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How the NBA Lockout Is Like the Debt-Ceiling Debate

Both are the result of poor management, and the people at fault aren't likely to be the ones paying the price.


With the nation’s capital gripped by a tedious-yet-terrifying standoff over the federal debt ceiling, I’d like to take solace in the world of professional basketball. But not only is it the off-season, the NBA is locked in an intractable dispute of its own. Congressional Republicans say they won’t raise the debt ceiling without massive concessions on spending cuts from President Obama; the NBA owners say they won’t stage a 2011-2012 season without massive concessions from the players on salary.

Once the mind begins to focus on the depressing parallel, similarities seem to abound. You have in both cases a group of wealthy, unaccountably angry white men (owners, congressional Republicans) insisting that they are the real victims of the current recession facing off against a tall black guy (National Basketball Player’s Association head Billy Hunter, Obama). Women are largely absent from the negotiations on both fronts. And in both cases, the people looking for givebacks are oddly unwilling to admit their own role in creating the disaster.

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Five Categories Jeopardy! Should Avoid During Its "Teachers Tournament"

The popular quiz show wants to honor teachers. To help them out, here are five sensitive subjects the question writers should avoid.

"I'll take 'Standardized Testing' for $500, Alex."

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Studies Support Rewards, Homework, and Traditional Teaching—Or Do They?

It's smart to be skeptical of education studies that seem to support traditional practices.


It’s not unusual to read that a new study has failed to replicate—or has even reversed—the findings of an earlier study. The effect can be disconcerting, particularly when medical research announces that what was supposed to be good for us turns out to be dangerous, or vice versa.

Qualifications and reversals also show up in investigations of education and human behavior, but here an interesting pattern seems to emerge. At first a study seems to validate traditional practices, but then subsequent studies—those that follow subjects for longer periods of time or use more sophisticated outcome measures—call that result into question.

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Arne Duncan's Against Seniority-Based Teacher Layoffs

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wants to change the policy of firing the teachers who've been in the job for the shortest time first.


With draconian cuts looming for state education budgets, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wants the nation's governors to be clear: Those cuts can't hurt the quality of education children receive. To that end, when it comes to the tough decisions about laying off teachers, Duncan says the days of a last-in-first-out (LIFO) policy of layoffs are over. Instead, student achievement results need to determine which teachers get the axe.

In a conference call with reporters, Duncan denied that he's "danced around the issue" and said that labor and management have a shared responsibility to put students at the center of their relationship. And, if budgets require teachers to be fired, "Layoffs should be based on a number of factors but the most important thing we can do is keep the best teachers in schools where they are needed most."

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Infographic: How the Koch Brothers and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Turn Democracy Into a Game of Monopoly

An easy-to-trace look at how the Koch brothers' millions are buying political favors in Minnesota.

The clever and righteous folks at The Other 98% put out this infographic on the rather clear connection between the Koch brother's plentiful dollars and the Wisconsin governor who is now busting unions and, more important to this discussion, insisting on no-bid sales of the state-owned power plants.

Quick background: It just so happens that the three companies best positioned to buy and operate those facilities, which they could get for pennies on the dollar through the no-bid sale process, are all subsidiaries of, you guessed it: Koch Industries. (We've covered and ranted about the Kochs a bunch in the past. Amongst many other horrible, terrible things, they're some of the worst polluters in the country.) This Walker-Koch "secret deal" rumor seems to fall more towards credibility than wild-eyed conspiracy theory when you look at all the details in place, as Rick Unger did on his Forbes blog last week.

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