I’m Not “Pro-smoking”: but somehow manged to wrte a very “pro-smoking” arguement

Cal smoke free comment

I’ve never considered my self as “pro-smoking”, but I couldn’t resist making this smart ass comment when UC Berkeley, known for freedom, think for yourself, tolerance, diversity, and the free speech movement, declared their stupidity by proudly posting that they have succumbed to the political agenda (hidden but obvious to me) of the demonization of cigarette smoking that is mostly based on hysteria, the fears of the public, and other dishonesty. And worse, they have let it affect school policy by deciding to follow the popular trend of banning all tobacco on the premises to make it “smoke free”.

On the post where UC Berkeley is proudly announcing they are tobacco free with this picture of the banner on their alumni association page, I commented on the picture saying,

Good thing you can still purchase alcohol & consume that on campus since drunk college kids are safer & better behaved than smokers. And since it’s so irritating to witness a cigarette being smoked it’s a good idea to make someone walk off campus to have a cigarette because it forces exercise and that’s healthy.

I know taking on the plight, or perceived “oppression”, of smokers may seem odd or silly, but it is SOOOO obvious how political this growing move to ban cigarette smoking from specific areas, like a college campus, is that I have to call them on it.

Full disclosure: I do not smoke regularly but I would be lying if I said I never smoke. I, like most of my friends (yes most,  just about 70% of my friends will occasionally sneek a cigarette when going out, if they believe it will be discreet. I still am always surprised by who will ask for a cigarette now and then) might be considered a social smoker. And knowing what I know, I get I might as well confessed to participating in dog fights or wearing fur coats. And for the record none of my sources link to any, and I have never visited any  “smokers rights” websites.

I did grow up around smokers, I live with smokers, and I have friends who smoke. Every smoker I have know has been a good person, and even going back generations, only one of these people have had a health concern that may be related to smoking, and she quit the day she found this out.

Political groups pursuing laws against cigarette smoking in the US using the guise of student preferences/comfort/health or the environment to get these “smoke free” policies passed have nothing to do any of that and I’ll make a case why.

First it is essential to understand the long-term goal of all anti-smoking campaign is to make the selling of, purchasing of, having possession of, and smoking of cigarettes illegal. They all are fighting for smoking cigarettes banned 100% in the US. They are open about it and any Google search will show the discussion on this topic is all about the complete control, and 100% ban of all tobacco products, so America will be truly tobacco free. Once this is understood, I think I can easily show what the obvious motive behind & goal of such policies.

*And ironically enough, compared to the useless “just don’t smoke where I have to see it” policies, I actually believe that the ONLY way to help the environment environment & public health of Americans is a law making it illegal. It is when that same reasoning is used to persuade people to support and pass policies that don’t allow cigarette smoking in just certain places (like a university campus) is absurd and what I am addressing in this blog,

So, if you believe taking away the freedom to choose to use tobacco products or not is okay, that’s one thing. Some of the only voices online from the general public who support state the main reason is because it is bad for you. So is animal fat but I doubt any of them, without the heavily funded campaigns telling them it should be banned too, would feel that way. There is a long list of things that are bad for us, and cost tax payer money in health costs, that I have never heard a debate over making them illegal.

I am one who doesn’t think this is constitutional anymore than I think banning cooking with grease is. There is evidence that the volumes of grease that restaurants use is having a huge impact on our environment, AND even more evidence to it’s impact on the general public health of Americans since cardiovascular diseases are still the leading cause of death.

The demonization of cigarettes may have started with attempts of keeping people from starting up a habit that is from what I hear, as hard to kick as heroin, when in the beginning when this campaign used appropriate methods to spread information with facts and statistics. And there are plenty of those to demonize smoking without going all hidden political agenda, using hysteria or playing to fears of the public to alter the collective opinion, and worse, to convince the public they should not have zero tolerance of the bad habits of others, like using tobacco products.

Let me clarify that I find merit, and advocate for not tolerating the habits of others when they violate the human rights, personally affect you in any way, let alone your health, or the health of the planet as a whole. Habits like viewing child pornography, burning on spare the air days, dumping trash or littering or just not recycling at all, wasting electricity, actually being wasteful with anything related to the resources we all share are the first few of these that come to mind. But other people smoking cigarettes, and I mean far away enough from non-smokers to not have to breathe their secondhand smoke, IS NOT one of these. (When someone is smoking close enough to another who is bothered by their second hand smoke, that person should absolutely be confronted and politely ask if they didn’t mind smoking farther away because of heath related concerns with second smoke that you have).

But the current anti-cigarette smoking campaign has nothing to do with the kind of habits mentioned above, and the policies these campaigns are influencing have nothing to do with the anyone’s health or the environment but are way more about the controlling the public’s tolerance with their continued demonization of tobacco, punishing those that use these products, while making it seem a tiny minority still smoke cigarettes,

And at UC Berkeley!! Cal taught me to look for motives behind actions, who is financing what, hidden agendas, how easy it is to sway public opinion, etc. so I couldn’t have been more disappointed to learn that my university has giving in to all the political bullshit and is following the current fad of making their campus “smoke free”.

And “Smoke free”? Pul-eeze (to be read in the most scoffing tone possible). They should at least be honest and say “cigarette smoke free” because almost any university or college campus is anything but “smoke free”, especially say, around 4:20 in the afternoon.

My second point is how has smoking cigarettes has become so frowned upon at the same time when smoking marijuana is becoming more socially acceptable. Policies are being made to ban tobacco while laws are being passed to make it easier to get high. Really?

I’m not even going to go into how you can still purchase and consume alcohol on campus and the real dangers this causes other students since I covered that in my comment to this picture on Facebook. But I will point out that both alcohol and marijuana are behavior altering substances, and while tobacco is not, it has been banned, while the use of, no, the OVER USE of the other two is celebrated.

Let’s talk about Cal & their policy on smoking marijuana. There is technically one on the books, although marijuana isn’t mentioned because it is grouped with other controlled substances. But we all know the amount of (and type of) people that would lump marijuana with crack or heroin as the same and believe they should be address together, are extremely few, and they extremely rare in the educated world. And college campus’ are all about being educated, so this policy is openly violated (and it is widely accepted to do so) daily by multitudes of students all over campus. I am not making assumptions, I graduated from Cal in 1993 and visit it frequently today (and I can only guess it was more prevalent in the 60’s and 70’s). Cal is so relaxed on marijuana use that the national organization, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, graded UC Berkeley’s Drug and Alcohol Policy as a “C”.
And I’m assuming it was given an average grade because it is no different than any other university (that most likely already has, or will soon, a tobacco ban). Weed is so widely accepted that a Ph.D. lecturer for UC Berkeley words are used throughout a 2012 article in the East Bay Express called, “How to Smoke Weed: a UC Berkeley Student Guide”. And further evidence of Cal’s embrace of marijuana is the several UC Berkeley professors, lecturers, and admin that are openly in favor of it’s use, and have been published saying so.

I have no doubt this tobacco policy will be taken more seriously & enforced far better than Cal’s policy regarding marijuana. Especially since so many students are now showing up with their medical cards and some schools have said that campus police will not cite anyone who has one.

Thus, my second point: You can smoke a bowl on campus, but to smoke a cigarette, you must walk up to several blocks to the nearest public sidewalk/street, surrounded by thick crowds of people, many of which are still students, instead of a private corner on campus that is close to your class/meeting.  This is beyond frustrating to most of the smokers I know because it is already a task to find spots away from people out of respect, and out of public eye now that this act is deemed as evil by so many.  (More than once I’ve heard lighting up in public is starting to feel like shooting up in public, regardless how far you are from others).  Maybe the people I know are more conscience and considerate than most others who smoke cigarettes, and the rude behavior of other smokers have led to the need of such banishment. Maybe, I do come from  professional and cause supporting activist corners. Maybe their needs to be more useful and effective policies for the ass holes who let their cigarette smoke be inhaled by non-smokers.

Also, policies like these don’t benefit the environment at all. Making people walk to a different location to have a cigarette doesn’t change anything except those that back these policies don’t have to witness it. Ignorance is bliss? I am all for intellectual debate but when the fact that cigarettes are harmful to the environment is used as rationale to pass these policies, it is truly ridiculous.

And how does walking to a different area, especially one that is more crowded with students, alleviate any health concerns of fellow students? It doesn’t, if anything, it makes it worse. I have read that at least one jilted smoker at Cal will no longer seek places away from people and will now light up while surrounded by crowds on the public sidewalks that surround Cal for two reasons. First, out of protest for such a stupid policy and the desire to make it clear people who wish to smoke a cigarette are not the only ones being inconvenienced by it. And second, with the time she will be spending having to walk off campus, she will no longer have the time to seek spots away people like she did when she could smoke on campus, not to mention and the fact these spots on busy sidewalks don’t even exist. I doubt she is alone on this.

And seriously, if smoking killed people as much as these campaigns would like us to believe, we would have lost an entire generation in the 60’s when everyone smoked, and was smoked around, let alone multiple generations of people when you include the 50’s to the 80’s.

I also think it is telling that these silly policies ban ALL tobacco products, including chewing tobacco & electric cigarettes. So touting the purpose is to have a “smoke free” campus while including products that don’t produce smoke, give away the purpose these policies serve for anti-smoking campaigns

So there is my rant why I think these policies are stupid and why I couldn’t resist making my smart ass comment. Please feel free to let me know that I am wrong on this.

—> AND PLEASE FEEL FREE to provide any feedback to this example piece of persuasive writing. I know it is long but don’t know what to delete without weakening my position. I would love to know how readers feel about the strength of my arguments, if any of my points make sense to others, if I have been “persuasive” or not. I couldn’t think of too many other current topics more difficult to defend than smoking in public. I do agree with most of what I have written, but this piece was more about debate and style than making a point.

Crazy Celebrity tweets about the 2012 election results. CRAZY!

Crazy Celebrity tweets about the 2012 election results. Like some are bat shit crazy!

My favorite so far is former SNL star, Victoria Jackson tweets and the article on Huffington Post.

I might be using the term “celebrity” pretty loosely here, but many who grew up on Saturday Night Live know who she is.

She wins out over the celebrities tweeting from crazy train by following Donald Trump and tweeting her breakdown when her candidate of choice lost the election to Barrack Obama. My favorites were: “America Died”, and “I can’t stop crying”,  and “Thanks Christians for showing up. You disgust me”.

Really? She thinks “America died” because the person the majority of it’s citizens want to be president is someone different than she wants? I have to laugh because that’s what most of us love about America. You know, the democracy thing ……..the most votes win.

I can see how a little part of America dies when gullible “Christian” Republicans started to think and act like her. For example when:

1.) They think they speak for ALL Christians, as well as Jesus Christ himself.

2.) They think that Jesus would be all about politics AND making laws that dictate everyone will follow the Bible – not as in have to be a Christian of course, you know, freedom of religion. More like American laws that follow The Bible, thus creating a moral society fitting to them (at least what they think The Bible says, as if there isn’t any room for interpretation on what this would even look like).

3.) They claim to be patriots who believe in the constitution, yet seem to have the least amount of tolerance for anything related to equality or freedom like speech, religion, rights, different opinions, democratic process, etc. (like item B). And the same goes for both sides with the extremists being the loudest & most visible & always spewing  what seems like obvious propaganda & scare tactics.

4.)  They have been manipulated into buying the lie that right-wing politics are somehow in line with The Bible when that political party brilliantly adopted a few hot “morality” issues gaining their support. AND THEN get churches to preach that it is not only your obligation to Christ to vote for these, but everything else they say too, regardless how much it may contradict the Bible and/or Jesus (see this video http://youtu.be/A8JsRx2lois).

She goes on a homophobic rant against glee here.

And here she is with such extremist propaganda that she even worries the dumbfounded FOX News commentators by her comments

*Disclosure, well sort of: I am a liberal Christian myself so PLEASE hear me when I say that I am only talking about “Christians” and/or conservatives like her, and not claiming all are like this. I also have respect for different opinions and only hate when people act like I have described in the name of Jesus.

The Edu Talk blog is a Must Read!

​The Edu Talk The Edu Talk blog is one of the best blogs about what teaching I have come across. That is saying a lot coming from one who spends way to much reading about education policy and how it relates to (or interferes with) my teaching. As a teacher who occasionally blogs about such policies, I am truly in awe of this one.

The posts include everything I once aspired mine to embody. Truth to power is articulated comprehensively, eloquently, and viewpoints are powerfully supported with evidence from personal or collective experiences, or with linked references when appropriate.

My favorite topic addressed is the same one I write about – the demise of American schools with corporate privatization of public education through the demonization of teachers by placing entire blame on any perceived failing, when in fact, they have no control over decisions made on how schools are structured, the curriculum they use, the method of delivery, content standards, what gets funded, classroom size (the amount of English Language Learners, special education, etc.), student truancy, parent support at home, “college prep for all” courses being the only ones offered outside of a few SDC for severe disabilities, demanding UC entry requirements for high school diplomas, appropriate assessment criteria (determining if a student was successful for the year using one test score), use of high stakes testing, relevancy of questions such tests… OR ANY LOCAL, STATE, OR FEDERAL POLICY.

Where I spend hours trying to word short blog entries that end up rambling on, sometimes with sarcasm or bitterness like the above, The author matter of a factly states facts, or extremely thought provoking questions, that seem to flow fluently with such mastery of the English language.

My favorite so far is called, “Motives Matter” dated May 2011. Well worth reading if you are interested in education, like reading good blogs, have school age children, or think teachers alone should be “accountable” for the problems (real or perceived) and/or the measurement of every student’s learning should be assessed using one multiple choice test score by memorizing rote facts.

POWERFUL! Christian Pastor Speaks Equal Rights for Homosexuals

– Christians in favor limiting rights for the LGBTQ community will be schooled on how antiquated these beliefs are.
– Christians who already get this will be inspired that they are not alone in left thinking (and a talking point).
– Everyone else will see another example of a church leader publicly fighting for what is right.

Missouri Pastor’s Fiery Speech Against Equal Rights for Homosexuals Has Stunning Twist Ending

Like this pastor, I also believe Jesus was who he said he was. It astounds me that others claiming the same have bought into such a lie, like it is okay to discriminate against and have laws limiting the rights any group of people, black or LGBTQ.

Rick Santorum’s latest words and my rant about “college for all”

I’m really surprised by something that Rick Santorum said. Not that he called our president names, but that we agree on something. I also have issues with the idea that every student should be pushed to attend college. If I thought politicians could be sincere or follow through with convictions made public while campaigning, this would give me hope for the Republican party.

Rick Santorum’s Hypocrisy On Higher Education?- ABC News

This article had me taken back because I don’t think I’ve heard any politician speak against the never ending increase of demands and expectations of school children. Almost every single year a new course, test, or project is required to graduate high school. Most of the Republicans who post comments online seem to constantly admonish public school teachers for questioning “one size fits all” models like this and No Child Left Behind or “college prep for all” – which requires EVERY high school student to have an all academic schedule with college prep classes only. I have read many accusations from openly conservative bloggers how teachers want everything easy and are too lazy to embrace change, especially if it includes more work by challenging students so each one performs above grade level and goes away to college. In reality, most teachers understand comprehensive high schools need ROP programs or vocational classes along with a variety of electives for students to experience an/or develop career or personal interests. Being that teachers are the ones who actually work with students, they also know that “one size” never “fits all”.

I am one of the teachers who understand this and am concerned with the direction public schooling is going. Most high schools have already eliminated (or soon will) all general courses and only offer college prep classes for every subject (besides special education classes for students with moderate to severe disabilities). Many high schools in California have also increased the demands to earn a high school diploma. Students must now meet the eligibility requirements for admission to the University of California (A-G requirements). So now students no longer have the choice to enroll in more rigorous college prep classes or not, but in lieu of preferred or vocational electives, they also must earn extra high school credits by taking seven additional classes they may never need or may not be able to pass. This includes a third year of advanced math (Algebra 2, Calculus, or higher since Algebra 1 is now expected to be taken in the 8th grade); only “ laboratory” science classes and an extra year totaling two of these three disciplines: biology, chemistry, and physics; two years (four semesters) of the SAME foreign language; college prep Visual and Performing Arts; and one year of a College Preparatory Elective. It is important to remember that these are only the minimum requirements to be eligible to attend a University of California, not necessarily be accepted. Earning achievements, awards, a high SAT score, along with the GPA to stand out in such an extremely competitive process is different story.

Many students who do achieve all this  may still not get accepted or may not have the financial means to go straight to a four-year university and will need to attend community college anyway, and then transfer to a university as a junior. This is the actual path students should be encouraged to take advantage of. I would have never been able to go to UC Berkeley without transferring from NVC. It is upsetting that our education system makes this look inferior and only promotes (and forced preparation for) attending universities. Two different professors at Cal told me that they thought you get a better education from a community college for the first two years for many reasons and didn’t understand why parents and teachers  push to send kids away to universities right out of high school.

Back to Santorum surprising me, it sounds like he agrees with me and is advocating for lowering some expectations (a current one is 100% of students testing above grade level thanks to NCLB) and to not to stop making it sound like getting accepted into a university is the only option for a successful livelihood. I am used to hearing how it is a sign of our “failing education system” if we can’t send every kid to college right after their senior year.  Most Republicans comments about education issues claiming that public educators don’t work hard enough adequately preparing students for college and the work force (meaning work that requires a BA or higher). Teachers are often publicly berated in the media for selfishly trying to make our jobs easier by not teaching enough “21st Century Skills” and for not preparing rigorous lessons and challenging curriculum. The “evidence” to back up such claims are usually related to a standardized state test scores and the statistics with how many students will be attending universities. It sounds like double speak to come down on public schools for this while at the same time argue why it’s not necessary.

As a secondary special education resource teacher, I agree with Santorum’s statements that, “Not all folks are gifted in the same way.” An example is studies show that college students have an average IQ of 115. I also agree that, “There are good, decent men and women who go out and work hard every day and put their skills to test that aren’t taught by some liberal college professor”, (although I can vouch that not all professors are liberal). There are many wonderful, lucrative careers that don’t require a college degree and I hate the rhetoric that those who choose to go into these fields have somehow failed society’s expectations or didn’t try hard enough to fit the model that was easily laid before them.

It seems to me that his statements have more to do with publicly insulting President Obama and the goal of a nation that has access to higher education for every student that desires it than it does with an actual education policy that will stop pushing to make graduating high school more and more difficult, let alone out of reach for some. I don’t see any politicians from either side backing this up unless it comes with some major financial or personal gain. For Santorum, maybe it is not having to figure out how to make higher education accessible or affordable for all of our citizens… or maybe just his fear of the masses being educated (his opinion of the college experience is clear by hinting it turns you liberal). Judging the type of things he says, I suspect it has more to do with his alliances with the private sector of manufacturing and multi-national corporations.

Santorum Slams Obama ‘Hubris’ and ‘Snobbery’ – Matthew Cooper – NationalJournal.com

Santorum was quoted saying, “We create private-sector jobs by helping the private sector be successful …putting something directly in someone’s pocket is not going to create manufacturing jobs. That isn’t going to make the local steel manufacturer or fabricator more competitive.”

I could see how a nation preparing it’s youth to pursue employment better than working in a factory for the private manufacturing industry and/or wealthy corporations goes against what he believes. He seems to support a caste-like class system where people have their roles in society to play. Someone has to put the chicken in the bucket right? However, some of his ideas seem to be contradictory in theory. In the same speech he also advocates for corporations and manufacturers using overseas labor to cut costs by avoiding all those luxuries “handed out” to American workers that the unions have corrupted our economic system with here  such as health and safety laws and wages high enough to live on.

The article stated, “Santorum echoed other Republican candidates condemning the National Labor Relations Board for its decisions against Boeing Co. over locating manufacturing jobs. He came out against so-called domestic content legislation requiring that a certain percentage of parts be produced in America — the kind of “domestic content” proposals that were popular in the 1980s and which the Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll shows are back in fashion. He also denounced the auto bailout, saying “all it did was pay off a special interest” — unions — “because they’re big buddies with Barack Obama.”

Again, this sounds like more double speak to advocate against making higher education accessible to everyone because corporations and private manufactures needed an uneducated work force, but to then be in favor of laws eliminating or reducing the amount of actual jobs for this work force.

Although I know better to get my hopes up with the Republican party, or think that any changes that I want see will come from the comments a presidential candidate makes campaigning, I am still grateful that it started dialogues regarding expectations relating to every student in America graduating from college with higher education degrees.

Compulsory Patriotism: Requiring the Pledge of Allegiance in school?

This article is scary. What the hell are people thinking?
It is horrific to me to that a state would even consider such a law.

David Moshman: Compulsory Patriotism: Requiring the Pledge of Allegiance.

This should horrify everyone, including our most patriotic citizens, if they truly love freedom and our constitution.

I have had several friends and students, some who were very patriotic, who don’t say the pledge of allegiance for a wide variety of reasons including: being atheist, being Christian, not believing in pledging to a symbol, not believing in blind allegiance to a government, to not believing in saying “justice for all” until that’s true

Forcing American citizens to participate in daily patriotic sayings is completley un-American, let alone a serious violation of their first amendment rights.

Rating doctors on healthy patients = teachers on state test scores

I read a comment in this article that compared evaluating teachers and doctors with the same “accountably” measures.

Teacher Development At Center Of New Center For American Progress Studies.

Rating doctors on how healthy their patients are is a perfect comparison since their patients many times come to them unhealthy in the first place.

It is the same thing as holding doctors accountabl e for how well their patients follow their medical advice or how many of their patients get cured of their ailments.

Doctors can’t force patients to lose weight or quit smoking any more than teachers can force some students to learn, or take those tests seriously or force their parents to support their child’s education (or change some of the factors that can affect low test scores like not speaking English, having a learning disability, or coming from a low socio-economic status).

School Districts Shortchange Low-Income Schools: Report

I am pleased that, as U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in the following article posted, “The facts are out there like they’ve never been before,” but these findings have been more than just “long suspected.”

School Districts Shortchange Low-Income Schools: Report.

In 1991, Jonathan Kozol detailed this in his book, Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools, that discusses the disparities in education between schools of different classes and races. It is based on his observations of various classrooms in the public school systems of East St. Louis, Chicago, New York City, Camden, Cincinnati, and Washington D.C.
His observations take place in both schools with the lowest per capita spending on students and the highest, ranging from just over $3,000 in Camden, New Jersey to a maximum expenditure of up to $15,000 in Great Neck, Long Island.
In his visits to these areas, Kozol illustrates the overcrowded, unsanitary and often understaffed environment that is lacking in basic tools and textbooks for teaching. He cites the large proportions of minorities in the areas with the lowest annual budgets, despite the higher taxation rate on individuals living in poverty within the school district.

This article states that, “Though Duncan highlighted the glaring disparities Wednesday, his administration has so far prioritized other issues — such as standards and innovation — over funding equity.”
These glaring disparities have always been known so, unfortunately, I doubt the report will alter priorities any more than Kozal’s findings did.

Michigan Senate Approves House Version Of Anti-Bullying Bill, Drops Religious Language

There is a new article in the Huffington Post related to the Michigan anti-bullying law that I blogged about last week. VICTORY!!!

Michigan Senate Approves House Version Of Anti-Bullying Bill, Drops Religious Language.

I don’t know if you have heard of this bill but Michigan passed a bill, called “Matt’s Safe School Law” that had an added clause protecting those doing the bullying if teachers and students can claim that their actions are rooted in a “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.”

I can’t express how relieved I am to know that they have altered the bill to be more appropriate. I was more freaked out by the original story than any thing I’ve read recently about education so I am celebrating the victory.

Watch the video of Senator Gretchen Whitmer if you haven’t seen it. She is my hero right now.

‘Teacher Evaluation’ : Real Agenda Appears to Be School PRIVATIZATION

The article from the Common Dreams website, by Gloria C. Endres, ‘Teacher Evaluation’: Real Agenda Appears to Be School Privatization is a must read for anyone interested in education in the slightest bit.

After much research over the years on this subject, I can attest to THIS IS WHAT IS BEHIND MOST EDUCATION REFORM AND THE “NEED TO IMPROVE” TEACHER EVALUATIONS.

The privatization of public schools (school-choice, voucher system, etc.) would have he most damning results on education. Don’t we have enough evidence what happens when a few billionaires control an institution? Turning education into corporate profit would only serve those who would make millions from this, NOT THE STUDENTS.

Read Michelle Rhee’s Wikipedia page (I checked all the references).

The Student’s First website makes it clear what their agenda is. Although they should be commended for their anti-bully and pro LGBT stance, that is where the students coming first stops.

(You may also want to read a piece Larry Strauss wrote for The Huffington Post called, Students First and Other Lies).