Thursday, 02 July 2015 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

Speakout

SpeakOut is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. SpeakOut articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.

Today marks the fist day scheduled for Common Core testing, such as it is, at Seattle's Garfield High School. As I reported last week, Garfield educators were debating about how best to oppose the new deeply flawed Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Common Core tests, when the parents spoke and opted out hundreds of students from the test. With so many students having opted out of the Common Core tests, the teachers are no longer being asked to administer the exam—a huge victory in this struggle against the testocracy! (Now the few remaining students who don't have an opt out letter will be pulled out of class individually).

Garfield High School teacher Heather Robison delivers her declaration at a recent press conference.

Nixiwaka Yawanawá will be the first Amazon Indian to run the London Marathon on Sunday, April 26, 2015.

Nixiwaka is raising vital funds for Survival International – the global movement for tribal peoples' rights – together with Survival's co-founder and President Robin Hanbury-Tenison, who is running the marathon as one of eight challenges to mark his 80th year.

The Washington Post has established itself over many decades as a major mouthpiece of elite opinion. Its editorial pages argue strongly for the interests of the wealthy, with scarcely concealed contempt for people who have to work for a living. (They do support alms for the poor, hence they are okay with programs like food stamps and TANF.) 

This attitude has been shown many times over the years, but perhaps never more clearly than in its editorial on the bailout of General Motors and Chrysler, where it fumed about auto workers who earned $56,650 a year. By contrast, it was an ardent supporter of the Wall Street bailout, which was largely about helping people who make this much money in a day.

Gulf Coast residents engage in civil disobedience at BP America headquarters ahead of the fifth anniversary of the Gulf oil disaster.

Forty years ago on April 30, 1975, the Vietnamese people, led by their Communist Party, were finally victorious in the long just struggle for national independence and unification against the United States and its puppet regime in Saigon.

The United States experienced an earthshaking lesson in Vietnam - "Stop your unjust wars of aggression!" - but Washington learned nothing from its humiliating defeat except to shift its battlefields of choice from Southeast Asia to Southwest Asia (i.e., the Middle East).

The Hatch Fast Track bill introduced today would revive the controversial Fast Track procedures to which nearly all U.S. House of Representatives Democrats and a sizable bloc of House Republicans already have announced opposition.

Most of the text of the Hatch Fast Track bill replicates word-for-word the text of the 2014 Fast Track bill, which itself replicated much of the 2002 Fast Track bill.

As the Spring International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank meetings open, the World Bank announced $650 million of new grants and concessional loans to the countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. About $220 million will be aid in the form of grants and the remainder will be in the form of highly concessional loans. Currently the three countries owe a combined $518 million to the World Bank. Liberia owes $105 million, Guinea $186 million and Sierra Leone $227 million.

"We urge the World Bank Group to consider bolstering their commitments with a new debt relief package for the impacted countries," said Eric LeCompte, executive director of the religious development coalition, Jubilee USA Network. "We applaud the new aid for the affected countries and hope that the World Bank can come up with some rapid response plan to address this kind of crisis much faster in the future."

Before the testing season began, educators in Seattle knew that because of the lack of proper preparations, IT support, technological upgrades, and training - and due to the outlandish number of tests administered this year - testing pandemonium would ensue. 

Last week the Social Equality Educators (SEE) put a call out for teachers to share their stories of this first year of CommonCore, "Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium" (SBAC), testing in the schools. The numerous responses from teachers and parents around the school district describe standardized testing chaos. We heard many stories about SBAC testing that are common to high-stakes, standardized tests: the tests dramatically disrupted the educational process, deprived students of hours of instructional time, reduced stressed out students to tears, and monopolized the computer labs and libraries in service of test administration for weeks at a time.

The Center for Media and Democracy and CREDO Action are denouncing an effort by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to silence its critics.

CREDO Action, the activism arm of San Francisco-based mobile phone company CREDO Mobile, has refused to honor a cease and desist letter that ALEC sent to CREDO.

Today, members of the House Oversight Committee have issued a statement of "No Confidence" in Drug Enforcement Administrator Michele Leonhart. The unprecedented move by a group of over twenty bipartisan lawmakers comes a day after her shambolic performance in Congress during a hearing focused on DEA agents who paid for sex workers and sex parties using taxpayer dollars.  Leonhart was widely panned and her answers deemed inadequate during testimony on her agency's handling of sexual harassment and misconduct allegations.

"This ought to be the final nail in the Leonhart coffin," said Bill Piper, Director of National Affairs at Drug Policy Alliance. "I cannot see how President Obama and AG Holder allow her to continue in her role. It's hard to think of a more incompetent and out of touch federal official than the current DEA chief."

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Speakout

SpeakOut is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. SpeakOut articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.

Today marks the fist day scheduled for Common Core testing, such as it is, at Seattle's Garfield High School. As I reported last week, Garfield educators were debating about how best to oppose the new deeply flawed Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Common Core tests, when the parents spoke and opted out hundreds of students from the test. With so many students having opted out of the Common Core tests, the teachers are no longer being asked to administer the exam—a huge victory in this struggle against the testocracy! (Now the few remaining students who don't have an opt out letter will be pulled out of class individually).

Garfield High School teacher Heather Robison delivers her declaration at a recent press conference.

Nixiwaka Yawanawá will be the first Amazon Indian to run the London Marathon on Sunday, April 26, 2015.

Nixiwaka is raising vital funds for Survival International – the global movement for tribal peoples' rights – together with Survival's co-founder and President Robin Hanbury-Tenison, who is running the marathon as one of eight challenges to mark his 80th year.

The Washington Post has established itself over many decades as a major mouthpiece of elite opinion. Its editorial pages argue strongly for the interests of the wealthy, with scarcely concealed contempt for people who have to work for a living. (They do support alms for the poor, hence they are okay with programs like food stamps and TANF.) 

This attitude has been shown many times over the years, but perhaps never more clearly than in its editorial on the bailout of General Motors and Chrysler, where it fumed about auto workers who earned $56,650 a year. By contrast, it was an ardent supporter of the Wall Street bailout, which was largely about helping people who make this much money in a day.

Gulf Coast residents engage in civil disobedience at BP America headquarters ahead of the fifth anniversary of the Gulf oil disaster.

Forty years ago on April 30, 1975, the Vietnamese people, led by their Communist Party, were finally victorious in the long just struggle for national independence and unification against the United States and its puppet regime in Saigon.

The United States experienced an earthshaking lesson in Vietnam - "Stop your unjust wars of aggression!" - but Washington learned nothing from its humiliating defeat except to shift its battlefields of choice from Southeast Asia to Southwest Asia (i.e., the Middle East).

The Hatch Fast Track bill introduced today would revive the controversial Fast Track procedures to which nearly all U.S. House of Representatives Democrats and a sizable bloc of House Republicans already have announced opposition.

Most of the text of the Hatch Fast Track bill replicates word-for-word the text of the 2014 Fast Track bill, which itself replicated much of the 2002 Fast Track bill.

As the Spring International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank meetings open, the World Bank announced $650 million of new grants and concessional loans to the countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. About $220 million will be aid in the form of grants and the remainder will be in the form of highly concessional loans. Currently the three countries owe a combined $518 million to the World Bank. Liberia owes $105 million, Guinea $186 million and Sierra Leone $227 million.

"We urge the World Bank Group to consider bolstering their commitments with a new debt relief package for the impacted countries," said Eric LeCompte, executive director of the religious development coalition, Jubilee USA Network. "We applaud the new aid for the affected countries and hope that the World Bank can come up with some rapid response plan to address this kind of crisis much faster in the future."

Before the testing season began, educators in Seattle knew that because of the lack of proper preparations, IT support, technological upgrades, and training - and due to the outlandish number of tests administered this year - testing pandemonium would ensue. 

Last week the Social Equality Educators (SEE) put a call out for teachers to share their stories of this first year of CommonCore, "Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium" (SBAC), testing in the schools. The numerous responses from teachers and parents around the school district describe standardized testing chaos. We heard many stories about SBAC testing that are common to high-stakes, standardized tests: the tests dramatically disrupted the educational process, deprived students of hours of instructional time, reduced stressed out students to tears, and monopolized the computer labs and libraries in service of test administration for weeks at a time.

The Center for Media and Democracy and CREDO Action are denouncing an effort by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to silence its critics.

CREDO Action, the activism arm of San Francisco-based mobile phone company CREDO Mobile, has refused to honor a cease and desist letter that ALEC sent to CREDO.

Today, members of the House Oversight Committee have issued a statement of "No Confidence" in Drug Enforcement Administrator Michele Leonhart. The unprecedented move by a group of over twenty bipartisan lawmakers comes a day after her shambolic performance in Congress during a hearing focused on DEA agents who paid for sex workers and sex parties using taxpayer dollars.  Leonhart was widely panned and her answers deemed inadequate during testimony on her agency's handling of sexual harassment and misconduct allegations.

"This ought to be the final nail in the Leonhart coffin," said Bill Piper, Director of National Affairs at Drug Policy Alliance. "I cannot see how President Obama and AG Holder allow her to continue in her role. It's hard to think of a more incompetent and out of touch federal official than the current DEA chief."