As we head into Thanksgiving, and cast about for things to be thankful for in the midst of things we really aren’t, a few words about nothing in particular.
I have felt so tired lately, enough so that I did a little self-inventory. The older you get, the more likely tiredness can be traced to bad living. I’m still eating more or less well, maybe an excess of sugar this week (birthdays), still getting exercise, still sleeping more or less on schedule. It finally occurred to me the problem isn’t tiredness, it’s tension – the constant whipsawing between resigned long-term optimism for the future with the shrieking WE ARE DOOMED voice inside my head. It’s exhausting.
I have to relax. Current events aren’t helping.
Just a few statements of plain fact here: For the city of Detroit to recover, all agree that the woeful state of its public education must be addressed. For years now, the traditional Detroit public schools have been hemorrhaging students, not only due to population loss but also because charter schools have been allowed to grow unrestricted in Michigan, and they are draining students away. The problem is, there is no rhyme or reason to where and when they open (and close); the free market can sort out toothpaste fairly easily, but education of blameless children is another matter, who suffer when there’s market chaos. Forget also whatever you might believe about charters being inherently better than public schools, which is true in some places — where they’re tightly regulated, hmm — but not here. Detroit students in charters score only a little higher on standardized tests than their traditional-schools counterparts. Which is to say, abysmally. So, earlier this year, various city and education advocates came up with a plan to put an education commission in place that would have some braking and veto power on charters, just in the city of Detroit, so that schools could be located where they are most needed, and where the poorest children, in the poorest neighborhoods, the ones most likely to have no other choice, might be spared having to attend this terrible charter school, to cite but one example. Sort of like the certificate-of-need program for health care.
The plan was attached to a bill in Lansing to bail out the failing public system, which has been under state emergency management for 12 years and has, shall we say, failed to thrive. The governor approved, the state Senate approved, and the bill went to the House. The wealthy, powerful DeVos family did not approve, and their various policy operations went to work on it. The House gutted it, excising the commission, sent it back to the Senate, and eventually they caved, too.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet your next Secretary of Education, most likely.
I have to be careful what I write here, but as I said, these are simply facts. The Freep ran a biting column about this situation, and linked at the top is Betsy DeVos’ response, which you can read.
I think I’m going to take the rest of the week off and just read and think and try to relax. There’s no going back, after all. Here are some links you might find useful, if Sherri and Jolene haven’t already posted them all.
The WashPost fact checker offers a helpful guide on spotting fake news.
Michael Kruse visits Trump country in Pennsylvania post-election and asks the winners how they’re feeling:
So this year, as the divisive, repellent 2016 presidential campaign came to a head, Cambria County—whiter, poorer and less educated than the nation as a whole—was ripe for Trump’s blunt, populist message. The most important word in his catchphrase, for people around here, was not make or America or even great. It was again. They changed their party affiliation in droves.
And Charles Pierce, as he is wont to do, takes them apart. Both pieces are worth your while.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.