Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Skipping standardized tests in 2020 may offer a chance to find better alternatives

  The Education Department is letting states cancel standardized tests. The move is a practical one: School buildings across the nation are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic even though distance learning efforts are widespread.

  As a result, 2020 is the first year without federally mandated standardized testing in nearly two decades. Washington has required all states to use these tests to evaluate students, teachers, principals, schools, and entire school systems, first in accordance with accountability measures shaped by the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act and later under the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act.

Monday, May 25, 2020

The forgotten history of Memorial Day

  In the years following the bitter Civil War, a former Union general took a holiday originated by former Confederates and helped spread it across the entire country.

  The holiday was Memorial Day, and today's commemoration marks the 152nd anniversary of its official nationwide observance. The annual commemoration was born in the former Confederate States in 1866 and adopted by the United States in 1868. It is a holiday in which the nation honors its military dead.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

States should embrace voting by mail and early voting to protect higher-risk populations from coronavirus

  The COVID-19 pandemic poses a substantial threat to U.S. elections, as described in previous reports by the Center for American Progress. Unless officials make significant changes to state election systems before November, Americans who vote or serve as election workers will be forced to put their lives at risk in order to participate in the democratic process. And it is not just voters or election personnel who have good cause for concern. Even those who cannot cast a ballot could become ill by coming into contact with a family member, caregiver, or neighbor who contracts the coronavirus through the voting process.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

As reopening begins in uncertain coronavirus times, you need emotional protective equipment, too

  As millions across the U.S. return to work – and maybe, a level of normalcy – the phrase, “We’re all in this together,” heard constantly in the media, turns out to be both true and untrue. Yes, the pandemic is a global experience. But it’s also very much an individual enterprise.

  Your race, age, socioeconomic status, where you live, and whether or not children are in the house all have a dramatic impact on how you’re responding to the pandemic. For many, aside from the isolation, life has changed little. But others have lost family, friends, a paycheck, or a business. For some of them, any sense of security has vanished.

Friday, May 22, 2020

The evil of drafting women (and men)

  In March, a federal agency named the Commission on Military, National, and Public Service issued an official report on whether America’s system of conscription should continue and, if so, whether women (along with men) should be subject to being drafted should circumstances warrant it.

  After months of study and deliberation, the commission answered yes to both questions.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Here’s how to stay safe while buying groceries amid the coronavirus pandemic

  Here’s how to stay safe while buying groceries amid the coronavirus pandemic

  Wear a mask, but skip the gloves. Don’t sanitize the apples. And if you are older than 65, it’s probably best to still order your groceries online.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Speaker Sam Rayburn and Congressman Bob Jones

  The legendary Speaker of the U.S. House, Sam Rayburn, coined a famous phrase he used often and imparted to young congressmen when they would arrive on Capitol Hill full of vim and vigor. He would sit down with them and invite them to have a bourbon and branch water with him. The old gentleman, who had spent nearly half a century in Congress, after hearing their ambitions of how they were going to change the world, would look them in the eye and say, “You know here in Congress, there are 435 prima donnas and they all can’t be lead horses.” Then the Speaker in his Texas drawl would say, “If you want to get along, you have to go along.”

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

I ate lobster on food stamps and it was delicious

  I was a food stamp kid for a few years in the early 1990s when my mom started college. I remember the first time we went to the H-E-B grocery store on the south side of San Antonio with our stamps. We always drove to a store in the next neighborhood over to shop. My mom had worked at the closest H-E-B when she was pregnant with me. People she went to high school with shopped there and so did her former in-laws. There was no way my mom was going to walk into that store with a wad of food stamps. We felt enough shame that we needed the help without adding in other people’s judgment.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Celebrating the Freedom Riders

  On May 4, 1961, seven Black and six white civil rights activists known as the Freedom Riders boarded a Greyhound bus in Washington, D.C. to travel through the Deep South to test the 1960 Supreme Court decision in Boynton v. Virginia – a ruling that found segregation of interstate transportation, including bus terminals, was unconstitutional.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Essential US workers often lack sick leave and health care – benefits taken for granted in most other countries

  The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the degree to which we depend on the work of others. This is particularly true of essential workers like truck drivers, grocery store employees, and hospital nurses who are ensuring the rest of us stay safe and are able to get the supplies, food, and health care we need.

  The pandemic has also drawn attention to the fact that these workers, like all Americans, do not receive many of the basic workplace benefits and protections – like paid sick leave and basic health care – that workers in almost every other developed country in the world receive as a matter of course.