Category Archives: Education

The Pepper Spraying Cop gets Canned – finally

Remember this guy?

He was finally fired.
His name is John Pike, the the now former Lieutenant with the UC Davis police force. His 2010 salary was listed at just over $110k and he’s been on paid leave (aka vacation) since the incident – that’s ten months (see the article here). The police Chief Annette Spicuzza “retired in April after an independent panel issued an investigative report that severely criticized her leadership of the Police Department and found fault with much of the university leadership during the crisis.”

So a ten month paid vacation and a retirement – boy, those are some serious…ly pathetic consequences for hurting the people you were tasked to protect and serve. And, those are the only two that have been made known publicly – there is a lawsuit pending now around making the identities of the other officers public.

It is difficult to determine what was so difficult to determine in this investigation. The students did disobey a police order, but they were seated with linked arms and were completely non-violent. If you see the video, not a one of the seated protesters look like they even approach 200lb – I’m quite sure they had assumed they would be arrested and removed one by one by the officers in the tradition of peaceful civil disobedience.

So many of us have nothing but our bodies to use in our fight for our values. Many of us do not believe that violence solves problems and follow in the tradition of Jesus, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. When the ideas of the minority butt up against the ideas of the powers in charge, the playing field is obviously quite slanted in favor of those already in power.

It is cowardly for those in power to use violent chemical forces in response to ideas and words. It is cowardly to hurt someone when what they want is a seat at the table to take part in a real discussion. This interaction is a microcosm of what is happening to many unarmed simple citizens of the planet that will not be a doormat for the powers that be.

Why was UC Davis so afraid of the protests? Why did they not channel the energy into a forum where folks could be heard? Why the riot gear and extreme measures. What was the threat that the students presented? Who was being protected? How many police officers across this country empathize not with the students, but with the sprayer, John Pike.

Some of the pepper spray victims are suing Pike, the university and others. I think he should have to give the paid leave money back anyway.

CEOs get to ruin companies and parachute away with millions, politicians can shoot people and get away with no questions asked, the 1% can pay someone to arrange subsidies for themselves instead of paying taxes. Where does one get beknighted or step through this looking glass of privilege? Why do the rest of us have to follow the rules or face the consequences?

Good riddance John Pike. I hope you have a conscience and it does what our justice system has not yet done.

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Life Suck

As contractions of the national and global economies grow more severe, their impacts are felt more painfully by more people. The same is true here at Civil Tongue. Blog creation is not a money making venture, most bloggers blog out of the need to share something, the need for community. As always, I, your lowly blog author, am available for all sorts of analysis, research and writing – please inquire by posting a quick comment (I can then respond to your email), but my own personal struggle against this economy is not just philosophical – it is also painful in reality.

The last time I had full time employment was before 9/11. My industry was heavily affected by the attacks and I was laid off, then rehired part time. This was adequate for many years because I had my first child four months after 9/11, and my next a couple of years later. Before 9/11, my husband and I were comfortably middle/upper class.

Ten years later and I no longer own a home, we have both been laid off, and are definitely in the low income tax bracket (when we can get work at all). The descent has taken an absolutely devastating toll on my family in other personal, less quantatative ways. We are a poster-childish family of how things fall apart in the current economy involving nearly every major collapse that has happened in the last decade (hey, at least we didn’t have huge investments).

It’s time to stop pretending that I am doing “just fine”, I’m not. This hurts like hell. It is very sad and difficult for me to guide my children and family to a more positive and secure future. Their education, interests, and personality are all relative to how well they will do in the future and I no longer have the resources to provide what’s best or even mediocre.  It’s time for us to let our friends and family know how bad it really is. It’s time to walk across the street to the Joneses’ house, knock on their door, tell them that we can’t keep up with them anymore, offer a truce (like a dinner invitation), and make real friends that don’t compete materialistically – friends that share and support one another in tough times.  I know it may be severely outside your comfort zone.

I’m writing this outside of my comfort zone, but also necessity. I no longer can promise daily posts. My resources are limited and while my heart is in this work, I may have to scrub toilets, stand waving in a Little Ceasar’s costume, or be a gopher for someone. I am taking any and all work that I think I can physically complete – and even that work is few and far between. The work is often poverty wages, so I will likely be busier and busier – probably just fine with corporatists that would like a loud mouth like myself to just shut up and go away (or die- I certainly don’t have health insurance though I have some serious health issues).

For my fair and loyal readers, how I might work this out is to have a few “real” posts per week where I attempt to analyze and make some relevant points on political framing and the current news of the day.  The rest of the days I will do less time consuming posts and just line up some of the poignant news stories that I wan’t to elaborate on, but don’t have time.

As always, I welcome guest posts – especially well thought out and well written ones that are different than my belief system. If you have one, again, let me know by comments.

Government is not bad or good inherently, it is necessary to live together with billions of strangers with some basic universal concerns collectively though through. When those governments cease to help the People, it is time for them to change.

Here are a few stories that I have strong feelings about, how about you?

Mosquito Drones

A team of researchers at the vaunted Johns Hopkins University – in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Arlington, Va. – is helping develop what they are calling an MAV (micro aerial vehicle) that will no doubt have loads of uses, up to and including the usurpation of privacy rights by the Leviathan State.

Initially though, it’s thought that MAVs will be incorporated for use by the military, for situations when stealth is of the utmost importance. The tiny drones could effortlessly infiltrate urban areas, where dense concentrations of buildings and people, along with unpredictable winds and other obstacles make it impractical, if not impossible, to use a standard-sized drone. Domestic uses include search-and-rescue operations and, of course, observation.

How small, exactly? Well, a graphic on the site of the Air Force research agency features what looks to be an electronic mosquito.

Oregon Man Gets Jail Time for Collecting Rainwater on His Own Property

Collecting rainwater can get you in legal trouble in Oregon. A court has sentenced a southern Oregon man to 30 days in jail, and a fine, for maintaining 3 illegal reservoirs on his property. Amelia Templeton of Earthfix reports.

Gary Harrington has told the court, and newspapers that he was just storing rainwater to use for wildfire protection. But rainwater is what fills most of the rivers in Oregon, says Tom Paul with the Oregon Water Resources Department. And you can’t divert its natural flow it without getting permission first.

Paul: “If you build a dam, an earthen dam, and interrupt the flow of water off of the property, and store that water that is an activity that would require a water right permit from us.”

Paul says one of Harrington’s dams was 15 feet high. And the dams were capturing water that flowed into a nearby creek, which belongs to the City of Medford. Harrington is appealing his jail sentence and fine.

Learn more: http://nwpr.org/post/southern-oregon-man-sentenced-jail-time-illegal-rainwater-reservoirs#disqus_thread

Is Algebra Necessary?

This debate matters. Making mathematics mandatory prevents us from discovering and developing young talent. In the interest of maintaining rigor, we’re actually depleting our pool of brainpower. I say this as a writer and social scientist whose work relies heavily on the use of numbers. My aim is not to spare students from a difficult subject, but to call attention to the real problems we are causing by misdirecting precious resources.

The toll mathematics takes begins early. To our nation’s shame, one in four ninth graders fail to finish high school. In South Carolina, 34 percent fell away in 2008-9, according to national data released last year; for Nevada, it was 45 percent. Most of the educators I’ve talked with cite algebra as the major academic reason.

a definitive analysis by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce forecasts that in the decade ahead a mere 5 percent of entry-level workers will need to be proficient in algebra or above.

See the opinion piece here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/sunday/is-algebra-necessary.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1

Democracy and Plutocracy Don’t Mix

Today Bill Moyers speaks for me.

There is the case of disagreement – I think the government should function like A, you think the government should function like B. Then there is the setting: am I a subject in a King’s court or an equal at the table of collaborators? Two ideas might be “equal” in merit, but if one side has most of the resources and power, their idea will be the one carried out.

Biased media” is a meme in point. It doesn’t matter how liberal a reporter, anchor, or host is – their minders are not going to allow information to disseminate information that could hurt their bottom line. It’s not about Democratic or Republican, Left or Right, it is about adding money to the vast wealth of the corporate media giants, to the plutocracy.

I wanted to include a George Carlin clip here as well, the two clips are nice compliments to each other. Of course Carlin’s language is less than civilized – I think it is totally warranted in light of the uncivilized conditions being wrought upon American workers, but its got a few foul parts. So be warned NSFW. Here’s  George Carlin’s take on the American Dream in three minutes.

To illustrate Carlin’s point on education, here is an excerpt from a recent article by TPM:

The Republican Party of Texas’ recently adopted 2012 platform contains a plank that opposes the teaching of “critical thinking skills” in schools. The party says it was a mistake, but is now stuck with the plank until the next state convention in 2014.

The plank in question, on “Knowledge-Based Education,” reads as follows:

We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.Elsewhere in the document, the platform stipulates that “[e]very Republican is responsible for implementing this platform.”

Contacted by TPM on Thursday, Republican Party of Texas (RPT) Communications Director Chris Elam said the “critical thinking skills” language made it into the platform by mistake.

“[The chairman of the Education Subcommittee] indicated that it was an oversight of the committee, that the plank should not have included ‘critical thinking skills’ after ‘values clarification,’” Elam said. “And it was not the intent of the subcommittee to present a plank that would have indicated that the RPT in any way opposed the development of critical thinking skills.”

Knowledge really is power.

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Book Burning Party!

Clever reverse psychology campaign. Risky, but clever, and it worked very well. I would not doubt that in some areas of this country, there are those that think a library roast would be just fine.

What can be learned from this is that a powerful frame – even your opposition’s frame is the most important thing in messaging. All of the publicity was just about the celebration of book burning, not a soapbox of reasons and policy discussion. The discussions happen amongst the people, publicity is about grabbing someone and getting them halfway there – to support your idea. Frames are about evoking imagery we already know. The frame of book burning is powerful and very negative; that frame did most of the mental work for this campaign. Getting the word out about it was just “boots on the ground” (and on Facebook).

Resorting to this type of campaign is not exactly genuine, it is manipulating and using the reactionary state of mind we are constantly in. Our current culture eschews critical thinking in favor of knee jerking. Could this type of reverse psychology be used for other issues? All of the ideas that spring to mind are horribly offensive either in content or concept – which is why they may work.

  • A list of debilitating diseases accompanied by a “euthanasia clinic” for those who have them and aren’t able to afford medical care.
  • An announcement that a huge tax break has passed with the understanding that instead, your pay will be garnished and directly sent to BP, Bank of America, Blackwater and Pfizer.
  • A news story about an obscure town in Idaho who’s school board is majority wiccan and they have required prayer in school and posted the coven’s covenant at the high school entrance.
  • A proposal to adjust labor and civil rights laws to allow discrimination based upon how virtuous your romantic life has been, proof of pre-marital sex or divorce is grounds for discrimination and termination.
  • An anti-abortion rally that requires each participant to sign up and pay dues to be an adoptive parent and financially support pregnant women.
  • A requirement for all newborns to register for military service.

You get the idea. It is a sad state of affairs that these are the tricky tactics we consider to simply secure life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is that difficult to get folks to participate in democracy. Reality TV? Sure. But reality? It moves so sloow!  Without some fantastic entertaining, exploitative, or outrageous element, it’s hard to get noticed.

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Lakoff’s analysis of Wisconsin

Here is the post-mortem for Wisconsin from George Lakoff (one of the inspirations for this blog) and his colleague, Elisabeth Wehling. As always, values trump issues or policies. The post can be found here.

The Wisconsin recall vote should be put in a larger context. What happened in Wisconsin started well before Scott Walker became governor and will continue as long as progressives let it continue. The general issues transcend unions, teachers, pensions, deficits, and even wealthy conservatives and Citizens United.

Where progressives argued policy — the right to collective bargaining and the importance of public education — conservatives argued morality from their perspective, and many working people who shared their moral views voted with them and against their own interests. Why? Because morality is central to identity, and hence trumps policy.

Progressive morality fits a nurturant family: parents are equal, the values are empathy, responsibility for oneself and others, and cooperation. That is taught to children. Parents protect and empower their children, and listen to them. Authority comes through an ethic of excellence and living by what you say, rather than by enforcing rules.

Correspondingly in politics, democracy begins with citizens caring about one another and acting responsibly both for oneself and others. The mechanism by which this is achieved is The Public, through which the government provides resources that make private life and private enterprise possible: roads, bridges and sewers, public education, a justice system, clean water and air, pure food, systems for information, energy and transportation, and protection both for and from the corporate world. No one makes it on his or her own. Private life and private enterprise are not possible without The Public. Freedom does not exist without The Public.

Conservative morality fits the family of the strict father, who is the ultimate authority, defines right and wrong, and rules through punishment. Self-discipline to follow rules and avoid punishment makes one moral, which makes it a matter of individual responsibility alone. You are responsible for yourself and not anyone else, and no one else is responsible for you.

In conservative politics, democracy is seen as providing the maximal liberty to seek one’s self-interest without being responsible for the interests of others. The best people are those who are disciplined enough to be successful. Lack of success implies lack of discipline and character, which means you deserve your poverty. From this perspective, The Public is immoral, taking away incentives for greater discipline and personal success, and even standing in the way of maximizing private success. The truth that The Private depends upon The Public is hidden from this perspective. The Public is to be minimized or eliminated. To conservatives, it’s a moral issue. Continue reading

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