Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles Times’

We shouldn’t be “Waiting for Superman” to fix America’s failing public schools

June 16, 2011

America’s public schools are the engine of America’s greatness. From the 1880s on they turned a flood of children of immigrants—most of them poor, illiterate, and speaking no English—into patriotic successful citizens, prepared for college or for a productive life without college. They laid the foundation for America’s productive might, innovative genius and entrepreneurial spirit.

Now they are failing. Big time. In Los Angeles, for example, only half of the students graduate, and of those who do, fewer that 30 per cent are ready for college, according to Los Angeles mayor Anthony Villaraigosa’s op-ed piece in today’s Los Angeles Times. And the story is similar all over America. In our cities it seems that the thing the schools are best at is preparing boys for prison and girls for single motherhood.

Last night I saw a wonderful documentary, Waiting for Superman.  It documents not just the schools’ failure but also the kids’ ability to learn—to excel—when given good teaching. The movie makes vivid the burning of poor, uneducated parents to give their children a better chance, the conviction of some reformers and philanthropists that things could be better, and the cost in dollars and ruined lives of bad teachers.

The movie will stoke your anger at all the people who are allowing this tragedy to continue, and at the politicians who could do something and who don’t.

Watch the trailer.


Nike takes in billions from official World Cup team jerseys made by $4/day workers

June 28, 2010

I watched the USA soccer team win its group in the World Cup, then lose to Ghana in the knockout round. Then I turned to my second favorite team, Brazil. I’m part of a World Cup television audience of more than a billion fans, and like most of them I lusted after the official team jerseys—a white USA shirt, perhaps, with number 10, Donovan, on the back, or a brilliant yellow and green Brazil shirt, also with number 10, Kaká. No, I think I like best the red and green number seven jersey of the world’s best player, Portugal’s Christiano Ronaldo. Seventy dollars for the home jersey, sixty for the more colorful away version. But I won’t be buying any.

All these official jerseys are made by Nike. Well, actually, Nike doesn’t make any sports gear. The shirts are made by a Nike contractor in Indonesia, whose workers earn $4/day, barely enough to pay rent, transportation, water, and two small bowls a day of rice and vegetables.

Nike long ago took the position that it has no responsibility for the pay or working conditions in the factories that make Nike gear, but over the past ten years it has slowly (more…)

Congressman Bob Etheridge (D-NC) batters questioner, Dems defend the attacker, mainstream media do their job

June 17, 2010

Congressman Bob Etheridge (D-NC) was walking down a Washington sidewalk when a short (half-a-head shorter than the Congressman) young man in a suit approached him with a camera—perhaps in a cell phone—and asked him if he supported the Obama agenda. “WHO ARE YOU?” the Congressman demanded, before he lunged at the camera, grabbed the young man’s arm, and then his neck, before letting go.

My favorite ethics blogger, Jack Marshall, labeled Etheridge an “ethics dunce” in his Shamefully, some in the liberal media, including MSNBC’s Chris Mathews the Washington Post’s Chris Cilizza, and the Charlotte Observer, defended Etheridge. Worse, Politico reports that the DNC is blaming the Republican party.

The story on the right from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and their friends, is that the mainstream media don’t cover bad behavior on the left. Not so in this case: The incident was immediately covered by CBS News, CNN, National Public Radio, the Los Angeles Times, the (more…)

Meg Whitman lowers the ethics bar

May 14, 2010

“What’s the right thing to do here?”

That’s the very first line of the autobiography of billionaire Meg Whitman, candidate for the Republican nomination for California governor. She paints herself as the ethical candidate: “No playing things loose or close to the edge. We were going to do things the right way.” That’s an unnamed eBay executive talking in a campaign ad about working for Whitman back then. When Forbes Magazine did a 2007 cover story on Whitman they enthused, “Ebay’s Meg Whitman built a retail leviathan without sacrificing her customers, shareholders or ethics.”

But politicians claiming they’re particularly ethical are like gangsters shouting, “Come and get me, copper.” The press, like the cops, usually accepts the challenge, a la John Edwards, Gary Hart, Eliot Spitzer, and others.

If you watch television in California you already know about Whitman’s ethics, displayed in $60 million worth of the skuzziest campaign ads imaginable. But her hyper-negative campaign against fellow Republican Steve Poizner isn’t the most interesting thing about Whitman’s campaign.

Try googling “Meg Whitman ethics.” It turns up 48,800 entries. There are the articles about her sweetheart deal with Goldman Sachs, in which she moved the banking business of eBay, which she headed, to Goldman Sachs in return for the inside track on an initial public stock offering (IPO) in which she made a quick $1.78 million. When eBay shareholders sued she agreed to give her ill-gotten gains (more…)

California Democrats: at a new ethical low and digging furiously

February 16, 2010

The Los Angeles Times reports that California Assembly Speaker Karen Bass and “more than a dozen Congressional Democrats” have donated $160,000 to a campaign for a voter initiative to overturn Proposition 11. That’s the 2008 initiative that gave a nonpartisan commission the power to set state legislative district boundaries.

Up to now California legislators have designed their own districts (like the California 38th congressional district shown above) to maximize their job security. In effect they choose their voters, instead of the voters choosing their legislators. Result: In California in 2008, every incumbent running for reelection won—51 congressmen, 9 state senators, and 52 assemblymen. And only nine seats have changed parties in 648 California legislative and congressional races in the last four election cycles (2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008) combined. Or looking at it like a betting person, the incumbent party has a 981/2 percent chance of holding on to each seat. Stalin and Mao would have been impressed.

The current system ensures dysfunctional politics. Legislators get a free ride in general elections. They need only win in their primary. So the Democrats appeal to the far left, the Republicans to the far right, and they all get reelected. The vast majority of voters and the non-voters? They get bad government.

The people mustered a 51-49 majority to fix the system with Prop. 11. The politicians are clawing back for their own selfish interests.

Shame on them.

Read The Ethics Challenge: Strengthening Your Integrity in a Greedy World