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Tag: North Carolina

Public School Teaching Crisis

Teaching ate me alive – Salon.com

Wrong profession? Lost perspective? Just another whiny, self-absorbed wool-gatherer? Guilty as charged. Hey, I’m a card-carrying, fellow-traveling union member! But I do have one suggestion for civilians. As a public school teacher, I considered myself a public servant, like cops, firemen, food service workers and other “heroes” who are willing to do difficult, thankless, vital jobs for very little pay and not much more than the scorn of their fellow citizens. Thus, the door of my classroom was always open to parents, administrators, politicians, journalists and passers-by. But I waited in vain for company, for visitors were scarce. All the jibber jabber about public education these days seems to be based solely on idle speculation, memories of a Golden Age and the bilge that the LA Times publishes in lieu of objective journalism. So please stop by a classroom sometime. You might be surprised. And you’re paying for it.

Teaching ate me alive – Salon.com

The teaching profession is an endangered species. A learned and difficult profession is under attack with the apparent intent of reducing its pay to something akin to a hamburger flipper. The ideas of the “reformers” seem to consist not of putting money into public schools but removing teacher  protections. Teachers are now portrayed in popular movies and “reformer” financed documentaries as evil or incompetent obstacles to educational success. Teaching is an institution laboring under the ridiculous burden of No Child Left Behind, a barrage of often bizarre state mandated rules and governed by administrators who at times seem to be focused on driving out every vestige of independence and enthusiasm. We destroy the teaching profession at our peril. It is an institution that has served this country well.

Make no mistake. The public school teaching crisis will have real casualties not just among the faculty. Without teacher opposition, school boards will have much more power to create rules and policies without interference.* They are the main line of defense against the threat of privatization, a pet project of a good number of billionaires and largely a failure at improving test scores.** But the simplest and clearest danger is that many teachers will leave the profession. After all, in a nation that believes “you get what you pay for,” many have decided teaching is worth but little.

James Pilant

*Don’t take my word that school boards do strange things. Run  a simple search, school board controversy, and then have fun wading through the entries.


**     http://www.shankerinstitute.org/publications/charterreview/

Policy Brief: The Evidence on Charter Schools and Test Scores

North Carolina Sold to Wealthy Conservative Activist? Could your state be next?

“State for Sale” reads the lead story on the Huffington Post this morning. It’s a very sad story –  how one man freed by the Citizen’s United Supreme Court to spend as much as he wants can essentially buy a state legislature.

That state legislature has now redistricted to favor conservative candidates and passed voter id laws to restrict the poor, college students and minorities from voting.

Is your state next? Of course, it is. All you need is one of the country’s wealthy “elite” and a little political ambition. Most state campaigns are only a few thousand dollars. Spend two or three times that much and the legislature will fall into your lap like a ripe apple.

What will the new legislature do? Cut university funding and repeal taxes? You bet!

This is the brave new world of Citizens United. Aren’t you glad you’ve lived to see the day when corporate personhood become the law of the land? It arms every wealthy conservative activist with the tool for victory – the power to use as much money as he wants.

James Pilant

A conservative multimillionaire has taken control in North Carolina, one of 2012’s top battleground

Even some North Carolinians associated with Jesse Helms think that Pope has gone too far. Jim Goodmon, the president and C.E.O. of Capitol Broadcasting Company, which owns the CBS and Fox television affiliates in Raleigh, says, “I was a Republican, but I’m embarrassed to be one in North Carolina because of Art Pope.” Goodmon’s grandfather A. J. Fletcher was among Helms’s biggest backers, having launched him as a radio and television commentator. Goodmon describes Pope’s forces as “anti-community,” adding, “The way they’ve come to power is to say that government is bad. Their only answer is to cut taxes.” Goodmon believes that Pope’s agenda is not even good for business, because the education cuts he’s helped bring about will undermine the workforce. “If you want to create good jobs, you need good schools,” he says. “We’re close to the bottom out of the fifty states in education spending, and if they could take it down further they would.” He says of Pope, “It’s never about making things better. It’s all about tearing the other side down.”

The article is written by Jane Mayer.

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/10/10/111010fa_fact_mayer#ixzz1ZjeqYjyI

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Worries Over Two Nuclear Plants (via )

The Fukushima 1 NPP

Image via Wikipedia

I think there is definitely some grounds for concern. If you buy the idea that corporations are only in business to make money and have no other responsibilities, the idea that they might skimp on protections becomes very viable.

Nuclear plants are indemnified by the federal government if they cause more than a certain amount of damage. Off the top of my head, I believe that amount is fifty million dollars. That’s not a lot of incentive to protect the public. For many corporations, fifty million dollars is small change.

TEPCO, the Japanese utility that runs the nuclear plants that have melted down would have loved to have a deal like the American government gives out to our nuclear utilities.

It should be obvious that indemnification destroys a lot of corporate rationale for safety. If the money damages aren’t that big a deal, why not cut corners?

James Pilant

Worries Over Two Nuclear Plants As record floodwaters along the Missouri River drench homes and businesses, concerns have grown about keeping a couple of notable structures dry: two riverside nuclear power plants in Nebraska. Though the plants have declared “unusual events,” the lowest level in the emergency taxonomy used by federal nuclear regulators, both were designed to withstand this level of flooding, and neither is viewed as being at risk for a disaster, said a spokesman … Read More


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Pastor Calls 911 To Remove People From Church

From the Salisbury Post –  (These events appear to have occurred in or around Salisbury, North Carolina.)

The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call from the Rev. Corey Barr at Mount Zion Baptist Church, Boyden Quarters, 1765 White Road, Sunday around 1 p.m.

Barr told dispatchers several people needed to be removed from a meeting/service in the sanctuary, and that “non-members (were) there disrupting a religious service,” the dispatcher’s report stated.

When two deputies arrived, they found about 100 people in the sanctuary divided into groups, shouting at each other, but no physical fighting.

Barr requested officers to remove about 20 people from the service who he said were not members of the church, the report said. The report said deputies were told the church was in a battle over by-laws and other issues.

The report said the associate pastor and two church elders told the officers not to remove anyone, and that Barr was wrong.

Barr has not returned calls from the Post.

According to the report, the meeting appeared to be out of hand, with no order or control by church administrators. Several people were videotaping the incident, it appeared.

A third deputy arrived, and the deputies “kindly advised” leaders of both parties it would be a good idea to dismiss the meeting before it became “more violent than it was,” the report said.

The meeting was dismissed and the last deputy left the scene at 2:12 p.m.

This was the second time the sheriff’s office has had to respond to the church following a 911 call from Barr.  (Read More)

I want you to go read the article in full. If you read the rest you will find out what happened after the last 911 call, the story of who has been hiring deputies. And there are some other interesting details.

What are the business ethics here?

We could debate whether or not a church is a business. We could also argue over whether or not the Sheriff’s department could be considered a business. This is a grey area between the public and the private.

However, when you read the article you will discover that Pastor Barr has been hiring deputies at $20 an hour and deploying them in church. This moves at least part of the Sheriff’s department into the “for profit” zone.

Generally speaking, it is not common for churches to hire armed deputies but certainly there are circumstances that would merit such an action. However, church meetings have never to my knowledge required armed supervision.

Were you aware that the fictional town of Mayberry, the setting for the Andy Griffith Show, is south of this area. This would have made a good episode.

I hope everything works out for the church and parishoners.

James Pilant

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