Designer Kenneth Cole is passionate about liberal causes.
But he occasionally goes about advocating for his causes in ways that could best be described as...ham-handed. Back in 2005, Cole thought it would be a good idea to take the stigma of HIV+/AIDS status away by producing t-shirts that read "We All Have AIDS" to the unsurprising consternation of many. Gosh, why didn't that take off?
He also ended up apologizing when he tried to ride the coattails of the Egyptian Uprising and tie it to his new fashion line.
So maybe it shouldn't come as a surprise that Kenneth Cole has come up with the wrong end of the stick on the education battle. The brother-in-law of NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, Cole ran a billboard in NYC tying his fashions to the false dichotomy of serving teacher's unions or the interests of children.
A billboard advertising Kenneth Cole ? the clothing company owned by Gov. Andrew Cuomo?s brother-in-law ? puns to southbound commuters, ?Shouldn?t Everyone Be Well Red?? In smaller lettering, the billboard says, ?Teachers? Rights Vs. Students? Rights ??
The second line evokes a tension drawn out repeatedly by some critics of teachers unions, including Cuomo, who say that unions? support for teachers? job protections can stand in the way of students? education.
The billboard also invites viewers to visit WhereDoYouStand.com, a website maintained by the city-based company, to weigh in on ?Issue in the News.? This spring, one of the issues is ?Should underperforming teachers be protected??
That question attracted the company?s attention this winter, as media attention turned to efforts underway across the country to toughen teacher evaluations. Locally, a breakdown in negotiations over evaluations late last year and the controversial public release of reports on teacher performance in February were both accompanied by criticism of teachers unions, including from Cuomo.
This is one of those things that has me shaking my head at the progressive communities. We want teachers to teach our children, to expand their minds and get excited about a lifetime of learning and yet we think they can do it as we demonize them at every turn and take every measure of control away from them. Why do we continue to buy into these Republican/ALEC-fueled tropes? We 'wait for Superman' and wonder why our schools are failing.
If Cole was legitimately interested in bettering education, perhaps he might look into the example of Finland, which is now ranked #1 in education worldwide:
"Most visitors to Finland discover elegant school buildings filled with calm children and highly educated teachers. They also recognize the large autonomy that schools enjoy, little interference by the central education administration in schools? everyday lives, systematic methods to address problems in the lives of students, and targeted professional help for those in need." (Sahlbert, 2009, p. 7)
Leaders in Finland attribute the gains to their intensive investments in teacher education?all teachers receive three years of high-quality graduate level preparation completely at state expense?plus a major overhaul of the curriculum and assessment system designed to ensure access to a ?thinking curriculum? for all students. A recent analysis of the Finnish system summarized its core principles as follows:
- Resources for those who need them most.
- High standards and supports for special needs.
- Qualified teachers.
- Evaluation of education.
- Balancing decentralization and centralization. (Laukkanen, 2008, p. 319)
The process of change has been almost the reverse of policies in the United States. Over the past 40 years, Finland has shifted from a highly centralized system emphasizing external testing to a more localized system in which highly trained teachers design curriculum around the very lean national standards. This new system is implemented through equitable funding and extensive preparation for all teachers. The logic of the system is that investments in the capacity of local teachers and schools to meet the needs of all students, coupled with thoughtful guidance about goals, can unleash the benefits of local creativity in the cause of common, equitable outcomes. Meanwhile, the United States has been imposing more external testing?often exacerbating differential access to curriculum?while creating more inequitable conditions in local schools. Resources for children and schools, in the form of both overall funding and the presence of trained, experienced teachers, have become more disparate in many states, thus undermining the capacity of schools to meet the outcomes that are ostensibly sought.
This is a moral issue and the ultimate in infrastructure investment: the education of future generations. And yet we treat it as a profit center and a subject of cheap puns for an overpriced fashion line.
UPDATE: Sabrina Stevens, a teacher turned activist, who called my attention to the billboard originally--has been tweeting Kenneth Cole to complain about the sign and the message it contains. At 11:00 am Pacific, Kenneth Cole acknowledged to Stevens that the issue was "too complex" for a sign and said that the billboard would come down.
Still not a person
The Oklahoma Supreme Court today issued yet another blow to the Every Sperm is Sacred movement that keeps trying to define a fertilized egg as a person with all of the rights and constitutional protections as an actual, you know, person. Thus far, the amendment has failed in every state in which it has been proposed, but that hasn't stopped the extremists from continuing their mission to give rights to eggs at the expense of the women who carry them.
Their latest target was Oklahoma, with a proposed ballot initiative like all the other failed personhood amendments.
However, today the state's Supreme Court said nuh uh to that nonsense:
The United States Supreme Court has spoken on this issue. The measure is clearly unconstitutional pursuant to Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992). The states are duty bound to follow its interpretation of the law. Twenty years ago, this Court was presented with an initiative which facially conflicted with the Casey decision. This Court held: "The issue of the constitutionality of the initiative petition is governed by the United States Supreme Court's pronouncement in Casey." [...]That's legalese for "Seriously, people? The Supreme Court covered this 20 years ago, so fuck off already."
The mandate of Casey is as binding on this Court today as it was twenty years ago. Initiative Petition No. 395 conflicts with Casey and is void on its face and it is hereby ordered stricken.
But knowing the egg worshippers, this won't stop them from trying again.
Fox & Friends attacked the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation aimed at addressing the wage inequality between men and women, with Fox host Dan Perino claiming the legislation is just a "distraction." In fact, wage inequality is real: Study after study has found that women are paid less than men.
Paycheck Fairness Act: Despite Previous Laws, "Many Women Continue To Earn Significantly Lower Pay Than Men For Equal Work." From S.797, the Paycheck Fairness Act:
Congress finds the following:
(1) Women have entered the workforce in record numbers over the past 50 years.
(2) Despite the enactment of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, many women continue to earn significantly lower pay than men for equal work. These pay disparities exist in both the private and governmental sectors. In many instances, the pay disparities can only be due to continued intentional discrimination or the lingering effects of past discrimination.
(3) The existence of such pay disparities--
(A) depresses the wages of working families who rely on the wages of all members of the family to make ends meet;
(B) undermines women's retirement security, which is often based on earnings while in the workforce. [S.797, 4/12/11]
Wash. Post: "Senate Democrats Will Soon Hold A Vote On The Paycheck Fairness Act." From The Washington Post:
It's official: Senate Democrats will soon hold a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would update and strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963, a senior Democratic Senate aide confirms to me.
"This vote is going to happen," the aide says. [The Washington Post, 4/27/12]
Fox's Perino: Paycheck Fairness Act Is A "Distraction." On the April 30 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox News host Dana Perino asserted the Paycheck Fairness Act was a "distraction," arguing the legislation could "actually hurt women."
STEVE DOOCY(co-host): What about over the last month or two we've heard a lot about the war on women and now the Democrats in the Senate are coming out with the Paycheck Fairness Act. What is going on politically here that bothers you?
DANA PERINO (co-host of Fox News' The Five): Well that it's just yet another distraction of dealing with the bigger, major financial issues that this country should try to be dealing with. This is not a job creator. This will actually -- there is an argument that it could actually hurt women. I'm for equal pay for women for doing the work that they do. I'm also for flexibility for women to be able to go to different companies, shop around for where they want to work for the best sort of benefits they can get or some flexibility, because women are also helping raise the next generation of people. Interesting story in The Wall Street Journal today that there is an amazing crop of women right now that are on the verge of becoming CEO in the next five to ten years.
GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): Hope so.
PERINO: That's major improvement, and they will fight for the salaries that their male colleagues get.
BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): But can that play politically against Mitt Romney?
PERINO: Maybe for 48 hours. This is not going to be a long-running thing. They've chosen these issues where for a week at a time, there will be a distraction. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/30/12]
U.S. Census: "In 2010, The Female-To-Male Earnings Ratio Was 0.77." From a September 2010 Census report titled "Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010":
Changes between 2009 and 2010 in the real median earnings of men and women, aged 15 and older who worked full time, year round, were not statistically significant. In 2010, the female-to-male earnings ratio was 0.77, not statistically different from the 2009 ratio
Neither men nor women who worked full time, year round experienced a change in real median earnings between 2009 and 2010. In 2010, the median earnings for men was $47,715 and for women $36,931. In 2010, the female-to-male earnings ratio of full-time, year-round workers was 0.77, not statistically different from the 2009 ratio.
[U.S. Census Bureau, September 2011]
American Association Of University Women: "The Pay Gap Affects Women From All Backgrounds, At All Ages, And Of All Levels Of Educational Achievement." From a 2012 American Association of University Women report titled "The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap" which identifies wage inequality that crosses the divides of ethnicity, age, and education:
The pay gap affects women from all backgrounds, at all ages, and of all levels of educational achievement, although earnings and the gap vary depending on a woman's individual situation.
Among full-time workers in 2011, Hispanic, Latina, and African American women had lower weekly median earnings compared with white and Asian American women. But within racial/ethnic groups, African American and Hispanic or Latina women experienced a smaller gender pay gap compared with men in the same group than did white and Asian American women.
Earnings for both female and male full-time workers tend to increase with age, with a plateau after 45 and a drop at age 65 and older. The gender pay gap also grows with age, and differences among older workers are considerably larger than gaps among younger workers.
As a rule, earnings increase as years of education increase for both men and women. While more education is an effective tool for increasing earnings, it is not an effective tool against the gender pay gap. At every level of academic achievement, women's median earnings, on average, are less than men's median earnings, and in some cases, the gender pay gap is larger at higher levels of education (Figure 6).
[American Association of University Women, 2012]
Institute For Women's Policy Research: "Women's Median Earnings Are Lower Than Men's In Nearly All Occupations." From an April 2012 fact sheet from the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) that documents widespread gender wage disparity across occupations:
Women's median earnings are lower than men's in nearly all occupations, whether they work in occupations predominantly done by women, occupations predominantly done by men, or occupations with a more even mix of men and women. During 2011, median weekly earnings for female full-time workers were $684, compared with $832 per week for men, a gender wage ratio of 82.2 percent (Table 1; a gender wage gap of 17.8 percent). Added to the gender wage gap within occupations is the gender wage gap between occupations. Male-dominated occupations tend to pay more than female-dominated occupations at similar skill levels, particularly at higher levels of educational attainment. Tackling occupational segregation is an important part of tackling the gender wage gap.
The gender wage gap and occupational segregation--men primarily working in occupations done by men, and women primarily working with other women--are persistent features of the U.S. labor market. Only four of the 20 most common occupations for men and the 20 most common occupations for women overlap. Four of ten women (39.5 percent) work in traditionally female occupations and between four and five of ten male workers (44.5 percent) work in traditionally male occupations; only 5.8 percent of women work in traditionally male occupations and only 4.6 percent of men in traditionally female occupations. [Institute for Women's Policy Research, April 2012]
No earmarks is giving John Boehner a tear partyHouse Speaker John Boehner touts nuking earmarks as keeping one of the GOP's key pledges, yet manages to whine about it in the same breath:
CROWLEY: Think you've done these things?So even as Boehner touts nuking earmarks as one of his major accomplishments, he laments the fact that without earmarks to dispense, he has less ability to control his caucus. And that lack of control of his caucus is a key part of the reason why we've had to endure so much government by hostage crisis coming out of the House. If the return of earmarks were to make it easier to avoid those kinds of institutional breakdowns, it would be a small price to pay?and that's probably why Boehner is secretly plotting their return. But the best solution by far would be to dump Boehner and the Republicans entirely, and put the gavel back in Nancy Pelosi's hands.
BOEHNER: No earmarks. Who can imagine. You know we've been through 16 months now with not one earmark. It's made my job a lot more difficult in terms of how to pass important legislation because there's no -- there's no grease. I got no -- no grease. So, no earmarks.
It wasn't enough that liberals had the New Black Panthers Even Blacker Black Ops Ninjas kill a perfectly-healthy-except-for-his-bad-heart Andrew Breitbart with a secret heart attack gun, we also had to kill a forensic technician, who may or may not have [...]
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Some great pics of Joe Biden in the age of mile-wide lapels and double-knit polyester. [...]
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It was kind of like how the Romans used to, you know, conquer those villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go into a little Turkish somewhere and they’d find the first five guys they say and they’d crucify them. And then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years. – Al Armendariz in 2010, former EPA official
ARE YOU KIDDING me?
An Obama EPA official resigns over conservative pressure about something he said in 2010?
Sen. James Inhofe, best known for “scar[ing] the crap out of” airport workers by flying erratically, and one of the most ignorant people to ever serve in the U.S. Senate, a global warning denier and general buffoon of all things 21st century, is behind it. That the Administration caved to this cretin is stunning, because Inhofe has absolutely no credibility whatsoever, unless you’re so far right you long ago lost sight of center.
Inhofe’s craziness led him to oppose the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea, which is little known, but critical to military operations, as well as maritime security. Stephen Hadley, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs in the Bush administration, even called Inhofe out on his idiocy back in 2007.
Dave Weigel outlined how it all began to snowball last week. It began with Jay Carney “giving up the store” with a reporter, which opened the door to a If Obama Is About Hope And Change What Is This Guy Doing At The EPA moment?
When did Democrats become afraid of their own shadow? … .. Strike that.
Meow. Now that's the guy I voted for. Here's Obama today:
As far as my personal role and what other folks would do, I'd just recommend that everybody look at people's previous statements in terms of whether they thought it was appropriate to go into Pakistan and take out bin Laden.Here's Romney in 2007:
I assume that people meant what they said when they said?that's been at least my practice. I said that I'd go after bin Laden if we had a clear shot at him, and I did. If there are others who have said one thing and now suggest they would do something else, then I'd go ahead and let them explain it.
"I do not concur in the words of Barack Obama in a plan to enter an ally of ours... I don't think those kinds of comments help in this effort to draw more friends to our effort," Romney told reporters on the campaign trail....I do get a kick out of how the Republicans are all upset that the President is taking credit for the Obama kill. And they should be upset. It was one hell of a victory, and something George Bush failed to accomplish in eight years in office (not to mention, Bush actually let Osama get away at Tora Bora). So it's understandable, and typical, that the GOP would freak out over Obama even mentioning Osama. It's what they do - go after you on your strengths so you're afraid to mention them. Remember who the Republican party demonized John Kerry for being a war hero? That was his strength, so they had to take it down. Same goes for Obama taking out Osama.
"If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will," Obama said.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is one of the Republican front-runners, said U.S. troops "shouldn't be sent all over the world." He called Obama's comments "ill-timed" and "ill-considered."
The economics of solar PV continue to improve so steadily and dramatically, McKinsey analysts conclude that the yearly “economic potential” of solar PV deployment could reach 600-1,000 gigawatts (1 million megawatts) by 2020.
In the year 2000, the global demand for solar PV was 170 megawatts.
That doesn’t mean 1 million megawatts will get built per year after 2020; it’s just an estimate of the economic competitiveness of solar PV. When factoring in real-word limitations like the regulatory environment, availability of financing, and infrastructure capabilities, the actual yearly market will be closer to 100 gigawatts in 2020.
That could bring in more than $1 trillion in investments between 2012 to 2020.
The McKinsey report, appropriately named “Darkest Before Dawn,” highlights three crucial factors that are giving the solar industry so much momentum ? even with such a violent shakeout occurring in the manufacturing sector today.
1. Because solar mostly competes with retail rates, the economic potential for the technology in high resource areas is far bigger than actual deployment figures would suggest. McKinsey predicts that the cost of installing a commercial-scale solar PV system will fall another 40 percent by 2015, growing the “unsubsidized economic potential” (i.e. the economic competitiveness without federal subsidies) of the technology to hundreds of gigawatts by 2020.
2. The most important cost reductions in the next decade will come not through groundbreaking lab-scale improvements, but through incremental cost reductions due to deployment. The McKinsey analysis shows how the dramatically these cumulative cost improvements can change the economics of solar. (For more, see: Anatomy of a Solar PV System: How to Continue ?Ferocious Cost Reductions? for Solar Electricity.)
3. Solar is already competitive in a variety of markets today. As the chart below illustrates, there are at least three markets where solar PV competes widely today: Off-grid, isolated grids, and the commercial/residential sectors in high-resource areas. Of course, the competitiveness of the technology varies dramatically depending on a variety of local factors. But this comparison shows just how steadily the cross-over is approaching.
Wait, solar is actually competitive? Didn’t the death of Solyndra mean the death of the solar industry? Addressing the solar skeptics, the McKinsey analysts counter the notion that the solar sector is down for the count:
“Those who believe the solar industry has run its course may be surprised. Solar companies that reduce their costs, develop value propositions to target the needs of particular segments, and strategically navigate the evolving regulatory landscape can position themselves to reap significant rewards in the coming years.”
The short-term picture for solar is extraordinarily challenging, particularly for manufacturers trying to figure out how to make a profit with such a massive oversupply of panels on the market. But this is not an industry in its death throes; these are natural pains for a disruptive, fast-growing industry. The tipping point is upon us.
Unnecessary health costs add some $158 billion to the nation’s health care tab, and requiring women to undergo pelvic exams before receiving a prescription for birth control pills only adds to this total. As Mother Jones’ Stephanie Mencimer explains, despite any evidence showing that the annual exam improves health outcomes, one-third of doctors always require women to undergo a Pap smear before they prescribe hormonal contraception, and 44 percent regularly do so:
For instance, there’s no evidence that doctors can diagnose ovarian cancer with a pelvic exam in women showing no symptoms. A clinical trial found that doctors were unable to identify any cancers in test subjects by pelvic exams alone, and the National Cancer Institute no longer recommends the tests for postmenopausal women. [...]
The scientific basis for much of the traditional well-woman ob-gyn annual check-up is so slim that “the routine pelvic examination may be an example of more service leading to worse outcomes,” Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, an ob-gyn at Columbia University, wrote in the Journal of Women’s Health last year.
So why are doctors so adamant about the additional testing? Drug and medical device companies fund most continuing medical education, which is primarily how doctors learn about new science, and these industries are not interested in limiting care, Shannon Brownlee, a health policy expert at the New America Foundation, explains to Menicmer. Under the existing fee-for-service health reimbursement system, doctors are also paid for every additional procedure — regardless of whether it actually improves patient care.
Delinking pelvic exams from women’s birth control prescriptions underscores the importance of health research in guiding health care decisions. The Affordable Care Act invests in comparative effectiveness research to help determine the most cost-effective course of treatment and it also begins to recalibrate the system so that we stop paying doctors for unnecessary care and instead reimburses them for treatments that only bolster patient outcomes.