Wednesday, January 23, 2008

[LCSD] Numb From The Shock

No one said running a school was easy:

In an interview after the meeting, Alexander said, “What we need to do is give the charter school more money so they can hire more office help. They're trying to do too much with too little of funds.”

Welcome to public education, jackass. Now let me find something shiny to distract you before you break anything else...

I wonder if Rick voted for Measure 5?

Hey... is Rick advocating spending more money on central support? It sure sounds like it to me!

Ooohhhh... here's a good one:

Alexander said the superintendent is presenting “hypothetical” concerns as being real problems.

Asked if any of the issues raised in the 95-page document presented to the board on Dec. 3 concerned him, Alexander said he had not yet read the entire presentation.

Uh, Rick? Just because you don't know about them doesn't make them hypothetical. It makes you irresponsible.

He's had, what, 50+ days to read 100 pages? I was reading that much every night for a bit there.... and the Sand Ridge report is much, much easier than Habermas, though they both made me want to cry.

Rick gets all blue-collar on us:

Robinson told PIE leaders that he does not believe they are maintaining written policies required by state and federal laws. Asked which ones, he said it was PIE's responsibility to know what laws they need to follow.

“It bothered me that statement was even made,” Alexander said. “PIE is the subcontractor to the district. Just like on a construction site, the contractor is liable for the subs. To stay out of trouble you want to make sure the subcontractors are aware of all of the rules.”

“It's not the same kind of contract,” Robinson said. “It's between two separate entities. I don't know why they would want us doing that. They've always wanted to stay at arm's length.”

I get that Mr. Alexander was (is?) in construction, so that's where he's going to draw his analogy. But his analogy bombs here: The implication he makes is clearly that the LCSD - the "contractor" - is responsible for the behavior of the charter school - the "subcontractor."

That might be true, to an extent. Certainly the LCSD is liable to suffer along with the PIE schools if the DoE comes down hard. But Rick also implies that following the law is not the responsibility of PIE, and I have a huge problem with that. Parents with children in PIE schools should too.

Alexander, incidentally, also spends a lot of time and energy keeping the LCSD away from PIE's records and internal processes - which, if Alexander is to be believed, the LCSD somehow doesn't need access to in order to ensure (remember, it's the LCSD's responsibility) that PIE is following the law.

He's trying to have his cake and eat it too: All the money, none of the responsibility and none of the blame.

I wouldn't want him working on my house. Let's leave it at that.

[MLK Jr.] Quotes From MLK

Found via Feministe.

I really liked #10.

[Higher Education] An Article From The Nation: "Repress U"

I would've gone with "Repression State" myself, but hey....

Free-speech zones. Taser guns. Hidden cameras. Data mining. A new security curriculum. Private security contractors. Welcome to the homeland security campus.

From Harvard to UCLA, the ivory tower is fast becoming the latest watchtower in Fortress America. The terror warriors, having turned their attention to "violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism prevention"--as it was recently dubbed in a House of Representatives bill of the same name--have set out to reconquer that traditional hotbed of radicalization, the university.

Building a homeland security campus and bringing the university to heel is a seven-step mission:

1. Target dissidents. As the warfare state has triggered dissent, the campus has attracted increasing scrutiny--with student protesters in the cross hairs. The government's number-one target? Peace and justice organizations.


2. Lock and load. Many campus police departments are morphing into heavily armed garrisons, equipped with a wide array of weaponry, from Taser stun guns and pepper guns to shotguns and semiautomatic rifles.


3. Keep an eye (or hundreds of them) focused on campus. Surveillance has become a boom industry nationally--one that now reaches deep into the heart of campuses.


4. Mine student records. Student records have in recent years been opened up to all manner of data mining for purposes of investigation, recruitment or just all-purpose tracking.

And so on.... click the link for the whole article; I've omitted a fairly large amount.

One of the things that makes this possible is the corporatization of the university structure. Fight that, and it becomes harder to make, say, Oregon State into Police State.

If I were faculty, I'd be fighting a lot of this under the purview of academic freedom and/or working conditions - how is free inquiry supposed to happen in such an environment?

Hint: It's not. A large part of this is really about reining in anything remotely resembling free inquiry. It has little, if anything, to do with terrorism, and a lot to do with ideology.

[Hate] Sometimes I think I See the World A Little Differently...

For example, this letter, as published in the Lebanon Express:

To the editor:

We as a nation are allowing the far left liberals and media newspapers to destroy our nation from within. History has shown that the allowance of bilingual, multilingual and biculture societies cannot survive the conflict and antagonism of two or more competing languages or cultures.

The push today in our country is for multiculturalism with the idea of immigrants to maintain their culture and celebrate diversity instead of unity. We have stood by while these ideas are taking root.

We are allowing the promotion of dual citizenship, the lack of enforcement of our federal laws, the abuse of our health and welfare system and then allow the illegals to try to dictate what we should do for them.

I'm asking why do we allow this? Why do we have to push one for English? English should be the language of our nation, period. What people speak in their home is their business.

The illegals have no rights to demand anything from us. Secure the borders first then fine every employer who hires any illegals. Have states enforce the federal laws we have on this issue, then if our legislators in power now won't enforce the laws we can vote them out of office.

I think it's time for the American people to take control of our country. God bless America.

Clyde Buckner


This is what I read:

To the editor:

Hate hate hate hate hate hate hate liberals hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate leftists hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate.

Hate hate hate hate anything not like me hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate media hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate newspapers hate hate hate.

Hate hate hate diversity hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate.

Hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate foreign languages hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate people of color hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate god-talk.

Hater McHaterson


See what I mean? I know I'm angry and all, but still. Someone needs to take a breather. That much hating in such a short time can be exhausting.

Oh, and someone from Lebanon needs to publicly repudiate those statements. I'm sure Lebanon doesn't want to be known as a haven for white supremacists, does it?

Monday, January 21, 2008

[Maternity Leave] High School Students in Denver Petition for Four Weeks

Via Feministing's Weekly Feminist Reader, this story out of Denver:

Pregnant students in a Denver high school are asking for at least four weeks of maternity leave so they can heal, bond with their newborns and not be penalized with unexcused absences.

That is amazing. And smart.

HS counselors gets at the reason:

Two counselors from East High School approached the school board last month, saying the policy at their school is unfair and inconsiderate because it forces new moms to return to school the day after being discharged from the hospital or face being charged with unexcused absences.

"My initial reaction is if we are punishing girls like that, that is unacceptable," said Nicole Head, one of the counselors who brought the matter to the school board last month. "We've got to do something."

I wonder this is handled in Lebanon? I know there is available day-care (though how available it is I'm not clear on), but I would imagine that the unexcused absence problem (and lack of formal policy) do create the occasional headache.

Turns out having a child while still in HS has an adverse effect on future education:

Teen mothers face a challenging future, with many dropping out. A third of teen moms receive their high-school diplomas and 1.5 percent get college degrees before they turn 30, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

It sounds like the women in Colorado have a lot of support from counselors and school board members. Good.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

[Oregon Politics] State Representative Andy Olson Lays a Stinker

[Note: I am too lazy to format this properly.]

I almost thought this was written by Hasso, it's so far from honest.

Anyway, State Rep. Andy Olson, a Republican, had a column in the DH about the most recent legislative session. He painted it as something of a disaster for Oregonians, but I have issues with his use of language.

Away we go. Olson:

The Oregon Legislature was given a 20 percent increase in revenue last year due to the hard work of Oregonians making our economy strong. That’s $2.4 billion more than state government was expecting. Unfortunately, $2.4 billion was not enough. The majority in the legislature still voted to raise your taxes and fees by over $620 million.

He doesn't say if that's before or after the kicker takes effect. If it's after, then a 20% increase is meaningless. And there's no reason to come down on the increased taxes and fees without knowing what they are unless you are so simpleminded as to think any tax or fee increase, anywhere, is always a bad thing.

Yes, I know that's practically the mantra of the Republican Party, but I would hope that Oregon Repubs would know better.

Olson again:

Even worse, the legislature added $923 million to the backs of Oregon taxpayers in new state debt.

Personally, I don’t like debt, especially when it’s saddled on future generations of Oregonians. The wise and more responsible thing to do is to pay as you go and not use the credit card.

I.... agree with this, at least in principle. I know many economists think that it's a good idea to have a mild debt load, but I disagree.

Moving on:

The legislature also increased the size of state government. There were 1,178 new state employees added to the state payroll.

So? What if these "new" jobs are simply making up for previous cuts due to budget shortfalls? What if they are, say, state cops? This is another example of Olson relying on a simplistic measurement (State government bad! Must shrink! Services? Who needs services?!) to obscure the truth - which is, no matter what the content, going to be more complex and nuanced than Olson suggests.

More Olson:

Just within the last few months, Gov. Kulongoski gave $12 million in pay raises to his political appointees and $20 million in pay raises to smooth sour relations with union employees.

Uh, Andy? A couple of things...

1. The pay increases probably came in one bill, and if that bill passed recently, then you've got no business implying that there were other pay raises ("within the last few months").

2. The dollar amounts are big numbers, but without context - like how long it's been since state employees got pay raises, or how big of a percentage each employee got, or how the raises were distributed, or how many years this set of raises is supposed to account for in the future... you get the idea. Olson is relying on the size of the number and the context to scare people, which, while being standard procedure for Republicans, is shitty politics.

3. Unions? Is this some sort of code word? Am I supposed to see how evil Ted K. is because he doesn't hate unions? Do I even trust Olson at this point enough to believe him about the reason Ted K. gave the raises? No.

4. Notice how state employees are either "unions" or "political appointees"? I wonder if those categories are exhaustive, i.e. they cover all state employees, or if there is another category that also got raises that Olson doesn't care to mention.


Sen. Frank Morse introduced SB 1039 to increase oversight of state agencies. The bill passed the House and Senate but was vetoed by Gov. Kulongoski.

Republicans introduced another bill, HB 2550, to hire a legislative auditor to measure the performance of state government. Democrats killed this bill on a party line vote.

Why were these bills killed? What were the contents that made them objectionable? Again, Olson is relying on the idea that anything the Dem Reps or the Dem Governor do must be a bad thing because the people doing it are Democrats, not because the move itself was bad.

More Olson:

Despite record spending, the Legislature failed to fund several important priorities. Nearly seven out of 10 Oregonians want to see additional state police on the road. That’s why I sponsored HB 3535, which would have provided 24/7 Oregon State Police coverage without raising your taxes.

Despite bipartisan support, Democrat leadership kept this legislation locked up in committee.

Is it possible that the Dems passed a different bill relating to state police? Reading Olson, we'd never find out.


Democrats also stripped general fund dollars from Oregon Project Independence, which allows seniors to receive care in their own homes.

But did they fund it another way? The wording of the sentence - picking out general fund dollars as opposed to saying "decreased funding" - suggests that's the case. Bad Andy.

Yet More Olson:

They also shut down and de-funded the bipartisan “Big Look” Committee that worked to update our antiquated land use laws.

Why? Maybe there was a good reason to do so. Maybe they replaced them with something else. Or maybe Olson's right to condemn the Dems for doing this - but we'd never know because he doesn't tell the whole truth on anything else, so we have no reason to believe him here.

OK this is the last Olson:

Thanks to uncontrolled spending, reckless borrowing and misplaced priorities, 2007 was a year Oregonians would rather forget. Better days are yet to come.

Nice. Close with a statement designed to look like truth but built on a few hundred words of lies, so say nothing of the fact that 2007 was hard for Oregon Republicans because Oregon Dems were very successful.

I think this piece by Olson is a carefully-written piece of propaganda, probably actually authored by an aide or at least a team of folks that included Olson. The wording is very precise, designed to get straight at Olson's perceived base of support by appealing to conservative hot topics. It's also an insult to honesty.

Commenter Barefoot gets at something interesting:

When this paper accepts a purely partisan piece such as this, regardless of the party, I would like to see the counterpart from another similarly ranked elected official (in this case, a Democrat state representative) run simultaneously.

I call this concept "Equal Time".

Equal Time is no longer a legal requirement as far as I know (thanks to Ronald Reagan), but it should be - or it should be replaced by something better.


[Higher Education] US Education Funding Bill Contains Crappy Copyright Clause

Found at Slashdot, but the main points are covered best at EFF:

Last November, we reported on H.R. 4137, the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007, which includes misguided anti-piracy requirements for universities. For the most part, the massive, nearly 800-page bill refreshes existing legislation about federal financial aid. But the bill also includes a section with a title that sounds as if it were dreamt up by an entertainment industry lobbyist: "Campus-based Digital Theft Prevention." Specifically, the bill says:

Each eligible institution participating in any program under this title shall to the extent practicable—


(2) develop a plan for offering alternatives to illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property as well as a plan to explore technology-based deterrents to prevent such illegal activity.
To those unfamiliar with this particular sort of DC double-speak, "alternatives to illegal downloading" means industry-sanctioned download services; and existing "technology-based deterrents" means network filters and other tools.

These congressional requirements will turn out to be expensive dead-ends -- the industry-sanctioned online music services are laden with DRM, and network detection/filtering programs present privacy risks and are inevitably rendered obsolete by technological countermeasures.

Advocates of the bill stress that the language stops short of demanding implementation -- that it only requires universities to "plan" -- but this argument misses the point entirely. The passage of this bill will unambiguously lead universities down the wrong path. For the sake of artists, administrators, students, and consumers better approaches exist.

The bill also would hang an unspoken threat over the heads of university administrators. In response to concerns that potential penalties for universities could include a loss of federal student aid funding, the MPAA's top lawyer in Washington said that federal funds should be at risk when copyright infringement happens on campus networks. Moreover, earlier versions of "Campus-based Digital Theft Prevention" proposals nakedly sought to make schools that received numerous copyright infringement notices subject to review by the US Secretary of Education.

This is bad.

The cynic in me thinks that passage of this (and the subsequent trend of universities coming down hard on 'piracy') would actually get students to pay attention and collectively raise their voice in protest.


Nah, never mind. There might be a few, but students who enter college under such conditions would just accept it as the status quo.

One last note, from a link found at the EFF story:

"When the government is subsidizing universities...and it discovers that those universities are spending a lot of taxpayers' money to build digital networks that are being used primarily to allow college students to traffic in infringing content, I think it's perfectly legitimate for Congress to say, wait a minute, if we're giving you money, we don't want it to be used to help college kids infringe copyright," [MPAA Washington General Counsel Fritz] Attaway said during a panel discussion here Monday that was organized by the Federal Communications Bar Association.

I'm going to treat his statement with a seriousness it really doesn't deserve and suggest that he gets it wrong when he says university networks are "primarily" for illegal file-sharing. Remove that clause, and you're left with policing departmental email for folks who want to sell used toasters.

[Hering] Please Don't Let Him Near Public Policy

Lest you think I've stopped venting in regards to DH Editor Hasso Hering's editorials, entirely, I'm here to inform you I'm not quite done yet.

Hering on inflation:

Indexing for inflation is what government likes to do because it wants the money and has the power to collect it.

This amazes me. Again, I am confronted with the now-familiar conundrum: Is Hering simply incredibly ignorant of inflation and indexing, or does he have a problem with honesty?

Commenter JDR, with the first comment, gets right down to business:

Hasso, don't you understand the concept of "buying power"? Indexing is not an increase, it's a way for those on the lowest rung, to just stay even. Inflation is more money chasing less goods. Wages, and taxes don't buy as much as before. Another way to put it is that inflation effectively transfers wealth from those with cash to those with property. That is, from the public, and the poor to the private sector.

Inflation is caused by bad public policy, I'm sure we can agree on that, but don't try to fool us about who it's real victims are.

The last sentence of the editorial:

But raising [the fuel tax] should require a decision. It should never be an automatic step. (hh)

This is almost a persuasive argument. I might agree if there was no way to, you know, go back and see if inflation indexing is still a good idea. But seeing as how it's perfectly feasible to cancel existing legislation (and not doing so constitutes a decision), there's no compelling reason not to.

[Whiteside Theatre] An Interesting Comment From a Regal Tool

I'm a little behind on blogging, so this story isn't exactly new, but I wanted to highlight something.

The background: A local group is trying to put together a bid to buy the Whiteside Theatre in Corvallis with the intent to remake into "performance space."

I have no issues with that, though I trust Darkside owner Paul Turner's word that it's going to be a very expensive operation.

I do have issues with this:

The sale would include a restriction against showing any first-run movies to avoid competition with Regal’s four-screen cineplex across town.

“The intent is to not allow the downtown theater to play the same movies that are playing at the Ninth Street theater,” Nunley said.

I call bullshit, but at least Nunley is upfront about it.

I know Regal and Carmike have an agreement that stipulates that they won't both show the same movie in Corvallis, and I think that's bad enough (actually, I think it's pretty frackin' horrible since it has allowed Regal to let their theatre turn into a giant dump). For Regal to want a similar noncompete clause as part of any sale is insulting and undemocratic... and I'm not much of a supporter of the market or private property rights, but this undercuts both. It's monopolistic and infringes on the right of the new owner of the Whiteside to do what they will with the building.

I wonder if this sort of thing has been held up as legal in a court of law?

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