Today's news -- December 4, 2017





Welcome to Florida, the benighted state *

One of Florida’s three nicknames is the Sunshine State. We should add at least one more: the Benighted State. You see, our anti-intellectual lawmakers in Tallahassee recently passed a law that institutionalizes academic censorship in our public schools. These politicians are urged on by the ultra-conservative group the Florida Citizens Alliance, anti-science zealots. Here is the bill’s language: Each district school board must adopt a policy regarding an objection by a parent or a resident of the county to the use of a specific instructional material, which clearly describes a process to handle all objections and provides for resolution. The "instructional material" includes movies, textbooks and novels. The legislation also includes general guidelines establishing grounds for censorship: The material is pornographic; it is not suited to the student needs and ability to comprehend the material; it is inappropriate for the grade level and age group. A so-called "unbiased hearing officer," hired by the board, will handle complaints and advise the board on what action to take against material. The Florida Citizens Alliance’s managing director, Keith Flaugh, argued in a statement that our schools are using pornographic materials and textbooks that "totally distort our founding values and principles. They are teaching our kids socialism versus free markets. They are teaching our kids that the government is our nanny, the government is supposed to protect them." Fortunately, educators such as Brandon Haught, spokesman for Florida Citizens for Science, know that the legislation is a cynical ploy by ideologues to suppress information about evolution and climate change. "The alliance is pushing their narrow ideology on the public schools in any way they can and so far they’re meeting with success," Haught said. "I can’t speak for the other academic subjects they’re targeting, but I know beyond a doubt that their ideology when it comes to science is grossly ignorant and doesn’t belong anywhere near a classroom." Right-wing lawmakers pretend the new law will protect children from liberal ideas and practices. These people are hypocrites. The censorship law should be universal. It should apply to all public schools, including charter and voucher schools that operate on public tax dollars. This is not the case. Voucher and charter schools are exempted from the institutionalized censorship. If the legislation is about accountability, as lawmakers claim, then charter and voucher schools also should be held accountable. The ugly truth is that Republicans are turning our traditional public schools into centers of cultural conflict, where popular ignorance is valued over wisdom, inconvenient truths and exploration. A high school student in Dixie County is having none of it. Here is how the student responded to a district email listing novels to be banned: "As a high school student it angered me when they read the email to us. What HIGH SCHOOL student doesn’t know about ‘profanity, curiosity or inappropriate subject matter’? Please name one. I would understand if this was elementary students but high school come on. We are gonna learn about it one way or another!" A child proves to be wiser than conservative adults. The other night, I watched the 1957 film Peyton Place again because I recalled the scene in which Michael Rossi, the new high school principal, explains his philosophy of education to Elsie Thornton, a veteran teacher. Remember, Peyton Place was released during Dwight Eisenhower’s presidency. "The things we can’t see are the most important on this Earth," Rossi said. "They’re called ideas. I have two rules: First, I want this school to teach the truth, as far as we know it. I don’t want any teacher making a fairy tale out of life. It’s hard enough as it is without being equipped to meet it. And rule two: Teach a minimum of facts and a maximum of ideas. Our job is to teach children how to think, not just to memorize for a couple of weeks." I always remembered Rossi’s rules and applied them throughout my career as a teacher. Fortunately, I had supervisors who believed that exposing students to challenging ideas and material is sound pedagogy, helping young minds mature emotionally and intellectually. I have two grandsons in first grade, so I have a bona fide stake in what happens in Florida’s public schools. As such, I do not want benighted Republicans determining the instructional materials my boys are exposed to in their classrooms. I trust their teachers.


Florida could expand challenges to school textbooks


Possible progress in Hillsborough teacher pay conflict (HCTA mentioned)


Two unions will operate in Santa Rosa School District (Dawn Stone quoted)


One neighborhood’s lesson in how a community can resurrect a school


Immigrant children face challenges of new school, country, language


U.S. charter schools put growing numbers in racial isolation


Here's what the Senate tax bill means for schools, parents and students


A punishing decade for school funding


GAO report sounds alarm about vouchers and students with disabilities


Is scholarship program a remedy for school bullying? Some lawmakers think so.


Micanopy “cult leader” charged with murder of toddler at religious boarding school


DeVos caught skipping work for long weekends, half days


DeVos allies see new obstacle to school privatization efforts: Trump


DeVos invite reverberates in suit against Bethune-Cookman


GOP higher ed plan would end student loan forgiveness in program


GOP bill would allow colleges to delay sexual assault investigations


Democrats say GOP tax perk aimed at helping one influential conservative college


100-plus proposals to change Constitution affect taxes, schools, health


Armed security will guard Latvala accuser


Latvala bashes Scott amid harassment allegations



Senate aide received nearly 38 percent pay hike in one-year period


Text messages: Latvala accuser dreamed of him as younger, skinnier


Bondi backs woman who accused Latvala of sexual harassment


State hurricane fund may pay out as much as $5.1 billion


FPL to seek $1.3 billion in Hurricane Irma costs


Nearly 1,200 buildings in the Keys were destroyed by hurricane


St. Johns farmers estimate over $1 million in hurricane-related crop damage


Despite hurricane, Citizens Property says it's doing fine financially


FEMA money running a hurricane behind


Housing scarce for Puerto Ricans coming to Central Florida


Law needed to ensure residents stay cool after hurricane


Disney employees mulling over company's latest offer in union negotiations


Don’t wait for state on justice reforms


Air Force: Budget uncertainty threatens Cape Canaveral rocket launches


State investigating Uber for data breach


Trump's Pensacola visit is confirmed


Scott “volunteered” to lobby Pence on tobacco regulations for political donor


Senate passes sweeping Republican tax overhaul bill (Randi Weingarten quoted) (Lily Eskelsen García quoted)

A historic tax heist


Republicans may stumble into another chaotic round of negotiations


Heading toward tax victory, Republicans eye next step: Cut spending


The Republican tax bill will exacerbate income inequality in America


Debt concerns, once a core Republican tenet, take a back seat to tax cuts


Tax bill offers last-minute breaks for developers, banks and oil industry


How a company actually plans to spend its tax cut money


Democrats fume over “absurd” GOP tax bill full of last-minute handwritten edits


How the GOP tax bill will ruin Obamacare


“This is class warfare”: Tax vote sparks political brawl that will carry into elections,amp.html


Trump: Democrats will lose seats for voting against the Senate tax bill


McConnell predicts unpopular tax bill will be a winning issue for GOP


In a pro-Trump area, many voters are skeptical of GOP tax plan


GOP’s list of economists backing tax cut includes ghosts, office assistants, ex-felons


Senate’s massive tax bill would have potent ripple effects for health-care system


GOP senator: Working people blow tax cuts on “booze or women”


Rubio fails in push to increase child tax credit with higher corporate taxes


Flynn pleads guilty to lying to FBI and will cooperate with Russia inquiry


Emails dispute White House claims that Flynn acted independently


Newly revealed email from Trump transition could be the smoking gun


Flynn's wrongdoing is just the tip of the iceberg


Trump now says he fired Flynn “because he lied” to FBI


Trump, defending himself after Flynn guilty plea, says FBI is in “tatters”


Comey, Yates and Holder defend FBI after Trump’s Twitter attack


Did Trump’s tweet about Flynn’s guilty plea admit something it shouldn’t have?


Trump lawyer offers new defense of tweet: President “cannot obstruct justice”


Timeline: What we now know about Flynn’s phone calls with Russia


Operative offered Trump campaign “Kremlin connection” using NRA ties


What Flynn’s guilty plea means in Mueller’s Russia inquiry


Mueller’s swift moves signal mounting legal peril for the White House


After Flynn, are Kushner and Trump Jr. next?,amp.html


Kushner failed to disclose he led a foundation funding illegal Israeli settlements


Hicks is Trump’s right-hand woman , which could make her a Mueller favorite


Why the Trump team should fear the Logan Act


White House paranoid: “Everyone thinks they’re being recorded”


Inside the secretive nerve center of the Mueller investigation


Mueller removed top agent in Russia inquiry over possible anti-Trump texts


Flynn’s plea: Mar-a-Lago now a landmark in Russian probe


Ministers look to revive Martin Luther King’s 1968 poverty campaign


Trump’s enforcer freezes worker-friendly reforms made under Obama


Hatch comments on CHIP health program at heart of social media storm


GOP pushes to avoid government shutdown, but the path is tricky


Florida, Texas lawmakers threaten government shutdown over hurricane relief


Developers said their homes were out of a flood zone. Then Harvey came.


“Dreamers” face make-or-break push on immigration fight with Trump


Trump administration asks Supreme Court to overrule decision on DACA documents


California resolute in sanctuary status as a heated case ends


Trump’s crusade against immigrants is an attack on America


My father resisted Japanese internment. Trump’s travel ban is just as unfair.


The FCC wants to let telecoms cash in on the Internet


FCC should not abandon net neutrality


Trump wants to dismantle Elizabeth Warren's agency. Good luck with that.


Why the U.N. is investigating extreme poverty … in America


Thousands protest Trump’s Utah monument reduction plan's-Utah-monument-reduction-plan


Doubling entry fees to parks would limit access to immigrants like my father


The damage Trump has done


Wrenched from scandal to success, Trump looks ahead, and over his shoulder


The volume is all the way up to 11


Trump’s campaign: Big Macs, screaming fits and constant rivalries


Billy Bush: Yes, Donald Trump, you said that


Trump honors Parks' protest of racism but continues to criticize NFL players


ABC suspends reporter over erroneous report about Trump


Obama should be arrested for implying Trump needs a filter, Fox host suggests


Project Veritas received $1.7 million last year from Koch-backed charity


The men who cost Clinton the election


The cost of devaluing women


We need an agenda for new laws to prevent sexual harassment


Men stood by women in combat. We need them to enlist in the #MeToo movement.


How women's growing power finally turned #metoo into a cultural moment


Women line up to run for office, harnessing their outrage at Trump




 0 user(s) rated this page
Login to leave a comment
No Comments yet