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"What I'm taking to the Idaho Senate," a letter from Betty Richardson

The letter below is from Betty Richardson, a candidate for Idaho Senate, District 15:

My dad, Fred Hansen, was a Danish immigrant, a naturalized citizen who loved our country with every fiber of his being. Dad looked like a modern-day Viking. He had a Paul Bunyan physique and a powerful voice that resonated like thunder.

Dad taught me to speak from the heart, to appreciate nature and its bounty, to be thankful for my blessings, to feel compassion for those in need, to honor working men and women, and to fully engage in public life.

Dad passed away 25 years ago, but I still have his hard hat. It is one of my most cherished possessions. It represents Dad’s hard work in the logging camps and lumber mills, work he did to give my brother and sisters and me a brighter future.

When, as a young adult, I thanked Dad for his labors, he replied, “You will thank me by doing this – and more – for your children.” Before someone coined the phrase “pay it forward,” Dad well knew its meaning.

When I am elected to the Idaho State Senate, I will take my Dad’s hard hat with me. It will remain for me an important reminder of the everyday Idahoans who do the work that builds our communities, our state, and our nation.

And I will continue to honor Dad’s legacy by doing all I can, not only for my own children, but for all Idaho’s children.

I ask you to help me succeed in this important endeavor. I ask you to help me raise the critical funds to win my race. And I ask you to join me, this Father’s Day, in honoring all those who work for a living.

Idaho’s breadwinners – men and women alike – deserve our thanks and our support. Let’s work together to “pay it forward.”

Yours Truly,

Betty

Please click here to contribute today.  read more »

Warming Climate Could Significantly Change Boise and Spokane Aquifer

Crossposted on Daily Kos

Also republished by Climate Hawks and DK GreenRoots.

People tend to focus on the here and now. The problem is that, once global warming is something that most people can feel in the course of their daily lives, it will be too late to prevent much larger, potentially catastrophic changes. - ELIZABETH KOLBERT, The New Yorker, Apr. 25, 2005

A new study has found that a warming climate could decrease the water in the aquifer for both the Spokane River and Boise River basins, which provide drinking water for much of Idaho and parts of eastern Washington.

Civil engineering researchers Venkataramana Sridhar and Xin Jin simulated more than 100 different climate change modeling scenarios to evaluate how changes in precipitation, temperature, soil moisture and timing of snow melt would affect the aquifer during the next 50 years.

RiverScene300x300

The results showed that from 2010 to 2060:

Changes in temperature for the Treasure Valley region could range from an average increase of 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit, or a half a degree per decade. Precipitation could increase an average of four inches; however, some models showed precipitation rates could range from a 3 percent decrease to a 36 percent increase.

In the Spokane River basin, changes in temperature could range from an average increase of 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit, or a half a degree per decade. Precipitation could increase an average of 5 inches; however, some models showed precipitation rates could actually decrease up to 6 percent or increase 17 percent.

Snow melt timing is predicted to shift to 2-3 weeks earlier, with the peak melt occurring during April instead of May, which could change hydrological patterns. Increased stream flows and aquifer recharge sequences also could change.

The results of the study appear online in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association.

“The warmer temperatures could trigger more precipitation to fall as rain instead of snow in the mountains, which means less gets into the groundwater and ultimately the aquifer,” said Sridhar, a Boise State University professor of civil engineering. “In terms of peak flows, the high flows in the future will probably be higher than historic high flows, with it being earlier than now. Notably, the low flows are expected to be lower than historic low flows.”

To conduct the study, the researchers simulated the basin-scale hydrology by coupling the downscaled precipitation and temperature outputs from many global climate models and the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). The researchers said knowing the possible hydrological impacts on the aquifer and watershed due to climate change will help policy makers in their decision-making process.

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) in Idaho, as well as seed funding provided by the U.S. Geological Survey through the Water Resources Research Act.

Two thousand scientists, in a hundred countries, engaged in the most elaborate, well organized scientific collaboration in the history of humankind, have produced long-since a consensus that we will face a string of terrible catastrophes unless we act to prepare ourselves and deal with the underlying causes of global warming. - AL GORE, speech at National Sierra Club Convention, Sept. 9, 2005

Here is the link to the original press release.

Democrats Outraise Republican Money in (drumroll) ... Idaho!!!

Crossposted on Daily Kos

Here is a fun stat for the week:

In a state where Republicans control 81 percent of the Legislature and all statewide and congressional offices, the Democratic party outraised the GOP in 2011 and 2012, $218,000 to $161,000, according to Dan Popkey of the Idaho Statesman.

Popkey attributes this fundraising lag to the fact that GOP chair Norm Semanko, who is stepping down, was distracted as he focused on a failed effort to get himself elected Eagle mayor; and his lawyer/lobbying practice.

So who will be able to step in and get the job done for the Good Ol Boys Party?

The fight over who will chair the party is a proxy for the ongoing battle between Gov. Butch Otter’s establishment wing and ultraconservatives and libertarians who think the GOP’s gone soft. It’s also about positioning for 2014, when Otter may seek a third term and could face a challenge from a popular upstart, freshman Congressman Raul Labrador.

At least 15 names have been floated, including three bigfoots — Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, House Speaker Lawerence Denney and first lady Lori Otter.

Will the Idaho Republican Party be able to find a unifier who can raise money as its chair, in the midst of so many internal GOP squabbles?

Republicans are looking for any excuse to stall or kill domestic violence legislation

The federal reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act has fallen victim to political bickering, with the House of Representatives and the Senate refusing even to consider the versions passed by each other, the Idaho Statesman reports.

Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo, a sponsor of the Senate version, said it was pure gridlock, and he's not sure how the standoff will be resolved. "I think there's a bit of a stare-down going on there with the House leadership and the Senate leadership," Crapo said in an interview. ... The gridlock is another sign of Congress' inability to do much of anything but bicker this year. This is the third time the Violence Against Women Act has been up for reauthorization since 2000 and it has never been controversial before. The landmark 18-year-old law includes measures to help victims of sexual assault and domestic violence; among other things it provides short-term housing for abused women and grants for law enforcement staffing and training.

Here is the background:

A critical federal measure to assist victims of domestic violence has passed in the United States Senate in March. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo joined with Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) in introducing the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), S. 1925.

“I am a long-time champion of the prevention of domestic violence because I have seen the impact of this abuse in Idaho,” Crapo said. “The Act provides critical services to victims of violent crime, as well as agencies and organizations that provide important aid to those victims.”

Crapo noted that VAWA has been the centerpiece of the nation’s commitment to end domestic, dating and sexual violence for nearly eighteen years. The measure provides access to legal and social services for survivors of domestic violence, and provides training to law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, attorneys and advocates to address these crimes in our nation’s communities.

“Last year in Idaho, twenty-two people were killed by a domestic partner,” Crapo added. “Approximately one in three adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner. Nearly one in ten high school students nation-wide were hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend. Future tragedies must be prevented. While we may not all agree on the specifics of this reauthorization, all of us agree that we must end domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in the United States.”

The widely-supported legislation, which passed the senate 68 to 31, improves existing programs to address evolving needs in the fight against domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. VAWA provides tools to prevent domestic violence homicides by supporting training to those law enforcement officers, victim service providers and court personnel who are working on the frontlines to eliminate domestic violence. The legislation also promotes accountability to ensure that federal funds are used for their intended purposes, and consolidates programs and reduces authorization levels to address fiscal concerns while focusing on the programs that have been the most successful.

The House version took direct aim at immigrant victims:  read more »

Vaginal Microbes Vary Over Time Among Healthy Women

Crossposted on Daily Kos

"Who knew that Idaho would be a hotbed of vaginal research?" -blogger CJB in the comments on Daily Kos.

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Scientists Hope Research is Starting Point for Personalized Medicine for Women

The delicate balance of microbes in the vagina can change drastically over short periods of time in some women, while remaining the same in others, according to a new joint study by the University of Idaho and the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Institute for Genome Sciences.

The scientists believe these microbes affect a woman’s susceptibility to infection and other diseases, so such changes might also mean that the risk of infection varies over time. Researchers hope further study will lead to personalized medicine for women, allowing doctors to tailor each woman’s treatment and health maintenance strategies to her individual microbial make-up. The study was published online May 2, 2012, in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

“Our findings pave the way for organizing women into groups based upon the type of microbes they have in the vagina over time,” said Larry Forney, University of Idaho professor in biological sciences and director of the Institute for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Studies. “Each group could receive personalized therapies tailored to the make-up of their vaginal microbial community.”

Researchers used advanced genomics and bioinformatics technology to analyze the vaginal microbes found in 32 women over time. The work was a collaboration led by Forney and Jacques Ravel, associate professor of microbiology and immunology and co-director of the Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The research marks the first time genomics technologies have been used to examine vaginal microbial communities over time.

“The University of Idaho is extremely proud of the role Dr. Forney has played in this ground-breaking line of research,” said College of Science Dean Scott Wood. “Dr. Forney and colleagues have built a world-class program at Idaho performing research at the interface of biology, mathematics, statistics and other disciplines, and this program is contributing major new findings of relevance to human health, such as the study described in this paper.”

The study is an example of an emerging field of genomics, the study of the human microbiome. The human microbiome refers to all of the microbes that live on and in the human body. Scientists believe these tiny organisms interact closely with the human genome and play a critical role in human health and disease. In the vagina, these communities of microbes play a critical role in maintaining and promoting a woman’s health and in protecting her against disease. Vaginal microbes provide protection mainly by producing lactic acid to create an acidic environment that is hostile to certain harmful microbes or infection.

In a previous large-scale study, the researchers found five main groups of microbial communities among women, and that the proportion of women in each community varied by ethnicity. They also found that microbial communities that may not offer women optimal protection were more common among Hispanic and black women than they were in Asian and white women.

“Those data highlighted potential ethnic disparities and a need for more personalized medicine,” said Ravel. “The present study builds upon those results. It shows that the types and quantity of microbes found in the vagina can vary slightly or even markedly over short periods of time in some women, while other women show no change. The kinds of changes vary between women and seem highly individualized. Most studies or treatments traditionally are based upon the idea that all women are the same and will react similarly to treatments. But our research shows that each woman seems to have her own ‘healthy’ state.”  read more »

Maria Gonzales Mabbutt will best serve District 12

Maria Mabbutt

Canyon and Gem counties send a strong delegation of legislators to Boise. It’s a full contingent of Republicans and the voting bloc holds significant power. Certainly the local voters wield the most power at the ballot box and there’s opportunity for change in District 12 where the incumbent has held on to his seat for 26 long years.

There’s only one candidate who should be booted out this election season. That’s Robert Schaefer in District 12. He has a worthy opponent: Democrat Maria Mabbutt. - Idaho Press Tribune, Friday, October 22, 2010

"Look what I just found!" the Canyon County Democratic Party Facebook page says regarding the above article. "You need to friend Maria--especially if you live in District 12--that's Nampa from just south of the Boulevard north quite a ways."

Here is her page: Mabbutt 4 Idaho.

I first met Maria Mabutt in early 2008. She is fearless, tireless, and consistent. I have rarely seen Maria without a petition or referendum in her hand for people to sign.

From a discussion on another thread about civility, Mabbutt wrote:

... So GREAT when people talk (respectfully) with each other! I know some/many of us will FIRST look at the integrity/honesty (character) of an individual. EACH of us have to follow our Heart.

I OFTEN share ...(since I am a "Christian") that Jesus rode a donkey (not an elephant), he spent much of his time: 1) with those who were "shunned" by "society" PLUS "blessed" them! and 2) spoke "firmly" to those "in power" - so, as a TRUE Democrat (and "Christian") I think I am on the "right" path...

As a woman and Chicana Activist, I could NOT be a Republican!

For the most part, Democrats' actions are consistent with their words. In my experience (40 years here in Idaho; I am a transplant from Texas) many Republicans' (especially those in positions of "power") words are hollow! Having said this, I DO know and associate with several Republicans, who I respect very much. They are honest, have integrity PLUS are open-minded AND value others and TRULY care about them; most of these inidividuals are NOT in "positions of power!"

Maria Mabutt's character speaks volumes.

Why I Support Betty Richardson for the Idaho Legislature

Betty Richardson

It’s high time the Idaho Legislature started serving the best interests of Idahoans rather than catering to special interests. Idahoans want a stronger economy, better jobs, and public schools that help every child succeed.

High priced lobbyists often have other priorities. But Idaho needs legislators who are dedicated to issues that everyday Idahoans care about. It is time for new leadership. I am running for the state senate to help strengthen Idaho families, protect Idaho communities, and build an economy that works for all Idahoans! - Betty Richardson, Candidate for Idaho Senate, District 15.

In the state senate, Betty will support legislation that will:

* Promote quality public schools

* Increase government accountability

* Help working families

* Promote transparency and accountability in government; and

* Protect and preserve our unique quality of life

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Here's how you can DONATE

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"I will bring to the Idaho Legislature the values I learned from my parents – respect for others, compassion, frugality, honesty and hard work," Betty says. "The people of District 15 will always come first with me, and I will work to consistently represent their interests."

Who is this candidate?

First, take a look at her proven record of public service:

Idaho’s United States Attorney

Nominated by the President and unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate, Betty served as Idaho’s United States Attorney for seven years. As the top federal law enforcement officer in the state, Betty expanded victim’s rights programs, prosecuted drug dealers, and recovered more than seventy-five million dollars in fines which went to help fight crime. She created a highly successful drug education program that reached thousands of Idaho families and worked in partnership with state, local and tribal law enforcement to host Idaho’s first-ever conferences on hate crimes and methamphetamine.

Betty knows that our first responders – firefighters and police officers – are our first line of defense in keeping our neighborhoods and communities safe, and she strongly supports those who serve in these critical public safety roles.

Chairman and Member of the Idaho Industrial Commission

Nominated by Governor Cecil D. Andrus and confirmed by the Idaho State Senate, Betty adjudicated workers’ compensation disputes, reviewed appeals from the Department of Employment, and administered the Idaho Crime Victim’s Compensation Program. Her service on the Industrial Commission was applauded by representatives of business and labor alike: along with her fellow commissioners, she streamlined red tape, implemented a successful mediation program, and improved the administration of justice for those injured on the job.  read more »

Mat Erpelding: Leadership to Move Idaho Forward

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I enjoyed an extensive chat with Mat for about two hours yesterday at the Black Bear Coffee House in Nampa. As a result of our talk, it became clear why so many people are supporting this energetic and dedicated candidate for the Idaho legislature.

An educator, business owner, political activist, high-altitude mountain guide, and former developmental therapist, Mat Erpelding represents the progressive ideologies embodied by the communities in District 19. Mat is an emerging leader in the Idaho Democratic Party, and currently serves as the Ada County Democratic Party Vice Chairman. At the 2012 Frank Church Banquet, Mat was recognized as an Idaho Democratic Party Activist of the Year.

In 2010 Mat was awarded Instructor of the Year from the Wilderness Education

Association for his contributions to experiential education, wilderness ethics and leadership. Mat is passionate about protecting our open spaces and public lands. He believes that access to public lands and wild places is essential to developing strong beliefs in sustainable practices.

Mat believes in the value of collaboration and accountability. He has a long history of taking important leadership risks because he believes that individuals do make a difference. As your representative, he will continue the long tradition of effective and progressive leadership consistent with the standards of District 19 residents. Mat believes that our ethical concerns, our economic woes, our educational system, and our environment are issues that cannot be ignored any longer in Idaho, and he has the vision and the leadership experience to move Idaho forward.

Mat-and-BrianPost

Representative Brian Cronin (pictured with Mat above) Endorsed Mat Erpelding

"Mat will act as a steward for progressive legislation, and has the tenacity required by any Democrat in the Idaho Legislature. Mat has been working to build the party behind-the-scenes for several years, and understands that in Idaho, building a strong Democratic party outside of Ada County is essential. Mat has a breadth and depth of leadership experience that will be beneficial to District 19 and to all of Idaho." - Brian Cronin

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YOUR SUPPORT MAKES A DIFFERENCE. DONATE HERE

Vote for Branden Durst

Who is Branden Durst?

In November 2006, Branden Durst was first elected to the Idaho House of Representatives by beating a long time incumbent. The race was never considered to be in doubt until Durst pulled out the surprise upset of the year. The campaign and what has followed demonstrate Branden's tireless devotion to public service.

Background
Branden Durst was born at St. Luke's Hospital in Boise, Idaho in January of 1980. He was raised in Southeast Boise and attended the local public schools through high school, where he became a third generation graduate of Boise High School. Branden went on to attend Pacific Lutheran University (PLU), where he studied political science, economics, and communication. While at PLU, Branden earned a scholarship for speech and debate. Additionally, Branden worked throughout this time to assist in paying for his college education.

After graduating from PLU, Branden went on to graduate school, first at Kent State University and then to Claremont Graduate University (CGU), studying public policy analysis and international political economy, respectively. Prior to completing his degree at CGU, Branden returned to Boise and began working at Micron Technology in the strategic communication division. He completed his graduate coursework at Boise State University (BSU). During his time at BSU, Branden was awarded a research assistant position in the Department of Economics.

In July of 2006, Branden and his wife Jaime were married in Bayview, Washington. Branden is the proud father of three boys, Nicholas (10), Broden (7), and Carter (4) and one daughter, Graciana (3). Branden is the managing partner of Rational Strategy Consulting, a market and policy research firm he operates along with his business partner. The Dursts fellowship at Vineyard Boise where they are puppeteers for the Children's Ministry. Branden enjoys going fishing, and watching international soccer.

Innovative Leadership
Branden's time in the Idaho House of Representatives was marked by his unique ability to think of new ideas to challenges that plague state government as well as his ability to think independently. Branden's supporters and critics agree that his approach to policymaking is unique and thoughtful. Branden credits this to his professional and academic background in policy analysis and a desire to make the right decision, not necessarily the popular one.

In his first legislative session, Branden was the only member of the House Business Committee to oppose legislation that would have mandated that individuals give results from DNA tests to insurance companies so that they could be used against them in setting rates. Despite being a relative newcomer, Branden's independence and thoughtfulness were on full display as he led the charge in the House to defeat this intrusive policy. This was only one of many other examples where Branden has shown his unique qualities that make him an innovative leader.

In the 2010 legislative session, Branden once again demonstrated his knack for innovation. In this case, Branden was the co-author and co-sponsor of the Mastery Advancement Pilot Project (MAPP). MAPP was designed as a completely voluntary program to assist gifted students accelerate through course curriculum at their pace. The program was widely accepted and acclaimed as, "the most innovative education concept to hit the Statehouse since the late 1990s (Idaho Press Tribune Editorial, March 7, 2010)." MAPP was passed with large, bipartisan margins in both the House and the Senate. The process Branden went through in the development of MAPP is a perfect illustration of his commitment to bipartisanship.

Branden served on three standing committees in the House; Education, Business, and Health & Welfare. In addition, Branden's expertise in the technology sector was utilized as an appointed member of the Information Technology Resource Management Council, the State of Idaho's primary IT strategy group.

For more information, including Durst on the issues, see: durstforidaho.com

Twitter: @DurstforIdaho

Donate Here and help Idaho's working families have a voice in Boise!

When Native Tongues Go Silent. Idaho State Moves Toward Solutions

Crossposted on Daily Kos and on The JHub

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Cherokee:

Yigaquu osaniyu adanvto adadoligi nigohilvi nasquv utloyasdi nihi

(May the Great Spirit's Blessings Always Be With You)

Ea Nigada Qusdi Idadadvhn

(All My Relations In Creation)

Lakota:

Wakan Tankan Nici Un

(May the Great Spirit walk with you)

Ho! Mitakuye Oyasin

(We Are All Related)

"Languages around the world are disappearing at a fantastic rate, especially indigenous languages in areas where European nations took control," - Beverly Klug, Idaho State University education professor.

According to Marianne Mithun, author of The Languages of Native North America, there are languages with no clear distinction between nouns and verbs, and languages that can give tense and conditionality to adjectives. We have languages that use different pronouns for a 'we' that includes the person being addressed, and a 'we' that excludes that person.

How can we retain a record of people here on Earth who have created alternative linguistic structures that are even more unfamiliar to English speakers? How can educators open minds to the astonishing variety of ways human verbal communication can be categorized and organized?

I first met Beverly Klug in 2004 when I began a stint of teaching for four years at Idaho State University. We had a vibrant exchange on topics from literature in the classroom to the rampant discrimination against Native Americans that was evident in Southeast Idaho.

That is why I was delighted to see her as one of the organizers of a "Symposium on Indigenous Languages: Retention and Revitalization," geared to increase discussion and awareness of the issues concerning indigenous language loss, April 10-12 in the Rendezvous Complex Suites A-C.

Even though federal legislation exists protecting Native languages and Executive Orders have been issued by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama reiterating that language and culture are to be part of the education provided for American Indian children in the United States, this information is widely unknown or afforded in public schools. Speakers will provide many answers concerning this area of inquiry for those who attend, with opportunities for discussion for participants.

The symposium's original speaker lineup has changed and the schedule below reflects those changes. Reservations for the April 11 luncheon need to be made by April 3 to Rebecca Clover at 282- 2629 or clovrebe@isu.edu before April 3.  read more »

Language and Racism: Cross Talk in Composition Theory

Crossposted on Daily Kos

A teacher is always a Utopian - Victor Villanueva

In this video, Victor Villanueva discusses structural racism and its implications for language education. I love his work, ideas, and approach, and how they weave seamlessly into the third edition of Cross-Talk in Comp Theory.

I first met Victor while teaching and doing research at Washington State University in 1997. I became enamored of his classic, Bootstraps, a work which helped broaden my vision and eventually reshape my paradigm as an academic of color. The memorable conversations include his mention of the many scholars he knew who considered themselves experts in Marx -- but who'd never had a cup of coffee in a working-class home -- as well as other insights.

That is why I was delighted when he published the third edition of Cross-Talk. The book maintains the historical perspective of previous editions while continuing to provide insights on the relatively new discipline of composition studies. Villanueva recruited the expertise of Kristin L. Arola to flesh out the discussion on composition and technology. According to the scholars, "the quick movement of the paradigm--from the personal computer to local-area networks to the rise of social networking--suggests the need to recall the talk and the cross-talk concerning computers and their products for composition."

The challenges of dealing with basic writers can sometimes seem overwhelming. English faculty meetings can be mind-numbing, and departmental administrative toil can leave little time or energy for sharing a vibrant intellectual life with colleagues. So the concept and practice of Cross-Talk gives me access to an empowering social dialogue. There is strength in numbers, and with the book in hand and ideas in mind, I am no longer alone in front of that classroom, or when grading papers. Instead, I am part of a larger, dynamic conversation with the brightest minds in the field (past and present), as well as students and scores of other instructors.

The joy of continually returning to this text brings me close to colleagues from around the world in this discourse community. The landmark articles in the book, by major figures such as Donald Murray, Janet Emig, Walter Ong, Sondra Perl, Mike Rose, and Patricia Bizzell have been a great influence on my teaching, as well as on the field itself. They are joined by the works of other trailblazing scholars such as Peter Elbow and Richard Ohmann. Villanueva also incorporates texts by key names within comp's conversations on technology, including Adam Banks, Cynthia Selfe, and Kathleen Blake Yancey.

Villanueva, now chair of the English Department at Auburn University, writes.

In a very real sense, Cross-Talk is intended as a historical artifact, a way of tracking theoretical discussions in a field that continues to find itself forming its theoretical foundations. Even the givens of comp—writing as process—are contending with cross-talk, like post-process theory. It’s hard to track the history we’re in.

Finally, another trend speaks to my soul:

The other big change in composition studies—at least in our journals—has been the increased presence of writers of color and the greater acceptance of critical pedagogy. As I point out in the final essay to this volume, writers of color are still not present in this profession in the kinds of numbers that would affect our discussions on racism in truly meaningful ways, but something did happen in the second half of the 1990s: the beginnings of rich discussion on racism clearly centered on the concerns of this profession (a somewhat different set of discussions on racism from those which took place in journals like College English at the beginning of the second half of the twentieth century).

Cross-Talk is a collection that continues to provide new and experienced teachers and scholars with avenues for problem solving. It has been a core text in my library as I face the challenges, controversies, and ever-shifting currents within this rich and ever-evolving field: the teaching and learning of composition.

John McGee Has Resigned Over Sexual Harrassment Allegations

UPDATED 8:50 a.m. 12/24/12

Crossposted on Daily Kos

At about 3:00 p.m. I received a note from an offical at the statehouse with the words above.

He told me that a press conference was coming shortly.

Dustin Hurst of the Idaho Reporter is "reporting that Senator JOHN McGEE is resigning." A Press Conference was called at 3:30 p.m.

I had written blogs including Is the Media Drinking the Party Line on John McGee? last July.

And Boise's Channel 2 confirmed that the sexual harrassment allegations were by a female staffer.

Here is the story on KTVB.

BOISE -- Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter says Senator John McGee has submitted a letter to resign from the Idaho Legislature. Otter told The Associated Press that McGee, a four-term senator from Caldwell, submitted the letter Wednesday morning.

McGee had been the caucus chairman, the fourth ranking post in the Senate.

The resignation caps a difficult year for McGee. He was arrested in June and a month later pleaded guilty to drunken driving in a deal that erased accompanying auto theft charges. He served jail time and paid restitution for damaging the vehicle. At the start of the 2012 session, McGee apologized to his colleagues for his actions and survived efforts calling for him to step down from his leadership post.

According to the Idaho Statesman:

McGee resigned Wednesday after allegations of sexual harassment involving a Senate attache who is not a minor, Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill said. The attorney general is reviewing the case, Hill said.

On Saturday, Hill said he received a confidential allegation of sexual harassment from a female Senate employee. He said he asked the Senate secretary to investigate the allegation. The employee is on paid leave. Hill did not say what the alleged harassment was or when it occurred.

Hill said his first priority is providing, “a safe, secure and professional environment for Senate employees.”

Since the Idaho GOP chose to "Stand by Their Man" after he got drunk, stole a car, and wrecked it -- the story now reads like a tragic comedy. And it was a woman, after all, who finally took him out!  read more »

Travis Manning to Run for Idaho Legislature in Canyon County

Crossposted on Topix.com

Travis Manning, author of the article below Why do Idaho charter schools have 10% fewer Brown students than White? announced his candidacy for the open legislative seat in District 10, Canyon County. Speaking last night at a gathering of Democrats at the Caldwell Public Library, he detailed his reasons for stepping into the fray, including the fact that "absolute power corrupts absolutely," referring to the antics of the Idaho GOP.

Travis Manning pic (2)"

Travis' platform also includes strategic action against the regressive policies of State Superintendent of Education Tom Luna. He would fill the seat left by the late Pat Takasugi.

Travis Manning is currently an English teacher at Vallivue High School. He is executive director of The Common Sense Democracy Foundation, an Idaho grassroots think tank formed in June 2011 in response to radical education reform measures in Idaho. He is a member of the Idaho Council of Teachers of English and active participant with the Boise State Writing Project. Travis is active in his local teacher’s union where he has led and been engaged in numerous committees. In 2011 he spoke out at the Idaho House and Senate Education Committee hearings in support of Idaho public schools, and has since published a number of editorials across the great state of Idaho supporting the voices of all Idaho citizens. He supports the needs of all learners in public schools and works hard in his teaching to reach out to help struggling students. He is an advocate for parents and teachers, believing that they are critical stakeholders in the success of Idaho’s children, despite being largely ignored by the Idaho legislature in 2011. Travis has taught high school English and Journalism for seven years in Caldwell, Idaho, and two years of middle school before that in Salt Lake City. Most recently, Travis gave up coaching high school wrestling, one of his great loves, in order to advocate for parents, teachers and students in Idaho governmental affairs.  read more »

Why do Idaho charter schools have 10% fewer Brown students than White?

By Travis Manning

On Monday, January 16, our nation celebrated the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a charismatic albeit imperfect human being.

Born on January 15, 1929, on the eve of the Great Depression, King was a man vested in freedom for all Americans, especially Blacks: freedom from segregation, freedom from bigotry, freedom from racism.

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court declared, in Brown v. the Board of Education, that establishing separate public schools for Black and White students was unconstitutional. This historic, unanimous decision (9 – 0), declared that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

Brown overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 which allowed for state-sponsored segregation, a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus to a white woman. King, a Baptist minister and growing force in the South, led the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, sparked by Parks. In 1957 he became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a powerful, grassroots force that fought for Black freedom and civil rights.

In the 1960’s, the term “colored” still had an entirely different meaning from now. If you were “colored,” it meant you drank from a different water fountain, ate in a different part of the restaurant, and watched a picture show from the nosebleed section of the theater.

Today, surprisingly, there is a movement afoot to allow for “separate educational facilities” in our schools. And it’s important that Idaho citizens are reminded, more than 50 years after Brown, of the potential ramifications of “separate educational facilities.”

King understood the importance of freedom and desegregated schools and the value of communities and ethnicities assimilated into one, beautiful melting pot.

Idaho does not have many Blacks, only .6 percent of the state’s population – but, Idaho does have many Brown. The 2010 Census reports the Hispanic population in Canyon County, for example, is 23.9 percent.

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One component of “separate educational facilities” could be charter schools. Inadvertently, charter schools could undo gains made for minorities, if charters are not totally, operationally transparent.

The Idaho State Department of Education cites that in 2007 state charter public schools had 3.78% Hispanic students and 92.82% White students. Whereas, their public school counterparts had 13.78% Hispanic students and 81.9% White students.

Why do Idaho charter schools have 10% fewer Brown students than White?

Is this “White flight” from Idaho’s public schools?

Couched in the option of so called “school choice,” there is potential to regress into a political and cultural status once held decades ago.

Segregation was once legal, a conviction that celebrated oneness and sameness in the name of so called freedom and opportunity.

Segregation was, however, choice gone awry.

So what is really meant by “school choice”?

Are our Brown brothers and sisters as aware of the same “school choice” options as our White brothers and sisters?

What would Dr. King say about so called “school choice”?

Travis Manning is Executive Director of The Common Sense Democracy Foundation, an Idaho citizen think tank, and can be reached at Manning_Travis@hotmail.com.

Idaho Dance Theatre's Winter Show is a True Delight

Crossposted on Daily Kos

Also republished by DKOMA.
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A bunch of cute gals chase a guy to the left, screaming. The same bunch of fiesty women then chase a guy to the right, screaming and waving their arms. The guys dance, skillfully moving like Elvis in his prime. The gals dance, twisting and turning artfully, as if in a scene from Grease. The scene is tasteful, anachronistic, and warmly inviting. So began an evening of exciting, innovative choreography featuring the work of Carl Rowe and Marla Hansen, Co-Artistic Directors of the Idaho Dance Theatre and guest choreographer, Lauren Edson.

Idaho Dance Poster

It was a delighful opening to the IDT’s winter show, which I caught this weekend at Boise State University. The performance includes dance with poetry, music and film weaved through, as if it were a tapestry. The program demonstrates stunning virtuosity in works that effectively utilize the the considerable abilities of the dancers. Good dancers look best in good choreography, and Hansen and Rowe provide that. The show also relies on an underexposed music score by excellent composers. An artistic balance is wisely struck, and the audience is allowed to remain engaged since the myriad of profound and complex ideas presented are never taken past tolerance.

The first piece, “Love Hurts”, is built around love themes, punctuated by somewhat minimalist background stage art. The opening set, "Gone, Gone, Gone" - Teeny Bopper Love, featured dancers Gonzalo Valdez and Eric Glenn. The second scene, "Sister Rosetta Goes Before U"– Lost Love, is graced by the poise and authenticity of dancers Shantyl Betty, Elizabeth Henscheid, Sayoko Knode, Lia Mrazek, and Caitlin Stanley. The group achieves a cohesiveness that compliments the music and each individual dancer’s style, forming a holistic visual experience.

Two pieces, “Nothin” -Angry Love and Trampled Rose, by themselves are worth whatever you pay to see this show. In the first, we are treated with Yurek Hansen’s amazing dance abilities in movement choices that constantly ebb and flow with the music score. Hansen is at times totally still, at times en adagio. Then within a microsecond he explodes across the stage with exceptional movement choices and skill. Nothin-Angry Love, requires significant virtuosity and timing. IDT dancers Yurek Hansen, Elizabeth Henscheld, Sayoko Knode, and Lia Mrazek literally nailed it. Intensely kinetic, the work consists of non-stop energy with stunning duets and a compelling storyline.

The subsequent works, “Silent Past”, choreographed by guest Lauren Edson, and “How Things Are” choreographed by Carl Rowe contain the requisite level of development to maintain performace life. They feature wonderful music, diverse costumes, and unpredictable choreography. Timing is crisp and the variations are nuanced.

The IDT dancers owned the afternoon. Read more on the Idaho Dance Theater at Idahodancetheatre.org.  read more »

Young People's Pavilion: High Quality Black Children's Books

Originally posted to Daily Kos Readers and Book Lovers.
Also republished by Black Kos community and Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter.
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Studies like The All White World of Children's Books and African American Children's Literature chronicle how it was not until fairly recent history that a positive Black presence was seen in children's literature.

In the past, when Black or African ideas and people were found, the depictions were often stereotypical. The expressions of Black culture in supposedly innocent children's books perpetuated prejudicial attitudes. For example, the story of Babar the elephant smacked of colonialism. An African elephant was civilized under the custodial leadership of a French caregiver in the wake of the murder of his mother by the "hunter." The elephant in turn favors Egyptian (Arab, Coptic) culture and civilizes his jungle kingdom. His African (Black) rival is bestial.

But my years of writing and literary travels have found me fortunate enough to meet and work with two pioneers who have done a great deal toward solving this problem. I first met Wade and Cheryl Hudson in the early 1990s at conferences such as the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English.

If you’re familiar with Black children’s book publishing, then you might know why Just Us Books was founded. Parents Wade and Cheryl Hudson were tired of searching for books that featured little brown boys and girls, and coming up with the same handful of titles. So they combined their experience in writing, marketing and art direction and launched Just Us Books in 1988 to publish children’s books that celebrate the diversity of Black history, culture and experiences.

Raising their two children in Northern NJ, the Hudsons found it difficult to find quality Black-interest books for children outside of Black History month. The couple decided to fill the void themselves, and went to work developing their own. But publisher after publisher turned the couple down, some outwardly doubting the viability of the Black children's book market. So the Hudsons founded their own publishing company. The success of Just Us Books and their signature brand AFRO-BETS quickly proved doubters wrong.

From the start the company was dedicated to ensuring that high quality books with blacks as the main characters would be available throughout the year—not just during Black History Month. They also worked to provide a creative venue for talented Black writers, illustrators, designers and other professionals; and most importantly to inspiring, encouraging and educating young people through reading by offering books with characters, stories and themes that reflected their lives as young Black people.

In addition to their roles as publishers, both Wade and Cheryl have cultivated dual careers as children's book authors. Wade's books include Jamal's Busy Day; Book of Black Heroes from A to Z; and Powerful Words. Cheryl's titles include Bright Eyes, Brown Skin; Hands Can and My Friend Maya Loves to Dance.

The Hudsons are also partners, with their children Katura and Stephan, in Hudson Publishing LLC, which recently founded Marimba Books, a new multicultural children's book imprint.

When Whites Want Their Victim Status Upgraded

Crossposted (with several very interesting reader comments) on Daily Kos.

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In response to my article: White African Americans, about a white South African trying to sue for racial discrimination,

Ericn wrote:

I was born in Oakland, blond/blue but practically raised black by my friends mothers and families until my father got transferred to Japan in the 60's and I learned what racism was. All of a sudden, at the age of 10, I was a Gaijin, an outsider subject to the full discrimination and hatred of the native population. We were the only foreigners in town and when we went to a bath house in our neighborhood where we were tolerated the first time. On our second visit there was a sign saying no Gaijins allowed. Hand printed in English. I cried all the way home.

... From Japan we moved to the "great melting pot" known as Hawaii. Finally heading back to the USA where every thing would back to normal I thought. Wrong. No longer a Gaijin, I was now a Haolie. In Japan the racism had been endemic and systematic, but without violence but now the game was about to change. In Hawaii my race put me in harms way, I was dragged behind the school and beaten just out of hatred.I just about gagged. There is no "Diaspora" among blacks just as there is no "melting pot" in Hawaii.

When I see statements such as “A white guy cannot be a black guy, because he does not share our history and present context, with all its beauty and pain, joy and suffering Can a white guy be an African American? “ my response is simple. How arrogant can you be? You don’t own it, you’ve just shared in it. You are not alone.

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Ericn,

By the logic you are using, a wealthy white South African, living and working in America, should have his needs addressed by organizations such as:

NSBE - National Society of Black Engineers

The Association of Black Psychologists

National Association of Black Journalists

and others.

Such groups exist to address the unique needs of a specific group of people. Since we cannot be defined by a geographic boundary, blacks exist in Diaspora. You would be hard pressed to find a noted scholar of black, African, or African American Studies who would disagree with this. Please let me know if you find one.

The unique experience of blacks is also intergenerational. There are the things our parents shared and experienced. There are legacies from grandparents, great-grandparents and so on. Good and bad, these were passed on and are part of our heritage. The nuances are infinitely more complex than being raised by or around blacks or being beat up in school; then going on to live as a white person in a white dominant culture.

That's why the Urban League, the world's oldest and largest civil rights organization has a State of Black America Report.

By your logic, all of these support groups are being arrogant. And according to your thinking, as is talked about in the article, a white South African can sue for discrimination as a black person.

There is no diaspora among blacks? You make an interesting claim in that assertion.

Please email that argument to The Center for Black Diaspora at DePaul University.

And you might want to contact the National Black Child Development Institute to let them know how arrogant they are being, to assume that this racially defined group of children may have specific needs (at all levels) that should be addressed.

Finally, please share your ideas with the research scholars in the Black Diaspora Review.

I'd be interested to see that discussion.

Thanks for sharing!  read more »

White African Americans

Can a white guy also be a black guy?

Here is one of my latest Yahoo! columns.

Mitt Romney's Dangerous Advisor

Crossposted on Daily Kos

In No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, Mitt Romney asserts that American strength is essential—not just for our own well-being, but for the world’s. Governments such as China and a newly-robust Russia threaten to overtake us on many fronts, and radical Islam continues its dangerous rise.

Ever wonder what Mitt Romney's foreign policy would be like if he made it to the White House?

An interesting article in the Daily Star points to a dangerous connection:

When it comes to the Middle East, alarms have been raised in some corners over his decision to appoint as his top adviser on the region Walid Phares, a leading figure in right-wing Christian militias during Lebanon’s 1975-1990 Civil War and a former adviser to Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea.

Critics have also focused on Phares' subsequent roles in the United States, where he has served as a “terrorism expert” for Fox News and the Christian Broadcasting Network. During these shows, he has warned that jihadists are the enemy, and that the U.S. must act preemptively to defeat them.

“An adviser on the Middle East should be more sensitive and neutral. Walid Phares is very extreme. He leans toward being an Islamo-phobe,” Warren David, president of the Arab-American civil rights group, the Anti-Discrimination Committee told The Daily Star. “I would think that most Lebanese Christians don’t agree with his viewpoints.

One of my friends summarized the problem: "Advising from the skewed perspective of ancient texts that advocate genocide and plunder and the believe in an eventual Armageddon rather than genuine history with a humane approach to real live people seems dangerous to me."  read more »

Young People's Pavilion: The Poetry of Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Originally posted to Daily Kos Readers and Book Lovers. Also republished by Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter

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"I soar / and fly, but have no wing / I dip / and dive / from a trail / of string." - Rebecca Kai Dotlich

I first met Rebecca Kai Dotlich in the early 90s and had the good fortune of collaborating with here on a few projects.

Her poem "Fiddler from Sassilli Street" appears in my anthology: My Own Song and Other Poems to Groove To.

I love Rebecca's poetry. The language is spontaneous and energetic. It is accessible and musical. Children love it. I rarely leave a language arts classroom experience or staff development session without sharing at least one of her works.

Lemonade Sun

Here are some of Rebecca's collections:

About her work Lemonade Sun: And Other Summer Poems, Booklist said:

Gilchrist's bright, sturdy acrylics work well with these child-friendly poems, simple but graced with the occasional fabulous image: sunflowers as "garden kings / with chocolate eyes" or a firefly as a "Rhinestone in / a jelly jar." Some poems on walking barefoot, dragonflies and bumblebees, and selling lemonade might be more accessible to country children than to city ones, but the joys of jump rope and jacks seem to be universal. The racially diverse cast of children who inhabit these sidewalks and meadows have individual charm; some, such as the titian-haired moppet who peers from behind a sunflower, could be portraits.

One of my favorites is In the Spin of Things: Poetry of Motion. In this book, Rebecca pays poetic tribute to things that shake or slap, whoosh or whirl, swirl or spill in this captivating book of verse. With delightful illustrations by Karen Dugan, these twenty-three poems sparkle with clever imagery and crackle with dazzling wordplay. This is a remarkable collection by a gifted poet to set young imaginations spinning.

When Riddles Come Rumbling: Poems to Ponder includes presents 29 short, descriptive, rhyming poems about everyday ideas and objects such as a telephone, soup, fireworks, a hula hoop, and an octopus, ending with a poet. "Readers must guess what each poem is about and are helped by the realistic pictures that provide a two-inch border around each one. In addition to the riddle element, each picture also contains jumbled alphabet letters that spell out the poem's subject," according to School Library Journal. Karen Dugan's illustrations help readers to ponder the solutions. Finally, answers appear in fine print at the bottom of the copyright page. Children can enjoy these riddle poems either one-on-one or in a group setting.

Also check out Bella & Bean:

Bella wants to write poems.

Bean wants to go for a walk.

Bella wants to write poems.

Bean wants Bella to look at her cute toes.

Could these two best friends be more different? But as Bean's attempt to coax Bella away from her notepad become ever more over the top, Bella finds her poetry taking unexpected twists.

You might be a Bella or you could be a Bean - either way, this sweet, clever tale will remind you there is perfect poetry to mismatched friends.

Booklist said:

Little Bella is a poetry-writing rat. Bean is a fashion-conscious rat. It’s hard to see how they can be best friends when one wants to think about rivers and moons, and the other wants to think about hats. Words like flow, gurgle, and silver are put down on Bella’s pages of poems, but even as she demands peace and quiet to write, she knows she’s missing out on fun with her friend. But Bean’s not one to hold a grudge, and when invited by Bella to sit under the stars and listen to poems, she’s happy to oblige—and thrilled when one of the verses is about her.

This rodent duo is a good example of how opposites attract and can improve each other’s lives. The artwork uses rich shades of gold, teal, and sea green as backgrounds for the very personable rats. Bella & Bean is a nice starting point for a discussion of friendship.

Immersing children in great poetry is an ideal way to start the new year. Thank you, Rebecca, for sharing your song with us all!

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