Archives for category: Bigotry

Peter Greene nails it here, in discussing how Trump and DeVos folded the federal Charter Schools Program into a big, fat block grant that states can spend however they wish. 

For decades, Republicans have been wanting to eliminate social programs by turning them into block grants to the states. Now, as Valerie Strauss reported, charter school advocates are outraged. Brought to the dance and abandoned.

Open the link and see the great image Greene posts to make the point.

I have known for many years that right-wingers went for charters only because they lay the groundwork for vouchers.

I learned that when I worked in rightwing think tanks like the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Koret Education Program at the Hoover Institution.

The true right-wingers don’t give a hoot about charter schools except as a way to condition the American public to give up on public schools and place their faith in consumerism.

Charters pave the way for vouchers. They turn citizens, invested in public institutions, into consumers, looking out only for their own child.

Now that the Trump administration has a chance to show what it really cares about, it is vouchers (aka “Education Freedom Scholarships” or some other deceptive name).

DeVos wants every American child in a religious school or some other private school.

Not the kind that costs $25,000-50,000 a year.

The kind that costs $4,800 a year.

The kind that scoffs at the common good.

The kind that employs high-school dropouts as teachers (as in Florida), the kind that decides which children are acceptable and which are not allowed. The kind that kicks out students, staff and families who are gay, knowing that Trump’s rightwing Supreme Court will back them up.

The kind that accepts only “our kind.”

The Trump-DeVos show and the return of racism, sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia as acceptable public policy.

To the shock and consternation of charter school advocates, the Trump budget proposal abandons the controversial federal Charter Schools Program, turning it into a state bloc program that turns the money over to the states. 

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools issued a scathing denunciation of the axing of the federal charter school programs, which has enriched the big corporate charter chains.

The Network for Public Education issued two reports on waste, fraud, and abuse in this program, showing that nearly 40% of the federal money was spent on charters that either never opened or closed soon after opening, with waste of nearly $1 billion. See the reports here and here.

Trump and DeVos are backing their chief priority: vouchers, which they prefer to call “education freedom scholarships,” at a proposed cost of $5 billion. They want America’s children to be “rescued” from public schools that hat have been burdened by harmful federal policies like high-stakes testing, and punishments attached to testing. They want them to attend religious schools that are low-cost and have no standards or accountability, and are free to discriminate against students, families, and staff they don’t like.

The erstwhile Center for American Progress lamented the proposal to cut federal spending on charter schools, even though Democratic support for them has substantially declined. Apparently, CAP is the last to know that school choice is a Republican Policy.

Chalkbeat reports:

The Trump administration wants to create a new stream of funding for disadvantaged students that would consolidate current spending on Title I — which gives money to schools serving low-income students — and 28 other programs.

This school year, the department spent $16.3 billion on Title I grants to states and districts and $7.8 billion on the other programs. Under the proposed budget, it would all become a $19.4 billion pot that would be distributed through the Title I formulas — a $4.7 billion cut, if the budget were enacted.

The individual programs on the chopping block include:

  • 21st Century Learning Centers, which supports after-school programs in places like Detroit and New York City ($1.25 billion)
  • Arts in Education ($30 million)
  • English Language Acquisition ($787 million)
  • Homeless Education ($102 million)
  • Neglected and Delinquent, which offers grants to states to educate incarcerated students ($48 million)
  • Magnet Schools, which offers grants some districts use for desegregation ($107 million)
  • Migrant Education ($375 million)
  • Rural Education ($186 million)
  • Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants, which is also known as Title II, Part A, which districts can use for teacher training and to reduce class sizes ($2.1 billion)

This move, the budget documents say, would reduce the federal government’s role in education and pave the way for less spending on department staff.

But the proposed elimination of these streams of funding raised alarms among civil rights advocates, who said this would enable states to spend less money on vulnerable groups like students who are English learners, homeless students, students involved in the juvenile justice system, or migrant students.

“History has shown us that … unless the federal government says you must serve migrant children, and here are funds to help you do that, migrant children are lost and forgotten,” said Liz King, the education equity program director at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “The purpose of the dedicated pots of money … is to make sure that the most powerless people in our country are not lost.”

Advocates for other programs expressed concern, too. During a question and answer session with education department officials, a member of the National Association for Gifted Children asked why the administration had proposed eliminating a $13 million program that supports gifted education.

Jim Blew, one of DeVos’s assistant secretaries, and a former official at the Walton Family Foundation, said that advocates for these programs should lobby the states to fund their favorite programs.

The Orlando Sentinel surveyed Florida’s voucher schools and found that nearly 160 of them openly discriminate against LGBT students, families, and staff. Democratic legislators object and have been meeting with the head of the state’s Step Up for Students, which transfers hundreds of millions of dollars (that would otherwise go to the state as taxes ) to voucher schools. Some major corporations have said they would no longer contribute to the program (in lieu of taxes), which undoubtedly encourages Step Up to talk.

Republican legislators indicate that anti-LGBT policies are not a problem for them.

Such bias is certainly not a problem for Betsy DeVos, whose family foundation has supported anti-gay causes for many years.

And it’s probably okay with the Supreme Court, which ruled that discrimination against a gay couple was acceptable if based on a sincere religious conviction. As you will see if you open the story, these evangelical schools sincerely and passionately detest gay people.

Which other groups is it okay to hate while funded by public dollars?

Teresa Hanafin writes the Fast Forward feature for the Boston Globe. Scroll down and learn how you can subscribe:

 

Three things to mull this morning:

Senate Republicans will acquit Trumpthis afternoon of charges that he abused the power of the presidency. Democrats cringe at the word “acquit” because, they say, the Senate didn’t actually hold a real trial since the GOP refused to call witnesses or hear new evidence.

Trump held a fact-challenged, divisive MAGA rally-meets-reality-TV last night in place of his State of the Union speech, with Republicans shouting “four more years” as though they were at an evangelical tent revival.

Trump gave the nation’s highest civilian award — bestowed in the past to people like Mother Teresa and Rosa Parks — to a guy whose racist and misogynistic rants on TV and talk radio have made him a darling of the right. And Trump brazenly did it in the people’s house.


So where to begin? The acquittal has been a foregone conclusion for months, so let’s move on to his MAGA rally. You knew the impeached Trump was going to be aggressively defiant as soon as he refused to shake the hand of Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House and second in line to the presidency.

News organizations’ fact-checkers say his subsequent speech was replete with misinformation and lies, many designed to portray himself as the best president in history. And his continued obsession with bettering Barack Obama is really sad. A few corrections:

Trump: “I am thrilled to report to you tonight that our economy is the best it has ever been.”
Truth: Sorry, bucko, it’s not. Trump’s annual economic growth rate hasn’t yet surpassed 3 percent, but there have been many, many years in the recent past when GDP grew more than that, including 1950, 1951, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1997, 1998, 1999 — well, you get the idea. The 3.5 percent unemployment rate is not the lowest in history; for example, it was 2.5 percent in 1953.

Trump: “Since my election, we have created 7 million new jobs.”
Truth: It’s actually 6.7 million jobs since he took office, but who’s counting? (Certainly not Trump.) In the last three years of the Obama administration, more than 8 million jobs were created.

Trump: “Thanks to our bold regulatory reduction campaign, the United States has become the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world.”
Truth: The US became the world’s top energy producer under Obama in 2012.

Trump: “From the instant I took office, I moved rapidly to revive the U.S. economy … enacting historic and record-setting tax cuts.”
Truth: Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations were not the largest in history; they were only the eighth-largest in the past century.

Trump: “This is a blue-collar boom.”
Truth: Manufacturing is officially in a recession, and job growth in transportation, construction, and mining has dropped. Oops!

Trump: “Everybody said that criminal justice reform couldn’t be done, but I got it done and the people in this room got it done.”
Truth: I guess he’s hearing voices again, because actually, nobody said that reform couldn’t get done, given that Obama kicked off the effort when he signed the Fair Sentencing Act in August 2010. That repealed the five-year mandatory sentence for first-time offenders and reduced the disparity between the sentences given to those who used powder cocaine (mostly white people) and the much harsher penalties for those who used crack cocaine (mostly Black people).

Trump’s First Step Act builds on that, shortening mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses and easing the federal “three strikes” rule. However, in his 2020 budget, Trump proposed just $14 million for the act, when the law calls for $75 million.

Okay, I’m done. And exhausted trying to keep up with his mendacious word salads. A disgusted Pelosi ripped up the speech at the end in full view of TV cameras, later saying that Trump “shredded the truth, so I shredded his speech.”

You can read more fact-checking by AP in the Globe, by CNN, by NBC, and by The Washington Post.


Trump’s reality TV showmanship was on full display when he announced that a young girl in the gallery was going to get a coveted school scholarship and reunited a soldier with his family.

But it was his awarding of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh that caused the most uproar. (A smiling and clapping first lady Melania placed the medal around Limbaugh’s neck as Republicans cheered in approval.)

Limbaugh, a cigar smoker, announced the other day that he had advanced lung cancer, years after he repeatedly pooh-poohed the connection between tobacco and cancer, blaming the anti-tobacco “hysteria” on leftwing loons who were part of an anti-corporate conspiracy — similar to what he says today about climate change. Look, nobody wishes such a terrible diagnosis on anyone, and we hope he has either a full recovery or can be made as comfortable as possible if the disease progresses.

But cancer does not erase a lifetime of vile, vulgar, hateful speech.

As much as I dislike repeating any of his comments here, it’s important to know the type of person Trump values.

Limbaugh once told a Black female caller to “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.” He called Obama a “halfrican American” and liked to play a song on his radio show called “Barack the Magic Negro.” He called for segregated buses when Obama became president, and called Mexicans “stupid and unskilled.”

He said that when a gay person “turns his back on you, it is anything but an insult; it’s an invitation.”

After Michael J. Fox announced he had Parkinson’s disease, Limbaugh claimed the actor, who generally supports Democratic causes, was exaggerating the effects of the disease. “He’s moving all around and shaking and it’s purely an act … This is really shameless … Either he didn’t take his medication or he’s acting.”

When Sandra Fluke, a law student at Georgetown, testified before Congress in favor of mandatory insurance coverage for contraceptives, Limbaugh called her a “slut” and a “prostitute.”

During the Clinton administration, he displayed a photo of 13-year-old Chelsea and called her “a dog.” (Remember the faux outrage from Republicans when an impeachment witness merely mentioned the name of Trump’s son Barron to illustrate the limits of presidential power?)

I wonder how all of the Black and Latino guests Trump publicly praised last night felt when he gave Limbaugh this nation’s highest honor.


Finally, my favorite tweet of today so far, from The Volatile Mermaid (@OhNoSheTwitnt):

Things that offend Democrats:
– treason
– racism
– misogyny
– bragging about sexual assault
– homophobia

Things that offend Republicans:
– Tearing a piece of paper
– Speaking out about climate change
– Saying Barron Trump’s name
– Black people voting
– Rainbows


Thanks for reading. February has been the longest year of my life. Send comments and suggestions to teresa.hanafin@globe.com, or follow me on Twitter @BostonTeresa. See you tomorrow.

Please tell your friends about Fast Forward!They can sign up here. The Globe has lots of other e-mail newsletters that are almost as good as this one, from breaking news alerts to sports, politics, business, and entertainment — check them out.

Leslie Postal and Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel identified nearly 160 religious schools that receive state funding but exclude gay students.

Some refuse to enroll students whose parents are gay or hire gay staff.

Discrimination is A-OK at these schools.

This would not be a problem for Betsy DeVos, whose family has contributed to anti-gay organizations for years. It would not be a problem for the current a Supreme Court, which ruled that a baker in Colorado need not sell  a cake to a gay couple if homosexuality offends his religious beliefs.

Postal and Martin wrote:

In the shadow of a nearly 200-foot cross, Central Florida Christian Academy enrolls students who live by the Bible’s commands and abstain from “sexual immorality” — meaning gay children aren’t welcome on the state-supported campus in west Orange County.

Calvary Christian High School in Clearwater denies admission to students if they, or someone in their home, are practicing a “homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity” or “promoting such practices.”

Wade Christian School in Melbourne keeps an “expulsion list,” with a “homosexual act” among the offenses, alongside bringing weapons to campus, distributing drugs and striking a staff member.

In Florida last year, 156 private Christian schools with these types of anti-gay views educated more than 20,800 students with tuition paid for by state scholarships, an Orlando Sentinel investigation found.

Florida’s scholarship programs, often referred to as school vouchers, sent more than $129 million to these religious institutions. That means at least 14 percent of Florida’s nearly 147,000 scholarship students last year attended private schools where homosexuality was condemned or, at a minimum, unwelcome.

Step by step, the Trump administration, Red states, and the Supreme Court are denying any civil rights to gay people.

Indiana blogger Steve Hinnefeld reports here that a Democratic legislator has proposed a bill that prevents voucher schools from discriminating against students, staff, or families based on their religion, race, sexual orientation, or disability.

Bill Phillis of Ohio has proposed that religious schools that get vouchers should be subject to the same laws and regulations as public schools and should be required to report their finances and take the same state tests as other publicly funded schools.

Will legislators in Ohio and Indiana tolerate any restrictions on voucher schools?

Will they too be required to be accountable in exchange for getting public money?

Or will the public be forced to pay for schools that discriminate and schools that indoctrinate their students into their religious world-view?

 

 

During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump spoke of his commitment to protect the rights of LGBT people.

He lied.

ProPublica released a report documenting the Trump administration’s step-by-step dismantling of federal protections of LGBT persons–in the military, in public housing, in schools, in health care, and in enforcement of civil rights in the courts.

Politico Morning Education reports that the Trump administration has joined a court case on the side of a Christian school in Maryland that was removed from the state’s voucher program because it discriminates against LGBT students and teachers.

This is not surprising. The DeVos family has funded anti-gay organizations and state referenda for many years. The Trump administration takes the view that if religious organizations discriminate, that is no one’s business, even though they are receiving public funds. Thus, DeVos and Trump carve an exemption in civil rights law. It is okay to discriminate against persons if your discrimination actions stem from sincere religious beliefs. Where will this end? Gay students and teachers today, black students and women tomorrow. The civil rights protections that have been a sturdy bulwark against bigotry since 1964 are being picked apart, one group at a time. The federal government has embarked on a religious campaign to eviscerate civil rights protections, and this campaign begins with the least numerous, least popular group: Gays. So long as a school sincerely believes that gay students and teachers are loathsome, the state and federal government will not stand in the way of their discriminatory acts.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION BACKS CHRISTIAN SCHOOL’S LAWSUIT OVER VOUCHERS: The departments of Justice and Education on Tuesday sided with a private Christian school that’s fighting Maryland’s decision to kick it out of a state voucher program over its anti-LGBTQ views. The Trump administration filed a “statement of interest ” backing the federal lawsuit filed by Bethel Christian Academy, which accuses Maryland education officials of unconstitutionally discriminating against the school based on its religious beliefs.

— Eric Dreiband, the assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, said in a statement that the Constitution protects religious schools from being forced “to choose between abandoning or betraying their faith and participating in public programs.”

— Robert S. Eitel, a top adviser to Secretary Betsy DeVos, said in a statement that “Americans do not give up their religious liberty protections simply because they may participate in a government program or interact with a state government.” He added that the Education Department “cannot sit on its hands as the First Amendment rights of Bethel Christian Academy are violated.”

— Maryland education officials have previously said they were trying to prevent taxpayer money from flowing to institutions that discriminate against students on the basis of sexual orientation, which is prohibited under the rules of the voucher program.

— A main point of contention is whether the language in the school’s handbook that doesn’t accept same-sex marriage or opposes transgender people complies with the state’s nondiscrimination requirement. The school says it doesn’t consider sexual orientation in its admissions process.

— A federal judge ruled earlier this month that the lawsuit, which is being brought by the Alliance Defending Freedom, could move forward. The judge ruled the school had presented a “plausible” case that the state had “unjustly conflated the school’s religious beliefs with discriminatory behavior.”

This is an important speech by Sasha Baron Cohen to a conference of the Anti-Defamation League.

I posted early this morning about this speech but only linked to the written version.

Watch Sasha Baron Cohen give the speech.

It is powerful.

 

John Merrow had breakfast with Ambassador Gordon Sondland!

Open this link to find out what happened!

And, please know, before you open the link, that I will forever love John M. for what he says inside it.