No one knows why Jim Boyd was locked up in the Texas Penitentiary back in 1934. What is known is that he had a fine tenor voice and a talent for clapping out a rhythm as nimbly as if the guards had let him have a guitar.
Care to hear him?
Music professors at Holy Names University in Oakland have transcribed hundreds of rare folk songs on a website - including 63 with recordings of regular people, like Boyd - that will transport you from the 21st century into the midst of a children's chanting game in Mississippi, 1939. Or to Virginia in 1935 as J.M. Hunt croons a sea shanty. Or behind bars with Boyd and his rendition of "This Little Light of Mine," sung at a faster clip than anyone does it today.
“Genuine folk music has been handed down from parents to children, through generations, and it changes, and each time it changes and might develop something deeper, some deeper meaning. It’s a very different thing than someone writing a folk song and recording it and having it be this one thing that never changes,” [ Kodály Center Director Anne] Laskey says.
“Mary Has a Red Bird” is good example of this oral history. A father and daughter in Texas sang this recording 75 years ago:
“This was a song sung to the babies way back in the cotton fields of slavery back down in about 1845,” Henry Truvillion explains to the archivist after singing the song. Then he names the generations who sang this melody to their children, and eventually, to him.
The typical starting point for action to promote social mobility is helping children achieve their potential through early interventions such as home visiting programs and preschool. Imagine if we began instead by asking: what can we do to ensure that every child is a planned, wanted, and welcomed child?
But let’s not kid ourselves: The law, such as it is, ran out of guidance or anything resembling an incontrovertible answer long before any of the justices reached their result in these [“momentous”] cases. What determined the outcome in all of them was nothing more and nothing less than how far one believes we have come as a society on questions involving race and sexual orientation. Of course, this is true for all the court’s momentous decisions (which is why they end up in the Supreme Court in the first place).
But maybe we should ask ourselves: Why on earth would we entrust such judgments, affecting the whole of society, to five people on a court whose members are made as unaccountable as possible and who sit on the bench for life, rather like monarchs?
President Obama recently recognized the accomplishments of Estiven Rodriguez, a senior at Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS) in New York City, which is part of the Foundation's Deeper Learning Network. Estiven, who could not speak English when he moved to the United States from the Dominican Republic at age nine, will attend Dickinson College on a competitve scholarship in the fall.
Estiven will attend the State of the Union Address tonight as a guest of First Lady Michelle Obama.
Thoughtful article at Foreign Affairs from George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace about the negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. He argues that their focus should be on ending Iran’s capacity to build a nuclear weapon quickly, not on politics or ending its enrichment capacity.
Annie Lowery, writing in the New York Times about interesting new research on how media influences teens' reproductive health decisions:
A new economic study of Nielsen television ratings and birth records suggests that the show she appeared in, “16 and Pregnant,” and its spinoffs may have prevented more than 20,000 births to teenage mothers in 2010.
The paper, to be released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research, makes the case that the controversial but popular programs reduced the teenage birthrate by nearly 6 percent, contributing to a long-term decline that accelerated during the recession.
“It’s thrilling,” said Sarah S. Brown, the chief executive of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a nonprofit group in Washington. “People just don’t understand how influential media is in the lives of young people.”
Of all the daunting challenges the nation faces—economic, social, environmental, and educational—perhaps the most vexing for the future is whether schools are preparing all children to apply what they are learning to make the critical decisions required to power the economy and democracy.
Administered every three years by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, PISA measures whether all of a modern nation’s children receive this education. Today, the honest answer is “no.” But the United States is planting the seeds of a movement to prepare today’s students to tackle tomorrow’s complex problems.
Despite various names and descriptions, the movement’s uniform objective is to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the ability to build on their knowledge to think critically, solve problems, and communicate effectively.
Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund, which the Hewlett Foundation has supported for many years, provides one-time assistance to our neighbors facing unexpected hardship. In addition to housing aid and other forms of direct support to families and individuals across the nine-county Bay Area, Season of Sharing also donates more than $1 million to the region's food banks each year.