POETRY FRIDAY: Fractured Nursery Rhymes


By Elaine Magliaro

Here are some of my original “fractured” nursery rhymes. Note: The poem Jack and June was included in a children’s poetry anthology titled My Cat Is in Love with the Goldfish and Other Loopy Love Poems. The book was published by A & C Black (London) in 2010.





Jack and June went to the moon,
Crash-landed in a crater.
Jack broke his nose and seven toes.
(He’s a crummy navigator!)

Jack cried in pain. June tried in vain
To soothe her injured mate.
She bound his toes and kissed his nose
And asked him for a date.

Jack and June began to swoon…
Fell mad in love and they
Returned to Earth, their place of birth…
And wed the very next day.

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Public Schools for Sale?: Diane Ravitch Talks with Bill Moyers about the Privatization of Public Education

Diane Ravitch Education Historian

Diane Ravitch
Education Historian

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro

NOTE: I originally posted this article at Res Ipsa Loquitor on June 8, 2014. I think it bears re-posting at Flowers for Socrates.

Diane Ravitch is Research Professor of Education at New York University, a historian of education, and author of more than ten books—including The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn (2003) and The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education (2010). Ravitch served as Assistant Secretary of Education from 1991 to 1993 during the administration of George H. W. Bush. When she was Assistant Secretary, she led the federal effort to promote the creation of voluntary state and national academic standards. “From 1997 to 2004, she was a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the federal testing program. She was appointed by the Clinton administration’s Secretary of Education Richard Riley in 1997 and reappointed by him in 2001. From 1995 until 2005, she held the Brown Chair in Education Studies at the Brookings Institution and edited Brookings Papers on Education Policy. Before entering government service, she was Adjunct Professor of History and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.”

Ravitch, once a champion of charter schools, supported the No Child Left Behind initiative. After careful investigation, Ravitch changed her mind and became one of our country’s most well-known critics of charter-based education. She believes that “the privatization of public education has to stop.” In late March, Ravitch sat down with Bill Moyers on Moyers & Company to discuss the subject of privatizing of public schools—which has become “big business as bankers, hedge fund managers and private equity investors are entering what they consider to be an ‘emerging market.’” You can view a video of that program, Public Schools for Sale?, below the fold.

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“Arbeit Mach Frei” – Work Makes You Free?


“Arbeit Mach Frei” has become an infamous phrase because of its being used by the NAZI’s above the gate to their Auschwitz Concentration Camp. As Jews, Gypsies, 800px-Entrance_Auschwitz_IHomosexuals and certain Christians were marched through those gates the sign was meant to have a calming effect, as if they were merely being taken to a “Work Camp” rather than crematorium.  Actually though the phrase was not invented by the NAZI’s, as some clever irony to calm the fears of detainees, but Arbeit Mach Frei come from the title of a title of a “novel by German philologist Lorenz Diefenbach, Arbeit macht frei: Erzählung von Lorenz Diefenbach (1873), in which gamblers and fraudsters find the path to virtue through labour.[2] The phrase was also used in French (“le travail rend libre!”) by Auguste Forel, a Swiss ant scientist, neuroanatomist and psychiatrist, in his “Fourmis de la Suisse” ["Ants of Switzerland"] (1920).[3] In 1922, the Deutsche Schulverein of Vienna, an ethnic nationalist “protective” organization of Germans within the Austrian empire, printed membership stamps with the phrase Arbeit macht frei. It was adopted in 1928 by the Weimar government as a slogan extolling the effects of their desired policy of large-scale public works programmes to end unemployment. This use of the phrase was continued by the Nazi Party when it came to power in 1933.”

This piece, however, is not about NAZI’s, but is an examination of the premise that “work makes you free” which is after all the basis for our Capitalistic society as embodied in the Protestant work ethic and expounded upon as the American Dream. “The Protestant work ethic (or the Puritan work ethic) is a concept in theology, sociology, economics and history which emphasizes hard work, frugality and diligence as a constant display of a person’s salvation in the Christian faith, in contrast to the focus upon religious attendance, confession, and ceremonial sacrament in the Catholic tradition.” I think that I would get little dispute that whether from a religious, or a secular perspective, that America is all about the “work ethic” and the belief that “work” of any kind is somehow ennobling. Concomitant with the belief that “work is noble”, is the underlying assumption that those who rise to the top of the economic chain, somehow work harder than and are more deserving than the rest of the “mob”. I believe that the idea of a “work ethic” being the sine qua non of human worth is absurd as you will see. Continue reading

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58 Years Ago Today, We Said, “I Do.”


“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
― Dr. Seuss


We had 55 years.

I have never forgotten our anniversary. Never will as long as I draw a breath.

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Ferguson (MO) Circa 2014, California Circa 1967, the Death of Denzil Dowell, the Black Panther Party, and Open Carry Laws

Black-Panther-Party-armed-guards-in-street-shotgunsBy Elaine Magliaro

Nearly fifty years ago, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale established the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. According to Steve Wasserman of The Nation, the two “brash upstarts” from Oakland, California “quickly garnered a reputation for their willingness to stand up to police harassment and worse. They’d made a practice of shadowing the cops, California Penal Code in one hand, twelve-gauge shotgun in the other.” Charles Pierce (Esquire) said that in those days “the police were knocking off black folks with an alarming regularity.” In 1967—about six months after Seale and Newton established the Black Panther Party–“a black man named Denzil Dowell was blown away by a shotgun wielded by the police in North Richmond, an impoverished, largely black suburban community outside Oakland.”

Steve Wasserman reported that the police said that Dowell, a construction worker, “had been killed by a single shotgun blast to the back and head; they claimed that he had been caught burglarizing a liquor store and, when ordered to halt, had failed to do so.” Wasserman said that the “coroner’s report told a different story.” Dowell’s body “bore six bullet holes”—and “there was reason to believe Dowell had been shot while surrendering with his hands raised high.” Dowell’s mother believed that the police had murdered her son—but an all-white jury found that the young man’s death was “justifiable homicide.” Wasserman said that many people in North Richmond didn’t agree with the jury’s decision.

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Posted in American History, Courts, Crime, Equal Rights, History, Justice, Law Enforcement, Local Government, Murder, Politics, Propaganda, Racism, State Government, United States | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

All You Wanted to Know About Ferguson and Police Militarization

Submitted by MIKE SPINDELL

HBO is to my mind the best network in American Television. I’ve personally subscribed to it since the mid 70’s because I have found the quality of its content to be superb and brave. This year a former Jon Stewart show contributor, John Oliver started a comedy/news show called Last Week Tonight which I wrote about here. This week, however, he has outdone himself as he talks of Ferguson, Missouri and the Militarization of our nation’s police. This video is why I will always pay extra for HBO and my thanks to them for their courage:

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Charter Schools and The Profit Motive

SchoolRoom1By Elaine Magliaro

NOTE: I originally posted this article about charter schools and their backers at Res Ipsa Loquitor on March 16, 2013. I think it bears re-posting at Flowers for Socrates.

In a 2010 New York Times article titled Charter Schools’ New Cheerleaders: Financiers, reporters Tripp Gabriel and Jennifer Medina wrote the following about what was going on in the state of New York:

Wall Street has always put its money where its interests and beliefs lie. But it is far less common that so many financial heavyweights would adopt a social cause like charter schools and advance it with a laserlike focus in the political realm…

Although the April 9 breakfast with Mr. Cuomo was not a formal fund-raiser, the hedge fund managers have been wielding their money to influence educational policy in Albany, particularly among Democrats, who control both the Senate and the Assembly but have historically been aligned with the teachers unions.

They[hedge fund managers] have been contributing generously to lawmakers in hopes of creating a friendlier climate for charter schools. More immediately, they have raised a multimillion-dollar war chest to lobby this month for a bill to raise the maximum number of charter schools statewide to 460 from 200.

That same year—2010—Juan Gonzalez believed that he had uncovered one of the reasons why hedge fund managers, some wealthy Americans, and the executives of some Wall Street banks had become such big proponents of charter schools and had gotten involved in their development. Gonzalez said the banks and other wealthy investors had been making “windfall profits” by taking advantage of “a little-known federal tax break to finance new charter-school construction.” That little know tax break, the New Markets Tax Credit, can be so lucrative, Gonzalez said, “that a lender who uses it can almost double his money in seven years.” He added that the tax break “gives an enormous federal tax credit to banks and equity funds that invest in community projects in underserved communities, and it’s been used heavily now for the last several years for charter schools.”

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Posted in Education, Education Policy, United States, Wall Street | Tagged , | 31 Comments