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Fri Nov 02, 2012 at 07:59 AM PDT

Run up the national vote!

by Wendy in FL

In this excellent diary by fellow kossack, idbecrazyif, the point is made that there are pockets of those red states where voting dem is really, really important. Seriously, go read that diary, rec the diary, do what it says.

However, there is another really, super important reason to encourage your friends in non-swing state votes to vote: Run up the score in the popular vote!

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Every Monday night my husband and I meet another couple and go out for dinner and trivia at a local pub. It's our one night a week where we all have our children with their respective grandparents or other family members and we get to just chill.

Last Monday night, the group decided that we would do more than just talk about the election...we'd engage. We'd make phone calls or canvass or whatever OFA needed us to do. It was long past time for us to do more than read the latest polls, make status updates on Facebook, or watch Rachel Maddow.

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I'm already growing weary of the new Republican meme that Obamacare is a huge tax on the middle class, and it is unprecedented...unprecedented, I tell you!...because we've never! had to pay a tax on something we have not yet purchased.

Boloney.

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What do you get when you cross a former governor with financial interests in the education industry, a current governor who consistently works with teabaggers in the legislature to make public education so unpalatable and so underfunded that it’s buckling at the knees, and Florida’s school kids who spend much of their year prepping for a test in which they drop over 50 points in ONE year?  You get an educational system that is dropping like a stone to the bottom of the barrel nationally (admittedly, it didn’t have far to go), teacher morale that has plummeted, frustrated or bored students, and disheartened AND angry parents. You also get taxpayers left paying the bill to Pearson, the go-to company of choice for educational testing, which received a $254 million contract through 2013 to administer AND score the FCAT.

On Tuesday, Floridians were apprised of the early results of the standardized writing test that Florida’s 4th, 8th, and 10th graders take, known as FCAT Writes.  Last year, 81% of students taking the test earned a 4 or better, out of a 6-point scale, meaning they had “passed” the test. This year, 27% of 4th graders passed. Yep, that’s right, 27%. 8th and 10th graders scored only slightly higher at 33% and 38% respectively.  The same state that boasted of its pass rate in 2011 was shame-faced to report the results in 2012. What happened? Did Florida’s teachers forget how to teach to a test? Did Florida’s students just become stupid in one year? No, but the State Board of Education sure screwed up, and Tuesday afternoon, they reluctantly voted to LOWER the passing score to a 3 out of 6, so that approximately 81% of the students will pass this year. They’re grading on a curve. Why are they grading on the curve? Because the FCAT has so many tentacles to other elements of education in Florida, so that when the FCAT shows us to be invalid, it affects many other things.

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In the midst of the whine and freak out by the right over the access of women to medications for their health, we should not forget the issue of a woman’s personal safety. Women of my generation (early 40s) know that pregnancy means health issues, whether the pregnancy was planned or not. However, for many women it also means persecution.

A dear friend of mine, poet Laura Hope-Gill, has just authored an essay on her blog about her maternal grandmother, a Catholic, who was in a prisoner in the Courtyard of the Happy Way in the early 1940s – a prisoner of the Japanese while living in China.

Amongst the horrors of living in the prison camp were the extreme measures that women had to go to in order to prevent pregnancy. Please read on.

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What is it with this need to protect lawns and grass with riot police wielding batons, tasers, and pepper spray?

Oh, the horrors! The grass might get…bent.

I was a student at the University of Florida in the late 1980s/early 1990s. We had a quad – called the Plaza of the Americas – right next to the library and a place where the Hari Krishnas would serve a 25 cent lunch every day. There were HUGE lines. On the SIDEWALKS. EVERY damn day.

<gasp! Not the sidewalk? They were blocking the sidewalk?? Daily??>

Oh, yes, and it gets worse. Those very same students who were eating the commie, socialist scum vegetarian lunch for a quarter, would also SIT DOWN and eat it …. you guessed it…on the grass!

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Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 07:20 AM PDT

I was wrong. Mea culpa.

by Wendy in FL

I was wrong. Mea culpa.

The wisdom of this 42 year old college instructor was that Occupy Wall Street had to define itself, pick a side, advocate for policy, establish its demands.

So much for my wisdom.

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So, a lot has happened in Florida in the last 4 weeks when we woke up to find that the State Legislature was quietly and quickly passing a disaster of an education bill. To recap, this is a bill that removes teacher tenure, offers one year contracts, gives no additional pay for advanced degrees, and penalizes teachers for students' poor performance on a subject test (that aren't written yet) in every subject area, for every student (regardless of ability or disability).

1st, there was a rally at the state capitol led by Crist and the Republicans to tout how great vouchers were.
2nd, the legislation sailed through the state senate.
3rd, Teachers, students, parents and concerned citizens rapidly organized FB groups, town rallies, interviews with local press, and thousands and thousands of calls, emails, and letters went out.
4th, after 22 hours of debate and no amendments, with staunch and overwhelming opposition from the public, the Florida house passed the bill.
5th, Jeb said Crist would do the right thing and vote it into law.
6th, Crist reconsidered.

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Florida's educational system is poised to become the latest victim of the right wing wackos that make up the Florida legislature. In an attempt to burnish his right wing street cred, Gov. Charlie Crist may sign his name to the most draconian piece of education legislation in our state since the 1960s. Last night, the Florida House passed it along predictable party lines. Yet, Crist is reconsidering given the massive opposition to the bill! Please read on...

Rian Fike's diariesdo a great job of explaining what is at stake and action items. Please read, recommend, and comment. This is a Florida problem that is poised to go national. With Jeb and Neil fronting these efforts, they will certainly be glad to take their plans for "education" national. Issues like one test in every subject (even art?) to determine teacher compentency and teacher pay are going to turn our schools into testing centers worse than they already are. There will be no financial incentives for teachers to get professional development or higher degrees. There will be one year contracts, so that teachers that have to leave for maternity or illness longer than what is covered by FMLA are going to have to start over.

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Why am I not surprised...

According to The Hill, a man from Falls Church, VA was stopped by Capitol Police last night as he tried to get past a barricade in his car. When searched, the car was found with a shotgun and ammunition in the trunk.

Whoa...wait a minute. I'm sure this must be Obama's fault. Clearly, his "tone" at the speech was "unbecoming" of the White House. Puleeze.

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Back in the days of the Reagan Revolution, when all of us young, feral youth believed in "peace through strength" and "We will not negotiate with terrorists" I was a true believer. Communism was the mortal enemy and only Reagan and the Republican Party could stop it.

At the University of Florida in 1988, I joined College Republicans. I became involved in their "Clothes for Contras" campaign. I campaigned for Bush 41, and ran the student involvement angle in a local republican county commission race. We won. Victory was fun. I ended up interning for my Republican Senator the following summer, and spent a few dizzying hot months in Washington, D.C.

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If you've ever been to a Single-A baseball game you know they're not usually sold out. Sarasota hosts the Cincinnati Reds farm team at Ed Smith Stadium, and usually when we go we have the pick of whatever seats we want.

Not this time!

This 7,500-person stadium was at full capacity Thursday (paper said 12,500, police on the ground said 15,000), plus a couple thousand people on the field, in the aisles, and sitting on the dugout. People from all walks of life joined together to welcome Barack Obama to our town. On a Thursday morning. At 9:00 a.m. With 24 hours notice.

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Wow, you say. Colorado got 100,000 people. What's the big deal about 12,500-15,000 people or so? It's a big deal because it's Sarasota. We haven't gone blue since FDR.

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