Friday, March 26, 2010

Health care analysis

I'll update this post from time to time with the best analyses I can find on the health care plan recently passed. I opposed the bill, but from the left, believing that we need to cut out the insurance companies from health care with a single-payer system.

Press release from the Physicians for a National Health Program

Monday, March 08, 2010

Stand up to Obama's No Child Left Behind

Obama and his Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, told us they would change the name of No Child Left Behind. Well, now we have it - Race to the Top. Unfortunately, we're now seeing that Race to the Top is an extension of NCLB. Using the punitive measures of the Bush era law, Race to the Top doles out money to states and districts that are willing to privatize and open up to charter schools. Meanwhile, it further demands that the "failing" schools of NCLB, mostly in cities meeting the needs of our poorest students, be punished. The recent Rhode Island firing of teachers is the model: blame the teachers and their union.

Sadly, our union here in Bloomington, Illinois approved District 87's application for Race to the Top funds. In assigning blame for this blunder, I have to say that it sits squarely with the national union leaderships, both of the AFT and NEA in failing to lead on this issue from the top. The NEA in particular seems unwilling to criticize Obama and his education policy. The NEA leadership contents itself with decontextualized criticisms of teacher merit pay based on test scores, failing to point out that Obama's Race to the Top seeks to implement such merit schemes. Without leadership from the national unions, teachers outside of the urban districts will fail to recognize how inner city schools are being unjustly attacked by NCLB. More than ever, these schools need our solidarity.

For information background on NCLB, watch Diane Ravitch on Democracy Now, embedded below in this same post. For an article on the Rhode Island situation, which includes info on their capitulation, see the article on Susan Ohanian's website.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Rebuilding the anti-war movement

Renegades for Peace, a student group at Illinois Wesleyan, and the Bloomington-Normal Citizens for Peace and Justice (BNCPJ) hosted a panel forum on different perspectives against the current wars and occupations. The event was a huge success, bringing at least 30 people to discuss their opposition to the Afghanistan war, including a contingent from Peoria. The discussion was particularly interesting in that the participants were from both the left and right, all who converged on their opposition to American military interventions.

Prior to the event we had our monthly picketing against the wars and occupations. BNCPJ converges every first Thursday of the month at 5:30 pm, in front of the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, downtown on Main Street.