(All of the material at http://soli.inav.net/~njohnson is in the process of being moved to a new host for www.nicholasjohnson.org -- including this page. This page was accurate as of May 15, 2003 (or you may find one, like this, dated November 2, 2003), but the current version contains a number of additional links you might want to see and is the one you'll want to bookmark. -- N.J. December 12, 2003.)
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Nicholas Johnson Main Web Site
Some of the linked texts created prior to 1998 make reference
to an outdated, incorrect, e-mail address which is no longer in
use: firstname.lastname@example.org). The current, correct e-mail address for
contacting Nicholas Johnson is:
"Dennis Kucinich and the National Democratic Party's Future." This is the prepared text of Nicholas Johnson's talk as a Kucinich "surrogate" at an October 25, 2003, gathering of Iowa Democrats in Des Moines organized by Chet Culver. It offers the party faithful a report and analysis of the national Democratic Party's demise over the last 30 years -- along with Johnson's recommendations regarding how to reverse the trend, and Congressman Kucinich's potential contribution to that result. An earlier version was presented to the Muscatine County [Iowa] Democratic Party Dinner, October 11, 2003.
"Media Concentration and Democracy." This is the text of Nicholas Johnson's presentation to the Iowa City, Iowa, Unitarian-Universalist Church, August 10, 2003. It deals with, among other things, the reasons for the First Amendment, early history of broadcasting regulation, and the multiple adverse consequences from global, multi-media, conglomerate corporate mergers.
"Back PLA Deal for Local Schools." Nicholas Johnson argues "1. The contractors have already won 95 percent of their battle. All we’re talking about is a pilot project for the remaining 5 percent. 2. There are no magic ingredients in PLAs. That’s why they’re called 'agreements.' The parties (district, unions, contractors) can put in them virtually anything they want. So what’s the fight about? For the sake of the kids, let’s get on with it." The opinion piece was published in the Iowa City Press-Citizen July 23, 2003.
"Kucinich Backers Aren't Kidding." Nicholas Johnson reports that Congressman Dennis Kucinich supporters believe that not only can he win, he may very well be the only Democrat who can beat President Bush. This Des Moines Register op ed column from July 21, 2003, sets forth their reasoning as to why same-old-same-old capitulation to corporate interests won't cut it.
"Wendell A.L. Johnson Memorial Web Page" was updated July 18, 2003, with links to Nicholas Johnson, "Retroactive Ethical Judgments and Human Subjects Research: The 1939 Tudor Study" -- a paper presented, by invitation, at a City University of New York symposium in December 2002 -- and a couple of articles in the eastern Iowa Gazette: Tom Owen, "When Words Hurt: Stuttering Story Missed the Mark" and "UI Professor's Son Defends Him, Research," both July 13, 2003.
"Is Dean 'a Liberal'?" This well-documented article by Nicholas Johnson is an effort to collect and cite chapter and verse on some of former Vermont Governor Howard Dean's positions on a number of issues. It is, in that sense, a response to any who look at "Who Comes Closest to Your Dreams and Beliefs . . . Kucinich or Dean?" (below) and are so stunned as to believe that its representation of Dean's positions can't possibly be true. It is dated July 7, 2003, and is available in three formats: html, pdf, and doc.
"Who Comes Closest to Your Dreams and Beliefs . . . Kucinich or Dean?" Nicholas Johnson's chart comparing the positions of presidential candidates Dennis Kucinich and Howard Dean on 19 issues; it raises questions as to why Dean has been characterized as "liberal" by his supporters and the media. First posted June 25, 2003.
"Another Iowan for Kucinich." Nicholas Johnson prepared and uploaded this new Web page during the last week of June 2003. It provides links to his, and others', endorsements, Web pages and writing about presidential candidate Congressman Dennis Kucinich.
"Want Free Speech Rights? Go Buy a Station." The FCC has proposed weakening its rules limiting mass media ownership. Some in Congress want to hold the agency to its present standards. In this June 23, 2003, Des Moines Register op ed column Nicholas Johnson argues, "Either is unacceptable. . . . FCC and Congress' approval of media concentration is outrageous. But it's made multiples worse when only owners have First Amendment rights, they can censor, own content as well as distribution systems, combine multiple media within one firm, have few to no obligations to their communities and are not even limited by a watered down fairness docgtrine." Uploaded to this site, June 23, 2003.
"PLAs Help Grow Local Economy." Nicholas Johnson responds to an anti-project labor agreement column: "Our state, like our nation, cannot build economic growth on layoffs and reducing wages. And yet that’s what architect John Lind’s June 14 column (“Bad PLA(y) on school building”) urges the school board to perpetuate. . . . PLAs produce savings . . .. That's one of the reasons PLAs are so widely used by experienced builders in the private sector. They are more likely to complete projects with quality workmanship, ahead of schedule and under budget. Why deny the public sector these benefits? Don’t our school children deserve as much?" The piece was published on the opinion page by the Iowa City Press-Citizen, and uploaded to this site, June 21, 2003.
Interviews with Nicholas Johnson
Regarding the June 2, 2003, FCC Ownership Rules:
May 19, 2003. Adam Burke, host, "The Federal Communications Commission and Media Ownership" [transcript only], "Live & Local," Iowa City PATV.
May 19, 2003. University of Iowa News Release, "UI Law Professor Nicholas Johnson Criticizes Proposed FCC Rules Changes."
May 21, 2003. Laura Sidell, NPR, "FCC Proposed Ownership Rules Changes" [transcipt only].
May 28, 2003. Andy Ratner, Baltimore Sun. Andrew Ratner, "How the FCC has influenced what you see, hear, read", Baltimore Sun, June 1, 2003.
May 30, 2003. Peter Maer, CBS, Washington, D.C.
May 30, 2003. David Kirkman, New York Times.
May 30, 2003. Dennis Bernstein, "Flashpoints," KPFA-FM, Berkeley.
May 30, 2003. John Grebe, "Sounds of Dissent," WZBC, Boston.
June 1, 2003. Ian Masters, "Background Briefing" (as downloadable or streaming audio), KPFK-FM, Los Angeles. (A streaming (in Apple Quick Time 6.0) or downloadable mp3 file is also available courtesy Gregory Johnson and ResourcesForLife.com.)
June 1, 2003. Anthony Fest, KPFA-FM, Berkeley.
June 2, 2003. Ed Baxter, KSO-AM, San Francisco.
June 2, 2003. "The Al Malmberg Show, WCCO-AM, Minneapolis [request; N.J. unable to schedule].
June 2, 2003. Cathy Lewis, "HearSay with Cathy Lewis," WHRO-FM, Norfolk.
June 2, 2003. Mike Webb, "Mike Webb Show," KIRO-AM, Seattle.
June 3, 2003. Chris Askew, WAOK-AM, Atlanta [request; N.J. unable to schedule].
June 3, 2003. Peter Werbe and Juline Jordan, "Peter Werbe Show," IE America Radio Network, Detroit.
June 3, 2003. Jerome Lewis and George Umballa, Trinidad's i95FM.
June 5, 2003. Gayane Torosyan, "Iowa Talks,"WSUI-AM, Iowa City (with other guests Rick Sellers of KMRY-AM, Cedar Rapids, and James Gattuso from The Heritage Foundation, Washington by phone). A streaming (in Apple Quick Time 6.0) or downloadable mp3 file is available courtesy Gregory Johnson and ResourcesForLife.com. A written transcript is also available.
June 9, 2003. Richard Kaffenberger, "The Richard Kaffenberger Show," KAAA-1230, Kingman AZ and KZZZ-1490, Bullhead City AZ ( "Media Concentration," transcript only).
June 9, 2003. Adalila Zelada (guest host for Sonali Kolhatkar), "The Morning Show," KPFK-FM, Los Angeles.
Our thanks to the University of Iowa News Services and the Institute for Public Accuracy for their invitations, and role in arranging, some of these media events.
"Proposal for I.C. School Builders is Akin to Teachers' Pacts." Nicholas Johnson's literary friend, Elmer, explains to him how the proposed Project Labor Agreement for the Iowa City Community School District's new elementary school involves principles and a process not unlike what the School Board has been doing for years in its labor relations with the District's teachers. The op-ed column appeared in the Eastern Iowa Gazette on Sunday, June 1, 2003, and was uploaded to this site the same day.
"FCC Proposed Ownership Rules Changes."At a time when the FCC was expected to announce new broadcast station ownership rules on June 2, 2003, arguments raged in some media as the date approached over the pros and cons of the proposed changes. NPR's Laura Sidell interviewed Nicholas Johnson about station ownership limits and related issues. This link goes to a transcript of his answers during that interview on May 21, 2003. Posted here June 7, 2003.
"The Federal Communications Commission and Media Ownership."At a time when the FCC was expected to announce new broadcast station ownership rules on June 2, 2003, arguments raged in some media as the date approached over the pros and cons of the proposed changes. An Iowa City, Iowa, Public Access Television program, "Live and Local," hosted by Adam Burke, featured Nicholas Johnson as the guest discussing these issues on May 19, 2003 (live, with repeats on May 24 and 26). This link takes you to a transcript of the exchange between Adam Burke and Nicholas Johnson on that occasion; uploaded here May 30, 2003.
"Make School Projects Labor Friendly." The Iowa City Community School District Board held an informational meeting May 13, 2003, regarding "project labor agreements" (PLAs) in general, and in particular the possible use of one for a very small portion of its forthcoming near-$40 million construction program. Johnson details at some length the evidence that "Iowa is not very friendly to working people," the advantages to the District of this proposed PLA, and the conclusion that given labor's work in getting the school bond issue passed this "tiny, experimental PLA" would be "good for kids" as evidence that their adult role models value the contribution of the trades and service sector people in the community. The piece was published as an op ed column by the Iowa City Press-Citizen, and uploaded to this site, on May 15, 2003.
"War in Iraq: The Military Objections" is a paper prepared for delivery on February 27, 2003, at the University of Iowa College of Law's "International Law Talks: War with Iraq," Sponsored Jointly by the International and Comparative Law Program and the National Lawyers Guild. The paper examines the war in Iraq not from the perspective of international law, humanitarian concerns, or risk of a resulting increased terrorism in the United States, but from a military perspective. When can national interests benefit from the use of military force and when not? What do the wisest military leaders themselves believe are necessary prerequisites to a successful military venture? The paper presents some elements of the so-called "Powell Doctrine" that speak to these questions, and goes on to argue that the U.S. civilians' decisions with regard to military efforts in Iraq failed to take into account the best military thinking. With revisions through April, the paper continued to expand with endnotes and an appendix as many of the concerns of February were played out over the weeks that followed.
"Ten Questions for Bush Before War." This op ed appeared as a Daily Iowan "Guest Opinion" on February 4, 2003. In it, Johnson does not argue for or against going to war with Iraq, only that before going to war there are a number of questions that need to be asked, and answered that, in his judgment, had not yet been adequately addressed. They involve such things as the impact of the war on terrorists ability to recruit -- and launch more attacks on the U.S., the diversion from our country's anti-Al Qaeda efforts and attempts to rebuild Afghanistan. With the passage of time since this was written, each is being answered in turn. This Web-posted version also contains links to some of Johnson's post 9/11 writing about terrorism in general and the Iraq war in particular.
"Why I'm Voting for the School Bonds." Nicholas Johnson's op ed appeared in the Iowa City Press-Citizen February 1, 2003 and was posted here February 3. In it he explains that he is supporting the ICCSD proposed bond issue in the election February 11, 2003, notwithstanding differences he has with some of the Board's decisions. This is because he believes the process has been both fair and politic in building consensus around the wishes of the District's stakeholders -- rather than, in all instances, selecting what other school districts believe to be "best practices."
"The First Amendment Right to Censor" is a transcript of an interview of Nicholas Johnson by Larry Bensky, KPFA, Berkeley, and Robert Knight, WBAI, New York, during the Columbia University Law School Conference on the FCC's Proposed Relaxation of Media Ownership Standards, January 16, 2003. Johnson notes that Congress was prescient enough in 1926 to see the risks to democracy from media concentration, and says things have only become worse since. Posted January 19, 2003.
The "Nicholas Johnson Media" site was created December 26, 2002, with the assistance of "PC DOC," Gregory Johnson, of Resources For Life. Com. Links from this site currently go to information about the Haefner Award, including two programs from the John Carhoff and Mike Peterson-produced series, "Education Exchange," recorded on September 30, 2002, and broadcast on the Iowa City cable system. They are called "Civic Education and the Haefner Award," hosted by Melanie Goss, and contain contributions from social studies teachers Mike Cervantes, Jeanine Redlinger and Carrie Watson. Those programs include, and the site makes available separately, John Haefner's brief explanation of civic education and the Haefner Award. There is also a link to Nicholas Johnson's December 20, 2002, presentation to the Weber Elementary School students of his recollections of Irving Weber, during the school's week-long celebration of Weber's 102nd birthday, December 17. NOTE PLEASE: This Apple/Mac service works well with broadband T-1, Cable Modem, or DSL connections and fast, memory-laden computers on which the videos will be presented as streaming while downloading. Others can download and watch the material, but will encounter some delays in doing so. The site was last modified December 28, 2002.
"Retroactive Ethical Judgments and Human Subjects Research: The 1939 Tudor Study in Context" is a paper that was prepared for, and provided the basis for Nicholas Johnson's presentation at, the "Symposium on Ethics and The Tudor Study: Implications for Research in Stuttering," organized by the Ph.D. Program in Speech and Hearing Sciences of the City University of New York. It was held at the CUNY Graduate Center, New York City, December 13, 2002, and posted here December 28, 2002.
"Is What's Black and White and Eldred All Over?" is a paper that was prepared for, and provided the basis for Nicholas Johnson's presentation at, the Iowa Intellectual Property Law Association Annual Meeting in Amana, Iowa, October 25, 2002. The paper explores the implications of Eldred v. Ashcroft, a case challenging the Congressional extensions of the terms of copyright protection that was argued before the Supreme Court earlier that month, on October 9th. The link to it was posted here December 28, 2002.
"Open Meetings: IC Meeting Didn't Need to be Public"was published by the Iowa City Gazette October 22, 2002. This opinion/letter piece takes issue with the newspaper's insistance on expanding "open meetings" requirements beyond what Johnson argues either law or common sense would mandate. Posted December 28, 2002.
"Open Meetings: Editorial Went Overboard"was published by the Iowa City Press-Citizen October 21, 2002. This opinion/letter piece takes issue with the newspaper's insistance on expanding "open meetings" requirements beyond what Johnson argues either law or common sense would mandate. Posted December 28, 2002.
"Ernestine in the 21st Century: Take Me Home Country Roads" is the lecture Johnson presented to the 2002 National Rural Telecommunications Congress "Building Demand for Broadband" Conference October 8, 2002, in Des Moines, Iowa. In it he says that Lily Tomlin's telephone operator Ernestine ("We don't care. We don't have to. We're the telephone company.") now confronts enough competition that she has to care. And the "country roads" that took John Denver home to West Virginia are now the coax, optic fiber, satellites and wireless that connect rural America to that global village called cyberspace. Posted here October 9, 2002.
"Capitalists Can Help U.S. Avert War with Iraq" was published in the "Sunday Insight" section of the Iowa City Press-Citizen October 6, 2002. In it Johnson argues that, "The real reasons for going to war may not be savory, but at least they're more understandable than the totally bonkers line we're being sold." The real reasons? Johnson says they are to gain access to Iraq's oil and to pay back the defense contractors for their $10-15 million of campaign contributions. Posted October 10, 2002.
"Free College, or Let Students Cover it All?", Des Moines Register, October 2, 2002. "It's decision time for Iowans. Tuition increases trigger the questions: What educational services do we want? How shall we pay for them?" Johnson outlines a continuum of choices from more money for prenatal care to free college education. He says that "Any choice, if well considered, would be preferable to refusing to consider our options. Otherwise apathy, avoidance, special-interest pleading, drift and political cowardice will continue to drive us by default toward today's unintended consequences." Posted October 3, 2002.
"On Iraq, Tell the Rest of the Story." "The mass media's constant responsibility for an informed electorate intensifies in proportion to the volume from the drums of war." It has met this responsibility, Johnson says, with regard to some Iraq war data and issues. It has done less well with (1) the role of oil, (2) the possible "Wag the Dog" motives and quality of the exercise, and (3) the administration's effort to shift focus from as-Qaida, to "terrorism," to "Iraq." "Since when," Johnson asks, "did our military's war colleges start teaching that when a war isn't going well, the winning strategy is to start another." The Iowa City Gazette, October 2, 2002.
"Media's Role, Power and Censorship" is a transcript of Nicholas Johnson's comments as a guest on Jeff Golden's "Jefferson Exchange" -- a radio program originating with Jefferson Public Radio and carried by a number of radio stations in Oregon. Johnson addresses the role of media in totalitarian and democratic societies, the censorship of points of view antagonistic to advertisers or the ruling elites, the "Fairness Doctrine" (repealed by the FCC), and the general abdication of by FCC of its regulatory responsibilities. Originally aired September 6, 2002, and posted September 10.
"Research Did Not Cause Stuttering" is an op ed piece by a distinguished psychiatrist, Dr. Michael Flaum, Director, Iowa Consortium for Mental Health. Dr. Flaum takes issue with an earlier editorial in the University of Iowa newspaper, The Daily Iowan, that charged a "lack of ethics" in the conduct of the 1939 Tudor masters thesis study of the onset of stuttering. He cites the Ambrose and Yairi study (see below), and suggests that (a) no harm was done to the subjects (some of whom are now potential plantiffs suing the University of Iowa), (b) no harm was intended, (c) the study was well within "the norms of the time," and (d) the ethical standards self-imposed by researcher and supervisor compare very favorably with those often violated by prestigeous institutions today. The piece appeared in the Daily Iowan September 4, 2002, and was posted here September 5.
"The Tudor Study: Data and Ethics." This article by Nicoline Grinager Ambrose and Ehud Yairi was published in the May 2002 volume of the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. Given that the Tudor study (a 1939 masters thesis at the University of Iowa) is back in the news, the authors' conclusions are both relevant and striking. Their analysis of the data leads them to the conclusion that the theory put forth is erroneous and that there is no way the study could have "caused stuttering" in the subjects. For this, and many other reasons, they also conclude that most all of the ethical charges against the study are both unfair and undeserved. The paper has been made a link from Nicholas Johnson's article, "Retroactive Moral Judgments and the Evolution of Ethics in Human Subjects Research: A Case Study in Context". Posted August 26, 2002.
"Between Iraq and a Hard Place" was published by both the Omaha World-Herald (August 13, 2002) and the Iowa City Press-Citizen (August 17, 2002). Johnson goes through his own checklist for going to war and finds none of the necessary prerequsites to have been met -- at least not yet, and not on the basis of what the public has been told. The link goes to a page with both papers' version of the column, and the subsequent readers' online comments and published letters from the Omaha World-Herald. The column was posted to this site August 18, 2002.
"A Money Manager Makes a Sweet Deal, For Himself, That Is." Johnson argues that trust officers and brokers should be paid for performance; that to pay them a percentage of assets (whether those assets are increasing or declining in value) is like paying a store manager a percentage of the value of goods in the warehouse -- something totally unrelated to what they're paid to do. The Iowa City Gazette, August 4, 2002. Posted August 8, 2002.
"Market Competition Alone Won't Curb High Drug Costs" was published by the Quad City Times July 24, 2002. Johnson believes that merely transferring more money from taxpayers, through seniors, to the pharmaceutical companies is no solution to the unconscionably high prices the companies charge. Basing health care delivery on a system of private profit maximization never did make much sense, but now we've tried it and proved its abuses far outweigh its benefits. It's time to nationalize pharmaceutical research, eliminate the patent protections, and push generics. Posted July 24, 2002.
"Is 'The Commons' a Useful Framework?" The Boston Review occasionally devotes much of an issue to a single-topic "New Democracy Forum" in which a number of contributors are invited to respond to a lead article. The topic, and lead article, for the summer 2002 issue was David Bollier's "Reclaiming the Commons." Johnson was one of the invited commentators. He argues that the "commons" is useful concept, but may have been spread too thin by Bollier. Johnson says it's more useful when dealing with something like the Internet than when talking about the role of children in American society. Posted July 24, 2002.
"Why Pay Financial Advisors on the Basis of 'Inventory"?"is an exchange between Nicholas Johnson and financial advisor Joe Brisben during the WSUI-AM910 radio program, "Iowa Talks," on July 24, 2002. (The program was hosted by Al Kern.) Johnson pushes Brisben on why financial advisors should be paid under formulas that do not take into account the quality and utility of their advice. Posted July 24, 2002.
"Schools Fail Kids; Not Vice Versa"was published by the Iowa City Press-Citizen July 9, 2002. "What does Stephen Spielberg have in common with Beethoven, Churchill, Edison, Einstein" and others of similar accomplishment? Each was told they were an academic failure. Even the best traditional schools don't work for every student. That's why alternative schools are being built all across America -- including Iowa City, Iowa. Posted July 16, 2002.
"Search for Better Response Than War: Don't Reward the Terrorists, But Understand Their Interests", Des Moines Sunday Register, June 30, 2002, p. 3OP. "There's no question we must prevent future terrorists' attacks. There are questions about the best way to do it. If there are alternatives to military action that are both (a) cheaper and (b) more effective than 'war' shouldn't we at least consider them? Posted July 16, 2002.
"Solve Our Budget Woes: Raise Our State Taxes"was published by the Iowa City Press-Citizen June 9, 2002. (The author proposed as a title, "Read My Lips: No New Axes.") Johnson addresses the cuts in state programs' budgets. That's one response to shortfalls in tax revenue, he admits, but another -- seemingly overlooked by media and officials alike -- is raising taxes to fund essential programs. He acknowledges that some could be made more efficient, and that tax rates could be made more equitable, but argues that we're not overtaxed compared with other countries, that taxes are the price we pay for civilization, and that failing to "pay as you go" just passes the bill to our grandchildren. Posted June 9, 2002.
"Why Are Iowa's Major Parties So Hostile to Third Parties?"is an exchange between Nicholas Johnson and Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Steve Sukup during the WSUI-AM910 radio program, "Iowa Talks," on June 3, 2002. (The program was hosted by Al Kern.) Johnson asked the candidate why Iowa's two major parties are so backward and hostile (compared with other states and nations) when it comes to the regulations regarding the establishment, and maintenance, of third parties. The full question, and the non-answer, are provided here. June 9, 2002.
"The Last Commencement Address: The U High Idea"This site contains a verbatim transcript of the extemporaneous remarks of then-Federal Communications Commissioner Nicholas Johnson on the occasion of the last commencement of a graduating class from the University High School, Iowa City, Iowa, June 1, 1972. An old UI archived copy of the address is being scanned and uploaded to the Web at this time in commemoration of the 50th Reunion of the U High Class of 1952 and as a way of sharing some sense of the spirit of a school that now remains only in the memories of those who benefited so very greatly from what it had to offer. The transcript was posted here May 25, 2002.
"The Haefner Award"NOW WITH VIDEO OF DR. HAEFNER!Following Nicholas Johnson's successful campaign for ICCSD School Board in 1998 the surplus in his campaign fund was used by him to create "The Haefner Award" endowment fund, administered by the ICCSD Foundation. This site explains the purposes and entry requirements for the Award, designed to recognize excellence in an ICCSD high school social studies student's execution of a civic education project designed to identify, and resolve, a public policy issue in local government. This site was created and posted May 23, 2002.
"Given Corporate Greed, Fraud and Corruption: Is the Stock Market Just a Con Game?"Nicholas Johnson asks two financial advisors, Dr. John Spitzer and Larry Swedroe, guests on WSUI-AM910's program, "Iowa Talks," why the wise investor should not ignore their advice. Their answers may surprise -- and enrich -- you. The program first aired May 23, 2002 and was hosted by Barney Sherman; this transcript excerpt was posted May 25, 2002.
"Rewriting the Constitution, Starting with the 'Absolutely Senseless' Establishment Clause"This story begins in Frederick, Maryland, with an observant and knowledgeable high school senior: Blake Trettien. He noticed that a monument with the Ten Commandments was located on public park property, and knew enough to know that this violated the Establishment of Religion Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. So on March 22, 2002, he wrote Frederick County Commissioner Richard B. Weldon a very impressive analysis for a high school student regarding his concerns. The local paper, The Frederick News-Post, editorialized that it was "absolutely senseless" to apply the Establishment Clause in this way. Nicholas Johnson responded with a Letter to the Editor suggesting other provisions of the Constitution that might also be revised -- but was informed that the letter would not be published because only local letters are used (notwithstanding the fact that this paper often runs letters from elsewhere). This page contains the relevant documents, and was posted May 22, 2002.
"What and Where is 'Truth'?"The Western Behavioral Sciences Institute, La Jolla, California, runs an invitation only, online exchange of views between Fellows on a variety of topics called the International Leadership Forum. One under consideration during May 2002 is titled "Post-Truth Era." (Is lying now so commonplace as to be expected in public and private life?) One of Nicholas Johnson's comments in that conference challenges the assumption that there is such thing as "truth" standing alone. He lists and illustrates everything from "Accounting Truth" to "Witness Truth." Posted to the WBSI ILF, and to this site, May 8, 2002.
"How Ethical Are 'Ethical Wills'?"Nicholas Johnson speaks out on the dangers and ethical questions surrounding so-called "ethical wills" during a news interview by WQAD-TV8's Mark Martin. The interview was first aired May 19, 2002, and was posted here on May 29, 2002.
"Iowans Listen to Governor Howard Dean"Rumor has it that Vermont Governor Howard Dean may be exploring whether to consider a run for the Democratic Party's nomination for president in 2004. Iowans haven't heard the answer to that one yet -- but they are listening. This non-political, non-partisan (and clearly unauthorized) Web site links to pictures from the Governor's Iowa visits, and to some other sites providing background information about the man and his record. Posted to this site May 8, 2002.
"Bringing the Outsiders Into the Legislative Tent"is an exchange between Nicholas Johnson and Congressman Jim Leach during the WSUI-AM910 radio program, "Iowa Talks," on May 1, 2002. (The program was hosted by Al Kern and Dean Borg.) Johnson asked the Congressman if he could provide any case study examples of instances in which, say, welfare recipients (most of whom are children), the working poor, or others normally outside the big money tent that is Washington politics today, had shaped the legislative system to their ends as well as the major campaign contributors do on a regular basis. Congressman Leach offered no examples. Posted May 1, 2002.
"New Challenges Facing Global Leadership: Refocusing the International Leadership Forum"is the full text from which Nicholas Johnson's talk was drawn at the First Annual Meeting of the International Leadership Forum (a program of the Western Behavioral Science Institute, La Jolla, California), April 27, 2002. In it Johnson argues that groups focused on discussions of public policy might find it fruitful to give proportionately more time to strategies for implementation of change, and proportionately less to the identification of problems and fashioning of options for their solution. Posted April 29, 2002.
"Why Aren't We Doing More to Curb Binge Drinking?"was published by the Iowa City Gazette April 16, 2002. In it Nicholas Johnson puts forward the consequences of alcohol abuse in our society (numbers of persons and the impact on public health, economic losses and crime), and asks "What will it take to get our attention? Will we only respond to deaths?" Posted April 16, 2002.
"Rethinking Terrorism" is the prepared text for Nicholas Johnson's presentation to the National Lawyers Guild Midwestern Regional Conference, March 2, 2002, at the UI College of Law in Iowa City. The conference theme was "A critical discussion of civil liberties . . . [and] the war on terrorism . . . in the wake of 911." "Rethinking Terrorism" focuses on the legal utility of a word such as "terrorism" and the wide range of issues and possible interpretations it raises. Photos of the conference are available, including the internationally acclaimed musical duo Charlie King and Karen Brandow who agreed to interrupt their U.S. concert tour to include this Iowa City event. (Their Web page is available at www.charlieking.org.") Posted March 4, 2002.
Boundaries and Bond Issues: One of the most significant issues before the District and its communities at this time (2002) is what to do about the potential overcrowding of some current school buildings resulting from both (1) a projected increase in the number of school children, and (2) a concentration of that increase in the northwest portion of the District. The current consensus is for a proposed $30-million-plus bond issue (or 20 percent sales tax increase) for new buildings and major renovations. Nicholas Johnson's first contribution to this dialogue is contained in a paper he presented about a year ago regarding elementary schools: "Educational Opportunities and Class Size Equity: A Proposal for the Iowa City Community School District Board," March 25, 2001. Although denominated a "proposal" it is less a single set of solutions than it is a proposed way of thinking about these challenges -- whether one wishes to propose no new construction or a lot of it, along with a great many options for educational innovations that can be included, or excluded, from the ultimate plan. Re-posted February 6, 2002.
The Board's final proposal is contained in the document "District-wide Boundaries and Educational Opportunity Proposal," February 19. 2002 (with its appendices as links from that site); posted here February 21, 2002.
A remaining issue is the extent to which the District Administration will respond to the Board's desire that the high schools' "educational opportunities" be fully explored before architectural plans for renovations are drawn up. To assist in that process, Nicholas Johnson has offered a think piece of options under the title "Improving High School Education While Reducing Costs and Space," dated February 25, 2002, and posted here March 6, 2002.
Nicholas Johnson presented that document to the ICCSD School Board at its regular meeting March 12, 2002. The exchange between Johnson and the Board on that occasion is contained in this transcript. The text of his prepared remarks are available as "Comments Regarding the Document 'Improving High School Education While Reducing Costs and Space'". There are also the official minutes of the meeting and a photo of the Board that evening.
A couple of draft op ed columns, columns that will in all probability never be either submitted or published, respond to the community uncertainty created by the 11th hour addition of extensive plans for the two local high schools that would drive the price from the low 30-millions of dollars to the high 70-millions.
At this point, Johnson argues, we have to "take it from the top" -- explain what we're teaching, and how, and why, and the ways in which that translates into present building configurations. Why are we rejecting educational innovations that others believe improve the quality of education while reducing costs and space? Presumably there are reasons. They need to be put forward. "School Building Proposal: Take It From the Top". Posted April 16, 2002.
Following a visit to the Hearst Castle in California, and the discovery that the relatively conservative Iowa Association of School Boards had published a piece making most of the same points he had been making, Johnson produced another draft op ed entitled, "Building 'A Little Something'". Posted April 30, 2002.Nicholas Johnson's Iowa City Press-Citizen columns dealing with K-12 education generally, and the Iowa City Community School District in particular, were published every other Tuesday during the course of his three-year term as a member of the ICCSD School Board. The first appeared October 12, 1998. The 79th, and last, in the series was published September 25, 2001, the day of his last Board meeting. A complete collection of the full text of the entire series is available.
"July 20, 2002, 50th Reunion & Other Matters Involving the Colossal Class of '52"[The University of Iowa's experimental school, University Elementary and High School, closed in 1972. However, the affection of those blessed with the outstanding education it provided remains undimmed. Thus, the U High Class of 1952 is now engaged in planning its 50th reunion. This link goes to a reunion page for that class created and maintained by Nicholas Johnson. Posted to this site March 6, 2002.]
"Johnson County Democrats 2002 Platform Committee [Economics Sub-Committee]" (This is an unofficial Web site of the Economics Sub-Committee of the Johnson County [Iowa] Democrats Platform Committee, of which Nicholas Johnson was co-chair with Steve Kanner. The site contains the Platform Committee-approved text from the Sub-Commitee and links to photos of the working sessions held on February 16 and 23, 2002. Posted here March 6, 2002.)
"Rethinking Terrorism" is the text prepared for Nicholas Johnson's presentation to the National Lawyers Guild Midwestern Regional Conference, March 2, 2002, at the UI College of Law in Iowa City. The conference theme was "A critical discussion of civil liberties . . . [and] the war on terrorism . . . in the wake of 911." "Rethinking Terrorism" focuses on the legal utility of a word such as "terrorism" and the wide range of issues and possible interpretations it raises. Photos of the conference are available, including the internationally acclaimed musical duo Charlie King and Karen Brandow who agreed to interrupt their U.S. concert tour to include this Iowa City event. (Their Web page is available at www.charlieking.org.") Posted March 4, 2002.
Richard W. Jencks, "Sumner Redstone, William S. Paley, and Other Diversions: Media Moguls, Then and Now" (When Richard W. Jencks was President, CBS/Broadcast Group, and Nicholas Johnson was an FCC Commissioner, they seldom agreed on broadcast public policy issues. Now, 30 years later, with no coordination or awareness of the other's concerns, the two seem to have come to a simultaneous agreement that there is a significant downside to accumulations of media by what Mr. Jencks calls "media moguls" and Mr. Johnson once called "the media barons." [ "The Media Barons and the Public Interest: An FCC Commissioner's Warning,"The Atlantic, June 1968; a "Flashbacks" feature on "The Atlantic Online."] Mr. Johnson's current concerns were expressed in an article in the January 7, 2002 issue of The Nation [ "Take This Media . . . Please!"] Mr. Jencks' concerns are contained in this January 15, 2002, talk to the CBS Alumni Club in New York City. His talk has been selected and uploaded here because of the public policy significance of this statement from a former major U.S. television executive. He addresses the creative and cultural consequences of today's growing media merger movement, currently unrestrained -- indeed, virtually unexamined -- by Congress, the FCC, or other government agencies. Posted January 30, 2002.)
"Why Do Iowa Republicans Oppose Third Parties?" (WSUI's Al Kern interviewed Iowa Republican Gubernatorial candidate Bob VanderPratts on the "Iowa Talks" radio program January 24, 2002. Nicholas Johnson put a question to the candidate regarding the two major parties' opposition to third parties. The question, and the non-answer, are available here. Posted January 24, 2002.)
The "David Vernon Memorial Web Page" now presents "David Vernon Memorial -- The Movie" (David Vernon was a much-beloved professor, and former dean, of the University of Iowa College of Law -- amongst a great many other accomplishments. He died November 5, 2001. One of the speakers at the law school's memorial service November 9th was a student of Professor Vernon's, Tim Hansen. Mr. Hansen's descriptions of Professor Vernon's teaching are such that a mere transcript of his remarks would not fully capture the presentation. So, with the contributions of Patty Ankrum's video tape of the proceedings, Gregory Johnson's magical dititizing, editing and uploading, and Apple Computer's contribution of Web hosting space, it is now available here in QuickTime format. Posted January 9, 2002.)
"Take This Media . . . Please!" (The January 7, 2002, issue of The Nation magazine presents a "Big Ten" chart of the largest multi-media conglomerates. A number of commentators were invited to submit reactions to the chart, including Al Franken, Ani DeFranco, Phil Donahue, Danny Goldberg, James Fallows, Nancy Kranich, Julianne Malveaux, Danny Schechter, Hussein Ibish -- and Nicholas Johnson. Johnson expands on four consequences of media concentration: fewer owners, profit pressures (dumbing down journalism), opportunities for manipulative hype, and the Supreme Court's view that such owners have a constitutional right to censor the speech of those with whom they disagree. Posted here, from The Nation's Web site, December 28, 2001.)
"Epaminondas and the Effectiveness of Domestic Security Efforts" (Nicholas Johnson explores the issues surrounding the standards that might be used to evaluate the effectiveness of our current efforts to improve our "domestic security." Are they actually reducing terrorist acts, or are they merely cosmetic placebos? What can we do, shy of Thomas Friedman's proposal that we all "Fly Naked"? These two comments were posted to the WBSI International Leadership Forum December 25 and 26, 2001, and to this site December 28, 2001.)
"Public Power is Worth Study" (An Iowa City, Iowa, group -- the Iowa City Public Power Initiative -- is proposing that the City Council undertake a study of the pros and cons of municipal ownership of the distribution of electric power now that the MidAmerica franchise is coming to an end. Nicholas Johnson writes that it's "hard to argue with the value of thinking," and goes on to explore private power's pricing designed to increase usage, and its "basic service charge" which he believes to be irrational and unfairly punitive of the poor. Published in the Iowa City Press-Citizen December 15, 2001, the piece was posted here December 28, 2001.)
"Support the Public Power Initiative" (An Iowa City, Iowa, group -- the Iowa City Public Power Initiative -- is proposing that the City Council undertake a study of the pros and cons of municipal ownership of the distribution of electric power now that the MidAmerica franchise is coming to an end. Nicholas Johnson writes that it's "hard to argue with the value of thinking," and goes on to explore private power's pricing designed to increase usage, and its "basic service charge" which he believes to be irrational and unfairly punitive of the poor. Published in The Daily Iowan December 12, 2001, the piece was posted here December 28, 2001.)
"From the Major Parties' Fear and Loathing to Welcome: Third Parties in Iowa"(Iowa law is relatively hostile to the creation, and continuation, of political third parties. Nicholas Johnson argues that this stance of the state's two major parties not only disserves all citizens, but the self interest of the two major parties as well. Originally drafted and sent to an Iowa State Senator in July 2001, it was posted to this site November 19, 2001.)
"Is the Word 'Violence' More Analytically Useful Than 'Terrorism'?"(Debates about what is and is not "terrorism" get caught up in emotional judgments that make rational analysis difficult. Perhaps the task is eased by looking at the range of violent acts and the factors we weigh when deciding whether a given violent act is "justified." Posted to the WBSI International Leadership Forum November 18, 2001, and to this site November 19, 2001.)
"David Vernon Memorial Web Page" (David Vernon was a much-beloved professor, and former dean, of the University of Iowa College of Law -- amongst a great many other accomplishments. He died November 5, 2001. Some of the outpouring of affection and respect for this extraordinary man is available here. Posted November 18, 2001.)
"Defining Terrorism" (Virtually all Americans, and most of the rest of the world's citizens as well, are unanimous in their opposition to "terrorism." Moreover, we're all agreed that what happened on September 11 meets anyone's definition of the term. Beyond that, however, it's a little difficult to come up with a definition of terrorism that will exclude what we've done to other countries while including what they've done to us. Defining terrorism isn't an impossible task, but it is a very difficult one -- and one that requires we acknowledge there's a little hypocracy on all sides, including ours. Posted to the WBSI International Leadership Forum November 11, 2001, and to this site November 12, 2001.)
"Homeland Security" (The continued bombing of Afghanistan, long after we've run out of targets, serves to further anger, radicalize, and increase the numbers of those militant Muslims who weren't crazy about the U.S. to begin with. If we are trying to reduce the likelihood of more terrorist acts in the U.S., "From my perspective, and that of the world's press I am reading," says Johnson, "it seems to me that my 'homeland security' is every day somewhat less than it was the day before." Posted to the WBSI International Leadership Forum October 27, 2001, and to this site November 1, 2001.)
"Teach Our Children Tolerant Ways" (In response to the barbaric attacks of September 11, even a declaration of martial law can't eliminate our vulnerability. And retaliation may just serve to increase terrorism. What can we do? Whether you prefer a military response or greater international understanding, education is an imperative beginning. It's hard to fight an enemy if you can't find his country on an outline map and can't speak the language once you do. Sputnik produced the National Defense Education Act. It's time for another. And "this time let's include social studies." This, the last of Nicholas Johnson's 79 newspaper op ed columns in an every-two-week series about K-12 education issues -- published during his term as ICCSD School Board member -- was published on the last day of his three-year term. Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 25, 2001.)
"Vote in School Board Election" ("Our under-10-percent turnouts in School Board elections are disgraceful. What kind of message does that send our teachers and students about the importance of democracy? What our School Board does, and how it does it, will have an impact not only on our children but all of us. Go vote." Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 11, 2001.)
"All Things Political" (On the September 10, 2001, "Iowa Talks" radio program on WSUI-AM 910 host Al Kern had University of Iowa political science professor Dr. Arthur Miller as his guest to explore a range of political issues. Nicholas Johnson posed questions regarding the low turnout in elections (as he put it, "What if we had an election and nobody came?") and the State of Iowa's hostility toward third parties. Their exchange was Web-posted September 21, 2001.]
"Smaller Schools Are Better" (Numerous foundations, academics, and government task force reports are concluding that, when it comes to improving the nation's high schools, "smaller is better." Better for safety, better for students' sense of belonging, better for academic achievement and extracurricular participation. They recommend schools of 400 to 600 students -- or, if the larger buildings already exist (as they do locally) -- the concept of "schools within schools." Now that the ICCSD is addressing the Urban Education Network's Redefining High School report, "every district stakeholder needs to participate in planning what will, hopefully, include the benefit of smaller schools." Iowa City Press-Citizen, August 28, 2001.)
"The Green Party in Iowa" (The August 17, 2001, "Iowa Talks" radio program on WSUI-AM 910 focused on the Green Party of Iowa. Here are the comments of Nicholas Johnson on that occasion regarding the win-win options for legislative reforms in Iowa that could favor both the major as well as the state's third parties. Posted to the Web August 27, 2001.)
"Make Better Use of Channel 11" (Video cameras, student video production, and full utilization of community access cable channels set aside for educational purposes can make a major contribution to any school district's mission. With TV stations selling in the millions, or even billions, of dollars the ICCSD's cable channel 11 is a woefully underutilized and wasting asset. The column describes current student video production projects and offers a range of programming ideas for the cable channel. Iowa City Press-Citizen, August 15, 2001.)
"Gay Students Deserve Protection" (Human Rights Watch report, Hatred in the Hallways, suggests that "of all the world's human rights abuses among the worst are the violations of the international treaty rights of the 2 million gay and lesbian students in our nation's schools. Apparently protection of their rights involves considerably more than advocacy by the 'politically correct.' School administrators simply have to be concerned." Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 31, 2001.)
"Epilogue" to the earlier paper, "Retroactive Moral Judgments and the Evolution of Ethics in Human Subjects Research: A Case Study in Context" ("What a Difference a Month Makes!" Within less than a month after the Human Subjects paper was posted to this Web site its concerns and predictions were already playing out. Seldom has an epilogue been required quite so soon after publication. First posted to this site July 31, 2001.)
"To Be 25 Again!" (Former FCC Commissioner Nicholas Johnson, "present at the creation" of community video, and 1985 recipient of the George Stoney Award for Humanistic Communications, was asked to contribute a statement to the 25th anniversary issue of the Community Media Review Summer 2001 issue. This is his statement, posted here July 25, 2001.)
"Pre-Web Files: Nicholas Johnson Sample Writings" (Here, newly rediscovered, are 21 "Communications Watch" columns and 26 other illustrative, pre-1996 writings. They were first posted on the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility computer in California in the early 1990s. Once unavailable there they were thought to have been lost. Recently found in a backup on another computer, they are now available once again and were posted here on July 24, 2001.)
"Net Programs Aid Test Preparation" ("There will never be a substitute for a professional, caring teacher. But there can be supplements." Online programs enable individual education plans for every student, tailored to that student's "aptitudes, current interests, and most efficient methods of learning. What Skills Tutor does for standardized tests today other programs could do for an entire curriculum tomorrow." Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 17, 2001.)
"School Board Meeting Alternatives" (The ICCSD School Board feels a need to bring into better balance its desire to provide adequate time for the public input that informs its decisions while still leaving time for the Board to do the long range planning, formulating of "ends policies," and other aspects of its work. At the Board's request Nicholas Johnson put together this brief list of options as an aid to Board discussion of some alternatives. It was drafted July 8 and discussed by the Board at its regular meeting July 10, 2001, at which time no action was taken.)
"Home Schooling a Viable Option" ("There's a reason for public schools. They serve our nation, and most families, very well." But "college admissions officers are taking notice" of the rather extraordinary performance of home schooled students -- many of whom are a full four years ahead of their contemporaries. "Home schooling is a growing movement -- from 15,000 20 years ago to 2 million today -- with increasing opportunities for the few who choose it." Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 3, 2001.)
"Retroactive Moral Judgments and the Evolution of Ethics in Human Subjects Research: A Case Study in Context" (Nicholas Johnson, former co-director of the University of Iowa Institute for Health, Behavior and Environmental Policy, addresses the ethics of human subjects research in the post-World War II period in an exploration of the appropriate standards to be used in passing moral judgments retroactively on the ethical standards used in the first half of the 20th Century. The 2001 controversy surrounding a 1939 master's thesis study provides the case study. The piece was posted to the Web June 21, 2001 and has undergone revisions since, including the addition of notes and an Epilogue. Its contents may be used by others in teaching or future research and writing on the general topic, but it is not authorized for publication, quotation or attribution without permission.)
"District Needs an Ombuds" ("It's not enough that an institution's policies are wise. It must think about process." How does it go about implementing change, treat its stakeholders, and resolve conflicts? "One of the most common, popular and successful institutions for resolving conflicts is an 'ombuds.' Many progressive school districts have one in place." Iowa City Press-Citizen, June 19, 2001.)
"How Would We Know If We'd Ever Been Successful?" (This is Nicholas Johnson's attempt to relate general semantics, "the IFD disease" theory of depression, the impact of media on values, and the governance insights, teachings and standards John Carver proposes for school and other boards. Was Johnson "successful" in this attempt? Or is that the wrong question? Read it and judge. The piece is the text used in a talk before the Clinton, Iowa, "Partnership Way" organization where he was introduced by his daughter, Julie Johnson, and accompanied by his son, Gregory Johnson. The date was June 14, 2001.)
"Swiss Education Runs On Time" ("Swiss railroads are a metaphor for everything Swiss, including schools. This commitment to the rational, and attention to detail," has created an educational system that produces excellence in both academics and apprentices. "Virtually everyone not only has an educatiion and a job, but performs at high professional standards. The Swiss are on the right track. And not just with their trains." Iowa City Press-Citizen, June 5, 2001.)
"A View of Switzerland: Schools, Government and Railroads" (Nicholas Johnson and his wife visited Switzerland in May 2001 to study the International Telecommunications Union and Swiss innovations in primary and secondary education. This site contains some photos from that trip. (An Iowa City Press-Citizen column, "Swiss Education Runs On Time," was published June 5. See above.) This photo essay was first posted May 25, 2001.)
"Learn from Alternative Schools" ("The best alternative high schools are among America's most exciting educational success stories. What can traditional high schools borrow from them to the benefit of all?" Here's a start at the list. Iowa City Press-Citizen, May 22, 2001.)
"Special Ed Has Its Special Issues" (Our nation's special education programs "represent humanity at its finest." But they "put severe economic and other strains on school districts. Frustrations for administrators, special ed teachers and associates, classroom teachers and parents. Each disabled student is a valued person. Each deserving of the best our society is willing to afford. One of the toughest challenges confronting any civilization is calculating how much that is." Iowa City Press-Citizen, May 8, 2001.)
"Special Education Controversy" (ICCSD Board President Matt Goodlaxson's April 10 expression of concerns about the District's special education program produced quite a backlash from teachers -- and a special agenda item at the Board's April 24 meeting. Here are some of Nicholas Johnson's comments on the issues. April 24, 2001.)
"Outcome With Scouts is Unclear" (On April 10 the ICCSD Board held a community forum to discuss the legal and other implications of the Boy Scouts' homophobic policy in light of the school district's anti-discrimination policy, which includes "sexual orientation." "Debates elsewhere about issues of no greater divisiveness can and do lead to decades-long civil wars. Democracy's potential has been powerfully demonstrated in our community once again" by the civility of the discussion of these emotionally-charged issues. Iowa City Press-Citizen, April 24, 2001.)
"We Need Alternative High School" ("Some students are said to be 'at risk.' But it is we who are equally at risk if we continue to ignore what they are telling us with their words and actions. Our district needs a good alternative high school. It's a need that increases with time." Iowa City Press-Citizen, April 10, 2001.)
"Opinion of the ICCSD Board in Response to a Petition Regarding the Resignation of the City High Principal" (District stakeholders petitioned the School Board on March 27, 2001, itemized their complaints regarding the Superintendent's handling of the resignation of a local high school principal and offered suggestions for improvements in the Board's monitoring of his performance. This response was drafted by the Board and adopted and released at its next regular meeting, April 10, 2001.)
"Give Back: Serve on School Board" ("It's a blessing to serve on a school board. And now is the time to decide who will serve. Unwilling to serve? That just increases your obligation to find other folks who will. We're all in this together. We all need to give back to our community. There's no more satisfying way to do that than with school board service." Iowa City Press-Citizen, March 27, 2001.)
"Educational Opportunities and Class Size Equity: A Proposal for the Iowa City Community School District Board, March 25, 2001" (The board, superintendent, boundaries committee, community and local media have considered a number of components as "options" that might go into an overall plan for dealing with overcrowded school buildings, inequity in size of classrooms, long range planning, and related issues and opportunities. But there are not, yet, any specific, integrated plans. Nicholas Johnson has attempted to pull some of these ideas into a single, integrated proposal in this discussion document designed to help move the board, and community, from options to conclusion.)
"Principal Concern for Education" (National attention is coming to be focused on K-12 administration. Not just the shortage of principals, but their role. If it's instructional leadership that we need perhaps we should be looking for "principal teachers" rather than building managers. As Blackman and Fenwick put it, "The challenge districts face is to encourage the able to be the willing." As Johnson concludes regarding the ICCSD and its search for principals, "No one doubts we have the able."Iowa City Press-Citizen, March 13, 2001.)
"Reality: We Just Can't Have It All" ("Overcrowded classrooms" can be solved with basic math. Have kindergarten students register by district, not by building, and assign them to identically-sized classes. "Because if you're going to have a cat you're going to have scratches. And if you're going to let students show up willy-nilly at elementary schools you're going to have grossly disparate class sizes." Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 27, 2001.)
"Galloping Global Multi-Media Merger Mania: A Former FCC Commissioner's Perspective" (Text for Nicholas Johnson's presentation to the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Peoples Unitarian-Universalist Church, February 18, 2001. The piece develops how 11 causes and consequences of mergers of mass media are threatening America's democratic self-governing and diversity within the nation's creative community -- among other things.)
"Snow Day Solution" ("Snow day stress is not inevitable. Abandon the 100-year-old Agricultural Age school schedule. Try year round schools." Iowa City Gazette, February 18, 2001.)
"More Needed on Iowa Child" ("Iowa Child's IMAX theaters, teacher training and hotels come and go like a desert mirage. It's hard to imagine any Iowa City banker loaning $300, let alone $300 million, for such an unfinished proposal. 'The devil is in the details.' But at this point in time the question about Iowa Child is: Where the devil are those details?" Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 13, 2001.)
"School Board Service" (Want to join the fun? Why not run for School Board? The next election is September 11, 2001. Nothing's more rewarding. Posted to Web February 2, 2001.)
"New Secretary Does What Works" (Rod Paige, Secretary of Education in the Bush Administration, has been superintendent "in a textbook district. He's not only read the books, he wrote the plan. His genius has been the ability to get the diverse sprawl called Houston to go along." Within the limits imposed on any U.S. secretary of education "Dr. Roderick Paige brings the potential of great promise." Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 30, 2001.)
"Whose Child is This?" (Transcript of Nicholas Johnson's Extemporaneous Remarks on the Occasion of "A Public Forum on Opposing Iowa Child," Organized by Stop a Vast Error (SAVE). Organizers and Presenters: Caroline Dieterle, Carol DeProsse and Clara Oleson. Iowa City, Iowa, Public Library, January 22, 2001.)
"'Iowa Child' Concerns" (Nicholas Johnson raises some significant questions and concerns about a project its promoters call "Iowa Child" -- perhaps something of a misnomer for a combination 600-room hotel and rain forest in the middle of the Iowa prairie. The piece was written and Web posted January 22, 2001, on the occasion of a community meeting to discuss the project.)
"We Have a 'New World Disorder'" ("What are the educational implications of the Internet? No one knows what the Internet is now, let alone what it will become. Except that 'school' now seems to be a verb." Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 16, 2001.)
"Open Meeting Clarification of May 9, 2000, Statement Regarding District Standards of Honesty" (These are the individual comments of ICCSD School Board member Nicholas Johnson on the occasion of the board's open public deliberations on January 9, 2001. The deliberations involved a statement issued by the Board on May 9, 2000. The January 9 deliberations were held in response to the recommendations of the Johnson County Attorney and his interpretations of the Iowa Open Meetings law and the May 9 meeting. Johnson said, "The Board has taken no action regarding the coach. It has not recommended action be taken by others. In fact, to this day it has never even been informed what action, if any, was taken by the City High Athletic Director, Principal or Superintendent. Neither the statement, nor the closed session, were in my judgment a violation of the Open Meetings law.")
"'Shrub' Offers a Look at Bush" ("If you haven't lived amongst Texans, Ivins and Dubose provide the next best insight I know into Texas in general and George W. Bush in particular, and it is his education record that is of greatest interest to this column. Those insights alone are well worth the $8.99 price of the book." Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 2, 2001.)
"Music Could Lead Us Into Future" ("While a few still voice objections to the merits of magnet schools, we are living in what is, for all practical purposes, a magnet school district. What's our core competency? Music is one way of thinking about our future." Iowa City Press-Citizen, December 19, 2000.)
"Channel One: A Sense of the Board Statement" (At its regular meeting December 12, 2000, the ICCSD School Board issued a statement regarding the controversial role of Channel One in the District, earlier discussed at its meetings of November 14 and 28. The Board chose to take no action at this time, for a number of reasons detailed in the statement. It also summarizes "The Case for Channel One" and the "Concerns" that have been raised nationally and locally about the propriety of television advertising directed at students while in school.)
"Children Targeted by Advertising" ("What we call 'our children' others call 'a $500 billion market.'" In our schools "we can go for even more corporate revenue. Or we can try to create a more commercial-free environment for our students. It's our choice." Iowa City Press-Citizen, December 5, 2000.)
"Be Thankful for What We Have" (Thanksgiving is an appropriate time to remind ourselves that "clearly we are the rich relations of the human family." Whether it's the quality of our educational system or other aspects of life within our school district "measured against the realities of human life on Earth we have much more to be thankful for than first imagined." Iowa City Press-Citizen, November 21, 2000.)
"Dems, Cease Your Slander: Nader is Not Your Problem" (When national Democrats decided to solicit, and serve, the corporations that support both political parties with multi-million-dollar soft money contributions they, necessarily, had to abandon their natural base of constituents -- the poor, working class, trade union members and their progressive wing. The strategy was successful in raising their share of the $3 billion spent on this election. It was not successful in attracting voters. They've thereby created a serious problem for themselves. It's disasterously self-defeating for Democrats to think that their problem is Ralph Nader -- or that the problem can be solved by further alienating Nader and his supporters. Iowa City Gazette, November 19, 2000.)
"Democracy is an Everyday Task" (Millions of dollars in soft money and 22,000 lobbyists in Washington aren't the only forces rotting our democracy from the core. There are also the "sub-governments." We need citizen empowerment. "Campaigns, and classrooms, should focus on process, not promises. Without processes that are full all promises are empty." Iowa City Press-Citizen, November 7, 2000.)
"Bush and Gore: What Difference?" (When it comes to the issues that affect the bottom line of their corporate backers -- often the very same corporations -- it is not surprising that there is little or no difference between Bush and Gore. Some differences on other issues? Sure. But not when it comes to a choice between corporate America's bottom line and consumer or worker protection. Fifth in a "Common Sense 2000" series, Internet distributed and Web posted November 5, 2000.)
"Understanding Washington: An Insider's Perspective" (A transcript of extemporaneous remarks at a Clinton, Iowa gathering, November 3, 2000. Sub-heads include: "Money and Politics; Money and Policy," "The Similarities in the Gore and Bush Support of a Corporate Agenda," "Campaign Finance Reform: Failure of Lobbying and the Need for Political (Third Party) Action," "The 'Risk' of a Bush Election Pales by Comparison to Former Political Risks," and "Power in Your Hands.")
"Only Gore Costs Gore Election" (Democrats and Gore supporters have only themselves to blame if Gore loses this election. But since they are continuing to say "Nader can cost Gore the election" here's a rational, decision-tree analysis that can be used now, or after the election, to calculate the truth of that charge. Fourth in a "Common Sense 2000" series, Internet distributed and Web posted November 2, 2000.)
"Freedom Ain't Free" (Attacking evils, such as British big business control of the colonies or slavery, have always involved risks -- such as the Revolutionary War and 600,000 Civil War dead. So it is today with the evil of the big business takeover of politics and the government and the risk of a Bush presidency. Reasonable people can differ about that risk -- as they could, and did, about the risks from fighting for independence and against slavery. I think the risk is worth it. The third in a "Common Sense 2000" series, Internet distributed and Web posted November 1, 2000.)
"College Football: Regulation or Restructure?" an exchange with UI President Mary Sue Coleman, Guest, and Julie Englander, Host, on "Iowa Talks" (Subject: Knight Commission/College Athletics Abuses) WSUI-AM, Iowa City, Iowa, October 31, 2000, 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.
"Bush's Supreme Court Appointments: A Halloween Fright?" (The shrill hysteria regarding the possibility of George W. Bush making appointments to the Supreme Court "is at best a gross exaggeration, reflecting either a lack of understanding of the Court and appointment process or a deliberate use of scare tactics." The second in a "Common Sense 2000" series, Internet distributed and Web posted October 30, 2000.)
"How Nader Helps Democrats" (It's not the responsibility of the Green Party to help Democrats, but in fact it does whether its members want to or not. The first in a "Common Sense 2000" series, Internet distributed and Web posted October 29, 2000.)
"Nicholas Johnson Introduction of Ralph Nader" at Nader's presentation for the UI Students 4 Nader and Iowa Green Party-sponsored event, October 27, 2000, University of Iowa Memorial Union, to an overflow crowd of 2000.
"Nicholas Johnson KCJJ Interview" on "The Big Show" with Captain Steve Bridges and Anthony Weller, KCJJ 1560 AM, 1630 AM Stereo, Iowa City, Iowa, October 27, 2000 (discussion of the third party movement as seemingly the only strategy, historically and today, for reducing the corporate control of the two major parties.)
"Take Schools Survey Seriously" ("There's one thing more important than any other: parental involvement." So take the parent-teacher partnership survey and take it seriously. Iowa City Press-Citizen, October 24, 2000.)
* "GUEST OPINION: Celebrate America's Heritage . . . Reject Big-Buck Politics" (The U.S. in general, and Iowa in particular, have a great tradition of supporting third parties to bring about reform whenever either of the two major parties are dominated by corporate and big money influence. Now is such a time once again. Nader is the logical choice. The Daily Iowan, October 20, 2000, p. 8A.)
"Opinion of ICCSD Board in Response to Appeal from Superintendent's Busing Decision, Golfview Parents," granted and decided September 26, 2000, opinion released October 10, 2000. (This is the Board's opinion in the second case to arise under the Board's policy appeal process. Parents contested the Superintendent's decision denying busing for their elementary school children. The Board interpreted its use of the word "unsafe" in its executive limitations and held the only available walking/biking trail for students to be "unsafe.")
"Middle Schools Could Help Here" (Middle schools: one more innovation that might simultaneously improve the quality of education for our school district while also eliminating the problem of overcrowded schools. Iowa City Press-Citizen, October 10, 2000.)
"We Can Direct Coming Changes" (Whether overcrowded schools create a "boundaries problem" or "opportunities without boundaries" is up to us. Cedar Rapids' openness to change provides illustrations of the latter. Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 26, 2000.)
"Nicholas Johnson: Money Rules/3rd Parties Are Answer to Special Interests" (Today, as historically, when big business and the wealthy take over either major party, citizens have found the remedy in third parties. Quad-City Times, September 26, 2000.)
"Why Iowa Democrats Support Ralph Nader" (Text of remarks to Ralph Nader for President benefit held at Gabe's in Iowa City, Iowa, September 25, 2000, sponsored by University of Iowa Students for Nader and the Iowa City Green Party.)
"Today is School Board Election Day" (School districts like ours don't just happen. Everyone plays a part. School Board members too. "And that's where you come in. Because you pick 'em." Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 12, 2000.)
Interview/exchange during Chris Lydon's network radio program, "The Connection." The topic was "Decoding Hollywood Politics and Interests in Campaign 2000" September 12, 2000. There is a transcript of Nicholas Johnson's remarks, and the program is also available in Real Audio streaming audio. (Click on "Listen Now." Nicholas Johnson's remarks start at 36 minutes 35 seconds into the hour-long program and end at 44 minutes 45 seconds. Real Audio provides a sliding control for selecting start times.) Guests on the show included Peter Bart, Editor-in-Chief Variety; Martin Kaplan, Director, Norman Lear Center at USC; Steven Brill, Brill's Content; Bernard Weinraub, writer for the New York Times; Ken Auletta, New Yorker Media Columnist.
Nicholas Johnson Exchange with David Cobb, Guest, and Al Kern, Host, on "Iowa Talks" (Subject: Ralph Nader for President Campaign, WSUI-AM, Iowa City, Iowa, September 11, 2000, 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.)
"Schools Must Teach Democracy" ("'It is difficult to teach democracy in an authoritarian manner.' Our students need some democracy lab time." Iowa City Press-Citizen, August 29, 2000.)
"Don't Waste Your Vote on Gore or Bush: Help Fix America by Supporting Ralph Nader" (Transcript of remarks to the University of Iowa Students for Nader, Iowa Memorial Union, August 28, 2000; posted September 12, 2000.)
Nicholas Johnson Exchange with Drs. Lane Plugge and Trudy Day, Guests, and Gayane Torosyan, Host, on "Iowa Talks" (Subject: Education and Iowa City Schools, WSUI-AM, Iowa City, Iowa, August 25, 2000, 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.)
"A Millenarian View of Artists and Audiences," Chapter 18 ("Epilogue") from Michael Suman and Gabriel Rossman, Advocacy Groups and the Entertainment Industry (Westport: Praeger, 2000) (posted August 23, 2000).
"Georgia's Media Future: Options and Opportunities for the Third Millennium," Chapter 17 in Laura Lengel, ed., Culture @nd Technology in the New Europe: Civic Discourse in Transformation in Post-Communist Nations (Stamford: Ablex Publishing 2000) (posted August 22, 2000).
"Technological Determinism" (an archeological find from Nicholas Johnson's 1955 writings as a college student; posted August 22, 2000).
"Charter Schools Offer Options" ("Charter schools offer choice. And our first choice is whether they reach this school district at all." Iowa City Press-Citizen, August 15, 2000.)
"How Should We Use Computers?" ("Technology" -- black boxes, screens and cables -- is not the answer to America's educational needs. But teachers' creative use of these electronic teaching assistants just may be. Iowa City Press-Citizen, August 1, 2000.)
Running for School Board" ("No community service could be more rewarding."
The filing deadline is August 3, 2000. "What
are you waiting for? Do it. Get those nomination papers today." Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 18, 2000.)
Death in the Corporate State" (A streaming audio version of a recently
uncovered reel-to-reel tape of the November 5,
1970, University of California speech as FCC Commissioner that was an early draft of what ultimately became the Bantam book,
Test Pattern for Living, posted July 13, 2000.)
Mowing" (A recently uncovered June 30, 1998, effort at creative writing;
of primary interest for information about growing
up in Iowa City during the 1930s and 1940s; posted July 12, 2000.)
"A Mann to Remember This 4th" (Educational reformer Horace Mann confronted many of the same challenges that are still with us today. Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 4, 2000.)
"Iowa Schools Facing Severe Problems" (The Iowa State Education Association proposes that "recruitment, retention and respect" are the "3 Rs" that can help Iowa obtain and keep the teachers the state will need to replace the 40 percent soon eligible to retire. Iowa City Press-Citizen, June 20, 2000.)
"Schools Good but Could be Better" ("Why are we so resistant to educational innovations? It's a mystery." Iowa City Press-Citizen, June 6, 2000.)
"We Get What We Want -- Sports" ("Benefits from school sports? Of course. Worth the cost? Don't ask." Iowa City Press-Citizen, May 23, 2000.)
"ICCSD Board of Directors Ends Policies, Revisions and Status as of May 23, 2000" (This is the set of drafts following the May 23 regular meeting approval of the prologue, and first reading of policies 2a and 2b. For prior drafts see the Governance Web page.)
"Magnets Offer Real Choice" ("Choice can take the form of the vouchers that will weaken public education . . . [or] the magnet schools that will strengthen it." With them "our overcrowding problem vanishes like the morning dew." Iowa City Press-Citizen, May 9, 2000.)
"ICCSD School Board Academic Ends Policy (Literacy)" now contains the May 7 and 8 revisions, and the Board's May 2, 2000, additions to the April 25/29 revision of the original April 7 draft document. It is scheduled for additional discussion at the Board's meeting May 9, 2000. (Both the original, April 7 prior draft, as well as the April 25/29 revised document that was the basis for the May 2 Board discussion are available for comparison.)
"Consistency Works in Education" (The Pentagon's schools are producing remarkable results -- especially when it comes to closing "the achievement gap." What can we learn from them? For starters, "districts that 'give up and blame the environment' don't do as well as those with the attitude, 'We can teach anybody to learn.'" Iowa City Press-Citizen, April 25, 2000.)
"Opinion of the Board In re: Superintendent's Tennis Lights Decision," petition denied, April 25, 2000, opinion released May 2, 2000, is the Board's first opinion applying its March 28, 2000, Board Policy Appeals Process (see below). A controversy surrounding local citizens' complaints about the intrusive nature of the tennis court lights at a local high school has been brewing since November 1998. The Board's opinion deals with each of the Petitioner's alleged policy concerns in turn, and contains as appendices each of the relevant documents.
"Board is Different, Better" (A conversation between "Roger and me" about school board governance, decision making, and citizen appeals. "Roger, what I think is that you haven't heard a word I said." Iowa City Press-Citizen, April 11, 2000.)
School Board Response to Staff Concerns Regarding Sample Academic Ends
Policies" was adopted by the Board April 4,
2000. (It contains links to the original proposals and quotes from Dr. H. D. Hoover's presentation.)
"ICCSD Board Policy Appeals Process" was adopted by the Board March 28, 2000. (This policy is designed to distinguish the Board's responsibility for policy from the Superintendent's responsibility for administration. Although any and all concerns still may be presented to the Board by anyone, the Board will only resolve those involving policy issues.)
"New Ideas Benefit Schools" (Demands of the "Information Age" call for K-12 changes. The American School Board Journal has awarded 23 school districts its Magna Awards for innovation, described in this column. "Are we capable of putting others' tested, award-winning innovations in place? Of course. Will we? That remains to be seen." Iowa City Press-Citizen, March 28, 2000.)
D. Hoover and 'Ends Policies'" (Dr. H. D. Hoover heads the Iowa Tests
of Basic Skills program at the University of Iowa. He
spoke March 21, 2000, to the Iowa City Community School District Board on the subject of the relationship to test scores in general,
and ITBS scores in particular, to the Board's proposed academic "ends policies" for the District. This document is an effort to organize, and present highlights and quotes, from that 1-1/2-hour presentation and question and answer session.)
"Let's Celebrate All Our Successes" (Public education -- nationally and locally -- has a lot of accomplishments of which to be proud. It's not just our local schools' national and state awards, it's also thousands of unrecognized actions every day. Iowa City Press-Citizen, March 14, 2000.)
"A Good Model for Education" (We can't "copy" the German educational system, but it has a good many lessons for us from free school pre-schools, to abolition of school boards, and an integration of academics and apprenticeships that produces for Germany both global competitiveness and some of the highest academic achievement in the world. Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 29, 2000.)
"'No Standards' is No Option" (Measurable goals, standards and tests -- including the school board's "ends policies" -- can be hazardous, but "they're far less serious than the dangers of operating our schools without them. Besides, it's the law" -- now that Iowa, "the 50th state to fall in line" in the standards movement, requires them of school districts. This Iowa City Press-Citizen column was published February 15, 2000.)
Free Speech, Profitable Speech and the Future of the Internet (Text of presentation during Nicholas Johnson's week as Regents’ Lecturer, University of California San Diego, at a Breakfast Symposium with San Diego Business Leaders, UCSD Faculty Club, February 3, 2000. Comments on his remarks were provided by panelists Neil Derrough, former President, NBC Channel 7/39, President, N.E.D. Enterprises; Robert Bingham, founder, Simple Network Communications; Guylyn Remmenga Cummins, Gray, Cary, Ware & Freiderich; Professor Robert Horwitz, UCSD Department of Communication. This event was videotaped for broadcast during March 2000, following which a tape will be available for transcription.)
General Semantics and Departments of Communication (Advance text of remarks presented at a University of California San Diego Faculty Club Reception for general semanticist Dr. Sanford Berman, February 2, 2000.)
Media Regulation in the Age of the Internet (A rough outline of notes used by Nicholas Johnson for his primary public lecture as Regents’ Lecturer, University of California San Diego, presented in the UCSD Copley Auditorium, February 1, 2000. It includes material that, for lack of time, was not in fact presented. An audio tape was made, but is not yet available. It will in time be received and transcribed.)
UCSD Highlights (Nicholas Johnson served as University of California Regents Lecturer January 29-February 5, 2000. While on the campus of the University of California San Diego under the sponsorship of its Department of Communication he made a number of public appearances. This Web page will be expanded over time to include transcripts of more of the events. It was first created February 7, 2000.)
"An Explanation . . . Maybe a Little Late" (This is Nicholas Johnson's column about his Iowa City Press-Citizen every-other-Tuesday K-12 education columns. "This is a column. It is only a column. . . . I provide the sand, you produce the pearls. Their value is for others to judge." It was published February 1, 2000.)
"Opportunity to Look at Education" (This January 18, 2000, Iowa City Press-Citizen op-ed urges Iowans' attendance at the January 24 precinct caucuses, evaluates the presidential candidates' education proposals, and asks, "Is Bush too liberal to get elected to our school board?")
"Sample Academic Ends Policy" (Illustrative "ends policies" -- John Carver's term -- were produced at the School Board's January 15, 2000, retreat and posted here, and on the District's official site, January 18, 2000.)
"Questions They Never Get Asked" (a July 12, 1987, op-ed column in the Washington Post during an earlier Presidential campaign was found, scanned and Web-posted January 9, 2000, for its continuing relevance during the Year 2000 presidential Iowa caucuses and primaries -- when these essential questions are still not getting asked.)
"The Marad Management Information Reporting System," is a 1965 U.S. Maritime Administration publication first posted here January 7, 2000. It describes then-Maritime Administrator Nicholas Johnson's management style at that time. It was discovered, scanned, and posted here as one of a number of models of how the ICCSD School Board may choose to tie its "ends policies" to data, monitoring, and the appearance of charts and graphs.
"Should School Boards be Abolished?" (transcript of Nicholas Johnson's remarks during Roy Justice interviews of Russell Edwards, author of How Boards of Education Are Failing Your Children, and Nicholas Johnson, KXIC-AM 800, Iowa City, Iowa, January 5, 2000.)
"Commercialism Attacks Schools" ("It is a bit ironic that this all began with a Paul Revere pizza sign. . . . Now it is the corporations that are coming, right into our schools. In fact, they're already here." Iowa City Press-Citizen op ed column January 4, 2000.)
"Communications Passport," January 4, 2000, is revised draft text, and possible color layout, for a School District brochure explaining the most effective ways for stakeholders to become informed about, and communicate with, the ICCSD and its school board.
"The Communication Process and General Semantic Principles" (Web-posted December 23, 1999, as the newest addition to the Wendell Johnson Memorial Web Page, is this 1948 paper that provides one of the best good, short overviews of general semantics.)
"What Values Are We Promoting?" ("If commercialism has even infested religious holidays, what about schools? School districts are of many minds." Iowa City Press-Citizen op ed of December 21, 1999 -- just in time for the HollyDaze.)
"Let's Focus Efforts and Resources" ("We can't afford two 'shopping mall' high schools. We need focus. Let's make our school district the nation's preeminent writing school district." Iowa City Press-Citizen op ed column December 7, 1999.)
(Draft Only) "Resolving Disputes and Communication with the School District" (First, working draft of "how to" brochure for District's stakeholders, December 7, 1999.)
"Crowding in the Schools? It Calls for Creative Solutions" (A December 1, 1999, Iowa City Gazette opinion column by Mary Vasey and Nicholas Johnson responding to Gazette reporter Nathan Hill's article about crowding at Iowa City's two high schools, City and West.)
"Quick Fixes Are Too Disruptive" (Crowded classrooms are putting pressure on the school board to come up with solutions. It's characterized as a problem of redrawing "boundaries" (around elementary schools). But long-term solutions offer possibilities for educational innovation. And "ironically, the less the community is willing to innovate the greater will be the pain from the changes we will have to make." A November 23, 1999, Iowa City Press-Citizen op-ed column.)
|Humor Break: No Pun in Ten Did|
|Humor Break: Divert Course|
|Humor Break: Political Insights|
|Humor Break: Microsoft's Ones and Zeros|
|Humor Break: Church Bulletin Bloopers|
|Humor Break: Why Did the Chicken?|
|Humor Break: Mega Moron Awards|
|Humor Break: Interview Techniques|
|Humor Break: McDonnell Douglas Warranty Card|