28 Aug 2008

Racial education politics

I just read an article on BBC about Roma/Sinti kids in Czech schools; I felt a strong echo of a lot of the rhetoric and practice surrounding US schools wrt black kids (actually, Latino kids too). While we don't quite make them sign forms admitting to being retarded (!), most of the rest of it could have been here, right down to the quote from the Roma rapper:

"Czech people are racist and xenophobic. But many Gypsies are worse. They don't send their kids to school because they don't want them to be white. It's a big mistake. We can talk about racism. But we live in a democratic country and everyone can make choices."

Here in the US, we have a disgraceful education gap between children of different races, chalked up to a variety of problems from lack of money to lack of parental involvement to lack of accountability. But informal school segregation is alive and, unfortunately, well. A recent lawsuit against Illinois' U-46 district (Elgin) just got upgraded to class action:

The lawsuit, first filed in February 2005, claims U-46 violated the rights of black and Latino students by placing them in older, more crowded schools; forcing them to ride buses longer and more often than their white peers; and providing them with inferior educational opportunities.

I had been aware of the disadvantaged position and the racial discrimination that Roma face in central and eastern Europe, but until I read the BBC article it had never occurred to me just how strong the parallel could be. I can't decide whether to be encouraged, in that this is not a unique problem and maybe we can put our heads together to solve it, or worried that maybe this sort of thing is universal and inevitable.

"Gah, if TPTB want to shut down all airline travel, it'd be way easier to just come out and say it. ALL AIRPORTS CLOSED! Better than this long drawn-out charade where we all have to hate airplanes first." --Eva Sweeney

Posted by blahedo at 10:56am | Comments (1)

1 Aug 2008

Bathroom update

Good news and medium news and bad news!

Cardboard ceiling with three tiles missing

The good news is, after the first ceiling tile came down, subsequent tiles pull right off very easily. To the right is an image of the ceiling right now, with just a few tiles down; it'll take about fifteen minutes to pull the rest down, and another half hour to pull the staples. Hurray!

The medium news is, the old mounting for these was 1-by strips on 1' centres. This is good in that it makes the old tiles very easy to pull down, and it's more or less good in that it they could've been attached with adhesive or something. (Which would have sucked.) And wood (either strips or sheets) on 1' centres is just what I need to mount my new ceiling tiles! The problem is, the installers were lazy and started the tiles on the edge of the room, so that the width of the room has five full tiles and one 4" tile fragment. It really wasn't a big deal for the old ceiling, because it had a fine random-scatter pattern. But my new tiles are on 12" repeats, and it really needs to be centred in the room. Which means that where I need the boards is at 8", 1'8", 2'8", and so on, but where I have them is 4", 1'4", 2'4".... Sigh.

Some cardboard detritus

The bad news is, the ceiling tiles are cardboard... and were installed in 1956... and rip and flake when I pull them down (at least at the staples and tongue-and-groove joints).... so the odds are pretty good that I'm looking at the A-word again. After I took the photos, I closed up the room and from here on out it's Tyvek and a breather (I just bought fresh filters, the kind that don't say they're not for asbestos protection) until I get the ceiling and floor out. And the wall glue remnants, because I'm none too certain about that stuff either.

"Houston is not so much a city but a climatic disaster masquerading as one." --Matt Frei, BBC

Posted by blahedo at 12:53am | Comments (0)