Archives for category: Education Reform

Ron DeSantis demonstrates his utter contempt for the teaching profession. Anyone can teach, he believes. First he opened teaching careers to military veterans. Now he wants cops and all other first responders to teach. Really?

After giving military veterans easier access to temporary teaching certificates, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday said he wants state legislators to expand that same option for law enforcement officers and other first responders next year. The goal is to help Florida schools fill vacant teaching positions — which amount to nearly 9,000 in schools across the state, according to the most recent data from the Florida Department of Education. But the governor says the proposal will also support and incentivize law enforcement officers and other first responders, like paramedics and firefighters, to go into the teaching profession. “Just like we do for veterans, we will do for the other first responders,” DeSantis said at a press conference in New Port Richey on Tuesday morning. “We will waive the exam fees for the state certification program.…”

Participants must have a bachelor’s degree and those who sign up will be eligible for a $4,000 bonus. If they teach courses or subject matters that are experiencing “really acute shortages,” DeSantis said they will get another $1,000. “We believe that the folks that have served our communities have an awful lot to offer,” DeSantis said. “We have people who have served 20 years in law enforcement, who have retired, and some of them are looking for the next chapter in their life….”

In the 2019-20 school year, Florida colleges and universities graduated only about a third of the teachers needed to fill vacancies in state schools for the 2020-21 school year — or only about 3,380 teachers despite an estimated 9,080 vacancies, according to a report from the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union.

“I don’t think these schools have proven to be effective,” DeSantis said. “I think it has been taken over by ideology, and I think that is a turnoff for many people. … We are saying teaching is not about learning quote, unquote education in college, it’s really about having proficiency in subjects and then learning on the ground about how to do it.” DeSantis did not provide the proposed legislation, which he suggested would be up for consideration in the legislative session that starts in March.

But he said the criteria will be the same as for veterans, who currently need to have a bachelor’s degree or complete at least 60 hours of college credits — the equivalent of an associate’s degree — with a minimum grade-point average of 2.5 — and pass a Florida subject area examination and a background check. Eligible veterans would need 48 months of active-duty military service with an honorable discharge or a medical separation. Those requirements were approved by the Florida Legislature earlier this year and signed into law by DeSantis.

Read more at:

Stephen Dyer is a former state legislator in Ohio who writes frequently about the perils of school choice. In this post, he warns that the Thomas B. Fordham Institute (nominally based in Dayton but actually in D.C.) wants to expand school choice to 90% of the students in Ohio. It is not because school choice has been a success in Ohio. In fact, it has failed miserably by every metric. It is just because…choice is good even when it fails to improve the education of students.

Dyer writes that Fordham’s

latest call to massively spend on a separate school funding system that has been such a wretched overall failure for our students and led to the greatest taxpayer ripoff in Ohio history while demanding that taxpayers subsidize private school tuitions for nearly 90% of Ohio households and calling that a “middle class” initiative is too much. 

Dyer shows that public schools in Ohio consistently have outperformed charter schools.

Why does Fordham want a dramatic expansion of vouchers, given their terrible results?

Dyer writes:

I’ll begin with their mind-numbing call for families making $111,000 a year to get $7,500 in taxpayer money to attend a private school, without any call for public oversight of how those funds get spent.

Vouchers: Worse performing, racially segregating, no fiscal oversight. But, hey. Let’s put more tuition subsidies there.My feelings on Ohio’s voucher program are pretty clear. We know that in nearly 9 in 10 cases, Ohio’s public schools outperform the private schools that get these vouchers. We know that voucher recipients are 54% more likely to be White than the typical student in the district they leave — sometimes far more likely to be White. For example, Princeton City Schools in Hamilton County is 77% minority, yet 92.8% of the 265 students taking vouchers from there are White. We also know that as many as 2 in 3 voucher students never attended the public school that is being punished financially for “failing” them.

The evidence is clear, and has been for years: Ohio’s vouchers don’t provide better options for students, subsidize private choices parents have already made, lead to greater racial segregation of schools and communities, and toss billions of public tax dollars into a budgetary black hole that has zero accountability or oversight.

David Berliner is one of the most accomplished education scholars in the nation. A list of his accomplishments would fill a couple of pages so I will say only that the Regius Professor Emeritus at Arizona State University.

Berliner shared his thoughts about the current efforts in red states to destroy the teaching profession:

My Incredibly Short Career as a Brain Surgeon and Some Thoughts About Teaching

When I was an undergraduate psychology major at UCLA I studied physiological psychology, particularly neuroanatomy. During my Masters’program at California State College at Los Angeles I landed a job as a research assistant at the UCLAbrain research center. There I did some fascinatingstudies of brain functioning. Well, more accurately, my job was to get some rats drunk and then test them. I gave the rats a little alcohol, then I had a little alcohol, then they got a bit more, and then I…. well, I am sure you get the picture. I continued to read my physiological psychology textbooks, and in addition have found the works of Oliver Sachs and A. S. Luria to be wonderful reading. In fact, it was Sachs’ engaging “The man who mistook his wife for a hat”that inspired me to write essays such as this.

I note also that I frequently buy and avidly read whatever popular science magazines come out featuring stories about the brain. I am up on CAT scans and fMRIs and the latest techniques for stroke victims, and much, much more. Just as important as all the technical knowledge I posses is the fact that I also have a flair for carving, a skill attested to by anyone who has had thanksgiving dinner with my family.

Naturally, with such interest, such knowledge, and such skills, I have always thought that I would make a great brain surgeon. My secret fantasy was to become the greatest brain cartographer in modern times, locator of Berliners’ spot, or the Berliner bundle. I secretly dreamed I could eventually locate and describe how memory works–a goal of every psychologist.

Then, out of the blue, the most wonderful opportunity arose. I discovered that there was a chance that I could get to be a brain surgeon after all. I might actually be able to practice my real vocational love. This wonderful and exciting change in my life, one that I had dreamed about for so long, was suddenly within my grasp because that day, my newspaper ran a feature story on the scarcity of surgeons at the hospitals serving the most needy members of our society. One of our largest State supported big-city hospitals complained that it was short neurosurgeons all week. Furthermore, on weekends, in the emergency rooms, they never had a specialist on whom to call.

My local newspaper, for many years, took a conservative, free market approach to the economy.So, over the years, it has often been in favor of deregulating just about everything, particularly teaching. On the day I was reading about the shortage in the emergency room my newspaper ran an editorial on socialism in the United States of America using the “inefficient public school system” as their model. They cited someone who believed that “government schools” were founded on Marxist-Leninist principles. America’s schools, the paper continued, were failures when measured against the rest of the world or against the results of private schooling. The newspapers’ solution was more free enterprise, including vouchers for children, having schools compete with each other, and the closing of the useless schools of education. They, and one of our many Arizona governors who ended up in prison, eventually argued that anyone with a bachelor’s degree could teach because teaching wasn’t all that complicated.

Our newspaper was then owned by the Pulliam family. That is the family that gave America the well-known intellectual Vice-president Dan Quayle. It was he who said, among other things, that his goal was to have as few government regulations as possible. Quayle’s views, the news from the hospital, and the editorial seemed to provide the perfect set of conditions for propelling me into the career I always wanted. I actually shivered with hope and excitement.

It was time for people with my kinds of skill to step in and serve where clear social needs had been identified. I thought, “let a thousand points of light shine!” I thought it was time to get government out of trying to do everything. What we needed was a resurgence of volunteerism to renew the spirit of America. I thought of John Kennedy and I asked not what my country could do for me but what I could do for my country. And so I went to the hospital that had reported the shortages and volunteered to take the neurosurgery rounds on weekends.

I told them I hold a doctors’ degree (well, actually, I really do have three doctorates, but I thought they would rebel if I asked them to call me Dr. Dr. Dr.). I informed them that I have a high level of knowledge about brain functioning and understood perfectly the technologies that existed to examine brains, and, with false modesty, I also told them that I really could carve quite well. While the hospital administrator was weighing my offer, I thought: “By golly, this is it, my big chance. I may be able to change careers over night and make my dear mother posthumously ecstatic, by becoming a “real” doctor.”

I sat there waiting, thinking that if computer programmers can become high school teachers of mathematics overnight; if oil company geologists can become earth science teachers overnight; if mothers of two with bachelor degrees in either home or international economics, choose to enter the classroom when their youngest goes off to school and can get a job immediately, without any training beyond their life skills; and if military personnel of all kinds can get jobs in schools, and even jobs to run schools,immediately after they serve our nation; then I, with my skills and interest in neuroanatomy, should prove to be a great catch for the field of medicine. I knew I had what it takes and now here I was getting ready to demonstrate my talents. It was so exciting!

Alas. My hopes were quickly dashed. The administrator of the hospital informed me that they had no openings at that moment, but that one of their other physicians, a psychiatrist, would like to see me. I left quickly. I could tell he did not believe that I had enough knowledge and skill for the job, and I think that I sensed correctly that I could never convince him otherwise. I was crushed.


I don’t know why, but for some strange reason people think that medicine is hard and teaching is easy. But let’s look a little closer at that. A physician usually works with one patient at a time, while a teacher serves 25, 30 or in places like Los Angeles and other large cities, they may be serving 35 or more youngsters simultaneously. Many of these students don’t speak English well. Typically, anywhere from 5-15% will show emotional and/or cognitive disabilities. Most are poor, and many reside in single parent families. There is also another important difference in the motives of patients and students. Most patients seek out their physicians, choosing to be in their office. On the other hand, many students seek to be out-of-class, preferring the streets to classrooms thatcannot engage them, and in which they often are made to feel inadequate.

I always wonder how physicians would fare if 30 or so kids with the kinds of sociological characteristics I just described showed up for medical treatment all at once, and then left 50 minutes later, healed or not!And suppose that chaotic scene was immediately followed by thirty or more different kids, but with similar sociological backgrounds, also in need of personal attention. And they too stayed about 50 minutes, and then they also had to leave. Imagine waves of these patients hitting a physicians’ office five or six times a day!

In addition, teachers are usually away from other adults for long segments of the day, with no one helping them, which makes possession of a strong bladder one of the least recognized attributes of an effective teacher. Physicians, on the other hand, often have a nurse and secretary to do some of the work necessary to allow them to concentrate on the central elements of their one-on-one practice. Andthey actually have time to relieve their bladdersbetween patients, which helps improve their decision making skills!

That so many teachers and schools do so well under the circumstances I just described shows how undervalued the craft of teaching is, and how little respect there is for pedagogical knowledge. In fact, much of the knowledge needed for teaching and for successful medical treatment is clinical knowledge, or tacit knowledge, not easily described, and hard to teach to someone else. That’s why physicians have grand rounds and a lengthy apprenticeship. Their prolonged apprenticeship is what gets them started learning what it means to be a practicing physician—not a competent student of biology, chemistry, and pharmacology. Every clinician (psychologists, physicians, social workers, and teachers alike) knows that book learning can only teach a little slice of what it means to be a success in practice. The recognition of this fact is the quite sensible reason behind the requirement that teachers need to take teaching methods courses such as how to teach mathematics, how to teach phonics and comprehension skills, how science is learned, and so forth. Course work in mathematics, English literature, and science have no more to say about the teaching of mathematics, literature, and physics than books on organic chemistry prepare a physician for their medical practice. Lengthy residencies are needed in medicine to learn to be a physician and extensive student teaching is needed to become a competent teacher. Fields of complexity, with a strong element of art infusing their practice, and with much of their knowledge base tacit, require prolonged time for learning the minimum, and much longer for learning to be competent on a regular basis.

They won’t let me be a brain surgeon because I have none of the tacit knowledge needed to go along with my book knowledge, interest, desire to serve the public, and of course, my superb carving skills. I can accept that. But why the hell would anyone think it’s different in education?

Please—let’s keep untrained but good-hearted people out of classrooms until and unless they get some training in how to do that complex job well. Classroom teaching is hard work, noble work, and in some way, the life and death of our nation in a global economy depends on having competent people doing such work. The physician is literally, rather than figuratively dealing with life and death. This gets them higher status, respect, and remuneration then our teachers get, but it is no more complex work, no more arduous, no more important to our nation, and certainly no more noble!

Let’s be clear: Those who come into teaching from other fields have much to contribute. But not if we count their other experience as equivalent to studying about teaching methods, and not if their other experiences excuse them from anapprenticeship such as student teaching, which most regularly certified teachers have experienced. Regularly certified teachers usually take 12-16 weeks of supervised student teaching. Those coming in to teaching from non- traditional routes, say those whoenter teaching through the program called Teach for America (TFA), experience much less practice. The bright, young, highly motivated, recent college graduates who join TFA, ordinarily have 5 weeks of teaching experience with students who are not likely to be similar to those they actually end up teaching. Listen to Matt Brown one of those bright, committed TFA recruits:

“when I walked in that door to my trailer, I didn’t have a freakin’ clue. I had been a 1st grader teacher for five weeks [the training period] and …I had never taught more than two hours in a day. I didn’t know how to set up a classroom, manage racial tensions, work with co-workers who weren’t thrilled I was there, deal with parents, unit plan…really ANYTHING. I was eaten alive right from the start, and never really found my footing.

….The stresses of the constant failure of my work began to change me in ways I’m not so proud to admit. I started to find myself snapping at my students, punishing them to prove a point, or yelling more and more (in real life, I never yell…and seldom actually get angry). I used to get extremely stressed during certain parts of the day (say, when a troublemaking student would be in my room for an hour), but I gradually began to feel that way during the whole day…and then on my ride to school, and then even when I woke up on a weekday. Some days, I got to school two hours early, only to sit in the parking lot with the music on full blast, and my sunglasses on…so nobody would know I was crying. Other days, I threw up before going to school. Often, a particularly bad event at school could keep me upset for two days straight.1

My former student and colleague, Dr. BarbaraVeltri, provides much more documentation from other first year underprepared teachers, all backing up Matt’s story about the failure of so many TFA recruits in their initial year. That’s why Veltri titled her oft citedbook “Learning on other peoples’ kids.”2 These are the poor, of course, the throw away kids: the kind of kids one learns to teach with. These are the ones on whom lots of mistakes are made, before moving out of the profession or on to schools with easier to teach children. By the way, it’s really no different in medicine. Had I gotten my job as a brain surgeon I am sure that I would have been working on the poorest people, where my “mistakes” would not have mattered as much! Our society does identify “lesser” humans, mostly the poor, and therefore frequentlyracial minorities, where inexperienced physicians andteachers are allowed to develop their skills. Higher rates of mistakes are permitted to be made with poor people, so that lower rates of mistakes will occur when dealing with “people of more substance!”

Perhaps the recognition of their incompetence, and their impotence in dealing with the overwhelming problems of poverty, are what drive many, like Matt (above) to leave the profession before their two-year commitment is up. It is certainly likely that Matt didn’tknow, and his coaches didn’t either because they lacked experience and were not scholars in education, that teachers have been found to make about .7 decisions per minute during interactive teaching!X Another researcher estimated that teachers’ decisions numbered about 1,500 per day.XDecision fatigue, is among the many reasons teachers are tired after what some critics call a short work day, forgetting or ignoring the enormous amount of time needed for preparation, for grading papersand homework, and for filling out bureaucratic formsand attending school meetings.

In fact, it takes about 10 years for teachers to hit their maximum ability to produce the most learningfrom their students.X But about the time the TFA dilatant teachers start to get competent in their job, around their fourth year,

64% of the TFA recruits have left the profession, a much higher rate than among regularly certified teachers.

To be fair, however, the 36% of TFA recruits who stay longer in the field then they originally committed to, are most welcome additions to the profession. But as they gained in competency, they may have hurt a lot of poor children during their apprenticeship by fire!

Lets face it: People who want to practice medicine or education without sufficient training are ignorant, arrogant, or both. And those that would let them do so will only allow them to work with throw-away humans—the flotsam and jetsam found in many urban hospital emergency rooms, and the powerless poor in the impoverished schools of rural America, or in the the same urban neighborhoods as many of our “teaching” hospitals.

In education, we might think of legislators and accrediting bodies that allow untrained personnel to enter classrooms as traitors. Yes, a harshpronouncement, I know, but the term fits. Persons who betray their country, are correctly called traitors. The legislators, accrediting bodies, and chambers-of-commerce that endorse putting untrained or minimally trained teachers before poor children are hurting America, betraying the principles that Jefferson explicated 200 years ago. Jefferson, a slave-holder and not nearly as democratic as we might have wanted one of our founding fathers to be, did help to persuade his fellow founders of the nation that the poor have talent in equal degree as do the rich. Thus,the poor deserved the same education as the rich, in order to cultivate those talents, so they can be used in service of the nation. He believed that the best way to preserve an ever-fragile democracy was a system of free public schooling. Those who would allow unqualified teachers to enter the classrooms of the poor are traitors to Jeffersonian principles.

So for me, advocates of an “open market” in teacher certification are deliberately hurting America, and that, to me, is a traitorous act, especially since the research shows that teaching credentials do matter, and do actually lead to higher student achievement3. On top of that, most advocates for a free market in credentialing would never allow their own children to have an untrained novice, or an inadequately trained teacher, nor would they allow their children to attend schools that rely heavily on such teachers. The hypocrisy and traitorous actions of legislators, business leaders, and policy analysts whoadvocate allowing anyone to teach in a school that would have them as teachers, ensures that social class social membership will remain as it is—difficult to modify. Moreover, the children most likely to be assigned teachers who have little, or no training, are children of color. So, on top of all my other charges, we might want to raise the issue of racism with the advocates of little or no credentialing for teachers. Traitors? Preservationists of the class structure? Racists? Wow! This is tough language for describing some of America’s most noted politicians, business people, and columnists. But until they put their own children in classes whose teachers are inadequately trained, I think it is fair to charge them with deliberately harming our nation. I’ll apologize to these anti-teacher-credentialing group when they let me operate on their family either as a teacher to their children, or as a surgeon on their brain!


1. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from: ​

2. Veltri, B. (2010). Learning on other peoples kids. Charlotte, NC: Infromation Age Publishing.

3. Clotfelter, C. T., Ladd, H. F., & Vigdor, J. L. (2010).Teacher Credentials and Student Achievement in High School: A Cross-Subject Analysis with Student Fixed Effects. Journal of Human Resources 45 (3), 655-681. 

4. D-H.

5. *Researchers Hilda Borko and Richard Shavelson summarized studies that reported decisions perminute during interactive teaching.

6. *Researcher Philip Jackson (p. 149) said that elementary teachers have 200 to 300 exchanges with students every hour (between 1200-1500 a day), most of which are unplanned and unpredictable calling for teacher decisions, if not judgments.


Historian Heather Cox Richardson pulls together the latest news about the continuing assault on our democracy. When the news first broke about the FBI call on Mar-A-Lago in search of sensitive documents, Republicans responded with rage, calling the FBI a Gestapo and assailing the raid as a partisan effort to smear Trump. Now that the Department of Justice has released the search warrant and the list of documents it retrieved, the furor has calmed a bit but not much. Leading Republicans continue to defend Trump, to say that he had declassified the documents he stored in his resort home, and that he had the unlimited power to declassify whatever he wanted. We will learn more as time goes by, but what puzzles me most is why Trump took any sensitive documents to his home. Why did he want them? He was famous for ignoring briefings about intelligence and security. What could he do with the documents?

Richardson writes:

Today, President Joe Biden congratulated the people of India on their 75th anniversary of independence, calling out the relationship between “our great democracies” and “our shared commitment to the rule of law and the promotion of human freedom and dignity.” 

Yesterday, he lamented the recent knife attack on writer Salman Rushdie, calling out Rushdie’s “insight into humanity,…his unmatched sense for story,…his refusal to be intimidated or silenced,” and his support “for essential, universal ideals. Truth. Courage. Resilience. The ability to share ideas without fear. These are the building blocks of any free and open society. And today, we reaffirm our commitment to those deeply American values in solidarity with Rushdie and all those who stand for freedom of expression.”   

But the news today is full not of the defense of democracy, but of those trying to overthrow it. 

Emma Brown, Jon Swaine, Aaron C. Davis, and Amy Gardner of the Washington Postbroke the story that after the 2020 election, as part of the effort to overturn the results, Trump’s lawyers paid computer experts to copy data from election systems in Georgia. The breach was successful and significant, although authorities maintain the machines can be secured before the next election. Led by Trump ally Sidney Powell, the group also sought security data from Michigan and Nevada, although the extent of the breaches there is unclear. They also appear to have worked on getting information from Arizona.

Georgia prosecutors have told Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani that he is a target in the criminal investigation of the attempt to alter the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, letting him know it is possible he will be indicted.  

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has tried to quash a subpoena requiring his testimony before a Fulton County grand jury investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia, but today a federal judge, U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May, said he must testify. She said that “the District Attorney’s office has shown ‘extraordinary circumstances and a special need for Senator Graham’s testimony on issues relating to alleged attempts to influence or disrupt the lawful administration of Georgia’s 2020 elections.’”

And yet, the Big Lie that Trump won the 2020 election is still spreading. Amy Gardner in the Washington Post reports that 54 out of 87 Republican nominees in the states that were battlegrounds in 2020 are election deniers. Had they held power in 2020, they could have overturned the votes for Biden and given the election to Trump. In the 41 states that have already winnowed their candidates, more than half the Republicans—250 candidates in 469 contests—claim to believe the lie that Trump won in 2020.

In the issue of Trump’s theft of classified documents from the National Archives and Records Administration when he left office, over the weekend, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush reported in the New York Times that last June, one of Trump’s lawyers signed a statement saying that all classified documents that had made it to Mar-a-Lago had been given back to the National Archives and Records Administration. But, of course, the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago last Monday revealed that assertion to be incorrect. 

The statement was made after Jay I. Bratt, the Justice Department’s top counterintelligence officer, visited Mar-a-Lago on June 3. The House and Senate intelligence committees have asked Director of National Intelligence Avril D. Haines to provide the committees with a damage assessment of how badly Trump’s retention of top secret classified documents in an insecure location has damaged national security.

Today, the Department of Justice has asked a judge not to unseal the affidavit behind the search warrant for Mar-a-Lago, saying that it “implicates highly classified materials,” and that disclosing the affidavit right now would “cause significant and irreparable damage to this ongoing criminal investigation.” CNN, the Washington Post,NBC News, and Scripps all asked the judge to unseal all documents related to the Mar-a-Lago search. But, “[i]f disclosed,” the Justice Department wrote, “the affidavit would serve as a roadmap to the government’s ongoing investigation, providing specific details about its direction and likely course, in a manner that is highly likely to compromise future investigative steps.” 

Legal analyst and Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe commented: “This suggests [the Department of Justice] wasn’t just repatriating top secret doc[ument]s to get them out of Trump’s unsafe clutches but is pursuing a path looking toward criminal indictment.”


Neal Katyal @neal_katyalDOJ is appropriately resisting disclosure of the Mar A Lago search affidavit because it will compromise their ongoing investigation. This is very standard and right. That said, what they said — especially about witnesses — will invariably drive Trump to be even more worried August 15th 20222,266 Retweets9,400 Likes

Laurence Tribe @tribelawThis suggests DOJ wasn’t just repatriating top secret docs to get them out of Trump’s unsafe clutches but is pursuing a path looking toward criminal indictment MacFarlane @MacFarlaneNewsALERT: Justice Dept asks court to keep Mar-a-lago search warrant affidavit UNDER SEAL. “Disclosure at this juncture of the affidavit supporting probable cause would, by contrast, cause significant and irreparable damage to this ongoing criminal investigation”August 15th 20221,161 Retweets4,709 Likes

The New York Post reported that Donald Trump’s first wife Ivana, the mother of Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka, is buried on the grounds of Trump’s Bedminster Golf Course in New Jersey, near the first tee. That’s where Trump hosted the LIV golf tournament sponsored by the Saudi Royal family.

Prominent golfers like Phil Mickelson were paid huge sums—in his case, $100 million—to play in the LIV tournament. Tiger Woods reportedly turned down an offer of nearly $1 billion. Golfers who play for LIV won’t be allowed to play in PGA tournaments.

The burial of Ivana is somewhat mysterious because her remains were removed from the church in a gold casket but later cremated. Why did her ex-husband choose her final resting place? Or did her children choose to place her ashes on their father’s favorite golf course?

David Farenthold of the Washington Post wrote an investigative report in 2017 about Trump’s efforts to turn his golf course into a cemetery. Trump submitted different plans to local and state authorities. One sought permission to turn a portion of the site into a cemetery for 1,000 plots. Another for 284 plots. Another sought permission for ten plots, making it a private burial site for Trump’s immediate family.

Farenthold wrote:

The two latest cemetery plans have now both been approved by local officials. But construction has not begun on either one. The question of how to proceed — or whether to proceed — is now left to Trump’s sons Eric and Donald Jr., who have taken day-to-day control of the Trump Organization.
Both Eric Trump and a Trump Organization spokeswoman declined to comment about what they planned to do.

President Trump already has a family burial plot: His parents and his brother Fred are buried together at All Faiths Cemetery in Queens.
So it was a surprise, back in 2007, when Trump announced he wanted a mausoleum for himself in New Jersey.

“It’s never something you like to think about, but it makes sense,” Trump told the New York Post. He was 60 years old at the time. “This is such beautiful land, and Bedminster is one of the richest places in the country.”

The plan was big: 19 feet high. Stone. Obelisks. Set smack in the middle of the golf course. In Bedminster — a wealthy horse-country town 43 miles west of New York City — officials had some concerns about hosting a reality TV star’s tomb. The huge structure would seem garish, out of place. And there were ongoing worries that the spot might become an “attractive nuisance,” tempting curiosity-seekers to trespass on club grounds…

It could also be a festive wedding . . . tomb.
“We’re planning a mausoleum/chapel,” Trump said, according to a news report from the time.
That didn’t do it.

“Give me a break. Give me a break,” Holtaway, the town official, remembered thinking. “Why would anyone ever get married in a building with no windows?”

Trump withdrew the plan to be buried in New Jersey. But five years later, he was back with another one. Now, the mausoleum was out — but, instead, he had a plan to build a large cemetery with more than 1,000 graves, including one for him.

The idea, apparently, was that Trump’s golf-club members would buy the other plots, seizing the chance at eternal membership.

“It’s one thing to be buried in a typical cemetery,” said Ed Russo, a consultant who represented Trump here. “But it’s another if you’re buried alongside the fifth fairway of Trump National.”

The town was, again, skeptical. So Trump whittled it down to just 10 graves, enough for himself and his family members.

Which family members, exactly?

“Only the good Trumps,” Russo said, according to a video of the town land-use board. He did not elaborate.

The town approved.

The state approved, granting a cemetery license in late 2014.

Then Trump changed his mind.

Russo told the town that Trump might want to be buried somewhere in Florida, after all. Trump lived part time at his Mar-a-Lago Club before his election. (And, now, after the election as well.)
Then, with approval for the small cemetery in hand, Trump came back with a new plan, for a bigger cemetery. This time, the plan was for 284 graves. The cemetery would be run by a nonprofit organization, and Trump’s golf course would handle maintenance, grass-cutting and grave-digging.

This plan, on the surface, made little sense.
For one thing, it would be a very poor way to make money.

The cemetery business is bad in New Jersey, because the land is expensive, plots sell for cheap and cremation is stealing their customers.
You need volume to succeed. And the volume at Trump’s cemetery would be very low.

Trump’s cemetery — with people selected by a kind of membership committee — would handle just one to two burials per year, officials said. Cemetery plots in New Jersey cost, at most, a few thousand dollars each. The money, such as it was, would go to the nonprofit company.

But maybe the point wasn’t to make money. Could this whole thing have been a scheme to reduce the Trump Organization’s real estate taxes? After all, nonprofit cemeteries pay no taxes on their land.
That’s possible, experts said.

But, in this case, the savings would hardly be worth the trouble. That’s because Trump had already found a way to lower his taxes on that wooded, largely unused parcel. He had persuaded the township to declare it a farm, because some trees on the site are turned into mulch. Because of pro-farmer tax policies, Trump’s company pays just $16.31 per year in taxes on the parcel, which he bought for $461,000.

“It’s always been my suspicion that there’s something we don’t know” about the explanation behind the seemingly inexplicable cemetery plan, said Bedminster land-use board member Nick Strakhov. So why were they doing it?…

The land use board approved unanimously, after some inconclusive quizzing (Strakhov had to be absent and didn’t vote).

Now, the Trump Organization still needs to apply for state approval for this larger, public cemetery.
And it still needs to settle the larger question: Does President Trump still want to be buried in New Jersey? Other presidents have chosen to be buried at their presidential libraries. Trump, like any president, also has the option of Arlington National Cemetery.

That was five years ago.

Now Ivana’s remains are buried near the first tee.


Dana Milbank thinks he has found the reason. Trump doesn’t do anything without a financial motive.

In his forced (and, he hopes, temporary) retirement, defeated former president Donald Trump has come up with a new undertaking. He’s undertaking.

Technically, his Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., is now acting as a “cemetery company.” (Suggested slogan: “People are dying to get into Bedminster!”) And he has already landed his first occupant: He just buried his late ex-wife, Ivana Trump, right near the first tee.

The former president has shown little interest in conventional post-presidency pursuits, such as building a presidential library; he’s not much for reading, and he’s trying to hide his presidential papers, not display them. But why would he bury himself in, of all things, the interment trade?

Simple: He has seemingly turned his late ex-wife (and his oldest kids have turned their late mother) into a tax dodge. Dartmouth professor Brooke Harrington, a specialist in tax optimization, checked the New Jersey tax code and reported that operating a cemetery at the Trump National offers “a trifecta of tax avoidance. Property, income & sales tax, all eliminated.” She tweeted that it “looks like one corpse will suffice to make at least 3 forms of tax vanish.”

The Lincoln Project draws a historical parallel.

Watch it and worry.

Jewish leaders, both in synagogues and in public life, are taking a prominent role in opposing the abortion restrictions imposed by Governor DeSantis and the Republican-dominated legislature. Soon after Roe v. Wade was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, a synagogue filed a lawsuit claiming that the state’s abortion restrictions violated their religious liberties. Now, DeSantis has suspended Andrew Warren, the Hillsborough County attorney, for saying that he would not enforce the abortion laws; Warren is Jewish.

The purpose of the First Amendment—which protects freedom of religion and forbids an “establishment” of religion—is to ensure that every American may practice his or her own faith (or none at all), and that no faith may use government to impose its beliefs on others.

Unfortunately, the current Trumpist Supreme Court takes the position that freedom of religion may be wielded to enable some to impose their views on others. The abortion issue is an example of that: Catholics, evangelical Christians, and fundamentalists of other religion oppose abortion. The Supreme Court’s recent decision overturning Roe V Wade imposes the religious views of these groups on others who don’t share their views.

A just resolution would be to allow every woman to make decisions with her doctor. Those who oppose abortion should not have one. Those who disagree should follow their doctors’ advice.

In Florida, Jewish groups have actively fought for their beliefs, which are violated by the Dobbs decision.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ratcheted up the fight over the state’s looming 15-week abortion ban Thursday when he suspended a Tampa-area state attorney who had vowed not to prosecute violations.

The move also vaulted yet another Jewish figure into the fight’s foreground.

Andrew Warren, the state attorney for Hillsborough County, had joined more than 90 other attorneys nationwide in pledging not to prosecute individuals who seek or provide abortions in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that had guaranteed abortion rights.

“Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice,” the letter said. “Prosecutors should not be part of that.”

Warren, who has said that his Jewish identity has shaped his government career, joins other Florida Jews in prominent positions in the fight to protect access to abortion: A South Florida synagogue making a religious freedom argument spearheaded the first lawsuit filed against Florida’s abortion ban, and a Jewish political activist who came to prominence by protesting against DeSantis’ pandemic rules has signed on to represent the congregation.

DeSantis is betting that his alienation of Florida’s large Jewish population and its large LGBT population will be overcome by courting evangelicals, Catholics, and rednecks.

Perhaps you thought the voucher fight was over in Arizona in 2018 when voters rejected vouchers by a decisive margin of 65-35%.

But no, the clear and overwhelming decision of the state’s voters did not deter the Christofascists who are determined to destroy public schools by transferring funding away from them to any form of non public schooling, be it religious, private, homeschooling or a business run by a fraudster.

Governor Doug Ducey signed a law creating a universal voucher plan on July 6. The new law will subtract $1 billion from the state’s public schools.

SOS Arizona is once again leading the fight against universal vouchers, led by Governor Ducey and championed by the Republican legislators. The dark money behind the voucher campaign comes from the usual suspects: the Koch machine and the Betsy DeVos combine.

If Save Our Schools Arizona and its supporters can secure 118,823 valid signatures before September 24, the voucher expansion law will be placed on hold until November 2024, when voters get a chance to express their views, as they did in 2018.

The stakes could not be higher – this is a referendum to decide the future of education in Arizona and across the nation.

You can see more about the SOS Arizona signature drive here:

Beth Lewis, the director of SOS Arizona, wrote to provide the context for the battle over vouchers:

Universal voucher expansion is the KEY issue driving right-wing politics in the US, and hardly anyone is talking about the well-moneyed, dangerous forces driving it. The AZ legislature’s myopic focus on pushing private school voucher expansion over any other piece of legislation for the past 6 years is enough to tell us that — not to mention the massive focus FOX News has placed on vouchers since the bill’s passage here in Arizona. Recently, Christopher Rufo admitted he created the CRT furor in order to advance universal vouchers.

We desperately need folks to plug in – people all over the state can get petitions at our hubs: or sign up to volunteer:

As you know, we are truly the tip of the spear when it comes to privatization. Betsy DeVos’ American Federation for Children is mobilizing (somewhat ineffectively) against our efforts, and the battle lines are drawn. It is evident that universal voucher expansion will become a pattern across the US, as Republican Governors are all declaring that every red state should adopt this policy. We have seen the dangers of private school vouchers first-hand here in Arizona, and our public school system has been starved in order to give credence to those who wish to privatize our public education system.

Charlie Kirk is partnering with an incredibly rightwing Evangelical church (Dream City Church) to open Turning Point Academies across Arizona. Here is the June article from Newsweek describing their plans to proliferate campuses across AZ and then the nation. It is no coincidence this plan was announced the same month the AZ state legislature passed universal vouchers.

Kirk recently spoke at Freedom Night hosted by Dream City Church, and this expose in the AZ Republic shows the hateful ideology against LGBTQ and trans youth Kirk and the Church spread. It’s terrifying – and infuriating to think this is where our taxpayer dollars are headed.

It is abundantly clear that special interests who favor extremist Christian Nationalism are driving the bus on these issues – and it makes sense. Private school vouchers are the perfect solution for building a long-term, endlessly replenishing base of voters who also favor Christian Nationalism.

We only have 42 more days to collect the signatures to put this bill on the 2024 ballot. We expect massive legal battles, as dark money will pour in and the usual suspects will challenge every signature. We are confident we will push back successfully and get the measure on the ballot – we must, as goes Arizona, so goes the nation.

You can help these fearless, intrepid volunteers by sending a contribution to:

Ryan Grim wrote this post before the final passage of the mini-Build Back Better Bill. But the point is still on target. The bill is good because it’s the best we can hope for in a Senate where Democrats have only 50 votes, and two of those votes are precarious. In a perfect world, the Democrats would have 62 votes in the Senate and could pass a perfect bill. But we don’t live in a perfect world. The Republicans are unanimously opposed to any legislation to address climate change or to curb the costs of health care. This, for now, is the best that can be done. Do not scoff at half-measures. They are way better than nothing, and the Republicans strongly prefer nothing. They want to go into the mid-terms with a battered Biden presidency that accomplished nothing. They are not thinking of the people they claim to represent. Biden needed this victory, but so do the American people. Think of it as a first step.

Mayor Eric Adams proposed budget cuts to the city’s public schools, and his chancellor David Banks tried to do an end-run around the city’s Panel on Education Policy (the Board of Education) by declaring an “emergency.” Two parents and two teachers sued to block the budget cuts, based on the flawed process, and won in court.

A Manhattan judge ruled Friday to throw out the New York City education department’s budget and allow the City Council and Mayor Eric Adams to reconsider how to fund schools this year. 

Judge Lyle Frank ruled in favor of two teachers and two parents who filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court last month, claiming that the city violated state law when it approved the education department’s budget for this fiscal year.

The extraordinary ruling means that until the City Council revisits the budget, New York City must fund schools at the same levels it did last fiscal year. The city plans to appeal.

Like several of his predecessors, Schools Chancellor David Banks had used an “emergency declaration” to circumvent a vote on it by the Panel for Education Policy, a largely mayoral appointed board that approves spending and contracts.

Principals have been busy laying off staff in anticipation of the cuts. Now those layoffs are on hold.

Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters (and a member of the board of the Network for Public Education) has been deeply involved in fighting the budget cuts.