Search results for: "commonweal"

Paul Horton, who teaches history at the University of Chicago Lab School, here analyzes the origins of neoliberalism and its attack on the public sector.

The “rhetoric of economic freedom” has put a price tag everything. Self-interest and me-first have become the ideology of the day, and anyone who dares to think of what is in the best interest of society or how to raise up the poor is scorned as a Marxist or collectivist.

Horton writes:

“In effect, “the invisible hand” behind the push to create new education markets is coming from Wall Street investors who are flush with capital for investment. Wall Street bundlers and investment firms are buying up stock in charter school companies and big education vendors. These bundlers not only fund both party’s campaigns, they also sell stock, betting on the futures of big education vendors, start-ups, charter schools, and vouchers. They “encourage” political leaders to pursue policies that will hedge their bets on education products and to view all schools as portfolios that will increase in value as long as the Feds and the states pursue policies that encourage privatization.

“But Wall Street bundlers are far from the only group that embraces a radical version of libertarianism as a way to legitimate opening new markets in education. “Hardcore libertarianism has been making inroads among a younger set of tech entrepreneurs, who see its goals of limited government as being compatible with their general hatred of innovation-stifling regulation. And as more and more tech founders become phenomenally wealthy, many are naturally drawn to the right-wing political ideologies that help them preserve more of that wealth,” according to Kevin Roose in an article for New York magazine.

“Not surprisingly, this same set of Silicon Valley and Seattle billionaires has teamed up with Wall Street bundlers to push neoliberal attacks on public education by pushing an agenda that supports charter schools, computer driven learning, and assessment schemes that are designed measure success of students and teachers in “real time.” Value added measures (VAM) for teachers based on student test scores are designed to reduce the power of unions by making it easier to get rid of ineffective teachers. Charter schools are created both as competition for public schools to give parents “choice” and as a way to hire nonunion teachers at cut rate salaries–teachers who can be hired and fired with no job protections or due process.

“This neoliberal-libertarian agenda for education violates the values of the American Revolution that affirmed that promise of public education in the Northwest Ordinance that reserved the proceeds from the sales of public lands to build public schools and the later Morrill Land Grant Act (1862) that used the proceeds of public land sales to create public universities that would serve the interests of the public.

“Neoliberal corporate education reform is nothing short of an attack on the political DNA of the United States. This agenda makes a mockery of Jefferson’s idea about a school as an “academical village” designed to create leaders to serve the commonwealth. Corporate education reform also disgraces the legacy of the fight for integration and equal funding during the Civil Rights movement by encouraging the resegregation and the resource starving of public schools to create more “choice” in the form of charter schools.

“The Tea Party might rant on and on about liberty and taxes these days, but Republicanism, or the idea that we have to “rise above faction” to serve the commonwealth was the glue that held the American revolutionaries together…..”

“Nothing is sacred: public servants, those who promote the humanities and the arts, and those focused on caring for others are viewed by neoliberals as naïve at best. Public servants deserve little or no respect because only the market can truly establish value. They are contemptuously seen as the new “welfare queens,” or the “forty-seven percent” because the very idea of the public is emasculated, shorn of value, a heavy drag on a fine tuned and lean market system. Neoliberals believe that almost everything public should be strangled and flushed, to use Grover Norquist’s intentionally crude image.

“Toward this end, public schools and public teachers have been subjected to a relentless barrage of negative propaganda for almost thirty years. Many corporations want to force open education markets, Microsoft and Pearson Education to name two of the largest, demand “free markets,” “choice,” and “free enterprise.” Public schools are defunded and closed, so that parents can choose among competing charter schools supported by city, state, and Federal policies. Politicians of both parties at every level are funneled campaign contributions from charter school investors for their support of “school choice.”…….

“The privatizers want us to forget all of this history; they want us to forget the idea that public anything is a good idea. Parents who demand quality public neighborhood schools are as American as apple pie. The corporate education reformers are motivated by ideas that have no respect for tradition or for common human decency. They devalue the aspirations represented in the Declaration of Independence. We need to push back and demand a limit to privatization and a defense of the Commons.”

This just in from a member of NEA from Massachusetts who is at the Denver convention. She hopes that Lily Eskelsen, the new president, will be a champion and fighter for kids, teachers, and public schools. Is she THE ONE? Will she stand up to the phony “reformers”? Will she fight for democratic control of the schools? Will she tell the plutocrats to use their billions to alleviate poverty instead of taking control of the schools?

I think Lily has it in her. Until proven wrong, I am placing bets that she will stand up fearlessly for what is right, that she will tell Arne Duncan to scram, that she will tell the billionaires to get another hobby.

Here is the message from one of her members:

My comment is awaiting moderation on Lily’s Blackboard.

Here it is.

Lily, thank you for posting this opportunity for substantive engagement on the Gates question.

I’m an activist NEA member in Massachusetts, in a low income district heavily engaged with the policies Bill and Melinda have imposed through their legislative interference and advocacy lobbying, with the compliance of the outgoing Massachusetts Teachers Association leadership.

MTA and NEA compliance directly aided in the imposition of Gates-backed corporate domination in my Commonwealth’s public schools, in my school, in my actual classroom, and over the actual living students I teach.

The (false) distinction you make between Gates’ imposed “standards” and the accountability measures he demands for them will allow the NEA to continue to take his money, and I’ll admit that almost chokes rank-and-file teachers who live and work under his heel. I am going to argue that you to can make a decision of your own, when you take office, to give that money back to him.

First, I’d like to offer congratulations on your succession to the presidency of NEA. The Representative assembly that voted you in brought with it a new activism and determination, and voted in resolutions which break sharply with the previous administration, of which you were a part. We look to you with great hope, holding our breath against it for fear of disappointment.

The Common Core standards can’t “stand on their own merit”. They were backwards-engineered to warp the teaching of language and literature into assessment readiness, with its own novel testing vocabulary. strung together with the bogus Moodle diagram you inserted in this page. The aligned WIDA tests that are now being imposed on ELL students, from the earliest grades, will steal the short and precious window of their childhood. People are tweeting me that those children can’t wait while you do your homework and find that out.

We’re fighting right now for schools in New Bedford and Holyoke that are already being taken over. They were full of living children, just a few weeks ago when we left them. What will we find in August?

We’re asking you to become the courageous and powerful leader of an engaged and mobilized union. I know you saw and felt the hall rise to its feet behind these initiatives. That felt different and deeper than the hearty applause for your victory, did it not?

Bring us to our feet: give back the Gates money.

The website I linked for you is an Education Week column describing the actual effects of the Gates Foundation’s profit-centered philanthropy model in the third world. It’s the responsibility of Americans to become aware of it, when we take money from American corporate philanthropies and allow them to pursue their profits internationally under the subsidy of our tax code.

Why Arne Duncan needs to listen to Bill and Melinda | Li…
I do not hate the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. I know it might seem strange to have to make that statement, but such are the times we live in.
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From: Citizens for Public Schools in Massachusetts:

Update: Senators to Vote Tomorrow on Charter Cap Bill!

We’ve learned that House Bill 4108, which would, among other things, lift the cap on charter schools in so-called “underperforming districts” is scheduled to come up at a caucus of Democratic senators Thursday (that’s tomorrow) at noon.

Votes can still change after that, but if you have an opinion on this and you haven’t talked to your senator yet, today would be an excellent day to call. Talking with an aide is fine too.

CPS’s June 2013 report, “Twenty Years After Education Reform: Choosing a Path Forward To Equity and Excellence For All,” includes a full chapter devoted to the facts on charter schools in Massachusetts. Click here to download the full report. (See Chapter 4 for information on charter schools.) Click here to download the executive summary.

The report found that Commonwealth charter schools have not contributed to equity of educational quality and resources:

Charter schools enroll a much smaller percentage of English language learners and students with significant disabilities than their sending districts.

A widely quoted study that favors charter schools shows higher scores only for specific grades (middle school) and student subgroups, but not for elementary or high schools, ELLs, or charter students in their first year.

Though a goal of the charter school movement was to spark innovation, urban charters have gravitated toward a “no excuses” approach, which means long hours in school, precise rules for behavior, and severe discipline for breaking even minor rules, such as wearing the wrong color socks.

Many urban charter schools report very high out-of-school suspension rates and continue to show much higher attrition rates than their district school neighbors.

While some charter high schools with a large percentage of low-income students score high on MCAS, these schools rank much lower on the SATs.

What’s more, research indicates many students from high-scoring charter schools do not fare well in college.
The average Massachusetts charter school loses one-third to one-half of its teaching staff each year, compared to the state average, which ranges from 13 to 22 percent.

Note: Proponents of lifting the cap on charters argue that charters don’t have greater attrition than district schools, but the data shows otherwise. Click here for a compilation of the data comparing Boston charter schools attrition rates with that of district schools.

Best regards,
Lisa Guisbond
Executive Director
Citizens for Public Schools
617-730-5445
lisa.guisbond@gmail.com

Citizens for Public Schools, Inc. | 18 Tremont St., Suite 320 | Boston | MA | 02108

When people write Pennsyvania Governor Tom Corbett to complain about the devastating effects of his budget cuts on the children of Philadelphia, he responds by blaming the teachers’ union for not accepting even deeper cuts. A few days ago, a first-grader died; there was no school nurse on duty. Her position had been cut from five days a week to one day a week plus another occasional day. This was the second child to die in a school where Corbett’s budget cuts had eliminated the full-time nurse. Corbett blames the teachers.

Governor Corbett accepts no responsibilty. His response to critics betrays a guilty heart, or a man without one.

This teacher, Steven Singer, describes what happened when he wrote a letter to Governor Corbett.

“Wow! I am flabbergasted by PA Gov. Tom Corbett’s reaction to the second Philadelphia student dying at school without a nurse on duty! As many of you did, I wrote him a letter asking him to please increase funding so tragedies like this are not repeated. He must be getting some heat because this is the first time he’s ever actually answered any of my correspondences.

“His answer was basically: (1) how dare the Philadelphia Teachers Union intrude on the family’s suffering to make a political point and (2) if only the teachers union would take concessions and work for less money, the state would have enough to pay for nurses!

“The deaths of these two students are direct consequences of Corbett’s education policies! He slashed education funding by close to $1 billion every year for the last 3 years! This resulted in 20,000 teachers being laid off, class sizes skyrocketing, the elimination of art, music and extra curricular activities – and, yes, school nurses! If this is not the time to address the issue of his malfeasance, when is!? Once people have time to forget? He did nothing after the first student died. Hadn’t the time come yet to address that issue before the second one died!? Will there be time to address the issue before another child dies? Would rushing to judgement after three years be too uncouth!?

“And then he blames teachers for asking to be treated fairly! Sure if we all just accepted sweat shop conditions, think of the money the state could lavish on our schools – to Pearson and Common Core!

“We had very low voter turnout during the primary that put Democratic candidate Tom Wolf as Corbett’s November challenger for governor. If people don’t show up to kick this bum out of office, we will all deserve what we get! Correction: we’ll deserve it, but the kids who mostly aren’t old enough to vote, will continue to be the innocent victims of this poisonous political hack!

“Here is Corbett’s letter:

“Putting the safety and educational needs of our students first must continue to be our top priority. There is an appropriate time and place to call for education policy discussions. Right now, our thoughts should be with the child’s family, friends, school and community who have all been through an extremely traumatic situation.

I am deeply troubled that the union leadership of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers – and by extension the American Federation of Teachers – would use the recent tragedy at Jackson Elementary as an opportunity to make a political statement. For more than a year, we all have asked the union leadership – who are disconnected from the great teachers in Philadelphia who are in the classroom every day – to come to the table and engage in meaningful negotiations to assist in the financial recovery of the Philadelphia School District.

The Commonwealth, the School District, the School Reform Commission and City Council are all working to contribute to the success of Philadelphia’s schools and students. I will continue to ask the union leadership to put the children of Philadelphia first and engage in a meaningful dialogue and a shared vision for the future of the children of Philadelphia.

Tom Corbett”

When Arne Duncan visited Boston recently, he lamented the sorry state of public education in Massachusetts–the highest scoring state in the nation on NAEP, a state whose students have been ranked at the top of international tests—and he praised privately managed charter schools for their excellence. For reasons he has never publicly explained, he wants to see more public dollars and students turned over to unaccountable corporations. He is a cheerleader for privately managed charters and the nation’s chief critic of public education. He aids and abets the movement to privatize public education. As public policy, this is irresponsible. To call this bizarre is an understatement.

When Duncan spoke with a columnist from the Boston Globe, he alleged that 40% of the high school graduates in the state require remediation when they get to college.

In this post, Carol Burris demonstrates that Duncan was confused, misinformed, or worse.

Duncan told the columnist that 40%–a”staggering” number of students—need college remediation.

Burris writes:

” What is “staggering” is the gross inaccuracy of the claim. Here are the facts:

“Twenty-two percent of the students who attend four-year state universities in Massachusetts and 10 percent of the students who attend the University of Massachusetts take at least one remedial course. That group (students who attend four-year public colleges) comprises 28 percent of all high school graduates in the Commonwealth.

“Thirty percent of all Massachusetts graduates attend private four-year colleges. Although I could not find remediation rates for such students, we know that nationally 15 percent of students who attend not-for-profit four-year colleges or universities take remedial courses.

“Using the above, I estimate that the percentage of students in Massachusetts who attend four-year colleges and take remedial courses is roughly 17 percent, not the 40 percent that Duncan claimed.”

It is also staggering that the U.S. Secretary of Education does not have accurate data about our nation’s highest-performing state.

And it is staggering that the columnist feels no need to fact-check the data.

And most staggering of all is that Duncan wants to harm our nation’s public education system, which is part of the fabric of our democracy.

What is his goal?

Paul Horton, teacher of history at the University of Chicago Lab School, wrote the following after participating in the first conference of the Network for Public Education:

Attending the NPE inaugural conference was an exhilarating experience! As Diane said in her keynote, we cannot afford to exclude anyone. We all met hundreds of amazing and dedicated folks in Austin.

I had a conversation with Jason Sanford at Scholtz’s that I would like to share. He encouraged me to share it with everyone: Texas was the birthplace of the Populist Party, the most successful grassroots third party movement in American History. The Party was born outside of Lampasas, Texas and spread to the entire country. The Party sought to unite urban workers, miners, and farmers, black and white, who were being squeezed by economic forces beyond their control.

We would all do well to read the Omaha Platform of the Populist Party, http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5361/.

Populists, above all, wanted to do something about corporate dominance of politics and economic decisions. We face many of the same issues today in the second Gilded Age.

The late Larry Goodwyn, who wrote the best book on Populism, Democratic Promise, a University of Texas dissertation originally, wrote that the success that the movement had was based on the construction of a movement culture. Populists organized cooperative stores, newspapers, a lecturer network, raised money to form a national movement, and conventions at every level. Their platforms endorsed candidates who would support their platforms, not political parties. The Populists forced the major parties to listen because they controlled so many votes and candidates who supported their platforms were elected to government at all levels.

Above all, the Populist Party was a grassroots movement. As historian Richard Hofstadter has pointed out, many individuals have ridden populist rhetoric to the White House. Populist rhetoric is a useful political tool for politicians seeking office. Politicians abandon populist rhetoric when they raise money and solicit support from plutocrats.

The history of Populism is instructive for many reasons. Most importantly, the lesson that we need to learn is that grassroots movements are easily coopted by politicians who make promises about support for cosmetic issues and meaningful legislation is too easily watered down in the political process.

Another lesson is that coalitions that seek to unite disparate elements of the working class come under attack. What Joel Williamson has called “racial radicalism” that motivated a resurgence of the Klan in the 1890s was motivated by the political threat of a united Populist Party to the racist white power structure in the South and nationwide.

A third lesson to learn is that political movements that sustain themselves in this country must have the cooperation of the middle class. Because Populists were successfully branded by the corporate media as illiterate and stupid, corporate leaders were successful in marginalizing the Populist movement.

As Jim Hightower would say, we need to dance with the ones we came with. But I say, because teachers, firemen, police officers, doctors, lawyers, and teachers are threatened with downward mobility because corporate honchos using Computer Based Systems are trying to squeeze productivity gains out of us without paying us more, we need to make every effort to bring these groups into a broader coalition that believes in the idea of the public, the nation as a commonwealth that invests in people, not wars, and not privatization.

Back in 1964 when Milton Friedman was Barry Goldwater’s economic advisor, the country laughed at the idea of neoliberalism because most Americans were motivated to serve broader causes. Altruism was cool, and the Civil Rights movement was ascendant. Kennedy had inspired us to think big. Now the ideas of Friedman and Hayek dominate public discourse and the Ayn Rand cult has returned with a vengeance.

The idea that Corporate Education Reform is the Civil Rights Movement of our time is the pinnacle of absurdity. Ella Baker, Septima Clark, and my relative, Myles Horton, are turning over in their graves! There were no students turned out of Freedom Schools! Freedom Schools did not operate with military discipline and focus on preparing students for standardized tests. At Highlander, participants sat in a circle. There were no corporate sponsors or foundations involved. At Highlander, Ziphlia (who rewrote “We Shall Overcome”) and Myles prepared meals and washed the dishes to show their profound respect for Civil Rights leaders. Do we see Bill Gates doing this?

The NPE represents what Larry Goodwyn, who also studied the Poland’s Solidarity Movement, “Democratic Promise.” We are facing a long fight. As Diane told us, “we have to cast a wide net, but we must remain a grassroots movement.” We must insist on inclusivity in all respects. We need to be visible but our platform must speak more loudly than any segmented “talking heads.”

Thank you, NPE Executive Board for an absolutely exhilarating experience! “We Shall Overcome.”

A reader offers this perspicacious view of Pennsylvania’s cybercharter industry. There are 16 of them in the state. The founders of two of the major cybercharters are currently under indictment for siphoning millions of dollars of public funds:

The reader writes:

“Running a cyber-charter in PA is as good as printing money. No oversight and a system that completely ignores the actual costs of the system. If the Commonwealth of PA went shopping for used cars the same way, it would walk onto the lot and tell the salesman, “Here’s twenty grand. Pick out any car for me that you want, and keep the change.”

I just finished reading the review of Reign of Error in Commonweal, a magazine edited by independent lay Catholics, and I am speechless (almost). Written by Jackson Lears, a cultural historian at Rutgers University, the review brilliantly explains the underlying effort to transform public education through “creative disruption” and turn it into a commodity.

Why have our society’s leaders fallen in love with the idea of “creative destruction” or “creative disruption,” he asks.

Like journalists praising war from the safety of their keyboards, economists celebrate the insecurities of entrepreneurship from a comfortable distance. The prototype was the Harvard economist Joseph Schumpeter. In the bucolic solitude of his Connecticut estate, he coined the term “creative destruction” to refer to the role of entrepreneurial innovation in capitalist development: the inevitable mass firings and factory closings that accompanied the adoption of labor-saving technology.

Yes, indeed, it is “creative,” because it is not their jobs that are lost, not their sons and daughters who are suddenly unemployed.

Ah, but forget the job losses and the human devastation. Just focus on the “creative” aspect.

Lears writes:

Everyone wants to be creative, especially our destroyers. Free-market ideologues celebrate the freewheeling entrepreneur and dismiss any concern about the social ravages of unregulated capital. Worried about the catastrophic impact of plant closings? It can’t be helped—protracted joblessness, ruined families, and abandoned communities are the necessary price of progress. Capital must be free to flow where the investment opportunities are; any constraints on it obstruct the creative entrepreneurship that drags us, despite our doubts, into a better future.

“Creative destruction” is often awkwardly allied with techno-determinism—the belief that “technology” is reshaping our society and there is nothing human beings can do about it. Hence the headline in InformationWeek reporting the takeover of the Washington Post by Amazon.com’s CEO, Jeff Bezos: “Creative Destruction of Internet Age: Unstoppable.” Somehow this bleak vision is conveyed in a rhetoric of dizzying personal possibilities. It remains to be seen how creative anyone can be in a world where fundamental changes are engineered by (allegedly) impersonal forces. The entrepreneurial notion of creativity is confined to half a dozen techno-visionaries (such as Bezos and Steve Jobs) and defined in narrowly monetary terms, while the destruction that so often accompanies it is wide, deep, and real. “Creative destruction” is the perfect euphemism for our neo-liberal moment. Schumpeter must be smiling, somewhere.

Having read many reviews of Reign of Error, I must say that this was the one that startled me by its deep understanding of the underlying forces that are destroying the public sector. This review nailed the banner of neoliberalism to the so-called “school reform” movement. Critics of the book like to say that I painted with too broad a brush. They say that some of those pushing the agenda of school closings, mass firings, charters, vouchers, and incessant disruption really do have good intentions.

Jackson Lears sees something else. He sees what I see.

Please read this brilliant review.

A high school student wrote this letter to Mark NAISON of the BATS, who sent it to me:

Mr Naison:

Hello, my name is Madeline Clapier. I am a senior at Constitution High School which is a school in Philadelphia that focuses on law and history. Currently, we as a school are facing massive budget cuts and our student government is attempting to rally against the cuts. We have put together seven points that we believe are necessary to the “efficient education” due to us by the state constitution. I’m reaching out to you because you have been apart of working for the restoration of schools. I would like to know how to effectively rally for the education we believe is necessary for the future of our city. So, if you have any tips on how we should go forward with our mission that would be greatly appreciated.

Our seven expectations for our city’s schools are attached.

Thank you,
Madeline Clapier

Expectations for Philadelphia Public Schools

“The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.” -PA Constitution

A counselor should be a reality for all Philadelphia School District students. The counselors should be around for all school days, not just once or twice a month. They are necessary for not only emotional support, but a plethora of other things including (but not limited to) college help, peer mediation, working papers, SAT/ACT waivers, and college recommendations.

We should not be dealing with class sizes where students have to share desks or bring in chairs. It should not be a daily dilemma to find a seat in any classroom. Each and every classroom should be able to fit the expected amount of students and that number should not exceed 33 students.

If a school is a college prep school then students should be able to choose SAT prep classes or other college prep classes to help prepare the student body for their future. Likewise if the school is advertised as a science, history, or art school they should be able to afford their equipment.

After school activities are something that each college looks for on any application. They teach students to critically think, work together and much more.

There is something sickening about the fact that there is not a nurse in every school. It is very clear that students are only expected to get sick on certain days. What about the other days of the week?

Electives are an essential piece of every high school experience. Students should be given the opportunity to pick and choose some things that interest them. This way students have the classes like Spanish and Art History that colleges expect them to have learned.

Most of all we believe the state of Pennsylvania and the School District of Philadelphia need to follow their social responsibility of creating a proper learning environment for Philadelphia students.

This was written by Raniel Guzman, who is a teacher in the School District of Philadelphia and an adjunct professor at Esperanza College of Eastern University:

May 100 % of your students score proficient or above on standardized tests by 2014.            

An attributed Chinese proverb is often wished upon one’s enemies by asserting, may you live in interesting times… This understated “curse” levied upon one’s enemies has a restrained Buddhist sensibility even as one wishes ill toward others. Educators today are indeed living in interesting times. Students and parents are certainly living in interesting times as well. However, the curse placed upon us all is not restrained but rather overt.

The curse is well known to educators and asserts the following, may 100 % of your students score proficient or above on standardized tests by 2014. So then, who has placed this “curse” upon us all? I am certain we can think of obvious enemies. Nonetheless, I am not certain many of us are thinking about the less obvious and thus more lethal enemies. They give politically correct speeches, and radiate a fatherly presence. Their threat resides precisely in the proximity to their victims, namely us. We often develop a blind spot for such figures and hope that they will protect us from sorcerers and things that go bump in the night. Unfortunately, simple examination of deeds, rather than speech, proves otherwise.

Their “curse” is characterized by dilution and diminution. Teachers, students, administrators and parents are diluted in endless paper chases disguised as tests, assessments and reports. Conversely, the edification of concepts and individual free will are systematically diminished. The combined effects may elicit the maddening image of a hamster running endlessly in a caged wheel. However, a more accurate image of these effects is more akin to desperate victims racing to the top of an inextinguishable inferno.

May 100 % of your students score proficient or above on standardized tests by 2014 is particularly stressful when father figures emphasize the deadline, by 2014. This has been the curse that has dominated the bulk of my teaching career. A curse so powerful it has decimated all attempts to render it inoperative. This “super curse” has brought forward other conjurers, who with wands in hand have temporarily waved away some provisions yet, have not been able or willing to undo this “super curse”. What would motivate someone to place such a curse?  Let’s entertain some thoughts.

Many profess that a goal as noble as ensuring that all students score proficient at the same time and place is beyond reproach. Well, it is simply reprehensible. This cynical goal suffers from a pernicious pathology, which advocates forgive as a delusion for perfection. Shamefully, these apologists hide the correct diagnosis. It is not a delusion of perfection that motivates the jinxers, but rather a pathology of exclusion. We all know the consequences of not scoring proficient and obtaining AYP, -they close your (our) school. However, 2014 can’t seem to arrive soon enough for some hexers. Hence, the rush by officials –this year-, to close as many public schools throughout our country under the convenient excuses of “austerity” and “scores” is well afoot. The unprecedented shuttering of dozens of public schools particularly in largely African American communities, as in Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. etc. are justified under the rationale of budgetary challenges.

This rationale anchors itself on the operational premise of right sizing. Irrespective of the fact that we are talking about children and their development -this thinking may have legitimate administrative basis in the private sector. However, the current juxtaposition of private sector practices and public sector commitments, such as providing an adequate and free education as stipulated in the constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, have dissimilar agendas and unequal strengths. Why then the rush if the “super curse” will effectively close thousands of public schools all across our country within a year? We will surely have the right size and number of schools soon enough. Could it be that the proponents’ zeal for the “super curse” is waning? Hardly.

In fact the “super curse” is going very well. The political party, pardon, -the political parties, both of them, have put away their “profound pedagogical partitions” to unite in this effort. Likewise, the industrial testing complex continues to redact tests, assessments, practice workbooks, study programs, while hiring consultants, garnering ever greater budget allocations, and accumulating data all aimed to ensure that scores comply with targets of soon to be imposed common core standards. But above all of these machinations, one supersedes them all, the president’s silence on these matters is the best indicator that all is truly going well among the jinxers and hexers. Conversely, hope for a change is sequestered. So again I ask, why the rush? Could it be that the “super curse” itself is waning? Hardly.

In fact, the jinxers are emboldened by their powers and lack of meaningful restraints, -why wait? “Let’s exclude NOW!” they demand. What we have in front of us now is a turn to Kronos, but an inverted Kronos. We have all seen the depictions of Kronos devouring his children. His filicides are motivated out of fear, a fear of competition from his children. Thus, he eats them. In our case, our Kronos is not committing filicide, but rather devouring the children of others. One can imagine a repented titan with a renewed paternal instinct and displaced fear of competition in the presence of other children asking another titan, “How do we devour the potential competitors of our children?” The other titan may respond, “Well, one way is to be proactive. For example, you offer your children greater pedagogical and assertive experiences and opportunities. In addition, you enroll your children in a school that is free of stigma, for example, one that does not administer standardized tests, say a private school or a divinity school. In other words, enroll your child in a school that does not partake in omens or curses.”

Nonetheless, there is still another way, a more reactive way, to devour your children’s potential competitors, -you close their schools and in doing so -eliminate the competition. Once shuttered, you place stigma upon the displaced children and adults. Moreover, you place a scarlet tattoo on both and you never lift the curse. The calculation is the following; the failure of some children will ensure that mine will thrive. This charter is an open collusion devoid of formalities.

I am well aware that we live in highly secular times, which are dominated by facts and figures. But for some of us who recognize the evil that lurk in men’s hearts, we cannot ignore the immutable. Those who conspire against children are devoid of judgment. Consequently, their motivations are drawn from an irredeemable well. They practice technical numerology, model apparitions, and consult conjurers. Some of them believe in curses. Others still are weary of omens. Some even fear children, often their own. I believe in God. Evil may cause great pain and destruction, but evil never prevails. Evil’s harvest never mature and eventually in its rage devours its own seed.

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