Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bowling for Balance

Bowling for Balance

If you haven’t already, you must check out “Bowling 1, Health Care 0,” the op-ed piece by Elizabeth Edwards in today’s The New York Times.

In this essay, Mrs. Edwards beautifully examines “the candidates [she] saw; the campaign [we] see.” In other words, folks, the mainstream media frames, selects, emphasizes, de-emphasizes the “news” fit to print about the ’08 election to suit their agendas—they are controlling everything.

This is MSM therapy and it’s scary. But what’s even scarier is how in the MSM meta-narrative soap operas, we have the same cast of actors/cheerleaders/analysts/and of course, the likes of Jabba, the Fart—Rush Limbaugh, media-created “authorities” who are more about imposing their views rather than simply conveying the news. It’s an ugly, incestuous crew and they pretty much say the same things. Why, oh why, does Smucker Carlson get booted from a news network, get fired from a job, get a show canceled, only to land on his feet yet again as some sort of analyst? Let’s face it: bow-tie loser boy sucks. And we don’t need Jon Stewart to tell us this again.

Check out “Bowling 1, Health Care O” to cure yourselves from the mega doses of MSM therapy; after all, the first step of recovery involves an admission of powerlessness—and this is precisely the case when it comes to what the MSM feeds us.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Deal or No Deal

Deal or No Deal

“Mission Accomplished” George W. Bush will appear on an episode of NBC’s game show Deal or No Deal tomorrow night. Apparently, he’s honoring a veteran from Iraq, W.’s “no deal” of a fiasco. Hey, at least the costs of the war—deliberately kept out of the media spotlight—are alas receiving mass prime time coverage if only in a cameo moment. Too bad, though, that W. didn’t honor all of our Iraq Veterans—fallen and alive—more often, more seriously, rather than be so obvious to select the best Nielsen ratings publicity op available.

Boy blunder and his party stay true to form, though, making deals, re-shaping reality, and bilking the American public to suit their needs. And truth be told, they are pretty good at what they do: with Gas prices soaring, home mortgages foreclosing, spending power diminishing, the market yo-yoing, jobs terminating, Iraq burning, local municipal budgets shrinking, in a year when it would seem that the planets are aligned for the Democrats to take the White House, the Republicans are well positioned for Bush Term 3, with sold-his-soul McCain, a deal most Americans can’t afford.

But let’s face it: Part of this deal involves the internecine warfare in the Democratic Party. On one side there’s Clinton—amorphous lady hate who NOW casts her self as shot drinking, Crown Royale-ing, gun-slinging Scranton girl. On the other side there’s Obama—an elitist, non-patriot, 60s radical, non-wearing flag pin snob.  The least said about these false characterizations, the better.  

Divided and framed by the MSM, they and the party still stand…for now. But the question remains: can either one of them stand against McCain in the general, now that McCain has pricked his finger in blood rites with Grover Norquist, almost every agent of intolerance on the right whom McCain once disdained, the MSM goons—just take a look at Frank Rich’s column today, and a shadowy, quickly organizing attack-group resembling a Swiftboat junta for ‘08? A year to six months ago, the answer to this question would be yes. But as the Republicans do what they do best, as Clinton and Obama duke it out, as the MSM echo chamber continues emphasizing the unimportant while de-emphasizing the all-too-important, as the talking heads, led by Tweety Matthews et al, continue their “bromance” with McCain, chances are that what would be a “no deal” Bush Term 3 unfortunately might be the consolation “deal” we will have to accept.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

COMING TO A CLASSROOM NEAR YOU: The Castle Called the Classroom

COMING TO A CLASSROOM NEAR YOU: The Castle Called the Classroom

In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, the European Kurtz establishes himself as a demigod among the African natives. Among these natives, Kurtz assumes absolute power. He reigns supreme. He lavishes in the worship until he recognizes that something has gone horribly wrong—“the horror…the horror.”

In classrooms all across America, teachers establish themselves as figures of authority among the students they teach. To many students, the teacher sometimes assumes a sense of power unparalleled to other authority figures in students’ lives—guardians, coaches, doctors or other professionals perhaps far more credentialed than the teacher in question. In short, there is an enormous amount of a power a teacher wields in his or her classroom and depending upon how the teacher manages that power, the learning experience for the student can be a benefit or a situation that has gone…horribly wrong.

Of course, the responsible, 1% more conscious teacher wields power with respect. S/he realizes on multiple levels how a teacher’s instruction, personality, and professionalism impact the degree to which students perform. When the door closes to the classroom, this kind of teacher takes the job seriously by adhering to the curriculum, by doing what is expected, and by making sure students learn. Unfortunately when the door to many classrooms close, these things don’t happen and this is primarily because of WHO the teacher is in that classroom.

The Kurtz teacher, a description I like to use, simply does what s/he wants. This type of teacher doesn’t wield power with respect and thus envisions the classroom—on some level—as a castle for a master of his/her domain—Seinfeld pun intended. Teachers fall into this category by either completely or partially ignoring the curriculum; by either giving the appearance of doing what is expected or simply disregarding what is expected; and/or by either barely caring about whether or not students learn—or the worst, not caring at all whether or not students learn—“the horror…the horror.”

Few people know that in education there is little accountability; once that classroom door closes, anything can happen. Teachers, even the new, untenured ones, are directly observed maybe 3-5 times during a 180-day school year. The tenured ones—another entry for another day—are observed less than that. And the sad truth of the matter is that in a school organization there’s no efficient, effective way to monitor teachers on a consistent, regular basis.

Without question, there are many excellent teachers out there who make student learning—rather than themselves, their egos and/or their agenda—come alive. However, it’s also important to note—and to make you aware—that there are far too many Kurtzs in classrooms either consciously or unconsciously abusing the power bestowed upon them in their domain.