Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The war on education

I sometimes become less aggravated by the Obama administration when I read articles like this one by Paul Krugman In his Sunday NY Times Op-Ed he reports that while many progressives are unhappy with how conservative (read: right-winged) and corporate the Obama administration is, the corporations are actively supporting any and all opposition to the Obama administration and are throwing money at Republicans who are willing to take them on. It's not surprising that the corporations are unhappy with this administration because the banks and oil industry are the spoiled children in this country. They believe they call the shots-- and they aren't far from the truth. That they have to lose anything (like conceding to any Healthcare bill or even 1 cent in higher taxes) is pissing them off and they are, frankly, tantrumming. And perhaps the worst thing about this is what it actually says about the United States today and it's leadership--  we are so far from any kind of governing that provides actual protections for the people that we don't even recognize conservative politics when they aren't radically far right (i.e. the Bushies). It should apparently, according to the right, be the norm for corporations to set their own standards of what they consider safe. 

But then I read an article like the series in the New York Times Magazine this weekend and I am ready to impeach the bastard. The front page reads: "Are Teachers' Unions the enemy to reform?" The magazine talks about Obama's new "Race to the Top" Program. The theme is clearly anti-teacher and aimed at holding teachers responsible for their students (poor) performance. One of the "reformers" is Jon Schnur, who " . . .runs a Manhattan-based school-reform group called New Leaders for New Schools, sits informally at the center of a network of self-styled reformers dedicated to overhauling public education in the United States. Schnur, who is 44, became interested in education when, as an editor of his high-school newspaper, he read a draft of an article from a student who had transferred from a Milwaukee public school to his school in the suburbs. “She was savvier than any of us on the editorial board, but the draft was just so terribly written,” he told me. Schnur added that “the more I got to know her, the more I became obsessed with why public education hadn’t reached people like her.” After graduating from Princeton, he worked in the Clinton campaign and then landed an education-policy job in the Clinton administration."

For more on the Race to the Top program:

I'll be writing more on this topic in my education pages linked at the top.


So here's the latest press release from Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center:
Secretary Chu and the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories are providing round-the-clock scientific support to help inform strategies to stop the BP oil spill.  Secretary Chu and his team of scientists are brainstorming ideas about the most effective scientific and engineering approaches to the problem, providing expert advice and technical support validation, testing assumptions and making engineering calculations to help BP think through their approach.  The Department of Energy is also offering its resources and technical assistance to the Flow Rate Technical Team led by MMS, NOAA and USCG.
  • At the request of President Obama, Secretary Chu has assembled a team of scientific experts from inside and outside of government to work on the problem, and is engaging with these experts and BP officials on a daily basis.
  • The Department’s laboratories are providing on-the-ground technical, engineering and scientific support at BP’s Houston Headquarters. At any given time, those labs have at least 6-8 experts on the ground supporting the response.  To date, more than 150 personnel from the National Laboratories have directly supported these response efforts. 
  • Experts from the National Laboratories provided diagnostics of the damaged blowout prevention equipment on the ocean floor through radiography (analysis, design and fabrication efforts) and with innovative, nonintrusive approaches for measuring pressure at various points in the system.  The Department has provided BP with high-quality 2D radiography that BP personnel are saying breaks all records for deep water radiography--breaking the previous record by more than 4,000 feet.
  • The Laboratories have also provided BP with structural analysis of the failed riser.  This allows various drill pipe, casing and riser scenarios to be evaluated. They also predicted the structural integrity of the riser kink under different flow scenarios and used sophisticated analysis of computer-estimated fluid flow inside the nonfunctioning apparatus.
  • The Department of Energy is supporting the National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center (NISAC), which has been modeling the economic costs and societal impact of the oil spill on energy and other industries in the Gulf and along the coast to support the response efforts of the National Incident Commander and the Unified Area Command. NISAC is a modeling, simulation, and analysis center within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that leverages national expertise to address infrastructure protection.
  • Using the Interagency Modeling and Atmospheric Assessment Center (IMAAC), the Department’s scientists provided smoke plume predictions for the original fire on the platform and surface-oil test burns. 
For information about the response effort, visit

Funny thing is: Watching Rachel Maddow when Secretary Chu was on for Geek week (video link below) one got the distinct impression that he wasn't really sure what was going on down in the gulf. Or if he did he was very limited in what he knew. The Huffpost article on the interview had this take on the awkward moment, "After Chu twice suggested that he only knew what he learned from media reports, Maddow mused, "Mr. Secretary, I would say I'm worried that you only know what you read in the papers about what's being approved.""


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