Fred Smith worked as an assessment specialist at the New York City Board of Education for many years. Recently he has advised opt-out groups. In this comments, he describes the remarkable power of Merryl Tisch, whose family are billionaires and influential in New York civic life. Note: Before King was named New York State Commissioner of Education, he founded and Leda charter school in Massachusetts that had the highest suspension rate in the state (59%).

Smith writes:

Coming soon to a campus near you: The Return of the Tisch Flunky.

Fill in the blanks– Sheldon Silver, Democratic leader of the New York Assembly, which selects members of the Zboard of Regents…. Merryl Tisch appointed to Board of Regents (1996) and elevated to Regents Chancellor by Silver (2009)…. Tisch and John King are classmates at Teachers College (small-group accelerated doctoral program)…. Tisch pushes King to become NYS Education Commissioner…. Andrew Cuomo advocates implementation of Common Core with Tisch’s willing compliance…. Opt Out Movement strongly opposes CC…. King leaves SED for USDE (2014)…. Silver found guilty of corruption charges (2015), convicted and expelled from NYS Assembly…. Tisch steps down as Regents chancellor after 20 years…. Cuomo appoints Tisch to SUNY Board of Trustees (2017) and elevates her to SUNY chairman…. Cuomo uses Tisch to abandon “national search” for new CUNY chancellor in order to give his closest adviser, James Malatras the job…. Cuomo stench starts catching up to Malatras, and Kathy Hochul tells Tisch to dump him…. Tisch praises Malatras and gives him a golden parachute. King announced as the next SUNY chancellor with words of praise a huge salary and perqs from Tisch.

Yes, there was a national search to find him.

In an impressive achievement for families and children, New Mexico passed an amendment to its state constitution guaranteeing free childcare to families that need it most. New Mexico is one of the poorest states in the nation. Free childcare will enable mothers to work to support their children. Unlike “reform” programs that emphasize standardized testing, New Mexico’s pioneering emphasis on child wellbeing really does put children first.

New Mexico in May became the first state to offer free child care to most of its residents. Now, after a November referendum, it’s also the first state to enshrine child care funding in its constitution, effectively making the service a universal right – and perhaps offering a model for how other states could serve their youngest residents and working parents.

Nationwide, the average cost of child care for families outpaced the rate of inflation in 2021, according to analysis from Child Care Aware of America. A low-income family should have to spend only 7% of its income on child care, per a federal benchmark based on an average of census data. But the national average cost of child care – $10,600 annually – is roughly 10% of a married-couple family’s average annual income and 35% of a single parent’s income, the analysis found…

The scheme – hatched by a willing governor, state lawmakers and determined child advocates – effectively makes child care free to families making up to 400% of the federal poverty level, or about $111,000 for a family of four. The state’s median household income is $51,243.

At its core, the program aims to provide a safe environment for children at a stage of critical brain growth and development. Further, saving caregivers money on child care lets them invest more in their families, from putting healthy food on the table to home ownership, a key official said….

More than 70% of state voters approved the proposition, which will be funded by oil and gas revenues.

There has been a strong will in New Mexico to improve its slice of the widely broken US child care system, mainly because it is one of the poorest states and consistently ranks among the worst for child well-being, state officials and child advocates say.

Child advocates some 12 years ago sparked the movement to get a permanent funding source for child care enshrined in the state’s constitution. It was a long-game strategy for a coalition of non-profit, grassroots groups, including New Mexico Voices For Children.

That organization in 2010 first brainstormed using funds from oil and gas production revenue to fund child care and early education, said Amber Wallin, its executive director….

Under Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, New Mexico has established a minimum wage for child care workers: Entry-level employees now earn $15 dollars an hour, and more experienced lead teachers earn $20 dollars an hour. The pay raises aim to help improve workforce retention; before the raises, workers could earn a higher wage working at a fast-food restaurant than providing child care, child advocates told CNN.

New Mexico also created the first state agency and cabinet post focused on early childhood education and care. Also, “we were the first state to set our cost of what we reimburse child providers for child care at the actual cost of delivering care, and we were the first state to make child care free for most families,” said Elizabeth Groginsky, the state’s first secretary for early childhood education.

The Network for Public Education has a terrific blog, curated by the wonderful Peter Greene. I urge you to subscribe. It’s free.

Here is one of its latest hits:

Gregory Sampson: LOL, We Already Knew It

Blogging at Grumpy Old Teacher, Gregory Sampson relates the tale of a district employee who dared to ask why instructional days are being lost for three different tests that all do the same thing. It was a bold move. And it drew an answer.

In essence, the teacher was told that the state did not report data (test results) by benchmark and the district did not allow teachers to review questions with students and analyze why students chose wrong answers; therefore, a third test was needed so teachers could look at the questions, go over them with students, and look at what wrong answer was most often chosen and why it was wrong.

Reread that paragraph carefully. Ha, ha, ha, did a district employee just admit what we always knew?! That state and district tests have little value for the classroom teacher. Their tests tell us nothing except that our schools no longer focus on what students need. It’s about the data. Students are nothing more than dogs running around a track for the bettors and the house who sets the odds so that it always wins.

Once the greyhound no longer can place reliably, the racing/betting industry has no more use for them and is ready to dump them into the street.

We always had a strong intuition that state and district tests were useless, but we never expected someone to admit it.

You can read the full story here. 

You can view the post at this link : https://networkforpubliceducation.org/blog-content/gregory-sampson-lol-we-already-knew-it/

———-

Thom Hartmann is a journalist and blogger who hits the nail on the head with this post. I would add one suggestion to his post, under the heading of “what can I do?” Run for your local school board. Don’t let wacky rightwing extremists buy it.

Former Tea Party congressman and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently put a bulls-eye on the back of the president of the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers.

“I tell the story often — I get asked ‘Who’s the most dangerous person in the world? Is it Chairman Kim, is it Xi Jinping?’” Pompeo told Semafor’s Shelby Talcott. 

“The most dangerous person in the world is Randi Weingarten. It’s not a close call. If you ask, ‘Who’s the most likely to take this republic down?’ It would be the teacher’s unions, and the filth that they’re teaching our kids…”

I’ve known, respected, and admired Randi for years and she’s been a frequent guest on my program: her number one interest is providing the highest quality education to as many American children as possible. Full stop.

So why would Pompeo, pursuing the 2024 Republican nomination for president, risk triggering an American domestic terrorist to train his sites on her? Why would an educated man have such antipathy toward public school teachers?

Public schools are on the GOP’s hit list, just as they were in Chile during the Pinochet regime, and for the same reasons:

— Fascism flourishes when people are ignorant.

— Private for-profit schools are an efficient way to transfer billions from tax revenues into the coffers of “education entrepreneurs” who then recycle that money into Republican political campaigns (just like they’ve done with private for-profit prisons).

— Private schools are most likely to be segregated by race and class, which appeals to the bigoted base of the Republican party.

— While public school boards are our most basic and vigorous form of democracy, private schools are generally unaccountable to the public. 

— Most public school teachers are unionized, and the GOP hates unions.

— Whitewashing America’s racial and genocidal history while ignoring the struggles of women and queer folk further empowers straight white male supremacy.

Umberto Eco, who had a ringside seat to the rise of Mussolini, noted in his “14 indicators of fascism” that dumbing down the populace by lowering educational standards was critical to producing a compliant populace.

“All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks,” he wrote, “made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning.”

Ironically, this very use of public schools to promote a political agenda was the foundation David Koch cited when, in 1980, he attacked American public schools during his run for Vice President on the Libertarian Party ticket.

“We condemn compulsory education laws … and we call for the immediate repeal of such laws,” proclaimed his platform. “We advocate the complete separation of education and State. Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.”

It was a stark contrast from the founders of our nation, who well understood the importance of universal quality public education. The first law mandating public schools paid for with taxpayer dollars was passed in Massachusetts in 1647: to this day, that state is notable for its historic emphasis on education.

As Thomas Jefferson, who founded America’s first tuition-free public college (the University of Virginia), noted in a letter to Colonel Charles Yancey on January 6, 1816:

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

The American president who immediately preceded him, our second, John Adams, also weighed in on the importance of public education in a letter to his old friend John Jebb when, in 1785, Adams was serving in London as America’s first Minister to Great Britain.

He’d seen the consequences of poverty and illiteracy in both the US and England and was horrified:

“The social science will never be much improved, until the people unanimously know and consider themselves as the fountain of power, and until they shall know how to manage it wisely and honestly. Reformation must begin with the body of the people, which can be done only, to effect, in their educations.

“The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people, and must be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the expense of the people themselves.”

But the United States spends almost a trillion dollars a year on primary school education, an expense category just below healthcare and even more than the Pentagon budget: there are massive profits to be made if privatized entities can skim even a few percent off the top.

Those profits, in turn, can be used — with the Supreme Court’s blessing — to legally bribe elected officials to further gut public schools and transfer even more of our tax dollars to private schools and their stockholders.

This pursuit of America’s education dollars is nothing new. The first American president to put an anti-public-schools crusader in charge of the Education Department was Ronald Reagan.

At the time, our public schools were the envy of the world and had recently raised up a generation of scientists and innovators that brought us everything from the transistor to putting men on the moon.

Reagan’s Education Secretary Bill Bennett is probably most famous for having claimed that, “You could abort every Black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.” And then aggressively standing behind his quote in repeated media appearances.

Reagan and Bennett oversaw the gutting of Federal support for civics education, cutting the nation’s federal education budget by 18.5%.

This lead to the situation today where the group that runs national exams of eighth-graders across the country, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, determined in 2018 that only 24% of US students were “proficient in civics.” It’s gotten so bad that the Lincoln Project is launching a K-12 civics program of their own called the Franklin Project.

George W. Bush continued the tradition, proposing an 8% cut to education and welfare budgets.

After initiating the privatization of Medicare in 2003 with the Medicare Advantage scam (a model for privatizing education), his Education Secretary, Rod Paige, calledthe nation’s largest teacher’s union, the National Education Association, a “terrorist organization.”

Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos then proposed cutting 12% or $8.5 billion out of the federal education budget, while allocating over $5 billion in taxpayer dollars to flow into the money bins of their private school cronies.

I started this article with Pompeo’s essentially calling Randi Weingarten a terrorist. Unions as saboteurs is a viewpoint widely held across the Republican Party and among rightwing billionaires.

But it’s simply not true: teachers’ unions have been a primary force in improving the quality of American education for almost a century.

Eunice S. Han is an economics professor and researcher at the University of Utah, and formerly was with Wellesley College. She did exhaustive research into the impact of teachers’ unions on teacher quality and educational outcomes: it’s the single-most definitive study done on the subject to date.

Her findings were unambiguous and rebut the GOP’s talking point that teachers’ unions “protect bad teachers”:

“[T]eachers unions, by negotiating higher wages for teachers, lower the quit probability of high-ability teachers but raise the dismissal rate of underperforming teachers, as higher wages provide districts greater incentive to select better teachers.”

Looking at the most comprehensive set of national data available on teacher quality and educational outcome from “the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES): the School and Staffing Survey (SASS) for three waves (2003-2004, 2007- 2008, and 2011-2012), its supplement Teacher Follow-up Survey (TFS) for each wave of the SASS, and the School Districts Finance Survey (SDFS),” she found:

“The data confirms that, compared to districts with weak unionism, districts with strong unionism dismiss more low-quality teachers and retain more high-quality teachers. The empirical analysis shows that this dynamic of teacher turnover in highly unionized districts raises average teacher quality and improves student achievement.”

But don’t bother trying to tell that to Republicans: they know that unions are terrorists, or at least give nightmares to bad bosses and poorly run businesses that exploit their workers. As Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told an ALEC meeting of Republican state legislators and corporate lobbyists in July, 2017:

“They’ve made it clear that they care more about a system, one created in the 1800s, than they do about individual students.”

In other words, “Don’t bother me with facts.”

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were right about public education, and privatizing it is as much a crime against the commons and our democracy as was privatizing our prisons, over half the Pentagon budget, and Medicare.

Rightwing billionaires are now funding “Liberty” and “Freedom” groups to attack and take over public school boards, seeking to ghettoize their schools, drive out unionized teachers, and impose a gender-bigoted, white supremacist, and anti-science curriculum. (Only 40% of our schools today even teach evolution, as that’s become so “controversial” again.)

Of all our democratic institutions, from Congress to state houses to city councils, the most on-the-ground, closest-to-the-people are school boards.

They’re the most vibrant and often most important of our governmental bodies, designed to express and facilitate the will of local parents and voters. And a great springboard to other elected offices: many members of Congress began their political careers running for a school board.

Private schools, of course, don’t have school boards. They’re accountable to their shareholders and CEOs.

Steve Bannon and other rightwing personalities have, for the past several years as part of their effort to destroy public education, been aggressively encouraging their followers to run for public school boards and, where they don’t win, show up at every meeting to make their members lives miserable.

It’s an area where Democrats and progressives have dropped the ball, big time.

If you’re a parent or grandparent, or even just a concerned citizen, there is no better or more crucial time to show up at your local school board than now. And bring your friends and neighbors with you.

The State University of New York announced the appointment of John King as chancellor of its large system of universities across the state. He will receive a salary of $750,000 plus a monthly stipend of $12,500 for renting a place in New York City, plus many other perks. King was previously state commissioner of education in New York, where he oversaw the implementation of the Common Core standards and tests, which led to widespread opting out from the tests. He was subsequently appointed U.S. Secretary of Education for the last year of the Obama administration. Most recently, he led Education Trust. He is a strong proponent of standardized testing.

The New York State Allies for Public Education issued this press release:

Parents and advocates speak out against appointment of John King as SUNY Chancellor

Parents and advocates from throughout the state criticized the appointment of John King as SUNY Chancellor based upon his dismal record as NY State Education Commissioner. 

Said Jeanette Deutermann, founder of Long Island Opt­­­ Out, “As Education Commissioner, John King was a disaster,  pushing the invalid Common Core standards and redesigning the state tests to be excessively long, with reading passages far above grade level, and full of ambiguous questions. He worked to ensure that the majority of kids would fail the state tests and be labelled not college-ready, including in many districts where nearly every student attends college and does well there.  His actions led directly to massive opposition among parents and the largest testing opt out movement in the country.  Many schools are still dealing with the destructive impact of his policies; I would be very sorry if SUNY students are faced with a similar fate.”

Lisa Rudley­­, the executive director of NY State Allies for Public Education, said, “SUNY Faculty and students should be forewarned! John King consistently ignored the legitimate concerns of parents and teachers regarding the policies he pursued as NY State Education Commissioner, by rewriting the standards, imposing an arduous high stakes testing regime, and basing teacher evaluation on student test scores, none of which had any research behind it and all of which undermined the quality of education in our public schools.  This led to a no-confidence vote of the state teachers union, and if the state’s parents had been able to carry out such a vote, you can be sure they would have done so as well.“

Leonie Haimson, the co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, explained, “Under John King, New York State was the worst state in the country in its failure to protect student privacy and the last state to pull out of inBloom, the hugely invasive data-collection and data-sharing corporation created with $100 million of Gates Foundation funds.  New York was the only state whose Commissioner refused to listen to the outraged cries of parents concerning the plan to share the most intimate details of their children’s educational records with inBloom, which in turn planned to share the data with other ed tech corporations to build their programs around.  New York was also the only state in which an act of the Legislature was required to prohibit this plan from going forward.  Has John King learned his lesson regarding the importance of protecting student privacy?  For the sake of SUNY students, I surely hope so.” 

###

Just days ago, The Former Guy (Trump) said that all rules that prevent him from regaining the Presidency that he decisively lost in 2020 should be terminated, including the Constitution. The Constitution does not have a Sore Losers clause. The Republicans in the House intend to read the Constitution out loud on their first day as a majority. Do they not understand that the only way to honor the Constitution is not to read it but to act on its requirements? The titular leader of their party says the Constitution should be “terminated.” Do they agree or disagree?

As Dan Rather said in a wonderful post this morning, the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution to protect the Republic from men like Trump, flimflam men who would stoop to any lie or trick to gain power. Rather and his co-author Elliott Kirschner said: “Many in the press and pundit world worry that words like “fascism” and “autocracy” are too extreme to apply to American politics. Perhaps that was once the case, but there is also a danger in tiptoeing past the truth. Because what is being said here, with all the subtlety of a Harley revving through a yoga retreat, is that this man, who six years ago pledged an oath to defend the Constitution, now seeks to destroy it. This is the definition of autocracy. It is the seed of fascism.

Who will hold Trump accountable? Polls show that he leads the Republican pack. The Founding Fathers would have arrested him for treason.

Heather Cox Richardson writes:

On Friday, November 25, 2022, just over a week ago, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced, “On the very first day of the new Republican-led Congress, we will “read every single word of the Constitution aloud from the floor of the House—something that hasn’t been done in years.”

Yesterday, on Saturday, December 3, 2022, former president Donald Trump, the presumptive leader of the Republican Party, mischaracterized a Twitter thread to claim that Joe Biden’s presidential campaign had successfully pressured Twitter to suppress the story of Hunter Biden’s laptop—the thread actually said something else entirely—and called for overthrowing the Constitution. Trump wrote:

“So, with the revelation of MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION in working closely with Big Tech Companies, the DNC & the Democrat Party, do you throw the Presidential election results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION? A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great “Founders” did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!”

In case anyone didn’t get the point, Trump followed that post up with another: “UNPRECEDENTED FRAUD REQUIRES UNPRECEDENTED CURE!”

On Sunday, December 4, all but one Republican lawmaker who expects to stay in office for the next two years stayed resolutely silent about Trump’s open attack on the U.S. Constitution, this nation’s founding document, the basis for our government.

That one lawmaker was Representative Michael Turner (R-OH), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, who this morning on CBS’s “Face the Nation” condemned Trump’s attack on the Constitution. But Turner would not say he would not support Trump if he were the party’s nominee in 2024.

Even at that, Turner’s was a lone voice. When George Stephanopoulos, host of “This Week” on ABC News, asked Representative David Joyce (R-OH) if he would support Trump in 2024 after the former president had called for “suspending the Constitution” (to be clear, Trump had called for “terminating” it), Joyce tried to avoid the question but finally said, “I’ll support whoever the Republican nominee is.” Joyce is the chair of the Republican Governance Group, whose members claim they are the party’s centrists.

Not all Republicans reacted to Trump’s truly astonishing statement with such easy acceptance. Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY), who was removed from party leadership for holding Trump responsible for the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and who has lost her seat in Congress to a Trump supporter, responded to Trump’s statement by saying: “Donald Trump believes we should terminate ‘all rules, regulations and articles, even those found in the Constitution’ to overturn the 2020 election. That was his view on 1/6 and remains his view today. No honest person can now deny that Trump is an enemy of the Constitution.”

Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who, like Cheney, took a seat on the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6thAttack on the U.S. Capitol and will also be leaving Congress, tweeted: “With the former President calling to throw aside the constitution, not a single conservative can legitimately support him, and not a single supporter can be called a conservative. This is insane. Trump hates the constitution.” Kinzinger tagged McCarthy, third-ranking House Republican Elise Stefanik (R-NY), and Jim Jordan (R-OH), who is expected to take over the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over issues involving the Constitution.

None of them commented.

Conservative Bill Kristol made his questioning broader: “The Federalist Society claims to defend the Constitution,” he tweeted. “Donald Trump, the ex-president with whom the Society worked so closely, has just attacked the Constitution in an incendiary way. Do the Federalist Society or its members have a word to say in defense of our Constitution?”

Crickets.

McCarthy’s statement a week ago that the whole Constitution hadn’t been read on the floor of Congress “in years” was technically true, but it was misleading. It sounded as if McCarthy was promising to do something novel to demonstrate the Republicans’ loyalty to the Constitution.

In fact, Republicans demanded a reading of the Constitution in the House for the first time in its history in 2011 to try to demonstrate that the government had gone beyond the Framers’ intent, although they also cut out all the parts the Framers wrote that have been amended since the document was written. (That meant they cut out the infamous three-fifths clause counting enslaved African Americans as three fifths of a white person for purposes of representation, leading to accusations that they were cherry-picking the Framers’ words.)

Since then, the House has read the Constitution at least twice more, in 2015 and 2017, to promote the idea that Republicans, and Republicans alone, are standing on the U.S. Constitution, while Democrats are abusing it.

The leader of the Republican Party has called for “the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution,” and party leaders are silent.

Representatives had not taken the time to read the entirety of the U.S. Constitution on the floor of the House before 2011 because they were presumed to know it. What they did have to say aloud was something far more important for each individual to have on record: their oath of office.

It reads: “I…do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

Ryan Cooper writes at The American Prospect that Elon Musk is a walking, talking demonstration of the problem that affects billionaires and oligarchs. His extreme wealth, which at one point, was $300 billion, was about the same as the GDP of Finland. His bid for Twitter far exceeded its actual stock value, which is why he tried to back out of his offer.

He writes:

Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter does not seem to be going well. Just three weeks after buying the company, Musk has fired the entire executive suite and half the staff, fired dozens more for insufficiently slavish devotion, and most recently has apparently driven off something like 40 percent of those who remain with an abrupt demand to submit to a “hardcore” new contract without most of the relevant details.

Though Twitter is still functioning at time of writing, in my experience it has become notably more glitchy and is swarming with bots. Informed observers are predicting that absent a major change of course, serious technical instability, major security breaches, or even total collapse are just a matter of time. “I know of six critical systems (like ‘serving tweets’ levels of critical) which no longer have any engineers,” one former employee told The Washington Post. “There is no longer even a skeleton crew manning the system.”

We can conclude one thing from this mess for sure: The oligarch class has entirely too much money.

One of Musk’s bad ideas was to change the verification system. Previously, if you established your identity, you got a blue check mark next to your name. Musk decided that anyone could buy the blue check mark for $8 a month, and a large number of fake accounts were created and used to insult or mock others. Someone opened a Pepsi account and advised people to drink Coca-Cola.

Musk promptly obliterated the company’s business model. He drove out the head of ad sales, alarming the companies that account for nine-tenths of Twitter revenue. He implemented a new verification system where anyone can pay for a blue check, which (of course) led thousands of people to impersonate celebrities, politicians, and huge companies. Eli Lilly and Lockheed Martin lost billions of dollars in market capitalization because two jokers spent $8. Advertisers, logically fearing Twitter would turn into a cesspit of abuse, racist slurs, and child porn, and turned off by Musk’s erratic behavior, started shunning the company….

Strictly speaking, an individual’s net worth is not the same as national GDP; one is a stock and the other is a flow. But it gets at the important point, which is that Elon Musk and his fellow ultra-oligarchs command resources comparable to those produced by a small wealthy nation over an entire year. Economists assume wacky stuff like “hugely overpaying for a company and immediately driving into a ditch” won’t happen, because all the monetary incentives are against it. But while Musk has lost nearly half his net worth since its peak, and probably will lose a lot more once all this is finished, he will almost certainly still be a multibillionaire at the end. Guys like him can lose more money than any single person has ever lost in history, in less than a month, and still have enough to live 10,000 lifetimes in resplendent luxury.

The odds of such a thing happening increase when one considers the social effects of extreme wealth. Being that rich tends to both convince people that they are heroic geniuses far beyond the capabilities of ordinary mortals, and isolate them from any normal social interaction or criticism. It is exceptionally easy to attract a coterie of yes-men and toadies who will indulge your every whim and bad habit. Substance abuse problems and delusions of grandeur are frequent. Sound familiar?

Non-rich people can be erratic weirdos too, and ordinary businesses without megalomaniac oligarch CEOs have destroyed themselves in the past. But allowing wealth to concentrate to such a degree greatly increases the chance of the kind of completely pointless disaster that has befallen Twitter.

During the New Deal, the oligarch class was cut down to size with confiscatory income taxes on the very rich, which topped out at 94 percent for the top bracket. We could go one better by adding a wealth tax to the largest fortunes, as economists Thomas Piketty and Gabriel Zucman suggest, perhaps even plowing the proceeds into an Alaska-style social wealth fund for the benefit of all.

The solutions are readily available. The larger point is this: The existence of major companies shouldn’t hinge on the behavior of loopy, Reddit-poisoned crackpots.

Steve Hinnefeld, Indiana blogger, recounts the curious trajectory of a fdderally funded tutoring program. To speed things along, the U.S. Department of Education made a no-bid contract with The Mind Trust to find tutors and students. The Mind Trust is known for its role in promoting charter schools. So far, it has signed up 200 students from an eligible pool of more than 50,000.

Indianapolis nonprofit the Mind Trust was awarded a no-bid contract to manage Indiana Learns. It will be paid up to $3 million to run the two-year, $15 million program, according to the contract. The Mind Trust is known for promoting charter schools; it has helped launch 45 charter or innovation network schools in Indianapolis. It also operates Indy Summer Learning Labs with United Way of Central Indiana.

A reader who signs in as “kindergarteninterlude” posted the following comment in the discussion about “growth mindset”:

The year I retire, I will have a tee-shirt made. On the front will be the word- big and bold- “RIGOR”, with the NO Symbol on top (a circle and diagonal line through it).


On the back will be the word data with the same NO symbol on top of it.


I’d love to work in “growth mindset “. What a bunch of garbage.


Hopefully my tee-shirt will be a conversation starter and I will be happy to talk to people about my experiences in the kindergarten classroom.

I will explain that rigor is developmentally inappropriate and the desperate attempt to shove rigor into the heart and mind of kindergartners (and every other grade level student) can only hurt them.

As for data- the obsession is destructive on so many levels. What’s worse, it’s meaningless.


Diane, why does this insanity persist? Why are true best practices and proven methods of success in education completely dismissed? I have been shaking my head (and my fist) for 20 years. Nothing changes. It’s just getting worse. What will it ever take to shift this train wreck that is education?

Trump has fully embraced the rightwing sector of the GOP, first by having dinner with Ye and Fuentes—racists, white nationalists, anti-Semites—then by promising to pardon and release the insurrectionists of January 6. There is no bottom, no low too low for him. (Yes, Ye is a white nationalist, strangely enough.)

Now Trump has renounced the Constitution. He repeats the Big Lie and demands that he be “declared” the rightful president or that a new election be held.

CNN reports:

Former President Donald Trump called for the termination of the Constitution to overturn the 2020 election and reinstate him to power Saturday in a continuation of his election denialism and pushing of fringe conspiracy theories.

“Do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION? A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution,” Trump wrote in a post on the social network Truth Social and accused “Big Tech” of working closely with Democrats. “Our great ‘Founders’ did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!”

Trump’s post came after the release of internal Twitter emails showing deliberation in 2020 over a New York Post story about material found on Hunter Biden’s laptop.

Is he nuts or cunning? Insane or stupid?