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Chris Christie's Wagging Finger Proves Alignment of Teachers' and Womens' Rights

The facts are clear: 85 percent of K-12 teachers are women and 80 percent of our government officials are men.

I'd like to dedicate some time to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's othering of a teacher this past weekend at one of his political rallies. Most of the coverage around this event has centered on the tenor politicians have set in their quest to reform education. As Christie wags a finger at the woman, teacher Melissa Tomlinson, the crowd cheers, signaling a societal acknowledgment that politicians can lay waste to any courtesy towards anyone, and that democracy is overrated. Surely, dissenters get jeers at any rally, but this particular type of jeer further solidified the idea that teachers' rights are aligned with women's rights.

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How to Wage a Modern Culture War: Blame Big Government

When the GOP defends "religious freedom," ultraconservatives see a moral crusade, while moderates see a defense of citizens' rights.


The term "culture war" has been in the news lately, describing a shift in political focus from unemployment and taxes to birth control and gay marriage. Some say it's because the economy is improving (although we have a long way to go). Others, like me, say it's because it's a perennially important discussion that will never go away. But something peculiar is happening this election season: Instead of putting their moral cards out on the table, conservatives are couching their cultural crusades in the libertarian language of "big government" oppression.

Take the latest fight over whether birth control will be fully covered by the Affordable Care Act. Most Republicans (aside from Rick Santorum, of course) won't say outright that birth control is wrong. Instead, they say they object to the government mandate. This tactic has been used before, in the cases of Plan B and the HPV vaccine, but the degree of public political theater has reached a fever pitch this time, with two Senate bills using the guise of "religious freedom"—which would apply not only to religious institutions, but to individual bosses—to deny women birth control and any other medication to which their employers object.

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Reform Gone Wrong: Despite $100 Million From Facebook, Newark Schools Still Screwed Up

Infighting and a lack of transparency in decision making are hampering reform and losing the trust of the community.


Last September, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg famously went on the Oprah Winfrey Show to announce that he'd sent a $100 million friend request to the troubled Newark, New Jersey schools. Six months later, only $1 million of those funds has been spent and the community is bickering over how to best use the $99 million balance that's being held by the foundation that Zuckerberg started to administer the funds, Startup Education.

Controversy started right off the bat when Zuckerberg attached strings to the money, like demanding that Newark Mayor Cory Booker be given control of the city's schools. Due to abysmal academic performance and mismanagement, the 40,000 student-strong district has been under state control since 1995 and mayoral control is prohibited by New Jersey law. Governor Chris Christie went ahead and opted not to renew school superintendent Clifford Janey's contract—a new superintendent still hasn't been hired—and said Booker would play an "advisory" role to the schools.

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