What's Going On: Evening News Round-up

  • A 5.4 magnitude earthquake hit just outside Los Angeles. There was no major damage or injuries reported.
  • Senator Barack Obama talked about immigration in front of an Asian American and Pacific Islander group.
  • Now, even the Washington Post is questioning Senator John McCain’s ad. Once they get into the act, you know that the ad stinks.
  • One of the saddest stories that I have seen in a while is this Extreme Makeover house in Atlanta. If you don’t know the story, I summarize. While this family was sent on vacation to Disneyland, this TV show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, destroys their home and builds a bigger, newer one on the same spot. The family was given enough money to pay the taxes on the home for decades. Since then, the family borrowed against the house and now can’t afford payments. The home will be auctioned on Tuesday as another foreclosure.
  • Senator John McCain’s health needs to become a serious topic of this campaign. We really didn’t see his records. Some selected reporters were able to peak at selected records. Now, McCain had another “spot” or lesion removed from his right cheek. We, the American people, should get a detailed history of his melanomas. How deep were they? How large were they? What are his chances for recurrence? None of these questions have really been answered.
  • David Brooks writes an interesting article on education in today’s New York Times. He discusses how America became an economic powerhouse as a result of investment in education. He then points out that we have been stagnant in this area since 1970. What he doesn’t mention is that his Republican party has done everything that they could think of to retard and destroy our public education system. The two best examples are No Child Left Behind, which has been great at dumbing down our students and teachers, and charter schools, which suck needed funds out of our public school system. I doubt if David Brooks will call out President Bush in his next article for Bush’s disasterous educational policies.
  • Finally, bombings in Iraq yesterday killed 61 people and wounded 238 people. In Pakistan, the U.S. bombed a suspected Al Qaeda training camp. Now, we are going on the offense. Where was this over the past four to five years?
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5 Responses

  1. Chartered Schools ARE public schools, so I don’t think they suck money out of the system… they just reallocate it… and often the reallocation is beneficial. In Northern Cal there are chartered schools which specifically offer bilingual immersion programs in english/spanish or english/mandarin or english/japanese for example. This is not a bad thing, and it could not be accomplished statewide at every public school. What’s wrong with targeting the needs of a specific local community? I rember growing up in Dallas; there were so-called magnet schools (the pre-cursor to chartered schools) that specialized in math or music or drama. Erykah Badu was the product of one of those schools. I believe linking No Child Left Behind and Chartered Schools in the same paragraph obscures a big difference: No Child Left Behind intentionally dumbs down the education process, so that schools & students can ONLY focus on rudimentary reading and math skills to the exclusion of everything else. Chartered schools encourage (or at least allow) diversity of approach and diversity of experience. When NCLB succeeds, you produce kids who can function like calculators. When Chartered schools succeed, you produce a wide variety of experiences which supports the values of diversity and imagination in our children.

  2. O –

    I beg to differ. Charter schools try to walk that fine line between public schools and private schools. They do take money that would have allocated to public schools.

    I like the definition that the NY Times gave charter schools – These are independent schools run at public expense as a nonpublic alternative to public schools.

    We need to strengthen our public schools. Anything that takes away from that effort is bad in my opinion.

    There are some great Charter schools. I’m glad that Erykah Badu got a good education in one of them. Now, my question is why can’t a straight forward public school that? I think that we have allow public schools to have the flexibility to educate our children.

    Thanks for your comments.

  3. In Utah the charter schools don’t have to do the same testing as the traditional schools. Neither do the private schools. So when you take the 3 items that no child left behind tests on you allow more diverse education. I wish they wouldn’t judge a child’s education on just Math, Reading and Science. There is so much more to a educated person than those 3 things. No wonder the kids get bored and drop out.

  4. I agree with Oscar. I don’t see how charter schools destroy public education since these schools are as “public” as any other public school.

    Cline’s attempt to redefine charter schools as nonpublic is gibberish. These are directly funded by the state and have state oversight albeit less than traditional public schools. Cline even acknowledged that there was limited state oversight.

    Public education is somewhat of a euphemism. Public schools aren’t open to the public given the residency requirements. Other schools have specific academic requirements. State school is a more accurate term but doesn’t have that egalitarian feel. In a way, given their open enrollment, charter schools are more public than traditional schools.

    Still the charter schools seem to leave the other state schools with more money, not less. Cline states that the charter schools are allocated 5,000 per student. In Houston, the district budgets over 10,000 a student.

    Here in Houston, charter schools are viewed by many low income families as a last resort for a troubled student. According to the Chronicle, state charter schools get less funding than other public schools, and they get no money for facilities. (see http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/special/schools/03/charter/2039092.html)

    Still, I never have understood the fear of those who see charter schools and vouchers as taking money away from “public education.” The goal is to educate children not maintaining a system.

  5. The goal is the best education for everyone not just a few. If you are taking money to help a select group of students in the charter system then aren’t you removing money the general school system budget? The money for vouchers doesn’t come from new taxes. That money comes from the public school budget.

    BTW, you and Oscar would get along great. 2 peas in a pod!!

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.

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