According to The Providence (R.I.) Journal: the face of a child
Nothing humanizes a polarizing political topic like the face of a child.
And 52,000 of them since October make it a humanitarian crisis.
Relatively suddenly, the nation became aware of the scale of the problem brewing on its southern borderland. Thousands of children, driven to desperation by violence that threatens them at home, have fled toward the safer haven of the United States.
Those who survived the perilous journey through the drug barons and pimps are likely to find themselves caught in a snare, detained by an overwhelmed detachment of border patrol agents.
As unexpected and unwelcome a twist on the immigration argument as this is, nothing alters the fact that these are vulnerable children, stranded between two worlds without their parents. And that should guide our response to the crisis.
It’s a problem that won’t be solved by dispatching National Guard soldiers to the border. Nor will it be solved by presidential jawboning, no matter how sincere.
The social workers on the front line must be allowed to do their work, providing these children food, medical attention and a safe space, in the same way that aid workers are doing in Jordan, Lebanon, Kenya, Uganda, Afghanistan and other sad places where the dispossessed gather. And then we must demand our elected leaders try to find pragmatic ways to deal with this human disaster.
It’s asking a lot from a president and Congress that have shown little inclination to accomplish anything that requires cooperation. But the voter-citizens should insist upon a little moral bravery from the people they send to Washington.
It won’t be easy. The elements that created these American refugee and deportation centers include a sometimes-nasty stew of poverty, drug policy, law enforcement, the social safety net and the legal path toward citizenship.
Obviously, America must be able to control its borders better, since it cannot remotely afford to take in all of the world’s poor children. It is obvious, too, that the nations generating this crisis are doing a miserable job of combating poverty and violence by nurturing capitalism and the rule of law. Turning that around will be tremendously difficult.
This simmering brew won’t be calmed by the simple prescriptions from the political edges. It’s not practical to wall off the border, or to drop the barriers that properly limit untaxed people from enjoying all the benefits of citizenship. The fair but difficult path lies somewhere in the middle.
And it is lined with the faces of children.
According to The Cape Cod Times of Barnstable (Mass.): on new education standards
Tea party opposition to the new education standards in the Common Core is getting a lot of attention. Far more threatening is the less-noticed pushback from teachers’ unions. Even as union leaders profess support for rigorous standards, local and state affiliates are working to weaken, delay or undermine them.
The Chicago Teachers Union, for example, recently approved a resolution opposing the Common Core and vowed to lobby the state school board to eliminate its use. In January, the New York State United Teachers withdrew support for the standards while calling for removal of the state’s education commissioner. In Tennessee, the teachers association was instrumental in getting lawmakers to approve a delay in administering assessments aligned to the standards.
The actions come as the heads of the two national unions, Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and Dennis Van Roekel of the National Education Association (NEA), say they support the standards but contend that implementation has been so rushed, so botched, that adjustments, even delay, are in order. No doubt there have been glitches, with some school districts doing a better job than others with the phase-in, but surely that was to be expected.
The Common Core is a set of objectives for student learning — not a mandated curriculum — that arose from governors, state education officials and others who understood that American children needed to raise their game to compete in the global economy. It is designed to move away from rote learning toward critical thinking and group effort. It assumes that parents will want to measure school and student progress. In many places, officials are saying that teachers should be evaluated in part on how well they are teaching, with good teachers being rewarded.
That’s the source of union objections. The critique about process is a straw man for the main objection: use of test results as a factor in evaluating teacher effectiveness. Union officials object even though what’s being measured is student improvement, not absolute levels, so no teacher would be held responsible for a child’s deficient home situation or background, and even though no one is proposing to count test results for more than half of an overall evaluation. It appears high standards are fine until they are about to be implemented.
The AFT and NEA were among the biggest supporters of the Common Core. They helped make the case for more rigorous standards and invested in the development of aligned curriculum and teaching tools. Surveys show teachers still support the effort. Will their leaders now be complicit with the tea party in sabotaging the Common Core, or will they help make the standards a success?