Archives for the month of: July, 2020

Greg Sergeant of the Washington Post insists that Trump is not “in denial” about the pandemic. He is malevolently ignoring it and hoping it will go away. Maybe it’s wishful evil thinking. Open the link to see his many links to sources.


To paraphrase George Orwell, when it comes to President Trump’s bottomless malevolence and depravity, accurately describing what’s right in front of our noses is a constant struggle — and a perfect example of this is the ubiquitous claim that Trump is “in denial” about coronavirus.

With Trump now launching a campaign to get schools reopened, versions of this are everywhere. The new push shows Trump has “learned nothing” about the perils of reopening society too quickly, declares CNN’s main Twitter feed.

Trump is lost in “magical thinking,” proclaims one health expert. Trump is “basically in denial,” insists one Democratic governor. Trump is “incapable of grasping that people are dying,” frets one advocate for educators.

But is the problem really that Trump is incapable of learning, or that he’s deceiving himself, or that he’s closed his eyes to reality?

The preponderance of the evidence points to something far worse.

Trump has been widely and repeatedly informed by his own and other experts for many months that his failure to take coronavirus more seriously could have utterly catastrophic consequences, that it could result in widespread suffering and needless deaths.

It isn’t enough to point out that Trump repeatedly ignored that advice. What’s more important is that Trump has repeatedly seen the predicted consequences of those failures come to pass, and is seeing that right now.

Yet Trump still continues not just to downplay the severity of the virus’s continuing toll, but also to actively discourage current efforts to mitigate the spread — by failing to set an example through mask-wearing, for instance — and to urge the very sort of rapid reopening that has already contributed to catastrophic outcomes.

The carnage is mounting once again. Total cases just hit 3 million. They have risen in 37 states over the last two weeks — hitting single-day records in six — and the national rolling average of 50,000 new daily cases is far outpacing June’s.

There’s no doubt that the decision to reopen rapidly in many states — which Trump urged — has played some kind of important role in the current surges. As a former Baltimore health commissioner noted: “The key is we did not have to be here right now.”

Yet Trump has shown zero signs of even trying to grapple with the cause and effect behind these new circumstances. Instead, he continues to lie about them, falsely claiming we have the lowest mortality rate in the world, falsely claiming that “99 percent” of cases are “totally harmless,” and absurdly claiming the virus will “disappear.”

Can this really be described as being in denial?

In the past five months, President Trump has repeatedly played down covid-19’s toll on the United States even as the number of cases and deaths has risen.

Trump was privately warned in January by his Health and Human Services secretary that a pandemic was coming. He dismissed this as “alarmist,” then largely refused to act for weeks, only to see coronavirus rampage out of control here as a result.

And experts loudly warned in April that a rapid reopening could prove disastrous. Trump urged it anyway, and we’re now learning the experts were right.

We know why Trump did these things. He feared that publicly taking coronavirus too seriously would spook the markets, which he sees as crucial to his reelection. His allies frankly admitted reopenings would fuel the impression of rapid rebound, helping his reelection (or so they thought).

In those cases, Trump made an active choice to prioritize his own perceived political needs over what experts — including his own — recommended as in the best interests of the country. He has now seen them proved right twice.

We’re seeing something similar once again. Trump’s own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending that localities minimize crowds at voting places by pursuing “alternative voting methods” amid coronavirus’s new spread.

It is a certainty that Trump will continue falsely claiming that vote-by-mail is subject to massive fraud, to make it politically harder for local officials to scale it up. We know why Trump does this. He has told us himself: He fears vote-by-mail makes it more likely that Republicans will lose the election — meaning that he will lose.

When Trump repeats these lies about vote-by-mail in the wake of the CDC guidance, will we claim Trump is merely “in denial” about the dangers of discouraging such alternative voting options?

Not clueless and hapless. Malevolent.

Once we dispense with the idea that Trump remains “in denial,” we’re left with a few interpretations. The most charitable is that Trump continues to have principled disagreements with experts over these matters, but there are zero indications he has any substantively grounded views on them of any kind.

A far less charitable interpretation is that he’s merely indifferent to the catastrophic consequences that are resulting from these failures — and will continue to do so — and that he’s prioritizing nakedly self-interested political calculations over any such concerns.
Trump has been steadily wrong in these political calculations, to be sure. At each stage, he has believed not acting was in his immediate interests, only to discover the consequences of inaction proved politically worse.

There may have been a species of denial at play in those faulty political calculations — a misguided faith in his magical ability to re-create his political reality through the force of will and tweet. But we can’t pretend any longer that Trump isn’t perfectly aware of what the real-world consequences of his actions — or inactions — will be.

The press critic Jay Rosen has repeatedly suggested that the effort to obscure Trump’s role in this ongoing fiasco is producing one of the biggest propaganda and disinformation campaigns in modern history. Central to getting this right is dispensing with the idea that Trump is a hapless, clueless actor rather than a deliberate and malevolent one.

Steve Hinnefeld writes here about a rare act of courage in a red state. Indiana State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick defied Betsy DeVos and has refused to hand out money from the CARES Act to private schools, without regard to need.

Superintendent McCormick told DeVos to stuff it. For her courage and independence, she goes on the blog’s honor roll.

Hinnefeld writes:

The good news: In Indiana, at least, public school districts won’t need to worry about Betsy DeVos diverting their anticipated funding to private schools.

DeVos, the U.S. secretary of education, may still succeed in her scheme to use the act to boost funding for even the wealthiest private schools. But the Indiana Department of Education will make up any funds that are lost to public schools.

“The CARES Act was intended to assist those most in need …,” Indiana Superintendent of Public Education Jennifer McCormick told school officials. “COVID-19 has affected everyone, but not equally. It is my responsibility and IDOE’s obligation to ensure those most in need receive the appropriate support.”

The CARES Act, signed into law in late March, provides $215 million to Indiana to help public school districts and charter schools cover costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The act says the funds should be allocated in the same manner as annual Title I grants, with more money for high-poverty schools.

Public school districts must share some of their Title I funds to provide “equitable services” in local private schools, with the amount based on the number of students from low-income families enrolled in the private schools.

But DeVos, in guidance issued in early May, said that CARES Act funding for private schools should be based on their total enrollment, not their enrollment of poor students: presumably a private school with zero poor students would qualify for as much money as a private school where all students are poor.

The guidance was nonbinding; states could ignore it, and Indiana did.

DeVos then doubled down, issuing a rule that would severely restrict how public school districts can use CARES Act funding if they don’t follow her guidance. The rule would have the force of law – if it’s legal. Several states, school districts, parents and the NAACP have sued, arguing that it isn’t.

Meanwhile, the school year is starting, and school districts need to know how much money they can spend. To stave off the uncertainty, the Indiana Department of Education says it will use its own share of CARES Act funds to offset any money that school districts lose, should DeVos prevail in court.

The Washington Post says that Trump has latched on to school choice and a fast reopening as issues that will win back white suburban women, whose support for him has faded.

This may indicate how out of touch he is. Parents move to the suburbs because their property wealth creates good schools. There is no unmet demand in the suburbs for vouchers or charter schools.

Furthermore polls clearly show that parents want their children to return to safe schools. They do not want their children to go to full-time in-person instruction without safeguards in place.

Trump is unaware that vouchers are not popular, that they have lost every state referendum by large margins.

But Republicans won’t let school choice go, even though only a tiny percentage of parents choose to leave public schools, even when choice is easy and free.

The Post writes:

President Trump sees two school issues as key to reelection, and after paying almost no attention to education for most of his presidency, he’s pushing both in negotiations over the next pandemic relief bill.

The president’s first priority is getting schools to reopen this fall, which he sees as central to economic recovery and getting parents back to work. Trump regularly tells advisers that he believes it is “totally safe” for children to return to school, a senior White House official said.

He is also newly focused on school choice policies, which let families use tax dollars for private school tuition. Aides see both as political winners with suburban women and, in the case of school choice, black voters, too…

Now the White House is pushing Congress to tie tens of billions of dollars in new federal aid to whether schools restart in-person education, even as cases of covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, climb. Trump also wants 10 percent of new K-12 spending set aside for private schools, including tax credits that would support private tuition scholarships, a form of vouchers.

Senate Republicans are proposing $70 billion for K-12 schools as part of the larger pandemic relief package, and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said half of that would be reserved for schools that are “going back to a traditional school setting” as opposed to only distance learning. He said that’s because operating in person creates new expenses.

For private schools, Republicans plan to set aside the 10 percent Trump wants, but they are not planning to include his tax credit plan. Rather, lawmakers are considering direct payments to private schools, or funneling dollars through scholarship funds, which help families pay private school tuition, a GOP Senate aide said. The aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly, said these two options will be presented to Democrats, who could pick…

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has taken a more nuanced tack. Last week, he released a plan that urged caution, saying that each school district should make decisions based on local conditions and that schools in areas with high infection rates should not reopen too soon.
“Donald Trump’s disastrous mismanagement of the coronavirus response is the top roadblock stopping schools from reopening,” said Biden spokesman Andrew Bates.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said: “If Disney World can be open, so can our schools.”
Politically, Trump’s gamble is that voters are more eager for their children to return to classrooms than fearful of the virus. Mercedes Schlapp, a top campaign adviser to Trump, put it this way at an online event aimed at women: “The suburban mom will say, ‘I am going to stick with President Trump on this one because he wants to make sure my kid gets back to school.’ ”

But the polling suggests that is a tough sell.

A Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking poll released Thursday found 6 in 10 parents with children in schools said it is better to open schools later to minimize infection risks, even if students miss out on academics and social services and some parents will not be able to work. About half that — 34 percent — said the reverse. A recent Quinnipiac University survey found voters disapproved of Trump’s handling of school reopenings by a margin of more than 2 to 1. Voters also said, again by a 2-to-1 ratio, that it was unsafe to send students to elementary, middle and high schools in the fall.

Republican allies have showed polling like this to Trump, warning him that pushing for full reopening will not be popular. Nonetheless, the White House is pushing forward, as Trump argues that reopening schools will eventually be widely popular.

“The president sees it as a metric of success that we are getting back to normal,” said a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share internal discussions.

Laurie Garrett is a Pulitzer Prize winning science writer. This article in Foreign Affairs explains why Trump and DeVos’s demand to reopen the schools for full-time, in-person schooling in a few weeks will fail. The schools don’t have the money to meet the necessary safety requirements. The less affluent the community, the less money is available to reduce class sizes and make the schools safe.

The article makes excellent points and contains a useful summary of research. I urge you to read it.

But be warned: it has the worst, most misleading headline I have ever seen in any article. I don’t hold writers responsible for headlines. I wonder whether the person who wrote it read the article.

The schools are neither a moral nor a medical catastrophe. It would have been more accurate to say that the federal government’s treatment of the schools is a moral and medical catastrophe. After all, we have a president who scoffs at science. Who can trust their children’s lives to his uninformed advice? It is obvious that his desire to open the schools is based on his political self-interest, not the lives of children and staff.

Where the pandemic is raging, it is not safe to open schools. Where it appears to have been controlled, the schools must reopen cautiously, with the resources needed to keep people as safe as possible, and with full awareness that there might be a resurgence of the virus.

The Lincoln Project hits hard on a subject that Democrats would not dare to touch: Trump’s sympathy for Ghislaine Maxwell and his ties to Jeffrey Epstein. There has been speculation by a biographer of Prince Andrew that Trump will pardon Maxwell in return for her silence. Epstein has many prominent friends, including Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Alan Dershowitz, and Prince Andrew.

John Harris Loflin assembled the following description of the privatization and takeover of the Indianapolis Public Schools by out-of-state interests, aided by local “reformers.”

He writes:

Purchasing the 2012, 2014, and 2016 IPS school board elections

According to the truly transformative IPS Racial Equity Policy and Black Lives Matter Resolution (REP/BLM), racism is social and institutional power combined with racial prejudice. IPS defines racial prejudice as a system of advantage for those considered white, and of oppression for those who are not considered white

The IPS resolution mentions years 1922 (the year the IPS board created Attucks) and 1968/1970 of IPS history (the era when the board was sued by the feds for maintaining segregated schools long after Brown). IPS histories of the Citizens School Committee or 1950s-early 1960s events leading to 1970 lawsuit aren’t noted. And, it skips the 1990’s era and notably, major board changes of the 2010-2020 decade.

The 2010-2020 decade

REP/BLM also states “[IPS] has participated in maintaining a system of racial inequality in Indianapolis through its actions and inactions, policies and practices, budgets and priorities, advocacy and silence, and by too often privileging the prejudice of white parents over the well-being of Black students.”

A review and analysis of “Purchasing the IPS school board elections” shows that the majority of donors to the winning candidate were mainly white wealthy males. Some were very wealthy.

The white money and power represented by the donations, whether intended or not, reveal a “system of advantage for those considered white.” This made the board members who decided to take the donations (note: the IPS candidates did not have to take the money), whether they knew it or not, beholden to the donors.

  •   It is naïve to assume there were no strings attached to the money contributed to campaigns.
  •   It is naïve to think the donations did not represent white corporate and philanthropic foundation

    patriarchy.

  •   It is naïve to think the donations, intended or not, did not privilege white parents, and wealthy

    white parents in particular.

    The question: Does the 2012, 2014, and 2016 purchase of IPS school board seats discredit and delegitimize the past and current board members and the Supt. Ferebee and Supt. Johnson regimes?

    “Then there’s the obscenity of outside influence and $300,000 to $500,000 in outside money which bought three seats on the IPS school board.”

    ~ Amos Brown, commentator, Indianapolis Recorder, 10.23.14

Part of the shameful history of IPS began in 1922, but where does it end?

Today’s board construes a current picture of the bad part of the Indianapolis Public Schools as out there in the waters of history. The board criticizes this past, saying it’s time for change. The dilemma for IPS is: if Supt. Johnson and the board take time to look down, they are standing in the water too.

Purchasing the 2012, 2014, and 2016 IPS school board elections

What started out as a push for a few local charters (given freedom from certain traditional public education policy requirements) has grown. Now, Indy is home of America’s 2nd most privatized public school system! New Orleans Public Schools is ranked first where every school is privatized.

Local citizens were not told back when the 2011 Mind Trust Opportunity Schools report came out, that possibly in 10 years 63.7% of Indianpolis students would be in privatized schools. For more on charters, read closely: Portfolio models: private ways of running public schools. Check out the IPS Portfolio Management scheme here.

To the dismay of the Mind Trust leadership, its 2011 $700.000 Opportunity Schools study and proposals never caught on. And, neither did Indy’s NEO Plan–Mayor Ballard’s Office of Education Innovation proposal called “Neighborhood of Educational Opportunity” or NEO.

The NEO Plan’s use of the term to “high quality seats” turned people off. As well, the Recorder’s Amos Brown wrote a Feb 28, 2013 commentary ,”‘White flight’ reason education reformers pushing change in Indy” (http://m.indianapolisrecorder.com/mobile/opinion/article_0cbb6212-81f4-11e2- a215-001a4bcf887a.html) followed by a Jul 13, 2013 column, ”NEO Plan harmful for Black, minority students” (http://www.indianapolisrecorder.com/opinion/article_eef46606-ea3b-11e2-b6fc- 0019bb2963f4.html). The NEO Plan was shelved.

In fact, the NEO Plan was so bad, Cincy rejected it too. See Jan 24, 2017 Cincinnati Inquirer story “CEO quietly quits school accelerator.” “When it launched in 2015, Accelerate Great Schools promised to attack poverty in Cincinnati and smash the divide between the haves and have-nots in education.” Evidently, it did not. The Mind Trust’s Pat Herrel came back to Indy. http://vorcreatex.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Mind-Trust-NEO-Plan-Pat-Herrel-flop-in- Cincy.pdf

So what to do next? Buy IPS!

Mind Trust’s efforts to work with IPS had failed. Plan A, Opportunity Schools was ignored. Plan B, the NEO Plan got over scrutinized, critiqued, and finally rejected. The Mind Trust went into a long closed door session and came out with a plan that skipped the middle of the alphabet: Plan Z—just buy the IPS board.

Working with Stand for Children and their ground crew, Teach for America, the Mind Trust went about “Plan Z.”

The privatization of public education

All this must be appreciated over a background of the 2012, 2014, and 2016 IPS school board elections which were bought by local and national corporate school reform supporters, consequently engineering the consent of the Indianapolis public for the privatization of their very own public schools.

“Privatization is a kind of reverse social contract: it dissolves the bonds that tie us together into free communities and democratic republics. It puts us back in the state of nature where we possess a natural right to get whatever we can on our own, but at the same time lose any real ability to secure that to which we have a right… Private choices rest on individual power… Public choices rest on civic rights, common responsibilities, and presume equal rights for all.” ~ Benjamin Barber

A national movement to privatize public education

To understand more of the national background on IPS privatization, view The corporate assault on public education.

Also read, Corporate Makeover of Public Education: What’s at Stake?, Fabricant & Fine’s 2012 book.

For the scenario on the corporate takeover of our IPS, see Amos Brown’s, “Is Stand for Children buying IPS school board election?” (Indianapolis Recorder 10.23.14) and other news stories and info on IPS board candidate’s campaign funding:

 Commissioner Sam Odle http://vorcreatex.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Samuel-Odle-2012-Campaign-Contributions- IPS-School-Board-Election.pdf $61,924.56
 Commissioner Kelly Bentley http://vorcreatex.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Kelly-Bentley-2014-Campaign-Contributions- IPS-School-Board-Election-1.pdf $52,677.73
 Commissioner Lanier Echols http://vorcreatex.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Lanier-Echols-2014-Campaign-Contributions- IPS-School-Board-Election-1.pdf $52,677.73
 Commissioner Michael O’Connor http://vorcreatex.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Michael-OConnor-2016-Campaign- contributions-IPS-School-Board-Elections.pdf $33,985.75

 Commissioner Venita Moore http://vorcreatex.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Venita-Moore-2016-Campaign-Contributions- IPS-School-Board-Elections.pdf $25,711.61
 Commissioner Diane Arnold http://vorcreatex.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Diane-Arnold-2016-Campaign-Contributions- IPS-School-Board-Elections.pdf $16,353.60

For more read:

  •   Indianapolis Education Reform Player Profiles
  •   Corporate School Boarding Indy Style
  •   Hoosier School Heist: How Corporations and Theocrats Stole Democracy From Public Education

    Here’s info on IPS Supt. Ferebee’s million dollar team he brought in with him from North Carolina:

    http://vorcreatex.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/IPS-2016-17-pay-info-Dr.-Ferebees-NC- team.pdf

    Another group of publications takes a look at this time period where unprecedented amounts of money came into IPS elections, especially from out of state contributors:

  •   http://vorcreatex.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Democracy-for-Sale-What-happened-in-

    Denver-in-2011-will-happen-in-Indianapolis-in-2012.pdf

  •   http://vorcreatex.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Who-Runs-Our-IPS.pdf
  •   http://vorcreatex.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Corporate-School-Boarding-Indy-Style.pdf

    More news stories and columns on the overkill of IPS pro-reform candidate campaign finances against their poorly funded opponents

  •   Academic shame for charter schools! Amos Brown Nov 6, 2014
    “Maybe if the school reformers spent some of their filthy lucre they wasted in the IPS race on improving the quality of charter school board members and teachers and encouraged real instruction instead of listening to out-of-town educational scam artists, the majority of Indy’s charters would be ‘high performing’ schools for our kids.” http://www.indianapolisrecorder.com/opinion/article_10ff4c0c-65e2-11e4-8df2- 03f7d5b55bcf.html
  •   Don’t bet on big bucks in IPS election Dan Carpenter Oct 30, 2014
    “Convince them [the public], in short, of the wisdom of the Mind Trust and Stand for Children and Democrats for Education Reform and the billionaires behind the industry of professional critics and charter school entrepreneurs who seek to own the operation.” http://thestatehousefile.com/commentary-dont-bet-big-bucks-ips-election/18192/
  •   Indy’s Chamber wants to elect an un-diverse IPS school board slate Amos Brown Sep 4, 2014 “Voters, parents and students in IPS don’t need Michael Bloomberg or other out-of-town fat cats to decide our school board election. Indianapolis voters and Indianapolis dollars and resources should decide who governs all of our city/county’s eleven school districts. Not out-of-town cash and meddlers like the Chamber’s Star Chamber selection committee.” http://www.indianapolisrecorder.com/opinion/article_6c06aa28-344b-11e4-b8fc- 0019bb2963f4.html
  •   The Mind Trust is a Trojan Horse That Is Destroying Indianapolis Public Education Jim Scheurich https://kheprw.org/the-mind-trust-is-a-trojan-horse-that-is-destroying-indianapolis-public- education/
  •   Who’s giving money to IPS school board candidates? Campaign finance filings reveal contribu- tions from Indianapolis philanthropists, out-of- state reformers and more. Oct 17, 2014 Chalkbeat https://in.chalkbeat.org/2014/10/17/21094278/who-s-giving-money-to-ips-school-board- candidates#.Colombo.
  •   2014 elections disaster for Dems, except for Indianapolis seats Amos Brown Nov 13, 2014 http://www.indianapolisrecorder.com/opinion/article_08ab7088-6b5c-11e4-abe4- 0f389a79a5e5.html?mode=image&photo=0
  •   IPS’ corporate-bought board needs to pay attention to real crises in IPS Amos Brown Jan 29, 2015 http://www.indianapolisrecorder.com/opinion/article_61c555c8-a7d7-11e4-ac39-d31c221ea357.html

    2017 IPS high school choice experiment: IPS and Radio One inveigle students and parents into accepting the district’s new Career Academy model

    Note, especially, the late 2017 commentary, “Without parents present: IPS tries to engineer the consent of students to accept its plan to reinvent high school.” The meetings discussed are examples of the extent to which the district and the local business community went to justify the manipulation of students and families—and public opinion—to accept an IPS high school corporate Career Academy model of public education.

    Where does the Indianapolis Community stand? Corporatocracy or Democracy?

    “Market competition favors the already powerful and if you unleash competition, then schools which are powerful from the start, are going to thrive and those that are not powerful are not magically somehow able to develop the ability to compete.”

    ~ Pamela Grundy, Parents Across America, Charlotte, NC

Another way to misuse democratic processes is a sort of “reverse takeover” move where groups like Stand for Children become akin to “corporate raiders” when they lead the organization of persons or entities to “buy” school board seats with thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

~ Amos Brown, 2014

Superintendents Ferebee and Johnson obtained their status and power to privatize the district by an unprecedented (and successful) effort to buy the IPS school board

These raw histories of facts and news commentaries directly challenge the political authenticity of the Ferebee and/or Johnson regimes. The antics of the Mind Trust and their sidekick Stand for Children, can now be viewed as shady local and national-level political deals. Here, according to Amos Brown, school reformers, “…spent some of their filthy lucre…” to grab control and privatize public education.

Yes, the above elections are over; yet, were the 2012, 2014, and 2016 IPS school board races corrupted by big money—indeed a “coup” by local and national entities to take over the school district?

To help unpack and analyze the 2012, 2014, and 2016 IPS elections and put them in perspective, let’s take seriously the points and concerns of 2 Black American educators:

Prof. Lester Spence

 “To the Black Education Reform Establishment: Be Real with Who You Are and Whose Interest

You Represent”

http://vorcreatex.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/To-the-Black-Education-Reform- Establishment-Be-Real-with-Who-You-Are-and-Whose-Interest-You-Represent.pdf

“Purchasing the 2012, 2014, and 2016 IPS school board elections” is essay, analysis, and commentary by John Harris Loflin, researcher for Parent Power, the Indianapolis affiliate of Parents Across America and Indy’s Education-Community Action Team.

© 2020 johnharrisloflin@yahoo.com

 

Marion Brady is a veteran educator who has been trying to reform the school curriculum for many years. He persists.

He writes:

When face-to-face schooling isn’t possible

There’s no getting around it. Firsthand experience is the best teacher. If what’s attempting to be taught is worth knowing, it’s going to be complicated. And if it’s complicated, firsthand experience isn’t just the best teacher, it’s the only teacher.

That’s the main reason most adults remember so little of what they were once “taught.” Information delivered by teacher talk, textbooks and computer screens is dumped on kids’ mental “front porch”—short-term memory—but gets no farther. To be useful, information has to be interesting enough to be picked up, taken inside, and a place in memory found for it that allows logic to access it weeks, months, or years later.

That rarely happens. Most classrooms are purpose-built for delivering information, making it hard to create firsthand experience. It’s even harder to do it via laptops, which goes far toward explaining the usual failure of virtual, remote, and distance instruction.

Alfred North Whitehead, in his 1916 Presidential Address to the Mathematical Association of England, identified a fundamental problem with traditional schooling:

“The second-handedness of the learned world is the secret of its mediocrity.”

Schooling’s bottom-line aim is societal survival in an unknowable future. Survival requires new knowledge—continuous evolution of citizens’ mental models of reality. An honest look at the world today says time is growing short for creating schooling that teaches kids the most important of all survival skills—how to turn information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom.

That’s doable, but it requires changing the primary aim of middle school-level instruction from covering the content of the core curriculum to improving the ability to think—to hypothesize, generalize, synthesize, imagine, relate, integrate, predict, extrapolate, and so on.

There are dozens of thought processes and countless combinations of thought processes that make humanness possible, but they’re not being taught because they’re too complex to be evaluated by machine-scored standardized tests.

Make maximizing adolescents’ ability to think the aim, and the resulting efficiency from the sharpened focus will be revolutionary. Reducing the hours each day devoted to the soon-forgotten conceptual chaos of the core curriculum will make available a big chunk of time for programs keyed to individual learner interests and abilities.

Dealing with Covid-19

Nothing really substitutes for face-to-face schooling, but when that’s unwise or impossible, learning’s fundamentals still need to be respected.

–          Real-world experiences

–         Teachers or mentors who ask thought-stimulating questions

–         Keeping a journal

–         Instruction paced by learner understanding rather than the calendar

–         Learning teams small and intimate enough for dialogue—”thinking out loud” about matters of significance.

Textbooks, teacher talk and laptop screens give kids a steady stream of information, but it’s been “processed.” The interesting, creative, intellectually challenging work has already been done, leaving nothing to do but try to remember it.

Would newspapers publish completed crossword puzzles? What the young need that they’re not getting is “raw” reality to chew on—reality in a form that lends itself to description, analysis and interpretation.

Primary data—the “residue” of reality—provides it. However, for kids to engage, data has to come in the form of puzzles, problems and projects, with lesson aims they consider important enough for attention to be paid, and content interesting enough to be self-propelling.

But guidance is necessary. Teams of teachers with varied expertise need to monitor the teams and sometimes comment or pose questions.

Below is an illustrative activity consistent with the above that meshes with existing middle-level curricula and bureaucratic requirements.

Use the present crisis to give education back to educators, and make middle-level schooling’s aim maximizing the quality of thought, and adolescents will demonstrate abilities only long-experienced teachers knew they had.

 A Project: Town Planning, 1583

Big idea: Humans shape habitats that then shape humans.

Age group: Middle school and older learners.

Instructional organization: Small, three-to-five-member work teams.

Technology requirements: Broadband internet access, laptop computer.

App: Zoom or another screen-sharing program

Primary data:

Page 2@https://www.marionbrady.com/documents/AHHandbook.pdf

 

 

 

 

Harold Meyerson of The American Prospect wrote recently that while people are pulling down statues of Confederate leaders, they should also turn to scrapping the Electoral College as a legacy of slave owners that warps our democracy.


Meyerson on TAP

One More Confederate Monument to Destroy: The Electoral College

For anyone who still wonders why Confederate monuments need to come down, let me refer you to a famous line from the great bard of the white South, William Faulkner. In the white Southern universe—that is, in matters of white racism—Faulkner wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

The statues of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and their traitorous ilk were erected to perpetuate and reinforce white supremacy, and hence are completely valid targets for teardowns. But America suffers from one particular legacy of racism more damaging than the monuments, and the great Black Lives Matter movement that is seeking to create a more egalitarian nation needs to target that legacy, too.

I refer to the Electoral College…

The Supreme Court, by striking down…the ability of a presidential elector to vote for a candidate other than the one that their state’s voters supported, affirmed that popular majorities determine whom a state will support for president—but not whom the nation will support. Al Gore received half a million more votes than George W. Bush in 2000 but lost the Electoral College vote to him. Hillary Clinton received nearly three million more votes than Donald Trump, but also lost in the Electoral College…

The Electoral College was one of the last particulars that the Constitution’s drafters settled upon. Two factors led to its creation. The first was the pre-democratic belief that only a handful of men drawn from the nation’s elite had the brains and dispositions to select a president. The second was the insistence of the drafters from slave states that the presidency should not be determined by popular vote, as the eligible electorate (at that time, white men of property) in Northern, non-slave states exceeded and would likely continue to exceed the eligible electorate in the South. Their fear, of course, was that under a popular-vote system, an anti-slavery candidate might one day win the presidency. Hence, they created the Electoral College, which benefited slavery and the South by giving every state, no matter its population, two extra votes (reflective of its Senate representation) and by lumping slaves into their population count by tallying them as three-fifths of a person.

From a Southern perspective, the system worked brilliantly. Had the Democratic Party not split in two (into a Northern indifferent-to-slavery wing and a Southern rabidly pro-slavery wing) in 1860, the Electoral College would have perpetuated slavery until God knows when. Once slavery was abolished and the 15th Amendment to the Constitution ratified in 1870, the South had to find other ways to suppress Black voting, and with its current Republican friends on the Supreme Court, it has managed to do so to this very day.

But as the United States becomes more racially diverse, and as the governing principle of the Republican Party has overtly become white supremacy, that racist Republican right can only cling to power through its reliance on the Electoral College, which stands athwart the principle and reality of majority rule. (Having long favored suppressing minority rights, Republicans have also come to favor suppressing majority rule, now that it’s clear they can’t win majority support among the nation’s voters.)

In short, the Electoral College reflects and perpetuates the same values that those Confederate monuments reflected and perpetuated. Those who believe that Black Lives Matter need to topple this deeply undemocratic monstrosity, too.

~ HAROLD MEYERSON

Mercedes Schneider reviews the current condition of many states and points out that no state has met the conditions described in the CDC guidelines.

As of this writing, no state has met the May 2020 Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for moving into Phase 1 (“Downward trajectory or near-zero incidence of documented cases over a 14-day period) muct less the additional criteria for entering Phase 2 (“Downward trajectory or near-zero incidence of documented cases for at least 14 days after entering Phase 1).

That’s 28 days of supposed “downward trajectory” prior to entering Phase 2, and that assumes increased testing.

Also in phase 2, COVID-19 test results are supposed to be available in three days or less. That is not happening.

In most states, cases are increasing.

Nonetheless, many states are moving towards reopening their schools so parents can get back to work.

Children can get sick with COVID-19. So can teachers.

Schools are asking teachers to risk their lives for their livelihood.

If a teacher or student does get sick, expect schools to close again.

Twenty years ago, I edited a collection of speeches, songs, and statements that in my opinion defined the nation. It is called “The American Reader: Words That Shaped a Nation.” If I were revising it today, I would add the brilliant, unscripted speech that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes delivered yesterday about the crude remarks that a Florida Republican made to her face.

What is so impressive about her remarks is that–as you will see– she does not have a written speech in front of her. She has a few notes. She speaks spontaneously from her heart. Those are the best speeches.

She is eloquent and brilliant.

Alexandra Petri wrote in the Washington Post about Rep. Yoho’s apologetic non-apology.

“I cannot apologize for my passion, or for loving my God, my family, and my country! I yield back!”

— Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), apologizing(?) to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)

You may wonder, “Ted, how did you get so good at apologizing?” What can I say? It’s a gift. I’ve literally never done it before. Some (the recipient of my apology, technically) would say that I still haven’t! Welcome to my master class, where I’ll showcase just a few of the tricks that I employed in my apology on the House floor to my colleague from New York!

“Wait, I thought he called Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a ‘f—ing b—-’ under his breath in front of a reporter!” those who heard this apology said. “But I guess what happened was that he said, ‘I LOVE MY COUNTRY AND I LOVE MY GOD,’ in a very garbled mutter under his breath, and some member of the lamestream media badly misheard him!”

Most people say that a good apology accepts responsibility, acknowledges the harm done and seeks to make amends. This is not true. A good apology does none of these things! A good apology is like the Battle Hymn of the Republic: It is a patriotic song about America that never says it’s sorry, not even one bit.

To apologize or otherwise take responsibility for something you have said or done in the past is deeply un-American, and you must put your foot down and refuse in no uncertain terms, or an eagle will lose its wings.

Every good apology contains five parts:

1) What sounds like the beginning of a normal apology. Announce that you are going to apologize, because you are a bigger person. Do not be afraid to expatiate on all the ways you are a bigger person — there are probably lots! That is what the apology is about: to remind people how great you are, and how you have never done anything wrong, ever, in your life.

2) Denial that the event in question even happened. Try to obfuscate, because a good apology is full of suspense. Like “Memento”! And also, like “Memento,” your audience should spend the majority of it wondering (a) what even happened and (b) whether the guy in question did anything bad at all.

3) Apology for something that someone else did wrong. Now for the best part of any apology: the unexpected twist! “The offensive name-calling words attributed to me by the press were never spoken to my colleagues, and if they were construed that way, I apologize for their misunderstanding.” Wow! What even happened? It sounds like this man is magnanimously apologizing for somebody else’s misunderstanding — which he should not have to do! Whatever this guy has to say, I’m listening!

4) Panegyric about yourself. Be sure to indicate that whatever it was that happened, it was not your fault; you were too busy thinking Great Thoughts About the People’s Well-Being to do anything that could be unworthy of a patriot and statesman. Be sure to mention that you are a father of daughters, no matter what you are ostensibly apologizing for. Make it clear that you are only apologizing because you are such a bosom companion of Jesus Christ …

5) Refusal to apologize! … and that you will not apologize for any of these things! “I cannot apologize for my passion, or for loving my God, my family, and my country! I yield back!”

Now that’s an apology!

People should start your apology thinking they understand that you are asking forgiveness for calling your colleague a sexist obscenity under your breath and end it by being confused and thinking that maybe you are being asked to apologize for being too good a person, who loves America too much? By the time you are done speaking, your listener should be saying to himself, “Well, what could be more American than insulting a woman of color who is supposed to be your respected colleague!”

Sign up for this master class now for further tips and tricks! A few spots are still remaining, but they are going fast!

Coming soon: How to make the person you are apologizing to the villain in this situation if she tries pointing out that this wasn’t an apology at all.