April 2008
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Day April 21, 2008

Baracky: The Movie

The internet changes everything.

Standard Issue: Deconstructing the Issue of College Readiness in the Globe

Improving education is a difficult proposition. Complicated by a host of powerful stakeholders with differing views of how things work, educational change is rare, the road to reform paved with good intentions and unintended consequences.

The last major attempt at educational reform was born in the 1980′s with A Nation at Risk and the standards and accountability movement. Twenty-five years later we are living with the consequences of those reforms. Things were different in those days. Educational research had barely reached its adolescence, and most educational criticism at the time took the form of jeremiads written by educators in the humanities. Of the major books published in that time, only The Shopping Mall High School was empirical research.

Since then, educational research has come of age. Although many critics are unhappy with the lack of simple, unequivocal answers concerning reform or class room practice, there is now a wealth of high-quality, peer-reviewed research that can inform dialogue about educational improvements. Unfortunately, public dialogue on education is rarely informed. A case in point is a Peter Schworm’s Boston Globe article on a recent study on college-readiness. The major find of the study was that 37 percent of Massachusetts public high school graduates who entered a public college in Massachusetts took at least one developmental (remedial) course in their first semester.

 

Trade, us Democrats and Interdependence

As the well-informed folk here at BMG know, TRADE has been one of the big issues in the fight for the Democratic nom – not so much a healthy or insightful debate about the merits/downsides of trade – but mostly through rather fruitless negative assaults aimed at undermining the purported anti-trade bonafides of their opponent.  This has been especially true as the race moved from the corn belt, to the snow belt, then to the bible belt, down across the sun belt and back on up to the rust belt (anymore regional belts in this country I might of missed?) – where the so-called “bitter” people of forgotten small-town America dwell.

And as Democrats, most of us have seemed swell with the anti-trade rhetoric of our leading candidates.  I therefore assume that most of us either agree with it or don’t have a strong view either way.  But I sometimes wonder if that is true.  Is it?  

Do we think trade agreements like NAFTA have been bad news for America? For Massachusetts?  Do we know enough to judge?  

Good advice

He was talking about this: … or was he??

Weighing the Cost of Celebrity Salaries

Debby Faustino of Coalition for Social Justice [The Herald]

Who Benefits from Multi-million Dollar Tax Incentives to Local Filming?

 

Everyone likes to see their hometown on the big screen, and many states are competing to entice blockbusters with tax incentives, hoping to attract this relatively low-pollution, high-profile industry. The question is whether Massachusetts taxpayers are getting enough return on these investments.

The election, the media, and us

If you're like me you've watched the last week or so of the presidential campaign with some degree of anxiety. We're definitely getting an early preview of the kind of things Obama will face in the general election, which definitely boils down to greatest hits from the Karl Rove book:  Questioning his patriotism, through cultural markers (lapel pin) Questioning his status as a “real American” (the “elitist”) Questioning his status as a Christian (The “Muslim” lie) … and so forth. Now, I would reckon that most of us here would vastly prefer that the campaign focus on issues, since we know that Obama (or Hillary) is vastly preferable on Iraq, health care, the economy, global warming, and so on and so forth. We know we can win a fair fight. But we are kidding ourselves if we imagine that the media will pay adequate attention to real issues, as opposed to all the stupid stuff that basically writes itself. Well, that's where we come in. Many media players will not act honorably or well of their own accord. There will be several times over the course of the campaign which will genuinely require all hands on deck, to email, call, […]

New Machine, Meet Old Machine

After attending Lynne’s party, I thought about politics on the long ride home.  The meeting at Lynne’s house was very similar to meetings I’ve attended for the last twenty plus years.  Times change, but motivations are the same.  People want to build version ##.0 of the poltical mousetrap, with the latest and greatest tools.  It’s an admirable goal, but not new.  

I thought about Joseph Napolitan’s classic, The Election Game and How to Win It.  At the time that the book was written in the 70′s, the fax machine was a marevelous new tool.  Joe writes about how amazing it was to send text anywhere at a moment’s notice!  Little did he know at that time that we all would be able to target a vast audience with text, video and audio with a few clicks.  Same game, better tools.  BTW, Joe Napolitan ran Mike Gravel’s rather unique Alaskan Senate campaign, and there’s a chapter in the book about it.  There are quite a few similarities to some MA campaigns of late.

Dapper…. Memorial???

     To my dismay, I had walked in the convenience store in my neighborhood yesterday and I saw a very disturbing article on the front page of the free Boston City Paper.     It told of the effort by two local Boston pols ( Steve Murphy and Rob Consalvo )to create a memorial in Roslindale Square to former Boston City Councillor “At -Large” Albert ‘Dapper’ O’Neil. My rememberences of the man are not that fond.     He was a bigoted conservative ( he hated non-whites and gays and lesbians ) who professed, “‘if you didn’t live in Boston all your life, you don’t know what is going on.’” He was a perennial candidate who cared more about running for any office available than his neighborhood.     If you live in Boston or specifically Roslindale or Hyde Park, please contact Steve Murphy or Rob Consalvo and express your vehement opposition to this memorial to an era that fortunately has passed in our city. I know that I will. Thank you. Sincerely, Wayne Wilson Roslindale