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was given yesterday at the National Opportunity to Learn Education Summit by Diane Ravitch.

You can read the entire text here (pdf).

You should.

You should pass it on.

For example, how about this paragraph:  

So today we see Wall Street hedge funders and billionaires saying that they are leading the civil rights movement of our time. I have trouble imagining Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., walking arm in arm with billionaires in a crusade to privatize control of public education. Dr. King understood that social movements need a mass base, and that they are not based in Wall Street. He knew that the civil rights movement depended on its moral authority as well as its ability to mobilize poor and working people in coalition with labor unions. He had no desire to privatize. He wanted to make private interests bow to the demands of the public interest. As I watch rightwing politicians doing their best to destroy the public sector unions, I recall that Dr. King was assassinated at the very time that he was fighting to organize the sanitation workers of Memphis. How dare they invoke his legacy to attack public education and public sector workers!

And that is just one selection.

Please keep reading - at least Diane's speech if not this posting.

Or perhaps, from the next paragraph, these words:  

The free market works very well in producing goods and services, but it works through competition. In competition, the weakest fall behind. The market does not produce equity. In the free market, there are a few winners and a lot of losers. Some corporate reformers today advocate that schools should be run like a stock portfolio: Keep the winners and sell the losers. Close schools where the students have low scores and open new ones. But this doesn’t help the students who are struggling. No student learns better because his school was closed; closing schools does not reduce the achievement gap. Poor kids get bounced from school to school. No one wants the ones with low scores because they threaten the reputation and survival of the school.

And then there is this:

We now know that none of the current carrot-and-stick policies will shrink the gap. We know it because they have been tried for 10 years and they haven’t worked. Structural changes like charters and vouchers overall will not make a difference. Merit pay makes no difference. Judging teachers by test scores demoralizes teachers and will lead to narrowing of the curriculum—so that the districts where children have the lowest scores will have more time for test preparation and less time for the arts, less time for history or civics, less time for science, less time for physical education. The children who need a great education the most will get the least.

And many more children will be left behind.

And many more children will be left behind.

They will not be the children of the 1%.  Ravitch notes the recent statements of Mayor Bloomberg that he does not see the harm in firing half the teachers and doubling class sizes, claiming he went to large classes and it didn't hurt him, but

He didn’t mention that his daughters went to schools where the class size was 12.

No, the children left behind will be those of low income families.

They will be disproportionally children of color, although increasingly white families that used to be middle class find their economic status slipping away, as meantime the 1% and their Republican (and unfortunately too many Democratic) allies in government at all levels seem willing to cut public services, raise taxes on the middle class and the poor while further cutting taxes on the wealthy and the corporations.

Ravitch will tell you about how different Finland is.   So will I in forthcoming posts, having read the best book about Finland, Pasi Sahlberg's Finnish Lessons: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland?.   Here's the sad thing -  Finland did not develop most of what it is using in education, but rather borrowed from the work of thinkers in other countries, especially in the US.   Like much of what has happened in technology and management (think Edwards Deming, for example), we develop it but our entrenched interests ignore it because it diminishes their income and their power.

For me the key of the speech by Ravitch appears in a series of the basic services that every child needs, that we could afford were the system not tilted so heavily towards the 1%, were we not wasting trillions in the military industrial complex, were we not so committed to bailing out the financial sector at the expense of the rest of us.

Here are those points.  I am not putting them in a block quote.  I will offer each line in bold and then perhaps in unbolded text some commentary of my own.

Every pregnant woman should have good pre-natal care and nutrition so that her child is born healthy. One of three children born to women who do not get good prenatal care will have disabilities that are preventable. That will cost society far more than providing these women with prenatal care.
Our damage to our young people starts in utero.  If some Americans are so committed to life, then perhaps they will agree that it is insufficient merely to ensure that the child is born.  Former Senator Fritz Hollings pushed the WIC program in part because he understood the need here, and on the next point.

Every child should have the medical attention and nutrition that they need to grow up healthy
We used to understand this.  That is in part why we have a school lunch program.   But that is insufficient if that is the only guaranteed nutrition for a child, and it is insufficient if the necessary medical care does not accompany it.

Every child should have high-quality early childhood education.
But that education should NOT be formally structured school.  Perhaps we should learn from Reggio Emelia how to do early childhood?

Every school should have experienced teachers who are prepared to help all children learn.
We cannot afford to keep turning over our teaching core.  For one thing, we waste tons of money in the hiring process.  For another, instability of the teaching force means instability of school community, which is essential for effective learning.  We will only address this with a comprehensive reform of how we approach teaching, from recruiting to training to induction to mentoring to assisting.  Subject matter knowledge is important but insufficient - it is like the .300 hitter who cannot help other players if it is not accompanied by an understanding of how to teach, with a respect for all the children in one's charge.

Every teacher should have at least a masters degree
I understand Bill Gates argues against this.  But let's look at Finland, where teachers are respected, where teaching is a high prestige occupation entrance to which is highly competitive (it is easier to be admitted to an Ivy League college than to get into the teaching program at the University of Helsinki).  All teachers get masters degrees BEFORE they are given charge of their own classrooms.  

Every principal should be a master teacher, not a recruit from industry, the military, or the sports world.
Look at the title:  it is short for "principal teacher."  Perhaps we need to redefine the job to be far less administrative and budgetary and far more committed to the processes of real education.  It is hard for someone who lacks understanding of teaching to be an effective leader of other teachers.

Every superintendent should be an experienced educator who understand teaching and learning and the needs of children.
This is critical, but sadly disappearing from American schools, with more and more a turning to people with managerial experience but little real understanding of education and learning.

Every school should have a health clinic.
It would be ideal if children could get basic health services without having to miss a day of school.  It might catch illnesses and conditions before they become severe.  At a minimum, we should be providing screening on vision and hearing for every child as early as possible.  Health issues and restricted vision and hearing have an obviously detrimental affect upon learning if not addressed.

Schools should collaborate with parents, the local community, civic leaders, and local business leaders to support the needs of childre
Schools should be rooted in communities.  That is one reason why many of the "reform" approaches have been unsuccessful:  they cut the connection between the school and the communities from which the children come.  

Every school should have a full and balanced curriculum, with the arts, sciences, history, civics, geography, mathematics, foreign languages, and physical education.
If we do not realize that learning is far more than a limited approach to literacy and numeracy we rob our society of the talents of our students.  If we think all that matters is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) because we think that is what matters to be economically competitive, then perhaps we have missed what we should have learned from the recent financial debacles so crippling not only this nation but much of the world:  that civic responsibility, morality and ethics matter, and these are often best learned through literature, drama, poetry, art, architecture.  Here our 2nd President, John Adams, for all his faults, was far wiser than most of those attempting to guide educational policy today.  I quote him yet again:  "I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain."

Every child should have time and space to play.
Play develops imagination.  Playing with other children teaches our young people how to organize, how to cooperate with one another, even how to learn.  On this I strongly suggest the recent book by Deborah Meier and two others from the Mission Hill School in Boston, Playing for Keeps:  Life and Learning on a Public School Playground.  

We must stop investing in testing, accountability, and consultants and start investing in children.
On the one hand those driving reform have insisted upon more and more testing and "accountability" then complain that we are spending money and not getting results.  Perhaps that is because our approach is in conflict with its stated intention of improving education.   We worry that other nations like Finland and Singapore and the Canadian province of Ontario are eating our lunch on international comparisons, but they do not insist on the kinds and degree of testing we are imposing, they find other more productive ways to ensure that resources put forth to educate their young people are effective.  Oh, and by the way, Finland spends far less per child than do we, with far better results.   Hmm......

This speech by Diane Ravitch is powerful, it is important, it brings together in a short space so much of what people should know and understand.

A few paragraphs before the end of her speech, Ravitch offers a series of questions I believe are crucial to where we are.   Take a few moments.  Read the questions in the next block quote, and consider their import:  

Do we want to be a decent society or a decadent society? Do we want to nurture, protect and inspire all of our children? Do we want children who are leaders or followers? Do we want to make sure that this generation of young people is prepared to sustain our democracy? Do we want citizens prepared to ask questions or just to answer questions posed by authorities?

If we are not prepared to wrestle with these questions, then we should acknowledge that we have given up on meaningful public education for most of your children, and therefore we have abandoned the dream of a democratic republic and are willing to abandon the principles to which so many dedicated so much throughout our history.

I am not a strong believer in the usual approach to American Exceptionalism.   But if we want to assert that we are the greatest nation in the world -  something really not supported by a lot of the data on things like health care, economic inequity, political inequality, infant mortality, life expectancy, qualiity of life (not merely how much we spend) - then perhaps we can take that belief and consider seriously the final paragraph of this powerful speech by Diane Ravitch:

Surely the greatest nation in the world can mobilize the will to do what is right for the children. It won’t be easy, it won’t be cheap, and it won’t be fast. Doing the right thing never is. The only simple part is to recognize that what we are doing now is not working and will never work. What we need is a vision of a good education for every child. We should start now. Today.

Today.  Not tomorrow, not after we fix the financial crisis, not after the next election.  Right now.

Because every day we do not address these issues we cheat ever more students of what should be their birthright as Americans.   And we thereby rob our society of what they can bring to us all.

Read the speech.

Pass it on.

It will be your start to making a difference.  Today.

Originally posted to teacherken on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 11:06 AM PST.

Also republished by Education Alternatives, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and Teachers Lounge.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This may be my most important diary (27+ / 0-)

    not because of the quality of my writing or the cogency of my words, but because the issue is so critical, and Diane Ravitch expresses it so well and so powerfully.

    I hope I can assist in making her words more widely known, so that perhaps we can together begin to take back American education from those who are destroying it, before it is too late.

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 11:06:33 AM PST

    •  When children and women become priorities in the (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, Marie, esquimaux, BMarshall, MeToo

      consideration and formation of legislation, then the following quote will make sense:

      Surely the greatest nation in the world can mobilize the will to do what is right for the children.

      Until then, we must continue to fight the regressive laws being passed from state to state that restrict womens' access to healthcare, and make blanket cuts to education in the name of 'smaller government' and 'creating jobs and profits for the private sector'.

      Thanks for sharing the speech.

    •  What do we want for all our children? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Did you know the US and Somalia are the only countries on earth which have not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most widely ratified international treaty in history?

      Here is a good Unicef teaching resource on it, with a link to the Unicef site to read the text of the Convention.

       The text is complicated and careful, so it can actually work as a legal basis in individual cultures, to align them in respecting childrens' rights.  As you read through it, though, you can see how far our own country is from embracing the central tenet that human children are born with human rights.

      The savage inequality Diane is discussing is real, and it does impact our students in ways that are hard to heal.  But we can take hope in the resources our battered young do seem to find among themselves and within their communities.

      I'm a chemistry teacher, but I find myself the faculty advisor to a Unicef club.  The students in my low-income, diverse, working class public high school have started it on their own initiative.

      It is the power of action that calls reason into being - John Dewey

      by chemtchr on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 08:23:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't think I've ever heard education (10+ / 0-)

    "reformers" even mention these types of questions.

    Do we want to nurture, protect and inspire all of our children? Do we want children who are leaders or followers? Do we want to make sure that this generation of young people is prepared to sustain our democracy?

    The relentless use of corporate-speak by those who want to tear down public education demonstrates their desire to produce obedient workers rather than informed citizens.
  •  Good luck on here with this: (9+ / 0-)
    We now know that none of the current carrot-and-stick policies will shrink the gap. We know it because they have been tried for 10 years and they haven’t worked. Structural changes like charters and vouchers overall will not make a difference. Merit pay makes no difference. Judging teachers by test scores demoralizes teachers and will lead to narrowing of the curriculum—so that the districts where children have the lowest scores will have more time for test preparation and less time for the arts, less time for history or civics, less time for science, less time for physical education. The children who need a great education the most will get the least.
     And many more children will be left behind.

    The cadre of anti-teach pro-testing dupes on this web site should have fun with the above section of text. They had quite the party on Laura's article last week.

    •  if they want to be data driven (10+ / 0-)

      which instructionally is nonsense, but since it is their frame

      the data strongly indicates that an emphasis on testing such as we have does not improve performance on the kinds of assessments used for things like PISA, which require far more than picking one out of four or five multiple choice answers.

      Neither does increasing seat time, the length of the school day, the length of the school year, time on task.

      At his book talk at the Finnish Embassy earlier this week, Pasi Sahlberg, who authored Finnish Lessons, put up a slide showing the proportion of time in class between the US and and Finland and the relative scores on PISA.  It was a nearly perfect inverse ratio.

      Finland uses standardized tests only for sampling (a la NAEP) and never tied to individual students or teachers, only to get a sense of overall performance of the school.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 12:01:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I can't argue (5+ / 0-)

    with any of the points.  What kids need from school is the opposite of what they're getting.  Testing cannot possibly improve education, because testing has nothing to do with it.  Schools are practically required to spend the majority of their efforts to increase the test scores of the bottom 1/3 of students, allowing the average to stay average and letting the top 1/3 regress to the mean.  A broader, more personalized curriculum is required...and yet here in TN, we are well on our way to a common core curriculum which will essentially mean the same handful of skills will be taught at every grade level.

    If the goal was to produce a generation of children who can recite written text and solve calculator-level math problems, but not think, then we are well on way to realizing that goal

    •  The irony is, they can't even raise test scores. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I think the corporate reformers were genuinely blindsided by their failure to accumulate any data that supports their approach.  They aren't well on their way to realizing that goal at all.

      It looks like a slam-dunk, doesn't it?  They control the proprietary assessment instruments, and they compel purchase to their proprietary curricula, benchmarked and aligned to their own instruments.  They compel teacher-obedience to their data-focused methods and procedures, and subborn school administrators into every concievable device and manipulation to skew the student populations to favor their programs.

      And after all that, their child-victims can't even recite written text or solve calculator-level math problems.  They have no idea how children actually learn anything at all.  The emperor is stark naked in his data-suit, in front of everybody, at this moment.

      Don't divide the kids up into thirds like that and set them against each other, though, Sid.  They're all our kids, we can teach them all, and nobody knows the top from the bottom.

      It is the power of action that calls reason into being - John Dewey

      by chemtchr on Sun Dec 11, 2011 at 02:57:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Trust me- (0+ / 0-)

        I'm not the one dividing kids.  At the beginning of the year, ever year, we are handed a list of kids, divided by academic ability according to the prior year's assessments (in quintiles actually, but it was easier to do the examples with thirds).  It's not my idea or my intention, it's reality.  We are told which kids need the most work this year, and it's the ones who are just below proficient- get their scores up, and we make AYP.  The other 80%? crickets  Yes, I believe we can teach them all, and we should....but that doesn't mesh with the goals of the system to make AYP goals.

  •  Reformers Like All Conservatives Are Taking Over (5+ / 0-)

    society to hand it to corporations and their owners. There isn't actually any debate going on, there aren't any genuine issues. They say anything that will advance their cause without regard to whether it's false or completely irrelevant.

    It certainly doesn't matter that their methods and systems don't work at all.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 12:32:13 PM PST

  •  Diane Ravitch and Elizabeth Warren (6+ / 0-)

    were the types of experienced, dedicated, and competent thinkers that FDR hired and listened to.  Obama hires the likes of Arne Duncan and Timothy Geithner.

  •  I agree with the points. But one's missing. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheGrandWazoo, Mostel26

    Parents need to be committed to making sure their children are ready to learn from day one.

    It all starts in the home. If every single one of your points was implemented but students weren't ready to learn and didn't have instilled in them the value of education, what good would any of it do?

    Life is hard. I get it. Parenting isn't easy. But it's the building block from which all the rest flows.

    How about I believe in the unlucky ones?

    by BenderRodriguez on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 02:14:06 PM PST

    •  easier to make that demand with community support (5+ / 0-)

      including having health care for the parents and infants, sufficient income support so that both parents are not working two jobs, sufficient nutrition in early development, access to affordable early childhood, etc.

      Remember, many of those who will be parents were denied a proper education when they were children, and do not feel competent or comfortable in helping / preparing their children.  In some case they themselves are illiterate.  That is why there programs devoted to family literacy, in part so that parents can help their children.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 03:14:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Restore the joy of parenting for this generation (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      esquimaux, ChuckInReno

      Bender, don't turn your support for parenting into its opposite: blaming and condemning parents for their isolation and alienation from parenting.  This is deep.

      Repressive societies demand that parents instill all kinds of toxic values in their children, but then deprive them of the models and opportunities to learn parenting that only human culture can pass on.   Instead, we offer ugly and sanctimonious prescriptions to somehow discipline their children into valuing further discipline, which will supposedly remedy their isolation from education.

      Young mothers and babies need safe, warm places to sit together and share the bubbly, patient joy of talking and cuddling, for a bare minimum, just to start.  They need a copy of Benjamin Bunny, just like a wealthy mommy does, so their baby can point his little finger at the bunny snuggling his mommy bunny and say bunny.
      I saw abused teen moms in Roxbury invent love for themselves and their babies, while they studied together for the GED tests.  That is the real building block from which all the rest flows.

      It is the power of action that calls reason into being - John Dewey

      by chemtchr on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 04:40:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think Bender was adding to, not contradicting (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        joe wobblie

        the points of the post.  Teacherken is right, it's easier to parent with the support of a loving community, but promoting the idea of education-supportive parenting can only be a good thing.  There are plenty of parents who are very well off who are nowhere near as involved in their children's education as they should be.

        Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. -Frank Zappa

        by TheGrandWazoo on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 07:12:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Ravitch's suggestions would move the system... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in the right direction, toward the learner, by giving more control of the process to teachers who at least interact directly with those learners.

    Cooper Zale Los Angeles

    by leftyparent on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 02:43:26 PM PST

  •  Thank you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I have heard her give this speech. I hope this finds a wider audience on Daily Kos than most diaries on education receive these days.

    Infidels in all ages have battled for the rights of man, and have at all times been the advocates of truth and justice... Robert Ingersol

    by BMarshall on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 02:50:52 PM PST

    •  don't know how much here (0+ / 0-)

      but getting a lot of traction on twitter, and also getting a fair amount of sharing.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 03:14:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I will share the speech with my colleagues. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Even those teachers in my building who have been most reluctant to engage in any type of "political" discussion are now beginning to realize that they can't stay insulated in their own little insular classroom worlds. They are now more willing to join in the discussion. Who better to join in discussion with than Diane Ravitch.  I will also share a link to her website.

        Infidels in all ages have battled for the rights of man, and have at all times been the advocates of truth and justice... Robert Ingersol

        by BMarshall on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 03:39:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Very few initiatives (0+ / 0-)

    are given the time it takes to genuinely evaluate their effectiveness.  I've lived through so many School Improvement" and similar things that I cannot remember the names or acronyms of them all.  The one thing none of them did was stay in effect over time.  We went from one goofy idea to the next without ever getting really good at any of them.  The worst and most pernicious of them, NCLB, is the one that seemed to stick.  We are in a much worse place than we were before it started, regardless of what any test scores appear to show.  Kids may score higher, but they are NOT better educated....

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 05:16:27 PM PST

  •  masters degree, etc. (0+ / 0-)
    Every teacher should have at least a masters degree

    Medical school takes four years. Law school takes three years.

    If it takes five years to turn out a teacher, then perhaps the first four years of his/her college education weren't very effective or the person might not been top-level college material.

    The term "normal school" originated in the early 19th century from the French école normale.[3] The French concept of an "école normale" was to provide a model school with model classrooms to teach model teaching practices to its student teachers.[4] The children being taught, their teachers, and the teachers of the teachers were often together in the same building.[citation needed] Although a laboratory school, it was the official school for the children—primary or secondary.[citation needed]
    In Finland, normal schools are under national university administration, whereas most schools are administered by the local municipality. A normal school is the official school of the children. Teacher aspirants do most of their compulsory trainee period in normal schools and teach while being supervised by a senior teacher.

    1.Teachers have MA degrees. I have seen this written several places and it always makes me smile. The Finnish system is different. Like the German system, their students spend more years in high school.( This is similar to first year at University in the US. Students then do something similar to the British A-level exam. This is very comprehensive. Few of our students would be able to pass these exams
    In Finland, students then must pass University admittance exams before being accepted to a program of study. These exams are grueling and few pass on the first try. Many students spend years studying just to get into University. No one helps the students. Students read books and take exams. Period. You can’t take a course like we do for GMAT or LSAT. There are no lectures. You read books and take the exam. Once admitted, students study subjects like law, education, medicine, etc. There is no time limit and since education is free most students take as long as they want to get their first degree. The courses add up to roughly four years if one were to go straight through. So, the MA that students have in Finland is a first degree
    All in all, saying Finnish teachers have an MA is not exactly correct. They have a first degree they call an MA. It produces very fine lawyers and doctors and scientists so I am inclined not to argue with this over simplification. But they have not spent 4 years undergraduate and 2 years graduate school as anyone in the US must do to receive an MA in education. Our system becomes progressively more difficult and focused. Their system is always focused. Since their system produces the best results in the world, I think we should look to other factors because saying teachers have an MA in education is misleading and not an important factor.
    Another issue that always bothers me is people point to the fact that children start school at age 7 in Finland as a factor in their success. People suggest we should leave our kids on their own and scrap our preschool system. Finns don’t start teaching subjects until age 7 that is true but the majority of women work in Finland and they have universal daycare. Most children have been in a system that encourages orderly behavior from birth. If you question this, go to Finland during the coldest and darkest months. It can be 40 below zero and people still stand and wait for lights to change. No one walks against the light. No one drinks and drives. People do not speak in public places like trams. Children in universal daycare also learn things like English or Swedish or other second language basics that prepare them for a rigorous system that starts at age 7. Seven year old children in Finland have few behavior issues because they have been treated equally since birth–they have been loved and encouraged by a system that values children.
    They don’t keep re-inventing the wheel the way we do. They also do not have the influence of book companies who sell fads. They don’t pay millions for education research and they don’t force un-natural practices on teachers.
    Kids don’t carry huge backpacks with fat books–they are presented with less information but they all learn everything that is taught.

    •  Finland takes 5 years (0+ / 0-)

      3 undergrad & 2 masters.

      In US one can get a Masters in education or teaching in 1 year, so it is same 5 years.

      Works for Finland

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 08:24:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  RE Finland and RE pre-natal care (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joe wobblie, MeToo

    First Finland.  I am convinced that you can never get the American people to do anything by claiming another country does it better: it goes against the hyper-patriotism that we've built up.  

    If you say "We should do this like county XYZ does" then you have tacitly admitted that the US is not the best at everything in the world, and God knows that spells political doom.

    However, you can say,"If a country like XYZ can do it, we can do it 10 times better!"  GO USA!  Yes, it plays to an unfortunate sentiment, but I think it can work.

    On to pre-natal care, which I am extremely glad you brought up:

    If concern for the unborn is an issue then it ought to be consistent.

    First, finding, stopping and persecuting the monsters who poison them in the womb, like Monsanto (thanks, Lupin).

    Some pro-life pastors are already on board the idea that it is inconsistent to object to abortion and condone poisoning pollutants at the same time, and have taken a pro-regulatory stance.

    Second, if we really want to see the number of abortions go down (and I think lots of people on both sides of the choice issue would like to see that)  then make giving birth a more attractive option. The economic conditions of mothers in the 99%, combined with the unfair treatment of women in the workforce and the pathetically low availability of child care, are among the main reasons for the current rate.  

    Guaranteeing life, health and dignity for all children will do more for the unborn than any attempt to define Personhood in law.

    will do more for children worldwide than the latest Personhood effort would have, just as improving

    Time to tie these things together.

    Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. -Frank Zappa

    by TheGrandWazoo on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 07:05:38 PM PST

  •  I'm in favor of a radical approach -- (0+ / 0-)

    The sort of schooling we have today supports politicians, who in turn support plutocrats.  Maybe we will have to get away from the system in order to actually support students.

    "But it ain't about who ya love, see it's all about do ya love," -Michael Franti

    by Cassiodorus on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 07:41:12 PM PST

  •  We have two years to teach a child (0+ / 0-)

    One bad year in school is bad, but two, and the child is lost. Too bad we're going on years three, four, five... thirty-five. (I think it's been bad since the 80's.) When education is a political football children loose. When it's a corporate money maker- look out. In my opinion Charter Schools, as a concept, are counter to a strong democracy.

    The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution. Paul Cezanne

    by MeToo on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 10:11:49 PM PST

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