Barbara Boxer

California Roundup: Teachers Union Warns of Technopocalypse Under New Obama Admin. Testing Plan

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At last, a teacher who cares.

* Meg Whitman proves that a smart person can always get out of jury duty, is dismissed after five-hour ordeal.

* When kids don't have to fill in circles with a number 2 pencil, the terrorists have won: With a big bribe from D.C., California joins the group of states participating in two new programs to upgrade standardized testing. But wait! It may not be all bad. The new tests will use advanced positronics to generate ranges of questions that change according to student answers. The L.A. Times' Howard Blume and Jason Song quote a United Teachers Los Angeles representative denouncing these "educational weapons" that will also feature (in higher-level  tests) a quiz in which students use state of the art "search engines" to gather data from interconnected electronic brains and "extract the information necessary to write a brief research paper in response to a prompt."

* Don't push Barbara Boxer cause she's close to the edge: At the Wall Street Journal, John Fund says the Democratic junior senator is in a kill-or-be-killed contest with Republican challenger Carly Fiorina. (Up to this point, Boxer has lucked into elections that pitted her against a series of Glass Joes.) At Politico, Republican Michael Rosen says, "Boxer will lose, not because Fiorina is an impressive candidate (although she certainly is), but because voters — even in liberal California — have grown disaffected with ideological, partisan insiders with minimal accomplishments to their name." Wishful thinking? New SurveyUSA poll has Fiorina ahead by two. 

* Same poll has the No-On-19 vote growing. While the legalize-and-tax ballot initiative still leads in polls, the pressure from the state's discredited but enduring institutions is building. "Queen of California" Sen. Dianne Feinstein is leading the opposition. Barely coherent editorial screeds like this one keep coming out. Everybody else still treats Prop. 19 as a big joke.

* It only matters who counts the votes: Democratic incumbents are ponying up for Proposition 27, which would dismantle the recently created redistricting commission and give the job of drawing legislative districts back to the Democrats in the legislature. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers developer Haim Saban also among big Prop. 27 donors.