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Friday Ruminations
buzzed, B&W
hairylunch


Interesting look at poverty and environmentalism - the introduction starts off with a bit of a rant about how those who care about the environment are white, upper-class folks who can afford to be environmentally conscious, while those most affected by environmentalism are those in poverty. The series looks at wildfires, mining, climate change, etc. Highlights include:

  • An article on how environmentalism has turned elitist

  • A comparison of prices between green goods and regular, and haves and have-nots - the figures are amazing $8,759 to maintain and operate a midsize car for a year, vs. $590 for public trans for a year. Of course, a midsize car can service more than one person, but it'd have to service 15 people to be the equivalent of public trans. Families in the lowers 20 percent of income own 0.9 cars/household, while the top 20 percent own 2.9/household. 11% of children in non-poor families are diagnosed with asthma, compared to 16% in poor families - and the costs of treatment and care for asthma are amazing . . .
  • An interactive graphic with some interesting stats such as "A full-time, minimum-wage job pays enough to rent a one-bedroom apartment at fair market value in the U.S. -- in only four counties." and "Air in poor neighborhoods can be more polluted: in one California study, low-income residents confronted 17 percent more particulate matter than those in more affluent areas."
  • A comparison of simply living vs. simple living - I really like this one, especially the introduction. People tend to try and see the positives of those in poverty, rather than admitting to themselves how large the struggle to survive can be. The author (who's an anthropologist) goes on to point out how we're all at fault - "When I say 'the wealthy,' I mean nearly every citizen of every wealthy nation."


Why I (still) send my kid to public school - interesting perspective by someone who could afford to send their child to private school, but chooses public schools for non-academic reasons, such as diversity. "Already, at 14, our son sees the world in a vastly different way than his private-school cousins whose social interactions are limited and more homogeneous." So true - examples of this are rampant: the learning that mainly privileged folks I see serving as VISTAs go through, the perspective of the advanced kids I taught vs. those in the heterogeneous classes, etc etc.

Students recall more ads than news on Channel One - While I never went to a school with Channel One, this is pretty interesting. I'm not sure the study's findings are significant ("The students remembered, on average, 3.5 ads compared to 2.7 news stories. However, they didn't remember much about either, retaining only 13 percent of the news stories and 11 percent of the ads shown during one week."), but it does make one wonder a bit . . . and is there anything wrong with advertising to youth? Captive audiences?

Great essay on what it really takes to be a teacher, and the kinds of hours that teachers put in. I'm the guy who always completed assignments and projects in half the time it takes most people - even though it was usually after procrastinating till the 11th hour. When I was a sub, there was definitely a part of me that wondered how people did it. I had the luxury of having an extra planning period, and not having to participate in staff meetings, etc, but it was not uncommon for me to spend a good hour or two outside the "work day" getting stuff together - and I even had lesson plans prepared for me, though I did tweak them to my teaching style.

Lastly, an informative article on performance based pay for teachers. I'm all for performance based pay, but I'm not sure of a fair way to measure teachers' performance - how do you compare the teacher who's teaching the advanced classes to those teaching to academic classes? Test performance? Right . . . because standardized testing doesn't have enough weight, and teachers aren't pressured to teach to the test as is . . . Reminds me a bit of college, where tenure for professors had numerous factors, one of them being student evaluations of their teaching. But I don't think K-12 students, in general, can fairly evaluate whether a teacher is good or not - more likely it'll be whether they're popular or not. (Though the two tend to go hand in hand, as it's hard to be a good teacher, if you're not popular . . . )

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