Open Thread — Russians and Trump

It’s 5:00, and this is the first chance that I’ve had to geek out on the blog and CNN. I had to make a full dinner in the middle of the afternoon, so Jonah could get some calories in him before work. He’s about the only person to subsist on soda, leftover bread and french fries, and half eaten steak sandwich, who loses weight. He’s dipping below 130. Anymore weight loss, and my Italian mother is going to berate me in hourly phone calls.

Because I’m catching up on the news, I’m going to hold off on blogging.

Any opinions?

Comey’s Testimony

So, let’s talk Comey. I watched the whole thing this morning, along with another bazillion hours of CNN commentary.  I’m going to dash out some quick thought tonight, because I’ll be at Jonah’s college tomorrow helping him pick out his classes for the fall.

  • Comey was very, very impressive. Even when he admitting his failures, he came off as very likable.
  • Russia interfered with our elections. Full stop. That wasn’t a grey area. There is “no fuzz” on that statement. They fucked with our elections. At the very least, that is strongest statement that we’ve heard to date. I want to know more.
  • Donald Trump is a toddler who has no idea about how DC politics works. He used to Jersey and New York City style politics where loyalty-shit means a lot. This is how business and politics happens here. There are no rules. Politics is a family business here. Trump does not understand that he can’t do that in Washington.
  • Ryan said Trump is new to politics and is learning the rules. But that’s no excuse. He’s the president. And ignorance of the law is never a defense for breaking law.
  • They don’t have enough evidence for obstruction of justice. They don’t. Trump did try to obstruct the Flynn investigation, but they can’t prove it.
  • Why did Trump try to push Comey off of Flynn’s trail? Is it because Trump just liked Flynn and wanted to help him out? Or was there something more? Right now, I think Trump just liked Flynn.
  • There is no evidence that Trump knew anything about Russian interference. I don’t think he knew that Russians were involved and had any hand in it. Trump doesn’t want to admit to this interference, because it taints his win and that’s all he cares about.
  • Trump is in trouble just the same. Big trouble. The news cycle is all Comey, Comey, Comey. And Comey did paint Trump in a very damaging light. Trump came off as a weirdo, an ass, a loose cannon, a child, and all those things that we already knew about him. But now more people know it.
  • McCain? Drugs?
  • Loretta Lynch is in trouble now, too. And so is Clinton.
  • The conservatives are spinning all this to say that Lynch is corrupt, too and Comey is a weakling, so let’s not talk about anything else.

 

Chicago’s New Graduation Requirements

Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed a new high school requirement for the kids in Chicago. They need to have a post-graduation plan.

Emanuel’s proposal would add one more big item to the graduation checklist for high school seniors: proof they’ve been accepted into college or the military, or a trade or a “gap-year” program. The requirement would also be satisfied if the student has a job or a job offer.

The point, the mayor said, is to get Chicago Public Schools students in all parts of the city to stop seeing high school graduation as an ending and get them to consider what’s next.

There are a couple of important stats in the Chicago Tribune article:

  •  The district’s five-year high school graduation rate last year hovered at around 73 percent, despite broad race-based disparities.
  • As of 2015, the University of Chicago’s Consortium on School Research concluded an estimated 18 percent of CPS ninth-graders would graduate from a four-year college within ten years of starting high school.

Will Emanuel’s plan mean that fewer kids graduate from high school? Will Emanuel’s plan dump a bunch of kids into the community college system who will spend years floundering in remedial classes?

Meanwhile New York City is struggling with the same problems. What do you do with kids who have been badly educated in the public schools? How do the community colleges pick up the pieces?

In NYC, the kids are shuffled along to CUNY’s community colleges, which immediately plop them in remedial classes because they can’t read or add.  80% of incoming freshmen at CUNY school need remediation.

But the kids get stuck in those remedial classes. Only 50% complete the program in a year. And the kids who do make it through the years of remedial classes AND then basic classes in the community college system AND THEN, finally, get to a four-year CUNY college, can’t finish. You know why? Because they run out of loan money. They’ve spent thousand and thousands of dollars just getting the basic education that they should have gotten for free in the public schools, and then don’t have anything left for college.

CUNY is revamping their remedial programs, so the kids don’t get stuck in them for too long, but then they’re just going to end up totally unprepared for the regular classes and will fail out.

It’s easy to make policies. It’s hard to actually make change.

Mike Pence’s Marriage

Emma Green at the Atlantic sums up a Wash Post article on Mike Pence. (I’ve used up my free articles at the WaPo for the week.)

The Washington Post ran a profile of Karen Pence, the wife of Vice President Mike Pence, on Wednesday. The piece talks about the closeness of the Pences’ relationship, and cites something Pence told The Hill in 2002: Unless his wife is there, he never eats alone with another woman or attends an event where alcohol is being served. (It’s unclear whether, 15 years later, this remains Pence’s practice.) It’s not in the Post piece, but here’s the original quote from 2002: “‘If there’s alcohol being served and people are being loose, I want to have the best-looking brunette in the room standing next to me,’ Pence said.”

Steve and I never ever considered such a move. Not going anywhere were alcohol is served without my spouse would SEVERELY impact my social life.

But I’m not feeling that judgy today. I spent some time over the weekend with friends who were divorced, and if that kind of craziness keeps the Pence marriage strong, then whatever.

I suspect that Pence isn’t that unusual. I’ve been to parties where it was assumed that the men would socialize in one room, the women in the other. I was given the eyeball, if I talked to the guys for too long. I doubt anybody thought I was trying to snatch up their man, but socializing with the other gender was considered weird. Typically, we try to avoid those sorts of affairs, but they do exist.

How a New Supreme Court Ruling Could Affect Special Education

In a stunning 8-0 decision in the case Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a higher standard of education for children with disabilities. Advocates and parents say the case dramatically expands the rights of special-education students in the United States, creates a nationwide standard for special education, and empowers parents as they advocate for their children in schools. But critics say the decision will not have any impact on schools, arguing that the vast majority already provide a good education for those kids.

As I explained in January, the parents of Endrew F. removed him from his local public school, where he made little progress, and placed him in a private school, where they said he made “significant” academic and social improvement.

In 2012, Drew’s parents filed a complaint with the Colorado Department of Education to recover the cost of tuition at the school, which is now about $70,000 per year. The lower courts ruled on behalf of the school district on the grounds that the intent of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is to ensure handicapped kids have access to public education—not to guarantee any particular level of education once inside. But the parents appealed, with the case eventually landing at the Supreme Court.

More here.

Landmark Decision for Special Education

I wrote about Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District for the Atlantic in January. At that time, the case was under review by Supreme Court. The justices were debating whether or not children with special needs were entitled to an education that provided them with de minimus benefits — basically no benefits – or whether they were entitled an education that enabled them to make progress.

Today, SCOTUS ruled in favor of Endew F. and all special ed kids. Yahoo!

And this happened just as Judge Neil Gorsuch was being questioned by the Senate. He was forced to explain to Congress why he ruled against special education students in several cases. He was forced to admit that he was wrong.

Oh, life is very, very good today.

Turmoil on the College Campus (and elsewhere)

I’m pulling together research on the on-going protests on college campuses. I don’t have an article in the works yet. Just gathering info. I thought I would share some of the links here this afternoon without commentary.

Fox News reports on research from Brookings that found that most of the protests to date have happened at schools with a wealthier student body. “Since 2014, at the 90 or so colleges that have tried to disinvite conservatives from speaking, the average student comes from a family with an annual income $32,000 higher than that of the overall average student in America, the Brookings study found.”

In the Chronicle, Stanley Fish pushes back against the idea that a university is a place for free speech.

Freedom of speech is not an academic value. Accuracy of speech is an academic value; completeness of speech is an academic value; relevance of speech is an academic value. Each of these values is directly related to the goal of academic inquiry: getting a matter of fact right. The operative commonplace is “following the evidence wherever it leads.” You can’t do that if your sources are suspect or nonexistent; you can’t do that if you only consider evidence favorable to your biases; you can’t do that if your evidence is far afield and hasn’t been persuasively connected to the instant matter of fact.

Charles Murray continues to give campus talks. He was at Duke and Columbia this week. The faculty at Columbia released a statement.

The University of Chicago is creating a system for punishing students who violate their free speech policy.

The Chronicle has a great round-up of all the campus protests against conservative speakers, as well as the white supremacist garbage that’s also going on.

Another opinion in the Chronicle:

The desire to cleanse the campus of dissident voices has become something of a mission. Shaming, scapegoating, and periodic ritual exorcisms are a prime feature of campus life. A distinguished scholar at my own college writes in an open email letter to the faculty that when colleagues who are “different” (in his case, nonwhite, nonstraight, nonmale) speak to us we are compelled not merely to listen but to “validate their experiences.” When we meet at a faculty reception a week or so later and he asks what I think of his letter, I tell him I admire his willingness to share his thoughts but have been puzzling over the word “compelled” and the expression “validate their experiences.” Does he mean thereby to suggest that if we have doubts or misgivings about what a colleague has said to us, we should keep our mouths firmly shut? Exactly, replies my earnest, right-minded colleague.

A profile of FIRE.

Another shouting down of a speaker at McMasters College.

This is just two days of articles. I feel like things are heating up. And not just on the college campus. I went to a meeting for local Democratic women a few weeks ago. It was the first time I went to one of their events. It was standing room only. Lots of first timers there.