Monday, August 22, 2011

What the Koch Brothers are Doing to Kill Public Ed

Some days, I am just so inspired by other people taking the initiative to tell the truth, to get the word out, and to embolden others to resist the tyranny that oftentimes surrounds us.

See this great blog:

Specifically, click on the August 15, 2011 posting, which is a YouTube video about what the Koch Brothers are trying to do--via the "Americans for Prosperity" organization they fund--to public schools in Raleigh.

You next job? Resist. Signal your alarm and your displeasure. The Kochs aren't running for anything, but they do control many politicians and even school board members. They are "Libertarian" (I don't agree with Libertarianism, for the most part, but some members of this party seem relatively innocuous...definitely not the Kochs, however).

However you are inclined to vote, first always follow the money trail and dig for the true agenda.

Ask: what are these people doing with their power? Are they trying to change the world for good...or for the sake of their own money-making? Will this agenda help me, or hurt me and others?

Billionaires don't need more money and power. But people everywhere do need a strong, equitable, fully-funded system for public education. That is, in fact, a cornerstone of our democracy.

Don't let any people, no matter how rich and scary they are, try to bully their way into controlling education for the masses.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Big Lobster Stories: Always Favorites

Jennifer Vargas holds up a freakishly large lobster that was saved from the kitchen. (Wildlife Conservation Society).

I love stories about animals being saved from slaughter. Speaking of this, I once saw a huge lobster when I was a reporter...and I wrote a story about it. 

It, too, was saved--and it weighed in at a slightly larger 20 lbs (and looked pretty much the same as this one). I mention that not for the sake of one-upmanship, but only to emphasize that Big Lobster Stories are perpetual favorites and never cease to amaze.

Just think of how much garbage such a large creature has eaten during its lifetime...that makes lobster just a bit less appetizing, hmm?

Good luck, lobster. After 75 years of avoiding traps and nets, you deserve a break.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

When You Write About Your Problems, You Control Them

Here are some wise words on leading writing workshops by Marion Winik of the University of Baltimore. I saw this piece because of my writer friend, Jessica Anya Blau (via Twitter). 

I am a writing teacher, too, and I've lived through some traumatic workshops back in Iowa (traumatic in a good way), and this is a classic essay about the experience. I love how Winik shows how helpful and scary leading a workshop can be...and in light of the "too-much-coddling" we often see in schools, I think the workshop experience is useful and enlightening, if sometimes difficult.

For more on teaching writing, see the film "Wonder Boys"--this is also a novel by Michael Chabon, but I think the film does more to illustrate teaching writing, even though I do love the book.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Matt Damon Decries "MBA-Style Education Policy"

Among several reasons (none having to do with his appearance--seriously--not that there is anything wrong with the way he looks) why I  like Matt Damon is that he is unafraid to enter the fray and tell people when and how they are being stupid.

Check out this clip of Damon being interviewed. It was filmed by the vomitrociously-named "Reason TV" at last weekend's "Save Our Schools" march in D.C., and is being covered again by Yahoo.

I love the look of disbelief Damon gives the Libertarian "journalist" who challenges why teachers should get tenure.  Even better, I like his responses. Why do teachers put up with the "shitty pay" and long, long hours? Because it's their calling. 

Does that mean everyone should put up with those conditions? Um, no. 

And yet, teachers put up with that and so much more, and keep having to defend their profession against loudmouths who know nothing about what it's really like to teach.

The only way to stop the mindless blather of people with loud opinions who have no basis in fact for those opinions is to speak up and speak over them. I wish more people spoke the truth, as Damon does here, in defense of teachers (like his mom).

Here's the SAME CLIP, just interspersed with more interesting commentary by Anderson Cooper, getting all funny in his "Ridiculist."