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Separate and unequal

Bob Herbert:

Schools are no longer legally segregated, but because of residential patterns, housing discrimination, economic disparities and long-held custom, they most emphatically are in reality.

“Ninety-five percent of education reform is about trying to make separate schools for rich and poor work, but there is very little evidence that you can have success when you pack all the low-income students into one particular school,” said Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation who specializes in education issues.

The current obsession with firing teachers, attacking unions and creating ever more charter schools has done very little to improve the academic outcomes of poor black and Latino students. Nothing has brought about gains on the scale that is needed.

If you really want to improve the education of poor children, you have to get them away from learning environments that are smothered by poverty. This is being done in some places, with impressive results. An important study conducted by the Century Foundation in Montgomery County, Md., showed that low-income students who happened to be enrolled in affluent elementary schools did much better than similarly low-income students in higher-poverty schools in the county.

The study, released last October, found that “over a period of five to seven years, children in public housing who attended the school district’s most advantaged schools (as measured by either subsidized lunch status or the district’s own criteria) far outperformed in math and reading those children in public housing who attended the district’s least-advantaged public schools.”

Studies have shown that it is not the race of the students that is significant, but rather the improved all-around environment of schools with better teachers, fewer classroom disruptions, pupils who are more engaged academically, parents who are more involved, and so on. The poorer students benefit from the more affluent environment. “It’s a much more effective way of closing the achievement gap,” said Mr. Kahlenberg.

About 80 school districts across the country are taking steps to reduce the concentrations of poverty in their schools. But there is no getting away from the fact that if you try to bring about economic integration, you’re also talking about racial and ethnic integration, and that provokes bitter resistance. The election of Barack Obama has not made true integration any more palatable to millions of Americans.
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Paternal prison

Thank God someone’s looking after those stupid womenfolk, who schedule abortions on a goddamned whim. And thank God some rich rightwinger organization will be picking up the tab for this:

PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed a law Tuesday requiring women to wait three days after meeting with a doctor to have an abortion, the longest waiting period in the nation.

Abortion rights groups have already said they plan to file a lawsuit challenging the measure, which also requires women to undergo counseling at pregnancy help centers that discourage abortions.

Daugaard, who gave no interviews after signing the bill, said in a written statement that he has conferred with state attorneys who will defend the law in court and a sponsor who has pledged private money to finance the state’s legal costs.

“I think everyone agrees with the goal of reducing abortion by encouraging consideration of other alternatives,” the Republican governor said the statement. “I hope that women who are considering an abortion will use this three-day period to make good choices.”

You mean, like having the women who voted for you reconsider their choice?

Supporters of the measure say South Dakota’s only abortion clinic, Planned Parenthood in Sioux Falls, gives women little information or counseling before they have abortions done by doctors flown in from out of state. The bill would help make sure women are not being coerced into abortions, they said.

Opponents say the law forces women to go to pregnancy help centers that harass them, rather than providing sound medical advice. They also say the waiting period and the counseling are an undue burden for women who have a constitutional right to have an abortion.


Carl Jung, genius!

‘Proud American’

Go read.


Give us your money or lose everything! I wonder if Republicans used to be bank robbers in a past life.

Why do I suspect that workers will make significant concessions – and end up losing their collective bargaining rights, anyway? Because that’s how Republicans roll!

Michigan’s new Emergency Manager Law is already forcing major concessions from unions. The law gives the governor the power to declare a city insolvent and appoint an emergency manager with virtually unlimited power to reorganize every aspect of city business, including dissolving the city entirely. The emergency manager even has the power to terminate collective bargaining agreements.

As a result of these expanded new powers, public employees unions in some Michigan municipalities are already making large preemptive concessions to keep their cities from tripping any of the “triggers” in the new law that might give the governor an opening to send in a union-bustingemergency manager, Eartha Jane Melzer reports in the Michigan Messenger.

In Flint, the firefighters’ union agreed to increase contributions to health insurance and give up holiday pay and night shift differentials. Flint Firefighters Union President Raul Garcia told the Wall Street Journal that these concessions were driven by fear of a state takeover of Flint. “I would rather give concessions that I would like than have an [emergency financial manager] or something of that magnitude come in and say this is what you are going to do,” Garcia said.

The new law also gives the Emergency Manager the power to privatize prisons, Melzer notes.

Ha ha

This is that firm I told you about that was buying up rights and then suing bloggers for using content. Now they have their own problems!

Last night

I had a great time talking to Athenae and Scout Prime from First Draft last night. I especially loved Scout’s moving accounts of being in the Madison capitol during the recent protests, so do listen to that.

Click here to listen!

‘All politicians should try LSD’

Words of wisdom from Larry Hagman!

Merger cons

Consumers Union says it’s hard to find an upside for consumers in this proposed AT&T deal:

Higher prices may lie ahead if AT&T successfully merges with smaller but spunkier counterpart T-Mobile, consumer advocates warned Monday, because the $39 billion deal would wipe out one of the wireless market’s more notable low-cost players.

For consumers in the Philadelphia region, of particular concern may be whether T-Mobile retains high marks from users, given that T-Mobile and behemoth Verizon scored well ahead of AT&T in a recent regional survey, said Paul Reynolds, electronics editor of Consumer Reports in Yonkers, N.Y.

But in the iPhone race, T-Mobile contract-holders eager to switch to the popular smartphone could find themselves with an option, given Apple’s exclusive relationships with AT&T and Verizon.

The pros and cons will be debated for months, as the megadeal is at least a year away from being approved or rejected by federal regulators. Consumer analysts said its elements would be examined carefully since it would give AT&T dominance over the U.S. cellular market.

“I think at this point, the potential cons outweigh the pros, as far as we can see,” said Reynolds, whose parent company, Consumers Union, has a public-policy staff in Washington eager to help frame the regulatory debate the Federal Communications Commission will undertake on the potential antitrust concerns.

“It’s early, and there are a lot of questions about this deal,” Reynolds said. “Our advocacy folks in D.C. at Consumers Union are feeling like it’s difficult to find a big upside for consumers in this.”

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