who will listen to carry out homicidal attacks on U.S. (and other coalition) citizens in their own countries.

Does anyone seriously think that if ISIS had managed to create a state (with the connivance of Sunni Iraqis) in northwestern Iraq, that they would subsequently imperil this gain by attacking the United States? Quite aside from their own priorities, the fate of the Taliban government is a cautionary lesson.

A terrorist network can exist anywhere, move at a moment's notice, and has few or no physical assets to lose. When your overarching concern is the governance of a state, you necessarily take on much greater vulnerabilities and considerably restricted flexibility. Hotel guests sometimes trash their rooms. Homeowners far less often.

Does anyone seriously doubt that Iran's millions of troops, in response to an invitation from the recognized government of Iraq, couldn't contain the problem? Or that Iran might have chosen to do just that had this not entailed aligning itself with the United States?

Would Iran, having fought a decade long war for existence with Iraqi armies under Saddam Hussein, have allowed an avowedly, rabidly anti-Shia, ruthlessly militaristic state in the form of IS, to build up mighty conventional armies right on its border?

Why not let Iran have the headache of protracted unconventional warfare with terrorist reprisals? Why does the United States always think it can kick that football, that this time, the same failed strategies of the past will succeed?

Note also that U.S. and other western nationals travelling to participate in guerrilla warfare in Syria are not terrorists, and are unlikely to become terrorists. Most of the recent lone-wolf attacks were carried out by individuals whose passports had been confiscated when they attempted to travel abroad to join the jihad. The ones who return from the promised land of the so-called Islamic State are generally the tired and the disillusioned. Those happy with what they find stay to build more of the same and to reap the fruits. The best way to get rid of radicalized Islamists with violent tendencies is to wish them bon voyage and a quick trip to Syria, where most of them will become the replaceable cannon fodder that local fighters regard them as.

Labels are useful to the extent that they accurately reflect the characteristics of the labelled.

They're most dangerous when they prevent people from evaluating issues on their merits. A salient example of this is the case of a healthcare system conceived by a conservative think-tank, implimented by Mitt Romney, but violently rejected as soon as someone with the label "liberal" (Obama) adopted it.

That's because labels carry a whole baggage of associations. If everyone calls a certain type of music "uncool", those who might otherwise have enjoyed it find their experience poisoned by false association and end up with an artificially, unnecessarily restricted set of options.

When ideas are the currency, this can lead to political gridlock or even disaster, as labels take over the job of simplifying evaluation, and reflex reactions kick in. Instead of honestly examining ideas, they may be rejected because they are associated with a certain type or flavor of person (or more accurately, one's assumptions and prejudices about such persons).

If taken to extremes, this results in an insular worldview where people refuse to listen to anything coming from someone with a certain label attached (e.g. Democrat, Republican, liberal, or conservative). Intellectual sclerosis results; as opinions become factionalized, so does the media, educational, and political institutions.

Robert H. Bohannan wrote:

"Democrats think that Republicans have moved right, and Republicans think that Democrats have moved left. In my opinion, they're both correct."

I'd like to know how Democrats have moved left. Also, since when? Anyone who remembers the 1960s or the 1970s would recognize Democrats, or at least national Democratic Party leadership, as considerably more right-leaning today. The only exceptions are a few social issues (notably homosexuality).

As for Republicans, I can't imagine a Republican political candidate or politician seeking reelection -- much less a national leadership position -- proposing a guaranteed minimum income, as Richard Nixon did (the flaws of his plan notwithstanding):


Note that the legislation "sailed through the House but stalled in the Senate".

So far as I can see, the spectrum of political thought widely debated in the United States is not only centered considerably further to the right today, relative to the height of liberalism in the 1960s and 1970s, but is also considerably narrower. It may be that this causes comparatively small differences to be exaggerated, in order to distinguish them. (Here, I'm talking about intra-party differences, as between Tea Party Republicans and those labelled by the former as "rinos".)

Of course, these intra-party differences are nothing new: what's new is the influence of formerly marginalized factions, and the way what now passes for the mainstream feels obliged to appease them as a necessary condition of political success.

Robert H. Bohannan wrote:

"I suggest that ideology can be better represented as a circle--with freedom at the top and dictatorship at the bottom. Going clockwise (to the right) from the top center, we get conservatism evolving into fascism. Going counterclockwise (to the left) from the top, we get liberalism evolving into socialism or communism."

Interesting idea. The rub is in how you define "freedom". Wouldn't Randian libertarianism have to occupy the honored spot on your circle?

Others might argue that the "freedom" to starve, to die from treatable but uninsured medical conditions, to declare personal bankruptcy because of medical debts or to lose one's job and home because of needlessly worsening health, are not actually freedom.

The income tax paid by a wealthy household is certainly a forced circumstance, at least for those who would rather not pay tax.

Here's another conception of the circle, by the way. Note that, paradoxically, the honored spot is separate not only from the Left and the Right but also diametrically opposed to the Middle.


Of course, it's a joke.

Though raised in the John Birch Soceity (in Arizona) of the late 1950's, one of my proudest moments was when my (still living) Mother said that she didn't know where they had gone wrong, in that I had become (gasp) a Liberal.

@Emil. Thanks for the Common Core link. Went there and didn’t find much, other than some assurances that I find to be of the “, it did have links to state CC sites. Went to Alabama’s and found it to be chocked full we’ll see” variety. However of specific goals – some of which I have a little trouble with – but not of the “over my dead body” type.

I think the goals are totally unrealistic, but best of luck. If can pull it off I’ll be amazed. For example here are a few from the Social Sciences (I almost throw up typed that combination of words) goals section:

Relate principles of American democracy to the founding of the nation (2nd grade)
• Identifying reasons for the settlement of the thirteen colonies
• Recognizing basic principles of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, the establishment of the three branches of government, and the Emancipation Proclamation
• Demonstrating the voting process, including roles of major political parties
• Utilizing school and classroom rules to reinforce democratic values

Identify causes and consequences of World War I and reasons for the United States’ entry into the war. (6th grade)
Examples: sinking of the Lusitania, Zimmerman Note, alliances, militarism, imperialism, nationalism
- Describing military and civilian roles in the United States during World War I
- Explaining roles of important persons associated with World War I, including Woodrow Wilson and Archduke Franz Ferdinand
- Analyzing technological advances of the World War I era for their impact on modern warfare
Examples: machine gun, tank, submarine, airplane, poisonous gas, gas mask
- Locating on a map major countries involved in World War I and boundary changes after the war
- Explaining the intensification of isolationism in the United States after World War I
Example: reaction of the Congress of the United States to the Treaty of Versailles, League of Nations, and Red Scare
- Recognizing the strategic placement of military bases in Alabama

Explain essential characteristics of the political system of the United States, including the organization and function of political parties and the process of selecting political leaders (7th grade)
- Describing the influence of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Paine, Niccolò Machiavelli, Charles de Montesquieu, and François-Marie Arouet (Voltaire) on the political system of the United States



“The Common Core standards are, of course, a set of broad, universal academic goals in math and English-language arts for public-school students of all ages. With the standards come national standardized tests that, in theory, will allow policymakers to compare performance across states and different demographics. Forty-three states, as well as the District of Columbia, have signed onto the Common Core program, and most of them have joined one of two testing "consortiums" known by their (rather unfortunate) acronyms: the PARCC or the SBAC. But the process has been far from smooth. More than half of the 26 states that initially signed onto the PARCC exam in 2010 have dropped out; only a dozen states will use the test this spring. Seventeen other states will take the SBAC, which has also sparked controversy, while the remaining ones will use their own tests.”

My comment. The CC site stresses that the standards are set by the individual states. But the PARCC test is a national test. The two seem at odds with each other. And if the tests are taken seriously you can count on teachers and administers being evaluated against the test results.



“Nearly 3 million children attend charter schools in 2014-15, reports the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. That’s up 14 percent from the previous year….More than 500 new charters opened, bringing the total to about 6,700 schools nationwide. More than 200 closed due to low enrollment, financial concerns and poor academic performance.”

My feeling about Charters is ambivalent. In the best of all worlds, they would be unnecessary. But some public systems are impervious to improvement. What are parents without means to do? The thing I find interesting is that 200 charters were closed for one reason or another in one year. It’s almost impossible to close a public school; no matter how awful it is.

Of course CC has a national test: they're national standards, developed by the states; like the Constitution of the United States is a national standard which was developed by the states, with the test administered by the U.S. Supreme Court. If Alabama could test its own race laws, we wouldn't have a federalist system at all.

Nothing much at the CC website -- except the complete standards, extensive FAQs, and a myth-busting section.

Stuck on a mobile with weak wi-fi today so can't reply extensively now.

What's all this I read about "Rouge Columnist?" In day it was worn by nothing but harlots. And the color is definitely Red! I'm peering over the ramparts an have my eye on you, pink-o!!!

That's E. Litella, com-symp!

@Emil: Standards for “Social Sciences” for

grades 6-8
Key Ideas and Details:
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
Identify key steps in a text's description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).
Craft and Structure:
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.
Describe how a text presents information (e.g., sequentially, comparatively, causally).
Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author's point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:
Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.
Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.
Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic.
Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:
By the end of grade 8, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 6-8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

Science for grades 6-8

Key Ideas and Details:
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.
Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.
Craft and Structure:
Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics.
Analyze the structure an author uses to organize a text, including how the major sections contribute to the whole and to an understanding of the topic.
Analyze the author's purpose in providing an explanation, describing a procedure, or discussing an experiment in a text.
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:
Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).
Distinguish among facts, reasoned judgment based on research findings, and speculation in a text.
Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.
Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:
By the end of grade 8, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 6-8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Reading: Grade 5
Phonics and Word Recognition:
Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
Use combined knowledge of all letter-sound correspondences, syllabication patterns, and morphology (e.g., roots and affixes) to read accurately unfamiliar multisyllabic words in context and out of context.
Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
Read grade-level text with purpose and understanding.
Read grade-level prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive readings.
Use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, rereading as necessary.
I’m sorry Emil, this looks like vague generalities to me.
RE “Of course CC has a national test: they're national standards, developed by the states; like the Constitution of the United States is a national standard which was developed by the states, with the test administered by the U.S. Supreme Court. If Alabama could test its own race laws, we wouldn't have a federalist system at all.”

Yep. They are National Standards, tested via a National Test. If you can find any states that agree to give the test. I hope they all decline.

Re Constitution: Yep. As you say – states wrote a constitution that is, more or less, ignored.

A few years ago I read a book on Noah Webster. Webster is most commonly known for his dictionaries. What he is not as well known for is standardizing American language. While there were other dictionaries to be found ca.1800, spellings and meanings of words were not standard.
Noah Webster is considered a ‘founding father’ as well as the inventor of American spellings. He was an educator who was determined to standardize spelling and word usage.

Common Core attempts to standardize American education.

Today I watched a young and and old Horn Toad duel for a high spot in the desert floor. Tonight I watch an old time favorite movie, Blackboard Jungle.

I'm glad wkg has seen fit to post extensive excerpts from the Common Core standards.

Frankly, they look pretty good. From his comments, wkg seems to find them daunting and inappropriate for students of the indicated grade level. This is understandable but easily cleared up.

CC standards were written to be read by teachers and administrators holding university degrees in education. By contrast, the actual teaching of those goals will reflect the needs of the intended grade levels.

For example, references to "morphology" in a fifth grade English class, does not indicate a graduate level course in philology.

It means that students can begin to be taught how to make educated guesses about the meanings of long words they may be unfamiliar with, such as "additive", by means of root words they are familiar with ("add") plus the "-ive" ending common to adjectives.

Or how most adverbs end in "-ly". Or how verbs like "read" can be turned into nouns (gerunds) by adding "-ing".

Teaching students how to think for themselves using basic principles will do more to enhance reading comprehension skills than rote memorization of vocabulary alone (though of course, basic vocabulary will also be taught).

Similarly, the concepts advocated for second grade students of American history do not entail an undergraduate political science course. They involve basic political concepts (e.g., there are two major parties, called Republicans and Democrats), and the broad messages of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, such as freedom of speech versus the arbitrary restrictions of kings.

Similarly, teaching second graders about the reasons why colonists came to America does not involve a detailed reconstruction of the the Reformation and the evolution of the Church of England; it means teaching about the broad, popular desire for freedom of religion. (The puritans who settled America were motivated primarily by religious intolerance in England. It could also be pointed out that the puritans, in turn, became intolerant of others once they gained power in America; and why this led to the separation of church and state enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.)

If eight year olds can be taught how to play Monopoly, introduction to some basic concepts of U.S. history and civics is not too much to ask. They'll be getting refreshers and follow-up information in subsequent grades.

As for national standards and national testing, you can't meaningfully compare the performance of individual schools, school districts, or state school systems, if they all get to write and administer their own tests.

Imagine if every student in a single classroom, instead of receiving the same mid-term or final exam, got to take a test written by his or her parents. How would you be able to compare an A-student to a C-student, or compare A-students to each other? How would you be able to tell what was tested for, and what was learned? How would you insure that some parents (who are not disinterested parties), would not make it easier for their children, thus inflating classroom averages?

I hope that states are NOT allowed to independently write and administer their own tests; otherwise the concept of a "national standard" loses all meaning. Furthermore, local and state school administrators, chasing salary bonuses or federal grant dollars, have an incentive to game the system. A national test should be administered by nationally appointed proctors who have no interest in the results of particular schools, districts, or states.

Incidentally, I would have thought that conservatives would be receptive to the idea of a national test which judges schools by the same, objective standards of performance, on merit alone.

Something else: recent Republican gains in Congress may be less representative of a shift in national popular views, and more representative of gerrymandering by Republican state legislatures after the 2010 Census. From "Republic Report: Investigating How Money Corrupts Democracy":

"...GOP donors plowed cash into state legislative efforts in 2010 for the very purpose of redrawing congressional lines. In the following year, as the Tea Party wave brought hundreds of Republicans into office, newly empowered Republican governors and state legislatures carved congressional districts for maximum partisan advantage. Democrats attempted this too, but only in two states: Maryland and Illinois. For the GOP however, strictly partisan gerrymandering prevailed in Ohio, Pennsylvania Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Arizona, Tennessee and beyond.

". . . In 2012, the first congressional election after the last round of gerrymandering, Democratic House candidates won 50.59 percent of the vote — or 1.37 million more votes than Republican candidates — yet secured only 201 seats in Congress, compared to 234 seats for Republicans. The House of Representatives, the “people’s house,” no longer requires the most votes for power. As the results from this year (2014) roll in, we see a similar dynamic. Republican gerrymandering means Democratic voters are packed tightly into single districts, while Republicans are spread out in such a way to translate into the most congressional seats for the GOP."

Something to remember for despairing liberals tempted to move to Scandinavia.


The Democratic Party's national leadership finally seems to get it:

"...there’s another election increasingly on the minds of Democratic lawmakers, party operatives, big money donors, and progressive activists: 2020. That’s the year voters will elect state lawmakers who will redraw congressional and state legislative districts all over the country.

"Last week, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee announced it would commit at least $70 million to Advantage 2020, a program aimed at targeting legislative chambers in key states over the next four election cycles with the specific aim of influencing redistricting. The plan calls on Democrats to invest resources not just in state chambers the party has a shot at winning this November, but in legislatures where they might have a chance at slowly eroding a GOP majority over time thanks to demographic trends."


Class size. Class size. Class size.

20 pupils and under = Success

30 pupils and over = Failure

@Emil: I’m afraid what I have written gives the wrong impression.
I have no problem with setting standards. In fact it’s hard to imagine how you could manage any enterprise without them. But the standards should be SMART:

Tangible (well maybe not so much in this case)

The CC site lists goals that, in my view, are non-specific. The Alabama goals are suitably specific. Just looking at the Alabama goals, they seem totally unrealistic to me.

My second problem: where should the standards be set and by who? Evan a state level of standards seems ham fisted. My view: standards should be set by district; but if the district is big and diverse enough, maybe a several sets of standards need to be set. Which brings up the problem of who sets the standards? Allowing the teachers and administrators to do this just does not seem right. I have to alternative to propose. Needs some thought.

Another problem: one set of standards for all kids. Where do you set the bar? Challenging standards for bright kids are out of the question for average or not-bright kids. Again, a problem with no easy solution. One option may be to think of these as a “common core”. That is: what we expect all kids to know or skills to have – within reason. I think we have to ditch the idea of “no child left behind”. Let’s face it, some kids are going to be left behind. But these would be minimal standards. A related issue: college readiness. At best, 25% of the population has the mental abilities to aspire to a true college education.

- Drafted by a committee that includes non-education professionals
These standards would be additive to the National Standards A proposal for national standards:
- Core items should be specific facts and abilities.
- To be included as core item, 40 of 50 states must agree.
- Core (National) items are minimal standards
- State representative to be an elected official

Local systems to develop their own standards
- Written and available to the public
- Local are additive to the national and state standards.

Sorry if my response is unformed and disjointed – because it is. Still in the “thinking it over stage”.

wkg, "Needs some thought.", indeed.

In the states that adopted Common Core standards, they had to be approved by governors (non-education professionals) and state boards of education.
And, most states have agreed to Common Core standards. I think that only 5 or 6 have declined.

So - it sounds like you disagree with Common Core because you identify with a 'label' and not because you are informed about the issue.

Suzanne, the confederacy lives on.
Makes me wonder if its a genetic defect.

and for all you Union haters out there.
A change of mind by a "conservative.


I am a Republican and I was the president of a Union. It may be possible to be both. Maybe my genetic defect.

ISIS be-headings.
In the USA, The crowd that looks forward to the day lynching black folks is legal.

"Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post put a blindfold over a cover photo of Obama on Thursday with the words “Islamic Terror? I just don’t see it.” Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) said he found the Iranian regime and Obama “unusually the same” in their disregard for the rule of law. The conservative activist Dinesh D’Souza, tweeting a photo of Obama taking a selfie, added the message: “YOU CAN TAKE THE BOY OUT OF THE GHETTO . . . Watch this vulgar man show his stuff, while America cowers in embarrassment.”

Nobody complains about SAT exams even though SAT or its cousin ACT is an admission requirement for most universities. Politics. More later off mobile.

Great union link, cal. Original op-ed by Kristof in NYT is even better.

wkg, the Common Core standards are about as specific as you can get without dictating to teachers which texts to use and how to teach the subjects -- something CC has studiously avoided. You can't have it both ways, and CC standards reflect the sensibilities of state educators, who wanted flexibility. The English Language Arts (includes history) and Mathematics appendices to the standards provide even more detail and guidance to educators developing CC consistent course content.

The actual tests developed will provide further feedback and specificity.


There is ample documentation at the website about adapting CC to special needs students and those for whom English is a second language.

The distribution of special needs students is likely to average out among public school districts.

The distribution of ESL students is not, and it's a valid concern for schools who don't want to underperform because of a greater number of immigrant students (say, from Mexico or Central America).

The bottom line, however, is that these students need to be taught also. CC testing will illuminate which schools and districts are underperforming. The reasons why, and the remedies, will need to be determined on a case by case basis.

The national tests are being developed by two groups: PARCC, a coalition of 26 states and administrative divisions; and SBAC, a coalition of 31 states.

The testing approach actually gives students greater ease in building and demonstrating the required skills.

The CC national tests are designed to replace end of term tests "with assessments administered throughout the year and averaged for a final score. The stated purpose of the approach is to lessen the weight of any one individual test while, at the same time, theoretically providing formative data for teachers and students to use following each interim test."

The testing approach also uses feedback to help students along the way, using "computer adaptive technology that will ask students tailored questions based on their previous answers. The approach will not only not eliminate the end of term high-stakes testing model, but it will add several interim tests that will be used to inform students, parents, and teachers about whether students are on track" to perform up to expectations on the final test."


The Alabama goals were developed by the Alabama State Board of Education. They combine CC and Alabama's own standards, according to the state's website.


I haven't read Alabama's additional goals (added on top of CC). You say they are unrealistic. True or false, that isn't a CC problem, per se, it's a question of additional requirements piggybacked onto CC by an individual state.

P.S. Unless that's a typo in the original article, it appears that PARCC and SBAC differ slightly in their approaches in that PARCC eliminates the final exam by averaging interim tests, whereas SBAC uses interim tests but also includes a final exam. States belonging to either coalition will no doubt use the testing model developed by their coalition.

The New York Times op-ed by Nicholas Kristof, is an eye-opener. I'd recommend it to INPHX and others. Kristof is definitely an arch-conservative, who has argued in the past against the anti-sweatshop movement, saying that sweatshops are an unpleasant but necessary part of industrial development.

The NYT op-ed piece gives his reasons for a change of heart on the desirability of strong unions, particularly in the private sector. It leads off with a couple of scare-story items about union abuses (salutary cautions, if indeed they stand up to scrutiny), but then transitions into the main point:

"I’ve also changed my mind because, in recent years, the worst abuses by far haven’t been in the union shop but in the corporate suite. One of the things you learn as a journalist is that when there’s no accountability, we humans are capable of tremendous avarice and venality. That’s true of union bosses — and of corporate tycoons. Unions, even flawed ones, can provide checks and balances for flawed corporations.

"Many Americans think unions drag down the economy over all, but scholars disagree. American auto unions are often mentioned, but Germany’s car workers have a strong union, and so do Toyota’s in Japan and Kia’s in South Korea.

"In Germany, the average autoworker earns about $67 per hour in salary and benefits, compared with $34 in the United States. Yet Germany’s car companies in 2010 produced more than twice as many vehicles as American companies did, and they were highly profitable. It’s too glib to say that the problem in the American sector was just unions.

"Or look at American history. The peak years for unions were the 1940s and ’50s, which were also some of the fastest-growing years for the United States ever — and with broadly shared prosperity. Historically, the periods when union membership were highest were those when inequality was least."


Germany always makes a comeback. Might their nationwide Education policies be a key element. Now Germany is even offering free education and perks to citizens of other nation? probably just my paranoia but Charter and private schools always bring Warren Jeff s to mind. Last nite I once again enjoyed proffesor Sidney in my favorite public school movie, Blackboard Jungle.

On a fun Republican dark money corruption moment:


Gee, look, no show jobs, funny paperwork, and the Attorney General is up to his eyeballs in this from before the election.

Going to have to call Shiela up in Prescott to find someone not tied up in this.

Har, biz as usual in Zonieland.

AzScam for the right is coming at this rate, too much money, and too many stupid players.

@Emil and Suzanne: Please temper these comments. They come from a genetically defective individual. I blame on my mother’s Irish side – a history of insanity there. Fortunately no Midwestern or Mormon

Please consider me properly chastised.

Again, I’m for every school having standards. Real standards; standards that we expect to be attained. The devil is in the details.

I. The real goals are embedded in the national assessment tests (e.g. PARCC) or in Alabama’s case, the ACT. I posted some of CC goals previously. I don’t know how anyone could call these anything but vague generalities. The State of Alabama has published a set of specific goals. Unrealistic in my mind – but let’s let that go for the time being. Be glad to express my opinion on the matter – but off-topic.

I hope the program is a smashing success. Call me a skeptic. But we shall see. I predict a rought roll out for this program. Oddly enough, I think the main opposition will be from the unions and local school boards. Many systems are going to be found greatly lacking – I’m going to venture a number of at least 75%. This is somewhat reminiscent of the “No Child Left Behind” act.

Sadly, while I agree that what many schools are attempting to teach is questionable, the biggest problems are not the goals.

Start small and grow any thing new.

@Cal: exactly. Pick what you feel to be the best feature of the program or an area where the fruit hangs lowest and implement a very limited program. Work out teething problems. Scan for unintended consequences. Ruthless evaluation of results. Procede on if results positive. Kill if not.

Concern Troll- whoever you are- thanks for the hot and spicy link. Was there a thorough look at commissioner Pierce's resignation by the "state's greatest newspaper" in December? The stench from this must have percolated far east enough at the time to penetrate even the Repub's sealed cubicle. Once upon a time they would have had this above the fold, even if it was half-baked.
The chimes of history are a'ringing. It was 51 years ago that 2 sitting commissioners- Williams and Buzzard- were impeached, tried in the state Senate, and found not guilty of a laundry list of articles. A US congress critter - George "Duke" Senner- was dragged through the proceedings. But because he was no longer a commissioner and not impeached, many charges were leveled against him in the Senate chamber; so, protected by legislative immunity sketchy witnesses could say things whether they were true or not.
Not that any of this concerned the election coming up in November '64 in which favorite son BG was expected to have magic coattails. This was about Good Government! Or that a juror in the case Sam Steiger planned to run (again) against Senner in November. None of this had to do with this: a brilliant lawyer with a growing family and tremendous earning potential (ONLY BECAUSE HE WANTED TO HELP THE STATE THAT HE HAD COME TO LOVE) took many months to conceive this thing in a House subcommittee, then hatch it in the full House until it became articles of impeachment, and then to argue the thing for a month in the Senate. That his name was Billy "Eagle Eye" Rehnquist had nothing to do with it.
Rogue, I have a trove of information about this. Let me know of you're interested in getting a summary. It's really interesting.
Will Arizona Dems know what to do with this hot, spicy mess, as their counterparts did so long ago? ? I'm not optimistic.

By the way, for me the question is not "Who is Diane Douglas?" Rather, it's "Whose lap is she sitting in , and whose hand is stuck inside her back to make her lips move?"

No chastizement intended, wkg. But I don't think you understand the difference between standards, and the implementation of standards.

"Teach second graders why the first colonists came to America" is something any professional teacher would know what to do with.

But the selection of specific personalities and events to illustrate this, as well as teaching methods (lecture, group discussion, reading, essays, the use of dramatic reenactments, video, computers, multiple choice quizzes, or whatever), as well as style and emphasis, is up to individual teachers; and the selection of texts used to teach from is up to individual school boards.

But while standards specify minimum required content, nothing in the national standards prevents states from requiring additional content or from issuing guidelines which restrict the discretion of local school districts.

Tell me how you would make the particular second grade history/civics goals you excerpted from CC more specific, without micromanaging teachers' approach to the topics or dictating textbooks or work assignments.

Don't refer me to Alabama's (or any other state's) individual implementation of the CC standards: implementation is for state and local authorities and individual schools and teachers at their discretion. Just tell me in your own words how you would make that particular subset of CC goals more specific.

You also state that "the biggest problem is not the goals". There are certainly other factors which might affect the quality of education, including bad teachers and uninvolved parents, as well as a learning environment which is threatening to students and therefore disruptive to learning (e.g., bullying and abuse of students by other students).

But national course standards do not teach how to teach: that is the job of teaching colleges. The screening of teacher applicants and the monitoring and evaluation of their performance is the job of school administrators, as is the supervision of the student body to ensure a safe and nurturing learning environment.

Tell me what you think the main problems are, since you say that course goals by grade level are secondary; and explain how the solution of these problems is relevant to a discussion of the desirability of Common Core national standards.

I just wanted to express my gratitude to the Front Page editor for the (easy to overlook) service he brings to Rogue.

One such item is the news-link to a NYT article discussing the role of money in climate change debate.

"Though often described on conservative news programs as a “Harvard astrophysicist,” Dr. Soon is not an astrophysicist and has never been employed by Harvard. He is a part-time employee of the Smithsonian Institution with a doctoral degree in aerospace engineering...he has little formal training in climatology."


This is a pattern I see repeated over and over again: climate change critics with educational and professional backgrounds outside the area of climate change (e.g., electrical engineers, geologists, aerospace engineers); individuals with tenuous associations to impressive, big-name institutions who use those associations to bolster their respectability and believability in presentations to state and local legislators and conservative news media, who in turn bring their views to the public at large.

The public, seeing that someone is a PhD. and is associated with an Ivy League university or major national scientific institution, and lacking any personal immersion in the subject beyond what they hear on television news, is likely to get a mistaken impression about the extent of controversy among professionals specializing in climate science.

That isn't to say that there isn't plenty of room for criticism and skepticism: but without context, it's likely to contribute to the already substantial gulf between popular opinion and professional consensus, as well as to gridlock among legislators where business interests (e.g., coal-burning utilities and petrochemical companies) need justification for their essentially economic objections to public policy proposals.

Thank you, Emil, for pointing this glaring point out. Climate change happens - no doubt about it - always has and always will. However, the busines/political slant in today's discourse, should make any thinking person give pause to the immediacy of the situation, and the so-called solutions.

Dawgsy, I was not even born when those events took place.

Pierce went out due to term limits, not resignation.

The corruption runs throughout the legislature. But, in short, I am amazed at times by how brazen the rip-offs have become, as there is little to no fear of any retribution.

Rumor had it that Ken Bennett was tooling around the state campaigning in a state issued vehicle, complete with his campaign signs, but I didn't actually catch that one in person.

Could not agree more that labels are damaging to productive discourse and today's politics seems to be more about labeling than ever.

So, too, do many comments threads on any news story on any site, basically.

It is the age of false outrage, in which we label and pillory people for things we aren't actually as upset about as we say we are.

I think the media is just as complicit as the commenters and pundits are. Someone's writing all the articles that feed the outrage machine on all sides of the political spectrum.

It has become extremely dangerous nowadays to self-identify as ANY label, because anything you say can and will be used against you, if not now then at some point in the future when your views today are no longer considered acceptable and can be used to label you with some pejorative.

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