I’m not in fact skiing today with the rest of the famille Historiann, as I have too much work to catch up on. Here are a few ideas and miscellaneous items to keep you warm on this cold and snowy weekend:
- Today in slactivism: Reader and commenter Susan passed this along–all you have to do is click on the slide show to enable a donation to help the education of girls in Pakistan.
- Speaking of education: how about some support for the education of girls and boys in the United States? When I read stories like this b!tching about the low 4-year graduation rates at universities in my state, and at the same time the high rate of remediation our high school graduates require, why doesn’t anyone point out that hack politicians and businessmen have made war on K-16+ education for years, attacking public education at all levels in particular as wasteful and ideologically suspect, and in general doing their best to withdraw public sympathy and taxpayer support for any kind of education? At the same time, they’ve also conspired to pass laws that offer incentives to corporations for taking their money and their jobs offshore to chase the cheapest labor around the planet. Now, all of a sudden, they’ve seized on the idea that College for Everyone is the way to save the U.S. economy–because the factory and manufacturing jobs are gone and because construction is in the toilet, everyone needs to be a knowledge worker now. So whose responsibility is it to turn everyone into knowledge workers? The K-16+ teachers and proffies, of course, who need to be tested, monitored, and surveilled at every turn to prove that what they’re doing works. They also must take on the burden of saving the U.S. economy without any more resources, because as “we” all know, “you can’t just throw money at the problem!” No, money solves all manner of business problems, but it can never, ever be used to solve problems with education.
- This is the moral equivalent of firebombing the Fire Department, complaining that their response time in putting out the fire was unacceptably slow, and using that as evidence to de-fund and finally privatize the whole operation. Dr. Crazy had a great rant about this last week–check it out if you missed it.
- On money as a problem-solver: this argument about “throwing money at the problem” has never made sense to me. Money sure played a big part in solving my problem of not having a college education. Money sure was useful in solving my shelter problem when I used it to rent various apartments and then to buy houses with it. Money was really Johnny-on-the-spot when I needed a new furnace, a new kitchen, or a new car. Money is really useful in solving mundane problems too, like cold, hunger, and thirst, and putting gasoline in my car. Maybe some would say that I just “threw money” at those problems–but I think most Americans understand the value of money in making a comfortable and productive life for oneself. The wise use of money makes it a very powerful problem-solving tool–but somehow we in the U.S. have collectively come to believe that it will never solve the problems in our K-16+ education system.
- I keep hearing in the news that Whitney Houston “passed away” yesterday. Since when did this tacky euphemism for death (or its even dumber cousin, “passed,”) become respectable in contemporary news coverage? Ugh. Double ugh when it’s used to describe the death of someone so relatively young but drawn to trouble. (This is a usage that’s unfortunately become more popular in the past 15 years or so–using the term “passed away” to paper over the violent death of a young person. But I don’t like “passed away” or “passed” in any usage whatsoever–it seems to spring from a misguided attempt to avoid saying the words “death” or “died,” and a conviction that it’s somehow impolite to state the obvious in plain language.)