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Fault Lines / Fault Lines - Rio: Olympic City

An explosion of joy on the streets of Rio greeted the announcement that the city would be hosting the 2016 Olympic Games. Two weeks later, Rio saw an explosion of violence when a police helicopter was shot down by drug traffickers. The government's reaction has been to intensify the crackdown on the citys slums - or Favelas. A Human Rights Watch report in December accused Rio and Sao Paolo police of killing over 11,000 people since 2003. Many, the report claims, were executed by the police, shot at point blank range. Many were innocent. And on many occasions, the police tried to cover up the evidence.

This week, Fault Lines travels to Rio to look at the crackdown in Rio's Favelas, and what it means for the people of the city.

Apparently you can't have the Olympics without fucking over poor people.
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The Good Problem With Housing Near Transit: It’s Almost Too Popular

Local officials are catching on to the power of transit-oriented development to transform quality of life while decreasing congestion, as my colleague Ryan Avent has explored. But now that the federal government is starting to explore how to expand transit-accessible housing, an intriguing problem is arising: it's almost too popular.

jersey_city_TOD.jpgTransit-oriented development in Jersey City, NJ. (Photo: Streetsblog)
After a year-long investigation in 11 cities, auditors at the independent Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported last week that the rising value of housing near transit risks pricing lower-income residents out of the market.
In other words, as transit-oriented development attracts more residents to a given area, property owners are likely to increase prices -- making affordable housing more scarce and rendering government vouchers insufficient.MORE
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Public Schools vs. Charter Schools

To charter school or not to charter school? As the new school year kicks off, we talk to Brian Jones, a NYC public school teacher, James Merriman, CEO of NYC Center for Charter School Excellence, and Christian Roselund, a New Orleans-based writer and education advocate about the choice.

Read more... )


Sep. 2nd, 2009 12:31 am
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REfining the Poverty Line

One reason the government has spent nearly half a century fighting, and losing, the war on poverty, is that it doesn’t know where to draw the battle line.
The Center for American Progress recently analyzed the inadequacy of the official poverty line as a gauge for who is really poor in America. Among the biggest problems:
• The thresholds are low…. The poverty line represented nearly 50 percent of median income for a family of four in the early 1960s, but now represents only about 28 percent of median income. So the level at which a family is considered poor has fallen further and further outside the mainstream.
• The thresholds are essentially arbitrary because they simply represent a number calculated more than 40 years ago and then adjusted for inflation, and they no longer represent anything in relation to family incomes or costs.
• The resource-counting rules both understate and overstate resources. They fail to reflect the effects of policies such as refundable tax credits, near-cash benefits such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamps) or subsidized housing assistance. At the same time, they also do not consider the impact for family budgets of tax liabilities, work expenses, or health care costs.
• The rules make no adjustment for geographical variation despite the large variations in costs across areas and regions of the country.


Aug. 5th, 2009 06:33 pm
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Protecting Gender Without Cops

When the managers at an ice cream parlor in upstate New York harassed a transgender woman by calling her names and locking the door when she tried to enter the store, the police took action. They arrested the trans woman for trespassing.The Sylvia Rivera Law Project, an organization providing legal services for low-income people and trans people of color, tried to advocate for the woman but couldn’t because the state’s human rights law doesn’t include protections for gender identity. This might change if a proposed state bill passes.

The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (known as GENDA) would protect people who are routinely kicked out of housing, fired from jobs and harassed in schools and other public institutions because of their gender expression. The bill has passed the state assembly and is up for a vote on the Senate floor. Thirteen other states and the District of Columbia have already enacted similar legislation. But a group of queer justice organizations is not supporting the bill because it would also add “gender identity and expression” to the list of hate crime offenses and result in longer prison terms. Because the same communities vulnerable to violence face increased policing, it’s a move that would “expose our communities to the inherent racism and classism that is rooted in the criminal justice system,” said Pooja Gehi, staff attorney at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, which opposes the hate crime portion of the proposed bill.MORE
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OUT OF REACH: Is college only for the rich?

This shit is PAST serious. What the hell are you teaching at universities to be charging these humongous amounts of money evrey damned year? The hell you all can find money for tax cuts and war and military spending and the IMF and greedy thieving bankers all goddamn day long, but school , oh no, teh budget!!!


Jun. 17th, 2009 12:24 am
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The 10% Fight Is Back

The percent plan idea originated as a law in Texas to respond to court rulings against affirmative action, but has been used elsewhere with different cutoffs. In Texas, those in the top 10 percent of their high school classes are assured admission to the public university of their choice -- regardless of standardized test scores.

The idea behind the percentage plans is that black and Latino students, on average, don't do as well on standardized tests as do white and Asian students. In addition, Texas is a state with many high schools that are overwhelmingly Latino or overwhelmingly black. Since every high school has a top 10 percent, eliminating the testing requirement meant that these largely minority high schools were going to end up producing good numbers of Latino and black students who would be admitted -- without consideration of race in ways that might offend courts or critics of affirmative action -- to such competitive institutions as the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M at College Station.

In many respects, the plan has been a major success in Texas, helping the flagship institutions to admit more minority students than they would have been able to otherwise -- at least while the state was under a court order not to use affirmative action. But ever since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that public colleges could consider race in admissions, University of Texas officials have been pushing to get rid of 10 percent and to instead rely on other admissions strategies (including affirmative action). In the 2007 legislative session, the university was expected to win its fight, but at the last minute, the 10 percent system survived.

This year, UT officials are again asking for the admissions system to be changed, with William Powers, the president at Austin, telling the
Texas Associated Press Managing Editors last week that 81 percent of freshmen are now admitted through 10 percent, leaving the institution with too little control over whom to enroll. “We’ve lost control of our entering class because we don’t have any discretion on the admissions,” Powers said. In California, where those in the top 4 percent are assured University of California admission, a faculty panel is recommending that up to 9 percent be admitted that way (although in a key difference from Texas, the California 9 percent plan would guarantee a spot somewhere in the university system, not on a particular campus).

With these debates going on, the new research may challenge several assumptions. The study was conducted by Kalena E. Cortes, an assistant professor of education at Syracuse University, and was presented last week at the annual meeting of the American Economic Association. Cortes used data from Texas on admission of students from various high school ranks to the state's more competitive and less competitive colleges, and then tracked six-year graduation rates.MORE

Too many legacy admissions not making the cut?

As for this?

Her findings go directly to a fear that some have had about the 10 percent plan and that others have about affirmative action generally -- namely that it could end up hurting the minority students it is supposed to benefit. According to this "minority mismatch" idea, minority students who earn admission to competitive institutions (either through a percent plan or more traditional affirmative action) are likely to do less well than they would have if they had enrolled at less competitive institutions. Advocates for this position say that minority students would be more likely to graduate and excel if they ended up at institutions without any mismatch risk. The mismatch argument is popular with some and criticized by others because of its political potency: It allows people to criticize affirmative action not for its its impact on white students, but on minority students.
But Cortes found evidence to rebut this assumption.
She found that minority students who attended selective colleges are 38 percentage points more likely to complete college within six years of enrollment than are the minority students who enroll at other colleges. While she found that some of the gap is based on student characteristics and high school characteristics, excluding those elements still left a gap of 21 percentage points.

I have no comment that is printable about that minority mismatch idea. The fucking patronizing assholes.
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Add Education and Class to your RSS feed

Sample links and articles:

The Universities in Trouble

But the public–private partnership that did much to democratize American higher education has been coming apart. In 1976, federal Pell grants for low-income students covered 72 percent of the average cost of attending a four-year state institution; by 2003, Pell grants covered only 38 percent of the cost. Meanwhile, financial aid administered by the states is being allocated more and more on the basis of "merit" rather than need—meaning that scholarships are going increasingly to high-achieving students from high-income families, leaving deserving students from low-income families without the means to pay for college.

In 2002, a federal advisory committee issued a report, aptly entitled "Empty Promises," which estimated, according to Donald E. Heller, a leading authority on the economics of higher education, that "more than 400,000 students nationally from families with incomes below $50,000" met the standards of college admission "and yet were unable to enroll in a four-year college because of financial barriers. More than 160,000 of these students did not attend any college because of these barriers, not even a two-year institution." Two years later, Heller pointed out that "the college-going rates of the highest-socioeconomic-status students with the lowest achievement levels is the same level as the poorest students with the highest achievement levels."[12] In short, bright and focused kids from poor families are going to college at the same rate as unfocused or low-scoring kids from families much better off.

This fact is an affront to America's claim to be a nation of equal opportunity where talent and effort can overcome poverty and prejudice. Today the United States stands tenth, along with Australia, Spain, and Sweden, behind Canada, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Belgium, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, and France in the percentage of its young people (ages 25–34) who have earned a post-secondary degree. Since secondary education abroad is often stronger than in the United States, the comparative educational attainment of Americans is probably even worse than these rankings suggest. Among adults in the age group 55–64, we still lead the world in the percentage who are college graduates—which means not only that over the past three decades many nations have surpassed us, but that, in the aggregate, younger Americans are less well educated than their elders.[13]MORE

Why Can’t Those Working-Class Kids Value Education Like Our Middle-Class Kids?

Class division on facebook and myspace

Working Class Families in Books for Kids

College in Need Closes a Door to Needy Students

PORTLAND, Ore. — The admissions team at Reed College, known for its free-spirited students, learned in March that the prospective freshman class it had so carefully composed after weeks of reviewing essays, scores and recommendations was unworkable.

Money was the problem. Too many of the students needed financial aid, and the college did not have enough. So the director of financial aid gave the team another task: drop more than 100 needy students before sending out acceptances, and substitute those who could pay full freight.

The whole idea of excluding a student simply because of money clashed with the college’s ideals, Leslie Limper, the aid director, acknowledged. “None of us are very happy,” she said, adding that Reed did not strike anyone from its list last year and that never before had it needed to weed out so many worthy students. “Sometimes I wonder why I’m still doing this.”MORE

Spring 2009 Issue of PATHWAYS
A magazine on poverty, inequality, and social policy

Parsing the Achievement Gap II

A new report released by ETS, Parsing the Achievement GapII (pdf attached below) documents that relative to middle-class children and white children, low-income and minority children:

* are less likely to be taught by certified teachers
* are more likely to attend schools with high teacher absenteeism and teacher turn-over
* learn in bigger classes
* report issues of fear and safety in school
* be taught by inexperienced teachers

Data is also reported on low birth rates, access to the internet, exposure to mercury and lead, and hunger. Low-income and minority kids are at the losing end on all counts.

How to make school not..SUCK

Interview with the Authors of Resilience: Queer Professors From the Working Class

Paying in Full as the Ticket Into Colleges

Networking and Teaching...

Dropping standardized testing in admissions would result in great economic and ethnic diversity.

Harvard University Press: Hope and Despair in the American City : Why There Are No Bad Schools in Raleigh by Gerald Grant

Hard Lessons: The Challenges of Teaching about Class

What is Working-Class Studies?


Apr. 8th, 2009 09:19 pm
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Skin Bleachers in Jamaica

Despite being entirely illegal, skin lightening creams are big business both in the UK and in Jamaica - but who are the women - and men - who use them? And who sells them?

Colonialism leading to the whiter the better, the blacker the worse mentality...Thanks a lot, Britain.
Lighter is Better
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Free Higher Education: A GI Bill for Everybody

What if education were available without tuition charges to every resident meeting admissions criteria, as a right, at any public, post-secondary educational institution in the United States? Is this idea feasible? Is there potential public support for it? What would be its likely effects if implemented? What would such a commitment cost? How could those costs be met? These questions are not on the radar screen of American public discourse today. In fact, they are virtually unthinkable in the current consensus that sets the boundaries of acceptable policy debate.

Yet paying for higher education is a major concern for most Americans. In 2000, polls indicated that respondents included education, along with the economy, as one of the two highest priority issues in choosing a presidential candidate. Although much of this expressed concern is centered on the quality of pre-collegiate schooling, Americans are also worried about access to post-secondary education. Legitimately so, for post-secondary education is increasingly a prerequisite for effective labor force participation, for any hope of a relatively secure, decent job. If that is the case, shouldn't society have an obligation to provide universal access to such an essential social good? Why should we accept a putative consensus that preempts consideration of an issue so important to so many Americans?

Universal access to higher education is not entirely unprecedented in recent American history. The most dramatic approximation to it was the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, popularly known as the GI Bill, under which a generation of Second World War veterans received what was usually full tuition support and stipends (up to nearly $12,000 per year in 1994 dollars) to attend post-secondary educational institutions. By 1952, the federal government had spent $7 billion (nearly $39 billion in 1994 dollars) on sending veterans to college. This amounted to 1.3 percent of total federal expenditures ($521.8 billion) during that period. A 1988 report by a congressional subcommittee on education and health estimated that 40 percent of those who attended college under the GI Bill would not otherwise have done so. The report also found that each dollar spent educating that 40 percent produced a $6.90 return (more than $267 billion in 1994 dollars) in national output due to extra education and increased federal tax revenues from the extra income the beneficiaries earned.MORE

why auto industry and student loans are intertwined. see La Lubu's comment in particular.
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Vaccines and Medical Experiments on Children, Minorities, Woman and Inmates

Think U.S. health authorities have never conducted outrageous medical experiments on children, women, minorities, homosexuals and inmates? Think again: This timeline, originally put together by Dani Veracity (a NaturalNews reporter), has been edited and updated with recent vaccination experimentation programs in Maryland and New Jersey. Here's what's really happening in the United States when it comes to exploiting the public for medical experimentation:

(1845 - 1849)

J. Marion Sims, later hailed as the "father of gynecology," performs medical experiments on enslaved African women without anesthesia. These women would usually die of infection soon after surgery. Based on his belief that the movement of newborns' skull bones during protracted births causes trismus, he also uses a shoemaker's awl, a pointed tool shoemakers use to make holes in leather, to practice moving the skull bones of babies born to enslaved mothers (Brinker).


New York pediatrician Henry Heiman infects a 4-year-old boy whom he calls "an idiot with chronic epilepsy" with gonorrhea as part of a medical experiment ("Human Experimentation: Before the Nazi Era and After").


Dr. Arthur Wentworth turns 29 children at Boston's Children's Hospital into human guinea pigs when he performs spinal taps on them, just to test whether the procedure is harmful (Sharav).


Harvard professor Dr. Richard Strong infects prisoners in the Philippines with cholera to study the disease; 13 of them die. He compensates survivors with cigars and cigarettes. During the Nuremberg Trials, Nazi doctors cite this study to justify their own medical experiments (Greger, Sharav).


Dr. Hideyo Noguchi of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research publishes data on injecting an inactive syphilis preparation into the skin of 146 hospital patients and normal children in an attempt to develop a skin test for syphilis. Later, in 1913, several of these children's parents sue Dr. Noguchi for allegedly infecting their children with syphilis ("Reviews and Notes: History of Medicine: Subjected to Science: Human Experimentation in America before the Second World War").


Medical experimenters "test" 15 children at the children's home St. Vincent's House in Philadelphia with tuberculin, resulting in permanent blindness in some of the children. Though the Pennsylvania House of Representatives records the incident, the researchers are not punished for the experiments ("Human Experimentation: Before the Nazi Era and After").


Dr. Joseph Goldberger, under order of the U.S. Public Health Office, produces Pellagra, a debilitating disease that affects the central nervous system, in 12 Mississippi inmates to try to find a cure for the disease. One test subject later says that he had been through "a thousand hells." In 1935, after millions die from the disease, the director of the U.S Public Health Office would finally admit that officials had known that it was caused by a niacin deficiency for some time, but did nothing about it because it mostly affected poor African-Americans. During the Nuremberg Trials, Nazi doctors used this study to try to justify their medical experiments on concentration camp inmates (Greger; Cockburn and St. Clair, eds.).


(1932-1972) The U.S. Public Health Service in Tuskegee, Ala. diagnoses 400 poor, black sharecroppers with syphilis but never tells them of their illness nor treats them; instead researchers use the men as human guinea pigs to follow the symptoms and progression of the disease. They all eventually die from syphilis and their families are never told that they could have been treated (Goliszek, University of Virginia Health System Health Sciences Library).MORE

EDIT: The last two items re: vaccination on the list are however very very suspect.
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Families to care about

While the rich, bathed in our attention, are turning necessity into a hand-wringing sociological event, most women in this country are just going about their business, much as they always have.

We — journalists and readers both — simply must, for once, resist the temptation to let what may or may not be happening to the top 5 percent (or 1 percent) of our country’s families set the story line for what women’s lives are becoming in this recession.

Because, the fact is, the story’s not about them.

“This is a classic blue collar recession,” says Heather Boushey, a senior economist at the Center for American Progress. Fully half the jobs that have been lost so far have been in construction and manufacturing. Only 5.1 percent of job losses have been in finance and insurance — the kinds of careers that support the opt-out lifestyle.


Increasing numbers of working class women now — in a downturn where 82 percent of the job losses have been among men – have become their family’s sole wage-earners, it’s true. But their husbands, very often, are holding their own at home just fine. For while the stereotype has long been that working class men won’t do “women’s work,” Coontz said, the truth is that in recent years they’ve had a better track record than the most high-income men in sharing domestic duties. Twenty percent of these men, in fact, actually do more housework and child care now than their wives. “These people have been doing it for some time and they’re much more ideologically committed to doing it,” she said. “I think your worst offenders” (dirty coffee mug-wise), “are in that top 5 percent.”

“I’ve been a little irritated by the slams on men,” she added.

It’s not just for the sake of being fair to the hubbies that we’ve got to keep our wits about us these days and avoid falling into the usual clichés about class and gender with which we tend to make sense of men and women’s changing lives. There’s a deeper reason, too: paying attention only to the – real or perceived – “choices” and travails of the top 5 percent hides the experiences of all the rest. And this means that the needs of all the rest never quite rise to the surface of our national debate or emerge at the top of our political priorities.MORE


Sep. 25th, 2008 09:12 pm
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Lousiana Lawmaker Faults Media For Focusing Attention On His Eugenics Proposal

Louisiana State Rep. John LaBruzzo (R) recently stirred controversy by advocating a form of eugenics to decrease the number of poor. “I realized that all these people were in Louisiana’s care and what a massive financial responsibility that is to the state,” he said. “I said, ‘I wonder if it might be a good idea to pay some of these people to get sterilized.’” His plan would also give tax incentives to the rich to encourage procreation.

LaBruzzo seems to be dead serious about implementing the plan. He “gathering statistics” now and is planning to introduce legislation “if he finds that the number of people on welfare has increased” over the past decades.MORE

[livejournal.com profile] fightingwordsgives some background

If you don't know about the history of how reproductive rights have differed for white women and women of color, it's because you haven't been informed. I'll be a peach and give you a few links to places you can get information:

La Operación is a documentary about the enforced sterilization of 1/3 of the women in Puerto Rico.

Killing the Black Body and Medical Apartheid both discuss the history of medical racism and in particular address how that has affected black women and their reproductive health and rights.

Reprise/Forced Sterilizations is a paper about the forced sterilizations of Native women in the 1970s.

What is common amongst all of these is the silence of the mainstream reproductive rights movement--or complicity of same. That no mainstream pro-choice organization has spoken to LaBruzzo's proposal says a lot about where their priorities lie.

Womanist Musings slams it head on.

Rep. LaBruzzo has discovered how to end economic disparity. The answer that we have all been waiting on is...drum roll please....paying poor people to undergo sterilization. An old fashioned idea to an ever increasing crises. Do you smell the stink of white fear?

Eugenicists have historically argued that it is the poor, disabled, defective and bodies of colour that are stagnating the growth of the country. With an economic crises looming can we really afford to keep supporting those that wish to spend a lifetime sucking on the government teat?
Remember that the current housing crises is the result of people who could not afford to pay for their mortgages. When you try to give the poor a helping hand they always fall back on old habits and shirk responsibilities. The liberal media would have you believe that it is the banking institutions themselves that are at fault for being blinded by greed, but seriously everyone knows that banks only have the interest of the common man at heart.
What Labruzzo and men of his ilk want people to believe is the lie that is preached in every single elementary school across the country; meritocracy. The streets are paved with gold, and if you work hard enough each person has an equal opportunity to succeed. If people are poor it is because they choose it and this is a choice that the government can no longer continue to support. MORE


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