Friday, March 03, 2006

Land for schools

Having trouble funding schools? Hey, I've got an idea... Why don't we sell off federal park lands?

Chalk this up to yet another brilliant plan from the assorted geniuses otherwise known as the Bush Administration. This is the first time I've ever bought into a trickle-down theory: the intelligence of our commander-in-chief is trickling down through the federal bureaucracy.

Kudos to Sens. Wyden (D-OR) and Craig (R-ID) for standing up to the madness.

Big Brother is everywhere

Be careful what you say, teachesr. Or as Joe Thomas would say, shut up and teach!

Teacher on leave for anti-Bush remarks

Friday, March 3, 2006;
Posted: 9:56 a.m. EST (14:56 GMT)

AURORA, Colorado (AP) -- About 150 high school students walked out of class
to protest a decision to put a teacher on leave while they investigate remarks
he made about President Bush in class, including that some people compare Bush
to Adolf Hitler.

The protest came Thursday as administrators began investigating whether
Overland High School teacher Jay Bennish violated a policy requiring balancing
viewpoints in the classroom, Cherry Creek School District spokeswoman Tustin
Amole said.

I love this especially in the context of the previous post on evolution. It would seem conservatives want students exposed to a wide range of "opinions" on science but when it comes to politics... oh no. Definitely not. The hypocrisy is stunning.

At least we're not Oklahoma

As bad as things seem politically in Texas, at least we're not Oklahoma:

OKLAHOMA CITY - While other states are backing away from teaching alternatives to evolution, the Oklahoma House passed a bill Thursday encouraging schools to expose students to alternative views about the origin of life.

The measure, passed on a 77-10 vote, gives teachers the right to teach "the full range of scientific views on the biological or chemical origins of life." The measure stops short of requiring the teaching of "intelligent design" alongside the theory of evolution in science classes.

Its author, Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, said evolution is taught in some classrooms as if it were scientific fact although the theory, developed in the 19th century by Charles Darwin, is neither observable, repeatable or testable and is not solid science.

"They are getting a one-sided view of evolution," said Kern, a former teacher. "Let's teach good honest science."

I think I'm sick.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

$500 g's for a statehouse race?!

The guy's even crazier than I thought!

James Leininger, voucher nutjob, has personally contributed $500,000 to one state House campaign. Are you kidding me?

Political contributions from a San Antonio doctor to a Longview man trying to unseat the local state representative have surpassed a half-million dollars.

Republican Mark Williams has raised more than $500,000 from Dr. James Leininger of San Antonio, a staunch school voucher supporter.

According to Williams' campaign finance reports, between Dec. 31 and Feb. 25, he's raised a total of $527,381— $504,886 from Leininger.

The money is directed to the Texas Republican Legislative Campaign Committee, in which Leininger is the main contributor, giving 96 percent to Williams' campaign during that period.
Williams is trying to unseat Tommy Merritt, R-Longview, in Tuesday's Republican primary and has criticized Merritt for being ineffective during his 10 years in office.

"There's no such thing as the Republican Party anymore," Merritt said. "It's the Leininger party. That's a lot of money just for one seat in the Legislature."

An Austin-based political analyst has said in a state representative race in rural Texas, donors usually raise between $60,000 and $100,000 in a well-funded campaign. Reports from July 1, 2005 to Feb. 25 show Merritt has raised about $166,000.

"It's just about controlling the Legislature and intimidating the Legislature and bullying the Legislature," Merritt said of Leininger's contributions. "This is about intimidating the voters and ... being a predator to the voters using huge sums of money to turn voters away from the polls, to discourage individuals from running for office and being public servants."

Education a key factor in state races

Great article in the Austin Statesman today about the role education policy is playing in the state primaries next week.

One thing is for sure, education is important to the vast majority of people. Republican policies to defund public schools are overwhelmingly unpopular. Politically motivated and engaged parents and teachers are only starting to understand their power to shape the Legislature.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Chairman Weirdo

Apparently Texas House Public Education Chairman is against teaching about gays in schools but has no problem with placing drawing of nude men locked in an embrace on tables at a Republican Women's Club.

Is this a sign of desperation in his primary? Texas politicos are watching this race closely.

The chairman, Rep. Grusendorf, is a voucher supporter and consistently puts forward anti-teacher, anti-public education bills. His opponent, an education professor and former school board member, is pro-public education and is backed by parent and teacher groups. If she wins the primary, the right wing education agenda could be in serious trouble.

The primary is March 7.

Uh-oh, Blago

Turns out when Gov. Blago was on the Daily Show, he didn't know it was a fake news show. At one point, he turns to an aide and asks "is he teasing me?" Shame on the aide for not knowing that he was. But his mistake is to our benefit. It makes the segment that much more funny.

Buying the Legislature

One man, James Leininger, has spent $2.35 million on races for the Texas Legislature in '06 so far. That level of spending (on the primaries no less) is unheard of according to most Capitol observers.

Why's he doing it? In a word, vouchers.

Over $1 million has gone to the campaigns of five Republican primary candidates running against moderate R's who voted against vouchers. Of the total money those five have raised, Leininger has contributed 90%.

The Dallas Morning News has the story of how one man is trying to buy the Legislature. Money quote:

"We've never seen numbers like this, as far as percentage of support from one entity," said Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign money.

"The Leininger PAC has showed that the Texas campaign finance system is totally out of whack," Mr. McDonald said. "One person should not be able to bankroll a slate of candidates.

"These candidates will become private representatives, not public servants."

Sunday, February 26, 2006

I'm back

I'll start getting back in to posting this week. Needed a break to establish some new routines. Thanks to everyone who emailed encouraging me to write again. Your thoughtfulness is much appreciated.

I can't think of a better way to get back into this than to point to this unbelievably inspiring story about a special ed student who had his chance to shine, and made the most of it. This is a must-see video. (Hat tip to my new favorite sports blog, Burnt Orange Nation.)
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