11 Articles
Gary Mays

A bolt action .22 rifle

We learned to shoot in high school.

It was the 1980s, and as an alternative to gym class, any student could, with minimal instruction, be blasting away with a .22 bolt-action rifle in the basement.

Once the rules were read, and some initial range-safety demonstrations given, we were off and shooting within a week. And, for the next few weeks after that. We shot so many rounds, in fact, that teenagers grew bored of it — bored of shooting (real) guns, having grown up shooting imaginary Russians with sticks.

Many of us became excellent shots by the time it was over — some even shooting bull’s-eyes from the hip when the instructor wasn’t looking.

It still seems ludicrous. I’ve often wondered about it as I recount this high school memory to a generation more familiar with metal detectors than the sounds of a platoon of fellow students blasting away.


Is Governor Scott Walker really a Koch whore?
On the heels of his admission that he actually considered dispatching operatives to infiltrate and disrupt the protests against his union-busting budget bill (this was in the prank phone call from a journalist whom Walker believed to be one of the Koch brothers), the real Kochs have leapt to his aid with a new TV ad-buy, an astro-turf support group, and a new right-wing lobbying HQ across the street from Wisconsin’s Capitol building.


At our gracious host’s suggestion, I’ve thrown together a roundup of (hopefully useful, or at least interesting) info on what may be the last stand of the Badger state’s middle and working classes. (All due credit to Meteor Blades and the other folks at Daily Kos, David Dayen at Firedoglake, and the Milton Education Association, Milton WI.)

Jimmy Gabacho

This is also important at a time when universities and colleges are experiencing economic pressure as well as increased competition for high performing students and a demand to provide “practical majors” that will bring a quick return on an educational investment. For a number of years, many of us have contended that students need to build their skills as competent thinkers, readers and writers. Clear thinking, reasoning, expression are necessary skills in any field, and I have yet to hear anyone argue the contrary.

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Amorphous Funk

At the beginning of my teaching career, delighted by class discussion of readings, yet appalled by the quality of my students’ essays and unsure how to explain concepts that I had assumed were intuitive to young writers, I set about grimly, devising a means of teaching them, these embodiments of the “crisis in literacy,” casualties of the Reagan era, MTV addicts, as I often heard them described in faculty meetings, calibration sessions, and the mail room.

Ru Freeman

cross-posted at

So I watched the movie, Waiting for Superman, on opening night here at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute. And, yes, I’ve linked the film to the website that allows people to take action rather than the one that allows people to find showtimes because action is necessary and showtimes are easy to find, but in case you can’t, here’s the link to the movie itself: Waiting for Superman/movie. The documentary, directed by Davis Guggenheim, breaks down the state of education in the United States and leaves us with the heartbreaking facts: