Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Comment Re:Nothing would change (Score 1) 1255

Educate yourself on the structure of the US education system before you sound off. Your post is simplistic drivel, and based on entirely inaccurate information to start with.

The Federal Department of Education has relatively little authority to structure primary and secondary education in the US. The DoE in recent years (largely since No Child Left Behind in the early 2000s) has used federal funding as a stick to drive standards of evaluation and curriculum into schools. The actual methods of achieving performance on these evaluations is left entirely to the local districts.

Organization and operation of schools in the US is conducted at the local level. The basic unit of organization is the school district, headed by a superintendent, and governed by a board of eduction. Depending on the state/county/municipality, school districts can be larger or smaller, although one district per county is a (relative) norm. The board of education (school board) is normally locally (VERY locally) elected. The school board normally hires the superintendent as the chief executive of the school district. Details vary - in many cities the school board and/or superintendent may be appointed by the mayor. In some places school districts may be tiny (as is the case where I grew up - 1 high school per district, more or less, many districts per county). Large county-oriented districts may have additional layers of internal governance (Fairfax, VA has school 'clusters' with locally accountable advisory boards (? details lacking... but something of the sort...?)).

So - no. It is not true that 'public schools are controlled by the Department of Education'.

Comment Re:Have the blind sued the car makers? (Score 1) 492

I have to disagree with your contention that an obligation of the state is entirely due ot the right of the recipient. That may be where we're at loggerheads. There is a distinct difference between the state obligating itself to a goal (say... national defense) and the right of an individual to compel the state to take that action on their behalf (build an interstate highway to my door).

In this case, the state(s) have commited to provide an education system "being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind". That means they've signed on board to provide a school system. Doesn't mean they have to let you in, or keep you in if you don't get good grades, or misbehave. The legislature can set up the rules however they want to, unless there's an overriding document (like a constitution) compelling them to do things a certain way (and a judiciary to hold them to it). In many instances, state constitutions require "free and open public schools", meaning anyone can go and they don't have to pay.

However. The state legislature could write a bill tomorrow saying that their obligation to fulfill education will be discharged if they provide a 3rd grade enducation free to all, and then choose to have a competitive process for all higher education. Under the theory that higher education should be reserved for those likely to attend and graduate college, and that others should enter a trade, and trades are the responsibility of trade unions or private trade schoools. Oh, and the Federal gov't can keep all their funding, the 'streamlined' system wouldn't require any federal funding.

At least in Virginia, that's perfectly plausible, and nothing that could be done about it until the next election cycle. Not complying with No Child Left Behind? well leaving the federal money on the table removes that requirement, because federal involvement in education is tenuous at best. Federal courts under Equal Protection Clause - not an issue, the system is administered fairly. State courts? well, the legislation isn't unconstitutional, because the VA Constitution allows the legislature to set eligibility and age criteria (without restriction - I'd be willing to bet the original system was for children of landholders only...).

If the US Congress took it into their head tomorrow to repeal the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) - which they're perfectly within their authority to do - then overnight 90% of the 'rights' of special ed kids around the country would evaporate. Considering current state budgets, I have a feeling by default those kids would be warehoused with just enough attention to ensure they didn't suffer bodily harm. Their 'right' to a (free, appropriate, effective) education could be stripped with a single legislative act at the federal level. States were abominable at special ed before federal legislation (of questionable constitutionality...) was enacted to compel the states to provide a real education (never mind a healthy environment) for kids with disabilities.

If you think this sounds ludicrous, consider what Europeans think of our CURRENT education system. My nephew is an Irish citizen, and he gets a free (almost entirely) education through college. Not fully a right, but current law in Ireland. I was in Germany during high school, and college students in Germany _have a right_ to compel their parents to materially support them (as in, food, rent, and transportation - whatever a court finds 'equitable') while they're completing their college education. Those are rights.

Although, reading the Irish Constitution (graciously provided ALSO in English), again the Irish set up a bunch of rules surrounding provision of education and an educational system, but don't actually vest children with an affirmative right to education. Again - very odd. Seems the world has difficulty actually recognizing the children are human beings and deserve rights, and might find means to enforce those rights.

In short, a brief evening's sojourn through US legal code, case law, and various constitutions (state, US, Irish) leads me back around to the same (though more refined) conclusion. The State (capital T capital S) has obligated itself to an odd patchwork of responsibilities to provide education to the population "as a public good". At the same time, The State continually falls short of actually recognizing that any particular individual has an intrinsic/fundamental right to an education (of any description) which they might compel The State to provide for them.

The single document I have seen that explicitly recognizes any such fundamental right is the UNCRC, which the US has explicitly refused to ratify (though in fairness, I believe that's got a lot more to do with reproductive rights than anything else).

Comment Re:Have the blind sued the car makers? (Score 1) 492

wow. never been called a troll before. but in retrospect a moderately trollish comment.

going back to doing some reading... and found myself surprised at the degree to which states obligate themselves in their constitutions to provide a free education (as an obligation of the state, not stated as a right of the recipient... somewhat odd). Then I ran across what I believe is the original basis for my assertion (flashbacks to constitutional law classes while reading...), to whit: San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 1 (1973), in which SCOTUS held, "(b) Nor does the Texas school-financing system impermissibly interfere with the exercise of a "fundamental" right or liberty. Though education is one of the most important services performed by the State, it is not within the limited category of rights recognized by this Court as guaranteed by the Constitution. Even if some identifiable quantum of education is arguably entitled to constitutional protection to make meaningful the exercise of other constitutional rights, here there is no showing that the Texas system fails to provide the basic minimal skills necessary for that purpose. Pp. 29-39."

So... SCOTUS says there's no protected right to education, granted at the federal level.

back to state constitution. I happen to reside in Virginia - normally perceived as having an enlightened and model constitution. This is what the current VA constitution has to say about who has a right to education:
"Section 3. Compulsory education; free textbooks.
The General Assembly shall provide for the compulsory elementary and secondary education of every eligible child of appropriate age, such eligibility and age to be determined by law. It shall ensure that textbooks are provided at no cost to each child attending public school whose parent or guardian is financially unable to furnish them."
That's right - it's only a right if the VA assembly decides to pass a law to include you in the privileged class. Takes exactly one legislative action to unwind.

As to the NW Ordinance of 1787, it says precisely, "Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged." Again, this imposes a duty on the state to 'encourage' education, but provides no individual right.

I mention the Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) because in Article 28 it states explicitly, "States Parties recognize the right of the child to education". I mention this by contrast, because the US does NOT recognize this right. In fact, the US has not ratified the Convention, in contrast to the 194 other countries that have ratified it. Wikipedia claims (I'm not an expert) that, "The European Court of Human Rights has made reference to the Convention when interpreting the European Convention on Human Rights." which pushes it right into that area of enforcability (in the same sense that a ratified treaty is loosely enforcable).

So... at least in this country... no constitutional protection for a right to education. State by state you may or may not have a right to education, depending on how your state constitution is written - keeping in mind the difference between a state obligation to do a nice thing, or your right and claim to require the state to do it. best hope - a nearly universally adopted convention stating that certain rights exist and should be recognized (UNCRC) that includes a fundamental right to education, but... the US doesn't like it, hasn't ratified it, not even loosely usable as a fig leaf of recognized right there.

so. no. right. to. education.

Comment e-book donations? (Score 2, Insightful) 492

As a sighted person and a consumer of college texts, I hearby pledge to donate 1/4 of the difference between dead tree texts and e-book texts to developing a kick-ass text distribution/consumption capability for the disabled.

Seriously - how much end-user savings will this generate for the primary target audience?

I have a serious problem with DoJ denying the university the authority to use a particular technology and demand that the technology incorporate a particular feature set. ADA gives DoJ authority to require the university to provide a REASONABLE ACCOMODATION for those with disabilities that prevent their use of standard facilities/capabilities.

IMHO, requiring Amazon to change the feature set of their commercial product based on ADA for higher education is NOT a reasonable accomodation. The fact that they're big, capable, and that "they just need to abc xyz" is NOT a valid arugment for the reasonableness of the accomodation. Now I have a feeling the settlement actually said that the universities can't make the kindle (or similar device) mandatory until such time as they adequately support folks with disabilities (I'm assuming that's 508 compliance ). Which amounts to requiring Amazon to implement a broad feature set to support a fractionally sized community in order to get access to a large market.

So the precedent is now set - any disability community can leverage any public venue to pick the pocket of a large corporation and require them to accomodate their disability to gain access to the public venue. And the explicit leverage is that the majority of the inhabitants of the public venue will be locked out of the technology or innovation. OK - maybe that's abstract. But now it's a reality, with legal precedent.

Wasn't the point of Atlas Shrugged that if society lays too many burdens, obstacles, and demands on those actually producing (like Amazon...) that their ultimate recourse is to stop producing?

Comment Re:Have the blind sued the car makers? (Score 1) 492

and that right is enumerated where? Before you reply, please remember that the US is not signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Education is a privilege. One you can lose (definition of "expulsion"). In the US, the several levels of government (originally states, now at the federal level) have determined to make primary and secondary education freely available to all residents. Freely available, and mandatory for minors...

This "right to education" of which you speak could be expunged in any given locality by the acts of two legislatures (federal and state) without any need to change underlying constitutions or apologize to any courts.

and yes, the same applies to the privilege of driving.

Comment Re:But what role is there for the Government? (Score 1) 150

Why bother having armed forces? Can't we defend ourselves perfectly well with local militias? Isn't it every individual persons' responsibility to ensure the safety of their home and family?

What can government (more particularly a cyber-command) do that individuals can't or shouldn't?
- identify and neutralize active attackers - counter-attack is a valid strategy
- coordinate in a non-commercial, non-liability setting incident reports from various sources, to enable development of responses, as well as detection of patterns of threat/attack
- sponsor and coordinate development of defensive and offensive capabilities (cyber-warfare skunkworks)
- develop approaches to assess security of systems - current security is plagued by folks missing known vulnerabilities and attack modes. although your observation about standardization and homogenaity are accurate, not knowing how to assess is a vulnerability all by itself.

I can't advocate the current DoD/gov't approaches to cyber-security - they're deeply flawed. but that doesn't mean there isn't a valid role for gov't. it just means gov't needs to find its niche and perform better.

Comment Because the threat is real (Score 2, Informative) 150

There have been some very vivid demonstrations of the impacts of cyber-warfare, such as the attacks on Estonia and Georgia, Chinese and Iranian suppresion of free speech and media, air traffic control penetrations, and demonstrated penetrations of SCADA networks (power grid in particular). In Estonia, gov't services were disrupted, and the local equivalent of 911 was broken. Georgia was not as badly dinged as Estonia, largely because they're less reliant on networked services. (c.f. ). Power grid infrastructures (as well as telecom, oil pipelines, etc.) are highly automated in the US, and have been demonstrated to have been attacked (c.f. ). Having accidentally broken chunks of telecom infrastructure, I know how easy it is to create large-scale disruptions through control networks - even without ill intent. The FAA IG has reported that air traffic has already been disrupted by system breaches (c.f., ).

And this is the stuff that's publicly visible. There is definitely an iceberg effect here - there's a lot more under the surface that isn't readily visible to the public. There's good reason the Pentagon doesn't publish the full extent of attacks (successful and not) perpetrated against the DoD infrastructure - it's not a good idea to let attackers know how much you see (and don't). But the concern is based on real threats, and real attempts - this is not hysterical speculation. The rules of engagement haven't been defined (when is a hack attempt serious enough to merit retaliation? what's a 'cyber-exercise' v. an act of war? how definite does attribution of an attack need to be to become a diplomatic issue?). There are countries that are pushing all these envelopes to gain an edge.

So if this stuff is already going on at a low-rumble level, the threat is demonstrated, and the consequences can be foreseen, wouldn't it be irresponsible not to develop techniques and strategies to ensure this bad stuff doesn't happen?

Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean people aren't out to get you.

Comment ashamed... (Score 1) 87

I don't frequently vent, but I have to submit that the responses to this earnest young scholar from Israel have been bigoted, insensitive, and broadly creepy. If you replace all the holocaust comments with 9/11 comments, and replace all the jewish-world-domination-conspiracy comments with stupid polack or shiftless nigger comments, maybe it'll become apparent just how gratuitous, bigoted, ignorant, and insulting this thread really is.

I've always been proud to associate myself with the slashdot community - irreverant, biting, and insightful - the cream of the nerd crop. After reading the responses to this post, I feel like I need to take a shower. Then seriously rethink my image of the slashdot crew, and rethink my desire to associate myself with the community.


Slashdot Top Deals

"There is no statute of limitations on stupidity." -- Randomly produced by a computer program called Markov3.