Jan 29

A Quote:

"You can regulate the worst abuses out of a system, but you can’t regulate
goodness or excellence into a system because goodness or excellence is
from the hearts and minds of the people involved."

— Professor Tom Sobol

It’s just something to keep in mind as we think about how to make our school… and schools in general… better. Policy… law… regulation… rules… they only go so far. What schools need, what kids need, what our society needs is to understand that "The Good" in the world is not something that can be legislated, but instead, it must be nurtured. We cannot expect people to spend all their days conforming to rules, following directions, and doing what they are told… and then create, care, live freely and think.

There is no question that we need educational policies based in broad legislation. There is no question that schools should have rules and regulations. But we need to remember at all times what the goals of those rules should be: Our educational goals should be to create schools where students can learn what it means to be a thinking, caring, questioning adult who can critically analyze the world around them both with a reasoning and a emotive and caring eye.

Jan 28

Has anyone else…

… started to think that, perhaps, Max Cleeland’s constant presence in the Kerry campaign is an early indication of a possible VP choice if Kerry were to get the nomination?

Southern vet, wounded, former senator, beaten in one of the sleaziest races I can remember, good Democratic Party credentials… and I do think the two men are actually good friends.


Jan 23

Assessment Week

It’s Gradfolio Assessment Week at Beacon which means that every day for about five hours, Mary Whittemore and I have been sitting in a little room listening to seniors defend their work. I can safely say that I have heard just about every permutation of how Anna Deavere Smith’s Twilight and Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing are or are not texts that effectively advocate for social change. Equally, I have heard my students compare and contrast every single text we read in Connection and Disconnection.

Jan 22

Presidental Debate Notes

Tuned in… thought about blogging it 15 minutes in… If you have thoughts about it… put it in the comments. I’ll update this entry every ten minutes or so with my thoughts.

O.k. — click the link for specific thoughts, but here are the overall thoughts on who won and lost:

Edwards — generally sounds smart and thoughtful and on-point… helping himself a lot. I think he could surprise and take a top three spot.

Dean — Warmed up as it went on. Really hit his stride and impressed me several times as the debate went on. He was calm, rational and really hit his points well. He really impressed me on what this presidential election is about. And "Social Justice and Fiscal Conservative" is a smart play that he should repeat over and over again.

Kerry — can someone ask him a question? Why didn’t he get more questions? Good answers but I think his charisma problem is that he doesn’t end his statements well compared to Dean. Perhaps overplaying the "I was a vet" card. Did well, didn’t hurt himself. Is that all he needed to do?

Lieberman — Needs to drop out, but he is right on when he says that Democrats need to remind people that they, not the GOP, are the party of values. And he resisted the bait on going negative. He hammered home his pro-war politician. I think he played strong to the folks who are inclined to vote for him, but I am not sure that he expanded his base. I do see where he would be someone who would play to swing voters on some issues, but overall, Dean is right. It’s not about changing a president, it’s about changing the way we are looking at our country. Lieberman isn’t doing that. Still, overall, played smart to his base. Let’s see how big that base is.

Sharpton — someone make this guy Secretary of Something… Glad he’s there just to say what he’s saying.

Kucinich — some good ideas but sounds irresponsible on his spending. Not helping himself. I do hope a few of his ideas get on the platform.

Clark — getting more comfortable as he goes on, sounds strong, but not a detail guy on domestic issues yet… too many "I don’t know"s for my tastes. I’m back where I was with him. He’d be a great VP. I think he was the big loser tonight because he had the most to gain and the most to lose. A really strong debate could have insured a top three for him. I think he looked uncomfortable too often, did not have answers on too many questions and generally showed that his inexperience is a bad thing. My prediction is that he falls out of the top three next week.

(Oh… and Fox News… having Mort Kondracke and Fred Barnes analyze the debate? Why not just have Karl Rove comment?)

Jan 22

Presidental Candidate Checker

http://www.presidentmatch.com/ — a nifty little Presidental Candidate issue checker. All you do is answer some questions and presto you find out which candidates match your views.

Here’s my results… predictably… on views alone:

Kucinich – 100%
Sharpton – 95%
Kerry – 91%
Dean – 86%
Clark – 83%
Edwards – 79%
Lieberman – 71%
Bush – 3%

There are a few things I think the poll does strangely, but still… not really a shocker that my results come out the way they do.

Jan 20

Spaulding Gray Update

According to John Perry Barlow writes that Spaulding Gray’s last call was from the terminal of the Staten Island Ferry. Given that Gray’s last two suicide attempts were attempts to jump from bridges, it seems all too likely that he has committed suicide.

Barlow also wrote a rather personal and touching eulogy for Gray. It seems that the car accident he was in a few years ago really was the flash-point for many of the demons he had struggled with for years.

It just reminds us all… never take for granted a day of happiness… and always appreciate the people in our lives who touch our hearts. They are to be cherished.

Jan 20

Iowa Results

(a perfect grading break…)

I’m happy for several reasons:

1) I’ve liked Kerry’s stance on the issues from the beginning. He’s a smart, passionate man who has lived a life of principle.

2) Voter turnout was way up. Republican, Democrat, Green, Libertarian — I don’t care. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. This is America. Vote.

3) This is now a fascinating race. It’s my hope that if this stays interesting, we’ll have a real battle tested nominee… and hopefully, America tunes in… and gets involved.

Oh… and all those folks who say that Dean is done with are wrong. Dean can finish as low as third — maybe fourth — in New Hampshire and he’ll still be very much a factor. He’s still got the most money and the best organization. Clark is still finding his feet, and Kerry is broke.

He does need to find his message again, though. The last month has been about his supporters, not his ideas. And his speech tonight hurt him… and it gave huge ammunition to those folks who say he’s "too angry."

So… General Clark skipped Iowa when it looked like Dean had it wrapped up. That’s looking like bad strategy now. I think he needs a top three finish to prove he can win. Kerry needs a top three finish to get people to start giving him money. If Edwards goes to NH, he only has to finish above Leiberman to exceed expectations there, and anything above that is gravy.

Most importantly… Americans need to keep reading, keep voting… heck, keep blogging… and stay involved. I still think that, even if Dean doesn’t win, his gift to this country might be that he was the first candidate in a while to make everyday people feel like they could take part in the process and make a difference. I think that the high voter turnout in Iowa this year is at least in part because he made people listen.

Oh… and one other thing… I hope the President is watching… people are talking, arguing… and voting. It’s a long race, yes, but this is a race the Democrats can win.