Richard Cohen, executive director of “In the Public Interest” and author of The Privatization of Everything discovered an important insight about public attitudes. Many people assume that private business is invariably more efficient than the public sector. But, as he shows here, the private sector’s highest goal is profit, and the pursuit of profit leads to cost-cutting that is inefficient and actually, in the case of a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, dangerous.

Here is an excerpt:

Let’s dig into the basic “mathematics of efficiency.” It’s about spending or doing less to get the same or better (cost/time + efficiency = same or better.) In that formula, “efficiency” could either be “smarter” or “cheaper.”

The problem is that far too often it equals cheaper. Efficiency could mean fewer workers than are needed to ensure high quality or safe production on the shop floor. Efficiency could mean lower wage workers. Efficiency could be using lower-quality supplies and equipment. And sometimes, efficiency means fewer inspectors and less monitoring of safety protocols.

Sometimes “same or better” means outsized profits, expensive stock buybacks, high-dividend payments, and high executive compensation packages–in other words, the fruits of high productivity built upon a package of “efficiencies.”

So, I’ve come up with a new term. When efficiency means cutting corners for increased profits, we should call it: “Extractive Efficiency.”

That’s what happened in East Palestine and could happen again if the underlying extractive efficiency isn’t dealt with. In fact, over the last few years, all the railroad companies have focused on efficiency to increase profits, cheering Wall Street, but not the residents of East Palestine. Less than two weeks before the derailment, it was reported that Norfolk Southern, the train operator, had improved the average speed of its trains from 17.5 miles per hour to 20.7 between the second and fourth quarter of 2022, and by January was at 22.2 miles per hour.

Here are a few of Norfolk Southern’s “efficiencies.”

Fewer workers: Norfolk Southern removed a senior type of inspector from the track division that runs through East Palestine, making more work for signal maintainers. Over the past five years, employment among the nation’s largest freight rail carriers has fallen about 18 percent. With fewer workers doing more work, they may miss telltale signs of safety failures.

Harder work and more hours per worker: The industry, including Norfolk Southern, implemented “Precision Scheduled Railroading” that, according to The American Prospect“means no excess engines, no track not under constant use, no downtime in the yards, no employees not busy driving the trains or maintaining the tracks, and never have three one-mile-long trains when one three-mile-long train can be assembled.” Shockingly, railroad workers get no paid sick days.

The people who live near the derailment are paying the price of Norfolk Southern’s “efficiencies.” They will be dealing with the consequences of the toxic spill for years to come, affecting their health, the value of their homes, and the quality of their water.

But the railroad is returning handsome profits to its top executives and shareholders.

Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education, asks you to show your support for #AbbottElementary, the delightful weekly show that favorably portrays the real life of teachers, students, and public schools. The show was written, produced by, and stars the amazingly talented @QuintaBrunson.

Carol writes:

ABC’s award-winning sitcom Abbott Elementary is the story of a wonderful group of teachers who stick with a challenging Philadelphia public school because they love teaching and kids. In recent episodes, it has been critical of the effects of charter schools.

It seems hard to believe it, but “Ed Reformers” are attacking its creator, Quinta Brunson, on Twitter.

Please stand up for Abbott Elementary & Ms Brunson by copying and tweeting the Tweets below. The show and its producers need to know you stand for truth-telling and for public schools.

Thank you @AbbottElemABC & @quintabrunson for yr amazing show that dares to tell truth abt how charters hurt public schools. Love the show. Keep up the great work! I love #AbbottElementary

How small @JeanneAllen & @edreform look trying to suppress @AbbottElemABC from criticizing the charter system by lying about @quintabrunson. I love #AbbottElementary

When @AbbottElemABC critiques Pa billionaire trying to undermine public schools w/charters, @edreform goes on the attack. Pathetic to go after a beloved show & its beloved creator/star @quintabrunson. Gotta say it. I love #AbbottElementary.

You can read about the show’s critique of charters here and the Jeanne Allen controversy here including the Tweets in which Brunson pushes back.

Thanks for all you do,Image

Carol Burris

Network for Public Education

Executive Director

Quinton Brunson is the writer, producer and star of the award-winning TV series “Abbott Elementary.” Abbott Elementary is a comedy about an urban elementary school, realistically depicting life in a Philadelphia public school. It is a funny, joyful celebration of life in public schools and a song of praise to public school teachers. No matter how silly they are at times, they are heroes!

In season 2, the show turned to the topic of charter schools, because a big charter chain wants to take over Abbott. The staff is mortified. The staff lays bare the unfair practices of the charter school (e.g. pushing out kids they don’t want), and the series lays bare how underfunded Abbott is (in contrast to the charter school, which is equipped with the best of everything).

Jeanne Allen, founder and chief executive officer of the Center for Education Reform, lashed out on Twitter against Quinta Brunson for her negative portrayal of charters when Quinta had gone to charter schools “her entire education” in Philadelphia and had previously praised them.

Quinta responded on Twitter: “you’re wrong and bad at research. I only attended a charter for high school. My public elementary school was transitioned to charter over a decade after I left. I did love my high school. That school is now defunct- which happens to charters often.”

She immediately added: “Loving something doesn’t mean it can’t be critiqued. Thanks for watching the show :)” (Her quotes appear in the article linked above.)

Hundreds of tweets from Quinta’s passionate followers excoriated Allen, supported Quinta and defended her right to say whatever she wanted.

At one point, Jeanne Allen gratuitously claimed “Money talks,” implying that Quinta was paid off by someone to criticize charter schools. On these pages, it’s not surprising to hear a charter lobbyist jeer that critics must have been paid off by the teachers’ unions. But Allen didn’t spell it out, possibly because it was so preposterous on its face.

Quinta’s fans jumped all over the ”she was bought” idea; one said that this Allen person, with not quite 8,000 followers, must be “clout catching”—that is—trying to grab attention by attacking a celebrity—by going after the great Quinta Brunson, who has more 800,000 followers.

It is more than funny reading Jeanne Allen chastise the brilliant, creative Quinta Brunson for taking aim at charter schools because “money talks.” The Center for Education Reform is handsomely funded by conservative billionaires like the Walton Foundation and Jeffrey Yass, as well as billionaire Wall Street charter suporters. Yes indeed, money talks.

The Center for Education Reform serves the goal of right-wing billionaires like Jeff Yass to destroy public education, even though he is a graduate of New York City public schools. Yass funds election deniers and candidates who want to ban critical race theory in the schools. The school-choice lobby says they are deeply devoted to children of color, yet the heavy hitters are funding the candidates and astroturf parent groups that want to ban teaching Black history. Hypocrites!

Since Jeanne is so concerned about hypocrisy, she might ask Jeff Yass why he wants to destroy the very schools that educated him. Why doesn’t he endow state-of-the-art public schools in New York City and Philadelphia to show his gratitude? The great singer Tony Bennett endowed the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, why not a Jeffrey Yass High School for Financial Success and Ethics?

This contretemps has not worked in favor of the charter lobby. Attacking a beloved TV star is a bad idea. Even TIME magazine used the controversy to explain the shortcomings of charter schools.

For teachers around the U.S., charter schools are a constant concern, beyond an episode of television. They find relief, both comic and real, in Abbott—as well as tangible education and information.

“There’s this myth that charter schools provide more opportunity or their graduation rates are better, but that’s just because they exclude kids,” says Brooklyn public school teacher Frank Marino, who formerly worked at a charter school. Watching Abbott “felt so cathartic, because I was like, yes, it was a public platform where those myths are being busted by parents….”

Abbott Elementary has brought Kathryn Vaughn, an art teacher at a public school in Tennessee, and her husband back to appointment viewing TV like it’s the ‘90s. Vaughn loves the show, but says she was surprised to see it tackle charter schools, a $49.5 billion industry with heavy political sway. She appreciated how the most recent episode hands the power to the parents….

In many states, public schools are mandated to have arts education in each building, and tenure in the arts for someone like Vaughn is possible. Charter schools, however, have more leeway: Some, like Addington Elementary in Abbott, can choose to bring in an art teacher a couple of days a week, often subcontracted out from a company.

“Charter schools make me incredibly uneasy,” Vaughn says. “They don’t have to offer their employees tenure. They don’t have to hire certified staff to teach. So if you’re sending your child to a charter school expecting a great arts education, you might not even be taught by certified staff.”

Abbott Elementary is set in West Philadelphia and Vaughn’s school is in western Tennessee, but no matter where you are in public education right now, she says, you know: the push for privatization is huge.

“That’s really the big connection between urban poor and rural poor, like I’m in, is the funding,” Vaughn says. “Urban schools almost are a little sexier. They get more of the money than us in the rural, poor areas. But we’re all behind where we should be with funding.”

A few episodes ago, at the fictional Pennsylvania Educational Conference for the South East Area (PECSA), Jacob (Chris Perfetti)—a well-meaning history teacher—is hanging out with a group of teachers from Addington Elementary. One of them, Summer (Carolyn Gilroy), tries to convince him to switch schools, telling him, “We’re all about focusing on the kids who have the best chance of making it out.”

“Out?” Jacob asks. “Out of what?”

The scene hit home for Marjahn Finlayson, a climate change educator, researcher, and activist who previously worked at a charter high school in Hartford, Connecticut. While teachers there often took a personal interest in their work, she says, there was little trust in the community.

“In the PECSA conference episode, Addington teachers are talking to Jacob about, like, ‘Oh, we take the best kids, and we try to get them out of the ‘hood,’” Finlayson says. “And Jacob is like, ‘Why are you taking them out?’ That was how the feeling was for me.”

Finlayson noticed disparities in resources between public and charter schools, regardless of the quality and dedication of teachers.

“That’s why it’s easier for these schools like Legendary Schools to get into an inner city space, like where Abbott is, where Hartford is,” she says. “It’s easy to prey on these communities that have a need, based on the fact that public school funding isn’t going to this space, but it’s going to another.”

One of Abbott’s arguments against charter schools is that, as Barbara grimly puts it, “They don’t see students. They see scores.” At Finlayson’s former charter high school, one student was repeatedly pressured into applying to college, despite wanting to pursue a trade career.

“And it wasn’t even the fact that she needed to go, it was just that she had to apply,” Finlayson says. “Because, ‘We have a 100% college acceptance rate, and we’re not going to mess with that number.’”

Note to Jeanne Allen: Don’t attack a beloved celebrity. The blowback will not be good for your cause.

Jessica Winter, a staff writer at the New Yorker, wrote an article in the latest issue of the magazine describing how the hit-TV program “Abbott Elementary” is sharply critiquing the charter school movement. The show and its creator and star Quinta Brunson have won multiple awards.

It’s a terrific article.

Most of the public doesn’t know what charter schools are. Abbott Elementary tells them. Abbott artfully weighs in against the privatization of public schools.

I wish I could repost the article in full. Here are snippets:

The local and national growth of charter schools has been propped up by lavish support from a center-to-right spectrum of billionaires with various, sometimes overlapping desires, which include lower taxes, fewer and weakened teachers’ unions, state funding for religious schools, and a more entrepreneurial approach to public education. Prominent advocates include Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, the Walton family, Betsy DeVos, the late Eli Broad, and Jeff Yass, reportedly the richest man in Pennsylvania. When the “weird cash” episode of “Abbott Elementary” aired, viewers immediately speculated that Barbara was referring to Yass. Jeanne Allen, the director of Yass’s education foundation, was unamused, telling the Philadelphia Inquirer that the line was a “gratuitous slap against people with wealth” and tweeting, “This has TEACHERS UNION written all over it.”

Brunson is the daughter of a veteran public-school teacher in West Philadelphia, and “Abbott” doesn’t flinch from the decrepitude of the city’s education system. (For one thing, an out-of-date calendar hanging in Abbott’s main office covers up a hole in the wall that appears to be choked with asbestos.) But the show also dismantles the benevolent narrative of “escape” promulgated by the Yasses and other charter-school advocates—the notion that a public-school system cannot be raround and improved, only bled out and abandoned. “Abbott” grabs this idea around the neck in a conversation between Jacob (Chris Perfetti), who teaches history at Abbott, and Summer (Carolyn Gilroy), an Addington teacher who tries and fails to recruit Jacob to her school, where he’d be, she says, “with the brightest kids from the neighborhood,” “the cream of the crop from all over the city.” “We’re all about focussing on the kids who have the best chance of making it out,” Summer says. (“Out of what?” Jacob asks. He receives no answer.)

In this exchange, as when Addington offers a chance of “escape” to Josh and just as quickly rescinds it, “Abbott” is building a cogent, legally grounded argument against charter-school practices. According to Pennsylvania law, a charter school cannot discriminate “based on intellectual ability or athletic ability, measures of achievement or aptitude, status as a person with a disability, English language proficiency, or any other basis that would be illegal if used by a school district.” But, as Summer openly admits, these prohibitions are not reflected in charter schools’ student populations. In 2019, the Education Law Center found that Philadelphia’s district schools enrolled about five times as many students with intellectual disabilities as charters. They also enrolled twice as many autistic children and three times as many English-language learners and students experiencing homelessness. A 2016 reportby the Center for Civil Rights Remedies hypothesized that “some charter schools are artificially boosting their test scores or graduation rates by using harsh discipline to discourage lower-achieving youth from continuing to attend.”

It’s rare to get this kind of cogent, clear-eyed reporting about charter grift in a major publication.

The article made me wonder about the billionaires’ end game.

Charters for “the cream of the crop.”

Vouchers for the religious who want public money to pay tuition at a church school.

Vouchers for wealthy families to underwrite their pricey tuition.

Homeschooling for those who prefer to avoid organized schooling altogether.

What will be the role of public schools? They will serve the students whom no else wants.

What a mean, undemocratic view!

The reality is that our society needs public schools, open to all, more than ever. As our society becomes more diverse, we need more institutions where people from different backgrounds interact as equals. We need more places where diversity, equity and inclusion are functioning realities, not a goal or a scapegoat.

Maurice Cunningham is a retired professor of political science in Massachusetts. He is an expert on Dark Money in education issues. His revelations about the money behind a state referendum to expand the number of charters indefinitely in Massachusetts in 2016 helped to defeat the referendum. I wrote about his role in my book Slaying Goliath.

What Happened to Election Day at National Parents Union?

There I was on the edge of my seat in front of the television waiting for Steve Kornacki to break down the numbers in the election for the hotly contested highest offices in the National Parents Union. Could Keri Rodrigues be re-elected to another three year term? Might Alma Marquez, elected secretary-treasurer three years ago before mysteriously disappearinglaunch a comeback bid? Would the networks call a winner before my bedtime?

But no, nothing. No network call. No Steve Kornacki. No election at all.

That was a huge disappointment because on January 27, 2020, Beth Hawkins of The74 reported “Founders Keri Rodrigues and Alma Marquez were voted into three-year terms as inaugural president and secretary-treasurer, respectively.”

So I waited three years for the next election. If you can’t get reliable information about a Walton Family Foundation franchise like NPU from a Walton Family Foundation publication like The74, where can you look?

I’m kidding. I knew there would be no election, just like I knew the Hawkins piece was corporate puffery, and just as I knew there was no real election in 2020 where Rodrigues and Marquez “launch[ed] the National Parents Union on Jan. 16, when they … [held] an inaugural summit in New Orleans with 125 delegates from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.” For one thing, Rodrigues signed NPU’s incorporation papers on April 4, 2019 as president. Then on the 2020 annual report Rodrigues signed as president with a term ending December 31, 2025. Tim Langan (later to marry Rodrigues, in 2022) replaced Marquez as treasurer. There has never been any accounting of what happened to the duly elected treasurer and apparently zero curiosity about her from the “125 delegates from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico” who presumably left New Orleans thinking they had elected her to a three year term.

Still, an election for a part-time job that pays $232,000 for twenty hours per week would seem attractive enough to draw some opposition. (Source: National Parents Union Form 990 tax return for 2021)

The $180,000 is from a related organization, the Walton Family Foundation franchise Massachusetts Parents Union, also a 20 hour per week gig. (Source: Massachusetts Parents United Form 990 tax return for 2021)

Reading over The74 article I’m struck by how important it was for the Waltons to portray NPU as something like a real union. But it isn’t. For one thing unions elect their leadership democratically. Rodrigues promised Fox News that NPU would “be creating a national parent council and a board of advisers. We will assemble delegates, agree on by-laws, vote on ratification, and form our union.” The parent council has never materialized, no by-laws have been made public, and ratificationwas about as valid as the treasurer’s vote. But they did appoint delegates! Then NPU killed off all the delegates. They were replaced with a 7 person parent “advisory council.” Keep your bags packed, councilors.

Who would vote if NPU did hold an election? Rodrigues recently tweeted “Just held our last @NationalParents Union leadership meeting where @TafshierCosby announced we have now grown to almost 1,000 affiliated organizations in all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.”

There are no parent organization affiliates. The only verifiable affiliated organizations are those, as I wrote in Dark Money and the Politics of School Privatization, that are in the charter school industry or related privatization fronts. Cosby is identified at the NPU website Senior Director of the NPU Center for Organizing and Partnerships and “also the CEO of Parent Impact.” Parent Impact is apparently part of the KIPP charter school business. Itwas recognized by the IRS as a tax exempt organization only on September 10, 2020. IRS placed Parent Impact on the auto-revocation list for not filing tax returns on May 15, 2021.

I didn’t let the popcorn go to waste on election night but I sure did miss Steve Kornacki.

Maurice T. Cunningham is author of Dark Money and the Politics of School Privatization. As a (now retired) educator in the UMass system, he is a union member.

Since he lost in 2020, former President Trump has repeatedly and falsely alleged that the election was rigged, stolen from him. Millions of his adherents believe him. Sowing disbelief in the fundamental fairness of the nation’s voting system may be Trump’s greatest crime, for which he will never be prosecuted. It is a clear violation of his oath of office, in which he solemnly swore that he would “”to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

But the Washington Post obtained a secret study commissioned by Trump to determine the scope of any election fraud. The study did not confirm the claims Trump made in public. The voter fraud discovered by his team could not verify his wild claims.

When Donald Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Jan. 2, 2021, in a now-infamous bid to overturn the 2020 election, he alleged that thousands of dead people had voted in the state.
“So dead people voted, and I think the number is close to 5,000 people. And they went to obituaries. They went to all sorts of methods to come up with an accurate number, and a minimum is close to about 5,000 voters,” he said, without citing his study.

But a report commissioned by his own campaign dated one day prior told a different story: Researchers paid by Trump’s team had “high confidence” of only nine dead voters in Fulton County, defined as ballots that may have been cast by someone else in the name of a deceased person. They believed there was a “potential statewide exposure” of 23 such votes across the Peach State — or 4,977 fewer than the “minimum” Trump claimed.In a separate failed bid to overturn the results in Nevada, Trump’s lawyers said in a court filing that 1,506 ballots were cast in the names of dead people and 42,284 voted twice. Trump lost the Silver State by about 33,000 votes.

The researchers paid by Trump’s team had “high confidence” that 12 ballots were cast in the names of deceased people in Clark County, Nev., and believed the “high end potential exposure” was 20 voters statewide — some 1,486 fewer than Trump’s lawyers said.

According to their research, the “low end potential exposure” of double voters was 45, while the “high end potential exposure” was 9,063. The judge tossed the Nevada case even as Trump continued to claim he won the state.

Are there penalties for lying?

Are there consequences for undermining public confidence in the democratic process of selecting those who govern us?

How do we hold accountable a president who violates his oath of office?

It has come to the attention of many people that Russian oligarchs and businessmen have an alarming rate of falling out of windows. The likelihood of this happening is highly correlated to their having expressed any criticism of Putin’s war on Ukraine. Let’s face it: Death is the ultimate form of censorship.

I started collecting stories of this phenomenon and then discovered that The Hill had gathered some or most or all of them.

In a story, called “Murder, Putin Wrote,” Mark Toth and Jonathan Sweet told the strange tale as of a month ago (it may need updating in the event other oligarchs have accidentally defenestrated):

Russian oligarchs continue to fall out of windows around the world at what seems to be a precipitously increasing rate. The latest, Pavel Antonov, reputedly the richest deputy in Russia’s State Duma, fell to his death on Boxing Day in Rayagada, India. Alexey Idamkin, Moscow’s Consul General in Calcutta, essentially told TASS, “Nothing to see here.” Two days earlier, the Russian sausage-maker magnate turned politician’s traveling companion, Vladimir Budanov, suddenly died of a “heart attack” while celebrating Antonov’s birthday.

Perhaps it was a coincidence. Then again, likely not. In all likelihood, the sausage-maker, who in June had criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, simply knew too much about how Putin’s sausage was being made and, more to the point, just how corrupt Putin’s Kremlin has become since he assumed the Russian prime minister’s office in August 1999.

In the West, notably, there is a widespread misunderstanding of the oligarchs’ position and standing in Putin’s pyramid of power in Moscow. They are not, as a group, self-made commercial or industrial titans, but rather are mostly former confidantes or henchmen of Putin’s. Think of them as the human combination codes to Putin’s vaults and the vaults as the various Russian industries and market segments they control on Putin’s behalf.

Combination locks — or tumblers, to be more exact — can, as needed, be changed, and Putin’s favored way of doing so apparently is for disfavored Russian oligarchs to be invited to take a tumble out of an open window. Since the war began in February, according to CNN, at least one dozen “Russian businessmen have reportedly died by suicide or in unexplained accidents,” six of them alone from within Gazprom, the Kremlin’s state-owned colossal energy conglomerate.

Other deaths, each worthy of a CBS “48 Hours” or “Dateline TASS” segment (if it existed), include Alexander Buzakov earlier this month, who was the general director of Admiralty Shipyards, a St. Petersburg-based shipbuilder of Russian military submarines. Ivan Pechorindrowned in Vladivostok. He had been the senior executive at the Corporation for the Development of the Far East and Arctic (which was focused on Putin’s pre-war economic pet project, the Northern Sea Route). Anatoly Gerashchenko, who was head of the Moscow Aviation Institute, died under mysterious circumstances in September after falling down a flight of stairs.

The $64,000 question is why they are dying and who and/or what Russian organization is behind their deaths. Many in academia and some Russian experts, especially early on in the war, argued that Putin was likely to be overthrown by his oligarchs as they chose rubles over the Russian president’s desire to reincarnate himself as a modern-day Peter the Great. This, however, as noted above, is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the limited maneuvering room for power afforded oligarchs in Putin’s mafia-like pyramid structure.

Understanding this pyramid is key. Putin sits at the top and his position of power is secured by the Federal Security Service (FSB). Operating from Lubyanka Square in Moscow, just blocks from the Kremlin, they serve as his Gestapo-like secret police, armed enforcers, and Secret Service-like Praetorian guard all rolled into one. Underneath and subservient to this layer, jockeying for scraps of political power, lie the Russian state-controlled media, oligarchs, and the Russian Orthodox Church headed by Patriarch Kirill.

Notably missing from this third tier is the Russian Defense Ministry and the country’s military forces. By design, not since Russian Minister of Defense Georgy Zhukov, a Soviet hero of World War II and marshal of its armies, intervened to arrest Lavrentiy Beria after Joseph Stalin’s death in support of Nikita Khrushchev, has the Russian military had any significant political clout in Moscow. Not then — and, notably, still not now.

Please open the link and keep reading.

David Frum, formerly a Republican speechwriter but now a Never Trumper, writes in the Atlantic that Ron DeSantis has figured out how to woo the Republican base but not how to win a national election.

DeSantis spoke out on the Tucker Carlson show against support for Ukraine because the conflict is nothing more than “a territorial dispute” that does not concern us.

Never mind that the US, NATO, and the UN have a vital stake in protecting a rules-based international order where one sovereign nation does not invade another in order to extinguish its national identity.

Never mind, as Frum wrote, that DeSantis “was on record, in 2014 and 2015, urging the Obama administration to send both “defensive and offensive” weapons to Ukraine after the Russian annexation of Crimea.”

DeSantis is courting the base by imposing a nearly-complete ban on abortion, limiting it to the first six weeks of pregnancy, before women know they are pregnant. But a majority of voters in Florida oppose the ban: “That bill is opposed by 57 percent of those surveyed even inside Florida. Another poll found that 75 percent of Floridians oppose the ban. It also showed that 77 percent oppose permitless concealed carry, which DeSantis supports, and that 61 percent disapprove of his call to ban the teaching of critical race theory as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion policies on college campuses.”

How will DeSantis’s hard-right views play outside Florida?

More dangerous than the unpopular positions DeSantis holds are the popular positions he does not hold. What is DeSantis’s view on health care? He doesn’t seem to have one. President Joe Biden has delivered cheap insulin to U.S. users. Good idea or not? Silence from DeSantis. There’s no DeSantis jobs policy; he hardly speaks about inflation. Homelessness? The environment? Nothing. Even on crime, DeSantis must avoid specifics, because specifics might remind his audience that Florida’s homicide numbers are worse than New York’s or California’s.

Frum believes that DeSantis could win the GOP nomination but has no realistic path to winning the presidency.

I hope he is right. DeSantis has no respect for the very idea of a two-party system. He wants a one-party state, led by an all-powerful autocrat. As he bragged in Nevada, no member of the Democratic Party won any statewide races. His preference is to have no opposition, no criticism, no free press. He is dangerous. He has a fascist instinct.

Mercedes Schneider tries a thought experiment. Is it possible to create a universal education voucher that is “seamless” and reduces the role of government?

Imagine a state with one million students, each given a sum of money to spend on their education. Simple, right?


As she demonstrates, such a program will require a massive bureaucracy to administer. Unless the public doesn’t care where the money goes, whether it was wasted or stolen.

She begins:

The idea of taxpayer funding for K12 education following the student– “funding portability”– is not new. Following the COVID pandemic and the closing of schools (or following a virtual model that taxed family functioning and internet capabilities) has contributed to a rise in public willingness to consider funding portability. Conservative organizations like the Reason Foundation are ready to offer suggestions on how to institute universal funding portability “and ensure funds flow seamlessly across district boundaries.”

As I read the Reason article linked above, my first thought was on how it would require a monstrous bureaucracy to administer and track funding sent directly to the parents/guardians of each student. This cannot be understated. Consider the mess it would be, say, if the funding went to an old bank account, or wrong bank account. Consider the bureaucratic mess it would present if a child transferred schools at an inconvenient time. So many bank accounts to keep straight. So many payments or partial payments to track to parent from state, or from parent to correct school. Not just any school– the school at which student attendance has been verified.

Now think of this on the level of hundreds or thousands or hundreds of thousands of students.

In order for the transfer of funds to proceed “seamlessly” (Reason’s word), it would entail rules and guidelines, and accountability departments and scheduled, incremental payments, and stop-payment procedures for the school the student no longer attended. It would mean an established appeals process when money was sent to the wrong school, or in the name of the wrong child even in the same household (say, if several children attend different schools, even in different counties or states).

I haven’t even mentioned the bureaucracy needed to to both combat and confront acts of fraud committed by those disbursing and receiving funds.

Universal funding portability would also mean school and district budgets being thrown into chaos because money supposed to arrive one child at a time doesn’t just show up like idyllic magic.

None of this is smooth, and none of this is easy, and none of this is wondrously seamless.

Please open the link and read on.

A Democratic legislator in Nebraska has brought all legislation to a halt by filibustering against an anti-trans bill. The legislator is married, with children. The legislative session is half-way done.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — It was a mundane, unanimously supported bill on liquor taxation that saw state Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh take to the mic on the Nebraska Legislature floor last week. She offered her support, then spent the next three days discussing everything but the bill, including her favorite Girl Scout cookies, Omaha’s best doughnuts and the plot of the animated movie “Madagascar.”

She also spent that time railing against an unrelated bill that would outlaw gender-affirming therapies for those 18 and younger. It was the advancement of that bill out of committee that led Cavanaugh to promise three weeks ago to filibuster every bill that comes before the Legislature this year — even the ones she supports.

“If this Legislature collectively decides that legislating hate against children is our priority, then I am going to make it painful — painful for everyone,” the Omaha married mother of three said. “I will burn the session to the ground over this bill.”

True to her word, Cavanaugh has slowed the business of passing laws to a crawl by introducing amendment after amendment to every bill that makes it to the state Senate floor and taking up all eight debate hours allowed by the rules — even during the week she was suffering from strep throat. Wednesday marks the halfway point of this year’s 90-day session, and not a single bill will have passed thanks to Cavanaugh’s relentless filibustering.

True to her word, Cavanaugh has slowed the business of passing laws to a crawl by introducing amendment after amendment to every bill that makes it to the state Senate floor and taking up all eight debate hours allowed by the rules — even during the week she was suffering from strep throat. Wednesday marks the halfway point of this year’s 90-day session, and not a single bill will have passed thanks to Cavanaugh’s relentless filibustering….

This is a bill that attacks trans children,” Cavanaugh said. “It is legislating hate. It is legislating meanness. The children of Nebraska deserve to have somebody stand up and fight for them.”