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The Weekly Reader (06/29)

What I’ve been reading about this week.

My plan is do these roundups regularly and also do individual pieces on specific topics. Remember, you can get the links throughout the week either on Twitter or Facebook.

Being the last week of June, the Supreme Court dominated the news. First on note on Scalia’s decision making 

But this is not obvious, least of all to Justice Scalia, who I have no real doubt actually believes the things he says and writes, no matter how many times his public acts contradict his avowed beliefs. Scalia believes in a version of the rule of law whose existence is refuted by nothing so well as his own career. And that ultimately is more disturbing than a career dedicated to the most self-consciously manipulative Machiavellianism.

Before the health care decision, we had speculation on the result. When I went to law school, you would have failed if you argued on the side of unconstitutionality. Apparently, George Washington and the rest of the founders would have agreed as well.

Ezra Klein on the Robert’s health care decision:

But by voting with the conservatives on every major legal question before the court, he nevertheless furthered the major conservative projects before the court — namely, imposing limits on federal power. And by securing his own reputation for impartiality, he made his own advocacy in those areas much more effective. If, in the future, Roberts leads the court in cases that more radically constrain the federal government’s power to regulate interstate commerce, today’s decision will help insulate him from criticism. And he did it while rendering a decision that Democrats are applauding.

Atul Gawande in the The New Yorker on what health care reform is all about:

For all that, the Court’s ruling keeps alive the prospect that our society will expand its circle of moral concern to include the millions who now lack insurance. Beneath the intricacies of the Affordable Care Act lies a simple truth. We are all born frail and mortal—and, over the course of our lives, we all need health care. Americans are on our way to recognizing this. If we actually do—now, that would be wicked.

We don’t do a very good job extending that circle of moral concern to include the mentally ill.

Of course before health care, we had Arizona Immigration. The Court ruled the law mostly unconstitutional on its face. I guess the rest is only unconstitutional when you actually try to do it.

Winograd, for one, expects problems to mount up quickly for the provision. “It comes down to the assumption on whether the police respects the Constitution on a day-to-day basis,” he says. ”On paper, it makes a lot of sense. In practice, it’s hard to believe.”

And Citizen’s United. I guess Montana just been wrong about corporations all these years:

“Even if I were to accept Citizens United, this Court’s legal conclusion should not bar the Montana Su­preme Court’s finding, made on the record before it, that independent expenditures by corporations did in fact lead to corruption or the appearance of corruption in Montana,” Breyer wrote. “Given the history and political landscape in Montana, that court concluded that the State had a compelling interest in limiting independent expenditures by corporations.”

Being the last week of June, it’s also CRCT results week: Fayette County did very well, but of course, as Maureen Downey points out, we do have an advantage:

The highest-scoring metro systems were Fayette, Forsyth and Decatur City, all of which are high-performing systems with relatively low poverty rates.

She also points out how complicated scoring the CRCT is here.

Other systems are finishing up their budgets this week, with bad news all around. This week’s examples are Clayton and Dekalb.

Charter Schools don’t educate everyone. A GAO report that shows:

Against the backdrop of a growing and changing charter school landscape, we found that enrollment of students with disabilities in the aggregate is lower in charter schools than in traditional public schools.

And this piece on the privatization of prisons also applies to the for-profit charter school businesses:

But the main answer, surely, is to follow the money. Never mind what privatization does or doesn’t do to state budgets; think instead of what it does for both the campaign coffers and the personal finances of politicians and their friends. As more and more government functions get privatized, states become pay-to-play paradises, in which both political contributions and contracts for friends and relatives become a quid pro quo for getting government business. Are the corporations capturing the politicians, or the politicians capturing the corporations? Does it matter?

Do you let your child get away with anything? A great parenting post:

Juxtaposition of these developmental stories begs for an account of responsibility in childhood,” they wrote. Why do Matsigenka children “help their families at home more than L.A. children?” And “Why do L.A. adult family members help their children at home more than do Matsigenka?” Though not phrased in exactly such terms, questions like these are being asked—silently, imploringly, despairingly—every single day by parents from Anchorage to Miami. Why, why, why?

And what’s wrong with teenagers:

What happens when children reach puberty earlier and adulthood later? The answer is: a good deal of teenage weirdness. Fortunately, developmental psychologists and neuroscientists are starting to explain the foundations of that weirdness.

Some depressing news about our broken political system (and how its mostly the Republican’s fault):

But ultimately the deep problem isn’t about personalities or individual leadership, it’s about the nation as a whole. Something has gone very wrong with America, not just its economy, but its ability to function as a democratic nation. And it’s hard to see when or how that wrongness will get fixed.

The report Reagan (accidentally?) made a centerpiece of education “reform,” is just plain wrong:

Nearly a quarter century ago, “A Nation at Risk” hit our schools like a brick dropped from a penthouse window. One problem: The landmark document that still shapes our national debate on education was misquoted, misinterpreted, and often dead wrong.

Don’t forget a big happy birthday to Title IX!

And a song for the week:

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