Archives for the month of: December, 2017

Jennifer Berkshire pointed Peter Greene to a paper published by the libertarian Heartland Institute in 2002, nearly 18 years ago. It lays out the goals of the privatization movement very clearly. The main goal was nothing less than the elimination of public schools in America, replaced by a free-market system. The paper was written by Joseph Bast, the president of the Heartland Institute.

Whenever you hear someone refer to public schools as “government schools,” you can be sure you are in the presence of a free-market zealot.

“Bast expresses a childlike faith in the magic of the marketplace. “Privatization is so effective it typically costs a private firm half as much as the government to produce a product or service of similar (often superior) quality.” It’s a cute notion, for which he offers zero evidence. What was clear even in 2002, but what Bast never acknowledges, is that privatization allows private operators to hoover up a big pile of tax dollars that would otherwise have gone to the public sector. But Bast belonged to the Cult of Competition, believing that competing schools would reward schools that please parents, stimulate parent involvement, be more efficient, and penalize failure. None of these things are related to the goal of providing a high quality education for every single child in America, but then, that’s not his goal.

“Bast had some clever (if not reality-based) ideas about how vouchers would satisfy many reformy constituencies. For instance, by setting voucher amounts below current per-students spending levels, vouchers would lessen the taxpayer cost. Because, I guess, the private schools would accept the low voucher amount. Because when I tell the dealer that I can’t afford a Porsche, he just says, “Well, then, I’ll just lower the price to what you would like to pay.” Because that’s how free market competition works…

“His big vision?

Pilot voucher programs for the urban poor will lead the way to statewide universal voucher plans. Soon, most government schools will be converted into private schools or simply close their doors. Eventually, middle- and upper-income families will not longer expect or need tax-financed assistance to pay for the education of their children, leading to further steps toward complete privatization. Vouchers could remain to help the truly needy.

“Use the poor to get vouchers started. Shut down public education entirely. Let the wealthy go back to their exclusive top-tier schools, and set up some cheap ones for everyone else. Boom. No public education, and no forcing taxpayers to pay a bunch of money to educate Those People’s children…

“If you take nothing else from this piece, remember this– for many of the most ardent voucher supporters, school vouchers are not a destination, but just a stop-gap, something that will have to do until they can finally move on their real goal– the complete dismantling of public education in this country, replaced with a loose system of unaccountable, unregulated private schools. That fully privatized system, not a voucher system, is the goal. Keep your eye on the ball.”

Heartland Institute is supported by the DeVos family, the Koch brothers, and all the usual rightwing foundations.

In this post, Leonie Haimson calls on the charter committee at the State University of New York to reject Eva Moskowitz’s request to enlarge her charter school in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.

If she expands, she will cause overcrowding and larger class sizes, Says Haimson. Cobble Hill is a mainly white, middle-class-affluent neighborhood, which is the target for expansion of a chain that prides itself on educating poor black and Hispanic students.

Success Academy has a bad habit of getting their foot in the door, then encroaching on their neighbors, eventually making a grab for the entire school. sA redefines the meaning of the term “the camel’s nose inside the tent.” Before you know it, the entire camel is inside, and everyone else is pushed out.

Susan Lee Schwartz writes:

“I cannot relax as I listen to the cold, callous conversations among our people and hear that monster who passes as a leader.

“You go††a see these sycophants applauding the cruel tax bill. “There was a festival of flattery on the White House lawn today to celebrate the passage of the Republican tax cut bill,” Lemon said. After playing a clip, he couldn’t hold back the chuckles any longer. “Oh my god, is that SNL?” Lemon asks.

“But it wasn’t fantasy. This man leads, even as the television puts forth a torrent of violent images and aggression, and video games offer kids target practice.

“Selling callous, cruelty is the business model. Even the commercials are nasty.
What a surprise that crime is up and so is drug addiction. Coping with life in America, today, makes relaxing hard to do, especially when one ha to chose between putting food on the table, and paying the rent, let alone buy-in medical care, or education for a kid.”

This is the triumph of libertarian thought. Take care of yourself, no one else. If they suffer, Tough. It’s God’s will or fate or bad luck. I am not my brother’s keeper. This is not Christian. Jesus would reject those who preach indifference to suffering in His name.

Read Nancy MacLean’s “Democracy in Chains.” Read Jane Mayer’s “Dark Money.” Read Gordon Lafer’s “The One Percent Solution.”

We live in an era of greed, selfishness, ruthless power, and injustice, one in which the rich and powerful want more for themselves. Less for the needy. They happily put their boots on the backs of the poor and occasionally throw them a penny.

For many years, Karin Klein wrote editorials about education for the Los Angeles Times. She took a buyout and now writes freelance on education and other topics. With occasional diversions, the L.A. Times faithfully followed Eli Broad’s lead on education. The billionaire is living proof that being very rich qualifies you as an expert on most everything. He spends lavishly on art and medical research and has anointed himself an education expert. His foundation gives the L.A. Times $800,000 for its education coverage, which may be his way of guaranteeing he will never be exposed as a know-nothing in his hometown paper.

Now that Klein is free, she writes that miracle schools are mirages. Her case in point: Ballou High School in D.C., which claimed that all its graduates were accepted into colleges.

“It shouldn’t surprise anyone to read about another supposedly phenomenal school accomplishment that ended up being more mirage than miracle.

“The latest example comes from Washington, D.C., where in June, it was widely reported that Ballou High School, where few students tested as proficient in math or English, had nonetheless, incredibly sent all its seniors to college.

“Incredible, indeed. When NPR and the local public radio station WAMU joined forces to re-examine the Ballou miracle, they found that half of the graduates had missed at least three months of classes in a single school year. A fifth of them had been absent for more than half the school year. Teachers complained that they had been instructed to give students a grade of 50 percent on assignments they hadn’t even handed in, and that they were pressured to pass students whose work didn’t remotely merit it.

“Students complained that they were utterly unprepared for the colleges that everyone had been so proud of them for entering. And credit recovery courses – which have been criticized as too easy – played a big role in their graduations. The NCAA rejects most of these courses for college athletes; why shouldn’t colleges have the same requirements for other students?

“More than anything else, though, the Ballou High case teaches us once again that when we place intense pressure on schools to meet certain numbers, they’ll find a way to do it – one that might not involve providing a superior education. Carrots and sticks alone don’t improve schools, certainly not in the absence of funding to reduce class sizes (and teacher workloads), or to help low-income students overcome obstacles.”

Will the L.A. Times editorial board acknowledge that intense pressure to raise test scores and graduation rates corrupts not only the measure but the process being measured?

Will someone tell Eli Broad or has he surrounded himself by yes-persons?

This is Campbell’s Law, which is inexorable.

Read more here:

In November, insurgent Democrats came close to winning control. Before the election, Republicans held 66 of 100 seats in the House of Delegates. The GOP thought the lower house was gerrymandered to give them permanent control.

But they miscalculated.

In the Big Blue Wave That swept over Virginia, Democrats captured a large number of “safe” seats. Two contests are still being challenged. In one, the Democratic challenger and Republican incumbent were almost tied. The votes were counted, then recounted. After the recount, the Democrat, former teacher Shelley Simonds, won by one vote. Both parties agreed. The the loser David Yancey objected, filed an appeal, and the appeals court declared one vote invalid, making the election a tie, to be decided by a coin toss.

This just in:

“With the hustle of the holidays, I wanted to be sure that you hadn’t missed the big news of the last week. After a recount on Dec. 19, Delegate-elect Shelly Simonds of Newport News (D) was declared the winner in House District 94 by one vote. Both Republican and Democratic recount officials signed off on the result, and House Republicans conceded the race (and the majority).

“However, the next day Delegate David Yancey (R) broke recount rules in a desperate effort to steal with the election, re-litigating a ballot in court that both the Democratic and Republican observers had already agreed on. If this ruling is allowed to stand, the integrity of the recount process will be broken in Virginia for all future elections. Read our press release here for more background on what happened.

“It’s important we get out the word about what happened. Can you help us by using the hashtag #StandWithShelly on social media?

#StandWithShelly on Twitter:

#StandWithShelly on Facebook:

#StandWithShelly by helping us pay her legal bills:

“In addition to fighting for Delegate-elect Simonds, we’re also working to support Joshua Cole in HD-28. In that election, 147 voters were erroneously given ballots for the wrong districts — and the margin separating the two candidates is only 73 (less than half the number of disenfranchised voters). A new election is the only solution, and both the Washington Post and Daily Press editorial boards have called for one. Voters have brought a federal lawsuit requesting one as well; there will be a hearing in that case on Jan. 5 in Alexandria.

“We are grateful for your support for these two candidates, and even more importantly, for the voters of HD-94 and HD-28. They deserve fair elections.”

– Katie Baker
Communications Director
Virginia House Democrats

A school board in Wisconsin has passed a resolution calling on the governor and the legislature to make publicly available the fiscal impact of vouchers on public schools.

“The School District of Rhinelander Board of Education voted to take a stand in favor of greater transparency when it comes to Wisconsin’s school voucher system and its impact on public schools. By an 8-to-1 vote, the board approved a resolution that asks the governor and state legislators to support the Wisconsin Voucher Taxpayer Transparency Bill “in an effort to be open, honest and transparent with the taxpayers of the School District of Rhinelander and the state of Wisconsin.”

“The 2017-19 state budget includes expansion of the school voucher program, called Parental Choice, statewide. The school board’s Employee Relations Committee (ERC), which met prior to the full board Monday, heard a presentation by Wisconsin Education Association Council senior researcher Jeff Leverich, who said the school board resolution is one strategy to build public awareness of voucher programs’ long-term effects on public education.

“It’s the public’s right to know what’s going on with their tax dollars in their community,” Leverich said. “What do vouchers do? (They take) your community tax dollars and turn it into a mechanism that can go to the private sector.”

“To illustrate his point, Leverich distributed a graph which depicts the amount of state aid Rhinelander received in 2016-17. It shows $1,553 per public school pupil (not including local property tax support), versus $7,969 in state aid per private high school voucher elsewhere in the state. Committee member and board vice president Judy Conlin said she favors a Wisconsin Association of School Board proposal that would require property tax bills to include how much of their local dollars are going to voucher schools.

“We may not currently have any voucher schools in our district, yet — but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t having an impact on our revenues that are available to us,” Conlin said, adding, “I really feel it’s important that our taxpayers understand that we are impacted … our state aid is reduced because of the voucher program.”

Peter Greene had a horrible Christmas. Instead of celebrating with family and opening gifts, he was at the local hospital with one of his two infant sons, who is very ill. The other boy was with him, and Peter typed this post with one hand. He was clearly upset and afraid.

What a beautiful baby!

There is nothing that can break your heart like a sick baby.

Peter, we are all thinking of you and your beautiful twins and praying for the speedy recovery of your baby.

This is Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. Listen and enjoy. It is vacation time. Give yourself a treat.

You will not see the same number of posts this week. You may see fewer. I am posting at will.

From January 8-29, I will be traveling in Asia, checking a few points off my bucket list, including Angkor Wat in Cambodia. During that period, I will repost a few golden oldies, and I will add new ones when I have internet service.

I will not leave you bereft of conversation and discussion.

While driving, I heard a song from “Hamilton” on Sirius Broadway channel.

The song was King George III singing “You’ll Be Back” to his rebellious colonies.

Do you think it’s time to ask Queen Elizabeth if we can come back?

Note: it is a wonderful show. See it if you possibly can. Road company, whatever.