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madfloridian

Profile Information

Gender: Female
Hometown: Florida
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 82,345

About Me

Retired teacher who sees much harm to public education from the "reforms" being pushed by corporations. Privatizing education is the wrong way to go. Children can not be treated as products, thought of in terms of profit and loss.

Journal Archives

Two weeks before Christmas and all through The House....a budget was burning...



Twitter hat tip to Vivian Griffin

John Yoo of the "torture creative class" is not a happy camper right now.

Back in 2009 Katha Pollitt wrote an article at The Nation about how those who were the architects of the torture program were faring quite well for themselves. John Yoo was one of them.

Those of the "torture creative class" and how they got rewarded.

Yoo is only one of those who are mentioned, and of course there were Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and Feith.

What I mean is, I should have been a member of the torture creative class--a conceptual torturer, a facilitator of torture, perhaps an inventor of torture law, an architect of the torture archipelago, a dissimulator, concealer, denier, rationalizer, minimizer and pooh-pooher of torture. As a word person, I could have come up with circumlocutions to confuse the media, bureaucratic phrases like "special methods of questioning" and "enhanced interrogation techniques." According to New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt, just figuring out whether to call a given action "harsh" or "brutal" has kept editors busy for years! Or I could have written copy for the CIA. For example, I could have suggested they call putting people in coffinlike boxes full of insects "studio picnics," because studio apartments are small and picnics have bugs, and I could have nicknamed waterboarding "drinking tea with Vice President Cheney," although come to think of it, waterboarding is a euphemism already. Maybe that's why people didn't catch on that it was the same thing we prosecuted Japanese interrogators for doing in World War II. In the Tokyo trials it was called "the water treatment," or "the water cure," or just plain "water torture." Calling it "water torture" was probably what got those Japanese into trouble. That, and losing the war.

Why should I have joined the torture creative class? Because now I would be having a great life.


She mentions Yoo.

John Yoo. In 2002, while working for the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), Yoo wrote a crucial memo saying that terror suspects weren't covered by US commitments to treaties and agreements banning torture. Now Yoo is a tenured professor of law at Berkeley. Eat your heart out, Ward Churchill! And he isn't hiding away in his office, either. This semester Yoo's a visiting prof at Chapman University School of Law, where he spoke at a public forum and defended torture as necessary to protect the country. "Was it worth it?" he asked, according to the Los Angeles Times. For John Yoo, definitely.


This year UC Berkeley students, alumni and a group of lawyers are protesting John Yoo's faculty chair endowment.



UC Berkeley students, alumni and a group of lawyers in the Bay Area initiated an online petition last week to rescind UC Berkeley School of Law professor John Yoo’s recent faculty chair endowment.

Spearheaded by the Bay Area chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, the petition was launched after Yoo was announced as a newly endowed faculty chair along with four other law professors in June. Yoo has been in the spotlight of controversy ever since he co-authored a series of memorandums, dubbed the “Torture Memos,” during the administration of former president George W. Bush.


Wikipedia has some of the Torture Memos.

This week John Yoo published an op ed in the New York Daily News about his opinion of the torture revelations.

A torture report for the dustbin

The release of a Senate report on Bush-era interrogation policies could have prompted an informed, responsible debate over intelligence and the war on terror. But not the report that saw the light of day Tuesday.

Because of fundamental mistakes made at its very birth, Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s accounting offers a dispiriting, partisan attack on American intelligence agencies at a time when we need them more than ever.

Bizarrely, Feinstein and her staffers refused even to interview the very CIA officials who ordered and carried out the program in question. Because Republicans saw where the train was headed, they refused to participate in the review.

The slanted approach to the investigation sadly colored its conclusions — which are questionable, to put it charitably.


Muckety has a flow chart.



A former editor of the Yale Law Journal and clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, he is beloved by many on the right and mocked by many on the left.

He wrote the torture memos as a deputy assistant attorney general in the George W. Bush administration.

He has responded to the Senate report in a Time magazine post, saying that a president responding to terrorist attacks “must obtain intelligence as soon as possible to stop the next attack. Under these emergency conditions, a chief executive would reasonably give the green light to limited, but aggressive interrogation methods that did not cause any long-term or permanent injury. You might even approve waterboarding in the time of emergency.”

The Senate report found that torture was ineffective in unearthing information that could prevent future attacks, a finding disputed by former Vice President Dick Cheney and others in the Bush administration.

The interactive Muckety map above shows Yoo’s current and former connections.


In 2011 The Guardian UK summed up the problems this torture culture has caused for our country.

The reason why torture is universally prohibited in international and domestic law the world over, however, is not because it is ineffective or counterproductive (though it is). Torture has been universally prohibited because in the aftermath of the second world war, the nations of the world agreed, under the leadership of the United States, that respect for basic human dignity required the absolute prohibition of torture under any circumstance.

The acts of torture that John Yoo and other Bush administration officials so proudly defend are nothing less than war crimes that, in the absence of accountability, continue to undermine the United States' claim to respect the rule of law.






Creative writing teacher out of job because student writes of Jesus giving out marijuana to the sick

The administration said that the teacher was not fired, but she chose to resign rather than conduct her class "in a professional manner".

I would think there would be a wide range of what is considered "professional" in a creative writing class of all places. A student writes creatively of a topic that offends another student and their parents. She was targeted and harassed.

I found the news video at You Tube, the article is listed below it.



Creative writing teacher resigns after student writes about Jesus, pot

The assignment was to take a fairy tale or legend and rewrite it in modern times. One student changed the biblical story about Jesus handing out bread and fish to the poor to Jesus handing out marijuana to the sick.

“I don't take any personal offense. It's not written for me. It's written for them. It's how they can express themselves,” said Guarascio.

But according to the teacher, during peer review, one of the other students got highly offended by the story and told her parents. And then the teacher was put on administrative leave while the district investigated.


The teacher had one last message for her students.

“If they have something to say, say it,” Guarascio said. “Not everyone's going to agree with you. But that doesn't make your point invalid or worthless. Tell your story.”


Another article makes it clear that the teacher was said not to be conducting her class in a professional manner. That of course is ridiculous. It was a creative writing class. The student applied a present day problem and told how it might have been handled by Jesus.

Conservative Student Attacks Teacher Over Jesus Story, Teacher Resigns

Katrina Guarascio, a teacher at Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, gave her class the assignment to rewrite a fairy tale or legend with a modern setting. One of her students, following instructions, rewrote a tale about Jesus, a central biblical figure, to have him handing out marijuana to the sick. During the subsequent peer review session, one of the students claimed to be so offended, she complained to her parents, who then filed a complaint to the school. Guarascio was subsequently placed on administrative leave pending investigation, despite not having violated any rules.

“It was Kind of a slap in the face after years of hard work,” Guarascio said to KOAT 7.
The teacher had been working for the school for eight years at the time of the incident. Of the student who claimed offense, she said on Facebook that the student had been bragging to her classmates that she was going to get Guarascio fired. Now Guarascio has resigned amid being “targeted and harassed.”

In response, the school district’s Communications Director Kim Vesely, declining to go on camera with KOAT7, released the following statement:

“The teacher involved chose to resign rather than follow the school district’s direction that classes be administered in a professional manner.”


The teacher said that Kim Vesely was someone she had never met, and someone who had never even been in her classroom.


I Grew Up in Guantanamo and Time Has Left Me Behind. From age 17 to age 30.

I Grew Up in Guantanamo and Time Has Left Me Behind



I wish I had the ability to describe the passage of 13 years at Guantanamo. My own mind shuts down when I try to think about it. And I have no words that can make you truly understand.

In that time, I have lost so much both here inside the prison and outside in the world I left.

I miss my home -- too much. But the truth is that if I returned to my village tomorrow, I would be a stranger, even among the people who love me the most.

A few days ago, Omar brought me dozens of photographs of my village that were taken during the filming of Waiting for Fahd. I carried them back to my cell and held them with me like a treasure - I looked at every face, every building, and every mountain peak. I stayed up until the dawn hours before Fajr prayer, studying the images one by one. My mind and my heart raced. I wanted to be able to recognize every detail in the photos to be reminded of my life before Guantanamo. But it was nearly impossible.

I did not even recognize the faces of my best friends.

My younger brother, Abdur-Raheem, who I used to feed and care for and discipline, does not know me. Now he only knows of me.


He is represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, and there is more of his story at the link.

Fahd Ghazy is a Yemeni-national who has been detained at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba since February 2002 when he was only 17 years old. He is one of the last remaining prisoners to have been detained as a juvenile. Fahd was cleared for transfer by President Bush in 2007, and again by the Obama administration in 2009. He is now 29 years old and has spent over one-third of his life in Guantánamo without charge.

....Fahd was born on May 2, 1984 in a small village outside of the Yemen's capital. He was married in his early teens and had a daughter, Hafsa, shortly after his 17th birthday. Fahd was an ambitious student. He attended the Al-Najah primary and secondary school in the district near his home, and graduated first in his class. Those results won him a scholarship to attend university, news of which he received while already imprisoned in Guantánamo.

Despite his treatment and the length of his detention, Fahd continues to prepare himself for his release. He has mastered English while at Guantánamo and he reads voraciously – all in the hope that one day he will be able to secure a good job and provide for his family.


A video from the CCR Waiting for Fahd.


Obama, the Third Way, TPP, education privatization..accepting "status quo" used against us.

Right now in this country so many are going along with the idea that all students are alike, learn alike, can perform the same educational tasks, and that there really are no special needs students that can't be fixed by more rigid standards.

In fact President Obama says if we don't accept these new reforms we are comfortable with the "status quo".

"But education is an economic issue – if not the economic issue of our time," Obama said. "It’s an economic issue when the unemployment rate for folks who’ve never gone to college is almost double what it is for those who have.

Black leaders have charged that by firing teachers or closing schools that are considered to be failing, the president is only making a bad situation worse.

Obama, in addressing critics of his program, said that part of the controversy surrounding Race to the Top "reflects a general resistance to change; a comfort with the status quo."


Obama went further in his defense of the new normal in education. He said the "status quo" is morally inexcusable.

President Obama on Education: “The Status Quo is Morally Inexcusable”


Today, President Obama delivered an address on education at the Urban League’s 100th Anniversary Convention highlighting the steps his Administration has taken over the past eighteen months to improve the education system in America. The President stated that education reform is a top priority for his Administration because the “status quo is morally inexcusable, it’s economically indefensible, and all of us are going to have to roll up our sleeves to change it.”


Recently when he spoke of those of us who opposed the Trans Pacific Partnership, he said we were "accepting the status quo".

Video in which Obama says if we oppose the TPP we are "accepting the status quo".

Those words are about 5 minutes into the video.

I believe in both instances there are positions that allow us to have a different opinion but also understand that things are not perfect just as they are.

I believe we can see the serious harm to be done if the "status quo" is changed so very drastically in both areas.

I remembered where I had seen the term "status quo" used to marginalize those of us on the left of the party who question such policies. Guess who said it.

Why Third Way

This dysfunction in Washington serves to maintain the status quo – leaving us unprepared to meet the defining challenge of our time: making the global information era work for the United States, not against us. The innovation, dynamism, and modernization we need from our political system to meet that challenge have simply not kept pace:

Once, we could take prosperity—for America and most Americans—for granted. Now, we need new ideas for job-creation, expanding exports, shifting spending from entitlements to public investment, re-thinking higher education, and making the tax code competitive.
Once, our K-12 education system was the envy of the world. Now, we are struggling to compete in a knowledge economy, with a teaching profession—the linchpin to providing equal opportunity and mobility—that hasn’t been reformed in generations.
Once, our energy was largely shipped in and burned freely. Now, the U.S. is a fossil fuel powerhouse while simultaneously facing a global climate crisis, and we need new policies that can reconcile those two opposing forces.

Once, we stood atop the globe as a super-power. Now, we face ever-more complex security threats, but our defense systems are still fitted to a Cold War age.
And though some of our hot-button social issues have been addressed, new and pressing questions remain, on immigration, gun safety, and LGBT equality.

Third Way’s role in these debates is to serve as a centrist counterweight to the forces of polarization and ideological rigidity – forces that serve only to preserve the status quo. Our job is straightforward but not easy: we ponder, develop and then offer paradigm-busting policies and narratives; we find creative and strategic ways to make them politically salient; and then we work relentlessly to promote them to policymakers.


It's a term used too freely, so freely that it has literally lost its meaning.

I call this righteous anger indeed.

She should not be expected to accept an apology from the man who kept choking her husband while he was saying "I can't breathe".

I missed this a few days ago, and her answer is powerful.

'Hell No!': Eric Garner's Widow Rejects Officer's Condolences Amid Shock Over Grand Jury's Decision

At a press conference Wednesday at the Harlem headquarters of the National Action Network, the advocacy group founded by Al Sharpton, Garner's widow, Esaw Garner, and his mother, Gwen Carr, expressed their disappointment with the grand jury's decision and their frustration that Pantaleo would not be held accountable by a court.

Esaw Garner became visibly angry when asked if she accepted the remorse Pantaleo expressed earlier that day. In a statement, Pantaleo offered his condolences to the family and said he never intended to harm Garner.

"Hell no!" Garner replied. "The time for remorse would have been when my husband was yelling to breathe."

"No, I don't accept his apology. No, I could care less about his condolences," she continued. "He's still working. He's still getting a paycheck. He's still feeding his kids, when my husband is six feet under and I'm looking for a way to feed my kids now."

"Who's going to play Santa Claus for my grandkids this year?" she said. "Who's going to play Santa Claus?"

What happened to this Mom and her day old baby is scary stuff.

This just upset me so much when I read it. There was absolutely no reason for all this to happen.

Mother Loses Newborn Baby After She Is Wrongly Accused of Being on Drugs

The hospital’s reasons for believing Langwell was on drugs were all conjecture. They said that she was “hostile” when she wanted to check out early, that she packed containers that looked like they held pills, that she and her mother and the baby’s father were all shaky and irritable, and that Langwell refused a drug test while she was in labor (Langwell told Calhoun she was concerned about the cost since they were paying for the hospital out of pocket). In other words, the hospital and CPS declared Langwell to have a substance abuse issue until the point she could prove she didn’t.

Like a growing number of mothers in America, Langwell was guilty until proven innocent.

What Langwell underwent is a growing concern in the United States as mothers are being more strictly examined and children are being removed from homes at a rapid clip. Just as “personhood” style laws are jailing women who are pregnant under the guise of protecting the fetus to ensure a safe and healthy birth, mothers are being scrutinized and examined more closely than ever to protect a baby or child from being harmed by their own parents.

....That was exactly what happened to Langwell, who found CPS at her door the next day to remove her newborn and place the baby with a foster family for the child’s own “safety.” Despite agreeing to an on the spot drug test, which the agency said had “inconclusive” results because her saliva was too thick, CPS took her new baby to a hospital to do a drug test on the infant there, via inserting a catheter. That effort failed.


That's horrible. I would be a little irritable as well after 2 days of contractions.

This Mom Checked Her Newborn Out of the Hospital Early. The Next Day Her Baby Was Taken Away.



Langwell had been having contractions for two days when she told her fiancé at 11:30 p.m. that it was time to head to Desert Regional Medical Center, which she'd chosen because it allowed rooming-in and she didn't want the baby to leave her side. Once there, she asked for an epidural, but by the time everything was in place for her to receive one, it was too late. She delivered the baby naturally at 2:34 a.m., and around noon was put in a room with two other new mothers and their babies, including one who Langwell says kept talking loudly on her cellphone.

Later that afternoon, Langwell decided to check out and go home. Langwell said the baby was breastfeeding well and was healthy, and she preferred to take her home early "AMA" (against medical advice) so they could all get some sleep. When she left, a member of the hospital's staff called and reported her to the county's child welfare agency.


"Desert Regional Medical Center takes very seriously its commitment to the health of mothers and infants in our care," Richard A. Ramhoff, the hospital's marketing director, told Cosmopolitan.com, after saying that the hospital could not comment specifically on Langwell's case. "As mandated by state law, the hospital calls the County of Riverside Department of Public Social Services hotline when staff believe the situation warrants a referral. This reporting is not done lightly. Our staff reviews the details of each situation individually before fulfilling our responsibility to refer a case to child protective services for further review."

Snowden film 'CitizenFour' wins top documentary award

Snowden film 'CitizenFour' wins top documentary award


Director Laura Poitras of the best feature award nominee 'Citizenfour' poses at the International Documentary Association's 2014 IDA Documentary Awards in Los Angeles December 5, 2014.Credit: Reuters/Danny Moloshok

(Reuters) - "CitizenFour," filmmaker Laura Poitras's documentary about National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, was given the top award for best feature by the International Documentary Association on Friday.

The IDA award for "CitizenFour" follows the film's best documentary win at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards this week. It was also nominated for an Independent Spirit Award last month and is among 15 films advancing in the Oscars best documentary race.

"CitizenFour" gives a fly-on-the-wall account of Snowden's tense days in a Hong Kong hotel and encounters with journalists as newspapers published details of NSA programs that gathered data from the Internet activities and phone records of millions of Americans and dozens of world leaders.

U.S. filmmaker Poitras shared a Pulitzer Prize this year for her role in publicizing the Snowden documents. She was awarded IDA's Courage Under Fire award last year for her "conspicuous bravery in the pursuit of truth."

Charter school won't open after lies discovered. Founder lied about credentials.

Recently Diane Ravitch, a former principal, a few education bloggers called attention to a new charter being opened although the founder had questionable credentials.

Yesterday the Democrat Chronicle announced that the school was not going to open.

Charter school won't open after lies discovered


Pic from Democrat Chronicle

Greater Works Charter School will no longer open in Rochester in 2015, part of the continuing fallout over lies in the resume of its 22-year-old founder.

Ted Morris Jr. represented himself to the New York State Education Department as a precocious businessman and educational advisor with bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees earned mostly online. In fact, he has no college degrees and scant professional experience.

He resigned Nov. 25, the day most of the misrepresentations came to light and just a week after the school gained approval from the state Board of Regents. At that point, both Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and Peter Kozik, who took over as the school's trustee chairman in Morris' wake, said the school would open as planned without him.

But a NYSED spokesman said Monday that the department had asked the board of trustees to rescind its application, and the trustees complied in a letter dated Nov. 29. They are also asking the Board of Regents to take back its approval.


And unfortunately this statement by Kozik can be applied broadly to other charter owners who are getting public money without oversight.

Kozik said he didn't think to question Morris' claims more closely until it was too late.


Educator/Writer Mercedes Schneider points out a strange statement from a spokesman for the NY state DOE.

Now, in a wonderful turn of events for the community of Rochester, NYSED asked the GWCS board to rescind its application, and the GWCS board did so. Therefore, to quote the now-former-GWCS board chair Peter Kozik, “Greater Works is done.”

However, here is a nugget regarding the NYSED charter approval process, one divulged by NYSED spokesperson Dennis Tompkins: “We don’t grant charters to individuals. We grant charters to boards based on the application.” (Emphasis added.)

NYSED apparently does not investigate the individuals behind the application. What is in the application is taken at face value.


He is saying they assume the application is true, and they do not investigate.
Posted by madfloridian | Wed Dec 3, 2014, 04:06 PM (9 replies)

Looks like Arne phasing out local control in modifying test-taking for Special Education.

This means that a decision could be made at a federal level to force all students, including those with special needs, to pass the same test....no matter what.

From Curmudgucation:

The philosophy is one we have discussed before. Arne Duncan is pretty sure that special ed programs are used to drag children down, and that with proper expectations, testing, grit socked in rigor, and teachers who don't suck, disabilities will simply have no effect on anybody. DC has been pushing it, and most recently Washington state has done the same. Florida was a pioneer, insisting that even students with little brain function and busy dying from disease should take the FCATs just like everyone else.


That's ridiculous view to take, but looks like it is happening.

Is US ED Tightening Noose on Sp Ed ?

It's a proposed rule change for Title I, and I can copy the entirety of it for you right here

The Secretary will amend the regulations governing title I, part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA), to phase out the authority of States to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards in order to satisfy ESEA accountability requirements. These amendments will permit, as a transitional measure, States that meet certain criteria to continue to administer alternate assessments based on modified academic achievement standards and include the results in accountability determinations, subject to limitations on the number of proficient scores that may be counted, for a limited period of time.


The idea has been around since last year.

Why do this? Why continue to make the insane assertion that students experience with no problems with disabilities except for the problems created by their teachers? Why take us down a road that can only end with cutting any kind of special education programs?

It can't be something as simple as a bizarrely over-inflated belief in the Power of Expectations. I believe in the Power of Expectations-- I have used it in my classroom for thirty-some years. There is no question that students do their best work when you expect they will because you believe they can. But these policy changes approach the level of cruelty involved in dumping a child out of a wheelchair and demanding that they run laps just like everyone else.

I'm afraid the explanation is more pedestrian. The reformster movement is all about standardization, about one size fits all, about stripping autonomy and maximizing cost control.


It's like living in a dream world where everyone is capable and able to meet the increasingly higher standards each year.

It's a set-up for failure and frustration.
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