All-Time Hypocrisy Award Winner – Republican Rep. Mark Souder, an ardent “family values” congressman, not only had an extramarital affair with a staffer; he recorded a video with his mistress about sexual abstinence education.
Rewriting History – Social conservatives on the 15-member Republican-dominated Texas State Board of Education are optimistic they will be able to push through curriculum changes that, according to board member and conservative Texas lawyer Cynthia Noland Dunbar, “promote patriotism.”
Among the recommendations facing a final vote: adding language saying the country’s Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles and including positive references to the Moral Majority, the National Rifle Association and the GOP’s Contract with America.
Other amendments to the state’s curriculum standards for kindergarten through 12th grade would minimize Thomas Jefferson’s role in world and U.S. history because he advocated the separation of church and state; require that students learn about “the unintended consequences” of affirmative action; assert that “the right to keep and bear arms” is an important element of a democratic society; and rename the slave trade to the “Atlantic triangular trade.”
(After this, Texas graduates may be required to take remedial history if they move to another state. – JLV)
Democratic Candidate Falsely Says He Served in Vietnam – At a ceremony honoring veterans and senior citizens who sent presents to soldiers overseas, Attorney General and Democratic candidate for the U. S. Senate, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, said, “We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam.”
There was one problem: Mr. Blumenthal never served in Vietnam. He obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war, according to records.
Republicans Support Fat Cats Over Regular People – Senate Republicans blocked Democrats from voting on three amendments Tuesday that are strongly opposed by Wall Street.
Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top-ranking Republican on the Banking Committee, rose to object to a vote on one of the most talked-about amendments, cosponsored by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). Levin-Merkley would ban commercial banks from trading for their own benefit with taxpayer-backed money.
Shelby also objected to an amendment from Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) that would rein in predatory practices of payday lenders and one from Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) that would have banned naked credit default swaps, which were at the heart of the financial crisis. Dorgan’s amendment was expected to fail, but Levin-Merkley had been surging in recent days. [UPDATE: The floor chaos continued late into the night.]
When it looked as if Levin-Merkley had at least 50 votes, the threshold was moved up to 60. Now that it appears within striking distance of 60 votes, the new tactic is to deny it a vote altogether.
English Teachers With Accents Not Allowed in Arizona – The Arizona Department of Education recently began telling school districts that teachers whose spoken English it deems to be heavily accented or ungrammatical must be removed from classes for students still learning English, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
The crackdown applies to classes deemed to have students who are learning English, mostly as a second language. Federal No Child Left Behind regulations call for students to be taught by persons fluent in English. The determination of fluency is left up to individual states.
Arizona seems to think that includes accents. Of course, they are wrong – accents do not by themselves measure fluency. And almost every person who is a native speaker of another language is going to have an accent when speaking English, unless they learned English at a young age.
“This is just one more indication of the incredible anti-immigrant sentiment in the state,” said Bruce Merrill, a professor emeritus at Arizona State University who conducts public-opinion research.
Indeed. Arizona’s action against immigrants didn’t begin with the recent passage of the “show me your papers” bill, but it emboldened anti-immigrant sentiment in other states around the country, and apparently in the Arizona educational system too.
Arizona’s education department has sent people into schools to audit teachers on comprehensible pronunciation, correct grammar and good writing. Teachers who fail are given the chance to improve, but if not, they must be fired or reassigned.