Politics

Chicago teacher strike puts Obama in a pickle

PresidentObama_article

From College News - The Chicago Teacher’s Strike is well into its third day and with failed negotiations happening day after day, leaving 350,000 students shut out of class, the idea that something has got to give is leaned on more than ever. But if there is anywhere an organized union-focused strike can thrive, it is Chicago.
The third-largest school system in the country, Chicago serves as home to more than 30,000 teachers, administrators and support staff workers, all of which deeply rooted into their third day of striking.
A recent poll of registered Chicago voters has shown that majority of those who have voted are on the teachers’ side in favor of the strike. A 47 against 39 percent sway.
This is the first organized walk out by Chicago teachers in 25 years. In union-driven Chicago, where even non-union Wal-Mart spent years trying to get a store within city limits, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has become the villain.
Emanuel, whose administration proposed the requirements regarding teacher evaluations in response to student success, faces all sorts of criticism from the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU). Mayor Emanuel is accused of going against the grain, a Democratic official taking sides with the union’s opposition.
Emanuel, President Obama’s former White House chief of staff, stresses that it is not the teachers who are suffering the most because of the strike, rather the children are the ones being shorthanded.
President Obama has remained silent on the subject of the strike occurring in his hometown. With an election in November, the economy in shambles, anti-American rallies in the Middle East and the ever-increasing prices of gas, Obama simply has his hands full.
If Obama were to weigh in on the issue of the strike, he would be put in a tight spot. If Obama calls for teachers to return to work and comply with Mayor Emanuel’s administration’s requirements, then he would gain the vote of mothers who only want to see their children get the education they deserve, however, it would go against the democratic union-driven ideals upon which Obama has based his presidency and would widen the enthusiasm gap with Republicans.
On the other hand, if Obama sides with the CTU, then he merely appears as a prisoner of his political party. Right now, the best bet for President Obama is to watch the fight from the bleachers and hope that everything passes before November.
By Jason Oliva
From College News - The Chicago Teacher’s Strike is well into its third day and with failed negotiations happening day after day, leaving 350,000 students shut out of class, the idea that something has got to give is leaned on more than ever. But if there is anywhere an organized union-focused strike can thrive, it is Chicago.

The third-largest school system in the country, Chicago serves as home to more than 30,000 teachers, administrators and support staff workers, all of which deeply rooted into their third day of striking.
A recent poll of registered Chicago voters has shown that majority of those who have voted are on the teachers’ side in favor of the strike. A 47 against 39 percent sway.

This is the first organized walk out by Chicago teachers in 25 years. In union-driven Chicago, where even non-union Wal-Mart spent years trying to get a store within city limits, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has become the villain.

Emanuel, whose administration proposed the requirements regarding teacher evaluations in response to student success, faces all sorts of criticism from the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU). Mayor Emanuel is accused of going against the grain, a Democratic official taking sides with the union’s opposition.

Emanuel, President Obama’s former White House chief of staff, stresses that it is not the teachers who are suffering the most because of the strike, rather the children are the ones being shorthanded.
President Obama has remained silent on the subject of the strike occurring in his hometown. With an election in November, the economy in shambles, anti-American rallies in the Middle East and the ever-increasing prices of gas, Obama simply has his hands full.

If Obama were to weigh in on the issue of the strike, he would be put in a tight spot. If Obama calls for teachers to return to work and comply with Mayor Emanuel’s administration’s requirements, then he would gain the vote of mothers who only want to see their children get the education they deserve, however, it would go against the democratic union-driven ideals upon which Obama has based his presidency and would widen the enthusiasm gap with Republicans.

On the other hand, if Obama sides with the CTU, then he merely appears as a prisoner of his political party. Right now, the best bet for President Obama is to watch the fight from the bleachers and hope that everything passes before November.

By Jason Oliva
   

Rep. Bob Etheridge assaults student on camera, apologizes

From College News - Congressman reportedly shoves, then grabs students after being approached on the street.

Rep. Bob Etheridge has released an apology after assaulting a young man on camera, according to multiple media outlets. As Politico reports, the congressman was approached on a street in Washington D.C. by college students armed with questions and a camera.

After questioning Etheridge on whether he supports the “Obama agenda,” the North Carolina Democrat demanded to know who the students were. The interviewer said they were working on a project. Etheridge continued to ask who they were, then swatted the camera and grabbed the interviewer by the arm and back of the neck before eventually letting him go.

Rep. Etheridge released an apology—which can be read on Politico here-- Monday saying, “I deeply and profoundly regret my reaction and I apologize to all involved.”

By Janelle Vreeland

   

Kagan Supreme Court: The arguments for—and against

College News breaks down the arguments about Elena Kagan, President Obama's new nominee for the Supreme Court.

On Sunday, President Barack Obama announced his pick for his second nomination to the Supreme Court: Elena Kagan, the current Solicitor General and former University of Chicago law school lprofessor. If confirmed, Kagan would take the spot of retiring Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens.

As with Obama’s previous Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, Kagan has already been at the receiving end of some controversy, due to her quotation of a speech given by former Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall, the court’s first African-American judge for whom Kagan clerked. In a tribute written to him at the time of his death in 1993, Kagan quoted Marshall’s assertions that the constitution was “defective” as originally crafted and conceived, and that the Supreme Court should serve as “a special solicitude for the despised and the disadvantaged.”

The Hill reports that, in response, Republican National Committee sent out a memo titled “Strong But Respectful” in which they say that come confirmation time, they’ll question if she still agrees with those assertion in a—you guessed it—a strong but respectful manner.

As you might imagine, the prospect of Kagan at the Supreme Court has had both sides of the aisle revving their rhetorical engines. So College News figured we’d start practicing our Kagan exercises and round up the case for—and against—Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.

For: Kagan Supreme Court

1. “...the core of Kagan’s experience over the past two decades has been all about moving people of different beliefs to the position she believes is correct ... I’ve seen her earn the respect of people who disagree with her, and not by either running to a corner to pontificate, or by caving on every important issue. Kagan can see a fight; if she can see a path through that fight, keeping her position in tact, she can execute on it. And even when a victory is obviously not in the cards, she will engage the other side boldly.” [Lawrence Lessig, The Huffington Post]

2. “… Kagan has no obvious paper trail that makes for sound-bite attacks. Her academic articles are ponderous and abstruse, not Fox News fodder. And she has managed to work in both the Obama and Clinton administrations without marking herself indelibly as a liberal. That turns her lack of judicial experience into an asset.” [Emily Bazelon, Slate]

Against: Kagan Supreme Court

1.  “I have plenty of respect for Kagan’s intellect and ability, and she deserves considerable credit for her tenure as dean of Harvard law school, including for her generous treatment of conservatives, which has earned her considerable goodwill.  But …Kagan may well have less experience relevant to the work of being a justice than any justice in the last five decades or more.  In addition to zero judicial experience, she has only a few years of real-world legal experience.” [Ed Whelan, the National Review]

2. “It’s anything but surprising that President Obama has chosen Elena Kagan to replace John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court.  Nothing is a better fit for this White House than a blank slate, institution-loyal, seemingly principle-free careerist who spent the last 15 months as the Obama administration’s lawyer vigorously defending every one of his assertions of extremely broad executive authority.  The Obama administration is filled to the brim with exactly such individuals—as is reflected by its actions and policies—and this is just one more to add to the pile. “ [Glenn Greenwald, Salon]

By Jon Graef

   

University of Arizona president writes letter on immigration law

From College News - In address, President Robert N. Shelton says law raises "troubling questions" about campus international community.

Arizona’s new immigration law has already proven to be quite controversial. Since its passage, there have been protests and calls to boycott the state because of the legislation, which grants state law enforcement the authority to ask people who they “reasonably suspect” as being illegal immigrants to provide documentation of their legitimacy on the spot.

Seeking to address concerns about the bill, including critics’ notion that racial profiling will increase because of it, University of Arizona President Robert N. Shelton sent out a memo to campus on Thursday, assuring that “the health and safety of our international students, faculty and professional staff are priorities of the highest order for us, and we are going to do everything possible to help each of them understand the law and its impact. We intend to put in place whatever procedures are necessary to ensure their safety and free movement on campus and in our community.”

Though Shelton says that campus police will be trained thoroughly about the law, he wrote that he understood concerns that some students or faculty might become the victims of racial profiling. Additionally, Shelton notes that the immigration law as already negatively impacted campus, saying:

“The families of a number of out-of-state students (to date all of them honors students) have told us that they are changing their plans and will be sending their children to universities in other states. This should sadden anyone who cares about attracting the best and brightest students to Arizona.”

Shelton concludes his note by saying that he is set to discuss the law with the Arizona Board of Regents, and that the fruits of that discussion will be disclosed at a later date.

By Mark Andrews

   

Obama administration facelift of Title IX sparks praise, protests

From College News - Bush administration's interpretation of Title IX disregarded in an effort to ensure equality for female college athletes.

With a new ruling, female athletes and women’s rights activists everywhere have reason to sing the praises of the Obama administration.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, Vice President Joe Biden, speaking on behalf of the Office of Civil Rights, announced Tuesday that a Bush administration interpretation on enforcing Title IX will be overturned.

Under President George W. Bush, schools were allowed to use student surveys as proof that the school’s athletic department is ”fully and effectively” accommodating the needs and interests of female athletes, as Title IX requires.

While some groups and colleges applauded the decision, many groups and female athletes viewed the amendment as a cop-out, wherein schools could translate a lack of response from students into a lack of interest.

They argued, as Salon points out, that just because an administrative survey might receive little or no response doesn’t mean that interest isn’t there. They also argued that interest in a sport could not be accurately assayed when it had not previously been made available to athletes.

The change was an issue of contention for years, but the decision made by the Office of Civil Rights to repeal it hopes to ensure that colleges truly are listening to their student body and the concerns of their female athletes.

The groups who had hailed the Bush administration’s decision originally are crying foul.

Instead of using surveys to meet Title IX’s requirements, colleges would then be required to ensure that the participation of athletes in both sexes is directly proportionate to their numbers of enrollment; prove that they have historically been “demonstrably responsive to developing interests and abilities”; or show by other means that the interests of female athletes have been recognized and accommodated.

To these groups, this would potentially mean cutting some of the sports offered for Men’s athletics, cutting the amount of male athletes currently participating or cutting both.

Whether you praise or condemn the Obama administration’s decision, there is no doubt that this issue will not be going away any time soon.

By Janelle Vreeland

   

Should political parties be abolished?

From College News - University of Missouri Professor David Webber's column offers a government free of political parties


Are political parties getting in the way of politics?

University of Missouri political science Associate Professor David Webber certainly thinks so. In a column for the Missourian, Webber makes the claim that “political parties are not necessary and cause more havoc in politics than they are worth.”

Supporting this notion is Webber’s plan for a reformed electoral process where candidates would no longer be required to file as aligned with a particular party. Webber’s idea would call for the top two vote-getters in the primary would then face off in the general election.

In his article, Webber goes on to explain the downfalls political parties present, such as officials that simply vote for the party’s position. He also suggests that by removing the party tags as outlined in his plan, voters would have to listen more to a candidate’s legislative thoughts and ideas during elections.

Webber notes that the idea would also bring about increased competition while reducing campaign and election costs.

Despite his allegations, Webber is not calling for the outright abolishment of political parties. He offers that they “continue to exist as political clubs and fraternal organizations but not as a key component of government.”

 

By Joe Anello

   

Obama signs student loan reform bill

From College News - President travels to Northern Virginia Community College to sign bill expanding college access.

College students plagued by a lagging job market and the prospect of debt received some good news on Tuesday. According to the New York Times, President Obama traveled to Northern Virginia Community College to sign into law a student loan reform bill. The reason that Northern Virginia Community College visit is a big f***ing deal is not just because of the historic legislation (which, according to the Times, Obama described as “one of the most significant investments in higher education since the G.I. Bill."), but because, as you may have inferred by the Biden-esque phrasing, Northern Virginia is where Jill Biden teaches English.

Also worth noting is the fact that the bill will reportedly eliminate private fees to intermediary banks, expand the Pell grant and invest more money into community colleges. Opponents of the bill mainly note that jobs would result in job loss, as lender Sallie Mae released a statement saying that they’d have to cut a third of its workforce. Similarly, many Republican senators objected to the elimination of subsidies to private banks.

Obama, for his part, reportedly said that “For almost two decades, we’ve been trying to fix a sweetheart deal in federal law that essentially gave billions of dollars to banks”, saying that the money was going to pad student lenders pockets.

By Jon Graef
 

   

University of Ottawa sends Ann Coulter anti-hate speech letter

From College News - Controversial pundit told to "weigh your words with respect and civility in mind" by Ottawa administrator.

I remember when Ann Coulter came to my campus. I initially wasn’t going to go, because I think that Ann Coulter is an extraordinarily cynical opportunist who does great disservice to actual, critical conservative thought by catering to a base in the same way that a shock jock does.

Except that Ann Coulter has a pretense of intellectual discourse that someone who plays a whistle sound after mentioning an attractive actress decidedly does not. Ultimately, I was convinced to go by a friend, who argued, “hey, when else are you going to see Ann Coulter?”

I couldn’t think of a way to refute this logic. So I turned up to watch the lecture, which had a provocative title that ultimately had nothing to do with the content of her talk. To her credit, she had a pretty good line about the Vote For Change tour, as well as a tasteless quip about Ted Kennedy that bordered on Sarah Silverman proportions.

Otherwise though? It was basically a hacky stand-up routine, except replace, “What’s the deal with airplane food?” with “boy, how crazy are those terrorist, traitorous libs?” Still, I can’t help but wonder how I would react if my school sent a letter telling her that my country “puts reasonable limits on the freedom of expression” to Coulter the way that an official at the University of Ottawa did. According to The National Post, a senior Ottawa administrator sent the note in order to remind the opinionated, Cornell-educated polemicist of Canada’s hate speech laws.

“You will realize that Canadian law puts reasonable limits on the freedom of expression promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges. Outside of the criminal realm, Canadian defamation laws also limit freedom of expression and may differ somewhat from those to which you are accustomed. I therefore ask you, while you are a guest on our campus, to weigh your words with respect and civility in mind.” (Via).

Coulter gives her University of Ottawa speech Tuesday.

By Jon Graef

   

Passing of student loan reform bill on the horizon

From College News - Though in the backseat because of health care drama, President Obama's student loan reform bill faces passage.

For college students, one of the most appealing parts of President Barack Obama’s platform were his promises of student loan reform, a pledge that becomes more and more urgent as students drop out because of unpaid loans. But with all of the discussion of health care recently, it’s easy to forget that Obama made any claims to loan reform at all.

However, he apparently is working on it. The Washington Post details what reform the bill would introduce, including cutting “funding to private student lenders and redirect billions of dollars in expected savings into grants to needy students.”

Additionally, the bill would increase funding to Pell Grants as well. Just as on health care, division on the bill lies along party lines, with Democrats embracing it and Republicans shunning it.

By Jon Graef

   

College grad posts Obama assassination threats on Twitter

From College News - Jay Martin, 2009 grad of Vatterott College, is now backtracking after four tweets threatening to kill President Barack Obama.

The historic passage of health care reform by the House Sunday evening has yielded many different responses ranging from celebratory to thoughtful to disappointment to, perhaps most disturbingly, murderous rage.

According to Gawker, Jay Martin, who graduated with an IT degree from Vatterott College, expressed his discontent over the government’s plans for health care reform by threatening to murder President Barack Obama not once, not twice, not even for the hat trick at three times, but on four separate occasions.

The Tweets, which are deeply troubling, have been posted on Gawker’s article. Martin’s Tweets begin with a rapid repetition of “Fuck You’s” directed toward President Barack Obama around the time the final House vote was cast followed by “You should be Assassinated.” Unbelievably, things go down hill from there. Should you feel like reading all of Martin’s offending Tweets in context, they’re still available as of this writing to read at his Twitter account.

Rather than express contrition for hoping murder onto the leader of the free world, Martin actively refuses to back down. (Perhaps unsurprising for a man whose listed name is “#iJustDontGiveAFuck"). Martin states in one Tweet that “if the FBI comes knocking tomorrow I wouldn’t give a fuck. I didn’t do anything wrong. Shit. the record might give me street cred.” Because why have health care or a steady job with benefits when you can have street cred, the currency of the ignorant.

But Gawker points out that, in fact, Martin did do something wrong. According to US law 8 USC Sec. 871, “Whoever knowingly and willfully deposits for conveyance in the mail or for a delivery from any post office or by any letter carrier any letter, paper, writing, print, missive, or document containing any threat to take the life of, to kidnap, or to inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States… shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”

By Jon Graef

   

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