While I have never much liked conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, I would take exception with calling him a racist for the following comments he recently made during oral arguments in theFisher v. University of Texas at Austin case:
"There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a less - a slower-track school where they do well."
"...most of the black scientists in this country don't come from schools like the University of Texas. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they're being pushed ahead in classes that are too too fast for them."
In his comments what never occurs to Scalia or any of the people like him is that these comments are rather indicative of an entitled White American whose Sicilian immigrant father encounter none of the limitations and assured damage that is endemic to just being raised Black in American. It mysteriously never occurs to a smart person like Scalia to ask why it is that the son of an Italian immigrant has a chance of doing better in America than people who have been here for 400 years.
Implicit and self-serving in the Scalia's refusal to make any accommodation to what has been the systematic dismantling of Black identity in this country is a belief base on the idea: Well, my father came to this country with nothing, worked hard, and was successful- so why can't Black people do the same? Ignored is the fact that Scalia's White father more than likely got off the boat with the address of an earlier Italian immigrant or community, which could make his transition easier. And while their has been anti-Catholic or Italian feelings at various times in this IS SUPREME COURT JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA A RACIST? - Perdaily.com:
Republicans keep pressing for tenure, layoff, evaluation reforms
Republican legislators are continuing to push for passage of three California teacher reform bills, but it’s unclear what the status of the bills will be when the Legislature convenes in January.
The Assembly Education Committee spent three hours discussing the bills last week, with no indication about whether the bills might come up for a vote next year. That lack of clarity frustrated the Assembly Republican leader and sponsor of one of the bills, Kristin Olsen, R-Fresno, who questioned why the majority of Democrats on the committee had voted to send the bills to “interim study,” a parliamentary tactic sometimes used when members don’t want to go on the record on controversial legislation. Interim study is an indefinite status that gives Education Committee Chairman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, wide discretion to determine what, if anything, happens to a bill.
“In an effort to avoid casting ‘no’ votes on these worthy, important bills, the chairman and other members of this education committee invoked an obscure procedure that sent these bills to this interim study,” Olsen said. “And it truly saddens me that here we are, two weeks before Christmas, when people are out busy preparing for the holidays, that we’re holding a hearing when nobody is paying attention.”
The hearing was webcast but sparsely attended by the public; two of four Democrats on the committee were absent.
I do think we need to have a nation education reform. I do believe that there should be as much federal oversight as possible in the name of equity. I just happen to disagree vehemently with the folks who’ve been doing education reform on the state and federal level. This ping-pong politic where we think we’re making a dent by giving education back to the states makes me nervous, even in “blue states” like New York. If we keep ping-ponging the same thing, i.e. standardized testing and the deprofessionalization of the teaching profession, then ESSA is no different than NCLB, RTTT, or whatever acronym you’d like to throw in my direction.
No Threat Left Behind: New York City Stifles Opt Out
Co-Writer Kemala Karmen
Deputy Director, Co Founder NYC Public
With more than 200,000 students -- or nearly 1 in 5 of all eligible test takers--refusing to sit for annual standardized tests, New York State made headlines last spring for leading the nation in sheer number of opt outs. The parent-led opt out movement worked hard to get those numbers, getting an unexpected boost from voters disgusted by Governor Andrew Cuomo's hubristic overreach in pushing the Education Transformation Act of 2015. (The legislation proposed that as much as fifty percent of a teacher's evaluation would hinge on test score "growth.") However, if you take even the tiniest of peeks at the distribution of those opt out numbers, one thing will immediately become apparent: New York City, with a test refusal rate of only 1.4%, is not keeping up with the pack. Why? What's going on?
As parents of New York City public school children, we can tell you. And it's not pretty. Whether you are a parent in a "high performing" school with plenty of middle and upper class children or a parent with a child in a "low performing" school with a population weighed down by the stresses of poverty, there is a powerful deterrent custom-made for you when it comes to making the decision of whether or not to allow a child to take the tests.
The most dire of threats, school closure, falls heavily on the city's 94 Renewal Schools. These schools, which serve predominantly low-income, minority, and immigrant communities, receive the "Renewal" designation largely due to their poor showing on state tests. (Graduation rates come into play for high schools.) When the de Blasio/Fariña administration introduced the Renewal Program, which is supposed to pump resources into struggling schools, it was positioned as an alternative to the unpopular school closure policy favored by Bloomberg/Klein. But a school can only be removed from the program through an improvement in test scores--on the same disastrous state tests that have been roundly criticized by parents, teachers, administrators, and now, even Governor Cuomo's own Common Core Task Force. Parents are scared of losing their schools completely, whether to charterization or state receivership, and the test-based exit criteria pressures them into seeing testing as essential for school survival. In an effort to raise those scores come hell or high water, children who need so much more than drill-and-test are fed the narrowest test-prep workbook curriculum.
The gravest impediment to opt out that the NYC Department of Education hangs over the heads of parents and children in other communities is the middle school and high school admissions process. Unlike elsewhere in the state, New York City has a complicated, and medical-school-competitive, admissions model. (The comparison to medical school is no exaggeration; New York hired the same team who designed the system that matches medical school students to residencies to design the system that matches teenage students to high schools.) Although state law now precludes test scores from being the sole or primary factor in a school's admission formula, the city still sends student scores to the receiving institutions. This makes parents distrust even those schools who say they don't consider test scores at all. After all, if the score is right there in front of the admissions team, what's to stop them from looking and using it to make shorthand determinations about the student? Moreover, admissions rules seem to be constantly changing and no one knows what the future will bring. Currently, in all but a few instances, only 4th grade and 7th grade scores are used, respectively, for middle school and high school admissions, but will the rules change? Every principal will tell you there's no way to know. Getting into the school that is a good match for your child is on the minds of parents from the moment their children hit the 3rd grade, so the fear around this issue is enough to make any parent pause--and to make many of them think, well, even if only 4th grade counts, to be safe, I probably should have my 8 year old take the third grade test as practice. Ditto, the 5th and 6th grade tests, because 7th grade is the admissions ticket. As for 8th grade, that's practice for the new, more stringent, high school Regents exams. There are no avenues for discussion here. In many districts, there is no neighborhood middle school that you can fall back on, and few zoned high schools remain. It's school roulette, and the NYCDOE holds all the cards.
Everything you need to know: December solstice 2015
December solstice 2015 is coming on December 21 or 22 (depends on your timezone). Celebration time!
Sunlight on Earth, on the day of the winter solstice. The north polar region of Earth is in 24-hour darkness, while the south polar region is in 24-hour daylight. Gif via Wikimedia Commons.
Late dawn. Early sunset. Short day. Long night. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, the December solstice marks the longest night and shortest day of the year. Meanwhile, on the day of the December solstice, the Southern Hemisphere has its longest day and shortest night. This special day is coming up on Tuesday, December 22 at 4:48 UTC (December 21 at 10:48 p.m. CST). No matter where you live on Earth’s globe, a solstice is your signal to celebrate. Follow the links below to learn more about the 2015 December solstice.
Day and night sides of Earth on the December 2015 solstice
Day and night sides of Earth at the instant of the December 2015 solstice (2015 December 22 at 4:48 Universal Time). Note that the north polar region of Earth must endure 24 hours of night, while the south polar region gets to bask in 24 hours of daylight. Image credit: Earth and Moon Viewer
When is the solstice where I live? The solstice happens at the same instant for all of us, everywhere on Earth. In 2015, the December solstice comes on December 21 at 10:48 p.m. CST. That’s on December 22 at 4:48 Universal Time. It’s when the sun on our sky’s dome reaches its farthest southward point for the year. At this solstice, the Northern Hemisphere has its shortest day and longest night of the year.
Just remember: you’re translating from 4:48 UT on December 22. So for most of the world’s eastern hemisphere – Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand – the December solstice actually comes on December 22. For example, if you live in Perth, Australia, you need to add 8 hours to Universal Time to find out that the solstice happens on December 22, at 12:48 p.m. AWST (Australian Western Standard Time).
Earth has seasons because our world is tilted on its axis with respect to our orbit around the sun. Image via NASA.
What is a solstice? The earliest people on Earth knew that the sun’s path across the sky, the length of daylight, and the location of the sunrise and sunset all shifted in a regular way throughout the year. They built monuments such as Stonehenge in England – or, for example, at Machu Picchu in Peru – to follow the sun’s yearly progress.
But we today see the solstice differently. We can picture it from the vantage point of space. Today, we know that the solstice is an astronomical event, caused by Earth’s tilt on its axis, and its motion in orbit around the sun.
Because Earth doesn’t orbit upright, but is instead tilted on its axis by 23-and-a-half degrees, Earth’s Northern and Southern Hemispheres trade places in receiving the sun’s light and warmth most directly. The tilt of the Earth – not our distance from the sun – is what causes winter and summer. At the December solstice, the Northern Hemisphere is leaning most away from the sun for the year.
At the December solstice, Earth is positioned in its orbit so that the sun stays below the north pole horizon. As seen from 23-and-a-half degrees south of the equator, at the imaginary line encircling the globe known as the Tropic of Capricorn, the sun shines directly overhead at noon. This is as far south as the sun ever gets. All locations south of the equator have day lengths greater than 12 hours at the December solstice. Meanwhile, all locations north of the equator have day lengths less than 12 hours.
For us on the northern part of Earth, the shortest day comes at the solstice. After the winter solstice, the days get longer, and the nights shorter. It’s a seasonal shift that nearly everyone notices.
Around the time of the winter solstice, watch for late dawns, early sunsets, and the low arc of the sun across the sky each day. Notice your noontime shadow, the longest of the year. Photo via Serge Arsenie on Flickr.
Where should I look to see signs of the solstice in nature? Everywhere.
For all of Earth’s creatures, nothing is so fundamental as the length of daylight. After all, the sun is the ultimate source of all light and warmth on Earth.
If you live in the northern hemisphere, you can notice the late dawns and early sunsets, and the low arc of the sun across the sky each day. You might notice how low the sun appears in the sky at local noon. And be sure to look at your noontime shadow. Around the time of the December solstice, it’s your longest noontime shadow of the year.
In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s opposite. Dawn comes early, and dusk comes late. The sun is high. It’s your shortest noontime shadow of the year.
EarthSky Facebook friend John Michael Mizzi saw this sunset from the island of Gozo (Malta), south of Italy. The earliest sunsets come a couple of weeks before the winter solstice.
Why doesn’t the earliest sunset come on the shortest day? The December solstice marks the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and longest day in the Southern Hemisphere. But the earliest sunset – or earliest sunrise if you’re south of the equator – happens before the December solstice. Many people notice this, and ask about it.
The key to understanding the earliest sunset is not to focus on the time of sunset or sunrise. The key is to focus on what is called true solar noon – the time of day that the sun reaches its highest point, in its journey across your sky.
In early December, true solar noon comes nearly 10 minutes earlier by the clock than it does at the solstice around December 22. With true noon coming later on the solstice, so will the sunrise and sunset times.
It’s this discrepancy between clock time and sun time that causes the Northern Hemisphere’s earliest sunset and the Southern Hemisphere’s earliest sunrise to precede the December solstice.
The discrepancy occurs primarily because of the tilt of the Earth’s axis. A secondary but another contributing factor to this discrepancy between clock noon and sun noon comes from the Earth’s elliptical – oblong – orbit around the sun. The Earth’s orbit is not a perfect circle, and when we’re closest to the sun, our world moves fastest in orbit. Our closest point to the sun – or perihelion – comes in early January. So we are moving fastest in orbit around now, slightly faster than our average speed of about 30 kilometers (18.5 miles) per second. The discrepancy between sun time and clock time is greater around the December solstice than the June solstice because we’re nearer the sun at this time of year.
The precise date of the earliest sunset depends on your latitude. At mid-northern latitudes, it comes in early December each year. At northern temperate latitudes farther north – such as in Canada and Alaska – the year’s earliest sunset comes around mid-December. Close to the Arctic Circle, the earliest sunset and the December solstice occur on or near the same day.
By the way, the latest sunrise doesn’t come on the solstice either. From mid-northern latitudes, the latest sunrise comes in early January.
The exact dates vary, but the sequence is always the same: earliest sunset in early December, shortest day on the solstice around December 22, latest sunrise in early January.
And so the cycle continues.
Bottom line: In 2015, the December solstice comes on December 21 at 10:03 p.m. CST. That’s December 22 at 4:48 UT. It marks the Northern Hemisphere’s shortest day (first day of winter) and Southern Hemisphere’s longest day (first day of summer). Happy solstice, everyone!
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