In this week's selection, you'll find not only intelligent commentary on the topics of the day (gun control, immigration, Mali), but also some stories that would make for great trivia questions or discussion starters. Read on to find out how poetry helps guide immigrants across the US-Mexico border, how PTSD can be contagious, how 90 percent of Canadians now have a female premier and how one family in Siberia didn't see another human for forty years.
Alleen Brown focuses on education.
“Will A 'Bar' Exam for Teachers Improve Student Performance?” by Andrea Gabor. Gotham Gazette, January 13, 2013.
Over the last two months publications including the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Good magazine, and this week National Public Radio have reported on American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten's call for a "bar exam" for teachers. Most news reports have said little about concerns from some educators that such an exam would bar teachers of color from the classroom. The Gotham Gazette quotes Harlem middle school teacher Chrystina Russell, “The only thing I'm certain a bar exam will do is keep out minorities.”
James Cersonsky focuses on labor and education.
“Alt-Labor,” by Josh Eidelson. The American Prospect, January 29, 2013.
How screwed is the US labor movement? Better yet, what do people mean when they ask this? Josh Eidelson, whose labor reporting runs from high-level political battles to the changing composition of work, charts the range of efforts to organize workers outside the bounds of NLRB-sanctioned unionization—and what they mean for the future of the labor movement.
Catherine Defontaine focuses on war, security, African and French politics and the link between conflicts and natural resources.
“Is America Training Too Many Foreign Armies?” by John Norris. Foreign Policy, January 28, 2013.
The war in Mali has highlighted the role of US military assistance that too often lack oversight and a compelling central rationale. General Carter Ham, the head of AFRICOM, has recently acknowledged that the US military training in Mali has failed to spend “the requisite time focusing on values, ethics, and a military ethos” as the Malian army has been accused of massacring Arabs and Tuaregs without any respect for human rights standards. Indeed, as John Norris points out, very often US-trained officers carry out atrocities—as in East Timor—or lead coups against their governments—from Honduras to Haiti to the Gambia, and just recently, in March 2012, in Mali. In 2012, 134 countries have benefited from American bilateral security assistance—almost every country on Earth. This clearly shows that the Pentagon has failed to define US military aid around clear objectives and should revise its military assistance programs.