The real turkey is the educational system?

Diane Ravitch@DianeRavitch·18mFact-checking Trump’s cellphone rant of election falsehoods. LIES, LIES, LIES. https://washingtonpost.com/…/fact-checking-trumps…/

Me to DR: Sadly, lies a horribly large section of our educated public accepts as truth. Accepting responsibility by the educational community would be a giant step in the direction of a solution to our greatest problem.

There are teachers but few are given permission to teach

A conversation on FB with a teacher:

SL: Response to another’s comment:By the way, the long standing notion of good teacher in our schools has been of an obedient worker programmed by experts to follow the directions, without question, of some higher authority. Really, doing such does not require much other than being able and willing to follow directions, this not constituting truly professional activity. Those questioning authority often find themselves rooted out by the official evaluation systems in place, amongst them their students’ scores on standardized tests, the outcomes measured used to mandate thoughtless on the part of teachers and students

Deanna Fine: Word. Just ONE reason I quit teaching. Teachers do not give standardized test only at the end of the year. In k-2 they are given in the form of MAPS tests three times a year. Then in 3-5 there is also the SBAC. We spent hours analyzing test scores throughout the year to determine who were the “bubble kids”. These are students around the 50th percentile who could be bumped over to the 60th if we focused more on them in class. Students who fell below had some other interventions because they were soooo low; but the message we were given is, “You don’t need to worry about them so much because they won’t pass the test anyways.” Similarity, students who excelled in the test were also left out because “We know they’ll pass already.” So out of a class of about 22, we were encouraged to put most of our energy into about 7 students so they could pass the test. Now, I’m not saying that standardized tests don’t measure academic achievement to some degree. They certainly do. Still, I was clearly judged by how many of my students were “successful” on these tests. They pit teachers against one another, and make school a drudgery.

SL: Yes, and yes again and it is time that such testimony be made public in a very public way. You were teaching to the system, to demonstrate increases in the rate of success rather than teaching to insure that all students would grow their intellectual abilities to the fullest, those intellectual abilities not the concern of most of the tests they were taking to demonstrate “academic” success. No concern for individuality, differences among people in terms of preferences and ways of demonstrating both knowledge and thought. Those tests do measure “academic success” as defined by the test makers making “academic success” a measure of willingness to obey, conform, take in what is told without considering much its meaning or its veracity. Sorry that what should be the most exciting work in the universe was made drudgery by the system.

Principled advocacy for free speech

In response to this article by Glenn Greenwald,

The Ongoing Death of Free Speech: Prominent ACLU Lawyer Cheers Suppression of a New Book

Free speech has always been more than a Constitutional guarantee: it’s also a crucial societal value. And it’s more imperiled than ever.

Free speech! Too many are far too willing to give up others’ for the sake of having ideas they do not be disappeared, this as though keeping the ideas hidden causes them to go away.

I remember not too long ago, Steve Bannon calling for decapitation of those whose ideas he strongly dislikes, and Bannon being banned from certain social media channels for saying this. Horribly ugly speech, wretched ideas that, if they influenced even one person to act would be tragic. However, as I wrote on FB, censoring even the likes of a twisted minded person such as Bannon puts free speech on the slippery slope toward abandonment.  The problem is and will always be about who it is that gets to determine what kind of speech is censored.  Once a censor’s judgement is allowed to determine who can speak and what can be said, speech is no longer free.

Free speech is a very dangerous principle and, as the ACLU has shown by its past treatment of free speech, advocating for it in a truly principled manner inevitably leads to accusations of support for the ideas when the advocacy is for the right to express them.  Yes, speech does, often, lead to action but actions that are precipitated by speech are actions and not speech.  It is the actions that, for a principled free speech advocate, that need to be prevented or punished.

So, for those who want to suffer a bit of the intellectual agony that goes with principled advocacy for free speech, here is Glen Greenwald speaking of a new tendency within the ACLU that troubles him greatly, he being a principled advocate for free speech.  Interestingly, he, like myself, came to respect ACLU as a premiere institution for the unflinching advocacy of free speech.  The Skokie case taught me early in the formative days of my adult thinking what thinking as a principled—as opposed to impulsive—thinker was and how being principled quite often placed oneself at war within, immediate good sometimes canceled out by the long range consequences for settling for what is appealing rather than suffering for what is right by principle.

Scared the shit out of the status quo

Let it be clear so that those who are happy that Trump did not win that the causes of Trump have not been eliminated with the election of a democrat to the presidency. Let it be clear that the democratic party is the same democratic party that reacted to Bernie Sander’s candidate as if he and those who supported him were the enemy, a terrible threat. What was threatened? The damned status quo that brought us Trump, a political and economic system that serves a few at the expense of the many and causes the many to think that system the best that can be GIVEN THE CIRCUMSTANCES. Those circumstances were created, very much intentionally, by democrats and republicans, self-serving advocates for the system.Bernie scared the status quo defenders with his blunt assessment that made called them our for what they are, for their real motives which have always been selfish, they willing to sacrifice the welfare of billions of people world-wide for the sake of their own prosperity.Throughout the campaigns, two now, we who have tried to find support for the idea that there is need for radical change to a government that truly is for the people have been branded in ways to make our cause appear to be a problem rather than the solution. I have been a Bernie Bro and, yes, a democratic socialist in spirit and thought for my entire lifetime as a conscious participant in the political debate. I am proud of this because I know that Bernie and democratic socialism are humane and sane, the proper remedies to a corrupt and, yes, deadly, inhumane and insane NORMAL.To those who stand in the way of change to a humane and sane society, I say think again about values, ethics, your sense of justice and, ultimately, your moral compass.

Do not forget Bernie Sanders

Yes, I do believe that those who opposed Bernie Sanders need to study his agenda and think about why it seemed radical to so many. Radical response, radical policy is absolutely essential when things are radically wrong. I think people need to understand just how radically wrong things were before 2016 and how much more problematic those things that were wrong became during the Trump administration. Bernie wasn’t just about beating Trump, he was about getting rid of that which make Trump possible and that which was nasty already and exacerbated by the Trumpian movement.Those who only want to talk about what is ahead without sticking their heads into what has happened and what CAUSED it to happen will continue block the possibility of creating something new that is good and sensible, sustainable and capable of bringing into the fold of the humane those who have learned to think for themselves without much consideration for others because that is how one “gets somewhere in this world.” How about changing that world so that the work one does in it helps to make for better futures for all?

On the topic of democrats arguing for republican acceptance of election results.


The end of meaningful discourse? Can we distinguish between what is actually the same and what is different? Or, do comparisons always work when someone wants to make the point they want to make even if the differences outweigh the likenesses? This is not to condemn the Rs anymore than the Ds. I have watched both parties cut to the part that supports their claims and cut out whatever does not, what is cut away often at least or more significant than what is proffered to prove the point. I hate the politics we suffer because what is lost is not only a proper democratic discourse, but worse, proper lessons in proper and productive discourse. I have taught about argumentation for a very long time and the current “conversation” undermines all teaching of the need for solid proof and rational laying out of a strict rationale for every point made, this a reflection of clear understanding of and respect for the counterpoint. Engaging in such discourse hones the mind, causes one to discover the falsehood, lies, and half or less truths that too often erroneously guide the thought process. The goal of a proper and meaningful democratic discourse is not to BE right but to GET IT right.

Too deplorable to abide Biden

Biden is delusional about this unity thing, the WE the people notion when we are obviously not we, all for one and one for all. Many are out for themselves, this so obvious that only a delusional person could see it. Many live off of hate of others. Hate of others makes them feel better about selves they do not really like that much-blame schools and the system it supports for that. Joe will have to, as he says, govern all. That better not mean that he will try to satisfy the wishes of all-some wish ill on other, support what is deplorable–or appease all. To govern effectively for decency and good sense in America, he will have to disagree with many, deny them what they want, resist giving into deplorable demands. I think that will be very hard to do because, truth be told, many who are his friends are deplorable.

Militias for a sane and humane society

What we need are militias for the sane and humane. We have been led to believe that the political system as it is eventually works to serve the good of the people. We have been indoctrinated to believe this because belief in it keeps things peaceful enough for business as usual to transpire no matter what the real discontent of the majority of people, the cruelty of the system, its injustices.
We need to build fighting forces to combat the forces in this society that use the institutions of the society, the educational system most effectively, to do the work of indoctrination. We need to understand that the system, as is, really does not include all of us, that it makes it possible for some, a relative few, to control the rest of us.
Militias for the sane and humane would fight for sanity and humanity in society, force such upon the system, rid from it those individuals and institutions that are the cause of the cruelty the system generates in order to keep it going, allows it to produce the results it does, much for a few, relatively little both in terms of wealth and power, for the rest.
Militias of this kind would operate OUTSIDE THE SYSTEM, within the law, as much as possible but against the laws that make the system unfair, inequitable, and unjust. These militias would tolerate no law or judicial or enforcement function that allowed for the ill-treatment of any human beings. It would close down all institutions that were harmful to people and planet and work to do this through education and well planned acts of civil disobedience.
We need such militias now.

Harder to sleep, maybe, but we will sleep

Biden may win and I hope to hell he does. A good candidate in a country dominated by people with humane aspirations would have won handily. Actually, in such a country, there never would have been a race for leadership of this kind. Trumps in any legitimate endeavor, in the decent country, would never succeed, would always be reviled and restrained. In the last two elections, close to half of those who voted voted for indecency and a good number of those who did not vote for indecency certainly did not vote FOR decency. Decent candidates would focus heavily on WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS COUNTRY because their decency would cause them to empathize with those to whom this country and its economicpolitical (no error here) do harm, far too many, far too much human suffering to excuse as essential to any kind of good.
We voted again and, if Biden wins, so many will feel better because they can go back to living their normal lives. It would be good if they reflected on what is good about their lives, what is not good about the lives of many others and did something more than wait for the next election to do something, however impotent, about the miseries they will allow themselves to become aware of again during the next election cycle.

Unite or fight for what is right?

From a post I received on Facebook: “…at 9 PM today we will still be citizens of the USA and our duties and obligations to the betterment of society don’t end with one election. We have to figure out as a society who we want to be, with all the people we do not agree with, because we don’t have a choice.

My response

You mistake the ideal from the real and, thought your faith in the system should be a good thing, the system is corrupted enough that faith in it is foolish, the better tact to attack those aspects of the system that prevent it from being reasonable, fair, just, equitable and humane, the latter necessitating a people’s will to think about and make decisions based upon what is good for the whole, to vote in support of that which serves the common good. Americans are really not capable of handling democracy and the evidence is in the cruelty the vote too often allows, the inequalities and injustices that are made to be legal under the law by the representatives the people choose. There is a flaw in the process. It could be a fatal flaw and it is possible that that flaw is inherent in the nature of human beings. It is also possible that the flaw is a result of the way people are brought up in a society. I want to think it is the latter for, if it is, there is a possibility for a democracy of decency. Education could, perhaps, teach to the value of reason and cause citizens to demand that only reasonable decisions become policy and law, reason that is tempered by empathy, concern for the welfare of all. Right now, there cannot be unity for unity means acceptance of the irrational, the indecent, and, yes, the immoral, of crimes against humanity allowed for under the system, its laws, and by too many citizens to believe that the current system and the ways the people allow for it and protect it can lead to the good society.