Sunday, October 19, 2008

This Week In the News

I'm trying something which is, for me, a little new: This Week In News. The acronym is incidental. I read a fair amount of news, from the mainstream to the mundane; from the radical to the regular. I don't, however, have the time to focus my thoughts enough go in depth on any single topic. So, i figured I'd share some stories of interest and my thoughts about them. Here goes:

Fidel Drinks Your Milkshake

The BBC has reported that Cuba may have as much as 20 billion barrels of oil in its area of the Gulf of Mexico.
"If correct, Cuba's oil reserves would be almost the same as those of the US - 21bn barrels, according to the Oil & Gas Journal - and nearly twice the size of Mexico's - 11.7bn barrels."
If Cuba is able to develop this, the balance of power in the Western Hemisphere could significantly shift. Will an Obama administration engage Cuba diplomatically and end the retarded sanctions?!

Destroy Iraq, Then Skate

A venture capitalist from Colorado is planning a $500 million zoo and skate park project inside the "Green Zone."

'It's estimated that the country "will spend between $80 and $100 billion over the next four to five years rebuilding their economy," he says. "That's a tremendous entrepreneurial opportunity."'

According to the World Health Organization, upwards of 220,000 Iraqis have been killed in this conquest. John's Hopkins says it's over 600,000.

Often times people use the word "cynic" to describe me. Now, I won't get into it here--the difference between the Philosophy of Cynicism and the common usage--but to call Iraq a 'tremendous entrepreneurial opportunity' is sickening. You'll have to excuse my mistrust of this guy's motives.

I've been reading The Shock Doctrinelately, which deals with insane, anti-human "opportunities" like this skate park in Iraq. Whether it's war or tsunami or hurricanes, the destruction of a culture allows for others to pave their ways to some Orwellian utopia.

War is peace.

Schooling Disaster

On a related note, John McCain wants to replicate the "success" of New Orleans school "reform" nationwide. Since the government failures there in the preparations for, and aftermath of Katrina, the state of Louisiana has taken over 95 schools in New Orleans. They fired hundreds of veteran teachers, smashed the union (now there's no right for teachers to bargain collectively) and began the process of privatization by granting an enormous amount of school charters to private companies.

Nearly 70% of students in New Orleans are now educated in a variety of charter schools, with varying degrees of success/failure. According to this articlethere's no difference in achievement, two years into this "experiment", b/w public school students and charter school students. This is remarkable, to me, b/c charter schools are not bound by state funding restrictions, and can spend more money per student than public schools can. (Though not all charter schools do this, KIPP most certainly does.) Charters also have much more freedom to operate, which *should* ensure their success.

For example, a charter school likely starts up with only one grade, and adds a grade per year. They have the ability to set the tone for their schools with a small group of students, who can carry the mantle forward for years to come. The difference is huge.

Charter school advocates want to center the debate around "results", which is definitely compelling, but it over-simplifies things. There is a bigger picture, a picture that includes charters, for sure. But any notion that the way to "save" education is to essentially subsidize a private business takeover is completely ridiculous.

For the sake of full disclosure, I've worked in a charter school for the past two years, after 4 years of public school, and I do see benefit in them. I think that it is a mistake, a lack of imagination, for the Left to abandon them. But I do not pin my hopes for our educational future on them.

1 comment:

gabriel said...

i like the new format, trevor.

maybe mccain will have a change of heart and appoint fidel as energy secretary, since the cuban's now have all that oil.

if saddam can go from ally to foe so quickly, why not the reverse?