Yesterday was the last day of school for public school students in Montgomery County, Maryland, where we live — including our nine-year-old son, who just completed the third grade. I began the morning by sending a one last email to his teacher. I asked her about the summer reading and math packets we were expecting our son to bring. I also thanked her for all the work she'd done to help our son this year.
As I thought about how much our son has grown and improved over the past year, and how very much the dedicated teachers and staff at his school had to do with those changes, I couldn't help being mystified at Mitt Romney's assertion that our children need fewer teachers. Mystified, that is, but not surprised.
As I read more about the student movement in Quebec, known as the "Maple Spring" or the "Casserole Revolution," it brings to mind the final scene from Possessing the Secret of Joy, by one of my favorite authors, Alice Walker. In that scene, the main character — Tashi, a minor character from The Color Purple — discovers a truth. From Wall Street to Wisconsin, and Cairo to Quebec, people the world over are realizing that same truth every day.
Today, that truth is echoed in the chants, protests and placards of protesters in the streets of Montreal. It's the same truth Walker spelled out in huge block letters near the end of her novel: RESISTANCE IS THE SECRET OF JOY.
That's one of six lessons of Quebec's "Maple Spring."
slate.com — On a morning visit to a Northern California middle school, I saw not a single student. The principal showed me around campus, but I didn’t see or hear students talking, playing, or moving about. The science lab was empty, as were the library and the playground. It was not a school holiday: It was a state-mandated STAR testing day. The school was in an academic lockdown. A volunteer manned a table filled with cupcakes, a small reward for students at day’s end. This is what the American public school looks like in 2012, driven by obsessive adherence to standardized testing. The fate of children, their schools, and their teachers are based on these school test scores.
washingtonpost.com — When it comes to consumer debt, Americans are slowly but surely starting to dig themselves out of the hole of the recent downturn. Severely delinquent mortgages, credit card bills, and car loans have all been in decline over the last two years, according to the New York Federal Reserve. But Americans have had significantly more trouble paying back one particular kind of loan. “Student loan debt continues to grow even as consumers reduce mortgage debt and credit card balances,” Donghoon Lee, senior economist at the New York Fed, said in a statement. “It remains the only form of consumer debt to substantially increase since the peak of household debt in late 2008.” Why are Americans having more trouble paying off student loans, as compared to other kinds of debt?
In this week's round in the nation's presidential contest, education got tossed into the ring and slapped around by the opposing candidates and their spokespeople. Who won the round is anyone's guess, but poor education got mauled in the process and tossed into the spit bucket. more »
Senate Republicans today filibustered the effort to prevent federal student loan rates from doubling, once again obstructing the majority and putting the finances of millions of college students at risk for the sake of protecting the leather wallets of the 1 percent.
As the Senate prepares to vote Tuesday on legislation that will stop a scheduled doubling of the rate on Stafford student loans on July 1, conservatives are engaged in a shameless (and shameful) effort to detail the effort. more »
washingtonpost.com — Student loans set off the latest Washington spitball fight. The House Republican budget called for letting interest rates double on government-subsidized student loans (and for deep cuts in Pell Grants and other student support). Students who borrow the maximum in subsidized loans would end up paying as much as $1,000 a year in added interest. Last week, President Obama sensibly called for extending the lower rate and starting stumping through colleges and talk shows to enlist students in the cause. The standoff allows for what has now become the routine exchange of insults, slurs and posturing before a deal is worked out at the last possible moment. Ignored in this is the stark reality that even with the lower rates, more and more students can’t afford the college education or advanced training that everyone except for Rick Santorum believes they need.