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Sunday Morning Open Thread: Mother's Day And Selected Other Items, 'Is We Learning Yet' Edition

Today is Mother's Day in the U.S. and mothers in Vermont may have additional reason to celebrate - three days ago, Vermont passed the first Universal Health Care bill in the U.S. Here's a blurb from the HuffPo piece written by Anja Rudiger yesterday about it:

On May 5 the Vermont House followed the Senate in passing the final version of a health reform bill that creates a path for a universal, publicly financed health care system in Vermont. Governor Peter Shumlin has confirmed he will sign the bill into law.

This makes Vermont the first state in the country to move toward a universal health care system that will provide health care as a public good for everyone. Legislators and advocates alike have compared Vermont's role to that of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, which half a century ago spearheaded the establishment of universal health care in Canada.

Nicely done, Vermont.

In other news, two imams on their way to an anti-Islamophobia conference1 were tossed off the flight by the pilot, who had gone so far as to turn the plane - which was taxiing down the runway after leaving the gate - back to the gate. Authorities are investigating.

Insofar as new words and definitions go, you can add Teach-i-cide to the list. Kudos belong to Shakespeare's Sister of Daily Kos. Here's the definition as excerpted from the nub of her gist in the diary:

Simply put, in all areas of teaching, over-emphasis on "drill and kill" activities to build vocabulary recognition or even skills - some of which cannot be directly taught - is removing the emphasis from students actually learning, and removing the power from teachers to actually teach. Teachers are more and more forced into the "bubble box" where we have to teach to the test - our district's standards are prioritized in terms of what the state test emphasizes. In many cases, those standards are not what our students need, and therefore we, as teachers, are not meeting their needs.

I'll leave you with this final quote, amalgamated from Gallagher and Schmoker:

As Gallagher (2009) writes, "a terrible price is paid" when the exigencies of testing supersede authentic literacy [or any true learning] activities (p.26). Teaching to the test, which so many continue to do, is both unethical and patently counterproductive.

It would be a tragedy if you didn't go read the whole thing - it's well worth it.

And on that final note, we'll leave you with this parting thought about teaching:

"Teaching is more than imparting knowledge; it is inspiring change. Learning is more than absorbing facts; it is acquiring understanding."

      - William Arthur Ward

Namaste, and Happy Mother's Day.


Only footnotes below the fold.




Draft Bernie Sanders...for Democratic Policy Director! Video of Speech to CA Dems

Maybe Senator Bernie Sanders should be drafted for an Executive position. He makes the point in this speech, that the richest 400 Americans are weatlhier than 150,000,000 of their countrymen, combined. That's obscene.



Defending Social Security

Copied entirely from Senator Bernie Sanders post of it.

Social Security - the most successful government program in our nation's history - is at risk.  

Before Social Security was established 75 years ago, more than half of our elderly population lived in poverty. Because of Social Security, the poverty figure for seniors today is less than 10 percent. Social Security also provides dignified support for millions of widows, widowers, orphans and people with disabilities.

Since it was established, Social Security has paid every nickel it owed to every eligible American, in good times and bad. As corporations over the last 30 years destroyed the retirement dreams of millions of older workers by eliminating defined-benefit pension plans, Social Security was there paying full benefits. When Wall Street greed and recklessness caused working people to lose billions in retirement savings, Social Security was there paying full benefits.

Despite its success, Social Security faces an unprecedented attack from Wall Street, the Republican Party and a few Democrats. If the American people are not prepared to fight back, the dismantling of Social Security could begin in the very near future.

Vermont Single Payer: What It Is and What You Can Do

Originally published January 22, 2011 - 21:46

Ed. Note: The following is a diary written by Kossack DrSteveB and is reprinted with permission and without further comment from myself - CM1

Throughout 2009 and into early 2010, while the health reform we got nationally was being watered down by the corporate conservadems in the Senate, the Vermont legislature was moving forward. An important step was back in June 2010 when they decided upon the Harvard-MIT analytic group led by Prof. William S. Hsiao (who had done some of the modeling for Taiwan's transition from private insurance to single payer) and Jonathan Gruber (who did some of the modeling for the Obama-Baucus reform we got nationally).

They were charged with providing detailed policy and economic analysis of three possible proposals, two of which was to be variations of single payer. In Vermont, the least progressive proposal was the equivalent of the most progressive that the U.S. House of Representatives considered, being a relatively strong public option while leaving private insurance in place to compete. That was the charge from Vermont legislature, suggesting strong and real support for single payer. In November, Democrat Peter Shumlin won election for Governor running explicitely on a single payer platform.

Open Thread - State Healthcare Reform Horse Race

Politico has a short list of "6 states to watch on health reform" as it all moves forward. This policy analysis should be taken with the appropriate grain of salt, IMHO, as politico quotes:

"Rader Wallack who, previously co-chaired Massachusetts’ Cost Containment Committee"

A state that produced similar reform to what we have seen that resulted in this quote:

"less-heartening numbers loom in the background: the state’s health care costs continue to rapidly outpace general economic growth."

Looking back, the Cost Containment Committee may have to patch some gaping holes in Massachusetts. And it remains to be seen if it can be done with arguably circumventable cost controls built into the recent reform out of DC. Just sayin'.

As we mark the passing of the latest phase of health reform laws implemented on January 1st (scroll the comments there and you will see some interesting comments pointing to what I mean about cost controls and other issues, OK?), the six states Politico suggests following are Alaska, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and Wisconsin for various reasons ranging from the most resistant to reform in Alaska, to the intended public option that should be Sustinet in Connecticut, and all the way over to the Single Payer movement in Vermont. I would not count Single Payer as out of the question in California, either, though there is no mention of that large movement behind it.

Before we move on to comments, I'd like to wish ePM's very own Luaptifer a belated and very happy birthday. Here is to everyone's health in the New Year and welcome to 2011's first Open Thread!

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