Free markets and college football. Deeply embedded into the sociocultural fabric of American life, these two time-honored traditions are incompatible. Why is scandalous headline after scandalous headline born from the act of receiving compensation for working hard, an act that is laudable in every other profession? The answer lies in one dogmatic, pious, hypocritical, bloated bureaucracy of a governing body: the National Collegiate Athletic Association. However, with targeted new policies, the NCAA and member schools can enjoy the best of both worlds.
An Environment of Inequity
The collegiate athletic system desperately demands reform. Young men and women are putting in 50-hour workweeks, on top of classes, and all they have to show for it is NCAA President Mark Emmert’s $1.7 million dollar salary. To put it bluntly, the NCAA’s revenues and operating budget thrive off the exploitation and suppression of “student-athletes” with nowhere else to turn for a playing field. Read more
If you read at an average pace, it will take you four minutes to finish this column. By the time you’re done, approximately nine U.S. students will have dropped out of high school. That’s 1.2 million dropouts a year—dropouts who are qualified for only 10 percent of new jobs, are eight times more likely to be incarcerated and are 50 percent less likely to vote. When Texas projects how many prisons it will need 10 years from today, one of the data points it considers is the percentage of literate Texas fourth graders. The correlation is strong—six out of 10 American prison inmates are illiterate.
America’s educational problems permeate all aspects of our society—from economic growth to crime to national security. And that’s not a new, tantalizingly fresh concept I’ve just written. In preparing to write this column, I found so many websites with educational crisis statistics that my Google Chrome froze from an overload of tabs. Read more
Popular topics for political discussions all revolve the question of choice. People are happier when given more options in their decision making but laws still have to be set in order to prevent people from harming each other. The price, however, of living in a nation that allows the beliefs of different cultures and religions to exist is that we often have clashes over what we believe is best and lawful for our citizens. Recently, my home state of Texas signed into law a bill that prevents a woman from having an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Whenever I was asked the question whether I approve of that law my only response was “I don’t know.” Unfortunately, my response when it comes to whether abortion should be legal or not is still being formed. Read more
Michael Stinnett - 9/03/2013: Legal rulings such as Citizens United and lax campaign financing laws have undermined the democratic process allowing wealthy donors to buy elections; so-called Super PACs are a pernicious influence on society and should be abolished. A Super PAC, or independent expenditure-only committee, “may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, then spend unlimited sums to overtly advocate for or against political candidates. Super PACs must, however, report their donors to the Federal Election Commission on a monthly or quarterly basis – the Super PAC's choice – as a traditional PAC would. Unlike traditional PACs, Super PACs are prohibited from donating money directly to political candidates” (Super PACs). The recent ruling protects political spending by corporations in candidate elections, citing the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech. In justifying the ruling, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote that “'If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech'” (The New York Times). Read more
It seems puzzling that Harvard University would grant tenure, let alone appoint someone to be the chairman of its economics department, who fundamentally doesn't believe in economics. But there it is, all spelled out in a much talked about new paper, "Defending the One Percent," by Harvard economics professor and former Mitt Romney advisor, N. Gregory Mankiw, in the June issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives.
After summarily dispensing with the arguments offered by those on "the left" for greater income equality, specifically those of Joseph Stiglitz who condemns today's yawning wage gap as not only unjust and obscene but economically inefficient as well, Mankiw concludes his 25-page apologia for the bulging portfolios of today's plutocrats by asserting that taxing the wealthy to support socially useful purposes is just plain "wrong." Read more
Admittedly, I’ve slowed down on my consumption of news since I was hired to direct a nonprofit in January. At first, I tried to keep up with current affairs, pretending I had as much energy for it as I did when I was underemployed. But my patience and energy are waning. I feel a growing disgust with the new sequester drama, and it wearies me to watch it. If I don’t do my job, I get sanctioned or dismissed. When Congress doesn’t do its job, it gets a nice paycheck and ample vacation time. That is bullshit! I stopped watching.
A diversion! I needed a diversion from the real House of Representatives, and so I feverishly picked off the episodes of the fictitious one on Netflix’s superb series “House of Cards.” Give me Francis Underwood’s felonious antics over Rep. Boehner’s embarrassing fumbles any day. The writers of this series prove that sometimes real life doesn’t hold a candle to fantasy. Read more
Children even in poverty-stricken areas go to bed at night dreaming about what they want to be. They dream of being firefighters, police officers, doctors, presidents and even super heroes. The hunger and poverty they have known all their short lives cannot stop them from having those dreams. It is when they grow a bit older and see the reality of their situation through the eyes of the adults in their lives, that they begin to accept the limitations that are put upon them, because of their poverty.
In America, part of our infrastructure is our schools. As a nation, we have always held that education is important to us. We know that a good education is what will give our young people a chance to compete and a chance at success they would not have otherwise. We as parents want our children to have opportunities that we did not have ourselves; this has been a tradition for a long time in America. Wisdom tells us that our children are the future. Read more
How sad -- and suicidal - that conservatives have decided to declare open warfare on public education.
In a previous life, I played a minor role as speechwriter and special assistant to our state's Secretary of Education during the development and public roll out of the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993.
This landmark law, and many like it, passed during what was known as the "second wave" of education reform that came ashore in the wake of the wake-up call about America's failing public schools that was sounded by the Reagan-era report of the National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983's A Nation at Risk. Read more
And now for something completely different.
Except that it isn’t really. I say that it isn’t really different because, although this post will seem to be about politics, in reality it will be about a common topic on this blog: Anti-science. And where is this anti-science? Sadly, it’s in the platform of a major party of one of the largest states in the country. It also meshes with the anti-science inherent in a lot of so-called “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) and all comes together in one place: The proposed 2012 Platform of the Republican Party of Texas. It’s all there, as you will see. Read more
Back in December, 2010 a Gallup Poll revealed that approximately 40% of Americans believe that god created man exactly as we are now about 10,000 years ago. Literally. Not as a fable. Not as allegory. Literally.
Another 38% accept that man evolved from lower organisms but that god guided the process.
Only 16% accepted evolution as having occurred without divine intervention - an increase from 9% in a previous poll. The rest had no opinion.
The belief in "creationism" is strongly tied to educational levels. Among those with college degrees (!) The level of creationist belief fell to a mere 37% while those holding unabashed secular evolution beliefs rose to 21%. Read more
Volunteering for a voter’s registration drive this past weekend, I grabbed a handful of forms and a clipboard from the coordinator, believing it would be easy to get people to sign up, or confirm they already had. Wandering around the local mall, asking passersby if they were registered, I was surprised and occasionally appalled at the reactions. Voters’ apathy is something statistics document, but hearing people’s reasons for not wanting to register revealed why: a sense of personal powerlessness.
More than anything else, I now believe, breaking down eligible voter apathy is the cure for what ails our national, state and local politics. We must find a way to convince the legions of potential voters their voice counts...and their input is greatly needed. Read more
Both Andrew Sullivan and Kevin Drum are wrong, but I think Drum is infuriatingly wrong.
They’re arguing over a statistic, the observation that about 46% of Americans believe the earth is 6000 years old and that a god created human beings complete and perfect as they are ex nihilo. Andrew Sullivan sees this as a consequence of the divisiveness of American politics, that they’re using it as a signifier for red vs. blue. Read more
If there’s one thing shared in common among nearly all advocates of pseudoscience, it is the belief that they know The Truth. More importantly, they know The Truth, and The Powers That Be don’t want you to know The Truth and will do almost anything to makes sure that The Truth stays secret. Think about it. This sort of thinking is common, be it among advocates of alternative medicine, cold fusion advocates, HIV/AIDS denialists, 9/11 “Truthers,” birthers, creationists, moon hoax believers, or Holocaust deniers. Read more
My union, the Library chapter of The York University Faculty Association (YUFA) has released a couple of open letters to The Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages in the current Canadian government. Read more
We’re being told that fiscal responsibility requires big cuts in education, nutrition, and health care for millions of children. This shortsighted and uncaring thinking is not only a nightmare for those directly affected; it is an imminent threat to America’s economic future.
We have to let our policy makers know that fiscal responsibility requires caring economic policies. Here’s why. Read more