The Riff Feed | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2010/12/www.facebook.com/www.facebook.com/thedailyshow http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Book Review: "Half Blood Blues" http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2012/02/book-review-half-blood-blues <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><span class="inline inline-left"><img height="307" width="270" src="https://motherjones.com/files/images/author.jpg" alt="Esi Edugyan" title="Esi Edugyan" class="image image-preview"><span class="caption" style="width: 268px;"><strong>Esi Edugyan</strong></span></span>In 2011 Esi Edugyan&rsquo;s bestelling novel <i>Half Blood Blues </i>snagged Canada&rsquo;s highest literary honor, was a finalist for Britain&rsquo;s Man Booker Prize, and was translated into nine languages. A Canadian with roots in Ghana, 34-year-old Edugyan&rsquo;s novel explores the overlooked histories of Africans and mixed-race foreigners through the travails of a popular jazz band trapped in Nazi-era Europe. With a light touch and a deft hand, she provides original insight on the black American experience. So it&rsquo;s a shame the novel is only now being released in the US, by Picador on February 28th.&nbsp;</p> <p>The story opens as the Hot-Time Swingers, whose members include African-Americans, a Jew and a German with African ancestry, cut a record in occupied Paris. Their sound will become legend, but in Nazi Europe jazz is the degenerate music of half-breeds, or <i>mischlings</i>. When the band&rsquo;s frontman, the young trumpeter <span>Hieronymus Falk, nicknamed Hiero, rashly decides to venture outside for a glass of milk, he is arrested.</span></p> <p>A shy 19-year-old, Hiero is the locus of his band&rsquo;s hopes and an undisputed genius. In one scene Louis Armstrong gifts the boy with his trumpet. But as one of Germany&rsquo;s &lsquo;Rhineland Bastards,&rsquo; (the offspring of German women and <span>French-Senegalese colonial soldiers posted in the Rhineland following WWI), Hiero is a <i>mischling</i> of the first order and a refugee of sorts: considered stateless in Germany and a despised German in Paris, he&rsquo;s a young man in limbo, an easy target. When Hiero is banished to a concentration camp and presumed dead, what remains of the band disintegrates. </span></p> <p>The virtuosity of Edugyan&rsquo;s writing is noticeable in how Hiero, who serves as a projection screen for the motivations of others, is himself barely sketched. The narrator is Sid Griffiths, a jealous bassist whose talents at rendering the sounds of jazz into words, in a brassy, thumping patois, overshadows his musical abilities.</p> <p>Fifty years later, Sid is a retired medical transcriber in Baltimore with a secret: he committed a betrayal that sent Hiero to the camps. When his old bandmate Chip turns up, he informs Sid that Hiero is alive. As they set out to find him, the story moves between the dawn of a reunified Europe and Sid&rsquo;s flashbacks from the early days of the war. The old man&rsquo;s shame is slowly exhumed&mdash;along with the complex implications of the band members&rsquo; skin colors, nationalities and ethnicities in hostile territory.</p> <p>And yet Edugyan avoids the familiar tropes of Nazi thuggery. Rather than dwelling on their well-documented rape and mayhem proclivities, she reveals how the <span>Red-Hot Swingers transform the Nazi Party anthem into protest music. </span></p> <p><span>The novel's surprising end, and Edugyan herself, are proof that </span>the <i>mischling </i>experience beautifies art in all of its forms.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Riff Books Civil Liberties Fri, 24 Feb 2012 11:08:00 +0000 Rinku Patel 164881 at http://www.motherjones.com Street Talk With Grammy Hopeful Ana Tijoux http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2011/02/ana-tijoux-grammy-rapper-chile <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>According to French-Chilean rapper <a href="http://anatijoux.com/#home" target="_blank">Ana Tijoux</a>, Chileans really know how to butcher Spanish. "Every culture has their own slang, but I think in Chile specifically we speak very bad," she says over the phone. "So we have a lot, a lot of slang."</p> <p>Despite this, or maybe because of it, Tijoux has an incredible way with words. Even if listeners don't understand her Spanish, they will sense the graceful fluidity of her style, which often relies on unusual syncopations and internal rhymes. Tijoux, who spent a childhood in France after dictator Augusto Pinochet forced her parents into exile, says she's "always been fascinated by the aesthetic of words." As down-to-earth as they come, she manages to make use of quotidian conversations, minor details, and yes, plenty of "slahng" (as she pronounces it), to render the world in poetry.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/riff/2011/02/ana-tijoux-grammy-rapper-chile"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Riff Interview Music Mon, 07 Feb 2011 11:00:00 +0000 Maddie Oatman 97781 at http://www.motherjones.com 'Parent-Trigger' Proponents Sue Compton's School District http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2011/02/parent-trigger-compton-school-district <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>[<strong>Update</strong>:&nbsp;A Los Angeles judge just issued an order temporarily restraining Compton Unified School District officials from requiring signature verification from parents of McKinley Elementary School students. The Court scheduled a hearing on Feb. 24.]</p> <p>The <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/parent-trigger-law-compton">"Parent-Trigger" saga</a> at Compton's McKinley Elementary School continues with a new twist today. From Parent Revolution's <a target="_blank" href="http://parentrevolution.org/?p=982">press release</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>"McKinley parents&mdash;along with pro bono lawyers from Kirkland &amp; Ellis filed a lawsuit against Compton Unified School District for Compton Unified's illegal infringement upon the constitutional rights of McKinley parents and children.</p> <p>The legal complaint against Compton Unified (Murphy et al v. Compton Unified) details not only violations of the Parent Trigger law itself, but violations of the constitutional rights of parents and children by the Compton Unified School District. Having already denied the children of McKinley their constitutional right under the California Constitution to an "equitable public education," the school district has subsequently infringed on the federal and state's constitutional First Amendment rights of parents to petition their government to remedy this violation of their children's rights "by crafting an onerous and burdensome process" intended not to verify their signatures, but to simply throw them out."</p> </blockquote> <p>From the summary of the lawsuit against Compton Unified by the parents of McKinley Elementary (Murphy et al v Compton Unified School District):</p> <blockquote> <p>"[Compton Unified has] consistently exhibited bad faith in their dealings with the Plaintiffs. CUSD refused to respond to emails, letters, and phone calls by the parent and failed to provide basic information about the verification procedure to parents until less than a week before they implemented a verification procedure."</p> </blockquote> <p>Meanwhile, <em>The Los Angeles Times</em> editorial board <a target="_blank" href="http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-trigger-20110129,0,927932.story">came out against</a> the current version of the "Parent-Trigger" law and some of the tactics used by Parent Revolution to organize this campaign. From their Jan. 29 editorial:</p> <blockquote> <p>"The first parent trigger petition, at McKinley Elementary School in Compton, offered an example of how the process shouldn't work. The signature drive was held in secret, to avoid a backlash from the school, but with the decision pre-made for parents that the school would be taken over by charter operator Celerity Educational Group. There was no public discussion of parents' options or rights. McKinley is not a school that has resisted change; though low-performing, it has dramatically raised test scores in recent years. Some parents complained afterwards that they didn't understand the petition they were signing; others accused school personnel of threatening and harassing them to get them to rescind their signatures. Meanwhile, the school district has set up a process for verifying the signatures that is harder on parents and more intrusive than is reasonably necessary."</p> </blockquote></body></html> Riff Civil Liberties Crime and Justice Education Race and Ethnicity Supreme Court Mission High School Thu, 03 Feb 2011 19:12:55 +0000 Kristina Rizga 98291 at http://www.motherjones.com I Have A Scheme http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2011/02/i-have-scheme <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>If you think that race relations in your urban hipster enclave have much improved since the 1950s, you probably haven't seen Clybourne Park, a hilarious, devastatingly spot-on play by Bruce Norris that has been making audiences squirm in New York, London, and Washington, DC. At moments during Clybourne Park's West Coast premiere in San Francisco last week, some people laughed and others scowled, as one would expect from a play that mercilessly shreds Obama-era pretensions to social enlightenment.</p> <p>Expertly directed by Jonathan Moscone at San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater, Clybourne Park juxtaposes two scenes in the same Chicago townhouse across the span of a half century. In the first, a war-scarred white family is selling the house, which looks like the set to a cheery postwar sitcom, to an African-American couple over the objections of the all-white neighborhood's Rotarian booster (theater buffs will notice this as a re-imagining of "A Raisin in the Sun," a famous 1959 play about race). The second act shows the same house bare and mouldering as two white <a target="_blank" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobos_in_Paradise">bobos</a>&nbsp;(Steve and Lindsey), who want to replace it with a modernist tower, square off against black neighbors (Kevin and Lena), who view themselves as defenders of the neighborhood.</p> <p>That's when things really get interesting. The PC blather deployed by both sides&mdash;the acknowledgements of past injustices, the oblique claims to victimization, the emphatic repetitions of "I hear you"&mdash;thinly veils the same jurassic territoriality of the '50s. A rhetorical arms race has complicated and in some ways deepened the old divisions, with matters of "taste" substituting for race and class in an an ostensibly post-racial world. &nbsp;</p> <p>Even the well-educated, well-off, obviously liberal San Francisco theater audience had trouble navigating these shoals at times. There were jokes about deaf people, gay people, black men, and white women that may or may not have been funny. (Why are white women like tampons? "They're both stuck up cunts!"). There was the moment when several people in the audience cheered as Steve tried to find common cause with Kevin by condemning the War in Iraq, only to learn that Kevin's minivan was plastered with three "support our troops" magnets, one for each of his relatives fighting overseas (statistically, African-Americans are <a target="_blank" href="http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2006/10/who-are-the-recruits-the-demographic-characteristics-of-us-military-enlistment-2003-2005">overrepresented</a> in the armed forces). But in other ways Kevin is a classic latte liberal.</p> <p>Clybourne Park ends by suggesting that neither side in the gentrification wars really pays enough heed to the true nature of the history that it enshrines. I hear you, Bruce Norris. I totally&nbsp;<em>hear</em> you.</p></body></html> Riff Race and Ethnicity Thu, 03 Feb 2011 12:03:00 +0000 Josh Harkinson 97896 at http://www.motherjones.com Realization of the Week: The Same Classroom Is Never the Same http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/mission-high-bowman-class-dynamics <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>Editors' Note: This education dispatch is part of an ongoing series reported from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.missionhs.org/" target="_blank">Mission High School</a>, where education writer&nbsp;<a href="http://motherjones.com/authors/kristina-rizga" target="_blank">Kristina Rizga</a> is embedded for the year. <a href="http://motherjones.com/category/secondary-tags/mission-high-school" target="_blank">Click here to see more of MoJo's recent education coverage</a>, or <a href="http://twitter.com/KristinaRizga" target="_blank">follow </a><a href="http://twitter.com/KristinaRizga" target="_blank">Kristina's writing</a><a href="http://twitter.com/KristinaRizga" target="_blank"> on Twitter</a> or with <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/KristinaRizga" target="_blank">this RSS&nbsp;Feed</a>.</em></p> <p><a href="http://motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/closing-achievement-gap-one-time" target="_blank"><strong>[Previous Mission High dispatch: Will Darrell flunk this test?]</strong></a></p> <p>There's a spring in my step as I walk to <a href="http://motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/closing-achievement-gap-one-time" target="_blank">Mission High School</a> this morning. I can't wait to tell <a href="http://motherjones.com/media/2011/01/mission-high-natalie-heart" target="_blank">Natalie&mdash;the aspiring astronaut who was "kicked out" of two charter schools</a>&mdash;that my NASA&nbsp;friend has agreed to meet with her and give her some college advice.</p> <p>But when I enter <a href="http://motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/mission-high-world-history-benton" target="_blank">Ms. Bowman's World History class</a>, Natalie's not there. Where is she? I wonder. Is she okay? At least Pedro's here, I notice.</p> <p>Bowman begins class by writing the mnemonic "<em>EMPIRE</em>" on a white dry-erase board for a review of the motivations behind Imperialism. Each letter of <em>EMPIRE</em> stands for a key concept:&nbsp;"E" for economic interests, "M" for military bases, "P" for patriotism and nationalism, "I" for ideology of Social Darwinism, etc.</p> <p>"I want to answer the ideology question, please!" says <a href="http://motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/mission-high-pedro-scars" target="_blank">Pedro, the sweet skateboarding kid whose T-shirt hides gang-inflicted knife scars</a>. He has already answered the first two questions and seems to have a hard time staying still today. "Just a minute, Pedro," Bowman responds. "I want to allow others to participate in our discussion." "A body of beliefs!" Pedro yells anyway.</p> <p><a href="http://motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/mission-high-pedro-scars" target="_blank">Pedro</a> starts chatting with his friends in a loud voice. Bowman first offers him the choice of moving over a few seats. He refuses, promising to stop talking, but doesn't follow through. Bowman then asks Pedro to read out loud the four rules she has written near the classroom door: "Be respectful, no cross-talk, step up, and step back."</p> <p>Pedro reads them out loud, then continues to joke around with his friends. Nearby, a girl is reading a Bible with a pink cover, ignoring the other students. Last week she participated in collective discussions. This week, she seems annoyed by Pedro and protests with silence. "Pedro, could you come with me for a second?" Bowman asks in a calm voice. The two walk outside the classroom for a minute. Bowman walks back in without Pedro and keeps teaching. Three minutes later, Pedro reenters the class, sits down, and starts working calmly on an exercise with the rest of the class.</p> <p>As the students write in silence for a moment, it hits me: This class feels completely <a href="http://motherjones.com/media/2011/01/mission-high-natalie-heart" target="_blank">different from last week</a>. It's not just Pedro's behavior. The students are still learning, but there's more tension, more cross-talk, less engagement as a group.</p> <p>After class I talk to Bowman; she agrees. "A part of it is not having Natalie in the class today," she muses. Since <a href="http://motherjones.com/media/2011/01/mission-high-natalie-heart" target="_blank">Natalie</a>'s always very engaged in class discussions, it's possible that her participation balances out Pedro's desire to be the center of attention, and other students benefit. But Bowman doesn't seem too worried. "Class dynamics change constantly," she says. "It's a constant work in progress."</p> <p>I now have heard many teachers at Mission High school refer to these small, frequent cultural shifts in a classroom as little bumps. Skilled teachers feel them right away and know exactly how to smooth them out.</p></body></html> Riff Education Mission High School Wed, 02 Feb 2011 17:15:00 +0000 Kristina Rizga 97616 at http://www.motherjones.com WATCH: Lazy Teenage Superheroes vs. Robot Bollywood [Videos] http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/watch-lazy-teenage-superheroes-vs-robot-bollywood-videos <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img alt="" title="" class="image image-preview " width="615" height="325" src="https://motherjones.com/files/images/lazy-teenage-superheroes.jpg"><a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/environment/2011/01/which-dangerous-toxins-are-your-pot">Speaking of pot</a>, the charming little stoner film embedded below brings $300 worth of special effects to a plot just a tad more absurd than <em><a target="_blank" href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0366551/">Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle</a></em>. Though sadly lacking in&nbsp;<a target="_blank" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Patrick_Harris">Neil Patrick Harris</a>&nbsp;cameos, it's still worth a watch, if only to see what $300 will get you these days in the way of ninjas and giant robot effects. (Answer: A lot.) <a target="_blank" href="http://www.boingboing.net/2011/01/23/lazy-teenage-superhe.html">Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow sums it up thusly:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Lazy Teenage Superheroes is an extremely funny, extremely well-executed 13-minute rude little superhero movie, made by Michael Ashton for a mere $300. It's full of cussin', lewd speculative scenarios involving the private lives of slacker teen supes who are mostly interested in using their powers to get loaded and/or laid. And there's ninjas and herpes jokes.</p> </blockquote> <p>Watch LTS below:</p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" class="youtube-player" type="text/html" width="640" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/rN4JIz7uq40?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>But wait: What could possibly be better than a $300 action film about superheroes who use their powers only to get high? You guessed it: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svOlz2ei4Yk">Robot Bollywood</a>. Alas, no Neil Patrick Harris in this clip either, but the lo-fi special effects are still pretty darn awesome. Watch it below:</p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" class="youtube-player" type="text/html" width="640" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/svOlz2ei4Yk?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p><em>Top image: Lazy Teenage Superheroes.</em></p></body></html> Riff Video Offbeat Tue, 01 Feb 2011 12:20:00 +0000 Laura McClure 97631 at http://www.motherjones.com The Hook Up: Relationship Advice For the Gases http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/queer-relationship-advice-afterellen <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Have you been wondering how to help a girlfriend who has a gas problem or what to do when your partner treats you like her child? Look no further than my latest AfterEllen advice column. Excerpt:</p> <p class="rteindent1"><strong>I don&rsquo;t know how to put this delicately, so I&rsquo;ll just say it: My girlfriend has a gas problem. Her diet is great (she&rsquo;s a chef even!) and she&rsquo;s not like obnoxious about it or anything. She leaves the room when she can, but man, sometimes it smells so foul that I want to fumigate her entire gastrointestinal tract. I know in the long run, this is not a big deal, but it&rsquo;s still gross and I don&rsquo;t really know how to deal with it! Help! &mdash; Bean There, Done That </strong></p> <p class="rteindent1"><strong>Anna says:</strong> Finally, a serious question! Happy New Year to me. I will help your wind-breaker transform into the beautiful firework that <strong>Katy Perry</strong> intended us all to be, minus the explosions I guess. So maybe one of those sparklers or ashy snake things.</p> <p class="rteindent1">According to The Mayo Clinic, which has devoted <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/gas-and-gas-pains/DS00080/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs">several web pages to the topic</a>, but is probably useless for Trivial Pursuit nights, the leading cause of gas is bad digestion. The big dietary offenders are: beans, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, radishes, peanuts, raw apples, dairy and foods heavy in preservatives. So if she&rsquo;s eating any of those with regularity, tell her to drop that faster than a straight-to-DVD <strong>Olsen Twins</strong> movie. Another biggie is soy, which is heavily processed and hence harder for us to digest. As someone who has dated my fair share of vegans, I can personally attest to the havoc that tofu has wreaked on the conjugal bed! Less common, but no less poignant, causes for gas involve eating too quickly, drinking from a straw, and listening to too much <strong>Taylor Swift</strong>....</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.afterellen.com/2011/01/the-hook-up-a-relationships-column-14"><strong>Read the rest at AfterEllen</strong></a></p></body></html> Riff Mon, 31 Jan 2011 23:59:36 +0000 Anna Pulley 97596 at http://www.motherjones.com In Egypt and Beyond, Democracy Through...Soccer? http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/egypt-and-beyond-democracy-through-soccer <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/dave_zirin/01/31/egypt.soccer/index.html" target="_blank">At <em>Sports Illustrated</em></a>, Dave Zirin analyzes the role of Egypt's "most organized, militant" soccer clubs in organizing opposition to the Mubarak government. He quotes Egyptian&nbsp; blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah, who told <em>Al-Jazeera</em> that the clubs "have played a more significant role than any political group on the ground at this moment." Explains Zirin:</p> <blockquote> <p>The critical role of Egypt's soccer clubs may surprise us, but only if we don't know the history that soccer clubs have played in the country. For more than a century, the clubs have been a place where cheering and anti-government organizing have walked together in comfort. Egypt's most prominent team, Al Ahly,&nbsp; started its club in 1907 as a place to organize national resistance against British colonial rule. The word Al Ahly translated into English means "the national," to mark their unapologetically political stance against colonialism. Al Ahly has always been the team with the most political fans. It's also a team that's allowed its players to make political statements on the pitch even though this is in direct violation of FIFA dictates. It's no coincidence that&nbsp; it was Al Ahly's star player Mohamed Aboutrika, aka "the Smiling Assassin," who in 2008 famously raised his jersey revealing the T-shirt, which read&nbsp; "Sympathize with Gaza."</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/02/sports/soccer-england-battles-the-racism-infesting-soccer.html" target="_blank">Soccer fans are notorious troublemakers</a>. Egyptians are prime offenders: In 2009 <a href="http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/12/03/the_soccer_wars" target="_blank">things got ugly</a> after a heated match against nearby Algeria. Here are some other examples of the sport's political side in the region:</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/riff/2011/01/egypt-and-beyond-democracy-through-soccer"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Riff International Race and Ethnicity Sports Mon, 31 Jan 2011 23:20:48 +0000 Gavin Aronsen 97576 at http://www.motherjones.com Gang of Four Finds Its Rare Essence http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/gang-four-andy-gill-interview <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Circa 1979, on the recommendation of a nerdy record-store clerk, I bought a rust-colored LP called <i>Entertainment!</i>, the debut full-length from the British group Gang of Four. I was immediately intrigued. Led by the songwriting core of singer Jon King and guitarist Andy Gill, the foursome had created a sound that stood apart, even at a time of great experimentation in rock and roll. It sounded neither like the punk rock that preceded it, nor the synth-driven music emerging with bands like Devo, the B-52s, and dozens more.</p> <p>Gang of Four's songs were dark, stark, and spare, the lyrics deadpan, the beats martial yet funky, the guitar lines jagged as the obliteration of a beer bottle (as Kurt Vonnegut might put it) with a ball-peen hammer. King's politics-infused-yet-metaphorical lyrics evoked images of a Western culture run amok. The band's lone love song was an anti-love song, the distortion-laden "(Love Like) Anthrax." Even the cynical album title was a perfect companion for youthful alienation. It rarely left my turntable.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/riff/2011/01/gang-four-andy-gill-interview"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Riff Interview Music Mon, 31 Jan 2011 11:45:00 +0000 Michael Mechanic 97206 at http://www.motherjones.com Happy Fred Korematsu Day http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/fred-korematsu-day-first-us-holiday-named-after-asian-american <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <!--hed: Fred Korematsu Day: The First US Holiday Named After an Asian-American dek: This weekend, civil rights activists celebrate a new icon. By Angilee Shah --><html><body><p>Mother Jones' <em>guest blogger Angilee Shah is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist who writes about globalization and politics. You can read more of her work at <a href="http://www.angileeshah.com">www.angileeshah.com</a></em>.</p> <p>This weekend, American civil rights activists celebrate a new icon: Fred Korematsu, the Japanese-American who resisted placement in a World War II-era internment camp. It's the first holiday in the US commemorating an Asian-American&mdash;and it's proof to some judges and civil rights activists that a new generation of Asian-American leaders can't be far behind.</p> <p>Korematsu's story is an instructive one for civil rights advocates.</p> <p>During World War II, fear loomed in the lives of Japanese-Americans. The&nbsp;United States government moved more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans and immigrants from the Pacific coast to internment camps inland.&nbsp;Korematsu,&nbsp;who refused to go,&nbsp;was arrested and convicted for his defiance.&nbsp;His conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1944. Although the exclusion order was rescinded in 1945, it wasn't until the 1980s, when Korematsu reopened his case, that the courts overturned his conviction. In 1988, the United States declared Japanese American internment unjust and paid retribution to its victims and their heirs.&nbsp;Until his death in 2005, Korematsu himself advocated on behalf of prisoners held in Guant&aacute;namo Bay and&nbsp;Middle-Eastern Americans persecuted after 9/11.</p> <p>Retired California judge Lillian Lim, widely considered the first female Filipino-American judge in the US, recalls the impact&nbsp;Korematsu's story had on her in law school. "It shows the vulnerability of people who are in minority communities," she remembers. "But it also shows how people can win vindication&mdash;even if it takes forty years." Legal rights advocate Karin Wang says that much of the Asian-American activism that began in the 70s and 80s was built on the Korematsu experience and spurred by traumatic events. The brutal 1982 murder of a Chinese-American by two Detroit auto workers in 1982 led to the creation of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center where Wang serves as vice president of programs.&nbsp;Four years ago, after entering semi-retirement, Lim began a campaign to teach more people about Korematsu's journey.</p> <p>Last year, CA Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared January 30 to be Fred Korematsu Day. The holiday is widely considered to be the first time American public schools anywhere will officially commemorate an Asian-American icon.&nbsp;For civil rights activists, the recognition is a reminder to continue engaging in politics.&nbsp;</p> <p>A less reactionary type of political engagement is hard won, however. Janelle Wong, associate professor of Political Science at the University of Southern California, says that Asian Americans vote at the lowest rates of any minority groups in the United States.</p> <p>"The biggest challenge for Asian-American voting is meeting the eligibility requirements of becoming citizens and becoming registered," Wong says. Almost 80 percent of Asian-American adults are immigrants and many live in Democratic states, giving political parties little incentive to calibrate their campaigns and registration drives. A diversity of cultures and languages also makes it challenging to engage politically with Asian-American communities.</p> <p>But Wong argues that ignoring these communities is a short-sighted strategy. 2007 Census data shows that 14.9 million Americans now identify as Asian or partly Asian&mdash;a 25 percent increase from 2000. At this rate of growth, Asian Americans will make up 10 percent of the US population by 2060, according to projections by the 2008 National Asian American Survey. The 2008 survey also shows that the Asian-American vote is up for grabs; more than 50 percent are nonpartisan and identify with neither Democrats nor Republicans.</p> <p>"Parties work to win the next election, but it might be wiser to lay the ground work," Wong says. "They should go after even non-citizens now to build long-term engagement."</p> <p>Lim concurs. "The next big thing is when it's not a big thing that we have an Asian-American as a governor or a US Senator. I don't doubt that one day we'll have a president who is Asian-American."</p></body></html> Riff Civil Liberties Race and Ethnicity Supreme Court Sun, 30 Jan 2011 17:00:00 +0000 Angilee Shah 97156 at http://www.motherjones.com Education Roundup: More Segregation, Science Fails, and the State of the Union http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/education-roundup-segregation-and-sotu <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; ">[<strong>UPDATE</strong>:&nbsp;<strong style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans; font-size: 12px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); "><a target="_blank" style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans; font-size: 12px; color: black !important; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-bottom-style: dotted; border-bottom-color: black; text-decoration: none !important; " href="http://www.blackamericaweb.com/?q=articles/news/moving_america_news/25512/1">BlackAmericaWeb.com</a></strong>&nbsp;reports that&nbsp;<strong style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans; font-size: 12px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); ">Kelley Williams-Bola</strong>r will get to keep her public school assistant job, despite having two felonies on her record. Meanwhile, bloggers are asking whether Williams-Bolar is the&nbsp;<a target="_blank" style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans; font-size: 12px; color: black !important; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-bottom-style: dotted; border-bottom-color: black; text-decoration: none !important; " href="http://ttp://atlantapost.com/2011/01/31/is-kelley-williams-bolar-the-rosa-parks-of-education-reform/">"</a><strong style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans; font-size: 12px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); "><a target="_blank" style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans; font-size: 12px; color: black !important; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-bottom-style: dotted; border-bottom-color: black; text-decoration: none !important; " href="http://ttp://atlantapost.com/2011/01/31/is-kelley-williams-bolar-the-rosa-parks-of-education-reform/">Rosa Parks</a></strong><a target="_blank" style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans; font-size: 12px; color: black !important; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-bottom-style: dotted; border-bottom-color: black; text-decoration: none !important; " href="http://ttp://atlantapost.com/2011/01/31/is-kelley-williams-bolar-the-rosa-parks-of-education-reform/">" of education</a>&nbsp;and a&nbsp;<strong style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans; font-size: 12px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); "><a target="_blank" style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans; font-size: 12px; color: black !important; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-bottom-style: dotted; border-bottom-color: black; text-decoration: none !important; " href="http://www.change.org/petitions/gov-john-kasich-pardon-kelley-williams-bolar----she-shouldnt-go-to-jail-for-protecting-her-kids">Change.org</a></strong><a target="_blank" style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans; font-size: 12px; color: black !important; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-bottom-style: dotted; border-bottom-color: black; text-decoration: none !important; " href="http://www.change.org/petitions/gov-john-kasich-pardon-kelley-williams-bolar----she-shouldnt-go-to-jail-for-protecting-her-kids">&nbsp;petition</a>&nbsp;is demanding that&nbsp;<strong style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans; font-size: 12px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); "><a target="_blank" style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans; font-size: 12px; color: black !important; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-bottom-style: dotted; border-bottom-color: black; text-decoration: none !important; " href="http://www.governor.ohio.gov/">Gov. John Kasich</a></strong>&nbsp;pardon her. What did Kelley do? Read on.]&nbsp;</span></p> <ul><li>Would you lie to get your kids&nbsp;into a better school? Ohio mom <strong><a target="_blank" href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6WTeVBzzpI">Kelley Williams-Bolar</a> </strong>did, and was jailed for&nbsp;nine days&nbsp;for&nbsp;using a false address to send her two daughters to a better school. <strong><a target="_blank" href="http://colorlines.com/archives/2011/01/ohio_mom_gets_jail_time_for_sending_kids_to_suburban_school.html">Colorlines</a></strong> and <strong><a target="_blank" href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/27/kelley-williams-bolar-schools_n_814857.html">HuffPo</a></strong> sum up the racist undertones of Kelley's case, and <a target="_blank" href="http://www.ohio.com/news/break_news/114692469.html">the public outrage that's resulted</a>.</li> <li>Also sparking some outrage is <strong>McCaskey East High School</strong> in Pennsylvania, which since mid-December, has <a target="_blank" href="http://articles.lancasteronline.com/local/4/341937">segregated students by race and gender </a>to boost academic results, according to <strong><a target="_blank" href="http://www.educationnews.org/ednews_today/106576.html">Education News</a></strong>. The separation occurs for six minutes each day and 20 minutes twice a month and,&nbsp;it only applies to black students.</li> <li>Those <a target="_blank" href="http://www.hoover.org/publications/defining-ideas/article/5372">nationally-lauded</a> <strong>New York City</strong> charter schools are spending more than public schools, receiving $10,000 per student from private donors, but they&rsquo;re not getting better performance results, according to a study by the <strong><a target="_blank" href="http://nepc.colorado.edu/">National Education Policy Center</a></strong>.</li> <li>Hey, here's one reason why US students aren't learning science at&nbsp;internationally competitive&nbsp;rates: only 28 percent teachers in the US teach evolutionary biology in their classrooms, <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2011/01/us-teachers-dont-teach-evolution?utm_source=twitterfeed&amp;utm_medium=twitter&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+motherjones%2FTheBlueMarble+%28Mother+Jones+%7C+The+Blue+Marble%29&amp;utm_content=Twitter"><em>MoJo's</em> <strong>Julia Whitty</strong> reported</a>.</li> <li>In his <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/01/obama-state-of-the-union-spending-freeze">State of the Union</a> speech this week, <strong>Obama</strong>&nbsp;devoted <a target="_blank" href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704698004576104951112319700.html">eight minutes to education</a>, more than doubling the amount of&nbsp;air time&nbsp;US&nbsp;schools&nbsp;received last year.&nbsp;The <a target="_blank" href="http://www.ed.gov/blog/2011/01/state-of-the-union-education-excerpts/"><strong>US</strong>&nbsp;<strong>Department of Education</strong></a>'s transcript of&nbsp;those minutes are&nbsp;<a target="_blank" href="http://www.ed.gov/blog/2011/01/state-of-the-union-education-excerpts/">here</a>. <strong><a target="_blank" href="http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2011/01/state_of_the_union_coverage.html">Education Week</a></strong>&nbsp;analyzed what&nbsp;the edu-proposals Obama mentioned&nbsp;actually mean, while&nbsp;<strong><a target="_blank" href="http://blog.eduflack.com/2011/01/26/sotu-disappointment.aspx">Eduflack</a></strong>'s <strong>Patrick Riccards</strong> called&nbsp;the&nbsp;speech a "Chinese menu of education issues" that left average folks still scratching their heads about what to do to improve education. And author, blogger, and educator&nbsp;<a target="_blank" href="http://www.dianeravitch.com/"><strong>Diane Ravitch </strong>called out Obama&rsquo;s plan</a> to replace <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/quote-arne-duncan-no-child-left-behind">No Child Left Behind</a> with a <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/07/duncan-names-race-top-finalists">Race to the Top</a> approach. Both programs, Ravitch says,&nbsp;miss the mark by&nbsp;focusing solely on&nbsp;reading and math test scores to evaluate what students know.</li> <li>The president definitely got it right when he said, "The quality of our math and science lag behind many nations." On Tuesday, <a target="_blank" href="http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2011451">the Nation's Report Card on science </a>dropped, and while 29 percent of white high school seniors scored below national basic proficiency, 71 percent of black students fell short. The reason? Check out <a target="_blank" href="http://hechingerreport.org/content/why-are-other-countries-doing-better-in-science-than-the-u-s_5056/"><strong>The Hechinger Report</strong>'s</a> excellent&nbsp;investigation on the need for science education reforms. <a target="_blank" href="http://hechingerreport.org/content/how-can-we-reform-science-education_4587/comment-page-1/#comment-1015">Here's a taste</a>:&nbsp;No Child Left Behind left science behind&nbsp;by threatening to&nbsp;withhold&nbsp;funding&nbsp;from schools if&nbsp;only math and reading scores didn't improve. Also,&nbsp;US students&nbsp;are taught to memorize facts while&nbsp;international students&nbsp;learn foundational concepts.</li> </ul><p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Riff Education Mission High School Fri, 28 Jan 2011 19:00:00 +0000 Titania Kumeh 97231 at http://www.motherjones.com Closing the Achievement Gap, One 'A' at a Time http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/closing-achievement-gap-one-time <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>Editors' Note: This education dispatch is part of an <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/category/secondary-tags/mission-high-school">ongoing series reported from&nbsp;Mission High School</a>, where education writer&nbsp;<a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/authors/kristina-rizga">Kristina Rizga</a> is embedded for the year. <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/category/primary-tags/education">Click here to see all of MoJo's recent education coverage</a>, or <a target="_blank" href="http://twitter.com/KristinaRizga">follow </a><a target="_blank" href="http://twitter.com/KristinaRizga">Kristina's writing</a><a target="_blank" href="http://twitter.com/KristinaRizga"> on Twitter</a> or with <a target="_blank" href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/KristinaRizga">this RSS&nbsp;Feed</a>.</em></p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/mission-high-pedro-scars"><strong>[Previous Mission High dispatch:&nbsp;When a kid suddenly pulls up his shirt to show you scars from a gang-related stabbing, what do you say?]</strong></a></p> <p>Early Friday morning Darrell* cracks open the classroom door for a second time here at Mission High. Darrell's nervous. He's been making progress and getting steady B's lately in Robert Roth's Honors History class, but today there's an hour and a half long history test. He's arranged to spend extra time with Mr. Roth this morning reviewing the material.</p> <p>"Hi Darrell! I'm ready for you," says Roth, who hasn't yet had breakfast or coffee. Darrell nods and takes off his music headphones as he enters the room. Dressed in a Mission High T-shirt, he towers over his teacher. He takes his usual spot in the back of the class, gets his notebook out of the backpack, and looks for the right page.</p> <p>"OK, what's the Monroe Doctrine?" Roth begins. "The US policy in early 19th century that established, hmm ... Latin America as its sphere of influence," Darrell responds in a calm voice. "That's exactly right!" Roth responds and smiles at Darrell. They keep going. "Who was Lili'uokalani?" asks Roth. "The Queen of Hawaii that was overthrown at the end of 19th century," Darrell replies. "You are going to ace this test!" Roth tells Darrell after an intense 15-minute drill.</p> <p>The bell goes off and about 26 students shuffle into class. They pass by a white dry-erase board where Roth has written in large, blue letters: "There will be an essay. I didn't want it, but an evil spirit took control of me and made me do it!" As students take their seats, I realize that this is the most racially integrated class I've seen so far at Mission High.</p> <p>Mikesha, a young student I met in <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/media/2010/12/mission-high-choir">Mr. Hankle's class</a> last year, comes in with tears in her eyes. Roth puts his hand on her shoulder. "What's wrong?" he asks. "Do you want to go to the Wellness Center?" Mikesha wipes tears from her eyes. "No. I'm here today to take the test," she says. Roth walks Mikesha to her desk.</p> <p>"Any last-minute review questions?" Roth asks, as he passes out the tests. "Why was the crushing of the Philippines so brutal?" one student asks. "Great question! Anyone in the class wants to tackle that?" Roth asks. Many hands go up. "Remember: don't summarize, analyze," Roth reminds students, as the testing clock starts ticking. Students hunch over their papers; quiet scribbling takes over the room for a while.</p> <p>Then the ear-piercing screech of an ambulance siren invades the room. A student next to me calmly stretches his wrists. A young man gets out of his chair, stretches out his slender frame, and walks over to the electric pencil sharpener. The sound of the pencil sharpener blocks out the siren, for a moment.</p> <p>Vana has a question and raises her hand. Roth walks over and they talk in a low voice for a while. Jaime is scribbling something on the back of his classmate's chair. Roth spots him and walks over to him next. "Test taking is a tenuous process. Students can get stuck on little concepts or the spelling of a complicated word. If you completely disengage, they trip and fall, and many don't get up," Roth whispers into my ear. "I just have to work hard not to intervene too much. Not to mess it up."</p> <p>Another ambulance flies down the street. Mikesha drums her pink-colored nails against the wooden desk, then lowers her head and keeps writing.</p> <p>Vana finishes first, and proudly walks over to Roth with her test. "Congratulations,"&nbsp;he says, as he staples the pages together. Vana is standing at the front, behind Roth's desk, quietly dancing and beaming at the other students.</p> <p>The bell rings an end to this hour-and-a-half-long test. Some students get up and hand their tests to Vana to staple. The sound of quiet scribbling speeds up. "Mr. Roth, how do you spell Guantanamo?" Mikesha asks. Roth writes it on the board. A student gets out of his desk and jumps around in a quiet celebratory dance. "Mr. Roth, you need to make this test shorter next time," he says as he drops off his test.</p> <p>"Will you have to grade these all weekend?" Vana asks. Roth responds. "I know! That's what I'm freaking out about right now," he says.</p> <p>Twenty minutes past the bell, there are two students still left in the class scribbling furiously, occasionall shaking out their wrists. Roth takes a third bite from his morning bagel. "Mr. Roth! I wrote two pages for an essay and now I don't have time to conclude," Marco says, looking stressed out. "I often worry that I don't know enough, and so I write as much as possible to make up for that," he explains. "That's interesting," Roth says, as he make a note of that at the back of Marco's test. "That's OK. Let's talk about that soon."</p> <p>Marco leaves class with his right hand raised in a salute. Darrell is the last student left in the room. "Can I have another piece of paper?" he asks Roth. "Darrell is going for the world record this time!" Roth tells me. "I think I'll do pretty well on this one," Darrell says, with a deadpan look on his face, and keeps writing.</p> <p>*All student names are changed. P.S. Darrell got an A- on this test.</p></body></html> Riff Education Race and Ethnicity Mission High School Fri, 28 Jan 2011 19:00:00 +0000 Kristina Rizga 96916 at http://www.motherjones.com Zaire Paige and Others Who Roughed Their Way to Hollywood http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/zaire-paige-and-others-who-roughed-their-way-hollywood <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In Hollywood, it takes a gangster to play a gangster. <a target="_blank" href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3810353/">Zaire Paige</a>, the 21-year-old who recently scored a role alongside Richard Gere and Don Cheadle in the new-release <a target="_blank" href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1210042/"><em>Brooklyn's Finest</em></a>, hung out with Crips members during&nbsp;his adolescent days&nbsp;in Brownsville&mdash;New York City's "<a target="_blank" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/brooklyn/2009/01/03/2009-01-03_violent_deaths_and_robbery_statistics_ar.html">most murderous</a>" neighborhood. Paige auditioned for the role in 2008 at the urging of a friend who was hired to consult on the film's "street authenticity," as the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2011-01-26/news/zaire-paige-brooklyns-finest-actor-killed-ethan-hawke/"><em>Village Voice</em> reports</a>. Director Antoine Fuqua was sold immediately. "He is a kid who obviously comes from a violent world...He just fit the bill," Fuqua later <a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2011-01-26/news/zaire-paige-brooklyns-finest-actor-killed-ethan-hawke/" target="_blank">said of Paige</a>. "He had no fear in his eyes."</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/riff/2011/01/zaire-paige-and-others-who-roughed-their-way-hollywood"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Riff Video Crime and Justice Film and TV Offbeat Thu, 27 Jan 2011 08:00:00 +0000 Jaeah Lee 96921 at http://www.motherjones.com Bryan Fischer, Basketball Analyst http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/bryan-fischer-basketball-utah <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>American&nbsp;Family Association issues director Bryan&nbsp;Fischer is what we in the blogging business like to call a "generalist." In <a target="_self" href="http://motherjones.com/politics/2010/09/bryan-fischer-values-voter-summit">just the last year</a>, he's called for the <a target="_self" href="http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2010/03/killer-whales-and-living-bible-wildmon-american-family-fischer-scripture-sea-world">public stoning of a killer whale</a>, labeled <a target="_self" href="http://motherjones.com/riff/2010/11/killer-whales-grizzly-bears-spongebob">grizzly bears an existential threat</a> to America, warned that the Congressional&nbsp;Medal of Honor has been "<a href="http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/11/christ-bryan-fischer-feminized-medal-honor-military" target="_self">feminized</a>," and suggested that <a target="_blank" href="http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/afas-fischer-calls-end-muslim-immigration-and-deportation-all-muslims-us">all Muslims be deported</a>. Take any topic, no matter how remote, and Fischer will manage to find a hidden message of impending doom.</p> <p>Now, in what amounts to a stay of execution for America's wildlife, Fischer has broken his lengthy silence on the subject of Utah high school girls basketball. Last week, Christian&nbsp;Heritage Academy edged West Ridge (a school for at-risk youth), 108-3, prompting some folks to suggest, somewhat delicately, that a 105-point victory might be <a target="_blank" href="http://www.abc4.com/sports/story/108-3-Did-Christian-Heritage-do-the-right-thing/E6Hn3BvtFkiz8Ce1zYErwQ.cspxhttp://www.abc4.com/sports/story/108-3-Did-Christian-Heritage-do-the-right-thing/E6Hn3BvtFkiz8Ce1zYErwQ.cspx">a little much</a>. Bryan&nbsp;Fischer is not one of those people, and he has dedicated an entire column to <a href="http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/fischer/110125" target="_blank">making his case</a>.</p> <p>As <a href="http://www.afa.net/Blogs/BlogPost.aspx?id=2147502575" target="_blank">Fischer explained</a>, <strike>"<a target="_self" href="http://motherjones.com/riff/2010/11/killer-whales-grizzly-bears-spongebob">If it's a choice between grizzlies and humans, the grizzlies have got to go</a>"</strike><span> running up the score is the Christian thing to do.</span> "<span>[I]t's an insult to an opponent not to give your best effort just because you're sitting on a huge lead. Your opponents deserve the respect of facing the best you have to offer, and it's up to them to rise to the challenge." Christian Heritage, Fischer says, "</span>should be praised not condemned."</p> <p>So there you go:&nbsp;Bryan&nbsp;Fischer has weighed in. And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming about how anti-discrimination laws turn housing complexes into "<a href="http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/fischer-anti-discrimination-rule-will-turn-housing-projects-hunting-grounds-easy-prey-homose" target="_blank">hunting grounds</a>" for gay people.</p></body></html> Riff Sports Offbeat Wed, 26 Jan 2011 18:00:50 +0000 Tim Murphy 96676 at http://www.motherjones.com Compton's "Parent-Trigger" Update: Read the Compton School District's Letter to Parents http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/comptons-parent-trigger-update-compton-school-districts-letter-parents <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Last night, I asked <a href="http://parentrevolution.org/" target="_blank">Parent Revolution</a> to send<em> </em>me a copy of the letter that the Compton Unified School District mailed out to parents of students at McKinley Elementary School. Compton Unified printed the letters on Wednesday, Jan. 19th, and sent them to parents who requested that this chronically low-performing school be turned into a charter:</p> <blockquote> <p>"As part of the District's responsibility to evaluate the Petition, we ask that you come to McKinley Elementary School on January 26 or 27, 2011, between the hours of 7:30am-9am or 3pm-6pm (on either date) to sign a form verifying your signature on the Petition. Please make sure to bring photo identification (such as a California driver's license) as you will be asked to show identification before being provided a signature verification form."</p> </blockquote> <p>(See full letter below.)</p> <p>Why such extremely narrow window of time?&nbsp;The Compton District officials know that most Compton residents are low-income parents, often working two jobs. Do they open their mail every day? I don't. Will parents be able to get time off from work on such short notice? I can't. Not to mention that the district requests that all parents come with photo IDs, which will surely be an issue for some undocumented parents in this predominantly Latino school.</p> <p>Then the letter says that the signatures of no-shows will be disqualified.</p> <p>This gives me serious pause. I've been working with the <a href="http://portal.sfusd.edu/template/default.cfm" target="_blank">San Francisco Unified District</a> since November, where I&nbsp;report on a <a href="http://motherjones.com/media/2010/12/mission-high-school-open-house" target="_blank">high school</a> with test scores similar to McKinley's, and I haven't seen anything like this in SF.</p> <p>To be fair:&nbsp;Parent Revolution doesn't seem like a fair player in this political fight either. The signature gathering process was done under the radar; <a href="http://californiawatch.org/user/louis-freedberg" target="_blank">Louis Freedberg</a> over at California Watch rightfully calls it a "<a href="http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/stealth-charter-school-campaign-draws-criticism-7353" target="_blank">stealth campaign</a>." The district, the school, and even McKinley's PTA didn't know anything about it in advance. As state PTA president Jo Loss told California Watch, the Parent Revolution's petition gave parents only one option:&nbsp;to turn this school into a charter, even though the law provides three other choices.</p> <p>If nothing else, it's hard to shake the feeling that the Compton District's extremely narrow window for verifying signatures of this most controversial and important petition in education reform was unprofessional at best, deliberate at worst. Ron Suazo, Compton School District spokesperson,&nbsp;didn't want to comment on the phone when I called this morning. He told me he'll email me the official response by the district explaining their rationale later today. I'll post it as soon as it comes in, but it's 6:30 pm PST and so far, nothing.<strong><br></strong></p> <p>[<strong>Update on Jan. 27:</strong> Good news for parents who signed the petition, after two days of calling and emailing by MoJo, the Compton Unified sent in a statement from Acting Superintendent Karen Frison:</p> <blockquote> <p>"We understand McKinley parents/guardians may not be able to attend our signature verification process, so we will offer a make-up date the following week, and we will also contact them if they have been unable to meet with us. The district is open to developing other ways for them to participate in an effort to accommodate their work schedules. The signature verification process is designed to protect the voice of McKinley's families, regardless of their position on the parent trigger law."]</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Read the Compton Unified School District letter to parents:</strong></p> <p><span class="inline inline-left"><img width="620" height="769" src="https://motherjones.com/files/images/compton.jpg" class="image image-_original " title="" alt=""></span></p></body></html> Riff Education Mission High School Wed, 26 Jan 2011 02:33:11 +0000 Kristina Rizga 96536 at http://www.motherjones.com Compton's "Parent Trigger" Education Fight Heats Up http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/parent-trigger-law-compton <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Looks like the <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/01/jerry-brown-and-education-reform">"parent-trigger law"</a> debate is heating up between <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/12/charter-schools-public-schools">Compton' pro-charter parents and the Compton Unified School District</a>.</p> <p>If you haven't been following the news out of Compton, last month <a href="http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/12/parent-trigger-organizers-compton-accused-intimidation" target="_blank">I blogged</a> about how parents of kids attending LA's public McKinley Elementary School are trying something new: Shutting down the chronically struggling institution and demanding that it be replaced by a charter school. And yes, they can do that&mdash;thanks to a new parental option called the "<a href="http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/12/charter-schools-public-schools" target="_blank">parent-trigger</a>" law, which allows parents to force big changes at the state's lowest-performing schools, <em>if</em> they can gather signatures from 51 percent of the parents whose kids attend a failing school. McKinley parents and advocates gathered the signatures they needed, but now Compton Unified wants them verified. Last month, there were <a href="http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/12/parent-trigger-organizers-compton-accused-intimidation" target="_blank">some reports</a> of alleged intimidation tactics while these signatures where gathered.</p> <p>A press release I received says that McKinley parents are meeting right now to decide their next steps:</p> <blockquote> <p>"Every parent who wants change at McKinley must now show up at the school on either Wednesday or Thursday of next week, endure a mysterious five-minute interview with district employees, and declare their support in this interview for change. In addition, they must present photo identification at this interview, a requirement that even supersedes the requirements to participate in state and federal elections in California and would undoubtedly have a chilling effect on a community of people of color and immigrants. ... Any parent who is unable or unwilling to complete this process for any reason&mdash;such as being sick or unable to get out of work on such short notice&mdash;will no longer be able to count towards the 61% of parents who have demanded change under the Parent Trigger law, regardless of whether they have already met the legal requirements to do so under the Parent Trigger and the State Board."</p> </blockquote> <p><em>LA Weekly</em> reporter <a href="http://blogs.laweekly.com/author.php?author_id=387" target="_blank">Patrick Range McDonald</a> has been <a href="http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2011/01/parent_trigger_compton_1.php" target="_blank">following this case</a>, and will post an update when he returns from the meeting. Here's what he blogged before he ran off to the press conference:</p> <blockquote> <p>"President Barack Obama's Education Secretary Arne Duncan backed the Parent Trigger effort in Compton, but as things have gotten more and more tense, the feds have been publicly missing in action .... despite the fact that Compton parents have filed complaints with the feds.</p> <p>Governor Jerry Brown has also been nowhere to be found, although Compton Unified officials are undertaking questionable tactics that could undermine a state law. California Attorney General Kamala Harris has been absent, too.</p> <p>Since state and federal politicians seem unwilling to ensure that Compton Unified authorities abide by the law, maybe former President Jimmy Carter, who's been known to observe democratic elections in various parts of the world, needs to come into town and play sheriff."</p> </blockquote></body></html> Riff Education Elections Supreme Court Mission High School Mon, 24 Jan 2011 20:27:09 +0000 Kristina Rizga 96396 at http://www.motherjones.com Sam Cooke's Wild Side http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/sam-cooke-harlem-square-club-review <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><strong>Sam Cooke</strong><br><strong><em>Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963</em></strong><br><strong>RCA</strong></p> <p>Eighty years ago last Saturday, Sam Cooke was <a href="http://www.abkco.com/#/artists/artist/sam-cooke" target="_blank">born</a> in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He started out as a gospel singer, and when he switched to recording secular music his smooth style made him an instant success. In the short 33 years before he was <a href="http://www.nndb.com/people/562/000044430/" target="_blank">killed</a> by a motel manager in Los Angeles, California, he wrote and recorded 29 Top 40 soul hits. In 2008, <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/100-greatest-singers-of-all-time-19691231/sam-cooke-19691231" target="_blank"><em>Rolling Stone</em></a> ranked his voice as the fourth-greatest of all time, behind only Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and Elvis Presley. But Cooke didn't always stick to the polished sound that made him famous. As his often-overlooked album <a target="_blank" href="http://www.amazon.com/Live-Harlem-Square-Club-1963/dp/B000002W7N"><em>Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963</em></a> reveals, there were two very different sides to Mr. Soul.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/riff/2011/01/sam-cooke-harlem-square-club-review"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Riff Music Mon, 24 Jan 2011 16:36:00 +0000 Joe Kloc 96336 at http://www.motherjones.com RJD2 is Not Guilty http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/rjd2-ramble-john-krohn-interview <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On stage, Ramble John Krohn (a.k.a. <a target="_blank" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RJD2">RJD2</a>) has an ability to entrance his audience into a sea of synchronized hand-waves and head-bopping. The vinyl-scratching, <a target="_blank" href="http://twitter.com/#!/rjd2">mass-Tweeting</a>, Ohio-raised DJ started spinning in 1993, when he decided to buy a pair of turntables from a friend. He's since produced 20 albums, 28 singles, and dozens of other collaborations, mix tapes, and remixed tracks.</p> <p>We recently caught up with Krohn, who abides by the music-making philosophy of not giving "a s*** as long as it sounds hot." He fuses explosive elements from hip-hop, brass-band, and metal rock with soul-funk and electronica, churning bad-ass beats that make you want to jump into a 1970s high-speed car chase. He's even sampled sounds from KFC-commercials. His loyal following of hip-hopping/skateboarding/hoop-shooting/plaid-wearing crowds love him anyway, as do commercial heavyweights like the NBA, Levi's, Adidas, and the TV series <em>CSI-NY</em>, all of which have featured his songs. A preview of his latest EP, <a target="_blank" href="http://rjselectricalconnections.com/home/83-qthe-glowq-remixes">"The Glow" remixes</a>, is available <a target="_blank" href="http://rjselectricalconnections.com/index.php">here</a>.</p> <p><strong>Mother Jones</strong>: What&rsquo;s your favorite recent release in your genre?</p> <p><strong>Ramble John Krohn</strong>: This is a bit slippery, as I'm not sure what genre I belong in, but I guess I'd say Big Boi's album [<em>Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty</em>] at the moment. It's somewhere between a weirdo funk record, a hip-hop record, and an electro record. I absolutely love it.&nbsp;</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/riff/2011/01/rjd2-ramble-john-krohn-interview"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Riff Interview Video Music Mon, 24 Jan 2011 11:30:00 +0000 Jaeah Lee and Zoƫ Slutzky 96221 at http://www.motherjones.com The Onion News Network: Cable News Gone Rogue http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/onion-news-network-cable-news-gone-rogue <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Does the world need another inane, dubiously sourced, and paranoid cable news channel? Yes, please! In what began as <a target="_blank" href="http://www.youtube.com/user/TheOnion">occasional fake news riffs</a> online, the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.ifc.com/onn/">Onion News Network promises</a> &ldquo;9 billion viewers across 811 countries, and cameras watching over 80% of the world&rsquo;s population.&rdquo; The show <a target="_blank" href="http://www.ifc.com/onn/">premieres tonight on IFC</a> as a half-hour weekly show, promising to be just as salacious as its cable companions. The show&rsquo;s main vehicle is the &ldquo;FactZone,&rdquo; a fake real-news show that&rsquo;s a mashup of Nancy Grace, Stephen Colbert, and Fox-News fearmongering all rolled up into a laser-packed collection of slick graphics and manufactured mayhem. In one episode pundits debate the merits of Kim Jong Il&rsquo;s proposition to exchange nukes for a starring role in the next Batman (&ldquo;risky&hellip;but we shouldn&rsquo;t ignore the possibility that Kim Jong Il could be fantastic as Batman&rdquo;), and a political analyst talks about presidential hopeful Sarah Palin&rsquo;s newly released <a target="_blank" href="http://www.cyoa.com/public/index.html">Choose Your Own Adventure book</a> where &ldquo;she could change the drinking age to 14, annex Mexico, or&hellip;&rdquo; </p> <p><br> When did cable news shows become a parody of themselves? <em>The Onion</em>'s foray into makeup under the hot lights suggests that Fox, CNN, and friends jumped that shark long ago; <em>The Onion</em>'s just taking the joke to a new satirical high. The show is sensational, insane to the point of hilarious, and totally full of malarkey, in other words, classic <em>Onion</em>. From its focus on dumb news (missing tire, found!), to entertainment plugs (Suri Cruise&rsquo;s time-traveling kidnappers), to fear-based reporting (most everything else), ONN can break the news with the best of them. And viewers know what they're in for, nothing but untruths, no foolin'. How refreshing!</p></body></html> Riff Media Fri, 21 Jan 2011 22:39:41 +0000 Elizabeth Gettelman 96166 at http://www.motherjones.com Education Roundup: Armed Teachers? http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/education-roundup-armed-teachers <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/education-buzzword-social-capital"><em><strong>This week's roundup is brought to you by the buzzword "social capital." Click here to learn what it really means.</strong></em></a></p> <p>Guns in Los Angeles schools permeated education news this week. Why? Well, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.rolandsmartin.com/blog/index.php/2011/01/18/3-shot-at-high-school-near-los-angeles/">first two students were shot</a> in an LA classroom after a gun discharged in a third student's backpack. Then, in a separate incident, several LA schools <a target="_blank" href="http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/01/el-camino-high-students-arrive-for-school-unfazed-by-shooting-lockdown.html">were put on lockdown</a> after an unknown assailant shot a police officer near a local high school.</p> <p>Would armed teachers help keep schools safe from shootings?<strong> </strong>One Nebraska senator thinks so, and introduced a bill this week to allow school administrators, teachers, and counselors to carry concealed handguns in schools. <a target="_blank" href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/19/nebraska-teachers-guns_n_811028.html">Click here for </a><em><a target="_blank" href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/19/nebraska-teachers-guns_n_811028.html">Huffington Post Education</a></em><a target="_blank" href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/19/nebraska-teachers-guns_n_811028.html">'s take on the bill</a>, or find out how teachers and parents responded in <a target="_blank" href="http://www.edweek.org/forums/education-forums_current-events_should-teachers-right-bear-arms"><em>Education Week</em>'s forum</a>.</p> <p>Speaking of school shootings, <em>MoJo</em> education blogger <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/authors/kristina-rizga">Kristina Rizga</a> <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/media/2011/01/mission-high-natalie-heart">reports this week on Natalie, a new "star" Mission High student</a> who says she got kicked out of her previous school for botching a writing assignment related to a school shooting death. <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/media/2011/01/mission-high-natalie-heart">It's a gripping dispatch; don't miss it</a>.</p> <p><strong>More news: </strong></p> <ol><li>A Florida state legislator filed a bill requiring teachers to grade parents on their school involvement <em><a target="_blank" href="http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/education/os-teachers-grade-parents-20110118,0,2203062.story">Orlando Sentinel</a></em><a target="_blank" href="http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/education/os-teachers-grade-parents-20110118,0,2203062.story"> reports</a>.</li> <li>Our failing educational system is botching national security, the <em><a target="_blank" href="http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/jan/16/education-matter-national-security/">San Diego Union-Tribune</a></em> opines, citing <a target="_blank" href="http://www.edtrust.org/">The Education Trust's</a> report that one in four high school graduates failed the military's basic exam for math, reading, and problem-solving skills.&nbsp;</li> <li><a target="_blank" href="http://www.usnews.com/">US News &amp; World Report</a> and the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.nctq.org/p/">National Council on Teacher Quality</a> announced that they're <a target="_blank" href="http://www.nctq.org/edschoolreports/national/">grading the quality of teacher training programs</a> that educate and produce more than 200,000 teachers every year. The first-ever review will be published in 2012.</li> <li>Why does it take more than 100 days to removing tenured teachers accused of crimes or malfeasance? It shouldn't, according to a proposal funded by the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.edweek.org/media/18aft%20-%20a%20procedure%20for%20teacher%20discipline.pdf">American Federation of Teachers</a>&nbsp;(PDF). <a target="_blank" href="http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/01/20/18aft.h30.html?tkn=TXSFL4fujTB6hWSbKUvx%252BcnZnUmmC%252FlkFvfR&amp;cmp=clp-edweek">Education Week</a> has more details.</li> <li>New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg apologized for schools chancellor Cathie Black's "joke" that birth control would solve school overcrowding, reports <a target="_blank" href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/18/bloomberg-says-cathie-bla_n_810249.html">HuffPo</a>.</li> </ol><p><em><a href="http://motherjones.com/category/primary-tags/education" target="_blank">Click here to see all of </a></em><a href="http://motherjones.com/category/primary-tags/education" target="_blank">MoJo</a><em><a href="http://motherjones.com/category/primary-tags/education" target="_blank">'s recent education coverage</a>, or <a href="http://twitter.com/KristinaRizga" target="_blank">follow </a></em><a href="http://twitter.com/KristinaRizga" target="_blank"><span style="font-style: italic;">our education reporter</span></a><em><a href="http://twitter.com/KristinaRizga" target="_blank"> on Twitter</a> or with <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/KristinaRizga" target="_blank">this RSS&nbsp;Feed</a>. </em></p></body></html> Riff Education Fri, 21 Jan 2011 11:00:00 +0000 Titania Kumeh 95981 at http://www.motherjones.com Pedro's Scars http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/mission-high-pedro-scars <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>Editors' Note: This education dispatch is part of an ongoing series reported from&nbsp;<a target="_blank" href="http://www.missionhs.org/">Mission High School</a>, where education writer&nbsp;<a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/authors/kristina-rizga">Kristina Rizga</a> is embedded for the year. <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/category/primary-tags/education">Click here to see all of MoJo's recent education coverage</a>, or <a target="_blank" href="http://twitter.com/KristinaRizga">follow </a><a target="_blank" href="http://twitter.com/KristinaRizga">Kristina's writing</a><a target="_blank" href="http://twitter.com/KristinaRizga"> on Twitter</a> or with <a target="_blank" href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/KristinaRizga">this RSS&nbsp;Feed</a>.</em></p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/media/2011/01/mission-high-natalie-heart"><strong>[Previous Mission High dispatch:&nbsp;"Yes, I made an aspiring astronaut cry. But then she returned the favor."]</strong></a></p> <p>I'm feeling drained after <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/media/2011/01/mission-high-natalie-heart">my conversation with Natalie</a>, but I run into Pedro* on my way home and stop to say hi. "Do you want to see my scars?"&nbsp;he asks me suddenly. He puts his skateboard down on the ground before I can answer and lifts his shirt to show me two deep, long, purple scars&mdash;one near his shoulders, another near his lower back. "Gangbangers stabbed me three years ago at Dolores Park," he tells me matter-of-factly, the way I talk about my tiny knee scar. Except that my tiny scar is from falling off my bike once <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/media/2010/11/mission-high-education">as a kid in a safe, Soviet neighborhood</a>, where no one I knew ever got stabbed.</p> <p>What do you say in a situation like that? What do you tell a sweet boy who knows you're a reporter, <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/media/2010/12/mission-high-school-open-house">whose school you've hung around for a month</a>, when one day he decides to pull up his shirt and show you where gangbangers stabbed him and he almost died?</p> <p>When I got home, I couldn't write a word. I thought about how different the same <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/12/welcome-mission-high-school-san-francisco">Mission High</a> kids look to me after a month immersed in their lives.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/media/2011/01/mission-high-natalie-heart">Natalie&mdash;with her actress looks, stylish clothes, and classroom confidence</a>&mdash;seems like an "easy" student at first, someone on a smooth track to <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/culture/2010/11/826-Valencia-college-essay-writing">graduate on time and go to college</a>. On the surface at least, there's nothing about her that signals psychological trauma to me, no reason to suspect she's been kicked out of two charter schools.</p> <p>And Pedro? <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/12/welcome-mission-high-school-san-francisco">For a month</a>, to me he was the guy who liked skateboarding and guitar, the one who knew the answers in class most of the time, and if he didn't know the answer, still had something witty and smart to say. Only after seeing him four times did I notice some bumps in his temperament. Some days, he just shuts down.</p> <p>Or take Benton. In my first two weeks at the school, <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/mission-high-world-history-benton">Benton was the classic "challenging" student</a>&mdash;someone who texts in class, disrupts lessons, and doesn't listen to teachers' requests. <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/mission-high-world-history-benton">Until I saw him last week&mdash;engaged, thoughtful, and even polite</a>.</p> <p>Later that night I had dinner with a visiting friend, an experienced investigative journalist from <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/media/2010/11/mission-high-education">Latvia</a>. I told her about Pedro's scars, Natalie's depression, Benton's favorite class. "Be careful," she warned me. "The first thing I learned in journalism school is that you're responsible for those who get attached to you. Don't get too close."</p> <p>"I know," I told her, as I picked at my salad. I should be more distant, maintain neutrality. Care a little less about these students. Right? And then I lamented how much more traffic a short blog post about <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/jared-lee-loughner-mental-health-high-shool">Jared Loughner </a>or the latest <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/tea-party-backed-school-board-kills-school-integration-raleigh-north-carolina">tea-party news item</a> gets, when <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/media/2010/12/mission-high-choir">other pieces</a> like <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/media/2010/12/mission-high-school-principal">this one</a>, <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/01/mission-high-jerry-brown-tax-california-schools">this one</a>, <a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/12/mission-high-tadd-scott-english">this one</a>&mdash;or the one you're reading now&mdash;take days of immersive reporting to develop. As we waited for another drink, I checked <a target="_blank" href="http://twitter.com/#!/KristinaRizga">my Twitter account</a> in silence. But all I could think of was Natalie's trembling lip, as she sat alone in Ms. Bowman's class.</p> <p>*Names changed.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/closing-achievement-gap-one-time"><strong>[Next Mission High dispatch: Is Darrell going to flunk this test?]</strong></a></p></body></html> Riff Education Mission High School Fri, 21 Jan 2011 11:00:00 +0000 Kristina Rizga 95886 at http://www.motherjones.com Does Islamophobia Increase Hate Crimes for Others? http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/abdul-jabbar-islamophobia-increasing <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In a <a target="_blank" href="http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7259855n&amp;tag=contentBody;housing">new interview</a> with Katie Couric as part of her <a target="_blank" href="http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7261532n&amp;tag=contentBody;cbsCarousel">1-hour <em>@Katie</em><em>Couric</em> show</a>, NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says that incidents targeting Muslims on on the rise in the US. "I think Islamophobia is on the rise, and I think the best way to counter it is communication," said Abdul-Jabbar. "To let people know who we are and what we believe in."</p> <p>Abdul-Jabbar, who has <a target="_blank" href="http://articles.cnn.com/2010-10-30/politics/stewart.colbert.rally_1_stewart-and-colbert-star-studded-rally-cat-stevens?_s=PM:POLITICS">been a public face for American Muslims</a> at events like the Rally to Restore Sanity, is right about the lack of education surrounding Islam. A <a target="_blank" href="http://people-press.org/report/647/">2010 study</a> by the Pew Research Center found that Americans were more confused about the faith:&nbsp;In July 2005, 23% of Americans said they didn't know what their opinion was of Islam, a figure which rose to 32% in 2010. The number of Americans who say they know nothing or very little about Islam (55%) remains about the same as it was in 2007. Perhaps one of the best examples of American misinformation is the increasing number (<a target="_blank" href="http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1701/poll-obama-muslim-christian-church-out-of-politics-political-leaders-religious">nearly 20%</a>) of Americans who believe Obama is Muslim.</p> <p>Despite these misconceptions, and the increase in blatantly anti-Muslim campaign ads, actual crimes targeting Muslims haven't gotten worse in the past few years: they've just gotten more press. The jump in anti-Muslim attacks is real, but it happened 9 years ago. According to the <a target="_blank" href="http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2009/index.html">most recent FBI data</a>, before 9/11 there was an average of 30 anti-Islam hate crimes a year. Right after 9/11, that number jumped 1600%, but now the yearly average is reliably 100 to 150 attacks per year. That's still more than three times the pre-9/11 average, but there are far more hate crimes against African-Americans (about 2,500/year) and Jews (around 950). The numbers of crimes against black people and Jews have also remained remarkably (some would say disappointingly) stable since 2003.</p> <p>Though relatively stable, hate crimes against African-Americans rise and fall at very similar rates as crimes against Muslims, while crimes against Jews or Catholics do not. So it stands to reason, I think, that if this trend continues, increased anti-Muslim attacks would be reflected in a corresponding increase in crimes against black people, either by fostering a climate of hate or by people associating African-Americans with Islam. Who can forget <a target="_blank" href="http://wonkette.com/417611/yokel-slobs-protesting-nyc-mosque-mistake-local-black-carpenter-from-wtc-construction-site-for-scary-911-muslim">this incident</a>, when folks protesting the Park51 Islamic community center mistook an African-American WTC construction worker for a Muslim and quickly made him a focal point? Someone in the crowd tells him, "Run away, coward" and another yells "Muhammad's a pig! Muhammad's a pig!" The object of their attention, a union carpenter named Kenny, had some constructive advice for the anti-Muslim protesters. "Y'all [expletive] don't know my opinion about [expletive]," he said. "Someone want to know about me?&nbsp;Ask me about me."</p></body></html> Riff Thu, 20 Jan 2011 23:07:33 +0000 Jen Quraishi 95956 at http://www.motherjones.com Education Quote of the Week: Arne Duncan on No Child Left Behind http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/quote-arne-duncan-no-child-left-behind <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's Education Secretary Arne Duncan on the widely <a target="_blank" href="http://edmoney.newamerica.net/blogposts/2011/esea_and_the_112th_congress-42361">expected overhaul</a> of the nine-year-old <a target="_blank" href="http://www2.ed.gov/nclb/landing.jhtml">No Child Left Behind</a> Act, formally called the Education Elementary and Secondary Education Law, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jtUN5WWldx1zDNh_W5XuqN03FpGA?docId=a9dc9e7cee3b435c86872e66d6a873a7">as quoted by AP</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>"Everyone I talk to really shares my sense of urgency that we have to do better for our children. We're fighting for our country here."</p> </blockquote> <p>What's he talking about? AP <a target="_blank" href="http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jtUN5WWldx1zDNh_W5XuqN03FpGA?docId=a9dc9e7cee3b435c86872e66d6a873a7">reports</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>"Duncan has worked with lawmakers of both parties over the past two years to lay the groundwork for a rewrite." The new law "[W]ould ease many testing requirements, put a new focus on teacher performance and the lowest-performing schools, and replace proficiency requirements with loftier goals of boosting college graduation rates."</p> </blockquote> <p>Now that Republicans control the House and have more power in the Senate, some observers are <a target="_blank" href="http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/01/19/17esea.h30.html?tkn=PLSF3ZtBVOXUjcmfH5xAyzuF3z61Y9l15qzJ&amp;cmp=clp-edweek">saying</a> that education reform might be among the few areas where Obama can accomplish something this year. That's because unlike immigration, tax reform, or climate change legislation, most Republicans actually <a target="_blank" href="http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/01/19/17esea.h30.html?tkn=PLSF3ZtBVOXUjcmfH5xAyzuF3z61Y9l15qzJ&amp;cmp=clp-edweek">support</a> Obama's education reform ideas (except for <a target="_blank" href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-12-09/how-the-tea-party-will-destroy-school-reform/">tea partiers</a>, who want the Department of Education eliminated outright).</p> <p>Obama is expected to outline his education reform plans in his State of the Union speech next week. Fasten your seat belts.</p></body></html> Riff Congress Education Elections Obama Thu, 20 Jan 2011 20:03:19 +0000 Kristina Rizga 95971 at http://www.motherjones.com Education Buzzword Explainer: What the Heck Is Social Capital? http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/education-buzzword-social-capital <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Let's face it: Jargon happens. And in education circles, it happens <em>a lot</em>. Curious what an education buzzword actually means? Or how a seemingly unrelated business concept migrated into discussions about kids and schools? Let&nbsp;<em>MoJo</em>'s education team research it so you don't have to. We welcome buzzword suggestions in comments for our next primer: Help us decide what lingo to look at next.</p> <h4><strong>This week's education buzzword: "SOCIAL CAPITAL."</strong></h4> <p><strong>What is social capital? </strong>It's not about money.&nbsp;At its core, social capital theory holds that "<a target="_blank" href="http://books.google.com/books?id=VBZ74E6OtsYC&amp;pg=PA1&amp;lpg=PA1&amp;dq=%22relationships+matter%22+john+field&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=liNX5gxh9P&amp;sig=D2elnAP-XcIhrBNq3Rir8XS9woU&amp;hl=en&amp;ei=G0I2TauGJ4zUtQPjmuzfAQ&amp;sa=X&amp;oi=book_result&amp;ct=result&amp;resnum=1&amp;ved=0CBcQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&amp;q&amp;f=false">relationships matter</a>" and that "<a target="_blank" href="http://books.google.com/books?id=VBZ74E6OtsYC&amp;pg=PA1&amp;lpg=PA1&amp;dq=%22relationships+matter%22+john+field&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=liNX5gxh9P&amp;sig=D2elnAP-XcIhrBNq3Rir8XS9woU&amp;hl=en&amp;ei=G0I2TauGJ4zUtQPjmuzfAQ&amp;sa=X&amp;oi=book_result&amp;ct=result&amp;resnum=1&amp;ved=0CBcQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&amp;q=social%20netowrks%20are%20a%20valuable%20asset&amp;f=false">social networks are a valuable asset</a>." If human capital is about individual resources (i.e. the importance of skilled people), social capital is about social resources (i.e. the importance of skilled social networks). Some research also shows that increasing social capital (<a target="_blank" href="http://www.nber.org/papers/w7216">and trust</a>&nbsp;among individuals) requires face-to-face encounters. In other words, it's not what you know...it's who you know and what <em>they</em> know, and possibly how often you see each other in person.</p> <p><strong>How does social capital relate to education?</strong>&nbsp;Simply put, schools with a lot of social capital often have an easier time getting what they need to educate students effectively, so even super teachers can't sustainably&nbsp;improve a school's academic outcomes without&nbsp;family, community, and state involvement. <a target="_blank" href="http://www.pitt.edu/">University of Pittsburgh</a> professor, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.annenberginstitute.org/VUE/vue27_leana">Carrie Leana&nbsp;explains</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>"Why are some schools better than others?" A human capital answer would say that some schools are better because they have the best-trained teachers. A social capital answer would say there is something about the way those teachers are interacting that influences the school as a whole and results in a level of shared performance that you can't get from individuals alone.</p> </blockquote> <p>Outside of school, social capital in the community can compensate for its absence in the family. In one case, researchers compared the drop out rates of high school sophomores. They found that kids who had one sibling, two parents, and a mother who expected them to attend college were much less likely to drop out than sophomores with four siblings, one parent, and a mother who didn't expect them to attend a university. (<a target="_blank" href="http://onemvweb.com/sources/sources/social_capital.pdf">PDF</a>) However, while studying social capital's relation to school drop out rates,&nbsp;sociologist&nbsp;<a target="_blank" style="font-family: Verdana,Arial,Helvetica,sans; font-size: 12px; color: black ! important; border-bottom: 1px dotted black; text-decoration: none ! important;" href="http://onemvweb.com/sources/sources/social_capital.pdf">James Coleman</a>&nbsp;also&nbsp;found that&nbsp;a strong adult community could keep teens in school regardless of family situation.&nbsp;And even <a target="_blank" href="http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTSOCIALDEVELOPMENT/EXTTSOCIALCAPITAL/0,,contentMDK:20186584~isCURL:Y~menuPK:418214~pagePK:148956~piPK:216618~theSitePK:401015,00.html">The World Bank</a> recognizes that social capital alone can't substitute for financing education.</p> <p><strong>Where did the term "social capital" come from? </strong>The first known reference appeared in <a target="_blank" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L._J._Hanifan">Lyda Judson Hanifan's</a> 1916 article "The Rural School Community Center," in which he wrote that "the individual is helpless socially, if left entirely to himself." In 1988, <a target="_blank" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Samuel_Coleman">James Coleman</a> contributed the first solid evidence of a relationship between a school's social capital and academic drop out rates.</p> <p><strong>How can a school increase its social capital?</strong> More face-to-face interaction with parents and local community members is probably a good start.&nbsp;"The schools can't do it by themselves," as a South Carolina neighborhood outreach leader&nbsp;<a target="_blank" href="http://www.islandpacket.com/2011/01/17/1514105/school-board-to-consider-partnership.html">told </a><em><a target="_blank" href="http://www.islandpacket.com/2011/01/17/1514105/school-board-to-consider-partnership.html">The Beaufort Gazette</a></em>. "That's the reality."</p></body></html> Riff Education Mission High School Wed, 19 Jan 2011 19:00:00 +0000 Titania Kumeh 95626 at http://www.motherjones.com The Loughner Double Standard http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2011/01/loughner-shooting-media-reaction <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em><a href="http://www.bethwinegarner.com/" target="_blank">Guest blogger Beth Winegarner writes about teens, culture, and music.</a></em></p> <p>In one of a handful of videos <a href="http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/01/jared-lee-loughner-friend-voicemail-phone-message" target="_blank">Jared Lee Loughner</a> posted on YouTube, a man cloaked in brown burns the American flag while Drowning Pool's "Bodies" blares in the background. As reporters pull together descriptions of the man who shot and killed six people and wounded 14 others, including Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, it's not surprising that many mention which band Loughner picked as his soundtrack. What <em>is</em> surprising is that most reporters aren't blaming Loughner's taste in music for the attack.</p> <p>"Since Columbine, much has changed," <a href="http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/music_blog/" target="_blank">Los Angeles Times pop critic Ann Powers</a> tweeted Saturday night. "Then, the focus may have been on Jared Lee Loughner's past as a rocker. Music no longer embodies menace. Other demons/scapegoats do."</p> <p>Instead, the media's focus on 22-year-old Loughner's mental instability implies a painful double-standard in how such sprees are covered. When shooters are children, cultural interests&mdash;such as video games, goth, or heavy-metal music&mdash;are cited as causal factors, which distracts from any underlying mental illness. But when mass killers reach the age of adulthood, media focus frequently turns to untreated mental-health issues. As a nation, perhaps we're just not ready to admit that some teens are in serious mental trouble.</p> <p>In the hours following the Columbine High School shootings, reporters around the world lit upon the notion that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold's interest in angry music and violent video games must have prompted their killing spree. And after some classmates (and teens pretending to be classmates)&nbsp;claimed that the shooters were Marilyn Manson fans, the musician himself became a media target. Photos of Manson decorated a new National School Safety Center-issued checklist of "danger signs" that a teen might be about to bring a gun to class. (Some danger signs: mood swings, cursing, and antisocial behavior.) Kansas Sen. Samuel Brownback even wrote a letter to Seagram's&mdash;the owner of Manson's record label&mdash;requesting that the corporation "cease and desist profiteering from peddling violence to young people," and drop the band from its roster.</p> <p>Years later, after painstakingly combing through Harris' and Klebold's journals, academic and personal histories, and behavior patterns, Columbine author Dave Cullen found more&nbsp;likely motivations for the massacre that the teens had spent months planning. Cullen&nbsp;concluded that Harris was a psychopath, while Klebold was a depressive who romanticized suicidal figures.</p> <p>Despite <a href="http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/music_blog/2011/01/music-and-the-tucson-shootings.html" target="_blank">Powers' comment</a>, the age-based reporting double standard hasn't changed drastically since 1999.</p> <p>In March 2005, when 16-year-old Jeffrey James "Jeff" Weise went on a killing spree in Red Lake, Minnesota, he took nine lives and wounded five other people before killing himself. He had a history of creating disturbing art pieces&mdash;and attempting suicide at least once&mdash;but media reports focused on his black trench coat and "obsessive" interest in Horrorcore rapper Mars.</p> <p>Meanwhile, when Seung-Hi Cho, 23, killed 32 people at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in April 2007, there was nary a mention of his hobbies or personal interests. Not only were Cho's favorite songs not blamed for his killing spree, we don't even know what they were. Instead reporters dutifully detailed Cho's mental health history, including a 2005 evaluation in which he was found "mentally ill and in need of hospitalization."&nbsp;</p> <p>It's not as though the Virginia Tech story changed how journalists report on mass shootings. In October of that same year, Pekka-Eric Auvinen, 18, shot and killed eight people at Jokela High School in Jokela, Finland before ending his own life. He was prescribed antidepressants in the year before the murder-suicide, but reporters still made plenty of the fact that he used KMFDM's "Stray Bullet" as background music for a YouTube video announcing his plans to attack the school. After all, it was a song Eric Harris apparently also liked. (Despite the title, the song is about ideas that cause sudden, radical shifts in belief.)</p> <p>Media coverage improved slightly in 2009 after Tim Kretschmer, 17, shot and killed 15 people in southwestern Germany. While reports noted that Kretschmer was an avid player of the first-person shooter Counter Strike, one commentator also noted that "game addiction is a symptom of something wrong, and not a cause." And there was something wrong with Kretschmer&mdash;in the year before his spree he was in and out of psychiatric hospitals, undergoing treatment for depression, anger, and violent urges.</p> <p>Journalists include these details because readers are often hungry to know more about these boys who commit unthinkable acts of violence. But these same points can create the dangerous impression that shooters' media interests somehow led them to pull the trigger. Worse, they distract readers from the very real problems these young men faced: extreme rage, suicide attempts, and untreated mental illness.</p> <p>Why, as a culture, do we insist on ignoring the mental-health issues at work in our teen population? Are we unable to admit that teens are capable of suffering the same yawning mental abysses (or, worse, the chilling sociopathy) that often fuels adult rampages?</p> <p>When we hold teen and adult shooting sprees side-by-side, we can see a pattern of instability in both populations. Perhaps society could learn to intervene before troubled boys become gun-toting, politically charged conspiracy theorists.</p></body></html> Riff Crime and Justice Media Wed, 19 Jan 2011 17:00:00 +0000 Beth Winegarner 95511 at http://www.motherjones.com