Florida has become a Petri dish for potential fascism. DeSantis has made war on African Americans, on gays, on transgender people, on drag queens, on public schools, on higher education, even on private corporations (Disney). He likes to stand behind signs that declare Florida is “free,” but no one is free to disagree with him. That’s not freedom.

Now DeSantis has proposed to create a military force that answers only to him. To call out the National Guard, he must get federal permission. That’s not good enough for him. He wants a Florida state guard. Some other states have them, but they are not in the hands of a would-be dictator whose vanity knows no limits.

CNN reports:

St, Petersburg, Florida (CNN) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to reestablish a World War II-era civilian military force that he, not the Pentagon, would control.

DeSantis pitched the idea Thursday as a way to further support the Florida National Guard during emergencies, like hurricanes. The Florida National Guard has also played a vital role during the pandemic in administering Covid-19 tests and distributing vaccines.

But in a nod to the growing tension between Republican states and the Biden administration over the National Guard, DeSantis also said this unit, called the Florida State Guard, would be “not encumbered by the federal government.” He said this force would give him “the flexibility and the ability needed to respond to events in our state in the most effective way possible.” DeSantis is proposing bringing it back with a volunteer force of 200 civilians, and he is seeking $3.5 million from the state legislature in startup costs to train and equip them.

States have the power to create defense forces separate from the national guard, though not all of them use it. If Florida moves ahead with DeSantis’ plan to reestablish the civilian force, it would become the 23rd active state guard in the country, DeSantis’ office said in a press release, joining California, Texas and New York. These guards are little-known auxiliary forces with origins dating back to the advent of state militias in the 18th century. While states and the Department of Defense share control of the National Guard, state guards are solely in the power of a governor.

Will DeSantis use his state guard to break up peaceful demonstrations? Will he send it to drag shows to close them down? Will he it to harass teachers accused of being woke? The possibilities are frightening.

Paul Vallas is running for mayor of Chicago again. Mercedes Schneider warns the voters of the Windy City to beware.

When Vallas ran before, he garnered only 5% of the vote. But this time, he is a contender. Vallas has a long record in education. He has imposed privatization wherever he went, or in the case of New Orleans, happily advanced the privatization agenda.

She begins her post:

In January 2018, I posted about Paul Vallas, who was at the time dropping hints about becoming Chicago’s next mayor. Vallas ran and lost, winning only 5.4 percent of the vote in the February 2019 general election.

Four years later, in January 2023, Vallas is considered a real possibility (see also hereand here) for at least landing in a mayoral-race runoff following Chicago’s February 28, 2023, general election.

Vallas as mayor would be bad news for Chicago. Full stop. On January 24, 2023, the Chicago Tribune posted this benign candidate bio for Vallas, but don’t be fooled, Chicago. Vallas is anything but benign.

Chicago voters need to be informed about what they would be getting should Vallas become mayor. Therefore, I am reposting some of the Vallas history I posted four years ago, in 2018.

Vallas is terrible with budgets and with fulfilling promises, but through it all, he has managed to serve and protect his own interests.

Please open the link and read her summary of Vallas’ career.

Christopher Lubienski is Professor of Education Policy and director of the Center for Evaluation and Policy Analysis at Indiana University. Among his publications is The Public School Advantage: Why Public Schools Outperform Private Schools. In this article, which appeared in The Tennessean, he points out that vouchers are unpopular as well as ineffective. So unpopular are they that they are usually sold another another name, like “education scholarships.”

He writes:

Recently, a panel of judges dismissed lawsuits against Tennessee’s private school voucher program passed by the General Assembly back in 2019. A month before that decision, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled in favor of its legislature’s efforts to implement a universal voucher program. These types of legal victories may seem like good news for parents’ rights, but they are also a reminder that the school choice movement is missing a key source of support: the voters.

School choice is continuing to expand across the United States. New Hampshire implemented a statewide voucher program in 2021, and this year Arizona legislators also adopted a universal voucher program.

But these successes often come in spite of overwhelming voter opposition to school choice programs. Arizona lawmakers had passed a similar measure in 2018, only to see the initiative soundly rejected by a 2-to-1 margin at the ballot box. This time around, policymakers successfully undercut an effort to put their initiative back before the electorate.

In Michigan, school choice advocates appeared to have ignored a deadline to place their proposal for a voucher program on the ballot. Since such measures had been overwhelmingly rejected by Michigan voters twice before, voucher proponents instead exploited a quirk in state law that allowed them to put the issue directly before the GOP-run legislature while preempting any veto from the Democratic governor. (Unfortunately for their plan, Michigan voters then flipped the legislature to Democratic control.)

This voter-avoidance strategy is clear with school choice programs across the U.S. According to the pro-voucher organization EdChoice.org, the U.S. has over 75 publicly funded private school choice programs, including vouchers and education savings accounts, as well as another 45 charter school programs. But all of these programs have been implemented by legislators, not the electorate. Following these legislative actions, judges, not voters, can get their say.

In fact, voters have been allowed to weigh in on school choice programs only nine times since 2000, and they almost always reject them, often by overwhelming margins. Only twice did school choice programs pass through the ballot box. In 2012 Georgia voters empowered their legislature with the ability to create charter schools. That same year, although they had clearly rejected it twice before, Washington voters passed a charter school referendum by the slimmest of margins following financial support from Bill Gates and associates for the measure.

This reflects an interesting conflict. Parents seem to like choice programs. Perhaps that’s not surprising, since people are often happy to receive public subsidies. But when asked, voters consistently and overwhelmingly reject these programs.

Policymakers and choice advocates have largely come down on the side of parent rights in endorsing school choice. Since this puts them in opposition to voters, they largely avoid the electorate on the issue.

But policymakers would do well to remember that this is not just a question of who controls education decision-making. After all, they are entrusted with the wise use of taxpayers’ dollars. And recent research is repeatedly showing that the voters may be on to something: that vouchers are not a good investment. Although publicly funded vouchers may be propping up some private schools that might otherwise go out of business, they are not really helping the people they purport to help. In fact, despite parent satisfaction, study after study shows that students using vouchers are falling behind where they would have been if they had remained in public schools. Thus, policymakers might think twice about defying voters on initiatives that actually cause harm to children.

It’s a curious approach for a movement that claims to be working for the grass roots.

You can view the post at this link : https://networkforpubliceducation.org/blog-content/christopher-lubienski-the-school-choice-movement-has-a-voter-problem/

Michael Hiltzik, columnist for the Los Angeles Times, is furious at Spencer Cox, Governor of Utah. Last year, Cox vetoed a bill intended to bar four (4) trans athletes from participating in women’s high school sports. At the time, Hiltzik praised him for his “compassion.”But he just signed an even worse law. Hypocrite!

Hiltzik writes:

Back on March 22, Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox took a stand against anti-transgender legislation that was rare — indeed, unique — among Republican politicians by vetoing a harsh anti-transgender bill passed by the Legislature.

“I always try to err on the side of kindness, mercy and compassion,” Cox wrote in his veto message on the law designated HB 11. He noted that the measure, which prohibited transgender girls from participating in school sports that match their gender identities, was directed at four transgender students out of the 75,000 student athletes in Utah.

“Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few,” he stated.

On Saturday, Cox climbed down from his principled position by signing a vastly harsher law.

The 2023 Utah Legislature’s SB 16 doesn’t target transgender youths participating in school sports. It’s much, much broader — a comprehensive ban on providing any gender-affirming medical care to most transgender minors, including hormone therapy.

SB 16 is a “brutally unfair” law that bans “the only safe and effective treatment for many children with gender dysphoria,” says Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which is already preparing a lawsuit challenging the law in partnership with the Utah ACLU.

How does one judge the character of politicians? One way is to see if they stand up for principle in the face of intense political pressure.

By that measure, Cox is a spectacular failure. We can go further: He’s rewritten the dictionary definition of “political hypocrisy.”

Cox explained his March 2022 veto of HB 11 in a five-page, closely reasoned letter to the legislative leaders, who responded by overriding his veto.

His signing statement for the new law runs a crisp 128 words and calls the measure a “nuanced and thoughtful approach.”

Before examining whether that’s a fair description of one of the harshest pieces of anti-transgender legislation in the country, let’s look at the political context — that is, the snarling, mercilessly malevolent approach of Republican politicians to transgender people.

Since the Trump years and up to the present day, Republicans have been trying to roll back anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. But they’ve especially targeted the transgender community.

The reason isn’t hard to discern. In their crass and cruel quest for targets to unite their base against, they had run out of acceptable candidates for discrimination and abuse.

Open racism was no longer socially acceptable (though it has made a strong comeback lately, in Trump’s wake). It is no longer respectable to make fun of the mentally ill, the homeless, the disabled.

Republicans would like to target LGBT people, but too many Republicans have gay friends and family. They would like to be openly racist, but that’s not socially acceptable. So that leaves transgender people as the Menace Terrorizing Our Community.

Some states, like Idaho, have criminalized gender-affirming care. Others, like Texas, threaten to investigate parents for child abuse if they seek medical intervention.

For a moment in political time, Cox stood against the tide of malignant bigotry that defined the GOP’s approach to LGBTQ rights. At the time, I praised him and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb(who also vetoed an anti-transgender law) for their principled stances, which I took as evidence that the Republican Party had not completely thrown in with its worst instincts.

Alas. Now it turns out that Cox has allowed that tide to wash over him.

The law, says Reed, “will effectively end gender-affirming care for transgender youth in the state of Utah.” The law went into effect immediately with Cox’s signature, “before any veto campaign could be mounted and before families could make preparations,” Reed noted.

In his 2022 veto message, Cox wrote sympathetically of the challenges faced by the four transgender schoolchildren playing team sports in Utah — “four kids who are just trying to find some friends and feel like they are a part of something. Four kids trying to get through each day.”

He paid attention to research finding that 86% of trans youth reported suicidal thoughts and 56% hadattempted suicide. “I want them to live,” he said. “And all the research shows that even a little acceptance and connection can reduce suicidality significantly.”

But then he signed a bill ending gender-affirming care for those four kids. Cox is back in the Republican mainstream.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt wants voters to believe that his push for vouchers comes from the “grassroots.” Not true. The last time vouchers came to a vote in the legislature, they were defeated by Republicans, especially rural Republicans who understand the importance of their public school.

Ben Felder of The Oklahoman got copies of internal correspondence and learned that the voucher campaign is funded by the Walton Family Foundation and organizations created by Charles Koch.

Is Governor Stitt believes that the people of Iklahoma want vouchers, why doesn’t he put it to a vote? Why let out-of-state billionaires defund the already underfunded public schools of Oklahoma. Take it to the people! Let them decide!

Joshua Q. Nelson wrote a story for FOX News, saying that I was a hypocrite for sending my sons to private schools (more than 50 years ago) and ignoring the fact that I turned against school choice publicly in 2010. His source was Corey DeAngelis, who works for Betsy DeVos. He has attacked me so often on Twitter that I blocked him.

A little bit of research would have shown that I supported school choice from the late 1980s (when charters first emerged) until 2008 (when I started writing a book about my disavowal of conservative education ideology—charters, vouchers, standardized testing, merit pay, and high-stakes accountability).

My change of mind and heart was well covered, not only in The New York Times, but in The Wall Street Journal and other publications). And the book became a national bestseller.

Christina Pushaw, a close aide to Ron DeSantis, amplified the story in her Twitter account, as did the notorious Chris Rufo.

Since the story came out, I have received numerous death threats. Yesterday, I got another one, a long and garbled message with religious allusions, which ended by saying “Yes, we will be ‘slaying Goliath.’ You are Goliath.”

I think Joshua Q. Nelson should be aware that he was played by DeAngelis and correct his story.

Meanwhile, I am flattered that Ron DeSantis and Betsy DeVos and their minions read my tweets and perhaps my blog. I would like to recommend that they read my last three books, where I demonstrate the importance of public schools and the hoax of school choice, which originated as the battle cry of segregationists after the Brown decision.

In a diverse society like ours, public schools bring children from different backgrounds together. They are essential for our democracy. They are the best choice.

Of course, parents are free to make private choices but they should not expect taxpayers to pay for their choice to send their child to a private school that discriminates against others.

Meanwhile, here is a reading assignment for Corey DeAngelis, Christina Pushaw, Chris Rufo, Ron DeSantis, and Betsy DeVos:

https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2021/01/14/the-dark-history-of-school-choice/

And three books:

The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education (2010)

Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools (2013)

Slaying Goliath: The Passionate Resistance to Privatization and the Fight to Save America’s Public Schools (2020)

On a personal note: I am 84. I do not fear your threats. I write what I choose. I will not be intimidated.

Congressman Jamaal Bowman is an educator. He was principal of a middle school in The Bronx, New York City, serving high-needs students when he ran for Congress. He was re-elected in 2022. He is a strong voice in Congress for public schools,

He issued a press release calling on New York Governor Kathy Hochul to withdraw her budget proposal to increase the number of charter schools in New York City. He knows the damage this will do to the vast majority of students, who are in public schools.

He said:

For Immediate Release
Date:
February 3, 2023
Contact: wanjira@bowmanforcongress.com


NEWS: Rep. Bowman Statement on Governor Hochul’s Budget Decision to Divert Traditional Public School Resources


NEW YORK, NY – Yesterday, Governor Kathy Hochul released her FY2024 budget, which included a proposal to remove the regional cap on charter schools.

Rep. Bowman released the following statement in response:

“As a life-long educator and former middle school principal in the Bronx for over a decade, I witnessed firsthand the value and impact traditional public schools have on children’s lives and learning,” saidCongressman Jamaal Bowman Ed.D (NY-16). “As much as I want to applaud Governor Hochul’s funding of the Foundation Aid initiative, I am extremely disappointed by her proposal to remove the regional cap on charter schools which will dramatically divert critical resources from traditional public schools. With over 1500 public schools in New York City that serve over 1 million students, this effort will be destructive for the learning of our city’s children, especially for the almost 90% of minority children who are currently enrolled in public schools.”

“Let me be very clear. The core of the Foundation Aid was created to help provide more equitable and sustainable educational opportunities for children in our traditional public schools. Increasing the development of more charter schools is not what the Foundation Aid was designed for. District public schools are foundational to a functioning democracy, while charter schools – especially those run by large networks – often perpetuate the very inequities that prevent us from realizing the potential of our democracy.”

“There is a standard of excellence and equity that makes public schools the most viable option for all our children. The qualification and certification standards for teachers are high, ensuring the highest level of educational opportunities for our children. Students engage with a diverse community that reflects the demographics of this country early in their childhood development stages. Accessibility and affordability ensure that parents, caregivers, and families are partners in their child’s learning. From PTA initiatives and parent-teacher conferences to programs that create a true learning partnership with parents, public schools allow for many avenues where parents can purposefully engage in their child’s education.”

“I call on Governor Hochul to keep the charter school cap exactly where it is –which is much higher than it was initially supposed to be.”

 

About Rep. Jamaal Bowman
Congressman Jamaal Bowman was an educator and advocate for public schools for over 20 years and previously served as principal for the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action (CASA), a public middle school he founded in 2009 in the Baychester neighborhood of The Bronx. Rep. Bowman is a life-long New Yorker who lives in Yonkers with his wife and children.

Two of the reddest states in the nation had the largest numbers of people signing up for Obamacare. This reflects the size of their population but also their needs. Their governors may rant against the federal government and its programs, but actions speak louder than words. The public wants what the politicians deride. Yet the public elects the people who deny their basic needs.

Florida led the way with the highest number of people in the country who signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, with more than 3.2 million people enrolling, or 20 percent of the country’s totals.

A record 16.3 million people nationwide signed up for plans on the federal health insurance exchange during the open enrollment period, which began Nov. 1 and ended on Jan. 15, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reported Wednesday.

In Florida, enrollment ballooned to 3.2 million, a 19% jump over last year’s open enrollment period under the health law, commonly known as Obamacare.

The 3.2 million represents 20 percent of all enrollees nationwide, even though Florida, the third most populous state in the country with 22 million people, accounts for only about 7 percent of the U.S. population…

For University of Miami professor Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo, an expert on the Affordable Care Act, Florida’s enrollment spike is likely an indication ofoutreach efforts, a lack of jobs that provide health coverage, and that Florida is one of 11 states that did not expand Medicaid eligibility through the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

About 425,000 adults in Florida don’t have health insurance because they are too poor to qualify for coverage under the ACA and the state hasn’t expanded Medicaid, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. More than half of those adults are Hispanic or Black.

“It shows that there’s a major need for health insurance in our state,” said Carrasquillo, who serves as UM’s dean for Clinical and Translational Research and is also co-director of the Clinical Translational Science Institute.

Almost a million Floridians could lose their Medicaid coverage starting in April once the federal COVID-19 emergency comes to an end, and because Florida didn’t expand its Medicaid eligibility.

Floridians fall into this coverage gap because their incomes fall above the state’s eligibility for Medicaid but below the federal poverty line, making them ineligible for Medicaid, a health insurance program run jointly by the federal government and states.

They would also be ineligible for coverage within the Affordable Care Act marketplace. To qualify for Medicaid in Florida, parents must earn less than 31 percent of the federal poverty line, or less than $6,807 for a family of three, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates.

Texas has the second-highest enrollment in Affordable Care Act plans among states that used the federal marketplace, with 2.4 million enrollees, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Read more at: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/health-care/article271638107.html#storylink=cpy

When Republican Matt Bevin was Governor of Kentucky, the state legislature passed a bill in 2017 authorizing charter schools. The law mandated that Louisville open a charter school. When it came time to set up a funding mechanism for charters, Democratic Governor Andy Beshear vetoed it.

When it came time to open a charter school, no one applied. The usual chains were not interested in opening a charter without funding.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reported:

Last year, Kentucky lawmakers demanded that school district leaders in Louisville seek and approve at least one application for a charter school in 2023.

Just one problem: No one applied.

Jefferson County Public Schools’ charter school information portal shows just one group formally notified the district of their intent to apply. The group, however, did not end up actually doing that.

Kentucky Department of Education spokesperson Toni Konz Tatman similarly confirmed Thursday no one applied to open a charter school in Northern Kentucky – the second location mandated to have a charter. District leaders in that region get until July 1, 2024 under state law.

Nuria Martinez-Keel wrote in The Oklahoman about the ouster of a state attorney who defied the state superintendent by supporting transgender people, whose numbers in the state must be minuscule. Since Republicans have decided that transgender people are a threat to national security, Lori Murphy had to go.

An attorney known for her support of transgender people and objections to the state’s rulemaking on classroom race and gender discussions was fired last week from the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

Assistant general counsel Lori Murphy worked at the agency for eight and a half years.

The Education Department terminated her employment “effective immediately” on Thursday, according to a letter to Murphy from the agency’s human resources office.

The letter did not cite a cause for her firing.

“I no longer speak for the agency (that’s what it means when you fire your lawyer), and I can’t speak to the reasoning for my termination,” Murphy wrote in a statement. “It was my honor to work my ass off on behalf of the students of Oklahoma from 2014 through January 26, 2023, a task I shared with hundreds of (Education Department) colleagues and thousands of school staff members across the state.”

New state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters is in the midst of orienting the Education Department toward his goals, one of which he said is ridding the agency and public schools of “liberal indoctrination.”

The department declined to explain the rationale for firing Murphy.

“The agency does not comment on the HR process or on personnel decisions,” spokesperson Matt Langston told The Oklahoman on Monday.

Four days after swearing in as state superintendent, Walters exempted Murphy’s position from a section of Oklahoma law that would have otherwise allowed her to file a complaint over termination, according to a human resources letter sent to Murphy on Jan. 13, which The Oklahoman also obtained.

Heads of state agencies are allowed to do so for no more than 5% of their employees.

“Just as public education serves everyone, public education builds from the truth that everyone can learn and grow when provided with the educational services and supports they need,” Murphy wrote in her statement. “From our 4-year-olds entering Oklahoma’s nationally recognized public preschool programs for the first time, to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.”

For more than two years, Murphy has worn masks that read “Trans Ally” or “Black Lives Matter” while attending monthly meetings of the Oklahoma State Board of Education. She wore a “Trans Ally” mask again at a state board meeting on Thursday.

Walters was a champion of legislation regulating transgender students’ use of school bathrooms by birth sex rather than by gender identity.

As the state Board of Education deliberated how to give teeth to House Bill 1775, Murphy objected to the board members’ handling of the process. She resigned from her role overseeing administrative rulemaking for the board, though she continued as an assistant general counsel for the state agency.

The state board ultimately approved rules that allowed it to demote a school district’s accreditation and suspend or revoke an educator’s certification over violations of HB 1775, a 2021 law that bans schools from teaching certain race and gender concepts, such as a person should feel guilt on account of their race or sex.

Although Murphy suggested rules that mostly restated the text of the law, the board opted for a rulemaking process she said operated “far outside the reach of previous emergency rule actions” and wrongly excluded public comment, according to internal emails The Oklahoman obtained at the time.

“Quite literally, I cannot sign my name to this action,” Murphy wrote to the board.

Although it did not collect public comment before approval of the temporary rules, the Education Department did so before the agency regulations became permanent.

Recently, Walters said he instructed his staff to investigate two teachers he accused of indoctrinating students. Both teachers have spoken against HB 1775.

Walters was referring to Tulsa Public Schools teacher Tyler Wrynn and former Norman High School teacher Summer Boismier. He has called for both of their teaching certificates to be revoked.

“I, as the state superintendent and the Department of Education, will do everything within our power to not allow our kids to be indoctrinated by far-left radicals and to hold those accountable who have done so,” Walters said in a video posted to social media.

Wrynn was captured in an edited video identifying himself as an anarchist who wants to “burn down the whole system,” beliefs he said he had to hide because of HB 1775.

Boismier made national news when she posted a QR code link in her classroom to the Brooklyn Public Library’s collection of banned books. She resigned from Norman Public Schools in opposition to HB 1775 and has since moved to New York to accept a position with the Brooklyn library.

“I feel like I cannot do my job and follow that law at the same time,” Boismier said in an August interview with The Oklahoman. “It puts teachers in an impossible position. It forces educators to commit educational malpractice in order to keep our jobs.”

 

Reporter Nuria Martinez-Keel covers K-12 and higher education throughout the state of Oklahoma.