Dear Commons Community,
I returned home last night after a week at Phelps Hospital. It seems that I have an intestinal blockage that is defying a diagnosis. I will be going for more tests on Monday and we will take if from there. I thank all who expressed kind expressions of concern and best wishes.
While I had my iphone and could keep up with email correspondence, I was not really set up to compose posts for my blog. I will use this posting to catch up on several items which might have made my blog this week had I not been hospitalized.
Donald Trump – Ban on Muslims
Donald Trump held onto his commanding lead in the Republican race for the White House after his call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States was condemned worldwide, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, the first national survey conducted entirely after the billionaire’s remarks. It is becoming more and more obvious that the Republican Party has a major problem with Donald Trump’s candidacy and doesn’t know how to resolve it. Party leaders only have themselves and their cohorts in the conservative media (FoxNews, Limbaugh) to blame for stirring up the beast and playing to their members’ fears. Donald Trump has taken over the Party’s fear tactics and is now poised to become its presidential nominee.
Antonin Scalia – Affirmative Action
The Congressional Black Caucus, civil rights lawyers and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) denounced Justice Antonin Scalia on Thursday for what they said were racist and insulting comments in which he suggested some black students might be better off in a “slower-track school” rather than at a more competitive university.
Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), who chairs the Black Caucus, said Scalia’s comments were “disgusting, inaccurate and insulting to African Americans. Thousands of black Americans have excelled in top-tier universities.” Butterfield, a former judge, said Scalia should recuse himself from the pending University of Texas affirmative action case because he has “removed any presumption of impartiality.”
This was not the first time Scalia has made controversial comments regarding race from the bench. Two years ago, when the justices were debating the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act, Scalia called the historic measure a “racial entitlement” that should be struck down.
Scalia’s comments are indicative that we have a flawed judicial system where Supreme Court justices are appointed for life.
President Obama Signs New Education Law Replacing NCLB
President Obama called it “a Christmas miracle. A bipartisan bill signing right here.”
The “right here” was the South Court Auditorium, part of the White House complex. More importantly, the bipartisan bill being signed was the Every Student Succeeds Act— a long-overdue replacement of the unpopular federal education law known as No Child Left Behind.
The new law changes much about the federal government’s role in education, largely by scaling back Washington’s influence. While ESSA keeps in place the basic testing requirements of No Child Left Behind, it strips away many of the high stakes that had been attached to student scores.
The job of evaluating schools and deciding how to fix them will shift largely back to states. Gone too is the requirement, added several years ago by the Obama administration, that states use student scores to evaluate teachers.
The new law, which passed the House and Senate with rare, resounding bipartisan support, would also expand access to high-quality preschool.
The Every Student Succeeds Act is a repudiation of much of what Arne Duncan attempted to do during his tenure as Secretary of Education. It replaces two deeply flawed programs (No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top).
New York State to Revamp Common Core!
A panel convened by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s has called for an extensive overhaul of the controversial state academic standards known as the Common Core. Cuomo convened the panel in September to consider changing the tougher standards after as many as 240,000 students boycotted tests pegged to the unpopular measures in 2015. Ushered in by state education policy leaders leaders Merrill Tisch and John King, the Common Core has been disastrous for K-12 education mainly because it was rushed in without proper planning and vetting. New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina told an audience of parents and educators at a town hall meeting in Queens Thursday night that the “Common Core in itself … is not bad,” but “The implementation stunk.”