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Written by Todd Engdahl on Jan 31st, 2013. | Copyright © EdNewsColorado.org
A group of 10 Republican lawmakers has introduced a measure that would allow parents to petition the State Board of Education for conversion of struggling schools.
The “parent trigger” proposal introduced Thursday, House Bill 13-1172, is similar to a 2012 bill that passed the House but died in a Senate committee (see story).
But this year’s version comes with a twist – it also proposes to convert the state’s district and school rating categories to a system of A-F letter grades.
The trigger portion of the bill is fairly mild. It would allow parents of students at schools that have been tagged with the lowest ratings – “priority improvement” or “turnaround” – for two or more years to petition the state board to take action. The board could deny the petition, direct the local school board to act or defer a decision for a year.
The state’s current accreditation law requires the state board to act on schools that have been listed in those two categories for five consecutive years. Such schools can be closed, converted to charters or otherwise converted. The system enters its fourth year next July, and the conversion clock is ticking louder for several schools around the state. (See this EdNews story about the latest district ratings andthis article for details on school ratings.)
The current system assigns five rating categories to districts and four to schools. Both would be converted to letter grades by the bill.
Letter grades for schools are a touchy issue in education. Some education reformers and conservative lawmakers think they are easier for parents to understand and would generate more public pressure for improvements, while many educators resist them as simplistic and punitive.
In Colorado the business-related group Colorado Succeeds, along with other organizations, runs a shadow rating system that uses Department of Education data to put schools into a letter-grade system. (SeeColorado School Grades.)
Medicaid vs. educationLast year’s parent trigger bill – without the A-F grades – had a prominent Democratic sponsor – Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver and a leading education reform voice. This year’s bill currently has only Republicans backing it. The prime sponsors are GOP Rep. Kevin Priola of Henderson and Sen. Scott Renfroe of Greeley.
Medicaid vs. education
Many Republican lawmakers don’t like “Obamacare,” including its expansion of the Medicaid program. They’re concerned that in the years ahead the state could find itself picking up the tab for that expansion, putting the squeeze on other state programs such as education. Expansion critics are unhappy with Gov. John Hickenlooper’s announcement earlier this month that Colorado would participate in Medicaid expansion. (See this Associated Press story for details.)
Republicans have expressed their dissatisfaction by introducing two bills.
The first, Senate Bill 13-006, would have banned state spending on Medicaid expansion if that caused a reduction of K-12 spending.
Sen. David Balmer, R-Centennial, made his best pitch Thursday to the Senate Education Committee, but the outcome wasn’t in doubt. The panel’s Democratic majority killed the bill on a 5-4 vote.
“I appreciate the spirit in which you brought this,” Johnston told Balmer. “I think this bill is really a debate about Medicaid rather than education. … I feel like this bill is asking us to hit a nail with a saw.”
“Sorry you didn’t have the happiest outcome, but we had a nice conversation,” committee chair Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, said to Balmer after his bill was “postponed indefinitely,” to use the the legislative term for what happened.
As it happened, another Medicaid-education bill was introduced on Thursday, but it would take a different bite of the apple.
House Bill 13-1175 would ban any state spending on Medicaid expansion until state support of higher education reaches $747 million a year. It’s currently about $513 million, plus another $100 million for financial aid. The bill’s sole sponsor is Rep. Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland.
Speaking of trying again
Also introduced Thursday was House Bill 13-1176, a Republican-sponsored measure that would allow income tax credits for private school tuition and for donations to private school scholarships.
If this sounds familiar, you’re thinking of Senate Bill 13-069, which was introduced earlier this month and proposes the same thing.
Duplicate bills are introduced periodically, usual by minority party members who know their original proposal will be killed but who want to at least have the debate in both houses, even though they know the second version of the bill also is doomed. Legislative procedures require that every bill get at least one committee hearing.
Another clone bill was introduced Wednesday. House Bill 13-1170 would allow individual school boards to decide whether to have staff members carry guns at school, if those employees hold concealed-carry permits. The Senate Judiciary Committee killed Senate Bill 13-009, the original version of that idea, on Monday (see story).
uesday, July 10, 2012
Today, July 10, 2012, Sheriff Joe Pelle will amend the current fire ban by allowing open burning on the plains of Boulder County. The ban will continue to prohibit open burning in the mountains, with the exception of campfires and charcoal grills in permanent and maintained fire pits in campgrounds and on private property. The sale and use of fireworks will continue to be banned in the mountain areas of Boulder County. The new amendments to the fire ban will take effect at noon today.
Here’s what gets me.
I’m going to write every filthy, disgusting, dirty word you have ever seen or heard right now: abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz.
There. That wasn’t so bad, was it?
“What?” you say? “That’s just the alphabet,” you say?
Correct, but it contains every dirty word ever written and every dirty word that ever will be written. You just have to string the improper letters together, assuming you didn’t stop reading when I announced what I was going to do.
Now, what is it with so-called “dirty” words that causes such an uproar? We have all heard them, and many of us have used them. Then, why is it we make such a stink about them when we see them in print or hear them in movies, radio or television?
The reason is that somewhere along the line we made an unwritten agreement that certain words are “dirty” and out of place in “polite” society, and people who use them anyway can get into big trouble.
Lenny Bruce, the controversial comedian who died in 1966 at 40, got into big trouble for being “obscene” on stage. What did he do? He offended society.
Now, what is the problem with dirty words? Is it the content or the form that is offensive?
Well, it cannot be the content, because if one word for the human anatomy or a physical act is considered to be offensive, another word that means exactly the same thing is not. Why is that?
We won’t allow the most common word for the act of love, but we will allow “sexual intercourse,” “coitus,” “copulation,” “hiding the sausage” and “dancing the horizontal mambo,” among many many others.
Why? Because the one word that is shortest of all and has no ambiguous meaning in that context has been banned by “polite” society.
Also, we don’t allow certain slang words for various parts of the human anatomy, but “penis,” “vagina,” “breast” and “anus” are perfectly acceptable. Why?
Although “Saturday Night Live” once got into trouble for saying the word “penis” 23 times in one sketch, after Lorena Bobbitt sliced her husband’s sausage and made all the newspapers, network news programs and late-night talk shows, using any other word would have made the speakers look prudish and foolish.
Wait a minute, however. It cannot be the form that is dirty, either. “Cock” is perfectly acceptable when it means a rooster. “Pussy” is perfectly acceptable when it means a cat. And “tit” is perfectly acceptable when it means in exchange for tat.
So, what’s the big deal with dirty words if the offense is neither in the content nor in the form? Could it be the intent? Do we get offended by certain words only because we believe that the speaker or writer intended to offend us?
But that’s not being fair, nor is it being logical. If we take offense by what we believe was someone’s intent, then are we saying we have the power of knowing what people want to do before they do it? Is that what we are saying?
We are proud of the fact that our Constitution guarantees us the right of free speech. And yet we don’t allow everyone to practice free speech. We censor free speech. Why?
Well, now you’re going to say that something I might say might offend you. But, wait a minute. Something that might offend you will not offend somebody else.
Therefore, are you saying that you are better than those unoffended people and know more than they do? Is that what you are saying?
Hold onto your seats. I am going to offend you. I am going to write the common, four-letter word that means the supreme, gentle, tenderest, everynight act of love. Here it comes: f—. Were you offended?
You have seen that before, haven’t you? People are offended when they see all the letters, but not when the newspaper substitutes hyphens for some of the letters.
What sense is that? You know what it means, I know what it means and the newspaper knows what it means. But somewhere along the line we agreed that we won’t be offended when we see symbolic hyphens.
Why don’t we just agree that we won’t be offended by any word, no matter how s—- it is?
After all, a word is only another symbol for an object or an idea, and we all have the power to make a symbol mean anything we choose.
Now, isn’t that silly?
I rest my case.
Spoiler alert: Barring unforeseen circumstances, Elena Kagan will be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Even Fox News admits as much. Reporter Carl Cameron called her confirmation “likely”; Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace said she’ll “sail through”; Fox political analyst Charles Krauthammer called it “a shoo-in”; Fox reporter Shannon Bream predicted she’ll get GOP votes; and Fox senior analyst Brit Hume said there’s “nothing” that would merit a filibuster.
Part of the reason for her expected confirmation is that Kagan not only has bipartisan support and a “fantastic resume,” but the ammunition prepared against her in the weeks leading up to the hearings — see them debunked by Media Matters here — have fallen flat.
Still, that hasn’t stopped Republicans and their conservative media counterparts from pushing tired falsehoods and myths. But why fight a battle when even their cheerleaders at Fox think the outcome has been virtually decided?
As conservatives made clear months before the hearings, the opposition is based on politics rather than Kagan’s actual qualifications and opinions. In other words, the Kagan confirmation battle is just one piece of the larger battle for the Supreme Court. As Democrats hold confirmation power in the U.S. Senate, and nomination power in the White House, conservatives need to shift power in upcoming elections. And on point, conservative media figures have used the Kagan hearings to drum up old caricatures about Democrats and progressives on old base issues like god, guns, abortion and the military.
The most popular Kagan myth is that she banned military recruiters while dean at Harvard Law. In reality, Harvard students had access to military recruiters throughout her tenure, were allowed access to Harvard’s Office of Career Services, and military veterans at Harvard Law spoke out in favor of Kagan.
Those facts haven’t stopped Fox News, The Washington Times, the New York Post, and The Weekly Standard from pushing the “military ban” myth. The talking point also found prominence on the Sunday talk shows, where the hosts for CNN, Fox, and NBC failed to challenge Republican officials spouting the attack.
With his characteristic charm, botanist Michael Savage, who also hosts a radio show, called Kagan “an unqualified idiot” because she puts her “gay agenda” ahead of national security. Rush Limbaugh said Kagan “doesn’t like the U.S. military.” Laura Ingraham claimed Kagan believes “military recruiters are second-class citizens.” And radio host and Washington Times columnist Jeff Kuhner claimed Kagan’s action towards military recruiters “was an act of treason.”
Conservatives have also set their sights on a memo Kagan wrote in 1987, distorting it to claim that she’s anti-Second amendment. CNN’s Erick Erickson, last seen touting his wife’s shotgun and calling Justice David Souter a “goat fucking child molester,” said Kagan is “hostile to Second Amendment rights.” Michelle Malkin wrote that Kagan has “hostility to the 2nd Amendment.” And Limbaugh claimed Kagan “would have voted against the Second Amendment.”
In reality, Kagan’s Second Amendment views are within the mainstream, and Justice Antonin Scalia has agreed with Kagan that Second Amendment rights are “not unlimited.”
Conservative media have also ramped up claims that Kagan is hostile to religion. Late last week, Matt Drudge promoted an attack by Rabbi Yehuda Levin of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, who attacked Kagan for turning “traditional Judaism on its head” because she supposedly wants to “homosexualize every segment of society.” Strong words made more understandable when one realizes that Rabbi Levin is a hateful bigot. Not only has he spent much of his adult life protesting gays and lesbians (even going so far as to protest the inclusion of gays in a Holocaust museum), Rabbi Levin has claimed gays are responsible for 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the earthquake in Haiti. Fun fact: they’re not!
Savage, the fourth most popular radio talker in the country, has provided a clearinghouse for personal attacks on Kagan. He called “Kagan the pagan” a “bagel and lox Jew” who “shuns her own religion.” He also said Kagan has “aesthetics” problems, “looks like she belongs in a kosher deli,” and “we understand that they gave her makeup, lipstick, and pearls to make her look like a woman.”
When it comes to abortion, Fox News host and recovering lawyer Megyn Kelly falsely claimed that Kagan advised President Clinton to “essentially” endorse a health exception that would have allowed women to “get an abortion in the third trimester” because of “a headache.” In reality, Kagan advocated for a middle position that would have banned late-term abortions with a narrowly drawn health exception.
Limbaugh took the baby-killer meme one step further by claiming that Kagan “may have a bigger problem with me eating an egg than with a woman killing her child.”
If the Kagan myths and smears sound familiar, it’s because they’re virtually the same caricatures used against Democrats for years. Barack Obama, you’ll remember, is the pro-baby killing candidate with questionable faith and a desire to replace the military and take your guns.
Of course, none of that has happened. The claims were rhetorical grandstanding for votes, money, and viewers — a playbook repeated during the Kagan hearings.
Fox News still failing econ
Earlier this week, America’s Newsroom, one of Fox News’ purported straight news programs, aired a chart claiming to show “job loss by quarter.” What the chart actually showed was the number of unemployed during four random quarters over the past two-and-a-half years — and Fox News’ lax research standards and accountability.
As Media Matters’ Jocie Fong noted, Fox News’ chart appears to have been deliberately manipulated to generate a less favorable trend line for the Obama administration. The chart used a straight red line to show that job loses have been on the rise since December 2007 to this month. But the chart distorted the scale of the horizontal and vertical axes and included only four data points, thereby omitting any information from the 15-month period between March 2009 and June 2010. Fox viewers came away with the false notion that the unemployment trend has been unchanged since the beginning of the recession.
On Fox & Friends, Brian Kilmeade — whose economic background includes charting the number of Swedish “pure genes” compared to those of Americans — said the chart shows the stimulus “doesn’t seem to be helping” (prominent economics not named Kilmeade disagree).
Fox & Friends also repeatedly attacked Obama’s recent town hall remarks on the stimulus by falsely referring to the stimulus as the “bailout” and claiming that it “didn’t work.” Fox News, and their colleagues in the conservative media, also falsely suggested that Vice President Joe Biden admitted the stimulus failed when he said, “There’s no possibility to restore 8 million jobs lost in the Great Recession”; and attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for stating that unemployment insurance stimulates the economy and creates jobs (economists agree that extending unemployment insurance has a strong stimulative effect on GDP and employment during a recession).
As regular readers of Media Matters know, mistakes like this are fairly common for Fox News. In that vein, Media Matters sent its seventh letter to Fox News senior vice president Michael Clemente to ask how the network would handle its recent on-air errors, such as the bogus “job loss” chart, in light of the network’s “zero tolerance” policy. Media Matters has sent Clemente six previous letters about such errors but has yet to receive a response.
Glenn Beck’s principles don’t apply to Glenn Beck
Back in early January 2009, as President Obama was preparing to enter the White House, Glenn Beck was readying his own (lower-stakes) move from CNN Headline News to Fox News. Promoing his forthcoming show, Beck claimed he was “tired of the politics of left and right” and decried conservatives who say things like “Oh, those donkeys trying to turn us into communist Russia.” He then yelled, “Stop!”
Beck’s proclamation was a tad hypocritical since he had a long, pre-Fox history of comparing progressives to Russian communists, Marxists and socialists. And in the first several weeks of his Fox News program, Beck continued the trend by similarly smearing Democrats and their policies.
Fast forward to today. As Media Matters’ Ben Dimiero noted, history professor Beck has spent significant time trying to rehabilitate the supposed unfairly tarnished legacy of Joseph McCarthy. Beck added that today, “Marxism is alive and well” and “thriving here in the United States.” In other words, as Beck might put it, “those donkeys [are] trying to turn us into communist Russia.”
Speaking of fear-mongering about “Marxism,” Beck also continued to attack President Obama’s family this week, stating: “[H]is dad leaves him for Marxism, his mom leaves him for Marxism.” Just weeks ago, Beck commented that “there is absolutely no excuse or reason to ever, ever, ever, ever even come close to the line of dragging somebody’s family into the debate.”
Glenn Beck’s principles simply don’t apply to Glenn Beck.
This weekly wrap-up was compiled by Eric Hananoki, a research fellow at Media Matters for America.