Archives for the month of: August, 2021

Tim Schwab, an independent journalist, has written several articles about the Gates Foundation and its canny strategy of subsidizing the media to assure favorable coverage. In his latest article, he describes how the New York Times has shielded two journalists with financial ties to the Gates Foundation. The Times apparently has a double standard. Earlier this year, BuzzFeed reported that Times’ columnist David Brooks was receiving a salary from the Aspen Institute while writing glowing articles about the Aspen Institute’s programs. In response, the Times required Brooks to give up his salary and retrospectively added an acknowledgement of his connection to several columns that lauded the Aspen Institute.

But for some inscrutable reason, the editors at the Times have ignored complaints about the financial relationship between the two other Times writers and the Gates Foundation.

Schwab writes:

Last summer, buried at the end of a long CJR investigation, I reported that two Times columnists, David Bornstein and Tina Rosenberg, had been writing about the Gates Foundation for years without disclosing that they work for an outside group, the Solutions Journalism Network, that is heavily funded by the foundation. The columnists acknowledged the undisclosed conflict and asked the Times to belatedly disclose their ties to Gates in several previously published columns. The Times never followed through. In 2020, it told me it wasn’t a priority.

In the wake of the Brooks scandal, I followed up with the paper. I contacted Kathleen Kingsbury, the editor of the opinion section. I had previously contacted Kingsbury in 2019 and got no response. Kingsbury told me that the Times was finally adding belated financial disclosures to Bornstein and Rosenberg’s previously published columns. She noted in March that new disclosures had been appended to four columns, and the Times was working through a technical hurdle to correct two additional columns.

But Kingsbury wouldn’t tell me which ones, or how the Times decided it only six needed disclosures. In my CJR investigation, I had found fifteen columns that mention Bill and Melinda Gates, their private foundation, or the work it funds. I located one corrected column, a glowing review of the Gates-funded World Mosquito Program, which I had highlighted in my CJR investigation. Yet, Rosenberg wrote about the project again in 2019, and that column remains uncorrected.

Kingsbury also wouldn’t address why the Times deemed Brooks’s financial engagement with Aspen was incompatible with his column, but Bornstein and Rosenberg’s ties to the Gates-funded Solutions Journalism Network were not. When I pushed the Times to explain, Eileen Murphy, senior vice president of corporate communications for the Times, would not provide clarification. “We’re comfortable with where we have landed on this issue,” she said.

Watch this video from the local TV station.. The parent in Dripping Springs wanted to illustrate why we follow certain rules and protocols, whether we like them or not. He stripped to his underwear to make his point.

Wrong! Leaving little kids vulnerable to a deadly virus in the middle of a pandemic is really child abuse.

The McKinney, Texas, school district canceled its successful Youth and Government elective course. Officials feared that the program might violate the state’s new law forbidding the teaching of critical race theory.

In Texas, as in other states that have passed such legislation, the result is predictable: it has a chilling effect on freedom to discuss controversial issues, especially anything related to racism, as it allegedly might make white students feel guilty because of their race.

The Texas Tribune reports:

McKinney school officials long took pride in their students’ participation in the nationwide Youth and Government program, calling the district a “perennial standout”.

Every year, students researched current issues, proposed and debated their own public policy, and competed in a mock legislature and elections process for statewide offices. Since the program’s arrival to McKinney in 2005 as a club, seven of the district’s middle school students have been elected governor — the program’s top honor — at the statewide conference in Austin. In 2017, the district added an elective option: Seventh and eighth graders in two of the district’s middle schools could now receive course credit for participating in the program.

But in June, the district canceled the elective option in response to a social studies law passed during this year’s regular legislative session. In an email to middle school administrators obtained by The Texas Tribune, a social studies curriculum coordinator wrote that “in light of” the new law’s ban on political activism and policy advocacy, “we will no longer be allowed [to] offer Youth & Government as an elective course for credit.” As the law puts restrictions on courses, not on extracurricular activities, the original club remains available.

The teacher who led the program resigned two months ago.

Anand Girihadaras is one of the most interesting thinkers and writers of our time. His book Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World describes the self-serving, status quo “philanthropy” of the super-rich. He has a blog called The.Ink, where the following interview appeared earlier this year. In it, a very successful Danish entrepreneur explains his belief that those who are very wealthy should pay higher taxes, instead of making charitable donations through their philanthropies.

Paying taxes supports government programs that help everyone, he says, and made his success possible. Private philanthropy weakens the social safet net and cements inequality.

Here is an excerpt:

“Wealth is like manure”: a conversation with Djaffar Shalchi

ANAND: You recently started an organization called Millionaires for Humanity. This raises the question: Do you think most millionaires and billionaires are currently for humanity?

DJAFFAR: If we millionaires are going to be “for humanity,” we have got to go beyond philanthropy and recognize that we need to be taxed. No matter how generous and smart we think we are in our private giving, unless we shift from trying to minimize our taxes to advocating to be taxed more, we are not living up to being “for humanity.” Are most millionaires there yet? No. I do feel a shift is starting, though. Please keep encouraging us — and keep pressuring us, too.

ANAND: You have an interesting personal background that led you to this place of advocating for structural change as a very rich person. Tell us about your journey.

DJAFFAR: I am one of those who gets highlighted by the media as a “self-made man.” I am told that I fit the storyline: I am an immigrant son of a single mother from Iran; while my mum cleaned in hotels, I studied hard, worked hard, and became a successful entrepreneur. I rose to be a multimillionaire — the American dream, except in Denmark!

It has always been evident to me, however, that I have not risen all by my own efforts: that I am not a “self-made man,” that the welfare state made me. Without the creche care and schooling and health care I received, I could not have flourished. And without Denmark’s strong public services, neither could my business.

ANAND: What was your epiphany, if any, in realizing that very rich people like yourself need to be reined in rather than asked to give back?

DJAFFAR: I knew it as a working-class immigrant child. Later, when I became rich and got involved in philanthropy across the world, I witnessed that while philanthropy can help ameliorate tough times for some people, it is only in collective action through government policy that we can we achieve a fair society and shared prosperity. All the data bear out what I witnessed. The way I put it to my fellow rich people is this: there is a title that is more noble and consequential than “Generous Philanthropist,” and that title is “Happy Taxpayer.”

Indiana blogger Steve Hinnefeld reviews Heather McGee’s The Sum of Us, which he highly recommends. As we saw in the Olympics, Americans are different that other countries. We are a remarkably diverse people, and we succeed when we work together across lines of race and class.

Hinnefeld writes:

There’s a “solidarity dividend” to be gained when we work across lines of race and class to improve lives for everyone, Heather McGhee writes in her excellent and incisive book “The Sum of Us,” published this year. Everyone gains when we work together and don’t waste our efforts holding others back.

Conversely, she writes, we all pay a penalty when we succumb to racism and to social and economic divisions. The zero-sum myth, which holds that someone else’s gain is necessarily our loss, lets politicians and the powerful divide us into warring, partisan factions.

Book cover of 'The Sum of Us'

One sphere where this plays out is education. The belief that there is a limited supply of “good” schools — and that they are in affluent communities and enroll mostly white students — hurts us all. Schools become more segregated by race and class. Many children attend schools that are stigmatized as failing while the fortunate pay a premium for the schools they want.

But what if the entire logic is wrong?” McGhee writes. “What if they’re not only paying too high a cost for segregation, but they’re also mistaken about the benefits?”

Evidence that white people are wrong about the benefits of being at the top of our nation’s racial hierarchy is at the core of “The Sum of Us.” McGhee, an economic policy expert and a former president of the research and advocacy group Demos, describes how racism robs people of all races of political power, economic security, health care and other amenities.

The book’s central metaphor is the drained swimming pool. In the first half of the 20th century, large public pools were the pride of many U.S. communities. They brought people together, including rich and poor, native-born and immigrants. But in many locales, they were open to white people only. This was especially true in the South, but there were plenty of examples in the North: for example, Engman Public Natatorium in South Bend, Indiana, initially banned Black swimmers and later let them in on a segregated basis, on designated days.

When the civil rights movement swept the country and courts ordered public facilities to desegregate, a common response was to close swimming pools or turn them over to private clubs. McGhee describes examples where white officials filled the pools with concrete rather than share them with Black families. As a result, white children had no safe place to swim unless they had access to private pools.

Jennifer Hall Lee, a member of the Pasadena Unified School District board, wrote recently about the importance of of “high-functioning” school boards where members work together toward common goals and avoid partisan politics.

Case in point: the PUSD board has a higher standard for vaccinations than the state. At a time when many school boards have been split by partisan battles, it is good to hear of a school board that prioritized the public health of students and staff over politics.

She wrote:

Only the Governor of California has authority over the PUSD School Board, and on August 11, Governor Newsom announced. “California Department of Public Health (CDPH) today issued a new public health order requiring all school staff to either show proof of full vaccination or be tested at least once per week.” He is requiring proof of vaccination or, for the unvaccinated, to be tested at least once per week.

The Governor’s plan on testing is less robust than the plan the PUSD is already acting upon: PUSD has a stronger testing plan for students.

  • Because of our strong relationship with the City of Pasadena Department of Public Health and Dr. Ying-Ying Goh, PUSD was among the first districts in our area to offer vaccinations to all teachers, staff, students and family members.
  • 96% of PUSD staff and teachers are already vaccinated: 1,320 through PUSD-run clinics, and another 800 through appointments at clinics at Huntington Hospitalthrough a partnership with Pasadena Public Health.
  • On August 5, the PUSD School Board had affirmed the goals of the Superintendent, Dr. Brian McDonald, Ed. D.: attestation of vaccines among staff and mandatory testing of all staff and teachers.

Every state has vaccine requirements for children entering school. Parents do not protest against these vaccines. What makes the coronavirus vaccine different from the many other required vaccines?

Here are the vaccine requirements for children entering school in Tennessee:

The Tennessee Department of Health is responsible for immunization requirements for those who attend child care, pre-school, school and college. The current immunization requirements are in the Tennessee Department of Health Rules.

The Official Immunization Certificate is available in local health departments through the Tennessee Immunization Information System (TennIIS).

Detailed guidance for healthcare providers on the rules and certificate is available at the TennIIS website. Tennessee healthcare providers who give vaccines can register as authorized users and download the form through TennIIS.

The state’s immunization schedule follows the current schedule published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

A brief summary of the required immunizations for child care facilities and schools is listed below.

Children enrolling in child care facilities, pre-school, pre-Kindergarten
Infants entering child care facilities must be up to date at the time of enrollment and are required to provide an updated certificate after completing all of the required vaccines due no later than 18 months of age.

  • Poliomyelitis (IPV or OPV)
  • Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) – age younger than 5 years only
  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) – age younger than 5 years only
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella – 1 dose of each, normally given together as MMR
  • Varicella – 1 dose or credible history of disease
Required Immunizations

Children enrolling in Kindergarten

  • Hepatitis B (HBV)
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis (DTaP, or DT if appropriate)
  • Poliomyelitis (IPV or OPV) – final dose on or after the 4th birthday
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella – 2 doses of each, usually given together as MMR
  • Varicella – 2 doses or credible history of disease
  • Hepatitis A – total of 2 doses, spaced at least 6 – 18 months apart

All children entering 7th grade (including currently enrolled students)

Children who are new enrollees in a TN school in grades other than Kindergarten

  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis (DTaP, or DT if appropriate)
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (2 doses of each, normally given together as MMR)
  • Poliomyelitis (IPV or OPV) – final dose on or after the 4th birthday now required
  • Varicella (2 doses or credible history of disease) – previously only one dose was required
  • Hepatitis B (HBV) – previously only for Kindergarten, 7th grade entry
  • New students entering grades other than 7th grade are not required to have Tdap

Full-time Tennessee college students

  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (2 doses of each, normally given together as MMR): if born on or after January 1, 1957 only.
  • Varicella (2 doses or credible history of disease): if born on or after January 1, 1980 only.
  • Hepatitis B (HBV) – only for health science students expected to have patient contact (before patient contact begins).
  • Meningococcal – At a minimum of 1 dose given at 16 years of age or greater if enrolling in public institution for the first time and under 22 years of age and living in on-campus housing; private institutions set their own requirements for this vaccine.

Children with medical or religious exemption to requirements

Medical – Physician (MD, DO) or department Public Health Nurse authorized to indicate specific vaccines medically exempted (because of risk of harm) on the new form. Other vaccines remain required. The medical reason for the exemption does not need to be provided.

Religious – This exemption requires a signed statement by the parent/guardian that vaccination conflicts with their religious tenets or practices. If the child needs documentation of a health examination for the school, it must be noted by the healthcare provider on the immunization certificate. In that case, the provider should check the box that the parent has sought a religious exemption to explain why immunization information is absent or incomplete.

These are the required vaccines in New York State:

Vaccines required for day care, pre-K, and school attendance

  • Diphtheria and Tetanus toxoid-containing vaccine and Pertussis vaccine (DTaP or Tdap)
  • Hepatitis B vaccine
  • Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine (MMR)
  • Polio vaccine
  • Varicella (Chickenpox) vaccine

Additional vaccines required for middle school and high school

  • Tdap vaccine for Grades 6-12
  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY) for Grades 7-12
    • Students in Grade 12 need an additional booster dose of MenACWY on or after their 16th birthday

Additional vaccines required for day care and pre-K

  • Haemophilus influenzae type b conjugate vaccine (HiB)
  • Pneumococcal Conjugate vaccine (PCV)

A reader of the blog posted the following comment, which I find to be sane and wise:

There is so much hypocrisy and ignorance in this politicization of mask wearing and vaccination. When everyone’s health and well-being is on the line, there can be no personal choice to forego what keeps everyone safer.

Why is it these people insist they can mandate what a woman does with her body or who can and cannot marry, but not that we all wear masks to keep everyone safer?

If one can’t wear a mask out in public for a health reason (which, for the life of me, I can’t think of), perhaps one shouldn’t be out. If you’re a professional athlete competing closely against others, you should be required to be vaccinated. If you are a spectator in the stands, you should be vaccinated. If you’re a teacher, a bus driver, a nurse or doctor or receptionist, etc., etc., you should be vaccinated.

I wear a mask for the same reason I drive on the correct side of the freeway. I wear a mask for the same reason I drive on the road instead of on the sidewalk. I wear a mask because it helps protect my young grandson who has a heart condition and lives in my home. I wear a mask because it is the right and intelligent thing to do.

No one has the right to put the lives of others at risk by not masking up or being vaccinated.

A former student who all’s him/herself “ArtTeacher” left the following moving tribute to our beloved friend and frequent contributor Dr. Laura Chapman. I wonder if she knew how many lives she influenced, how admired and respected she was? I learned from everything she wrote here.

ArtTeacher wrote:

I was an art education student of Dr. Chapman and her life partner, Patricia Renick from 1974-78 at the University of Cincinnati. We called Patricia “Pat,” and she was vivacious, loving, and upbeat. Her nickname was “Mother Art.” Even as adults, my classmates and I had difficulty dropping the “Dr.” because we held Laura in such high esteem.

I was the first Art Education major to graduate summa cum laude from the school of Design, Architecture and Art, and I still have her letter of recommendation that described me as one of the “brightest and best.” I felt as if I had failed them both when I quit teaching after being RIFed from 2 schools in 3 years.

In 2000 when I became an art teacher again, NCLB was in full force in Ohio, and I boldly phoned her to meet and catch up on current education trends. She laughed when I told her how she struck fear in our undergraduate hearts if we showed up unprepared for her class. She was interested in hearing that two of my 8th graders filled in their scan-tron sheets to create a smiley face and a penis. When I asked what on earth they were doing, one of them said that he was only there so he could attend the dance that Friday. “I happen to know this test doesn’t affect my GPA,” he told me, pointing a finger at my face, “It affects YOU, and I don’t care about you. You can make me come to school, but you can’t make me try.” I told Laura that surely the principals and superintendents would protest the obvious flaws in forcing a school in a rural, low-income area to improve scores on such a test each year, when students’ home lives were such a struggle. The next year I was hired by a surburban elementary school to teach art to over 600 fourth graders, many of whom became physically ill on testing days because they wanted so much to do well, the opposite of the other school.

In 2012 she sent an email asking me to describe how I’m evaluated, how many students I taught, budget, schedules, etc. for a research paper. She said, “The evaluation of teachers by standardized test scores and principal observations is going in the direction that hit the teacher at Oyler (a public school in a low-income area near U.C.). In fact, more standardized tests are in the works and scheduled for administration in 2014, grades 3-12, as a condition for schools receiving federal funds from the ESEA. New state mandates are getting on the books regardless of the governor’s political affiliation. Since 2009, Bill Gates who thinks he is qualified as an expert on education, had been funding many projects that converge on more data gathering and sruveillance of teachers and the overall performance of schools.” So you can see that even as a retired professor, Laura was right on top of everything that was happening, who was doing it, and why.

I started meeting her for breakfast every month or so, to fill her in on what was new at school, and she explained the agenda behind it all, and warn me about was was coming next. I used to awaken in the wee hours with the chlling thought that it was like the plot of a bad sci fi movie, where there seemed no way to effectively fight the evil forces that had taken over. I joined BATs about a month after it began, full of hope that all we had to do was reveal what we knew was going on, and our communities (and unions) would shut it right down. I had even greater hope listening live to the first NPE convention from my home as I prepared art lessons. I remember our union presidents promising Diane to stop accepting Gates’ money, then reneging on that promise three days later.

In 2014 Laura gave a lengthy slide presentation at the Ohio Art Education convention that was titled “The Circular Reasoning Theory of School Reform: Why it is Wrong,” explaining in part why SLOs and VAM were invalid measurements of learning. It was, as you can imagine, annotated like a Master’s Thesis. Her voice was weak because was suffering from COPD and recovering from a cold, but her presentation had an enormous impact. Immeditately afterward we art teachers attended a workshop by the Ohio Dept. of Education intended to train us to write SLOs for our K-12 art students. We nearly rioted. Yet, the following school year, I had to give a test to my fourth graders the first day of school over a list of art vocabulary words I was certain they would not already know. At the end of the year, I tested them on the same 15 words, and nearly every one of 850 students passed with flying colors. Yet most were upset to see their low scores from the beginning of the year. “I can’t believe I was that stupid,” one girl said. I told her that I had to show that she learned something from me, so she was supposed to fail the test the first time. “WHY would you DO that to us?” she gasped. Now we have opted for shared attribution, where 50% of my evaluattion as an art teacher is based on 4th grade math and reading scores.

My students look forward to art class, and I have lost no enthusiasm for teaching them. This is my 20th year at my school, and every year I have something new to try, something marvelous to experience with my students. I rarely miss a single day of teaching. My way of fighting back is to absolutely refuse to let anything dampen my love for teaching art. I actually feel lucky to be an insider during these years, to see and know that even with the most misguided of mandates, my colleagues and I show up every day for the children who come through our doors.

The last time I saw Laura was in late February 2020 when it was becoming obvious that teaching in a building with 2400 fourth, fifth and sixth grade students was putting me at risk for contracting COVID, and that our Saturday breakfasts must stop to protect Laura’s health. I held my breath and hugged her. My school shut down mid-March, and I was allowed to teach online from home last year — to about 900 students in grades 1-4. I sent long emails describing what that was like, and she was fascinated by my reports. She said she was picking up groceries, staying in her condo, and of course, continuing her research and advocacy. In the spring I asked if we could get together again, and although she didn’t say no, she closed by wishing me and my famliy good health and happy lives. I knew that it was her way of saying good-bye.