Widgets The Good Place (Michael L. Umphrey on gardening, teaching, and writing)

"Peace is not an absence of war; it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice. - Benedict Spinoza."

The failures of NCLB are blamed on free markets?
     Strange times

Diane Ravitch has a silly post today on the relevance of the business model for the nation’s schools. “As the free market lies in shambles around us, bringing down with it many people’s life savings, I wonder if its advocates in the education arena will stop and reconsider whether they are importing free-market chaos and free-market punishments into the lives of children?”

It doesn’t ring true.

The banking crash is an illustration of the centralized collusion of big business and big government. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mae are Government Sponsored Enterprises and they functioned quite well at transmitting the will of some powerful congressmen into the banking industry, pushing for bad loans that provided political gain. Among Ravitch’s complaints is this: “And, of course, we must measure relentlessly, shaming and humiliating those teachers whose students are not constantly getting ever higher test scores. Test scores, I suppose, are the equivalent of a sales target or profit margins.” But of course, they are no such thing.

They are, rather, corrupted measures imposed by government bureaucrats through NCLB. They are more like the fantasy goals of soviet agriculture imposed by Stalin’s five year plans than they are the measures parents who were free to choose schools and schools that were free to serve a market would create.

We live in increasingly Orwellian times when the absurdities of centralized government are blamed on free markets.

Posted by Michael L Umphrey
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2008 Michael L. Umphrey

Beside the sumac
     Autumn gardening during the cold civil war

Sumac, Umphrey's gardens

I put on a heavy sweater to plant spring bulbs. Pink tulips, white tulips and every color of hyacinth. It’s a way of looking past winter, which I feel on my cheeks, in my legs, and hear in the cold tonality of the election fight this year.

The ground is not yet frozen. The dahlias are black and fallen, the peonies still green.

One of my designs is to divide the pinkest peony, the fragrant one, when it goes dormant. I have a hedge of red peonies that bloom earlier that I want to move back, to make room for pink peonies and lilies in front of it, so when the red peonies fade in June the blooms will continue. I pause at a wilted bug bane and wonder again what I might plant around it. Dwarf asters?

Through the cooling weekend, I plot a thousand little things, a small swirl of intentions, lifting and settling moments of color, drifts of scent in a distant summer I build from memory.

Am I dreaming or remembering? I look at the red sumac, bleeding or flaming with something too doomed for defiance, too lovely for defeat.

Posted by Michael L Umphrey
(0) CommentsPermalinkPrinter-FriendlyE-mail this page
2008 Michael L. Umphrey

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