Conservative columnist, David Brooks once pointed out that the Internet has had the net effect of not bringing us closer together, but rather, driving us further apart. By allowing individuals to coalesce into narrower, self-reinforcing groups – based on political, ideological, religious or regional sentiments – the Internet has created a society that is characterized by many separate groups where communication is largely within and between group members. Brooks went on to say that one could get up and watch Fox News from dawn to dusk, read conservative newspapers or magazines and listen to Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity on talk radio and thus, never come across a competing idea all day. Likewise, the same sort of thing happens amongst the denizens of the left. It reminds me of a comment made by Norman Mailer after the Bush victory in 2004: “How could Bush have won, I don’t know anyone who voted for him.” Mailer was reflecting the fact that as a resident of New York City, one of the Bluest in America, you would never find a Bush supporter, unless you deliberately left the insularity of your own social group. That brings me to the point of [...]
‘ROUNDING THE GLOBE’-12: Critical Analysis of Boston Globe education coverage
The Science MCAS & the Narrative of the News
On April 9, 2010, the Globe’s James Vaznis filed a report about the impact of the MCAS science requirement: some 4100 Massachusetts high school seniors may not graduate as a result of having failing the exam thus far. That was the news.
The remainder of the story could have been written in a number of ways, depending on which issues and questions the reporter believed most pertinent.
For example, the reporter might have checked in with Dr. Jonathan King, MIT biologist and public critic of the exam, about why he continues to think the exam is a bad idea, one that only discourages the kind of creative scientific thinking urgently needed in a competitive global economy.
The reporter might have asked public school science teachers and students if they feel the exam has been helpful in cultivating an interest in science (or whether, conversely, it has narrowed the curriculum and undercut a more inquiry-based pedagogy).
The reporter might have asked the Board of Education why this MCAS was not made available in Spanish and Portuguese so that immigrant students might experience the test more as a science challenge than a language hurdle.
Finally, the reporter might have asked industry lobbying groups whether they have noticed or foresee an increase in the hiring of urban public school graduates as a result of the exam.
The reporter asked none of these things. Instead, he developed the article in a way that reflected his own understanding of the news and way of seeing the education universe.
Dear BMG Community, We’re in the closing days of the special senate election in the Middlesex, Suffolk, & Essex district, and things are incredibly close. All of the news outlets that have weighed in agree – this is a race between myself and Sal DiDomenico. I am both proud and humbled to say that because of all of your hard work, my campaign is within striking distance. Unless . . . Unless we fail to unite. Even with other excellent candidates from Cambridge and beyond in this field, I’ve distinguished myself and have earned the endorsements of the Boston Globe, the Boston Phoenix, the Cambridge Chronicle, the Allston-Brighton TAB, and the Somerville Journal. I think it’s fair to say that those opinion leaders have decided that I am uniquely qualified to serve in this seat. I hope that anyone who has met me personally, on the street or at the door, has recognized my passion for public service. At this stage of the campaign, I am asking all of you to include a very important factor in your decision making process. Electability. When we began this campaign, we didn’t have the traditional political machine that elected officials might be accustomed [...]
Over the next few weeks, as frenzied speculation continues about who President Obama’s next Supreme Court nomination will be, expect to hear a lot about the “liberal Scalia” that supposedly would be the ideal counterweight to Justice Antonin Scalia, the perceived intellectual leader of the Court’s right wing.
Globe goes Tim Flaherty for Tuesday's MSE Senate primary: Like his five rivals, Flaherty touts himself as a strong progressive. And like most, he expresses skepticism about some aspects of the state’s successful education reforms. Even so, Flaherty would deal with issues in a more thoughtful way. While supportive of union rights, he is open to at least some measures to help local governments save on employees’ health costs. He supports a destination casino but not racetrack slot machines. A few years ago, we endorsed Flaherty for the same Senate seat, in part due to questions about Galluccio's ability to stay on the straight and narrow. The field is frankly more crowded — particularly with progressives — so we've had a harder time making our minds up. I can't object to the Globe's reasoning … though personally I don't support casinos at all. (Resort casinos are indeed preferable to racinos.) And the Globe also mentioned Benzan for coming from outside the typical political circles. In another race, another district, Benzan and a few other of these folks would be dream candidates. As I say, it's a strong field. (Hey Globe: No love for Albano?)
From the Globe’s endorsement today: Also worthy of consideration is Dennis Benzan, another Cambridge lawyer. With good reason, Benzan argues that Democrats should look for candidates outside traditional political circles, and his willingness to consider merit pay for teachers is encouragingly iconoclastic. While the Globe did, in fact, endorse Flaherty, they clearly wanted to endorse Dennis Benzan. No other candidate was mentioned, and they did not have the most flattering things to say about Flaherty. They were also sure to mention his father’s problem. If the adage “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” Flaherty is not the right choice. Benzan, on the other hand, is proud that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. His parents raised him not only by telling him what was right and wrong, but by demonstrating and doing what was right. VoteBenzan.com
I know a number of good rebuttals have been made on BMG (here and here for example), but the inane criticism of both the Massachusetts health care law and, by extension, the recently enacted national act by Treasurer Tim and Big Dig Baker just pisses me off.
Building on previous posts, I just wanted to pull out a few good pieces they cited (by Mike Widmer of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation and State Secretary for Health and Human Services, Judy Ann Bigby) that highlight the clear benefits of these reform efforts to the people of the Bay State.
The first is an article Mike Widmer wrote in the Wall Street Journal late last year. Widmer takes on state law critics like Cahill citing these facts about our universal coverage act:
The number of individuals with health-insurance coverage in Massachusetts has increased dramatically-by more than 400,000, according to the most recent state data. The percentage of uninsured state residents has declined to only 2.6% from about 8.2% prior to health reform. (These figures, updated in August, are from surveys by the state Division of Health Care Finance and Policy, using a 4,000-person sample. My opponent’s figures, from the U.S. Census Bureau, are based on smaller samples, and are, at their most recent, almost a year old.)
The incremental cost to taxpayers has been modest and consistent with projections: an average increase of $88 million each year from fiscal 2006 to 2010, out of a state budget of about $30 billion, to help pay for 265,000 newly insured individuals eligible for public subsidies (165,000 in Commonwealth Care and 100,000 in Medicaid).
With more individuals signing up for insurance coverage through their work, employer- sponsored enrollment has grown by 100,000 since health reform was adopted, during a recession in which total state employment has declined by 100,000.
If you haven’t read it its worth a read.
Secretary Bigby posted the following key facts about the federal dollars coming our way because of the act.
Federal health reform will save significant taxpayer dollars. A late breaking compromise between the House and Senate bills will bring in an additional $347 million a year in federal Medicaid match for our childless adults, in recognition of our early initiative to expand enrollment. We will receive an additional $100 million a year in enhanced match for the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The state will save up to $125 million a year after Commonwealth Care members can get receive federally funded tax credits through the exchange. The inclusion of legal immigrants in the eligibility group for the Exchange will saves $70 to $130 million of fully state-funded dollars for insurance coverage for legal immigrants up to 300% FPL. This additional revenue will not only allow us to sustain our commitment to universal insurance and comprehensive coverage, but will free up state revenue for other important programs across state government.
Cahill has dismissed the state law as relying too much on federal bucks, oblivious it seems to the fact that state health care programs have always been sustained by federal dollars, more of which will come our way now that comprehensive reform has passed nationally.
In any event, I found these articles helpful in drawing out key facts to rebut the Cahill/Baker assault on our state’s interests and future. Like it will for Mitt Romney, I think running against one of our state’s strengths and achievements, which served as a national model, will backfire over time for Patrick’s opponents. The facts speak for themselves and we should use them aggressively.
A Great Success By MICHAEL J. WIDMER Facts are a stubborn thing. And despite the false claims of ideologues, academics and politicians, the facts tell the story of Massachusetts’ remarkably successful health-reform law. The lengths that critics have gone to in their various attempts to disprove the obvious-that our state’s landmark 2006 law and its implementation amount to a truly historic achievement-would be amusing if the subject were not so serious. The facts: The number of individuals with health-insurance coverage in Massachusetts has increased dramatically-by more than 400,000, according to the most recent state data. The percentage of uninsured state residents has declined to only 2.6% from about 8.2% prior to health reform. (These figures, updated in August, are from surveys by the state Division of Health Care Finance and Policy, using a 4,000-person sample. My opponent’s figures, from the U.S. Census Bureau, are based on smaller samples, and are, at their most recent, almost a year old.) The incremental cost to taxpayers has been modest and consistent with projections: an average increase of $88 million each year from fiscal 2006 to 2010, out of a state budget of about $30 billion, to help pay for 265,000 newly [...]
Since the historic passage of Health Care Reform, the Tea Party has reached new heights of lunacy. Beck, Limbaugh, and Republican leaders continue to stir the pot as it reaches its boiling point. The steam whistle is screaming for us to take the kettle off the heat. In just one week, we’ve seen threats against members of Congress and attacks on their offices and homes of their families. Glenn Beck, Karl Rove and other opinion leaders of the Tea Party are now claiming that this administration and its supporters are eager to see violence carried out in opposition to their policies.
The lies, anger and fear mongering will not stop any time soon. It’s a formula that has worked in pumping up ratings for right wing media and buttressing the electoral hopes of Republicans. This troubling time for our country is only just beginning.
It’s time to stand up to stupid, Worcester! April 15th is the day that the teabaggers have their picnic and Stand up to Stupid will be there.
Fiery crash kills Polish president and leadership right near the site of the Katyn Massacre The Nation of Poland is in shock and mourning. Light a candle. Observe a moment of silence. For the nation of Poland, this is a huge tragedy and trauma. For the rest of us, a moment to pause, to pray if we believe in prayer, to meditate if we meditate, and to treasure each moment while extending sympathy to the Polish Nation.