Gabriel Arana is a senior editor at The American Prospect. His articles on gay rights, immigration, and media have appeared in publications including The New Republic, The Nation, Salon, The Advocate, and The Daily Beast.
This Sunday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan made his first diplomatic visit to gaffe-land while discussing New Orleans' educational gains on Washington Watch: "The best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina." Duncan later apologized for the comment.
The statement itself isn't really a call for outrage; it was a trite way to tie test-score gains to the mythology of the city's resurgence. I see it as just another excess of the "education speak" that's bandied about, where everything's about "reform," "achievement," "accountability" -- and "wake-up calls."
The Obama administration released its 2011 budget proposal today, which includes a sweeping overhaul of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The Bush-era education law was widely criticized as an "unfunded mandate" that punished struggling schools and encouraged districts to slough off poor-performing students.
Details of the overhaul are sketchy, but it seems the primary focus is to change the funding structure and accountability standards.
This week, plaintiffs in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial began presenting their case before Northern California District Judge Vaughn Walker. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has barred cameras from the courtroom, so most of the information available is coming from reporters or those liveblogging the proceedings. While the trial is not being broadcast, it is still being taped; the defense has sought to have these tapes destroyed, but the judge has refused to.
Anti-gay marriage activists' opposition to live broadcasting the federal challenge to Prop. 8 has little to do with the propriety of cameras in the courtroom and everything to do with setting the agenda.
Judge Vaughn Walker's decision to allow video cameras in his courtroom for the federal challenge to California's Proposition 8 has been temporarily suspended pending a decision by the Supreme Court midweek. Proceedings from the trial, which began Monday, were to be broadcast on YouTube as part of an experimental program in the Ninth Circuit to allow cameras in non-jury civil trials. Prop. 8 proponents have claimed broadcasting the proceedings will lead to harassment of "Yes on 8" campaign staffers.
The proposed bill in the Ugandan Assembly prescribing the death penalty for homosexuality, which was broadly condemned in a Times editorial yesterday, has highlighted the link between American evangelical Christianity and anti-gay extremism in Africa.