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25 Nov 2011 20:19


U.S.: National Day of Listening: An anecdote from SFB’s Chris Tognotti

  • While I’ve had many teachers with whom I’ve felt close, and many who helped my academic instincts thrive, none had the impact on my true life’s experience that Carla Zilbersmith did. A theater director and improv teacher at my community college, as well as an evocative vocalist, Carla helped me better understand not only who I am, but urged me to push against the boundaries of my own comforts and fears. In fact, she made me promise her I would. Carla died on May 17th, 2010, after being diagnosed with ALS two years prior — she was 47 years old. I miss her dearly. I still can’t hold back the tears when one of her songs play on my iPod, and I’m skeptical as to whether that will ever change. I loved her, and for the dedication she had to improving my life and those lives around her, I will never forget. (Just a reminder to all: We’re taking your submissions too. Read more here.)

25 Nov 2011 16:12


About: National Day of Listening: An anecdote from SFB’s Ernie Smith

  • I went through a lot between the ages of 15 and 21. Heck, my entire family did. By the time I reached age 21, I had lost two parents and a grandparent. With regards to school, I’ll remember two things: The high school teacher who left me out in the cold when my grandmother died and the professors who were there when my mom died. Without dwelling too much on the first one, let’s focus on the second. I was a J-School student at Michigan State University, learning about graphic design at the time — that thing that eventually became my career. As a coping mechanism, I was back in school less than 24 hours after my mom’s funeral. The professor in my publication design class, Darcy Greene, was aware that my focus would fade at times, but she kept me motivated. She (and another professor in the same department, Cheryl Pell) helped me build my skill set, noticed this whole talent thing I’m rumored to have, and helped me get my first job in journalism. And in the process, they got me through a tough year … on an upswing. I can never thank them enough for that. (Just a reminder to all: We’re taking your submissions too. Read more here.)

22 Nov 2011 16:41


Culture: Thanksgiving weekend homework: On Friday, thank a teacher.

  • Can you think of the one teacher that inspires you? On Thanksgiving this year, give thanks for your meal and how lucky you are to be with your family and all that jazz. On Friday, after you’ve convinced your dad that Chrome is the browser of the future, take part in The 2011 National Day of Listening, organized by the nonprofit StoryCorps, a group “dedicated to recording, preserving, and sharing the stories of Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs.” How can you help? Simple. Thank a teacher, and tell the world about it. Who inspired you to do your best work? Who encouraged you to try something you were afraid of doing? Who helped make you the person you are today? Take a couple days. Think about it. Then report back. On Friday, the ShortFormBlog staff will put up a couple anecdotes from our own teachers. And we’ll pick a couple from readers. Shoot us a message over here, or throw up a post; StoryCorps is also looking for Facebook posts and tweets with the hashtag #ThankATeacher. Can’t wait to hear what you have to say. source

26 Feb 2011 11:24


Politics: Folks across the country protesting along with Wisconsin today

  • 50 states having pro-union protests in solidarity with Wisconsin source
  • » But will Obama join them? Probably not, despite, you know, this speech he made all the way back in 2007. Where are your comfortable shoes now, Barack?

24 Feb 2011 23:56


U.S.: Every teacher in New England town at risk of being fired

  • ALL teachers in Providence, RI handed pink slips source

21 Feb 2011 10:43


Politics: In partial defense of the Wisconsin State Journal’s bad photo editing

  • We’ve noticed a couple of our followers mentioning this pretty stellar Awl article about the situation in Wisconsin. This isn’t really about that, except indirectly. It mentioned this photo gallery using this phrase: “The Wisconsin State Journal, ran an entire photo journal titled ‘Saturday protests at the Capitol’—which contained photos only of the Walker supporters.” Now, we don’t like being critical of a publication we like (The Awl is cool), but this simply isn’t true. What we’re witnessing, conversely, is a bad case of photo editing which seems to emphasize the Tea Partiers above all else. There are a lot of photos of the Tea Party in this slideshow, either way, seemingly more than of the much larger crowd around them. source

19 Feb 2011 21:23


U.S.: Are the Tea Partiers in Madison really that big a deal, anyway?

  • So how many Tea Partiers went to Madison today? While these crowds look reasonably large in size, they don’t appear to hold a candle to the 40,000+ union protesters going around Madison today. These arial shots seem to suggest much smaller crowds of Tea Partiers than pro-union folks. But guess which ones CNN decided to cover today? Take a guess. (photo from Americans for Prosperity’s Flickr stream) source

19 Feb 2011 15:43


Politics: Reader-submitted: One protester’s take on the Wisconsin issue

  • From someone who’s been there: Here’s a clip Tumblr user definitelynotcanon sent our way. Her friend Anna, who says in the clip that she’s never made a video blog, offers some perspective from the front lines of the protests in Madison, and wants to encourage better coverage of the entire issue. The important part is that the stripping of collective bargaining rights is the key issue here – not the current budget issue. We do have one point to make about all this: The part that she brings up about the special interest groups is actually inaccurate, as pointed out by Politifact. (It’s not spending on special interest groups, but tax breaks.) The heart of her argument still stands up, though. It’s OK though, because Ezra Klein has her back. After watching that, read this: source

17 Feb 2011 19:55


Politics: Wisconsin Dems: “We were left with no choice” but to leave state

  • We were left with no choice … The question is when are the Republicans going to sit down seriously with the other side on this issue and try to work something out.
  • Democrat Wisconsin state Sen. Jon Erpenbach • Explaining why he chose to leave the state, and what it will take to get him back. He and every other Democratic state senator in Wisconsin left in protest of a GOP-backed plan to limit public employees’ abilities to collectively bargain for better wages, in a push to stop a deficit crisis. As a result, the GOP doesn’t have quorum – because 20 state senators need to be there, and there are 19 Republicans. This is the first such incident were an entire party left a state to avoid a vote since Democratic members of the Texas state senate and state house left the state to avoid a vote on redistricting – the same vote, mind you, that led to Tom DeLay’s corruption conviction. source

17 Feb 2011 11:27


Politics: Obama backs public employees in Wisconsin union battle royale

  • Some of what I’ve heard coming out of Wisconsin, where you’re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain, generally seems like more of an assault on unions. I think it’s very important for us to understand that public employees, they’re our neighbors, they’re our friends.
  • Barack Obama • Coming out in support of public employees currently facing the squeeze in an anti-union fight in Wisconsin. The vote will likely take place today, and it’s clear where Gov. Scott Walker is leaning – he’s budget-minded first, and sounds frustrated by the fact that collective bargaining agreements take so long. “I don’t have 15 months to balance a budget, and I certainly am not going to pass a budget on a hope and a prayer that that might happen,” he said. Hey Scott, based on the protests, it’s clear that a balanced budget is not the top priority for the people who have been flooding Madison the last few days. Consider that. source