theatlantic:

My Students Don’t Know How To Have a Conversation

Recently I stood in front of my class, observing an all-too-familiar scene. Most of my students were covertly—or so they thought—pecking away at their smartphones under their desks, checking their Facebook feeds and texts.

As I called their attention, students’ heads slowly lifted, their eyes reluctantly glancing forward. I then cheerfully explained that their next project would practice a skill they all desperately needed: holding a conversation.

Several students looked perplexed. Others fidgeted in their seats, waiting for me to stop watching the class so they could return to their phones. Finally, one student raised his hand. “How is this going to work?” he asked. 

My junior English class had spent time researching different education issues. We had held whole-class discussions surrounding school reform issues and also practiced one-on-one discussions. Next, they would create podcasts in small groups, demonstrating their ability to communicate about the topics—the project represented a culminating assessment of their ability to speak about the issues in real time.

Even with plenty of practice, the task proved daunting to students. I watched trial runs of their podcasts frequently fall silent. Unless the student facilitator asked a question, most kids were unable to converse effectively. Instead of chiming in or following up on comments, they conducted rigid interviews. They shuffled papers and looked down at their hands. Some even reached for their phones—an automatic impulse and the last thing they should be doing.

Read more. [Image: Adam Fagen/Flickr]

Quote IconWe have snipers all around the stadium, just in case something were to happen. Like I said, do whatever it is you normally do. But approach the President, and we go for the kill shot. Are we clear?
A secret service agent • Warning Mr. Met—the mascot of the New York Mets—not to get close to President Clinton during a 1997 baseball game in which Clinton spoke. AJ Mass, the man inside the suit at the time, wrote about this experience in a new book, because who wouldn’t? (via shortformblog)

progressive-politics:

Excerpts: 

This time four years ago Rick Scott was a stranger to Floridians. Then he spent $73 million on his first political campaign and rode an angry voter wave to the Governor’s Mansion. For Florida, this has been a hostile takeover by the former CEO of the nation’s largest hospital chain. In three years Scott has done more harm than any modern governor, from voting rights to privacy rights, public schools to higher education, environmental protection to health care. One more legislative session and a $100 million re-election campaign will not undo the damage.

This is the tin man as governor, a chief executive who shows no heartfelt connection to the state, appreciation for its values or compassion for its residents.

In Scott’s Florida, it is harder for citizens to vote and for the jobless to collect unemployment. It is easier for renters to be evicted and for borrowers to be charged high interest rates on short-term loans. It is harder for patients to win claims against doctors who hurt them and for consumers to get fair treatment from car dealers who deceive them. It is easier for businesses to avoid paying taxes, building roads and repairing environmental damage.

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We can talk about baseball. Talk about politics. Sure, this country has a black president, but when you look at a black president, President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all of the Republicans with the way he’s treated.

We have moved in the right direction, and there have been improvements, but we still have a long ways to go in the country. The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.

Baseball Legend Hank Aaron on TPM

"The Republican leader of one of Florida’s most populous urban centers was asked this week why his party was faring so poorly among voters in the area. His answer was that government-loving "semi-socialist" Puerto Ricans are moving in and changing things for the worse."

Told you so? It’s a vicious cycle of a culture of intolerance in the Republican Party. Many things can be said and argued about this line of thought, but what it all boils down to is: if you’re Puerto Rican, Hispanic, or anything different than their concept of the norm, you are not welcome in the Republican Party. Some of this intolerance has even given birth to policy in Florida such as drug testing for welfare recipients and eliminating Hispanic from voter rolls. These and others are all based on hatred and discrimination, not legitimate governmental concerns.

I’m pleased to have stood against it.