“Three Lessons from the Science of How to Teach Writing” on Education by the Numbers. This blog provides some scientific evidence from an in-press article by Steven Graham, Karen Harris, and Tanya Santangelo. Using 250 studies on teaching K-12 writing, they provide some tips for more effective writing: spend more time doing it, use the computer, and stop try to give direct grammar instruction. That last bit is my favorite. If you’re still in the drill-and-skill (skill-and-drill?) methods of teaching things like punctuation and verb tenses, please read this.
Jonathan Krohn’s “I was a Right-Wing Child Star” on Salon. Published in July 2012 (so why I am I just now seeing it?!), Krohn discusses the change in perspective he had as he aged. At 13, he spoke at CPAC; at 17 he left the conservatives (who promptly bullied him). I wonder what his political dispositions and thoughts are now, at 19?
Abby Haglage’s “Judge Could Smash Marijuana Law” on The Daily Beast. As awesome as it is that 23 states have some form of legalized marijuana use, and four states + the District of Columbia have officially legalized recreational marijuana use, the results of a case in California could, as Haglage says, “start a legal revolution.” US District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller is reviewing whether or not the DEA’s classification of marijuana as a schedule 1 substance (meaning the most addictive that has no medical use) is valid. Seems about right seeing as so many states are legalizing pot for medical use before they do for recreational use. While Haglage emphases Judge Mueller’s ruling would only apply to the specific case she’s currently reviewing, her decision could be the start of significant changes in marijuana classification and legalization.
Beenish Ahmed’s “The Global Shame of the United States: Why America Elects So Few Women” on ThinkProgress. Ahmed compares the election rates of women in various countries, putting the US at number 85. At the time of Ahmed’s writing, less than 20% of Congress was women, and some countries that we tend to view as more oppressive against women are ranked higher than us (like China, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia). In a country that sees itself as the land of freedom and equal opportunity, this is disheartening.
Eyder Peralta’s “A Win in West Virginia makes Saira Blair State’s Youngest Law Maker” on NPR. I think it’s kind of cool that an 18-year-old is politically active, especially re: my recent post. But this also scares me: a young woman who is privileged enough to be in this position and who has some anti-woman characteristics to her platform (like most woman republicans). I’m curious to follow her time as a politician, especially because its relatively easy to dismiss most political teenagers as simply regurgitating their parents’ perspectives. I can’t decide if I hope this is the case or not.
Deena Shanker’s “Chicken is Killing the Planet” on Salon. Now, this was published in September, but I just saw it in my social media today. Apparently, the USDA has approved a process for US-raised-and-slaughtered chicken to be sent to China for processing and then imported back into the US for sell and consumption. Shanker includes some disgusting facts, like “According to a 2009 USDA study, 87 percent of chicken cadavers tested positive for E. coli, feces’ favorite bacteria, just before they are packaged and sent to a store near you.” I struggle to imagine a world where this is economically practical. And if the goal isn’t for “Big Chicken” to save money in the production process and thus see more profits, what’s the impetus for this? And why, WHY, would the USDA approve this kind of process that relies on self-regulation?
Paul Buchheit’s “5 Disturbing Facts that Show the System is Rigged Against America’s Middle Class” originally published on AlterNet but now also available on Salon. I’m just going to let this gem stand alone: “Here in the U.S., with nearly a third of the world’s wealth, just 47 individuals own more than all 160 million people (about 60 million households) below the median wealth level of about $53,000.” Yowza.
Marcie Bianco’s “There’s a Horrifying Secret Behind Those Trendy Feminist T-Shirts” on Mic. The “trendy” t-shirts apparently cost about 70 USD (what?!) and the workers making them only get paid abut 1 USD per hour. How’s that for labor rights? I’ll just buy a t-shirt and make my own, thanks.
I also finished James Browning’s The Fracking King: A Novel. It follows Winston, a competitive Scrabble player, in his year at Hale Boarding School for Boys, where tap water can be set on fire because of nearby fracking. It was a pretty solid read, but I’m not sure I have enough to say about it to write up a full review. We’ll see after I’ve thought on it a few more days.