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Dark Hope

By David Shulman

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Tag: Education

Drop Out

Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out

Pointing to a dramatic structural problem with schooling in Los Angeles, California’s Department of Education reported Tuesday that the dropout rate of students in the L.A. Unified School District has risen to a whopping 34.9% for the 2008-09 school year.

Posted on May 13, 2009 READ MORE

Jonathan Shapiro on ‘The Tyranny of Dead Ideas’

Matt Miller, a host of KCRW’s “Left, Right & Center,” has written a book full of necessary honesty and courage—a welcome effort to rid us of the nostrums and shopworn notions that cloud our thinking and constrain our politics.

Posted on Mar 27, 2009 READ MORE

Inside Bush’s War on Birth Control

A court ruling offers a chilling compendium of accounts by doctors and other FDA professionals who were routinely thwarted as they tried to make the “morning after” pill available, especially to teenagers.

Posted on Mar 26, 2009 READ MORE

AP photo / M. Spencer Green

America Is in Need of a Moral Bailout

The methods used to attain what we want, we are told by reality television programs, business schools and self-help gurus, are irrelevant. Success, always defined in terms of money and power, is its own justification. Our moral collapse is as terrifying, and as dangerous, as our economic collapse.

Posted on Mar 23, 2009 READ MORE

Sarah Palin
Flickr / geerlingguy

Sarah Palin Doesn’t Want Your Money

Sarah Palin is turning down about half of her state’s stimulus money, complaining that Washington is trying to engineer a bigger Alaskan government with funding for health care, energy programs and schools. Schools? How dare you, Washington?

Posted on Mar 19, 2009 READ MORE

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn

The False Idol of Unfettered Capitalism

The Ten Commandments were for the ancients, and are for us, the core rules that, when honored, hold us together, and when dishonored lead to alienation, discord and violence. The worship of the free market has turned out to be an idol, and like all idols it has now demanded its human sacrifice.

Posted on Mar 16, 2009 READ MORE

A Bad Fix Would Be No Fix

Advice to solve the financial crisis before even thinking about health care, energy or education is either misguided or disingenuous. Fortunately, Obama seems to be ignoring all the chatter.

Posted on Mar 12, 2009 READ MORE

school scene
AP photo / Carlos Osorio

The Rebirth of Education

A friend of mine, J.M. Zimmerman, once stated that to revitalize our schools, engage our children and ultimately save our planet will require “the death of education and its rebirth.” Sometimes systems are so flawed that they need to be scrapped and replaced rather than fiddled with or fixed. 

Posted on Mar 3, 2009 READ MORE

White House / Pete Souza

America’s New Trajectory

Just six weeks into his term, Obama has opened his bid to redraw the boundaries of our politics and expand the realm of the possible.

Posted on Mar 3, 2009 READ MORE

Bush and Tantoh
AP photo / J. Scott Applewhite

Africa’s Good Friend

Linda, a 24-year-old sex worker in Kigali, Rwanda, didn’t want to be tested for HIV because she feared she would find she would soon die. Her fear was not unfounded. Being aware of one’s HIV-positive status was a first step toward dying of AIDS in Rwanda, as in most parts of Africa. Anti-retroviral drugs were expensive and hard to come by. But that was before President Bush’s PEPFAR.

Posted on Feb 27, 2009 READ MORE

Flickr / Foraggio Fotographic

At Last, Accepting Some Clues From Across the Pond

We suddenly seem willing to consider sensible ideas that were always deemed unthinkable. Soon we may be mature enough to observe how other developed countries address problems that have baffled us for generations.

Posted on Feb 25, 2009 READ MORE

Government’s Long Night May Be Ending

Obama’s message was plain: The era of bashing government is over. So, too, is the folklore of a marketplace capable of producing abundance without regulation, oversight or public intervention.

Posted on Feb 25, 2009 READ MORE

White House

The President’s Address to Congress

In his first speech to a joint session of Congress, President Obama acknowledged the dire state of the economy, but struck a hopeful tone as he expanded on his vision for recovery. Investments in energy, education and health care will be key, he said, as will an expanded bailout of the financial sector. (Summary, video and full text after the jump)

Posted on Feb 24, 2009 READ MORE

High Ideals in Low Times

  If freedom is just another word for no high-flying jobs left for new college graduates to lose, it opens room for risk-taking. And—dare I say it?—idealism.

Posted on Feb 18, 2009 READ MORE

A Dubious Equality for Women

What wasn’t predicted was that women might finally reach the goal of equality less because they scaled the heights than because men slipped downward. But here we are.

Posted on Feb 11, 2009 READ MORE

Wikimedia Commons

Stimulus Survives Senate Pecking

The Senate passed its own version of the stimulus package Tuesday, slashing funding in areas that would most effectively stimulate the economy, such as aid to low-income Americans and states, while expanding tax cuts. The House and Senate bills must now be reconciled with one another.

Posted on Feb 10, 2009 READ MORE

Giving Obama the Benefit of the Doubt

Rarely has a new presidency been greeted with such a consensus of good will—and rarely has a new president so needed it.

Posted on Jan 20, 2009 READ MORE

It’s Over—and Not a Moment Too Soon

George W. Bush promised to restore “honor and dignity” to the White House, but he leaves with less honor and with lower public approval than any other president since Richard Nixon.

Posted on Jan 20, 2009 READ MORE

What Can Obama Learn From Bush?

The Bush administration’s specific failures—in foreign and domestic policy and on matters related to civil liberties—are clear enough. Yet the deeper cause of the public’s disaffection goes beyond these specifics.

Posted on Jan 20, 2009 READ MORE

Flickr / jphilipg

What Does $825 Billion of Stimulation Feel Like?

There will be negotiation, revision and capitulation, but the basic guts of the Democrats’ $825 billion stimulus package are out in the open. There’s billions for infrastructure, billions for schools and billions for you and me. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) responded by saying “Oh. My. God,” which we’ll take to mean, “Praise Jesus! The Democrats have done it again.”

Posted on Jan 15, 2009 READ MORE


Obama Gets to Work on Economy

In his weekly address posted on Friday, Barack Obama explains why he’s starting his job before assuming office: It’s the economy, stupid.

Posted on Jan 10, 2009 READ MORE

Let’s Pledge to Stop Being Stupid About Teen Sex

“Virginity pledges” are one of the ways that government officials measure whether abstinence-only education is “working.” They count the pledges as proof that teens will abstain. It turns out that this is like counting New Year’s resolutions as proof that you lost 10 pounds.

Posted on Jan 1, 2009 READ MORE

Economic Death and Millionaire Taxes

For most of us, Benjamin Franklin’s words in 1789 still apply: “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” However, millionaires, by definition, are not most of us.

Posted on Dec 26, 2008 READ MORE

Caracas Shopping

Chavez to Mall: Váyase!

Nothing says full of yourself like ordering a Venezuelan mayor to halt construction of a near-complete shopping mall after passing by it in a car. Obviously, President Hugo Chavez has a bit of a ego, though his suggestion to use the facility as a university or hospital, not as a monument to consumption and capitalism, does seem a bit more just.

Posted on Dec 24, 2008 READ MORE

Choice for Education Secretary Marks a New Path

  Because Arne Duncan gets along with teachers unions but is also seen as a reformer, his selection was interpreted as a politically shrewd, split-the-difference choice by Obama. But that is not the whole story.

Posted on Dec 19, 2008 READ MORE

Unions Aren’t the Problem

As Congress and the White House lurch toward possible approval of a loan package for the crippled auto industry, we are undoubtedly in store for more union-bashing.

Posted on Dec 9, 2008 READ MORE

AP photo / Douglas Healey

The Best and the Brightest Led America Off a Cliff

The multiple failures that beset the country can be laid at the feet of our elite universities. Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford, along with most other elite schools, do a poor job educating students to think. They focus instead on creating hordes of competent systems managers.

Posted on Dec 8, 2008 READ MORE

The Beauty of Free Money

No, the federal government isn’t going to discover new billions under some rock in a national park. But with the economic downturn, the new president’s imperative will be to spend as fast as he can, to the tune of perhaps $500 billion, to keep the economy from going belly up.

Posted on Dec 5, 2008 READ MORE

Report Fails 49 States on College Affordability

Because of its inexpensive community colleges, California was the only state to earn a passing grade in the affordability category of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education’s annual report. Just as the demand for quality education is expected to spike, too many students are priced out of college, the center found.

Posted on Dec 3, 2008 READ MORE

AP photo / Kiichiro Sato, file

Starving for Change

The swelling numbers waiting outside homeless shelters and food pantries around the country have grown by at least 30 percent since the summer. If Barack Obama continues to turn to the elites who created the mess, if he does not radically redirect the nation’s resources to assist the working class and the poor, we will become a third-world country.

Posted on Nov 24, 2008 READ MORE

book cover

Regina Marler on Ted Hughes’ Letters

A new volume of the late poet’s correspondence sheds fresh light on the anguish and art of Sylvia Plath.

Posted on Nov 21, 2008 READ MORE

The New Political Center

Obama can be expected to behave as Bush ought to have acted in a time of national crisis. That means drawing on goodwill wherever he can find it, drawing on talent regardless of party and drawing on the powerful desire of most Americans to live again in one nation.

Posted on Nov 6, 2008 READ MORE

Bill Bennett

Racism Is Over (at Least for Some Neocons)

Neoconservative white-guy Bill Bennett uttered a frightening example of what many fear will be a knock-back for minority rights in the U.S. Asked about how an Obama victory would affect perceptions of race, Bennett suggested that because one black man has been elected president, claims about institutionalized racism are no longer viable.

Posted on Nov 5, 2008 READ MORE

Flickr / zoonabar

California Bans Gay Marriage

Californians voted 52 percent to 48 percent to approve a despicable ballot measure banning gay marriage. The two sides spent more than $74 million, and in the end proponents of Prop. 8 won out by convincing voters that the measure would somehow protect children.

Posted on Nov 5, 2008 READ MORE

AP photo / Seth Perlman

No Child Left Behind Fails Us All

Truthdig asked Demitrious C. Sinor, an inspirational educator, to sound off on the state of our schools. He warns that unless the No Child Left Behind regime ends soon, America’s classrooms could unravel. It’s a reality that neither presidential candidate seems to fully understand, but one he sees every day, from where he sits.

Posted on Oct 21, 2008 READ MORE

End of a Catholic Commandment?

Catholics, who are quintessential swing voters and gave narrow but crucial support to President Bush in 2004, are drifting toward Barack Obama. And this time, some church leaders are suggesting that single-issue voting—such as on abortion—is by no means a Catholic commandment.

Posted on Oct 20, 2008 READ MORE

'Ayers' commercial

Fact-Checking McCain’s ‘Ayers’ Commercial

In this time of confusion and strife, it’s a good thing there’s to shine a light through the political fog that surrounds us all. Or something like that. Anyway, the FactCheck folks took a close look at the McCain campaign’s shadowy little commercial number, “Ayers,” and found it to be problematic on several counts.

Posted on Oct 11, 2008 READ MORE

Dept. of Education

Banking Collapse Lands on America’s Schools

One of the worst casualties of the Iraq war and the Wall Street failures is the U.S. public school system, which is central to the nation’s economic, intellectual and social health. With financial resources being consumed, education cuts are on the way. Thank you, John McCain and President George W. Bush.

Posted on Sep 29, 2008 READ MORE

AP photo / Ivan Sekretarev

Pakistani President Musharraf Resigns

After months of mounting pressure and speculation, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf announced Monday that he is stepping down, but not before defending his legacy, challenging his detractors and admitting that he “may have committed follies.”

Posted on Aug 18, 2008 READ MORE

Mr. Fish

Ray Bradbury on Literature and Love

The renowned author sits down with Truthdig literary editor Steve Wasserman to tell stories about his books, the many loves of his life—including dinosaurs and Halloween—and his own starring role in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s rise to fame.

Posted on Jul 28, 2008 READ MORE

Flickr / soldiersmediacenter

Counter-Recruiters Push for School Access

The No Child Left Behind Act forces high schools to allow military recruiters access to students. Counter-recruitment groups that pitch alternatives to military service are working around the country to try to limit the impact of the Pentagon’s $3.5-billion effort. One organization in the Los Angeles area is pushing, with some success, for equal access.

Posted on Jun 9, 2008 READ MORE

Baldwin Park High School

Liberating the Schoolhouse

UCLA professor Wellford Wilms, one of the nation’s leading authorities on the crisis of public education in America, offers a must-read counterpoint to Bush’s blather about “No Child Left Behind.”

Posted on Apr 30, 2008 READ MORE

English classroom
AP photo / H. Rumpf Jr.

When Teachers Are the Dropouts

Much is made of the dropout rate in America’s schools, and usually it’s the students who are the focus of the discussion. But what happens when teachers themselves opt out of their roles in the classroom? [In this short analysis, Truthdig educational expert Paul Cummins looks at teachers’ heartbreak, frustration and depression.]

Posted on Apr 25, 2008 READ MORE

Where Do We Go From Here?

It has been 40 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., while standing on the balcony outside his room at the Lorraine Motel.

Posted on Apr 2, 2008 READ MORE

On Geraldo and ‘Black Geniuses’

How weird is this presidential election? So weird that I’m about to give a nod of appreciation (of sorts) to Geraldo Rivera, of all people—and also to, gulp, Fox News.

Posted on Feb 25, 2008 READ MORE


Climate Change on Calif. Curriculum?

A California senator is working to push a bill through the state’s legislative channels that would make global warming a required study topic in California public schools, but detractors maintain that the science behind Sen. Joe Simitian’s proposed academic addition is unclear. 

Posted on Feb 18, 2008 READ MORE

Huckabee Doesn’t Cut It

Is the thought of him as president just vaguely scary? Or have we learned enough about the man that we should be hair-on-fire alarmed at the prospect, still pretty remote, that he could actually win?

Posted on Dec 13, 2007 READ MORE


It Came From Corporate America! has this entertaining take on the privatization of the Internet, a medium that was once public, open and collaborative, but has since been taken over by corporate juggernauts. It’s not something we all think about, but it wasn’t so long ago that the Internet was organized around information and education, as opposed to shopping.

Posted on Dec 4, 2007 READ MORE

Okinawa protest
AP photo / Kyodo News

Outrage in Okinawa Over Edited History Books

Japan’s education ministry has generated protest in Okinawa by erasing one of the country’s worst moments from history textbooks.  Okinawans who lost loved ones when the Japanese army ordered them to commit suicide during World War II are bitterly battling the historical omission.

Posted on Nov 17, 2007 READ MORE

A Faith-Based Boondoggle

Countless studies show that abstinence-only sex education just doesn’t work, so why is it getting more money than ever from the federal government?

Posted on Nov 15, 2007 READ MORE

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