Thoughts on Immigration

Last evening, President Bush addressed the nation on the ever popular immigration issue. It is no secret that Latino immigrants are growing in numbers each day. All one has to do is open their eyes and they will see Latinos doing jobs in most every sector of our economy.

I am torn over the immigration issue. I feel the pain of the immigrants trying to earn a better life in the United States. I often think of my Scicillian relatives who migrated to the United States at the turn of the century. The hatred on talk-radio and the conversations in right-wing circles directed at Latinos is heart-breaking for me because it reminds of what my family members went through while trying to assimilate into the American melting pot.

Free market failure: Education in the balance

When free market types start moving their lips on the subject of education, you're sure to hear many wonderful stories about how the entrepreneurial spirit can transform schools, leading us down a miraculous path toward the corporate takeover of teaching and learning in America.

Well, there's one sector of education that has already been taken over by corporations: textbook publication. And in the neverending push to sell more books to more states, publishers have dumbed down their products to satisfy lowest-common denominator states, most notably Texas. It's a sad saga of profit-above-all-else, a perfect example of factory-schooling run amok where the only common good is creating wealth for shareholders.

Uninsured in America: First Thoughts

I've just started reading Uninsured in America (by Susan Starr Sered and Rushika Fernandopulle, Univ. of Ca. Press, 2005), and I'm concerned. While the book is a much needed look at the working poor, and it promises to provide me with facts and stories I'll be quoting at cocktail parties for months to come, I'm worried that it won't make a lick of practical difference.

The point of the book seems to be to chronicle how working hard and playing by the rules is often not enough to let individuals and families meet crushing health care costs, and to shine a light on the often devastating consequences. It's a good reason to write a book. The potential problem lies in the presentation. Like most liberals, I already believe that if you work hard and exercise some minimal level of good judgment in managing your life affairs, a wealthy and powerful nation should be able to see to it that the necessities for health and happiness are available to you.

If this book is to make a direct change, then, it has to be aimed at the other side: people who believe (wrongly) that we do take care of our own; people who believe that because they are making it through, anyone can; and people who just don't give a shit as long as the market is humming. And by page 26, I've begun to worry that this book won't make a dent in that crowd.

NC Conservation Network's Focus for Short Session

The N.C. Conservation Network has posted what they view as the most pressing environmental issues of the N.C. Legislature's short session. This is a good guide of what to keep our Democratic legislature's feet to the fire on this year:

Energy efficiency. North Carolina residents currently pay over $10 billion dollars each year to import coal and natural gas from other states. Energy demand is expected to grow faster than population over the next several decades and our utilities have proposed to meet this demand by building new polluting power plants and burning more fossil fuels – but there’s a better way...

Wake County Schools = WaCo?

Today the Wake County School Board will come to terms with the issue of mandatory year yound edcuation. Whether it goes forth or suffers a defeat may largely have to do with a new bond proposal they will discuss tonight.

The debate is over whether to pass a $1+ billion bond to support new schools and trailers, OR to ask for a lesser bond around $600 million and convert almost all K-8 level schools into year rounds.

This is a very important issue for anyone with children in Wake County. And it may also be important to those in the surrounding counties as well as Guilford and Mecklenburg Schools. I don't have any kids, but as a progressive and democrat (small d) education is one of the key moral issues of our era. Better and smarter education policies will be the cornerstone of how the next few generations survive in the world's economy. Not to mention the future leaders of NC, espicially politicans, will come from this 48th in education state.


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