Monday, March 28, 2011

What's the Plan? I'm Afraid to Find Out

I'm too angry to write about our legislature's efforts to double Metro Transit bus fares, the destruction of schools by standardized testing, or the 37 percent unemployment rate among 18- to 29-year-olds. Let alone the Star Tribune story about the food banks and the food shelves fighting over the scraps left by the well-off.

But here are a couple of links to things from today:

Discussion on overhauling No Child Left Behind on Midmorning. I knew it would be worth it when the first guest, Monty Neil from FairTest. answered Kerri Miller's first question this way:

Kerri Miller: No Child Left Behind -- scrap it or reform it? What do you think?

Monty Neil: Most of the additions made to the federal law under the name of No Child Left Behind and signed nearly 10 years ago should be scrapped.

Kerri Miller: Why?

Monty Neil: What NCLB did was double and triple the amount of testing done in states across the country. All the excessive testing attached to a stringent, irriational, and ultimately counterproductive accountability system has enormously turned schools into test prep programs in the tested subjects of reading and math.

They have narrowed the curriculum with less time spent on other subjects, everything from science and history to the arts and languages, even cutting recess and phys ed often. The outcome has been disgruntled teachers, turned-off students, and the rate of improvement on the one independently national test we have, the NAEP, has markedly declined in the period that NCLB has been signed.

The State of Working America calculator from the Economic Policy Institute. You can slide the years back and forth to see how much income growth went to the bottom 90 percent of earners vs. the top 5 to 10, 1 to 5 and 1 percent. Between 1946 and 2000, the bottom 90 percent got a little under half of the income growth. Between 2000 and 2007, however, all of the growth went to the top 10 percent, and three-quarters of that went to the top 1 percent.

An editorial from the Austin Daily Herald, reprinted in the Strib, pointing out the stupidity of cutting rail development now:

Equally built-up urban areas elsewhere in the country move masses of people every day on trains and express buses.

Other than a lack of foresight, there is no reason Minnesota is not doing the same. But it's not too late. Instead of building new freeway lanes, Minnesota should be building more commuter rail transportation.

This would have the dual effect of making automobile commuting less desirable, and rail transportation more pleasant -- perhaps without spending any additional dollars.

Would that be popular? No. Would it be wise? Yes. Unfortunately, this year's Legislature, like its predecessors, seems to be putting popularity ahead of wisdom.
People in Austin, Minnesota, are advocating transit funding in the Twin Cities, for cripe's sake, but our legislature is busy cutting funding to transit so the bus system will either have to cut half the routes or double the fares.

Meanwhile, wealthy dog owners in the Twin Cities have new options for their pups while they're at work:

Star Tribune clipping of a dog sitting in the middle of a bed in his doggie hotel room
A former Carlson hotel executive has decided to use his skills with a twist. According to the caption, "Golden retriever Riley settled into one of the suites at the Adogo Pet Hotel. The Minnetonka faclity offers upscale suits or private rooms for dogs, mimicking the human htel experience. And yes, there's room service -- prepared to the owner's instructions."

So the dogs of the rich are treated better than many human beings.

What does the Right plan to do with this country once they've gotten their way? What is their ideal society? Do they want to live in walled enclaves with armed guards (and golden retrievers) to protect them from the people they've left outside?

I really can't bear to reread The Parable of the Sower right now.

1 comment:

Carmella said...

Yes to all you said!

When I saw that picture of that pet hotel, my thought was eeek! I like cozy little nooks to curl up in - not an empty, lonely platform floating in a big space. I want my people to work less hours, be home more and go on more walks. Not work more to afford such silliness. And yes,even if people can afford it - I hear foodshelves are in more need than usual right now.