We got Shanghied:
The Program for International Student Assessment released their scores earlier this month, and U.S. students barely passed the average mark. In fact, math scores were below average. Science and reading scores only beat the spread by a couple of points apiece. Who’s the big winner, you ask? Shanghai, China. Students from Shanghai outperformed every other country in the world in every single category by a wide margin. You know that stereotype about the Chinese being good at math? Turns out they’re good at everything. Keep in mind that Shanghai is a magnet city for the most intelligent kids in China. Still, the United States isn’t a C student. Maybe if we took a page from the educational systems of Finland, South Korea, and, yes, China, we could put the A back in America.
He matched his method to the moment:
One of the greatest American diplomats in decades, Richard Holbrooke died following surgery to repair a torn aorta. Holbrooke came to public prominence in 1995 after spearheading the Dayton Accords that ended the Bosnian War. He later served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and, most recently, as point man in the Afghan-Pakistani war zone. Holbrooke’s career spanned more than four decades. According to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, “He was the consummate diplomat, able to stare down dictators and stand up for America’s interests and values even under the most difficult circumstances.” Ever the diplomat and public servant, Holbrooke’s last words to his surgeon were, “You’ve got to end this war in Afghanistan.”
Number one in football and in hunger:
The working poor in the Birmingham area are facing bigger problems than ever this year. Poverty rates (the percentage of families making $22,050 or less per year) have jumped across the board, going from 13.8 percent in 2008 to 16.5 percent this year in Jefferson County alone. Alabama, the ninth poorest state in the country, with a 16.6 percent poverty rate, and is number one in hunger, with 6.8 percent of households experiencing hunger. It seems obvious the recession hurt Alabama families, but the problems faced by Alabamians can’t be blamed just on the nation’s economy. No matter how you slice it, we’re still one of the most impoverished states in the country. It’s going to take some real work, on the part of the people and the legislature, to permanently fix poverty in Alabama.
Stop the exploitation:
In the limelight right now are victims of sex trafficking. A bill to provide aid to victims of sexual trafficking and provide law enforcement officers the means to track down pimps and traffickers unanimously passed the United States Senate. The bill still needs to pass in the House and, as of press time, there’s no word on its status. According to Sara Jane Camancho, an activist with anti-trafficking groups in Alabama, the bill must pass the House by December 17 or die. Sex trafficking has been called modern-day slavery, and fighting it has been difficult in the past because of the danger involved in coming out for those being exploited. Keep the light shining on this issue and go to www.house.gov and click on “Representatives” on the left of the page to find your representatives. Tell them to vote yes.