Category: Politics

I woke up this morning and put my black t-shirt on. Today is June 4th, or 六四/ liusi, as the Chinese call it. I was considering joining in the annual 6/4 candle light vigil…

China Politics

I just finished David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5000 Years. It’s the best critique of capitalism I’ve yet read – jabbing at both the left and the right. For the…

Culture Development Economics Politics

Economics Education Inequality Philippines Politics

I spent all day Saturday at the Comparative Education Society of Hong Kong 2013 Conference at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The theme was “Educational Reform and Social Change: East-West Dialogue.” I had originally planned to present some of my research findings, but changed titles to present instead on “Situation in Resilience in the Context of Educational Reform: Lessons for Planners and Curriculum.”

I’ve been intrigued by the idea of adaptive cycles, and thought I could argue that the the rise and fall Michelle Rhee‘s reforms in the DC school district could be seen in that context. This starts by seeing the conditions of school failure and concurrent entrenchment of old regime actors as being an educational system in “late K” – unable to adapt to increasing demands for higher performance, and the costs of maintaining the system extremely high (externalized to student learning, morale throughout the system, paying for entrenched but ineffective teachers and administrators). This created the conditions for a release stage with the election of a mayor who ran on a platform of comprehensive reforms of the school district.

During a short reorganization phase, old actors were politically marginalized while new school district chancellor Rhee set in motion sweeping, radical reforms. She made it to a growth stage, pushing ever more radical (in comparison to the prior regime) reforms and firing hundreds of teachers.  But popularity for the reforms plummeted and the system went back into a release phase, where the old regime actors took over the system again when the mayor lost re-election. A few years later, we’re either in the conservation or growth stage of a hybrid system with some of Rhee’s reforms still in place.

America Complexity Education Politics Resilience

During my undergraduate studies I met a religious philosophy scholar that I clicked with instantly. We would often chat after class and I remember telling him the history of my own faith: that I was once deeply religious, but it was a conspiratorial and anti-intellectual strain of Christianity, and when I came to disbelieve I went completely in the other direction and became a militant atheist. It took a few years to nuance that path to where I now consider myself almost militantly agnostic – going from absolutely knowing that God did or did not exist to clearer understanding of the limits and abilities of reason and science, which offer no real answers to those questions. He nodded his head and said, “the opposite of shallow is still shallow.” Touché. It wasn’t surprising that a shallow religious faith made way to an equally shallow reactionary atheism. A misguided faith led to misguided critique.

I’m reminded of that truism while listening to Mark Lynas’ new no-holds-barred defense of genetic engineering of food (GMO). He spoke for thirty minutes and I don’t recall hearing a single warning or criticism of anything related to genetically engineering our food supply. Why? Because, he says, “he learned to read science.” And this is what science says. Those who argue against GMO have “views [that] are not supported by science” like he does. Take a moment and think of any social policy issue that involves scientific research where the research comes down completely in favor of one side of an issue – especially an issue so complex as to involve every member of our species, either through producing or consuming.

Development Economics Politics

Politics

Above is a photo a friend put on Facebook, below is a comment. This has become a very common message on the American right. It’s always come across as one…

Culture Politics