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marmar

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,622

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How Kafkaesque Bureaucrats Are Ruining Education


from truthdig:


How Kafkaesque Bureaucrats Are Ruining Education

Posted on Aug 19, 2013
By Wellford Wilms


Last week the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest in the nation, opened its doors to more than 640,000 students for the new school year. The following story is a sobering tale of bureaucracy run amok, to the detriment of its schoolchildren.


When John Deasy took over the Los Angeles Unified School District in 2011, he promised a “world-class” education for all students. A cornerstone of his plan has been to tie teachers’ jobs and salaries to their students’ scores on standardized tests. For the past two years Deasy has driven his vision relentlessly from his 24th floor executive suite in the district’s downtown headquarters, through a half dozen layers of administrators, to nearly 900 Los Angeles schools.

But on July 2, 2013, a new school board was sworn in, and the majority seems skeptical of Deasy’s business model. Matthew Kogan, an educator who walked precincts for the board’s newest member, teacher Monica Ratliff, explained, “It’s a very narrow model and there’s a lot of hostile things about it towards teachers.”

Despite intense pressure from the district headquarters to boost scores, academic performance is shockingly low and it trails behind students in most other large California districts. Just 39 percent of LAUSD students are proficient in math and only 41 percent are proficient in English (though their scores have improved since 2010). Nearly four in 10 LAUSD students fail to graduate from high school, and African-American students are nearly twice as likely to drop out as whites.

Deasy is quick to blame the schools for students’ poor performance but the real problem is right under his nose. As my experience attests, the villains aren’t the teachers, as many believe, but often are power-hungry district bureaucrats who set their own agenda and are accountable to no one. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/how_kafkaesque_bureaucrats_are_ruining_education_20130818/



Jaded kitty is very wise





Subway Stations With Amazing Art


Link to slideshow: http://www.bloomberg.com/slideshow/2013-08-15/subway-stations-with-amazing-art.html#slide1



Naples, Italy


Moscow


Stockholm


Santiago, Chile





A Piazza on Every Block: How DIY Placemaking Is Transforming Communities


from YES! Magazine:



A Piazza on Every Block: How DIY Placemaking Is Transforming Communities
Americans who’ve enjoyed the vibrant public places of Europe and Latin America are bringing the idea back to the cities and towns of the U.S.

by Jay Walljasper
posted Aug 16, 2013


This article originally appeared in the author's book, How to Design Our World for Happiness.


[font size="1"]Portland's Share-It Square. Photo by Donkeycart.[/font]


Mark Lakeman is an architect fired up by the belief that our neighborhoods can become more than places where we hang our hats and park our cars.

Taking a break from his practice a few years back, he traveled through Central America and Italy, falling in love with the piazzas, plazas, and zocalos where everyone gathers to talk, play, and hang out together. Although most of these people are poor by our standards, he notes, they enjoy a richness of life missing in most North American communities.

Lakeman came home to Portland with the idea of creating a similar commons in his own neighborhood. He discovered that several neighbors were thinking along the same lines, so they rolled up their sleeves and transformed an intersection on Sherritt Street into a Pacific Northwest version of a piazza, painting a colorful mural on the pavement that sent a clear message to passing motorists this was not your ordinary corner. Next, they constructed a tea cart to lure folks out into the street for some convivial fun. As social activity began to move out into the street, drivers and pedestrians instinctively learned to share the space, thus its name Share-It Square.

They called their work “intersection repair.”

But what did the neighbors think? Challenging the dominance of automobiles on American streets is a brazen act, especially to older people who came of age in the car-crazy 1950s. Lakeman worried about angry opposition arising to quash the experiment, until talking to Brian Shaw, who lived right at the corner. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/blogs/jay-walljasper/every-block-needs-a-piazza-d-i-y-placemaking-transforms-communities-coast-to-coast



The Drone Industrialists: 'Don't Watch Us, We'll Watch You'


Published on Saturday, August 17, 2013 by Common Dreams
The Drone Industrialists: 'Don't Watch Us, We'll Watch You'

by Thomas Hedges


The Wifi password at this year’s conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) was “DONTSAYDRONES.” It was printed and posted up in the pressroom of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., warning reporters not to unleash the offensive word while doing an interview. At one of the world’s biggest UAS conventions, drones did not exist.

Exhibitors instead flaunted their products like toys. Visitors demoed UAS in air, ground, and water spaces within the exhibit hall, which extended the length of a couple of football fields. There were onscreen displays, where attendees could fly virtual drones using a video game controller. Upstairs there were presentations on how UAS might be used to fight forest fires or quickly transport organs to hospitals on a moment’s notice.

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), which organized this week’s event and is the industry’s main lobbying group, has done a good job of sanitizing the business they’re in. There was no talk of drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan, and Afghanistan or of Customs Border Patrol, Homeland Security and the FBI using drones at home. There were no booths dedicated to the public’s interest, as a way of addressing the legal framework for the growing industry. The only government agency present was the FAA, who’s jurisdiction is restricted to regulating air traffic – they’re not concerned with secrecy, privacy, and whether or not domestic law enforcement agencies, for example, can militarize their drones.

The three-day show ignored this already existing drone industry, which specializes in death. There was little said about the Pentagon’s 7,000 aerial drones, which collectively have killed, and the numbers are shaky because of secrecy, around 3,000 people without due process. Many activists, including Code Pink, which protested outside the convention Tuesday, are worried about this precedent — the lack of regulation surrounding the use of drones abroad could be a harbinger of their use at home. .........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/08/17-2



The Drone Industrialists: 'Don't Watch Us, We'll Watch You'


Published on Saturday, August 17, 2013 by Common Dreams
The Drone Industrialists: 'Don't Watch Us, We'll Watch You'

by Thomas Hedges


The Wifi password at this year’s conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) was “DONTSAYDRONES.” It was printed and posted up in the pressroom of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., warning reporters not to unleash the offensive word while doing an interview. At one of the world’s biggest UAS conventions, drones did not exist.

Exhibitors instead flaunted their products like toys. Visitors demoed UAS in air, ground, and water spaces within the exhibit hall, which extended the length of a couple of football fields. There were onscreen displays, where attendees could fly virtual drones using a video game controller. Upstairs there were presentations on how UAS might be used to fight forest fires or quickly transport organs to hospitals on a moment’s notice.

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), which organized this week’s event and is the industry’s main lobbying group, has done a good job of sanitizing the business they’re in. There was no talk of drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan, and Afghanistan or of Customs Border Patrol, Homeland Security and the FBI using drones at home. There were no booths dedicated to the public’s interest, as a way of addressing the legal framework for the growing industry. The only government agency present was the FAA, who’s jurisdiction is restricted to regulating air traffic – they’re not concerned with secrecy, privacy, and whether or not domestic law enforcement agencies, for example, can militarize their drones.

The three-day show ignored this already existing drone industry, which specializes in death. There was little said about the Pentagon’s 7,000 aerial drones, which collectively have killed, and the numbers are shaky because of secrecy, around 3,000 people without due process. Many activists, including Code Pink, which protested outside the convention Tuesday, are worried about this precedent — the lack of regulation surrounding the use of drones abroad could be a harbinger of their use at home. .........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/08/17-2



Reaganomics: 32 Years of Failed Policy - Interview with Richard Wolff





RT "Abby Martin remarks on the 31st anniversary of the President Ronald Reagan's Economic Recovery Act, and speaks with to Richard Wolff, Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, and author of 'Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism', about why 'Reaganomics' is not a cure-all for the US economy's fiscal woes.


Philadelphia Takes a Loan to Open Its Schools


via truthdig:


Philadelphia Takes a Loan to Open Its Schools
Posted on Aug 16, 2013


In a jarring example of the institutional failure sweeping the country, Philadelphia, a former manufacturing behemoth, agreed to borrow $50 million so it could open its public schools on time this fall. Even with the loan, campuses will open with a minimum of staffing and “sharply curtailed extracurricular activities and other programs,” The New York Times reports.

“The concept is just jaw-dropping,” said Helen Gym, who has three children in the city’s public schools. “Nobody is talking about what it takes to get a child educated. It’s just about what the lowest number is needed to get the bare minimum. That’s what we’re talking about here: the deliberate starvation of one of the nation’s biggest school districts.”

The emergency comes as other major cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles and Detroit, the latter of which filed for bankruptcy last month, do not have enough money to run their full range of public services. Philadelphia’s tax base withered as middle-class people left the city, raising the overall poverty rate of the population that remains. Heavier tax burdens have been shifted onto people who need public services but are unable to pay for them.

The shortfall has driven some Philadelphia school administrators to desperate ends. Daniel Lazar, principal of Greenfield Elementary School in central Philadelphia, sent a letter to parents last week asking for a $613-per-student donation to fill a $355,000 budget gap at his school. ................................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/philadelphia_takes_a_loan_to_keep_schools_open_20130816/



At Paris 'Beach', a Restaurant Embraces France's Diversity





PARIS — While new data show eurozone countries like France have finally emerged from recession, many Europeans are still cutting costs and staying home for the summer holidays. But in ethnically mixed northeastern Paris, home to Arabs, Africans and Asians, some of the poorest city residents are getting a taste of vacation - and of champagne, foie gras and other delicacies, for just a few euros.

By midday, the small restaurant overlooking a canal in northeastern Paris quickly fills up.

At a small table, Flavio Nervenga is managing reservations; there are dozens of demands he needs to juggle. Not just from well-heeled Parisians wanting to dine here, but from some of the city's poorest and most vulnerable residents, who will sample fine cuisine for just a fraction of the price listed on the menu.

This restaurant is part of a larger effort that Nervenga heads. Called "Tous a Table!" - or "Everyone at the Table!" - it's a collaboration supported by non-governmental groups, the private sector, French chefs and Paris city hall. Nervenga says it's about diversity, inclusiveness and democracy - through food. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.voanews.com/content/at-paris-beach-a-restaurant-embraces-france-diversity/1730442.html



Texas DOT denies $1.6 million for El Paso bicycle-sharing program


(El Paso Times) The Texas Department of Transportation slammed the brakes on a bicycle-sharing program for Downtown and Central El Paso by denying $1.6 million in federal funding, at least for now.

During its monthly board meeting on Wednesday, the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority was prepared to move forward with the BikeShare Program, which the City of El Paso and the University of Texas at El Paso had already approved partial funding for. But the plans changed when Raymond Telles, the authority's executive director, said Mark Williams, TxDOT's director of planning, told him earlier this week that TxDOT was not in agreement with the use of the $1.6 million.

The money was going to come from the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program and the Surface Transportation Planning/Metropolitan Mobility program run by TxDOT.

"As far as I've been told the decision is final," Telles said. .........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_23860793/txdot-denies-funding-el-paso-bicycle-sharing-program



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