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?

Ellen Ann Fentress is a Mississippi writer who dug deep into a state tradition of converting federal funds for the poor into a boondoggle for the few. She writes here in an upstart online investigative journal called the Mississippi Free Press. (To learn more about this brave entry into investigative journalism in Mississippi, read this post.) Federal money intended to supply housing for poor and middle-income Mississippians was diverted by politicians to refurbishing a port, which benefitted the casino industry.

She writes:

The plantation-owner model lingers in the Mississippi imagination. It’s manifested, for example, in the local soft spot for white columns on McMansions and even gas stations in suburban communities.

The plantation archetype, however, is not a yokel, but the opposite. To make money off his cash crop—that’s the definition of a plantation over a self-sustaining farm—the plantation owner had to master credit lines and commodity futures in a far-off financial market and put that mastery into play on his home soil. His success rested on being a bifurcated practitioner. His feet in his home dirt, his head attuned elsewhere.

I wrote a version of those words in mid-2008 for the Oxford American magazine about how then-Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour had channeled $570 million in Hurricane Katrina housing recovery funds away from rebuilding housing for poor Gulf Coast residents and toward improving the state port at Gulfport.

In words not that different from what we’re hearing now about the arrogant and greedy redirection of federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds, Barbour’s excuse for hubristic diversion was economic development.

Sinking recovery money into the port would bring 6,500 direct jobs, the Yazoo City native declared in 2009. His economic trickle-down policy hit the right note with the national free-market conservative audience. The powerful Washington lobbyist and former head of the party tested the GOP presidential waters for 2008, in fact, stymied in part by his own words about racism in his hometown.

Barbour’s port move, however, was at the expense of low- and middle-income Coast residents cut out of the state’s recovery aid framework that was weighted toward homeowners with insurance policies. The promised high-paying jobs hardly materialized, either.

Amid the outrage around the money grab of $77 million in TANF funds discovered in a state audit of 2016-2020 TANF spending, Haley Barbour’s $570-million port gambit must not be forgotten. And it’s historically instructive. The willingness of Mississippi leaders to arbitrarily hijack federal funds away from specific needy recipients is not a new story.

The TANF scandal is only the latest rendition.

‘Not Asking the Hard Questions’

Reilly Morse was a Mississippi Center for Justice attorney involved in the court fight over the port funding. Morse sees the similarities in Barbour’s handling of Katrina funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the recent TANF revelations that emerged in early 2020 during the administration of Barbour’s successor, Phil Bryant.

Bryant was state auditor during Barbour’s time in office, and current Gov. Tate Reeves was state treasurer.

“They count on people not asking the hard questions,” Morse said in an Oct. 4 telephone interview. “I think that’s another common theme here because all of these folks that lambast Washington adore disaster-response money or other block-grant money, social-services block-grant money, that they think they can just clear out regardless of whether it benefits the people.”

In December 2008, the Mississippi Center for Justice and other community groups sued HUD for allowing the port funding since Congress had appropriated the monies for low- and middle-income home repair. The litigation ended in 2010 when Barbour, HUD and the Mississippi housing advocates negotiated an agreement to provide $133 million to assist low-income Mississippians still in need of Katrina-damaged home repair.

HUD had expected the project to create 1,300 jobs and retain 1,300 more. By 2013, no new permanent jobs had been created, a 2013 PEER committee report found. That number is shocking in the way that learning that the State of Mississippi only qualified 1.5 percent of TANF applicants for cash assistance in the nation’s poorest state in 2016, the first year of the MDHS audit.

But shunting Katrina housing money toward the port wasn’t shocking enough to break through in Mississippi media outlets that tend to give Barbour a pass, nor has it re-emerged now in most outlets as important context for the current TANF scandal.

In 2019, HUD declared the job-creation goals met. Yet reaching the job-count goal required a fuzzy calculation, as journalist Anita Lee reported at the time in the Sun Heraldin Biloxi. During the Trump administration, HUD allowed Mississippi to count jobs that the Island View Casino Resort added at a new casino hotel facility since the resort was on port property. The job total still initially didn’t meet the project requirement until HUD then allowed recalculating part-time hotel jobs into full-time jobs through hours worked.

The State of Mississippi thus counted 1,167 jobs at the casino hotel as jobs creation, although the number of actual higher-paying maritime jobs at the port was only 262. Lee noted in her reporting that the state investment netted one job for every $2.2 million in recovery funds spent….

Barbour has long done his post-Katrina part for his team’s ideology—if not for the Gipper, at least for Milton Friedman. That favorite conservative economist taught that the best time to slip in a political change was in the wake of disaster. “Only a crisis—actual or perceived—produces real change,” the Nobel Laureate wrote. “When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas lying around.”

Blanco: ‘He Only Cared What He Got’

The casinos had ideas lying around when Katrina hit.

Ever since their 1992 debut in Mississippi, it was the widely held belief in this Bible Belt state that the industry was just waiting for their then-floating facilities to crumple up in the next hurricane to justify legalizing their expansion onto land. Katrina provided the scenario. The barge on which the Grand Casino sat actually managed to crush the new Frank Gehry-designed Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi.

Barbour’s first—and chief—legislative response was to convene the Mississippi Legislature to legalize the casinos’ move inland. The powerful Southern Baptist lobby howled. But, by December, three casinos had reopened on terra firma, and by 2007, the $1.3 billion in revenue from the 11 Coast casinos topped the old pre-Katrina tally.

The state legislation squared away, Barbour headed up to his Washington stomping grounds, where Mississippi proportionately outscored Democrat-led Louisiana in Congress’ $29-billion recovery appropriation in December 2005. Barbour was the closer, persuading then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert to accept the funding terms, the New York Times reported, calling it “using a lobbyist’s pull from the governor’s seat.”

Mississippi’s take was at Louisiana’s expense, its former governor, Democrat Kathleen Blanco, later said in a July 2008 telephone interview about Barbour: “He didn’t care how much anyone else got. He only cared what he got.”

Please open the link and read more about high-level corruption at the expense of the poor people of Mississippi.

Jeff Bryant writes here about the surprising emergence of Jackson, Mississippi, as a trailblazer for public school reform. Jackson is right now renowned for the failure of its water supply. Jeff also documents years of the state government underfunding its public schools. Racism can be seen is almost every aspect of the relationship between the state and the city. The public schools of Jackson are 95% Black. Under these circumstances, what is happening in the schools is remarkable.

Before it got national headlines about its severe water crisis, Jackson, Mississippi, was much renowned for its potholes. “The amount [sic] of potholes in the city is crazy,” exclaimsthe narrator of “Jackson, Mississippi: The Second Most Dangerous City in America,” a video posted to a popular travel YouTube channel in December 2021. The vlogger continues, “It’s just amazing to me there is a city in America that looks like this. … It’s hard to believe that this is the United States.”

“It is not uncommon to walk through west Jackson and see water flowing out of pipes for weeks,” observed Yoknyam Dabale, a Nigerian immigrant who moved to Jackson, in an op-ed in the Jackson Free Press. “Roads are overrun with potholes and uncleaned gutters.”

“The city says 90 percent of its roads are in poor shape,” television news outlet WLBT reported in 2021. “A Google search pulls up endless complaints, dangerous accidents, and hazardous barricades,” reporter Sharie Nicole wrote. “Local comedians write songs about the potholes; out-of-towners rant about it.”

The steady decay of Jackson’s public infrastructure goes beyond potholes and the water supply.

In 2018, the Mississippi Clarion Ledger reported that Jackson libraries faced a crisis that included “black mold, leaking buildings,” and “chronic flooding issues at two of its main branches.” Jackson libraries have been “suffering from needed repairs,” and some libraries were even facing temporary closure due to lack of money for repairs, according to an August 2022 report in the Northside Sun.

In 2017, the Clarion Ledger, in reporting on the “deteriorating” conditions in the city’s parks and recreation facilities, found a “$1.2 million hole” in the Department of Parks and Recreation budget.

The lack of government investment in Jackson’s public infrastructure, and across the state in general, extends to public schools as well.

Were Jackson schools funded according to state law, the district would receive $11,447,922 more in state funding for the 2022-2023 school year alone, according to the Parents’ Campaign, a parent advocacy group in the state.

Funding for Mississippi students is even worse if they happen to be Black. “Between 1954 and 1960, the state gave Black students more than $297 million less (in 2017 dollars) than white students,” the Sun Herald reported while referring to government data. “And if that number is extended back to 1890, Black students were shortchanged more than $25 billion.”

Jackson Public Schools (JPS) are 95 percent Black, according to the 2019 Better Together Commission (BTC) Findings Report by the nonprofit One Voice. The Better Together Commission is a public-private partnership that included city and state officials, Jackson citizens, and representatives from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, a private foundation based in Michigan.

As I reported for the Progressive magazine in 2018, BTC was formed as an alternative to a takeover of the district by the state after an audit by the Mississippi Department of Education found a significant number of state regulatory violations by the district. Fearing state takeover would lead to schools being handed over to charter school management groups—which is what happened in New Orleans, Newark, and other majority-Black school districts—a coalition called Our JPS quickly formed to oppose the takeover and demand an alternative approach to improving the public school system.

One such alternative was to remake schools into community-based centers for providing student- and family-oriented supports and programs designed to address the high levels of poverty, homelessness, and mental and economic trauma in the district.

“We need schools that serve as hubs of the community,” Pam Shaw, a leading spokesperson for Our JPS at the time of writing the article for the Progressive, told me. “Communities should own that space and use it as a launching pad for everything children need.”

Our JPS has since refined that idea into a campaign for the district to adopt what’s become loosely known as community schools. Our JPS defines community schools as “neighborhood schools that partner with families and community organizations to provide well-rounded educational experiences and supports for students’ school success…”

Meanwhile, the idea of community schools has caught on with progressive think tanksteachers’ unionspublic education advocates, and philanthropic groups across the nation. California has provided $3 billion in new state funding for transitioning schools to the approach in 2022, and Maryland has pledged to convert at least one-third of the state’s public schools to community schools.

One philanthropic group advocating for the community schools approach in Jackson is the NEA Foundation, a Washington, D.C., based nonprofit founded by educators.

“We entered this work in Jackson at the invitation of Mississippi educators,” NEA Foundation president and CEO Sara Sneed told Our Schools. “There is enormous community pressure for positive change but also expectations that any effort to include community voice in the process will come with a fight.”

The NEA Foundation’s effort also targets two other communities in school districts in the South—Little Rock, Arkansas, and East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. But Sneed expects their work in Jackson to lead the initiative for spreading the community schools approach throughout the South.

“We want to make community schools a signature issue in Mississippi and believe the effort in Jackson is an opportunity to transform the education experiences of children in the South,” Sneed said.

Please open the link and read the rest of this hopeful post.

The Tampa Bay Business Journal reported that Florida will withdraw $2 billion in investment funds from BlackRock because the firm abides by standards against racism and for environmental awareness. This sort of ethical investing is repulsive to Governor Ron DeSantis and the extremists in his government. Republicans usually represent and celebrate big corporations. But in the past decade, many Republicans have turned against the same corporations for what they call “woke capitalism.” That is, a number of big corporations have sought to placate their Black employees and customers, their LGBT+ employees and customers, and socially aware young people.

When corporations take stands on sensitive issues which make their employees and customers angry, hat’s “woke capitalism.” When they oppose hate laws and work to promote diversity and equity, that’s “woke capitalism.” The more they step up to support minority causes, the more they enrage reactionary Republicans like DeSantis.

Here is an example of Governor Ron DeSantis acting boldly to crush “woke capitalism.”

Florida will pull $2 billion from the largest asset-management firm in the world over ideological differences.

State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronisannounced Thursday that Florida will immediately freeze about $1.43 billion in long-term securities and about $600 million in short-term overnight investments managed by BlackRock because of the firm’s use of “Environmental, Social, and Governance” standards — known as ESG.

Patronis in a prepared statement said he doesn’t “trust BlackRock’s ability to deliver” and “BlackRock CEO Larry Fink is on a campaign to change the world.”

“Whether stakeholder capitalism, or ESG standards, are being pushed by BlackRock for ideological reasons, or to develop social credit ratings, the effect is to avoid dealing with the messiness of democracy,” Patronis said.

Republican leaders in Florida and across the country have targeted ESG ratings, which can involve considering a wide range of issues in investments, such as companies’ climate-change vulnerabilities; carbon emissions; racial inequality; product safety; supply-chain labor standards; privacy and data security; and executive compensation.

Patronis said the state Department of Financial Services oversees about $60 billion and that the money with BlackRock will be moved “elsewhere.”

“I think it’s undemocratic of major asset managers to use their power to influence societal outcomes,” Patronis said. “If Larry (Fink), or his friends on Wall Street, want to change the world — run for office. Start a non-profit. Donate to the causes you care about. Using our cash, however, to fund BlackRock’s social-engineering project isn’t something Florida ever signed up for.”

Fink is a leading proponent of ESG metrics. In a letter this year to corporate executives, Fink said companies using the standards are “performing better than their peers.”

“Stakeholder capitalism is not about politics,” Fink wrote. “It is not a social or ideological agenda. It is not ‘woke.’ It is capitalism, driven by mutually beneficial relationships between you and the employees, customers, suppliers, and communities your company relies on to prosper.”

BlackRock manages over $8 trillion in assets. They are unlikely to miss Florida’s $2 billion.

A Florida judge ordered the DeSantis administration to pay the legal fees of news outlets seeking public records about the death of an abused child.

Child welfare authorities’ refusal, for well over a year, to hand over documents detailing the state’s failed efforts to protect a Miami toddler will cost Florida taxpayers $376,665 — money that otherwise could have been spent on services for at-risk children.

It is one of several public records battles that have played out during the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Barbara Areces, who earlier this year censured the Department of Children & Families for defying the state’s open government laws, awarded attorneys for the Miami Herald and other news organizations the money in an order that closes out a nearly two-year litigation.

In her five-page order, Areces said the legal fees generated by the news outlets seeking to enforce the state’s public records law were “appropriate and reasonable.”

The dispute concerned Rashid Bryant, a 22-month-old boy who died on Nov. 6, 2020 from complications of acute and chronic blunt force injuries. Rashid’s death, the Medical Examiner’s Office wrote, was partly the result of “parental neglect.” Rashid and his nine siblings had been the subject of about 25 reports to Florida’s child abuse hotline, and the children had been in and out of foster care.

The boy’s family had been facing eviction at the time his mother called 911 to report he was in distress; in fact, Rashid had already perished.

Under Florida’s public records law — originally approved by voters in 1909, but later enshrined in the state Constitution following a voter referendum – all documents detailing Rashid’s involvement with the state’s child welfare system should have been open to public inspection upon a finding that his death resulted from abuse or neglect.

But DCF insisted for more than a year that the agency was still investigating the cause of his death, and, therefore, agency records were exempt from public disclosure.

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