Jason Wallestad

Exploring the worlds where parenting, teaching, advising, and coding coincide.



Why I’m voting for Joe Biden: Trump’s America has become a violent America

August 31, 2020

I write with a heavy heart, and I start by condemning last night’s shooting in Portland as equally as I condemn the shootings last week in Kenosha.

When Trump was asked today if he would condemn the Kenosha shooter, he failed to do so and said: “We’re looking at all of it. That was an interesting situation” and then hinted that it was self defense. All he had to say about a 17-year-old militia member who traveled from another state and carried a semi-automatic rifle through the streets of a city on edge and then shot three people, killing two of them, is that it is “interesting.”

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Why I’m voting for Joe Biden: he won’t retweet conspiracy theorists and white nationalists

August 30, 2020

I’m voting for Joe Biden this fall because he won’t retweet conspiracy theorists and white nationalists.

I’m setting a low bar here, but it’s an important one. And I’m not being glib. The President of the United States should not foment hatred or division, should not promote lies and half-truths, and should never promote violence in America.

Whether his tweets are personal attacks on other politicians (Ted Cruz’s dad, Marco Rubio’s citizenship, Obama’s birth certificate), demonstrable lies (largest ever inauguration audience in history, charges that mail-in voting causes fraud), or just plain idiocy (vaccines cause autism or windmill noise causes cancer), his words are not acceptable for someone holding our highest office.

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Why I’m voting for Joe Biden: He takes the coronavirus crisis seriously

August 29, 2020

Sadly, many on the right have decided that the coronavirus crisis is exaggerated at best or a hoax at worst.

I understand where this perspective comes from –– it’s hard to comprehend things we haven’t personally seen.  And if we don’t know someone who has died or been seriously ill or been in an ICU, then it might look as if the world has gone mad.

We hear the daily numbers: the United States has had 5,916,401 documented cases of Covid-19 and 181,363 coronavirus related deaths at the time of this writing.

But it’s hard to make that number feel real. And then we hear stories that come from either Facebook trolls or well-meaning friends about how they heard those death numbers are inflated, that a friend of a friend heard about someone who died in a motorcycle accident and had his death counted as a Covid death.

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Why I’m voting for Biden: The Democrats have a platform

August 27, 2020

I’m voting for Joe Biden this fall because the Democrats have a platform.

I admit that’s a pretty low bar –– just having a platform. But it’s a bar the Republicans didn’t meet this year.

Instead, the RNC created a single page of resolutions that reads as part excuse for not doing their homework, part love letter to their leader, and part assault on free speech that reveals a frightening lack of direction and accountability.

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Why I’m voting for Biden: Black lives matter

August 26, 2020

I’m voting for Joe Biden this fall because Black lives matter, and I believe that Joe Biden will help us be better and do better as a nation as we try to become more just.

This morning, I watched the video of a 17-year-old Trump supporter with an assault rifle shoot and kill innocent protesters in Kenosha. The toxic culture of the right created this killer. The inflammatory rhetoric of the right created this killer. Right wing media outlets and social media silos that amplify hate and divisiveness created this killer. America’s obsession with guns created this killer. Memes that joke about driving or plowing through protesters and the people who spread them on social media created this killer.

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Why I’m voting for Biden: The RNC elevates and promotes racists

August 25, 2020

There are many reasons I’m voting for Joe Biden this fall for President.

Here’s one: Out of all the people the Republican Party could choose to have speak at its convention, they chose the McCloskeys from St. Louis, a pair of personal injury lawyers who gained 15 minutes of fame for their stunt of pulling guns and brandishing them at Black Lives Matter protesters who trespassed near their palazzo in St. Louis.

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Why music teachers matter

April 2, 2014

An elementary school orchestra makes a terrible sound, and any parent who tells you otherwise is a liar. But as my daughter’s orchestra conductor led his beginners through a simple song in their first ever concert last year, he smiled broadly, kept the beat with emphatic arms, and seemed to hear only beautiful sounds. Read More

What parents don’t want to hear at parent-teacher conferences

March 30, 2014

When my wife and I sat down at our daughter’s 5th grade parent-teacher conference last week, we hoped to get a sense that the teacher understood our daughter and her strengths and weaknesses.  But we didn’t. 

Instead, the teacher provided us with a litany of numbers and test results the school and the education-testing industry use to define our daughter and her education. Read More

Rethinking the homepage [Part 1]: The Big Story Day

November 7, 2013

My students don’t get to cover big stories very often, so when one of our sports teams makes it to the state title game, we definitely consider it a big story day.  This year, when the girls soccer team of our school was playing for the state championship on Oct 31, my online editor-in-chief decided to make over the homepage for the day in order to showcase the staff’s work on that big story.  She removed all the usual category preview widgets, the video widget, and the social media widgets from the normally busy homepage and simplified the site to three main elements:

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Tools vs. Skills: Rethinking WordPress and the focus of modern scholastic journalism

August 27, 2013

Our students use a lot of tools in their work as journalists; they use physical tools such as computers, phones, recording devices, card readers, and cameras, but they also use software tools such as InDesign, PhotoShop, and Microsoft Word. It seems that in the last five years, there’s been a veritable explosion of new tools that my students and I use in the journalism classroom: Google Docs, WordPress, iMovie, GarageBand, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Infogr.am, and on and on.

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