What with the Royal Wedding, deadly tornadoes, the release of Obama’s long-form birth certificate and the shooting of Osama bin Laden, among other things, you can’t say it’s been a slow news week. This means that the mainstream media is doing what it does best – trivializing and sensationalizing everything it touches (and of course, keeping us up to speed on Charlie Sheen). With that in mind, here are some disturbing recent developments that probably won’t make CNN Headline News anytime soon.
Alabama Says No Prom for Undocumented Kids. Hiring restrictions on undocumented workers isn’t hardcore enough for Alabama state Sen. Scott Beason. He’s sponsored a bill that – in addition to preventing businesses from hiring undocumented workers, requiring proof of citizenship at the polls, granting law enforcement the authority to request documentation during routine traffic stops, and criminalizing the act of knowingly giving an undocumented resident a ride – includes a provision to prohibit undocumented children from participating in any extracurricular activities, including sports, clubs and yes, prom. Crushed dreams of a magical night à la Bella and Edward aside, this bill is clearly about more than immigration policy. There’s something deeply unsavory here, an aspiration to create an oppressed, intimidated underclass, with lines uncomfortably drawn along race. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to whether it creates more jobs or keeps us safer.
Oklahoma GOP Aims at Planned Parenthood and WIC. In its latest assault on the poor and vulnerable in the name of ideology, some Oklahoma GOP lawmakers want to prevent Planned Parenthood from distributing nutrition vouchers for the federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. The state of Oklahoma distributes WIC vouchers through several independent contractors, including Planned Parenthood. Disturbed by the possibility of “abortion referrals” from Planned Parenthood, the GOP wants to prevent all independent contractors from administering the program. The Tulsa Planned Parenthood alone administers WIC to 9,300 low-income women and children each year. If this legislation passes, the burden of administering WIC would fall to government entities. The rich, rich irony of cutting a program for mothers and their children for fear of “abortion referrals” aside, supporters of the legislation seem to lack utter regard for its ramifications on those most affected, who also happen to be some of society’s most vulnerable members.
Pennsylvania Governor Cuts Education Funding, Says Universities Can Make It Up By Drilling. PA Governor Tom Corbett’s proposed 2011-2012 budget contains huge cuts to education. To make some of the money up, Corbett (who has received hefty campaign contributions from the drilling industry) says that some universities can open their campuses to drilling for natural gas. Fracking, the method used to extract natural gas from shale, has a number of serious consequences. Cancer-causing chemicals can leach into the water table, and in the worst cases, lead to tap water that is literally flammable. Even when you set aside the toxic environmental effects of fracking, Corbett’s remarks, which I have to assume were made in all seriousness, are yet another example of why the problems facing higher education, indeed US public education as a whole, go much, much deeper than a “bubble”.