Shall We Watch Elizabeth Warren's Barnburning National Action Network Speech? Duh Of Course We Shall!
Settle in for a spell!
Elizabeth Warren gave a heck of a speech today at Al Sharpton's National Action Network conference (we hear Kamala Harris did, too!), outlining the case for her universal childcare proposal and also making the case for ending the filibuster in the Senate if Republicans get in the way of a Democratic president and Congress.
Elizabeth Warren's Powerful Speech On Childcare At The National Action Network www.youtube.com
Warren started with a familiar version of her life story, noting that she grew up in Oklahoma, "on the ragged edges of the middle class," and dreamed of becoming a teacher. She mentions that she would sometimes line up her dolls and teach them. "I was tough but fair." Her dream became a reality after finding a commuter college, but after a few years of teaching and starting a family, she decided to go to law school, and with a toddler not quite out of diapers, the issue of childcare suddenly became very real to her. The one place she and her husband could afford, with a week to go before classes started, required kids to be "reliably potty trained," or no thank you. After a pause, she told the audience, "I stand before you today courtesy of three bags of M&Ms and a cooperative toddler."
Yr Wonkette is ALWAYS here for a good constipated babby story!
Thoughts and prayers, y'all.
Karma's a bitch, Betsy DeVos! You could have just stayed in Michigan, spending your pocket change to ruin public education in sweet obscurity. Now every front page in the country is denouncing you as the wicked witch who tried to murder the Special Olympics, and your ignoramus boss is trying to drop the House on you. But cheer up, sister, because when the dust settles, you'll probably still get to steal millions of dollars from poor and disabled kids and put it into private school vouchers. And you made campus safe again for rapists. So, all in all, WINNING!
On Tuesday, the Education secretary faced an asskicking in Congress as she tried to explain why cutting the $17.6 million allocation for the Special Olympics was admirable fiscal prudence, rather than a heartless "fuck you" and a massive PR screw up. It went GREAT!
Did anyone ask for this?
Just when you were sure that Betsy DeVos could not get any more objectively evil, the Wicked Witch of Amway is now proud to announce that she has cut all Department of Education funding for the Special Olympics from her budget, which she claims is better supported by philanthropy and other federal and state funds. DeVos presented the budget, which will cut $7 billion from much-needed programs, at a hearing on Monday.
Did anyone ask her to do this? Are there really people out there begging for the Special Olympics to get defunded? Is this not something we can all agree is objectively monstrous? I'd like to think so, but I'll admit that I've become rather jaded in the past few years regarding what people will and will not recognize as straight up Disney villain behavior when they see it.
DeVos might have had a reasonable argument if all she were referring to was the actual Special Olympics. She could perhaps have an argument there that it isn't within the specific purview of the Department of Education. However, the program DeVos is cutting federal funding to is the Special Olympics Unified Champions education program, which seeks to help students with disabilities feel included and welcome at their schools.
The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program is aimed at promoting social inclusion through intentionally planned and implemented activities affecting systems-wide change. With sports as the foundation, the three component model offers a unique combination of effective activities that equip young people with tools and training to create sports, classroom and school climates of acceptance. These are school climates where students with disabilities feel welcome and are routinely included in, and feel a part of, all activities, opportunities and functions.
This is accomplished by implementing inclusive sports, inclusive youth leadership opportunities, and whole school engagement. The program is designed to be woven into the fabric of the school, enhancing current efforts and providing rich opportunities that lead to meaningful change in creating a socially inclusive school that supports and engages all learners. What a Unified Champion School "looks like" can vary greatly from school to school, based on the needs, goals, schedules and other factors unique to each school; but the basic building blocks remain the same.
Wow, that sure sounds like a very nice and useful program that improves the educational experience of students with special needs.
This is obviously commie talk.
Presidential candidate Kamala Harris has a radical idea: We should pay schoolteachers as if they'd actually attended school themselves. The California senator today announced details of her proposal to increase teacher salaries across the country. She'd first discussed the plan at a campaign event this weekend at Texas Southern University.
HARRIS: I am declaring to you that by the end of my first term, we will have improved teacher salaries so that we close the pay gap, because right now teachers are making over 10 percent less than other college-educated graduates.
The plan would raise average teacher pay by $13,500. That should permit them to quit at least one of their other part-time jobs. The federal government would pitch in the first 10 percent of required funding. States would have access to $3 in matching federal support for every dollar of additional state money until the pay gap is closed with other college-educated workers. In our home state of South Carolina, the average teacher would get a $9,300 raise, which is a 19 percent pay increase.
Harris elaborated further in an op-ed published in today's Washington Post.
HARRIS: The United States is facing a teacher pay crisis. Public school teachers earn 11 percent less than professionals with similar educations. Teachers are more likely than non-teachers to work a second job. In 30 states, average teacher pay is less than the living wage for a family of four.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is terrible at her job. Her objectives and overall mission are evil, but if it's any consolation she can't effectively implement them. After buying her Cabinet position at Sotheby's, DeVos has spent the past two years trying to roll back Obama-era policies designed to protect and actually educate students. Unfortunately for her evil schemes, federal courts keep smacking down her slimy efforts. It's getting embarrassing.
DeVos recently had to cancel $150 million in student loan debt after courts said her attempts to stop the "borrow defense" regulations from taking effect were in fact illegal. Last week, she was forced to instruct colleges to follow the Obama rule barring mandatory arbitration agreements. She got kicked in the teeth earlier this month when a federal judge ruled she'd acted illegally ... again. This time, DeVos tried to delay an Obama-era guideline that required states to address racial disparities in their special education programs. Judge Tanya S. Chutkan called the delay "arbitrary" and "capricious."
The rule, drafted under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, would require states to identify districts with "significant disproportionality" in the number of minority students channeled into special education services, segregated in restrictive classroom settings or disciplined.
OK, so what was the "education" secretary's issue with this rule? We want to imagine there's some rationale we're not seeing and DeVos is more than just some yacht-collecting monster.
Great Moments In Gun Stupidity, part 5593 and counting.
Teachers in an Indiana school were shot in the back with plastic pellets by sheriffs' deputies during a January "active shooter drill," according to testimony in a legislative hearing this week. The rubber pellets, a bit bigger than a BB, were fired from an Airsoft pellet gun; at least one teacher reported the things raised welts and drew blood. But come on, it definitely got the point across that during an actual school shooting, people may get shot. That's very educational! The Indianapolis Star has the juicy stinging details:
[The incident] was confirmed by two elementary school teachers in Monticello, who described an exercise in which teachers were asked by local law enforcement to kneel down against a classroom wall before being sprayed across their backs with plastic pellets without warning.
"They told us, 'This is what happens if you just cower and do nothing,'" said one of the two teachers, both of whom asked IndyStar not to be identified out of concern for their jobs. "They shot all of us across our backs. I was hit four times.
"It hurt so bad."
Well look, lady, you're the one who volunteered to be on the front lines of combat by choosing to teach elementary school. Next we suppose you'll complain about having to carry your platoon's M-60 machine gun to the cafeteria. Nobody wants to hump the pig, but it's that or take point, OK?
The Indiana State Teachers Association, the state's teacher union, is asking lawmakers to add language prohibiting such simulated executions of school staff from future training, even though the sheriff's department that helpfully took teachers four at a time into a closet and pretended to blow them away has already promised not to do it anymore.
Florida teens wonder where exactly the porn is.
A pair of bills introduced in the Florida state legislature in February are aimed at cleaning all the dirty books from Florida schools, and at jailing any librarians or teachers who might allow a student to read filth like A Clockwork Orange or Toni Morrison's Beloved or The Bluest Eye. The bills, pushed by the rightwing Florida Citizens Alliance, would allow any Florida resident -- not just parents -- to challenge a book, and would make distribution of materials deemed "pornographic" or "harmful to minors" in schools a third-degree felony. No big -- that's only a five-year prison sentence and fine up to $5,000. Per bad book.
The sponsor of the Hose version of the bill, state Rep. Mike Hill, just knows the schools are full of porn.
The purpose of the bill is to remove pornography out of our public schools, which is existing there today. I've seen it firsthand [...] It is simply trying to protect our children.
The text of the bill, Florida HB 855, is pretty darn sweeping! The "harmful to minors" standard is defined thusly:
[Any] reproduction, imitation, characterization, description, exhibition, presentation, or representation, of whatever kind or form, depicting nudity, sexual conduct, or sexual excitement when it: (a) Predominantly appeals to a prurient, shameful, or morbid interest; (b) Is patently offensive with respect to what is suitable material or conduct for minors; and (c) Depicts an image or text that meets the definition of "deviate sexual intercourse."
But don't worry! Some depictions of sex or naughty bits would still be allowed in "materials used in a formal, scheduled sex education course." Which of course would require written permission (and possibly a character reference from a pastor). Also, we checked the relevant Florida statute to find out what in Florida constitutes "deviate sexual intercourse." It's truly wild stuff!
"Deviate sexual intercourse" means sexual conduct between persons not married to each other consisting of contact between the penis and the anus, the mouth and the penis, or the mouth and the vulva.
We all shared a good laugh yesterday about Jerry Lundegaard, Lynette Scavo, and Aunt Becky allegedly committing multiple felonies in order to get their pampered, academically challenged kids into fancy schools ... and USC. But this is seriously a major indictment of our supposed meritocracy that never actually existed. It's pretty damn infuriating. C'mon, rich people, your kids were already born on third base. Don't cheat their way across home plate.
Reading the court documents related to the case only raises our blood pressure to Vesuvian levels. Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy (we all know his ass was involved seeing as how he was on the phone calls) claimed their $15,000 bribe was for "disadvantaged youth." This also made it tax deductible. We're sure the IRS is already finding it interesting.
They also grossly abused the SAT accommodations for disabled students so their daughter could take the test alone with a bought-off proctor. This is the bit that wouldn't make it into a movie because the parents would rightly look repulsive and you don't want audiences throwing literal rotten tomatoes at the screen.
Are the moms the only ones arrested for kid-related fraud?
Federal prosecutors charged 50 people today in a nationwide college admissions bribery and cheating scam. This includes Felicity Huffman from "Desperate Housewives" and Aunt Becky from "Full House." That's probably the specific reason we care.
The suspects allegedly paid bribes of up to $6 million to get their kids into elite colleges, including Yale, Stanford, Georgetown and USC.
Those are some prestigious, elite institutions ... and USC. It's not that hard to get into USC. You just pay them.
In most cases, the students did not know their admission was contingent on a bribe.
Dumb, rich kids are probably arrogant enough to think they are New Haven material. You can't help but feel sorry for the ones who applied to USC. They probably thought their grades and test scores were decent enough for them to get in without their parents breaking federal law.
A History of America in Ten Strikes by Erik Loomis
Break out your Woody Guthrie music, kids (or your Billy Bragg, maybe), because it's time to talk about the history of labor in America and the weird relationship we have with work. Americans love to extol the idea of hard work, but many of us hate our jobs, and the Right has done an astonishingly good job of skewing the national discourse in favor of employers, those merciful job creators who must be appeased lest they pick up and move to China -- so be quiet and accept your crumbs. Historian Erik Loomis looks at how the hell we got here in his 2018 book A History of America in Ten Strikes (oh look, a linky to get it with a nice kickback for Yr Wonkette!). Loomis also offers some strategies for revitalizing labor in this country. It's a telling of American history from an angle we don't see often enough, and which is usually overlooked in the sanitized version of history found in too many schools, unless you had a flaming radical like my high school history teacher, Jack Wallace, Crom bless him.
Even better, you can get your own publicly funded Aunt Bee!
Elizabeth Warren rolled out a very solid plan for universal childcare today, and we're impressed. Looks like Democrats are going to have a serious debate about family, work, and how the two should fit together, which as plenty of advocates have noted, they currently do not, no not at all. We're excited, even though our own childcare days are well past, because damn it, this is about fairness for everyone, especially the kids.
Warren starts her pitch by emphasizing she's been there, noting that when she was raising her kids and teaching at a law school in Houston, the babysitter quit. She looked for other arrangements, and didn't find anything she could afford that provided good care:
I tried all sorts of child care options: another babysitter, a neighbor with kids, and a couple of daycare centers. One day I picked up my son Alex from daycare and found that he had been left in a dirty diaper for who knows how long. I was upset with the daycare but, more than anything, angry with myself for failing my baby.
Eventually, she called her Aunt Bee in Oklahoma and told her everything was falling apart and she feared she'd have to quit to take care of her children.
Then Aunt Bee said eleven words that changed my life forever: "I can't get there tomorrow, but I can come on Thursday." Two days later, she arrived at the airport with seven suitcases and a Pekingese named Buddy — and stayed for 16 years.
Elizabeth Warren wants everyone to have an Aunt Bee, or at least affordable childcare. Unfortunately, leaving childcare solely up to the private sector just hasn't worked, and that has contributed to poverty for lots of working parents, who may not even be able to afford the cheapest shoddiest care and end up not working as a result. Warren notes, "in more than half the states in the country, a year of child care costs more than a year of in-state college tuition."
We have Worst Field Trips, Kids Learning About Sharks, a book club, and more!
Time for our weekly respite from the standard parade of awful that the news has become here in the worst timeline, where our Spock won't just have a beard; he'll also have a green mohawk. Enjoy a nice brain cleanse, and we'll ease back into the madness later.
If you didn't bring enough candy for everyone, GOOD.
Fox News continues its cavalcade of freakouts over the fact that Americans really are not all that hot lately on using the power of government to enrich their betters through a tax code designed to make the rich richer. On Fox Business today, a Very Smart Economist proclaimed that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's support for the "Green New Deal" reflects her "Latin American values," which proves America is being doomed by invaders from Puerto Rico. And on Fox's "America's Newsroom," we learned another source of all this friendliness to un-American socialism: The schools have poisoned an entire generation's minds with notions of "fairness."
Scott Walker, you're no Mike Huckabee.
Ever since Scott Walker lost his gig as governor of Wisconsin, he's been trying to remake himself as a great Twitter Pundit. It's really sort of embarrassing, like that time he fantasized about lying to hypothetical schoolchildren about taxes, but Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez schooled him good. Walker was back with another sub-Huckabee-quality take Thursday, this time on Elizabeth Warren's "wealth tax" proposal. And just like his attempt to explain marginal tax rates to fifth-graders, it involved imaginary children and a load of horse shit.
Careful Donnie -- the children are listening.
In the wake of Donald Trump "winning" the 2016 election, there were all sorts of fun reports of increased hate crimes, plus any number of anecdotal reports from teachers about little kids either being terrified of the Orange Man or being taken from their parents. Not to mention reports of rotten white kids chanting "Donald Trump! Build that wall!" at brown kids during sportsball competitions. But none of that proves anything, because of course the Liberal Media's going to fixate on isolated incidents and ignore all the times Nancy Pelosi personally castrated Republicans like just this month.
To attempt to get some hard data on whether Trump's election has actually affected The Kids, a recent peer-reviewed study found that, in Virginia at least, areas that voted for Trump in 2016 saw an increase in school bullying while areas that voted for Hillary Clinton saw school bullying actually go down. Who woulda guessed?
Kentucky's teabagging, gay hating, and cock-fighting Governor Matt Bevin (R, fucking duh) just called everyone a bunch of pussies because schools are closing due to it being negative fuck-your-face degrees throughout the Midwest. According to Bevin, "We're getting soft," because school officials thought it was too dangerous to make kids trudge through the polar vortex when cities like Chicago are literally colder than the basecamp at Mount Everest. So what if it's so cold people are getting frostbite in minutes, those little brats should man-up! Grow some chest hair, and Jack Frost will stop nipping at your lungs.
Bevin was comfortably gabbing in his safe space, a local rightwing AM radio station, when the host joked that Bevin was going to be up late with his kids because the schools had closed due to weather.
BEVIN: Now we cancel school for cold.
HOST: It's deep freeze! This is serious business.
BEVIN: It is? Come on now. I mean, there's no ice going with it, or snow. I mean, what happens to America? We're getting soft, Terry. We're getting soft.
HOST: It costs a lot of money to heat those classrooms.
BEVIN: You think they're not heating them anyway?
HOST: They'll put it on 65.
BEVIN: You would like to think so. As a taxpayer we would like to think so. Again, I do appreciate -- it's better to err on the side of being safe, and I'm being only slightly facetious, but it does concern me a little bit that in America on this, and any number of other fronts, we're sending a messages to our young people that if life is hard you can curl up in the fetal position somewhere in a warm place and just wait until it stops being hard [chuckle], and that just isn't reality. It just isn't.
Bevin seems to have confused the definition of "facetious" with "heartless," or "asshole," because the National Weather Service has issued a cold weather warning, numerous travel advisories, and snow forecasts throughout his state of denial. Public health officials across the country have been warning that people die in sub-zero temperatures because ignorant douchebags forget they're 65 percent water, and 45 percent bullshit. And even the US Postal Service thinks it's too damn cold!
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