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North Dakota's Republican Governor Admits He's More Interested in Legal Battles Than Women's Health

March 27, 2013 in Blogs

By Tara Culp-Ressler, Think Progress


On Tuesday, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) approved a package of strict abortion restrictions, including an unconstitutional six-week abortion ban and a measure intended to force the state’s last abortion clinic toclose its doors.

In an interview with the Associated Press, the governor admitted that he didn’t sign the legislation based on “any religious belief or personal experience” that compels him to oppose abortion — instead, he’s simply trying to entangle the state in a legal battle that could eventually have big implications for Roe v. Wade:

“Although the likelihood of this measure surviving a court challenge remains in question, this bill is nevertheless a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade,” Dalrymple said in a statement, referring to the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion up to until a fetus is considered viable — usually at 22 to 24 weeks. [...]

Dalrymple seemed determined to open a legal debate on the legislation, acknowledging the constitutionality of the measure was an open question. He asked the Legislature to set aside money for a “litigation fund” that would allow the state’s attorney general to defend the measure against lawsuits.

He said he didn’t know how much the likely court fight would cost. But, he said money wasn’t the issue.

It’s no secret that the anti-abortion community is hoping to use a state-level strategy to strike down the constitutional protections in Roe, imposing increasingly stricter bans they hope will eventually lead to a Supreme Court challenge. But Republican lawmakers haven’t typically been quite as open about their ultimate goals, instead choosing to couch their language in messages about women’s health and safety. This legislative session, however, anti-choice legislators are less concerned about tiptoeing around their intentions for Roe — despite the fact that 70 percent of Americans currently oppose overturning the court decision.

Whereas the legal fights over the past several years have largely centered on 20-week abortion bans, which shave about 2 to 4 weeks off of the constitutionally protected window for legally terminating a pregnancy, the goalposts have now been moved significantly. North Dakota and Arkansas have …read more

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Teachers and Education Reformers Bypass Individual Students

March 27, 2013 in Economics

By Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff

The March 18 headline in USA Today blares: “More teachers are grouping kids by ability.” What’s wrong with that? Because the actual problems of individual kids are overlooked when students, especially those starting in elementary schools, are tracked as a group by what they’ve learned.

But Patrick Boodey, principal of the Woodman Park School in Dover, N.H., tries to remind us in the same story: “As a teacher, you know in your heart you need to meet the needs of each child” (Greg Toppo, USA Today, March 18).

Really? How many teachers do know that and act accordingly?

Disturbing answers to that question are documented in the most important article on education I’ve seen in many years: “The ‘Quiet’ Troubles of Low-Income Children,” by Richard Weissbourd of the Harvard School of Education. The article was first published in the March/April 2008 issue of the Harvard Education Letter and is also included in a valuable book: Spotlight on Student Engagement, Motivation and Achievement (Caroline T. Chauncey and Nancy Walser, editors; Harvard Education Press, 2009).

I have been an observer and interviewer of students in many classrooms around the country, and caught signs of some of these “quiet troubles.” But I had nowhere near the research depth of Weissbourd, whose revelations should be seen by teachers, principals, school boards and legislators in cities, states and the U.S. Congress.

His article, of course, should also be seen by those parents whose own troubles give them hardly any breathing room to focus on how well their children are actually able to learn in school.

Weissbourd, whom I have also interviewed, cites a study he conducted with other researchers:

“Some teachers fail to detect vision and hearing problems and sleep deprivation. Kids who are depressed and withdrawn can also escape teachers’ notice. One reason may be that teachers are often consumed by small numbers of students with loud problems. Teachers may also stop registering these quieter problems because they know that their schools don’t have the resources or time to deal with them.

“As one school counselor puts it, ‘You have to be extraordinarily withdrawn to be referred to me.’”

At a school where I was a guest lecturer on the Bill of Rights for a short time, one female eighth-grader in the back row never said a word in class or looked in my direction. After class one day, I came over to her and found that when she listened …read more
Source: OP-EDS

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Watch: Colbert Shreds Georgia Senator on Same Sex Marriage

March 27, 2013 in Blogs

By Steven Hsieh, AlterNet


On his show last night, Stephen Colbert took on absurd conservative arguments against same sex marriage.

“The gay swarm has descended on the Supreme court,” Colbert said, in reference to demonstrations supporting two hearings on marriage equality, “And folks, I shudder to think that the unnatural coupling of same sex partners might be put on the same footing as my loving relationship with my gun.”

Colbert mocked Justice Samuel Alito’s claim to uncertainty about same sex marriage—that it is “newer then cell phones or the Internet.”

“It was 30 years since people had cell phones. What’s the hurry gays?” Colbert wonders.

But the host saved his strongest attack for Senator Saxy Chambliss (R-GA), who reacted to Rob Portman’s (R-OH) flip on the issue in support of his gay son by saying “I’m not gay, so I’m not going to marry one.”

Colbert notes that Chambliss’ statement pretty much sums up Republicans’ general approach to identity politics.

“This is the same reason we should eliminate social security. Because I’m not old, and I never will be. And frankly, why should I care about women’s reproductive rights. I don’t have a vagina. I’ve checked!” Colbert observed, “The good news is marriage is safe as long as Saxy Chambliss never turns gay, which you know, that could happen, because he's proven he only cares about one special man.”

Wed, 03/27/2013 – 05:34

…read more