Archives for category: Corporate Reformers

Dormand Long commented on a post by Bruce Baker. Baker criticized University of Arkansas study that hailed charter schools as more “cost-effective” than public schools. In other contexts, reformers have referred to children as “human assets” and “human capital.” This reflects the migration of business terminology into not only education but the way we think and talk about children. Frankly, as a mother and grandmother, I never thought of my children as “human assets.” To me, they were my children, my precious children.

Reader Dormand Long comments:

“It is interesting when one hears the term “cost-effective” used when a newbie enters the area of developing the next generation of our leaders of this country.

“When the pencil pushers took over at General Motors from the engineers, we heard acclaim of how they had found supply sources that were more “cost-effective” than before and how this would improve earnings per share performance.

“Might I suggest that GM Mary Barra would like to get her hands around the neck of some of those pencil pushers who gave the nod to those below standard ignition switches put on by assembly line workers from out of the parts bins?

“The term “value engineering” is critical to management. It is only valid as a process if there is absolutely no diminution of value or reliability to the customer.

“The surviving family members of those who lost their lives in the GM cars with the defective ignition switches probably have strong feelings when they hear the term
“cost-effective.”

“I know that GM CEO Mary Barra has very strong feelings when she hears that term.”

When I heard from Randy Hoover about his new website called “The Teacher-Advocate.com,” I asked him to write a post explaining his hopes and goals. I knew that he could describe it better than I could. Hoover spent 46 years as an educator.

Randy Hoover writes:

A Project to Reanimate Teacher Advocacy
(Teacher-Advocate.com)
Randy L. Hoover, PhD
Emeritus Professor, Youngstown State University

I began teaching in the late 60s, a political science major who never took an education course nor wanted anything to do with teaching or public schools but who fell into a 6th grade social studies teaching job in Madison, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie. I will omit the somewhat sordid details of how I got the job and simply say that within a few weeks of encountering my first middle school students, my life took a 180-degree turn for the better, and I never looked back, at least not until recently. To make a very long story very short, I taught public school social studies for twelve years, acquired a master’s degree, and then earned my doctorate specializing in teacher education at The Ohio State University and headed into a temporary one-year job at Youngstown State University that morphed into a 30-year stint.

I loved my profession dearly because it was my calling, but I despised the politicization that began to happen with Reagan’s A Nation at Risk, which later led to No Child Left Behind, followed by Race to the Top, as they became the hitching posts for the reformist, state-level, pseudo accountability systems across America. My early experience in Madison was a time when both NEA and AFT aggressively embraced the philosophy of teacher advocacy, as it was referred to. My induction into the union and its philosophy stand as my baptism into consciously embracing the value of America’s public schools and the legitimacy of their educators. It was a time when the prime directive of my union was teacher advocacy in the noble pursuit of intellectual empowerment and social justice for the children of our public schools.

Though I initially taught undergraduate courses at YSU, my professorial passion lay in teaching graduate studies, and my later years at YSU were spent entirely developing and teaching graduate courses for practicing teachers and administrators. I had always encouraged a sense of teacher and public school advocacy in my students, but as their thoughts and feelings about Ohio’s accountability system became their overwhelming professional concern, I worked diligently to give them more opportunity to learn the critical issues of reform mandates and especially the political realities that shape them.

With every new semester, my students expressed greater concern and more confusion about what was happening to them. They wanted to know why their professional worlds were being so drastically altered for the worse, why they were being singled out as a profession for demonization and ridicule by the media, the public, and both major political parties. Indeed, some of my students were even beginning to believe the rhetoric of reform. Sadly, the only explanations they had were the fragmented, shallow propaganda slogans the reformists were peddling to the media for public consumption. There was simply no reflective critique, no voices challenging No Child Left Behind and the cascading, anti-teacher, anti-public school mandates gushing from the Ohio legislature and the Ohio Department of Education that were inundating them.

For my students working in high-poverty schools, the isolation and alienation was palpable, with very good, dedicated teachers feeling demoralized and abandoned amid the very public, state-mandated accountability reports showing them to be professionally incompetent. Equally disturbing were those in the wealthier schools who were starting to become a bit smug because these same accountability reports portrayed them to be professionally excellent. Neither group understood that teachers in low-performing schools were no more the cause of low performance than those in high-performing schools were of performance success.

I became more and more concerned at how powerless and how far removed my graduate student educators were from even having a clue to the real nature and substance of the school reform mandates, especially in terms of their role as teachers in affecting achievement test outcomes. I tried my best to teach about the accountability mandates, especially the fallacies of the standardized tests as the vehicle for judging schools and their educators. As I did, one thing that became eminently clear was that our unions had failed entirely in educating their memberships as to what was happening. It was sad, but simple: our unions were now accommodating the politics and, to large degree, the mentality of the anti-teacher, anti-public school reform movement. The legacy of teacher advocacy I acquired back in my years in Madison was dead and the ideal of social justice for America’s children abandoned.

While mentally preparing to retire at the end of spring term 2013 after 46 years as an educator, I became starkly aware that teacher education, especially graduate teacher education, was also failing to address the fictions and fallacies of educational reform as well. My own experience and a lot of anecdotal evidence from my colleagues across the country made it clear that schools and colleges of education were just as culpable as were our unions in not providing our students the opportunity to learn the critique of education reform. Thus was born my vision of The Teacher Advocate project (Teacher-Advocate.com).

The Teacher Advocate project is designed to educate public school educators and others who seek a fair, valid, and credible education accountability system and to advance the ideals of intellectual empowerment and social justice through our public schools. The website offers a series of papers, commentaries, and links specifically identifying and addressing the critical issues necessary to understand why and how our test-driven educational accountability systems are replete with invalid metrics and false claims resulting in indefensible and grossly unfair high-stakes consequences for students, educators, and communities. The site is unique in that it is a one-stop source for acquiring most, if not all, the concepts and ideas needed to expose the pseudo accountability of the system and to expose the special interests that pseudo accountability serves.

The resources available in the project enable the reader to deconstruct the language, slogans, and especially the contrived metrics to show how the accountability systems violate both established scientific principles of psychometrics and nationally-accepted ethical standards for educational assessment and evaluation. The site brings together a variety of emerging concepts from different sources such as the false proxy, the metrics machine, and authentic vs. pseudo accountability to illuminate the fallacious arguments of the reform movement. The Teacher Advocate represents many themes, all focused on the principle that the claims, the ratings, and the conclusions that flow from the metrics of any educational accountability system must be demonstrably credible and warranted and also be absent of any political or corporate hidden agendas. The project is a personal reminder to me that being vigilant toward the well being of the public schools and especially their teachers is being vigilant toward social justice and the well being of our nation’s children. My vision is that if knowledge is power, then knowledge of the intricacies of the reformist accountability movement offered in The Teacher Advocate may empower us to become the advocates we must become if public schools and their teachers are to survive.

The Teacher Advocate
Teacher-Advocate.com

Levi B. Caener, a special education teacher in Idaho, happened to read a publication by the National Governors Association “A Governor’s Guide to Human Capital Development.” Really. People who work for the NGA think of children as “human capital.” Do they have children? When they come from the office, do they say, “hello, my little human capital?” On the weekends, do they play ball or go to the zoo with their human capital? Do they take their human capital for a new pair of shoes?

Levi writes:

“Yes teachers and parents; we are not instructing creative individuals to become well rounded global citizens. On the contrary, we are building “human capital” and thus the job of a teacher, and consequently the instruction, must be collectivized to the extent that every widget, ahem, student can contribute to whatever the central planning authority (or the National Governors Association – NGA) dictates is appropriate….Never mind that creativity stuff. Nobody cares. Teachers aren’t meant to create artists or independently thinking individuals. No, we are creating human capital! Thus, a one-size-fits all approach is not only recommended, it is required in order to fulfill the vision of utopian human capital!”

He concludes:

“So let me go on the record. According to this report I am bad human capital.

“You see, I want to inspire my students. I believe that every one of them can be successful in their individual pursuits. Sometimes, certainly, this is within the corporate structure of wages, salaries, etc.

“However, I am just as eager to motivate the artists: the painters, the poets, the musicians, the sculptors. I encourage my students to think critically of the country and world they live in, and to use credible evidence researched to support their claims.

“While I want students to be able to perform as well as they can in any assessment situation, including a standardized format, I am well aware that such a single snapshot is not reflective of a student as a whole. Yet, the National Governor’s Association wants to use this single snapshot to drive education policy.

“Using a single snapshot of information is synonymous to assuming since it is raining today, it must rain tomorrow. In the absence of other measures or input, there is no logic to suggest otherwise.

“The fallacy of using standardized data leads to poor planning of education policy; however, more importantly, it leads to treating students as “human capital” instead of incredible individuals ready to be challenged and immersed critical thinking and motivated by personal inquiry and personal fulfillment of understanding new topics.

“Sorry National Governors Association. I am content to be bad human capital. I will continue promoting an individualized approach to education that recognized I am not a robot and my students are not widgets.”

Those who follow the twists and turns of the “reform ” movement are aware of a growing number of books that exposé the false narrative of reform. The reform narrative is funded by billionaires and philanthropists who believe in the free market and scorn government regulation. It fastens on genuine problems–like the low performance of children who live in poverty–and blames their teachers rather than the poverty that limits their opportunity. The reformers divert their eyes from poverty, segregation, budget cuts, and loss of vital services. What began, arguably, as a well-intentioned effort to shake up schools and unleash innovation has now become a vehicle for privatization of the public schools.

The struggle to save public education will require an informed public. Only an informed public will have the motivation to vote for representatives to defend what belongs to the entire community and to stop the headlong rush to consumerism. Fortunately, teachers and other educators are publishing books to tell the story. The blogosphere and social media have become invaluable means of democratic communication, enabling dissenters from top-down reform to meet and exchange ideas and information.

Videos are appearing too, to get the story to the public. It is not easy for them to get on television or to be distributed commercially. Unlike the charter propaganda “Waiting for Superman,” or “Won’t Back Down,” the films that exposé the dark side of the testing and privatization movement do not have the support of billionaires.

Here are a few of the recent must-see videos that challenge the corporate reform movement.

Vicki Abeles’ “Race to Nowhere” makes the case against high-stakes testing and shows how it distorts the lives of adolescents. Abeles has taken the film to churches, synagogues, community centers across the nation, wherever she can show it.

The film “Rise Above the Mark” was written and produced by educators in West Lafayette, Indiana. It shows what high-stakes testing is doing to the children, teachers, and schools. It is a powerful film.

Daniel Hornberger’s “Standardized” shows how standardized testing is ruining education. The subtitle is, fittingly, “Lies, Money, and Civil Rights: How Testing Is Ruining Public Education.” It includes interviews with prominent educators who denounce the standardization that is now imposed by the federal and state governments.

One of the first videos was released in 2011. “The Inconvenient Truth Behind ‘Waiting for Superman,'” depicts the battle in New York City against corporate education reform, with parents and teachers fighting fruitlessly to save their schools from closure against an unhearing may orally-controlled board. The film was created by a team of teachers and parents called the Grassroots Education Movement.

There are others, and I welcome readers to submit additions to this list. And more are on the way. Help me compile a list of videos that challenge the dominant narrative that fills the airwaves and is destroying public schools, hurting children, dissolving communities, and opening new frontiers for corporate profit.

Many of these films are online for free or the producers will send a video for a nominal fee. Consider showing these films at your next parent and/or teacher meeting. Be informed. There can be no democratic debate when only one side can afford to present its views on television and in commercial films.

Jon Lender of the Hartford Courant describes in detail how the embattled candidate for New London superintendent, Terrence Carter, was the very model of a modern school reformer. He graduated from New Leaders for New Schools, founded by Obama and Clinton advisor Jonathan Schnur.

Terrence Carter had deep roots in the world of “reform.”

“To fully understand the Carter episode, it helps to look at him in the context of a national battle over non-traditional school-reform efforts. The high praise that he received from influential voices in recent years sounds almost ironic now – as New London’s school board has its law firm conducting an investigation that could send him packing.

“Terrence Carter represents a new breed of principals who entered the profession from business through an excellent principal training program called New Leaders for New Schools. The program, which operates in Chicago and five other cities and is about to add two more, imposes higher expectations on principals,” the Chicago Tribune said in an editorial Feb. 4, 2007.

“Carter then was principal of Clara Barton Elementary School, in a poor Chicago neighborhood, after receiving training at New Leaders, a national non-profit school-reform group co-founded by Jonathan Schnur, a former Clinton White House staffer and Obama campaign adviser.”

With his credentials, Carter advanced rapidly in Arne Duncan’s Chicago:

“The Obama administration has been receptive to school-reform efforts by groups like New Leaders. Obama appointed his fellow Illinois native, Arne Duncan, as secretary of education after Duncan ran the Chicago schools, cooperating with school reformers and engineering oft-controversial school “turnaround” projects where “new breed” principals were inserted.

“Chicago was an early battleground in what’s become a national controversy between traditional educators and teacher unions, on one side, and, reform activists such as New Leaders and charter school operators on the other. That fight is playing out in Connecticut, where Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy has appointed a charter school co-founder, Stefan Pryor, as a state education commissioner who supports turnaround efforts in low-performing schools.

“Skeptics about such efforts in Connecticut see more in the Carter controversy than just one candidate whose credentials and character have been questioned.

“This is how the pro-privatization, big-philanthropy-funded networks and organizations tend to work. They pass their own people along and up, greasing rails and plumping resumes as they go. And the main criteria for ‘success’ often seems not to be real leadership characteristics, so much as willingness to be a good soldier when it comes to pushing forward a particular reform agenda,” said Lauren Anderson, an assistant professor of education at Connecticut College in New London.”

Carter’s standing in the school-reform movement was such that in 2009 he accompanied Schnur to a presentation at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. The topic was New Leaders’ partnership with Chicago in the “turnaround” of several low-performing inner-city schools.

“New leaders like Terry” have made “dramatic gains” in student performance, Schnur said in a presentation that helped win an “Innovations in American Government” award from the Kennedy School’s Ash Center for the New Leaders-Chicago schools initiative.

“Terry for example — he didn’t spend 15 years as an assistant principal, but he was a chief learning officer at a Fortune 500 company working with and managing adults, and a former teacher, and brought that blend of skills to bear,” Schnur said in remarks still watchable on YouTube at http://youtu.be/sHjWtePruMU.”

Carter had the strong support of Connecticut State Commissioner Stefan Pryor.

“Anderson spoke against Carter’s hiring at a July 24 meeting in New London when the school board put off a scheduled vote to approve a contract for Carter — and instead instructed its legal counsel, Shipman & Goodwin in Hartford, to look into newspaper disclosures including the fact that Carter had used the titles Dr. and Ph.D. for years without holding a degree from an accredited university.

“Other newspaper revelations: he filed for bankruptcy twice; his application essay included long passages identical with other educators’ writings on the Internet; a national research organization released a copy of a bio that it says Carter submitted in 2011 with the claim that he had a Ph.D. from Stanford University, which Stanford says he does not; and he got a Ph.D. in 1996 from “Lexington University” — which doesn’t have a campus and had a website offering degrees for several hundred dollars with the motto “Order Now, Graduate Today!”

“Carter met in closed session with the school board on July 24, and said afterward that he did nothing wrong, never misrepresented his credentials to anyone now or in the past, and still wanted the job.”

“Carter had been selected by the school board in June, with Pryor’s endorsement, to begin running the troubled New London school system starting Aug. 1. At the time, he was the toast of New London and, in comments quoted by the Day newspaper, he invoked the name of Duncan, Obama’s national education secretary.

“The story noted that the Chicago-based Academy for Urban School Leadership — the education-reform group he’d been working for since leaving his principal’s job in 2010 — had been praised by Duncan and Rahm Emanuel, the former Obama chief of staff who now is mayor of Chicago. Carter said in the story that back in Chicago a decade ago, Duncan, then running the Chicago schools, had handpicked him from the New Leaders training program for school administrators.

“He saw my presentation and said, ‘I need this guy in Chicago,'” Carter said in the Day article.

“Duncan’s deputy press secretary declined a Courant request Thursday an interview with the national school chief or a statement about Carter.”

The Carter story is not about one man, but about the bipartisan movement to disregard credentials, to close schools, to hire ill-prepared TFA, and to favor privately managed schools over community public schools. To favor democratically elected school boards over management by hedge fund millionaires.

Mel Brooks memorably said, “It’s good to be the King.”

In these times, it is good to be rich enough to buy public policy to protect your interests and stay rich.

New York has such a group.

Yes, they can.

Gary Rubinstein, former TFA but now veteran high school math teacher wrote this article in Education Week about the failure of Race to the Top. I wish I didn’t have to delete any part of it but Internet or copyright protocols require me to. Subscribe to Edweek so you can read it all. And be sure to follow Gary’s blog.

“Years from now, I hope we will look back at Race To The Top as the time we allowed the rich and powerful to conduct reckless experimentation on our nation’s schoolchildren. And they would have gotten away with it too — to paraphrase every Scooby Doo villain ever — if it wasn’t for those meddling educators. Race To The Top is an example of how reform in any field will fail if it is based on an invalid premise. That premise, in this case, is that teachers cannot be trusted.

“We need the Common Core, the argument goes, because when teachers set what they consider to be an appropriate level of ‘rigor’ in their classes, they will usually choose to make it too easy. They do this because either because they are lazy or because they simply believe that students are not capable of challenging work or, most likely, both.

“Teachers are so devious, it must be, that they have figured out ways to get satisfactory evaluations from their supervisors despite all their ‘inputs’ going in one ear of their students and out the other. Administrators are also either incompetent for thinking they are witnessing learning, or they are giving positive evaluations to ineffective teachers for other reasons that only they could know….

“When teachers complain that they don’t want to have this inaccurate component as 50% or 40% or 35%, depending on what state they’re in, they are reassured that ‘multiple measures’ are being used so that, on average, it should all work out. Couldn’t this ‘multiple measures’ argument be used to justify having shoe size as a component of the evaluation score?

“By starting with a bad premise, the ‘reformers’ have been given the power to start destroying public education in this country. Fortunately the momentum is slowing down on Race To The Top since if it were permitted to continue to grow the result would be a massive teacher shortage as the only people dumb enough to become teachers would also be too dumb to do the difficult job of teaching. Without teachers willing to teach, ‘reformers’ would learn that it truly is lonely at The Top.”

In 2010, Colorado State Senator Michael Johnston took credit for a piece of legislation called Senate Bill 191, which he said would produce “Great Schools, Great Teachers, Great Principals.” Its main feature was tying teacher evaluation to their students’ scores, which counted for 50%. But it included other time bombs. One allowed districts to lay off teachers for various reasons. Now seven teachers and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association is suing.

One of those who lost her job was Cynthia Masters, a special-education teacher in a K-8 school. She was one of only 3,000 to lose their job.

“In the four years since the law was passed, nearly 3,000 DPS teachers have lost their positions due to what the district calls “reduction in building,” or RIB for short. The reasons that teachers are RIBed vary: Some lose their jobs because their schools are “turned around” or closed. Others are cut because school enrollment drops. In Masters’s case, she was RIBed due to a decrease in the number of special-ed students.

Of those 3,000 teachers, 1,240 had at least three years’ worth of positive evaluations, including Masters. And not all of them have been able to find new jobs. According to the law, still widely referred to as Senate Bill 191, RIBed teachers with three years of positive reviews — officially known as “nonprobationary” — who can’t find a position within a certain time frame are put on unpaid leave, a move that both unions believe violates the state constitution……”

“Brad Bartels, an attorney with the Colorado Education Association, says these teachers are victims of DPS’s brand of musical chairs. They didn’t lose their positions because they were bad teachers, he insists: “They just didn’t have a chair when the music stopped.”

“Seven DPS teachers and the DCTA have now sued the district. (The statewide CEA is representing the DCTA in the matter.) The lawsuit is a class action, and the plaintiffs represent several different classes, including all teachers in Colorado who were considered nonprobationary prior to the passage of Senate Bill 191 and all nonprobationary DPS teachers who were RIBed and ended up on unpaid leave.

“Westword spoke with five of the seven plaintiffs and found that they have several things in common: All are older than 45 and have good teaching records. Upon losing their positions, all five applied for hundreds of teaching assignments within DPS but, inexplicably to them, received just a few interviews. Only one managed to avoid being put on unpaid leave or being forced into early retirement.

“I applied for over 700 positions in the district,” says plaintiff Michelle Montoya, who got RIBed in the fall of 2010. “I thought, ‘I can deal with this. I’m going to go get a job. My skills are definitely needed.’ And I just never got a second interview.”

Will Senator Michael Johnston live long enough to declare that Colorado now has great teachers, great principals, great schools, thanks to Senate Bill 191?

Bertis Downs is a native of Georgia and a member of the board of the Network for Public Education.

He writes:

This is the best electoral news in a long time– Georgia Democrat Valarie Wilson won the runoff for state school superintendent, and it wasn’t even close: http://bit.ly/Us7qNi I am proud to be one of her supporters.

And on the Republican side a longtime educator, Richard Woods, won in a squeaker– he had strong support from the Tea Party for his opposition to Common Core, which many on the right consider a federal intrusion into what should be local decisions.

Valarie Wilson’s decisive win on the Democratic side is significant for Georgia, and it fits into a developing narrative that Money (doesn’t always) Mean Power, at least in the intersection of politics and schools. It’s great to add Georgia to the list of places where big, out of state, corporate reformist money did not beat a genuine pro-schools candidate who will fight for strong and effective public schools for all– Seattle, Los Angeles, Bridgeport, Newark, Indiana, over and over this pattern is being repeated. Diane Ravitch’s blog and the Network for Public Education are key ways to get the good word out. I guess people like Bloomberg, Huizenga, Rhee, DeVos, Broad, et al have millions to spend (ahem “invest”), but all those $6,300 (+/-) check-writers from California and New York and elsewhere must be feeling a little ripped off this morning. Campaign disclosures, especially when analyzed and broken down on Diane’s blog, are a beautiful thing in a democracy! http://bit.ly/UoWuQC. And I guess, in a way, money does in fact talk– despite Valarie’s opponent’s decision to play down her involvement in the so-called choice movement, the extent of her out of state support, and the fear that she would indeed “dance with who brung her” if elected, likely helped propel Valarie, who raised virtually all her support here in Georgia.

And on the Republican side, and let’s be realistic– Rs generally beat Ds lately in GA– Richard Woods is a solid candidate who believes in public education and is not in deep with the corporate interests looking to privatize our schools. Either way, whatever the outcome in November, Georgia will not have someone really bad running our schools, and that is a relief. I am confident that Georgia’s next superintendent — whether Wilson or Woods — will address and improve the shortcomings of our schools while celebrating and replicating what works in advancing teaching and learning in our classrooms, supporting teachers and helping them improve, and restoring funding cuts that have reduced our school year and increased our class sizes. And if we are really lucky, the next Superintendent will courageously start the long walk back from the absurd amount of standardized testing being forced on our children and our schools, and back to sane and effective assessment and evaluations that help Georgia attract and retain quality teachers. As has been said, a teacher’s working conditions are our childrens’ learning conditions. I look forward to a superintendent who knows this. (And it would of course be really great if that Superintendent could serve under a Governor who shares their view of public schools– see, e.g. https://carterforgovernor.com/issues/)

The results in Georgia send a powerful message that what the people want, Republicans and Democrats alike, is pretty straightforward: good public schools where they are proud to send their children. And the selection of the fall candidates, Richard Woods and especially Valarie Wilson, is a clear rejection of the status quo of the false cures and nice-sounding quick fixes offered by the well-capitalized marketers of “school reform.”

Bertis Downs

Lisa Graves was one of the creators of the website ALECExposed. She has followed the money, and she here describes a dangerous threat to American democracy by the billionaire Koch brothers, ALEC, and others who seek control by the super-rich. They want to bust unions and privatize schools. Graves says that progressives must stand together. I agree. That’s why I grow frustrated when union members attack their unions. Of course, they should fight to win democratic control of their unions. But when they begin hurling insults and invective at their allies, they do the work of their common foe.

Graves writes:

“Two of the richest men in the entire world are plotting to dominate our elections this fall, from congressional races to school board seats.

“Their scheming to shove America further to the far right should be a serious wake-up call for anyone who cares about our nation’s soul.

“As Charles and David Koch promised their billionaire buddies, they’ve assessed how the quarter billion dollars they helped raise and spread across the country failed spectacularly in the 2012 elections. And, they’ve made adjustments to their battle plans to win more this time…..

“If unions and their leaders want to stand up to the Koch machine – which has sought to gut union power for decades – I say right on. Nurses, teachers, and factory workers ought to have a chance to negotiate with power for better wages and working conditions than each could negotiate with their powerful employer alone.

“Thank goodness they’ve all stood up to the Kochs’ neo-Bircher worldview, in their own ways.

“Thank goodness they understand that civil society — indeed, our very democracy — is what’s at stake.

“I stand against the cult of greed peddled by the Kochs.

“I’m utterly opposed to the Koch-y brand of Ayn Rand’s dystopian propaganda and the updated version of this kind of every-man-for-himself economic Darwinism peddled by Rand Paul in blue jeans. I don’t want America’s great dream for our people to be shrunk into a members’ only club, letting the richest few rule with the less lucky stuck as servants struggling to survive.

“A civil society — a true democracy – recognizes that investing in our shared future makes our nation stronger.

“A healthy democracy fully funds our public institutions that serve all of the American people and helps those living on the brink, as part of our social contract in recognition of our common humanity and the fact that we all face illness and aging out of work….

“It’s about having truly public schools that provide our children with empowered teachers trained in the art and science of teaching rather than inexperienced and un-certified stand-ins trying to do it on the cheap so a corporation can pay better dividends to stock speculators.

“The right-wing alternative to truly public schools that the Koch deregulation machine has helped spawn is “charter” schools paid for with our tax dollars.

“We’ve seen too many charters run by fly-by-night operators feeding kids religious gruel or designed by corporations to enrich Wall Street speculators through cutting what’s spent on kids, teachers, and classrooms but a healthy budget for slick ads blanketing the airwaves and underwritten by taxpayers.

“Charles and David Koch have spent decades trying to get rid of “government” schools, as touted in David’s run for the White House in 1980. That’s why it’s now practically a litmus test for Republican presidential candidates to list the Department of Education among the government agencies they are in a race to eliminate.

“We need all hands on deck to stop them.

“That’s one of the reasons why attacks on the DA or union leaders like Randi Weingarten as a false equivalent to the Koch cabal are so misplaced. They are not equivalent because the goals of the Kochs matter and investing in an alternative to the Kochs’ agenda matters, a lot…..

“But, as the person who launched ALECexposed with my team in Madison, I can tell you that Weingarten has been totally stalwart in standing up to ALEC and its anti-public education agenda, which is fueled by the Koch family fortune and other rich families — along with corporations that profit from privatizing public schools, of course.

“The American Federation of Teachers has been rock solid in the fight against ALEC, consistently devoting staff time week in and week out for three years to expose ALEC, due to her personal commitment. The ongoing public campaign on ALEC would not have had the success it has had without AFT’s work and her leadership, and without the work of many devoted colleagues across the country, including the National Education Association and other organizations, bloggers, and concerned citizens nationwide…..

“I know we need a more progressive America.

“And progressives need to get better at using their power to persuade each other and to win better policies.

“But attacking genuine progressives for banding together to take on the Kochs or for not being pure enough is foolish sport. And the right loves it when progressives fight. It makes their effort to tear down the left so much easier.

“So, let’s get real.

“Because there’s a real-world war going on to kill our public schools, outsource our public institutions to private companies not accountable to us, and destroy key government constraints on corporate power…..”

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