Maine Gay Marriage Opponents Resort to Playground Tactics

I had to read this twice just to be sure my brain was functioning properly. Yup it is. Apparently gay marriage opponents feel that a playground rhyme makes a good argument.

from Maine Sentinel

Arguments in favor of same-sex marriage have been stated as follows:

1. If we do permit and encourage homosexual marriage, it will bring a lot of money to our state. So, the biggest consideration is financial gain.

2. It has nothing to do with religion. Those with strong religious views are narrow-minded bigots who should stick to their beliefs and let others do the same.

Such reasoning is not based on truth and moral values, but on materialism and human reasoning.

May I suggest that perhaps our Creator be allowed to say a word.

In the beginning God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. Marriage was God’s plan, not man’s, intended for the good of mankind. The Apostle Paul said there were some things that are against nature.

We cannot argue with the fact that if all mankind were engaged in the homosexual union, that would be the end of mankind.

[emphasis mine]

Really? Are we still going there? Is this a debate between intelligent adults or a school yard name calling? We should be discussing this issue. Such debate is part of a healthy democracy. I will say however, debating morality and the word of God is tough. Belief of that nature is hard to debate without getting clouded by emotion, descending quickly into hateful bashing.

I don’t know why I’m opening myself up to this, but let’s try to tackle a few other things. When Guttenburg translated the bible for all to read he opened up a can of words. Now anyone can read the bible and interpret it how they wish. The vast majority of bible readers do not take the words literally. A.J. Jacobs tried that and you can see how hard it was to really take the bible word for word. So that means we now have people picking and choosing which parts to follow and which parts to conveniently ignore. Listen, Jesus was a great man with an excellent message, but I don’t follow his words in the bible exactly. Few of us do.

Because of this picking and choosing, the morality issue quickly becomes relative. What is unforgivable to me might be fine by my neighbor. If you are going to make the argument that God says we should and should not do this follow all of his words, not just some. Otherwise your argument is severely flawed.

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Oh Coffee, you delicious imp

Oh this cartoon from toothpaste for dinner speaks to me on so many levels.

Oh Coffee, you delicious imp

Oh this cartoon from toothpaste for dinner speaks to me on so many levels.

LA Teacher Layoffs – The blame game begins

American’s love to play the blame game. We hate to take responsibility for our actions. Take the economic mess for example. It’s Bush’s fault, Jim Cramer’s fault, Wall St, toxic mortgages, people for taking those mortgages, the “American Dream“, atheists. Everyone throws the blame around.

For education policy nerds out there, we know it’s no different in the education system. Ask who is to blame for poor student performance and you’ll get almost as many different responses as people you ask. The students themselves, poor teachers, poor administration, lack of money, lack of accountability, lack of common sense, lack of initiative, society at large. Everyone will say they helped make the meal if it is tasty, but when it makes one want to vomit the chef becomes a mystery.

So it comes as no surprise that the recent teacher layoffs in LA are turning into a shouting match of who’s fault the whole mess is.

from LA Times

As Los Angeles Unified Supt. Ramon Cortines and the Board of Education attempt to bridge a $718-million budget deficit with widespread cuts and layoffs, supporters of each program, position and school at risk are pointing the finger elsewhere as they try to redirect the budget ax.

It is oddly reminiscent of a scene from “Alice in Wonderland” as all sides try to escape fiscal pain. The board could vote on the budget cuts on Tuesday.

Parent groups, unions and other organizations have launched campaigns for each potential fiscal victim and rallied their members to make calls and write e-mails and letters. They’ve flooded the offices of the board and the superintendent, who said he has received between 50 and 100 e-mails, calls and letters a day.

“Because that’s the way we do business in L.A., you come and scream and yell and you usually get your way,” Cortines said in an interview. “Well I’m a little different. I listen, but it has to be logical, it has to be reasonable, you have to bring me a plan that lives within the budgetary parameters.”

At last week’s school board meeting, and at previous sessions, supporters of special education, assistant principals, cafeteria workers and custodians, art programs and graduation advisors spoke about why their positions must be saved.

Moms Unite is now turning its attention to try to prevent cuts that would increase class sizes. Hurley said the group is different from others because they have no special interest.

“Our interest is to protect the entire school system.”

Others who are trying to protect their jobs and special programs, however, consider their positions to be equally crucial to the functioning of the district.

At Tuesday’s meeting, one group handed out fliers that read: “Why LAUSD schools need Diploma Project Advisors.”

Another flier distributed by Service Employees International Union members stated that laying off more than 1,000 cafeteria workers, custodians and teachers aides would deal “another devastating blow to our children’s education.”

Some who are at risk are trying to save their jobs and programs by insisting that their elimination won’t save the district much money, or could even cost more.

“From a practical standpoint we were told passion is great, teaching is great, environment of the school is great, but all the school district cares about is dollars and cents,” said Steve Rosen, a West Valley parent who spoke at the February meeting attended by Cortines. “We have to be practical.”

At Sellery, parents told Cortines that savings from closing the school wouldn’t be significant in light of the huge deficit, said Principal Karol McQueary.

“They say we’re sort of a drop in the bucket,” McQueary said. “Especially because of the cost of moving our students, they [the parents] feel that cuts should be made elsewhere.”

More as it comes.

Vampires at Oldest School In America

Colonists founded Boston Latin School in 1635. The school has long been known as a beacon of educational light in the black swamp of Boston schools. Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Cotton Mather were graduates. Ben Franklin is perhaps the most famous dropout from Boston Latin.

Controversy has rocked the school before. Boston Latin has been chastised for it’s notoriously difficult learning atmosphere and admissions standards. Now the school is confronted by a different threat. The blood sucking undead!

from Boston Globe

Two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the incident said a group of girls at the school had been bullying at least one other student who likes to dress in Goth-style, a vampirish look popularized by musician Marilyn Manson. The officials said the girls began spreading a rumor that the student was a vampire who had cut someone’s neck and sucked the blood.

When Boston police went to the school Wednesday on an unrelated matter, their presence fueled yet another rumor: that a vampire was being arrested, according to one of the law enforcement sources.

The rumors quickly blossomed into panic. People claimed they had been bitten. A “werewolf” threatened to bring a gun to school because of the bullying the vampire panic caused. Most of the older students laughed off the rumors and the reports of bullying. Even the student director of the anti-bullying campaign said she had not heard of any reports of bullying.

Most of us aren’t that far removed from high school to remember what an awkward time it can be. We are struggling to find out who we are, while at the same time trying to keep from being the gazelle that gets singled out of the herd. In the middle of all that, kids are pressured about how important high school performance is to the entire rest of their lives. One mother had this to say.

from Boston Globe

The students who attend these exam schools put enormous pressure on themselves. There are few adults at either school who have the luxury of having enough time to offer these kids the support that some of them need.

I don’t find it surprising that in the pressure cooker of Boston Latin and with all the worries these kids have about getting into college that some students’ anxieties took the form of bullying and meanness while others perhaps escaped into fantasy.

It’s not surprising some flock to the vampire myths. Vampires are outsiders, outcasts. In many stories they are romantic characters, but they are always powerful. They steal the power, the life force, of others. Is it any wonder this appeals to the disenfranchised?

Texas Creationism Fight

Two sides of a long standing debate have chosen the Texas school curriculum as their battleground. Evolutionists and creationists are butting heads on what should be taught in public schools. On thursday the Texas Board of Education narrowly voted to uphold evolutionary science as mainstream teaching in classrooms. Social conservatives on the board were able to amend the ruling. Teachers will now be required to “evaluate critically a variety of scientific principles like cell formation and the Big Bang”, “analyze and evaluate the sufficiency or insufficiency of natural selection to explain the complexity of the cell”, and examine “current theories of the evolution of the universe including estimates for the age of the universe.”

I don’t have a huge problem with teaching creationism, as long as it’s kept in it’s proper context. Creationism is not science, it’s a religious belief. In a public school it must be kept as such. Religious schools are there for a reason. They give those who want religion and education to be linked with an alternate choice to what they may disapprove of in public schools. Of course home-schooling is probably the best option if you want total control of what your children are being taught.

Another issue I take is the upholding of one belief as fact over others. If one proposes Christian creationism be taught in schools, you can bet that will open the floodgate for teaching other religions creation theories. With the percentage of non-religious citizens estimated to be on the rise and half of Americans believing in evolution this is the wrong way to go. I must also say that in the survey on evolution people were only asked whether they believed in evolution or not, not what alternative to evolution they believed in or any at all.

When it comes to something like allowing Christmas celebrations in schools, or even saying the damn word, we’ve gone too far. However, when it comes to teacher religious beliefs as anything otherwise there’s a problem. It has to be all or nothing. Not because that is the most efficient way, but because there will be lawsuits up the wazoo concerning the fairness. Do schools really have the money to waste on things like that? Do we really want our teachers bogged down with even more varied curricular requirements? Can we afford to dilute our children’s learning even further?

Texas Creationism Fight

Two sides of a long standing debate have chosen the Texas school curriculum as their battleground. Evolutionists and creationists are butting heads on what should be taught in public schools. On thursday the Texas Board of Education narrowly voted to uphold evolutionary science as mainstream teaching in classrooms. Social conservatives on the board were able to amend the ruling. Teachers will now be required to “evaluate critically a variety of scientific principles like cell formation and the Big Bang”, “analyze and evaluate the sufficiency or insufficiency of natural selection to explain the complexity of the cell”, and examine “current theories of the evolution of the universe including estimates for the age of the universe.”

I don’t have a huge problem with teaching creationism, as long as it’s kept in it’s proper context. Creationism is not science, it’s a religious belief. In a public school it must be kept as such. Religious schools are there for a reason. They give those who want religion and education to be linked with an alternate choice to what they may disapprove of in public schools. Of course home-schooling is probably the best option if you want total control of what your children are being taught.

Another issue I take is the upholding of one belief as fact over others. If one proposes Christian creationism be taught in schools, you can bet that will open the floodgate for teaching other religions creation theories. With the percentage of non-religious citizens estimated to be on the rise and half of Americans believing in evolution this is the wrong way to go. I must also say that in the survey on evolution people were only asked whether they believed in evolution or not, not what alternative to evolution they believed in or any at all.

When it comes to something like allowing Christmas celebrations in schools, or even saying the damn word, we’ve gone too far. However, when it comes to teacher religious beliefs as anything otherwise there’s a problem. It has to be all or nothing. Not because that is the most efficient way, but because there will be lawsuits up the wazoo concerning the fairness. Do schools really have the money to waste on things like that? Do we really want our teachers bogged down with even more varied curricular requirements? Can we afford to dilute our children’s learning even further?