2/14/2007

Petition Calling for the Dismantling of the No Child Left Behind Act

To: U.S. Congress

We, the educators, parents, and concerned citizens whose names appear below, reject the misnamed No Child Left Behind Act and call for legislators to vote against its reauthorization. We do so not because we resist accountability, but because the law's simplistic approach to education reform wastes student potential, undermines public education, and threatens the future of our democracy.

Below, briefly stated, are some of the reasons we consider the law too destructive to salvage. In its place we call for formal, state-level dialogues led by working educators rather than by politicians, ideology-bound "think tank" members, or leaders of business and industry who have little or no direct experience in the field of education.

The No Child Left Behind Act:

1. Misdiagnoses the causes of poor educational development, blaming teachers and students for problems over which they have no control. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]

2. Assumes that competition is the primary motivator of human behavior and that market forces can cure all educational ills. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

3. Mandates data driven instruction based on gamesmanship to undermine public confidence in our schools. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]

4. Uses pseudo science and media manipulation to justify pro-corporate policies and programs, including diverting taxes away from communities and into corporate coffers. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]

5. Ignores the proven inadequacies, inefficiencies, and problems associated with centralized, "top-down" control. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]

6. Places control of what is taught in corporate hands many times removed from students, teachers, parents, local school boards, and communities. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

7. Requires the use of materials and procedures more likely to produce a passive, compliant workforce than creative, resilient, inquiring, critical, compassionate, engaged members of our democracy. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]

8. Reflects and perpetuates massive distrust of the skill and professionalism of educators. [1, 2, 3, 4]

9. Allows life-changing, institution-shaping decisions to hinge on single measures of performance. [1, 2, 3, 4]

10. Emphasizes minimum content standards rather than maximum development of human potential. [1, 2, 3]

11. Neglects the teaching of higher order thinking skills which cannot be evaluated by machines. [1, 2]

12. Applies standards to discrete subjects rather than to larger goals such as insightful children, vibrant communities, and a healthy democracy. [1, 2, 3]

13. Forces schools to adhere to a testing regime, with no provision for innovating, adapting to social change, encouraging creativity, or respecting student and community individuality, nuance, and difference. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]

14. Drives art, music, foreign language, career and technical education, physical education, geography, history, civics and other non-tested subjects out of the curriculum, especially in low-income neighborhoods. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]

15. Produces multiple, unintended consequences for students, teachers, and communities, including undermining neighborhood schools and blurring the line between church and state. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]

16. Rates and ranks public schools using procedures that will gradually label them all "failures," so when they fail to make Adequate Yearly Progress, as all schools eventually will, they can be “saved” by vouchers, charters, or privatization. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]

help the Educator Roundtable and sign the petition

petition

2/12/2007

The deadly 1918 flu virus : Nature

The 1918 'Spanish flu' influenza pandemic was unusually severe, causing about 50 million deaths. Why was it so destructive? The lack of antibiotics to fight secondary infections, and socioeconomic factors may be relevant. But experimental infection of nonhuman primates with reconstructed 1918 virus suggests that the lethal nature of the virus itself was a big factor. It is in fact the only influenza virus lethal to experimentally infected nonhuman primates, and the 1918 virus, unlike other strains, suppresses innate immune responses. The H5N1 viruses now circulating cause a severe lung infection similar to that caused by the 1918 virus and also suppress innate immunity, so therapies that protect this type of host immunity might reduce the severity of infection due to these influenza viruses.

The deadly 1918 flu virus : Nature

2/03/2007

Time Magazine cover of the year

The world tells Condi: F U!!!

2/01/2007

Cheap drug to treat cancer needs funding: University of Alberta

An old drug, not patentable. Hence not interesting to greedy drug companies... -- law

Investigators at the University of Alberta have recently reported that a drug previously used in humans for the treatment of rare disorders of metabolism is also able to cause tumor regression in a number of human cancers growing in animals. This drug, dichloroacetate (DCA), appears to suppress the growth of cancer cells without affecting normal cells, suggesting that it might not have the dramatic side effects of standard chemotherapies.

At this point, the University of Alberta, the Alberta Cancer Board and Capital Health do not condone or advise the use of dichloroacetate (DCA) in human beings for the treatment of cancer since no human beings have gone through clinical trials using DCA to treat cancer. However, the University of Alberta and the Alberta Cancer Board are committed to performing clinical trials in the immediate future in consultation with regulatory agencies such as Health Canada. We believe that because DCA has been used on human beings in Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials of metabolic diseases, the cancer clinical trials timeline for our research will be much shorter than usual.

DCA Research Information / Department of Medicine / University of Alberta