This Week in Alts: The history of 'school choice' in Mississippi, 'Dreidel Rap '89,' and more

Jackson Free Press, "Then and Now: When ‘School Choice’ Creates a Divide" The Jackson, Mississippi alt-weekly takes an in-depth, historically informed look at the idea of "school choice"—charter schools, voucher-like programs for children who attend private schools, etc.—currently being pushed in Mississippi. Writer Anna Wolfe looks at the history of public education all the way back to the 1930s, and explains how the idea of school choice has a particularly racially charged history in Mississippi: "During legal segregation years, it was a ploy called 'freedom-of-choice' that Mississippi began to implement after Brown [v. Board of Education] specifically to avoid desegregating public schools. After the 1954 Brown decision, the state of Mississippi first ignored the federal mandate to integrate. But when the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed, Mississippi was at risk of losing its federal funding for public schools if it did not desegregate public schools. In 1965, the state agreed to follow the act, but tried to avoid desegregation in other ways—especially with its 'freedom of choice' strategy." That legacy makes many education advocates extremely wary of "school choice," even though school-choice supporters say their programs will help the most disadvantaged populations in Mississippi schools.

 

Willamette Week, "Hotseat: Joshua P. Howe, Behind the Curve" "Joshua P. Howe says he tries to approach the problems of climate change like a football coach. 'I think about a guy like Pete Carroll,' says Howe, a professor of environmental studies and history at Reed College. 'If he got up at a press conference and said, "Yeah, we lost the game ’cause the other team is good," he’d be shouted out of town.'" The Portland, Oregon alt-weekly interviews Howe, whose book "Behind the Curve: The Science and Politics of Global Warming" was published earlier this year, about the politicization of the environmental movement, how that ended up working against the environmental movement, and what can be done to dismantle the "top-down approach" that Howe thinks dominates the movement.

 

Chicago Reader, "Did Hanukkah hip-hop peak with 'Dreidel Rap '89'?" The answer to the question in that headline appears to be a resounding yes—you can listen to the song yourself to judge. The writer, Leor Galil, discovered the 'Dreidel Rap '89' cassette single on eBay for $52 during the summer and tracked down the single's creator, a Chicagoan named Craig Snider, to talk to him about the 25-year-old track. Galil also gives a quick history lesson on the prevalence of Jews in hip-hop and talks about how hard it is to find a Hanukkah song that doesn't suck: "Few of the Hanukkah pop songs I've heard get past gimmickry, and some of the rap tracks don't seem to look any further for inspiration than the dumbest cliches about Jews. West-coast legend Too $hort (as [Adam] Sandler would put it, 'Not a Jew') begins his 2012 tune 'Hanukkah (Favorite Time of the Year)' by saying 'I'm a lawyer!' YouTube is lousy with parody Hanukkah rap videos, most of them by amateurs goofing around, but by and large they rely on the assumption that Jewishness and hip-hop are such an incongruous pair that the combination will be funny all by itself (at least '90s group 2 Live Jews tried to write jokes)."

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