U.S. – Canada Co-Op

CBC News July 30, 2007

An American professor scheduled to teach at Carleton University this fall was denied a work permit because of his arrest during a protest 26 years ago — a move he says has chilling implications for activists and protesters on both sides of the border.

"I've not been convicted of a crime," said Tom Juravich, who teaches labour studies at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. "But somehow now, simply because I was arrested 26 years ago, I seem to be a potential threat here in Canada."

He said that when he tried to cross the border at Cornwall, Ont., last week, Canadian border agents told him his file showed he was arrested by U.S. authorities in 1981. That was during a protest on a union picket
line, Juravich said.

He added that he was told he must provide further documentation about the arrest in order to be cleared for a work permit. Juravich said he visited Canada more than 50 times in the past two years to work and to spend time with his partner, Teresa Healey, who lives in Ottawa.

The situation implies that young activists and protesters may have trouble crossing the border in the future, he said, and that may discourage some people from engaging in activism or participating in protests.

"I think this is going to have a chilling impact on the kind of legitimate dissent that we consider as a part and parcel of the democratic process," he said.

He blamed his recent problem on the way information is now shared between Canada and the United States, as a result of terrorism fears.

Canadian border agents can't be expected to interpret decades old legal documents from another country, he added.

Patrizia Giolti, spokeswoman for the Canadian Border Services Agency, said in an e-mail that the agency cannot comment on Juravich's specific case. But she said information sharing between the two countries is nothing new and that people may be deemed inadmissible because of criminal charges laid in another country, even if those charges are later withdrawn.

"To allow an officer to determine their admissibility, they must provide complete details of the charges, convictions, court dispositions, pardons, photocopies of applicable sections of foreign law and court proceedings," she added.

Meanwhile, Juravich's situation is also causing problems for Carleton University.

"To lose two classes taught by a sort of internationally reputable scholar is a disaster," said Rianne Mahon, director of the university's Institute of Political Economy, which hired Juravich. She said the news that Juravich was denied a work permit came as a shock.


Vote Ségolène!

Vote Ségolène Royal!



The Great Educational Trickle-Down Delusion

The following text entitled "Educational Research" was published in Teachers College Record (Date Published: March 28, 2007 http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 13956, Date Accessed: 4/6/2007 3:32:41 AM). It is written by Robert McClintock, who, I believe, is John & Sue Ann Weinberg Chair in History & Philosophical Foundation of Education at Columbia University. But don't let the title scare you, but read his text below. And, please, visit his StudyPlace wiki dedicated to create "a global cultural commons — an engine of knowledge and thought, free and open to all." The wiki assembles and advances "the world's responses to the basic question, What educates?" But, yes, here's Robert McClintock's critical comments on educational research:
Educational research accumulates in great, growing bulk, with all manner of contradictory findings, and no leverage by which to effect practice in any significant way. Better schooling depends, less on research, but on adequate resources for the job, human and financial, and lots of hard work, day by day, in an ethos of support and high expectation, in school and out.

Don't take it personally—I'm sure your research is great, but taken all together, educational research has become absurd, out of harmony with sound judgment. Unfortunately, we have come to know too well that absurdity in the seat of power causes human harm.

Consider first the absurdity. Educational research has fattened horribly. Yes, that may offend, but sometimes a friend must be honest. Researchers don't notice the excess as they worry about too much here or too little there, over-extending the quantitative, too little qualitative, not enough of the triangulated, the doubly blinded. They rush too quickly after the method du jour, hoping to chomp data into another published roll of flab, by which the oleaginous field oozes up the ladder of promotion and tenure.

A gross exaggeration? AERA is accepting proposals for new handbooks of educational research and to get an inkling of what to expect, look closely, for instance, wondering with skeptical admiration, at the Handbook of Research on Teaching, since 2001 in its fourth edition. As AERA suggests, this "resource for students and scholars in education and beyond…will inform practice-policy, school administration, teaching, instruction, and parenting." Is it fit for the effort?

At $85, the member price, the Handbook offers value, but $15 for shipping tips us off. It has heft – circa 7 pounds, just under 1,300 pages, 8.5 by 11, double columns, set in 10 point Times Roman, ungenerous margins. Eighty-five distinguished authorities contribute 51 articles, each on average discussing 160 research studies. The subject index identifies over 4,000 topics of note; the name index cites 7,130 persons who merit attention. The Handbook covers the field, of course. Multiple articles on the intellectual foundations and the methodologies of research open it, and surveys of research on teaching key subjects, on the learner, on policy, on teachers and teaching, on the social and cultural contexts of teaching, and finally on the practice of instruction all follow. Indeed, the Handbook is an epitome of research on teaching, the concern at the heart of educational research writ large.

Does the Handbook represent an absurd effort? It epitomizes thousands of person-years of methodical inquiry, each piece of it fine fare, but in bulk indigestible. It assembles work, pointless in a deep, existential sense, for the research goes off in every direction, leaving those in "practice-policy, school administration, teaching, instruction, and parenting" without a clue what to do. Before them, a research landscape spreads out, a vast plain, with a hillock here and there among the dead (Dewey, Freire, Piaget, and Vygotsky) and the living (Shulman, Darling-Hammond, and a few others). The contributors cite their 7,000 plus researchers on average a little over twice each and mention the median researcher only 3 times. What is the message? How should the eager reader react to the 4,200 isolated studies, which the Handbook mentions only once in its million or so words? Which of them is the key unlocking whatever problem is at the reader's hand?

Can the policy maker at the federal, state, or local level use the Handbook, or the thousands of studies to which it points? Perhaps, for this or that, but in a helter-skelter manner. Will the Handbook help the harried school administrator, pressed to meet standards, eager for his school to shine on tests, struggling to keep things humming on a parsimonious budget, having to cope with the kids living at the margin and testing every boundary? And can those engaged in teaching and instruction work with the Handbook, and all the research it represents, as they engage daily 120 protean persons, each distinctly different, in the trial of mastering some skills, values, and knowledge? With the Handbook in hand, follow a teacher, good or bad, for a week, and try to offer sage advice from it as the teacher sees teachable moments flit forth for this pupil and that one. And then, can someone parenting use the Handbook well? Imagine him or her after a long day at work, settling into bed, 7 pounds of book resting on stomach muscles that have begun to sag from fatigue and age, intently squinting at the small-print on double-columned pages, and on 919 exclaiming suddenly, “Honey, here's the answer!"

In the lexicon of educational researchers, "education" denotes schooling and researchers must start asking to what degree their work can determine the realities of schooling. These realities are imperious, domineering, imperative. Schools work the same way the world around; they have powerful routines and massive institutional inertia. Tradition, ritual, convention, interest, bureaucratic procedure, folly, the lore of practice, and expedient intelligence determine the actualities of schools.

Let's be honest and humble: because educational researchers have proven unable to exercise rigorous control and account for the relevant variables in carefully designed inquiries, their studies have had notoriously conflicting results. If researchers cannot master the variables in controlled settings, why expect practitioners, caught in institutional cross-currents and daily coping with complexity, to be able to rationalize school activities according to the prescripts of research findings? They can't; they won't; the direct application of research will have no coherent effects.

Oh, yes—perhaps direct application has not been the point. Educational researchers also staff the professional schools of education as the faculty members who educate the educators. Perhaps as the researchers prepare pre-service novices and bring in-service practitioners up-to-date with newly proven techniques, their educational research will shape practice indirectly. This faith constitutes the educational version of the great trickle-down delusion. Do we believe the very rich when they assure us that their getting ever richer will soon improve all our pay, benefits, and security? Alas, the trickling down of educational research from the schools of education will have even less effect than do the leavings of great wealth upon the annual income of the ordinary person.

So, in sum, the absurdity: educational research accumulates in great, growing bulk, with all manner of contradictory findings, and no leverage by which to effect practice in any significant way. Better schooling depends, less on research, but on adequate resources for the job, human and financial, and lots of hard work, day by day, in an ethos of support and high expectation, in school and out.

Consider now the harm. The vast quantity of educational research produced year in, year out, serves no real need or opportunity in the workaday world of schools, of their management, or of parenting. It does not arise to meet a felt demand from these quarters. It exists because the system of schooling requires many teachers and they require a professional preparation, which occurs primarily in academic institutions. In turn, those academic institutions need a faculty and they assess the ability to conduct and publish research as their primary criterion for deciding who to recruit, promote, and tenure as faculty members. The vast bulk of educational research will have no effect on anything except the process of recruitment, promotion, and tenure in schools of education. It exists for the sole reason that both individual researchers and the institutions that employ them consistently use the research for this purpose.

This assertion will come as no surprise to anyone who has spent much time with eyes open in schools of education. But what harm does the practice do? Four injuries result.

• Skill in educational research often has little to do with the real educational work that should take place in the professional preparation of educators. By relying on the demonstration of extraneous research skills as the prime criterion for recruitment, promotion, and tenure, schools of education risk making bad decisions about the composition of their faculties.

• School improvement requires quotidian labor, many persons thinking hard on their feet, responding to an endless flux of concrete situations with knowledge, care, and insight. The myth that fixing the schools somehow depends on the magic of educational researchers deflects attention, material support, and respect from those charged with the real tasks of keeping school, diminishing their morale and confidence.

• Contemporary culture has a great need for thoughtful work that will inform the public consideration of education throughout life and not merely in schools. Relying on educational research for recruitment, promotion, and tenure leads to a great over-production of useless research about schooling, which throttles public communication about education in a din of nonsensical noise. Good schools work poorly in a culture enervated by pedagogical pollutants—excessive inequalities, mendacious leaders, grasping fiduciaries, narcotic entertainments, distorted ideals. Research should lay bare all that dampens educational aspiration, but it avoids this challenge, for it may anger this interest or that, prejudicing its value as a tool in recruitment, promotion, and tenure.

• By working primarily to secure their recruitment, promotion, and tenure, educational researchers become alienated and defensive. They avoid intellectual risks; they become imitative; they seek narrow, predictable specialties; they address a limited readership and nurture small ideas that others will find unexceptionable. In so doing, they educate themselves poorly and as poorly educated educators, they prove impotent as the educators of educators.


Causes of war death

Causes of war death 1918 according to the political affiliation of the killed persons

The chart presents figures outlining causes of war death in 1918 in Finland's civil war according to the political affiliation of the killed persons.

As of 8 January 2002, the figures were as follows (http://vesta.narc.fi/cgi-bin/db2www/sotasurmaetusivu/stat2):

Cause of death Reds Whites Others Total
Killed in action 5 324 3 279 484 9 087
Executed, shot, murdered 7 207 1 321 392 8 920
Died in prison camps 11 785 6 500 12 291
Died after being released 597 - 2 599
Missing 1 818 42 116 1 976
Other causes of death 695 173 536 1 404
Total 27 426 4 821 2 030 34 277


Right-wing does it better...

In Finnish Parliamentary Election 2007 the right-wing Coalition Party took the historical victory. Now Finland is 70 % white and blue. Right wing promised hope – doesn't we all want just that – whereas Social Democrats painted mere escatologies. Not only better off people, but also the middle class and even the poor voted the right wing candidates. It is said that Parliament represents people. But how is it?
"Income is the one variable that marks the greatest difference between candidates and voters. The 2003 taxable income of the candidates averaged EUR 34,200 - 74 per cent higher than the average income of the voters. The 2007 income of the candidates was EUR 38,000 - 80 per cent higher than the income of the voters. The average income of a voter was EUR 21,000. The EUR 70,000 average income of Coalition Party candidates was three times that of the voters. A Swedish People's Party candidate's average income was EUR 65,000, Centre Party candidates earned on average EUR 52,000." (Source: Statistic Finland)

Are we, too, experiencing the unspoken class divide in Finland? Longer than 15 minutes?


Student Protest in Moscow State

Writes a group of students of the Sociology Department at Moscow State University: "We, a group of students of the Sociology Department at Moscow State University, have asked the department's administration to improve the quality of teaching, stop force-feeding us with ultranationalist propaganda, and ensure acceptable conditions of life and study. . . ."

... In recent years, fifteen recognized scholars have been forced out of the university, including Professor Vladimir Nikolayev, one of the few Russian experts on the Chicago School and translator of Robert Park, Everett Hughes, Alfred Schütz, Harold Garfinkel and Erving Goffman; Professor Elena Kukushkina, a well-known expert on pre-revolutionary Russian sociology; Professors Y.N. Tolstova and O.V. Ivanov, experts in the mathematical modeling of social processes; Professor V.V. Shtcherbina, a leading theorist of organization sociology and consultant to a number of large Russian companies; Professor Andrew Degtyarev, a well-known Russian expert in political sociology and member of the International Sociological Association’s research committees on Political Sociology and Urban and Regional Development; and Professor Helen Shestopal, a well-known social and political psychologist and vice-president of both the International and Russian Political Science Associations.

See more and give your support at http://www.od-group.org/node/114


The Despoiling of the American Mind

The Despoiling of the American Mind
by Peter McLaren

The American mind is a turbulent canister of contradictions:
A blood-splotched Guantanamo prison cell floating delicately on a
lotus pond,
An unkempt bedroom strewn with silk undergarments
Where truth sits in comfortable exile,
A victim of extraordinary rendition stuffed into the drawer of an
adolescent's bed
Covered in locomotive quilting from Pottery Barn Kids,
A space-age panopticon of worldwide "humanitarian" surveillance
That's put the Muslim world on 24-hour suicide watch -- after first
driving it insane,
A dank paternity-ward incubator crammed with the corporate
Planning genocidal assaults against the next group of evil-doers,
An unexploded cluster bomblet in a Wedgewood Jasper vase,
A Norman Rockwell painting mounted in an overflowing septic tank,
Einstein's brain powering up Dick Cheney's bedside reading lamp,
Jesus's soul recharging the sand-encrusted battery of a disabled
A decomposed rat lying in state on the Lincoln catafalque in the
Capital Rotunda,
Blake's golden string wound into a ball
Lodged in Rove's rectal wall.

Peter McLaren is a political activist and the author and editor of over 40 books, including Che Guevara, Paulo Freire, and the Pedagogy of Revolution. He teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles. His writings have appeared in over twenty languages.

Source: http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/mclaren160307.html