New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Challenging the Test

May 10, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, David Bacon, Politics

Teachers in Oaxaca Resist the Standardization of Education

by David Bacon

Recently an American Federation of Teachers resolution declared that U.S. public schools are held hostage to a “testing fixation rooted in the No Child Left Behind Act,” and condemned its “extreme misuse as a result of ideologically and politically driven education policy.”  AFT President Randi Weingarten proposed instead that “public education should be obsessed with high-quality teaching and learning, not high-stakes testing.”   In Seattle teachers at Garfield High have refused to give them.

Many Mexican teachers would find these sentiments familiar.  The testing regime in Mexico is as entrenched as it is in the United States, and its political use is very similar — undermining the rights of teachers, and attacking unions that oppose it. (more…)

Reassessing Assimilation

April 26, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Guest Author

Historical Conversations, Lost and Found

by Lori Walsh

What happens when a child is taken away from her family and thrown into a strange environment where the child does not understand any of the angry words spit out at them by would-be caretakers? What happens to children when they are forbidden to express the one and only part that they truly own, the only thing that connects them to their ancestors – their heritage and a sense of where they belong and who they are? Hundreds of thousands of Native American children were forced to attend Indian [sic] boarding schools where they were forbidden to speak their native languages. As a result Native American cultures have suffered grave harm and in some instances this has led to disappeared languages and extinct ways of life. However, a good people cannot be kept down for long and we are in the midst of decades-long and ever-widening resurgence of indigenous languages and heritage. (more…)

Beautiful Hearts

April 24, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Pat LaMarche

For Half the Cost of War, We Could Educate Instead

by Pat LaMarche

One hot August night in 2008, high school senior Alex Motiuk went to his parents and said, “Mom, Dad, there’s something I want to talk to you about,” Leo Motiuk explained with a smile. “As parents of a young son you just wonder what that’s all going to be about.”

18-year-old Alex was worried about a friend from school. Alex feared that she was in trouble, that her life was about to change forever and not for the better. His Blair Academy schoolmate, Shamila Kohestani, had been sent back to her native Afghanistan and would not be able to return to the United States for college. Kohestani, captain of the Afghan girls’ soccer team, had been offered a scholarship at Blair, but at the end of the school year she went home with no prospects for college. (more…)

Stuck in the Pipeline

April 08, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Robert C. Koehler

Reclaiming the Future for Young People … and Us All

by Robert C. Koehler

Are the bad ideas dead yet? You know, the ones that have been hollowing out the country’s soul for the last 30 years.

In Atlanta, they just indicted 35 teachers, principals and administrators, including a former superintendent, for routinely altering their students’ standardized test results — and in all likelihood this massive fraud is an aberration only because the cheaters got caught.

Everything is at stake in these tests, so perhaps it’s dawning on us that fraud — by adults — is inevitable, but there’s a bigger issue here that continues to escape public outrage: The tests are stupid. They measure virtually nothing that matters, but monopolize the classroom politically. Teachers, under enormous pressure, are forced to teach to the tests rather than, you know, teach critical thinking or creative expression; and education is reduced to something rote, linear, and boring. (more…)

Ever Shocked, Never Awed

March 23, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: David Swanson, Economy, Politics

It’s Not Too Late for Reparations and Prevention

by David Swanson

At 10 years since the launch of Operation Iraqi Liberation (to use the original name with the appropriate acronym, OIL) and over 22 years since Operation Desert Storm, there is little evidence that any significant number of people in the United States have a realistic idea of what our government has done to the people of Iraq, or of how these actions compare to other horrors of world history. A majority of Americans believe the war since 2003 has hurt the United States but benefited Iraq. A plurality of Americans believe, not only that Iraqis should be grateful, but that Iraqis are in fact grateful.

A number of U.S. academics have advanced the dubious claim that war making is declining around the world.  Misinterpreting what has happened in Iraq is central to their argument. (more…)

Life Story

March 13, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Economy, Pat LaMarche

A Woman Struggles with Poverty, Race, and Education in America

by Pat LaMarche

I had lunch this week with a woman who was homeless for a number of years. She’s in Section 8 housing now with a slumlord who doesn’t fix what breaks and has ignored the cockroaches that move from rental unit to rental unit easier than a breeze on a cool night. No surprise there, as breezes don’t have legs and the ability to seek out moisture and food.

She’s found two prospective places and hopes to move, but the federal housing inspectors haven’t given her the okay yet, so she struggles to tolerate her home. She reached out to me because she’s in a bit of trouble and she needs some help. (more…)

Homeless Students

February 23, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Pat LaMarche

EPIC Journey Does ‘Reality Check’ with Next Generation of Teachers

by Pat LaMarche

{Editor’s Note: NCV Contributor Pat LaMarche is on a journey to explore homelessness and poverty in the U.S. NCV will post updates from her travels…}

Austin, Texas (home of the University of Texas) gave us the opportunity to speak to scores of social work students about the rapidly rising number of folks with nowhere to live. Our visit early in the week to New Mexico State University likewise gave us an opportunity to discuss two-on-seven with a handful of education doctoral candidates, the world in which they’ll be teaching.

It’s not that every one of the students in either school was hell bent on working with the homeless. But with the number of homeless school children in the nation at more than a million (according to the U.S. Department of Education) and poverty on the rise, if these scholars want to work in the United States, they’re going to be working with the homeless. (more…)