Saturday, April 23, 2022

Now it's Math Textbooks in Florida?


I have written about how my book was banned by the Johnstown Area Heritage Association in much the same way that Art Spiegelman's was banned by a school board in Tennessee.  I have also written about the message I received from Google about my blog posts on the Ukraine war.  Now it's math textbooks in Florida that are being banned because they supposedly discuss critical race theory (CRT).  In the video above, the Lt. Governor of Florida and Fox News talk about why this ban is a good thing with no examples of why these books were banned.

In this video, reporter Judd Legum discusses his review of some of the textbooks that were banned.  His group found no discussion of CRT or Social and Emotional Learning (SEL).  Now SEL is seen by many on the right as synonymous with CRT.  Why these things are a bad thing is beyond me. 

CRT is a college level theory to study racism in institutions.  SEL is intended to teach children the emotional skills to better relate to one another.  The fact that many on the right cannot distinguish between the two suggests the need for more education of parents as well as children in critical thinking.

As an educator of statistics, I can tell you that it is always better to have teaching examples that students to which students can relate.  African American and Hispanic students often lag behind white students in math achievement.  These are important skills not only for balancing one's checkbook but for critical thinking in a variety of areas.  

None of the skills learned in school are learned in a vacuum.  What is taught in one subject area spills over into the others.  Governor Ron DeSantis (who is hoping to take on former President Trump in 2024) emphasized "education not indoctrination" to justify the banning of books and his "don't say gay" bill.

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Sunday, April 17, 2022

Statement from Google on my Blog and Ukraine

This week I received this message from Google about my blog: 

Dear Publisher,
Due to the war in Ukraine, we will pause monetization of content that exploits, dismisses, or condones the war.
Please note, we have already been enforcing on claims related to the war in Ukraine when they violated existing policies (for instance, the Dangerous or Derogatory content policy prohibits monetizing content that incites violence or denies tragic events). This update is meant to clarify, and in some cases expand, our publisher guidance as it relates to this conflict.
This pause includes, but is not limited to, claims that imply victims are responsible for their own tragedy or similar instances of victim blaming, such as claims that Ukraine is committing genocide or deliberately attacking its own citizens.

The money I would have received from Google ads is only pennies. In no way was I denigrating the people of Ukraine or justifying what is happening to them. You can read my posts and decide for yourself here. I was arguing that there are parallels between Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the U.S. invasion of Iraq. I was also arguing that NATO expansion up to Russia's borders was totally unacceptable for them. When Russia annexed Crimea, in 2014, I suggested having Russia into NATO as a way of offering them an olive branch to avoid another cold war. That is definitely not going to happen.  

More than likely my posts were flagged by a natural language processing algorithm by Google rather than by a human censor. Chris Hedges' program On Contact was deleted by YouTube (which is owned by Google as is Blogger). He discusses this issue above.

I did have a post on LinkedIn flagged once as inappropriate. I appealed it and it was reinstated. I do not seem to have any similar recourse with Google. You can read a discussion of Google's censorship here.

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