Sound the Trumpet for Student Debt Jubilee

Trumpet the sound for Student Debt Jubilee

Progressive Graffiti

Maybe it’s time for Student Debt Jubilee. Student loan forgiveness would not only give a reprieve to those in debt, it would create an economic upswell for all of America. Imagine the boon to our economy if student loan debtors could afford to replace old shoes, cars, and washing machines — instead of merely paying down the compound interest of their student loans. 

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Knowledge, Intelligence and Wisdom

by rebeccaMpells

first posted on RHYMES&REASONS http://rebeccapells.com/

I recently visited the New Birmingham(UK) Library which was officially opened by Malala Yousafzai.  It struck me that this 16 year old girl, thrust into the limelight following her fight for education in her homeland of Pakistan, already displays the hallmarks of wisdom.   I cannot deny that the library is a wonderful facility, crammed with information gathered, written and published through previous generations and which can now be accessed in any number of traditional and technical ways.

As time goes by and our understanding of the world expands, new discoveries are made and life becomes increasingly complex, so does the amount of knowledge recorded, shared and passed onto our children.  Each generation has to start at the beginning to learn the basics and despite increasing years spent in formal education, most of us can only hope to ever reach the lower echelons of the pyramid of knowledge. Our way of handling this overwhelming amount of information is to specialize and become experts in one tiny sphere and as such our outlook on life is forever skewed by our lens of choice.  When faced with challenges beyond that field of vision we believe it is not our problem, that someone else will have the knowledge to fix it and we relinquish any sense of personal responsibility.

How we record and share copious amounts of knowledge is one thing,  but for me the moot point is whether our propensity to spend greater amounts of time in formal education is producing the collective wisdom required to tackle the global challenges of 21st century life. Just 80 years ago in the so called western countries it was the norm to leave school at 14; today many are studying well into their twenties and yet the evidence that this has produced an equivalent increase in wisdom is not obvious. If we look at those individuals whose actions have had positive benefits for large numbers of people – Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela – they are few and far between, perhaps one or two per generation.  None of them benefited from extended formal education and yet arguably they displayed a wisdom most of us are in awe of.  Can such wisdom be taught in a classroom or is it something which is innate in a few individuals and which given the opportunity, will propel that person to act for the greater good?  Do they perhaps view the world through a wide angle lens rather than one which has narrowed it’s focus?  In trying to increase our knowledge with unprecedented amounts of information are we actually overloading our minds and cluttering our ability for clear and wise thinking?

In an era which has for the first time in history enabled us to be acutely aware of global issues, does the forum and delivery of knowledge and the nurturing of intelligence require a different approach?  The encouragement of modern individualism seems at odds with the challenges which need addressing in the 21st century.  In Malala maybe we are witnessing one such wise individual but it seems we are far from knowing how to harness, share and encourage a collective wisdom.

New York City is segregating by Class just like in the Gilded Age

By Robert A. Vella

Remember the Titanic, that marvel of ocean liner technology which infamously sank in 1912 after striking an iceberg?  Over 1500 people died that night in the icy-cold waters of the North Atlantic.  Of those deaths, poor immigrants from Europe were hit the hardest for they occupied the lowest decks of the ship and were largely separated from the rest of the passengers.  Titanic was essentially a segregated floating community built near the end of the Gilded Age.  Its wealthy aristocracy (first class) living high atop the luxurious vessel, its middle class (second class) denizens residing somewhat lower, and its desperate steerage class (third class) huddling at the bottom.

Now more than a century later, New York City – the planned destination of the Titanic – is re-segregating along similar lines.

Charter schools (i.e. the privatization of public education) are rapidly expanding in the “Big Apple” and across the nation.  Pushed by powerful commercial interests with allies in both political parties, this fundamental transformation of education seems unstoppable.  However, its actual performance in teaching children has been questionable so far, and its role in increasing social segregation is beginning to be well documented.

From The Washington PostThe link between charter school expansion and increasing segregation

Studies in a number of different states and school districts in the United States show that charter schools often lead to increased school segregation, a finding that is consistent with research in a number of other countries, including Australia. In many cases — not all — school choice programs exacerbate current school segregation and, in more heterogeneous settings, lead to the stratification of students who were previously in integrated environments.

From the Huffington PostThe Nation’s Most Segregated Schools Aren’t Where You’d Think They’d Be

NEW YORK — The nation’s most segregated schools aren’t in the deep south — they’re in New York, according to a report released Tuesday by the University of California, Los Angeles’ Civil Rights Project.

See also UCLA Civil Rights Project – Choice Without Equity:
 Charter School Segregation and the Need for Civil Rights Standards

In addition to education, New York City is also re-segregating in its housing practices.

From ThinkProgressLuxury Apartment Building Will Have Separate Door For Poor Residents

A luxury condo building on New York City’s Upper West Side has gotten clearance from the city to have a separate entrance, or a “poor door,” for low-income tenants, according to the New York Post.

Extell, which is building the 33-story complex, will build a specific door for the 55 affordable housing units it’s including in order to be allowed to build a bigger building. The low-income units, which are available to people making 60 percent of median income or less, will also be in a segment that only contains affordable apartments and that faces the street while the luxury apartments will face the river.

In New York City, this arrangement is relatively common. Luxury builders get credits to use up more square footage than they normally could by promising to build affordable units as well. Those developers can then sell the credits to cover the costs of building the low-income housing. Because Extell considers the affordable segment to be legally separate from the rest of the building, it says it is required to have different entrances.

Welcome to the New Gilded Age, New York.  If you can segregate there, you can segregate anywhere!

60 Years After Brown v. Board, Will Congress Revive a Dual School System?

The Secular Jurist

Congress is considering new charter legislation, awarding more money to the charter sector, which will operate with minimal accountability or transparency.

The bill has already passed the House of Representatives with a bipartisan majority and now moves to the Senate.

Make no mistake: On the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board decision, Congress is set to expand a dual school system. One sector, privately managed, may choose its students, exclude those who might pull down its test scores and kick out those it doesn’t want. The other sector — the public schools — must take in all students, even those kicked out by the charters.

http://billmoyers.com/2014/05/21/60-years-after-brown-v-board-will-congress-revive-a-dual-school-system/

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Study: Economic mobility depends on the state you live in | Culture of Resistance

Study: Economic mobility depends on the state you live in | Culture of Resistance.

The ability of individuals to achieve the American dream depends on where they live, according to the first state-by-state look at the opportunity to move up the economic ladder.

People who live in Maryland, New JerseyNew York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Utah are more likely to improve their economic standing after their prime working years than the typical American, a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts finds.

In Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas, people are less likely to improve their economic standing, and in some cases, are falling behind.

Economic mobility “is a measure of opportunity and a measure of the health of the American dream,” says Erin Currier of Pew’s Economic Mobility Project.

Educational attainment, the ability to save or gain assets and neighborhood poverty impact economic mobility, Currier says.

The study used Census and Social Security Administration earnings data for individuals born from 1943 to 1958. It focused on prime working years, the 10 years from ages 35-39 and 45-49.

Timothy Smeeding, director of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says people are more likely to do better for themselves — and their children are likely to do better — in states with more educated residents and more dynamic economies, such as those in the Northeast.

“This study shows place matter,” Smeeding says. “It shows the American dream is harder to reach in some places.”

Scott Winship, a fellow of economic studies with Brookings Institution, says economic mobility is particularly important for the poor. He says 40% of the people who are born in the bottom rung of the economic ladder stay there.

In North Carolina, where the poverty rate is 16% and unemployment hovers at 9.7%, it’s not surprising that fewer residents move up economically, says Gene Nichol, director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

“The South is the native home of American poverty,” he says.

Timothy Bartik, senior economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Michigan, says higher moblity in that state is likely due to higher wages in manufacturing and public sector jobs compared to other states. However, he says the state has been hurt by cuts in the number of manufacturing and public sector jobs.

“Unless Michigan can either reverse these trends or boost educational attainment in the future, any current high ranking it might have in economic mobility will tend to decline over time,” he says.

(via america-wakiewakie)

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