Archives for category: Education Reform

Andy Beshear was elected Governor of Kentucky in 2019 against Matt Bevin, a hard-right Republican who supported charters and vouchers and fought to reorganize teachers’ pension fund. Beshear, who was State Attorney General, successfully blocked Bevin’s efforts to harm teachers’ pensions.

Andy Beshear is the son of a Kentucky Governor, Steve Beshear (Governor from 2007-2015), and a graduate of Henry Clay High School in Lexington. Andy ran on a program championing public schools. He chose a teacher, Jacqueline Coleman, as his running mate.

Beshear narrowly beat Bevin, and he and Coleman are the only elected Democrats at the state level (remember, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul are Kentucky’s Senators).

He is running for re-election this year. He leads the polls over all his GOP competitors. His favorability rating is about 60%.

Last year, the legislature passed a bill to authorize charter schools. Governor Beshear vetoed it.

Please listen to his message when he vetoed it.

This is how Democrats win election. By speaking to the 85-90% of people whose children are in public schools and to the 90% who graduated public schools. They want better schools. They like their schools and their teachers. Andy Beshear knows it.

Over the past few days, I have received a number of hostile tweets, comments on my blog, and Instagram comments, accusing me of hypocrisy because I support public schools but sent my own sons (now ages 60 and 55) to private school. I am touched, even baffled, that anyone is upset by decisions that I made half a century ago.

It was easy to see who inspired these denunciations of me: Christina Pushaw, who is one of Ron DeSantis’ closest aides, and Chris Rufo, the man who led the phony crusade against critical race theory. They seem to think they unearthed a dark secret. That’s absurd. I’m guessing that Governor DeSantis doesn’t like what I write about him in my posts and tweets. I’m flattered.

The question of where my middle-aged sons went to schools is a nothing-burger. For the past decade, my blog bio has said that my two sons went to private school.

Pushaw and Rufo were outraged that I tweeted during “school choice week”:

“The best choice is your local public school. It welcomes everyone. It unifies community. It is the glue of democracy.”

They tweeted their “discovery” that my sons went to private school. The outrage of these two prominent right wingers generated two articles attacking me as a hypocrite.

One appeared on a news site called, titled:

“Who is Diane Ravitch? ‘Hypocrite’ NYU prof who sent her children to private school urges parents to pick public schools”

The article quotes Pushaw’s tweets, as well as tweets from others responding indignantly to my alleged hypocrisy.

The Daily Mail in the U.K. published an unintentionally hilarious article with this title:

“NYU education professor tells parents to send their kids to public school – before being forced to admit she send hers to private schools

It was never a secret that my sons went to private school. I was never “forced to admit” that fact.

Why did I send them to a private school?

After college, I married a New Yorker in 1960 whose family had a long tradition of attending private schools. My husband enrolled in the private Lincoln School in 1936! Like him, our sons went to private schools. When I started my career as a writer, I was conservative. I wrote articles in publications like The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, and The Public Interest. I opposed affirmative action, identity politics, and the Equal Rights Amendment. I believed, like Governor DeSantis, that the law should be colorblind.

However, I was never a racist. I was never contemptuous of public schools, because I had graduated from them and was grateful for the education and teachers I had, and the opportunities they opened for me.

In 1975, I earned a Ph.D. In the history of American Education from Columbia University. I was an adjunct professor at Teachers College from 1976 to 1991, when I left to work in the first Bush administration as Assistant Secretary of Education for Research and serve as Counselor to Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander.

After my stint in the Bush administration, I rejoined the board of the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and was invited to be a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute (which now employs Chris Rufo) and at the Hoover Institution. All three are very conservative and support school choice, as did I. I even went to Albany on behalf of the Manhattan Institute and testified on behalf of charter legislation in 1998.

When I came back to New York City, Teachers College asked me not to return because of my conservative views. I was hired as an adjunct at New York University, where I was a faculty member from 1995 to 2020, when I retired.

In 2007, after a long and deep immersion in the conservative education world, I began to change my views. I began to realize, based on frank conversations within the conservative think tanks, that charters were no better and possibly worse than public schools unless they cherrypicked their students; that clever entrepreneurs and grifters were using some of them to make millions; that voucher schools were usually ineffective, had uncertified staff, and did not save poor kids; that standardized tests are not valid measures of learning; that the emphasis on tests was actually ruining education by narrowing the curriculum and encouraging teaching to the tests.

The more I reflected on the poor outcomes of conservative policies, the more I doubted the ideas I had long espoused. In 2008, I began writing a book in which I renounced my conservative views. I rejected high-stakes testing, school choice, merit pay, evaluating teachers by their students’ test scores, and the entire corporatist school “reform” agenda.

The book—The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education (Basic Books)—was published in 2010, and it became a national bestseller. My change of mind and change of heart were widely reported in the national media.

Today, I am no longer a conservative. I support equal opportunity and equal justice for all Americans. I am sensitive, as I always have been, to the unjust and inhumane treatment that Black Americans have suffered. I endorse critical race theory, because it is a way of studying and evaluating why racism persists in our society and devising ways to eliminate it. Racism and other forms of hatred are a cancer in our society, and we must end them.

And so, Ms. Pushaw and Mr. Rufo, I hope I have answered your question. I enrolled my youngest child in a private school in 1965 and my second child in 1970 because I was a conservative. A lot happened to me in the years between 1965 and 2023, more than I can put into a tweet. I hope you understand why today I am a passionate advocate for public schools and an equally passionate opponent of public funding for private choices.

From my life experiences and many years as a scholar of education, I have concluded that the public school teaches democracy in a “who sits beside you” way; it teaches students to live and work with others who are different from them. The public school, I realized, is the foundation stone of our diverse society. It deserves public support and funding.

I wrote today’s 9 a.m. post about the College Board capitulating to conservative critics. I wrote it without seeing the revised curriculum because I was in an airplane all day. Late last night, I opened an email and discovered that Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times had written a similar but more informative column, because he was able to do the comparison that I had not done. He pointed out that the rightwing attacks on the AP African American Studies course began in September, and the very names and topics that the right and DeSantis had condemned were either excised or made optional in the revised course.

He wrote:

One might have expected a leading national educational institution to have the gumption to push back against right-wingers like Florida Gov. RonDeSantis when they try to stick their noses into decisions about how to teach important subjects.

Sadly, no.

On Wednesday, the College Board issued its final curriculum for what should have been a ground-breaking high school course in African American studies. The College Board called the course “an unflinching encounter with the facts and evidence of African American history and culture.”

The final curriculum appears suspiciously to have been tailored to objections raised by DeSantis, Florida’s culture warrior Republican governor, and other right-wingers, after the board issued a draft version in December.

DeSantis, through his secretary of Education, called the draft “inexplicably contrary to Florida law” and forbade its use in Florida schools. The state’s education secretary, Manny Diaz Jr., attacked it for being “filled with Critical Race Theory and other obvious violations of Florida law.”

The arch-conservative National Review labeled the course part of “a new and sweeping effort to infuse leftist radicalism into America’s K–12 curriculum.”

The curriculum is part of College Board’s Advanced Placement program, which gives college-bound high schoolers exposure to university-level coursework.

The board says AP courses are “aimed at enabling students to develop as independent thinkers and to draw their own conclusions.”

To be fair, the board’s actions related to the African American Studies course are as good a workshop in allowing students to draw their own conclusions as one might hope. Any reasonably bright AP student is likely to see this affair as a demonstration of abject cowardice.

Disgustingly, the College Board released the final curriculum on the first day of Black History Month, as though trawling for praise for its unflinching devotion to truth. The board took pains to deny that the alterations in the draft curriculum had anything to do with criticism from DeSantis, the National Review or the right wing generally.

“No states or districts have seen the official framework that is released, much less provided feedback on it,” the board said. “This course has been shaped only by the input of experts and long-standing AP principles and practices.”

Raise your hand if you believe the College Board. Me neither.

The board said the final version had been completed in December. DeSantis issued his rejection of the course on Jan. 19. But criticism of the course outline had been circulating in conservative quarters for months — the National Review’s attack, for instance, was published on Sept. 12.

A preliminary, unflinching examination of the differences between the draft and the final version can only raise suspicions that the College Board refashioned the African American studies course to assuage the conservatives.

State Senator Manny Diaz Jr. posted a tweet on January 20 listing the state’s concerns about the AP course.

As a template, let’s use the list of “concerns” issued by Diaz on Jan. 20.

Diaz complained about the inclusion in the draft curriculum of writers and social activists Kimberlé Crenshaw, Angela Davis, Roderick Ferguson, Leslie Kay Jones, bell hooks , and Robin D.G. Kelley. Every single one of them has been excised from the final version.

Diaz’s list objected to the treatment, or even inclusion, of topics including the reparation debate, movements such as Black Lives Matter, Black Queer studies and “intersectionality,” which places racism and discrimination in a broadly social context.

Those topics have all been downgraded from required topics to “sample project topics” — that is, optional topics that fall outside requirements and won’t appear on the AP test. Those topics, the curriculum says, “can be refined by states and districts.”

Here’s a safe bet: None of them will be taught in Florida schools.

DeSantis has made no secret of his determination to turn Florida education into a shallow pool redolent of white supremacy by avoiding any hint that American society and politics have been infused with racism and class discrimination.

The shame of the College Board’s rewriting of its AP course is that it effectively places DeSantis and his henchmen in the position of dictating educational standards to the rest of the country.

There was scant political pushback against DeSantis when he rejected the draft curriculum, other than a letter from Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, a Democrat, warning the College Board that his state would “reject any curriculum modifications designed to appease extremists like the Florida Governor and his allies.”

Pritzker observed, properly, that “ignoring and censoring the accurate reporting of history will not change the realities of the country in which we live.” (Like DeSantis, Pritzker is being talked up as a potential presidential candidate in 2024.)

Now that the final curriculum has been published and its dilutions can be closely scrutinized, perhaps the scope of the College Board’s capitulation will become clearer.

But the College Board has already flunked this all-important test of character. As we’ve noted before, acts of cowardice in the face of DeSantis’ goonish bullying won’t appease him, but will only encourage him.

As he works to destroy the independence and quality of the Florida K-12 and university systems, parents elsewhere around the country can take perverse satisfaction in knowing that students will emerge from Florida schools without the skill to compete with their own kids in intelligent society.

But if institutions like the College Board continue to let DeSantis transmit his virus of ignorance beyond Florida’s borders, no one will be safe from the contagion.

The editorial board of the Idaho Statesman—the largest newspaper in the state— published the following statement about the rush to enact vouchers in Idaho. In doing so, it confirms the suspicion that the sudden deluge of voucher bills in red states is the result of cut-and-paste model legislation written by ALEC, the corporate-funded bill-mill of the far right.

The Idaho Senate Education Committee on Tuesday agreed to print a bill that would bring school vouchers to Idaho.

Idaho Sen. Tammy Nichols, R-Middleton, introduced the bill, the “Freedom In Education Savings Accounts,” which would allow Idaho families to collect taxpayer dollars to use for private school tuition.

It’s cut-and-paste legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council.

If approved, Idaho wouldn’t be the first state to have vouchers. Other states, such as Wisconsin, Indiana and Arizona, have had vouchers for several years. Utah legislators are considering a school voucher system.

“This legislation has been modeled after Arizona, with 10 years of experience and is considered the gold standard being used by most other states,” Nichols said in introducing her bill.

So let’s take a look at Arizona’s experience to see what’s in store for Idaho if this bill becomes law.

In November, the Grand Canyon Institute analyzed the zip code distribution of applications for Arizona’s new universal Empowerment Scholarship Account voucher program. The centrist think tank found:

High-income zip codes are overrepresented in voucher applications, and low-income zip codes are underrepresented. While only 11% of Arizona’s students live in zip codes with median incomes of more than $100,000, those students made up nearly 20% of the voucher applicants. Meanwhile, more than half of Arizona’s students live in zip codes with median incomes less than $60,000, but those students made up only 32% of the applicants.

Nearly half (45%) of the applicants came from the wealthiest quarter of students in the state, living in zip codes where the median household income is $80,000 or more.

80% of the applicants were not in public school, meaning these students were already attending private schools, being home schooled or are just entering schooling — not being “rescued” from a “failing” school.

Only 3.5% of all applicants came from zip codes that qualified for the earlier version of school vouchers that sought to help kids living in failing districts.

Arizona is unable to measure academic impacts of the voucher program because there were no accountability measures in the legislation.

A school voucher is worth $7,000, but the average private school tuition is over $10,000.

Private schools can accept or reject students as they choose.

Total private school subsidies in Arizona have now reached $600 million.

Indiana has had similar concerning results with its expanded voucher program. Since Indiana expanded its voucher program in 2011, most vouchers simply have gone to students already enrolled, according to Chris Lagoni, executive director of the Indiana Small and Rural Schools Association. Of the 44,376 students enrolled in private schools and using vouchers in Indiana, only 421 of those students had moved from a failing public school, putting a big hole in the argument that vouchers are there to “save” children from terrible schools.

Like Arizona, the cost of Indiana’s school voucher program has grown considerably, from a modest $20 million in 2011 to more than $300 million today.

And even though Indiana’s education budget has grown to $8.2 billion, per pupil funding for students in public schools is still below pre-recession levels.

Interesting to note that some of the reasons Nichols cited for the need for school vouchers are inflicted by far-right legislators like Nichols: “declining test scores, overcrowding, students not meeting grade-level benchmarks, bullying, teacher wages, staffing shortages, curriculum issues, indoctrination, and the list goes on,” she said. At least three of those reasons — overcrowding, teacher wages and staffing shortages — are direct results of underfunding public education, and perhaps more students would meet grade-level benchmarks, such as third-grade reading, if Nichols hadn’t led the charge to kill a $6 million early childhood literacy grant two years ago.

If school voucher advocates are not willing to discuss the negative impacts of school vouchers or come up with solutions to avoid these problems, then we know that this is not a serious proposal, rather an exercise in ideological pandering. Idaho is doomed to make the same mistakes other states have made if the Republican supermajority rams through vouchers.

Statesman editorials are the unsigned opinion of the Idaho Statesman’s editorial board. Board members are opinion editor Scott McIntosh, opinion writer Bryan Clark, editor Chadd Cripe, newsroom editors Dana Oland and Jim Keyser and community member Maryanne Jordan.

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Libby Stanford of Education Week reports on the sudden explosion of voucher legislation in Republican-controlled states. She quotes a spokesman for the Heritage Foundation, who says that school choice is expanding because of parent dissatisfaction with public schools.

But this acceleration is not a consequence of parental dissatisfaction, as the spokesman claims. It is the result of a well-organized, well-orchestrated, lavishly-funded campaign to defame public schools, led by the religious right and such organizations as the Koch network, the Heritage Foundation, The American Legislative Exchange Council, Betsy DeVos’ American Federation for Children, and the front groups they fund, such as Moms for Liberty and Parents Defending Freedom. ALEC undoubtedly prepared model legislation and handed it out to their far-right allies in state legislatures.

None of these funders or their puppet groups are mentioned in the article. It is no accident that multiple red states are debating bills to enact vouchers for private and religious groups or that 75-80% of the voucher funding in every state will end up in the bank accounts of families whose children never attended public schools. The legislation should be characterized as a handout to families whose children never attended public school.

It doesn’t take much digging to understand that the crusade against “critical race theory” (which is taught in graduate classes in law and education, not in K-12), against any mention of homosexuality, against “dangerous” books in school libraries, against fictional children who need litter boxes in the classroom because they think they are cats or dogs—is absurd propaganda designed to discredit public schools and pave the way for public funding of religious schools, which freely discriminate against students and families and openly indoctrinate their students into their dogma.

Instead of identifying the Heritage Foundation as a major player in the war to destroy public education, Stanford quotes its spokesman, who spouts the line that school choice is the result of parent dissatisfaction. What she does not mention is that voucher supporters maneuver to avoid public referenda because they know the public is opposed to vouchers. Right wingers go to great lengths to avoid the word “vouchers” and to quash referenda, because they are afraid of the voters.

Students and teachers from East High School in Salt Lake City walk out of school to protest the HB15 voucher bill, on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. Several years of pandemic restrictions and curriculum battles have emboldened longtime advocates of funneling public funds to private and religious schools in statehouses throughout the country.

Students and teachers from East High School in Salt Lake City walk out of school on Jan. 25, 2023, to protest legislation that would create private-school vouchers in the state. Several years of pandemic restrictions and curriculum battles have emboldened longtime advocates of funneling public funds to private and religious schools in statehouses throughout the country.

Rick Egan/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP

Stanford begins:

Emboldened by frustrations with pandemic-era policies and battles over what schools are teaching, conservative parents and politicians have accelerated a push for school choice policies that would funnel public funds into private schools.

Though school choice has been debated for decades, the movement is in a unique moment as advocates use parent concerns over COVID-era mask requirements; curriculum addressing race, gender, and sexuality; and library book content to bolster their argument that families should have more options outside of traditional public schools. And the school choice proposals states are considering—and, in some cases, have already passed—are more sweeping than previous iterations.

Already this year, lawmakers in at least 11 states—Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Virginia—have introduced and, in some cases, passed school choice bills. Although they vary in scope, many of the bills would establish or expand private school voucher and education savings account programs that give families public funds to pay for tuition at private schools, cover the costs of homeschooling, or pay for other schooling expenses.

The resurgence of school choice action shouldn’t come as a surprise. During the 2022 midterm election cycle, 19 Republican gubernatorial candidates advocated for school choice, mostly in the form of vouchers and education savings accounts, on campaign websites. This year, seven governors so far have talked about school choice policies in their state of the state addresses, according to the Education Commission of the States.

The policies are a result of parents’ declining satisfaction with schools following the pandemic, said Jonathan Butcher, an education policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that advocates for school choice policies.

Jan Resseger understands that legislators don’t know what teachers do all day. This ignorance enables them to echo outlandish insults about teachers and to write laws to solve non-existent problems. Legislators need to spend time in their local public schools to inform themselves and dispel the myths.

She writes:

Political attacks on teachers seem to be everywhere. Fanatical critics charge that teachers destroy white children’s self esteem by honestly acknowledging racism, and worse, they accuse teachers of “grooming” children. Public schoolteachers are the collateral damage in a widespread political campaign to discredit public schooling and promote privatization. As the new year begins, I have been grateful to prominent news commentators for calling out the scapegoating of schoolteachers.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s retired editorial page director, Brent Larkin devoted a weekly column to exploring what’s been happening in Ohio politics: “A large number of odious types in elected life are so obsessed with demonizing public schoolteachers that it interferes with these legislators’ ability to deal with real problems.” Larkin quotes Scott DiMauro, president of the Ohio Education Association: “When you have people deliberately fostering distrust, it has a devastating impact on educator morale… There are just so many challenges in terms of inequity of resources, discipline, poverty and culture-war attacks that have been very deliberately orchestrated by people on the right.'” Larkin concludes: “Great teachers are to be treasured. The way they’re treated speaks volumes about where we’re headed.”

The Washington Post’s culture critic, Robin Givhan wonders: “Who will remain when educators tire of picking their way through a political obstacle course of ginned-up outrage over bathrooms and manufactured controversies about racial justice?… Who will educate children when teachers finally become fed up with dodging bullets—or taking bullets—in service to someone else’s child?… It’s no secret that they’re underpaid for all the duties they perform… The United States has lost 370,000 teachers since the start of the pandemic… Critics have been punishing a them from all sides. The country asks public school teachers to carry this nation’s future on their backs, and then we force them to walk through a field of land mines.”

John Merrow, the retired education reporter for the PBS NewsHour recently wrote: “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, teachers are about three times as likely as other U.S. workers to moonlight… However, if you factor in part-time jobs within the school system, like coaching, teaching evening classes, or even driving a school bus, then an astonishing 59% of teachers are working part-time to supplement what they earn as full time teachers, according to the Economic Policy Institute… Teacher salaries have not kept up with inflation… and according to Education Week, ‘Teachers are also working under a ‘pay penalty,’ an economic concept meaning they earn lower weekly wages and receive lower overall compensation for their work than similar college-educated peers…'”

Data confirm Merrow’s concerns. In last summer’s most recent report from the Economic Policy Institute on the need to raise teachers’ salaries, Sylvia Allegretto reported the serious and growing disparity in the wages for teachers and other comparably educated college graduates: “Inflation-adjusted average weekly wages of teachers have been relatively flat since 1996. The average weekly wages of public school teachers (adjusted only for inflation) increased just $29 from 1996 to 2021, from $1,319 to $1,348 (in 2021 dollars). In contrast, inflation-adjusted weekly wages of other college graduates rose from $1,564 to $2,009 over the same period—a $445 increase.”

Bloomberg adds that one consequence of low pay on top of a barrage of controversy about what and how teachers teach is the growing shortage of teachers: “Overall, the U.S. job market ended 2022 at a near record for growth but one area in particular underscores how some parts of the economy still lag far behind pre-pandemic levels… The slow crawl is largely due to one industry—education—making up more than half of the jobs lost… (T)here has been a mass exodus of educators, leaving school districts with mounting vacancies to fill.”

There is clearly a tragic disconnect between the needs of America’s public schools and the resources legislators across the states are providing. Why? Part of the cause, of course, is the ideologically driven campaign the news commentators have noticed. Far right groups like the Bradley Foundation, EdChoice, Americans for Prosperity and the Goldwater Institute are pursuing a lavishly funded lobbying campaign—with model laws written and distributed by the American Legislative Exchange Council—to encourage legislators to privatize the whole educational enterprise.

Something else, however, has made our legislators increasingly susceptible to the ideology of the lobbyists and school privatizers. For several hours in December, as I watched a televised hearing of the Ohio House Education Committee, I was struck by so many lawmakers who seemed to define the role of teachers as mechanical producers of standardized test scores—and who conceptualize schools as merely an assembly line turning out workers who will help attract business and manufacturing to Ohio. I listened to a conversation filled with standardized test scores—numbers, percentages, and supposed trends measured by numbers. The only time human beings appeared in the discussion of education was when legislators blamed teachers for the numbers. It is not surprising that the same Ohio legislators are trying to transform the Ohio Department of Education into a new Department of Education and the Workforce.

In Ohio and across every state, aggregate standardized test scores dropped during the school closures and remote learning during COVID-19, but as I watched the televised hearing, the legislators seemed furious that teachers had not quickly come up with a different set of test-score production methods and turned the scores around. They seemed to believe that teachers should have been able to erase students’ emotional struggles during the return to schooling after COVID disruptions. Several declared that putting the governor in charge of education would take care of the problem and make teachers accountable.

As I watched the hearing, I realized again something that I already knew: Many of the people who make public education policy at the state level don’t know what teachers do. Few people on that committee seemed to grasp that teaching school is a complex and difficult job.

Watching the members of the Ohio House of Representatives discuss their concerns about our public schools made me think about David Berliner’s description of teaching. Berliner is Regents’ Professor of Education, Emeritus, at Arizona State University. He has also taught at the Universities of Arizona and Massachusetts, at Teachers College and Stanford University. Berliner comments on the human complexity of teaching as he contrasts the work of teachers and doctors:

“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… Many patients seek out their physicians, choosing to be in their office. On the other hand, many students seek to be out-of-class…. I always wonder how physicians would fare if 30 or so kids… showed up for medical treatment all at once, and then left 50 minutes later, healed or not! And suppose this chaotic scene was immediately followed by thirty or more different kids… also in need of personal attention. And they too stayed about 50 minutes…. Imagine waves of these patients hitting a physicians’ office five or six times a day!”

Berliner continues: “(T)eachers have been found to make about .7 decisions per minute during interactive teaching. Another researcher estimated that teachers’ decisions numbered about 1,500 per day. Decision 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 papers and homework, and for filling out bureaucratic forms and attending school meetings. In fact, it takes about 10 years for teachers to hit their maximum ability….”

Watching our legislators also made me think about the late Mike Rose’s definition of good teaching. Rose taught college students how to teach and he spent a good part of his career visiting classes to observe and document what excellent teachers do. Rose’s very best book, Possible Lives, is the story of his observations of excellent teaching as he spent three years observing public school classrooms across the United States: “Some of the teachers I visited were new, and some had taught for decades. Some organized their classrooms with desks in rows, and others turned their rooms into hives of activity. Some were real performers, and some were serious and proper. For all the variation, however, the classrooms shared certain qualities… The classrooms were safe. They provided physical safety…. but there was also safety from insult and diminishment…. Intimately related to safety is respect…. Talking about safety and respect leads to a consideration of authority…. A teacher’s authority came not just with age or with the role, but from multiple sources—knowing the subject, appreciating students’ backgrounds, and providing a safe and respectful space. And even in traditionally run classrooms, authority was distributed…. These classrooms, then, were places of expectation and responsibility…. Overall the students I talked to, from primary-grade children to graduating seniors, had the sense that their teachers had their best interests at heart and their classrooms were good places to be.”

I wish the people who make the laws which allocate and distribute state funding for public schools, were required to spend one day every year visiting a public school to watch what teachers do. In fact, I wish every state legislator were required to undertake the challenge of teaching in a public elementary, middle or high school for at least half of one school day every year.

In a taped conversation, a lobbyist for vouchers in Utah said what everyone suspected: “I can’t say this is a recall of public education, even though I want to destroy public education. I can’t say that. The Legislature can’t say that because they’ll be just scraped over the coals.”

She said the quiet part out loud.

She was supposed to say that vouchers would give every child a chance to get a better education.

She forgot to say that vouchers would enable EVERY child to get a great education “regardless of their zip code.”

She forgot her talking points.

She said what she and her team say when there are no reporters or recorders around. The goal is “to destroy public education.”

When the story was published, the lobbyist apologized for saying what she believed.

Timothy Snyder, a historian of Europe, democracy and atrocities at Yale, writes here about the recent arrest of former FBI agent Charles McGonigal and its implications for the Trump campaign of 2016.

He writes:

We are on the edge of a spy scandal with major implications for how we understand the Trump administration, our national security, and ourselves.

On 23 January, we learned that a former FBI special agent, Charles McGonigal, was arrested on charges involving taking money to serve foreign interests.  One accusation is that in 2017 he took $225,000 from a foreign actor while in charge of counterintelligence at the FBI’s New York office.  Another charge is that McGonigal took money from Oleg Deripaska, a sanctioned Russian oligarch, after McGonigal’s 2018 retirement from the FBI.  Deripaska, a hugely wealthy metals tycoon close to the Kremlin, “Putin’s favorite industrialist,” was a figure in a Russian influence operation that McGonigal had investigated in 2016.  Deripaska has been under American sanctions since 2018.  Deripaska is also the former employer, and the creditor, of Trump’s 2016 campaign manager, Paul Manafort.

The reporting on this so far seems to miss the larger implications. One of them is that Trump’s historical position looks far cloudier. In 2016, Trump’s campaign manager (Manafort) was a former employee of a Russian oligarch (Deripaska), and owed money to that same Russian oligarch.  And the FBI special agent (McGonigal) who was charged with investigating the Trump campaign’s Russian connections then went to work (according to the indictment) for that very same Russian oligarch (Deripaska).  This is obviously very bad for Trump personally.  But it is also very bad for FBI New York, for the FBI generally, and for the United States of America. 

Another is that we must revisit the Russian influence operation on Trump’s behalf in 2016, and the strangely weak American response. Moscow’s goal was to move minds and institutions such that Hillary Clinton would lose and Donald Trump would win.  We might like to think that any FBI special agent would resist, oppose, or at least be immune to such an operation.  Now we are reliably informed that a trusted FBI actor, one who was responsible for dealing with just this sort of operation, was corrupt.  And again, the issue is not just the particular person.  If someone as important as McGonigal could take money from foreigners while on the job at FBI New York, and then go to work for a sanctioned Russian oligarch he was once investigating, what is at stake, at a bare minimum, is the culture of the FBI’s New York office.  The larger issue is the health of our national discussions of politics and the integrity of our election process.

For me personally, McGonigal’s arrest brought back an unsettling memory.  In 2016, McGonigal was in charge of cyber counter-intelligence for the FBI, and was put in charge of counterintelligence at the FBI’s New York office.  That April, I broke the story of the connection between Trump’s campaign and Putin’s regime, on the basis of Russian open sources.  At the time, almost no one wanted to take this connection seriously.  American journalists wanted an American source, but the people who had experienced similar Russian operations were in Russia, Ukraine, or Estonia.  Too few people took Trump seriously; too few people took Russia seriously; too few people took cyber seriously; the Venn diagram overlap of people who took all three seriously felt very small.  Yet there was also specific, nagging worry that my own country was not only unprepared, but something worse.  After I wrote that piece and another, I heard intimations that something was odd about the FBI office in New York.  This was no secret at the time.  One did not need to be close to such matters to get that drift.  And given that FBI New York was the office dealing with cyber counterintelligence, this was worrying

The reason I was thinking about Trump and Putin back in 2016 was a pattern that I had noticed in eastern Europe, which is my area of expertise.  Between 2010 and 2013, Russia sought to control Ukraine using the same methods which were on display in 2016 in its influence operation in the United States: social media, money, and a pliable candidate for head of state.  When that failed, Russia had invaded Ukraine, under the cover of some very successful influence operations.  (If you find that you do not remember the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014, it is very possibly because you were caught in the froth of Russian propaganda, spread through the internet, targeted to vulnerabilities.)  The success of that propaganda encouraged Russia to intervene in the United States, using the same methods and institutions.  This is what I was working on in 2016, when a similar operation was clearly underway in the United States.

To this observer of Ukraine, it was apparent that Russia was backing Trump in much the way that it had once backed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, in the hopes of soft control.  Trump and Yanukovych were similar figures: nihilistic, venal, seeking power to make or shield money.  This made them vulnerably eager partners for Putin.  And they had the same chief advisor: the American political consultant Paul Manafort.  Russian soft control of Trump did not require endless personal meetings between the two principals.  It just required mutual understanding, which was abundantly on display during the Trump presidency: think of the meeting between Putin and Trump in Helsinki in 2018, when the American president said that he trusted the Russian one and the Russian president said that he had supported the American one as a candidate.  The acknowledgement of mutual debts was obvious already in 2016: Russian media talked up Trump, and Trump talked up Putin. 

During Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, the rapprochement between Trump and Putin could be effected through intermediaries.  An obvious intermediary was Paul Manafort: first he worked for the Russian oligarch Deripaska as a consultant to teach the Kremlin how to influence Americans.  Then he worked for Russia’s man in Ukraine Yanukovych, helping to get him elected.  Finally Manafort worked for Trump, in the same capacity.  You might remember Manafort’s ties to Russia as revealed by the press in 2016.  He (and Jared Kushner, and Donald Trump, Jr.) met with Russians in June 2016 in Trump Tower.  Manafort had to resign as Trump’s campaign manager that August after it become public he had received $12.7 million in cash while he was working Yanukovych and had not reported it.  

By 2016, when he was Trump’s campaign manager, Manafort owed Deripaska millions of dollars.  At the end of their political collaboration, they had entered into a murky investment, at the end of which Deripaska was pursuing Manafort in court.  Manafort acknowledged the debt to Deripaska, in the sense that he treated his work for Trump as a way to pay it off.  As Trump’s campaign manager, and as Deripaska’s debtor, Manafort wrote to offer Deripaska “private briefings” on Trump’s campaign.  Through an intermediary, Manafort sent the Russians data from the Trump campaign, including campaign polling data about Americans that would be useful for influence operations.  Manafort was asked to communicate a Russian plan for the partition of Ukraine to Trump. Manafort was hoping to pay Deripaska back in a currency other than money — in Manafort’s own words, “to get whole.”  (These and other details are in Road to Unfreedom.)

Thinking our way back to 2016, keeping in mind Russia’s pattern of seeking soft control, recalling what we know now, let’s now reconsider how the FBI treated the Trump-Putin connection that year.  After Trump became president, he and some other Republicans claimed that the FBI had overreached by carrying out any sort of investigation at all.  Now that McGonigal has been arrested, Trump has claimed that this somehow helps his case.  Common sense suggests the opposite.  The man who was supposed to investigate Russian support of Trump then took money from a Russian oligarch close to Putin, who was at one remove from the Trump campaign at the time?  That is not at all a constellation that supports Trump’s version of events.  If the FBI special agent (McGonigal) who was investigating Trump’s connection to Russia was on the payroll of the Russian oligarch (Deripaska) to whom Trump’s campaign manager (Manafort) owed millions of dollars and provided information, that does not look good for Trump.  It looks hideous —but not just for Trump.

Anne Applebaum once put the question the right way: why didn’t the FBI investigate Trump’s connections to Putin much earlier?  In retrospect, it seems as though the FBI investigation of Trump’s campaign and its Russian connections in 2016 was not only late, but weirdly understated.  Known as “Cross-Fire Hurricane,” it defined the issue of Russian influence narrowly, as a matter of personal contact between Trump campaign officials and Russians.  Meanwhile, as that investigation was going on, Russia was in the middle of a major social media campaign which, according to the leading scholar of presidential communications, made it possible for Trump to be elected.  And that larger influence campaign was not investigated by the FBI, let alone countered. 

If anything, it looks as though the New York office of the FBI, wittingly or unwittingly, rather pushed in the same direction than resisted Russia’s pro-Trump influence operation.  As no doubt everyone remembers, Russia was able to phish for emails from institutions and people around Clinton, and used some of them, out of context, to create harmful fictional narratives about her.  Simultaneously, there was a concern about Clinton’s use of a private email server.  In the popular mind, these two issues blurred together, with Trump’s help.  Trump asked the Russians to break into Clinton’s email account, which they immediately tried to do.  Nothing about Clinton’s emails proved to be of interest.  The FBI closed an investigation in July 2016, saying that there was no basis for criminal charges against Clinton. 

Then, weirdly, FBI director James Comey announced on 28 October 2016, just ten days before the election, that the investigation into Clinton’s emails had been reopened.  This created a huge brouhaha that (as polls showed) harmed Clinton and helped Trump.  The investigation was closed again after only eight days, on 6 November, with no charges against Clinton.  But that was just two days before the election, and the damage was done.  As I recall it, in the fury of those last forty-eight hours, no one noticed Comey’s second announcement, closing the investigation and clearing Clinton.  I was canvassing at the time, and the people I spoke to were still quite excited about the emails.  Why would the FBI publicly reveal an investigation on a hot issue involving a presidential candidate right before an election?  It now appears that Comey made the public announcement because of an illicit kind of pressure from special agents in the FBI New York office.  Comey believed that they would leak the investigation if he did not announce it. 

In office, Trump knew that Russia had worked to get him elected, but the standard of guilt was placed so high that he could defend himself by saying that he personally had not colluded.  The Mueller Report, which I still don’t believe many people have actually read, demonstrated that there was a multidimensional Russian influence campaign on behalf of Trump.  The Trump administration countered by claiming that there was no evidence that Trump personally had been in contact with Putin personally.  That defense was certainly misleading; but it was available in part because of the narrow scope of FBI investigations in 2016.

To be fair, FBI, along with Homeland Security, did investigate cyber.  But this was after the election when it could make no difference; and in the report, cyber was defined narrowly, limited to phishing and the breach of systems.  These are important issues, but they were not the main issue.  What the phishing and breach of systems enabled was the main issue: a social media campaign that exploited emotions, including misogyny, to mobilize and demobilize voters.  

Russia used the raw email in specific operations on Trump’s behalf, for example by rescuing him from the Access Hollywood tapes scandal.  Right after it emerged that Trump advocated sexual assault, Russia released a fictional scandal connecting Clinton to the abuse of children.  That allowed Trump’s followers to believe that whatever he did, she was worse; and the scandal was blunted.  It verges on inconceivable that McGonigal was unaware of Russia’s 2016 influence campaign on behalf of Trump.  He knew the players; he is now alleged to have been employed by one of them.  Even I was aware of the Russia’s 2016 influence campaign.  It became one of the subjects of my book Road to Unfreedom, which I finished the following year. 

The Russian influence campaign was an issue for American counterintelligence.  It is worth pausing to understand why, since it helps us to see the centrality of McGonigal and the meaning of this scandal.  Intelligence is about trying to understand.  Counterintelligence is about making that hard for others.  Branching out from counterintelligence are the more exotic operations designed to make an enemy not only misunderstand the situation, but also act on the basis of misunderstandings, against the enemy’s own interests.  Such operations, which have been a Russian (or Soviet) specialty for more than a century, go under the name of “provocation,” or “active measures,” or “maskirovka.”  It is the task of counterintelligence to understand active measures, and prevent them from working.  The Russian influence operation on behalf of Trump was an active measure that the United States failed to halt.  The cyber element, the use of social media, is what McGonigal personally, with his background and in his position, should have been making everyone aware of.  In 2016, McGonigal was section chief of the FBI’s Cyber-Counterintelligence Coordination Section.  That October, he was put in charge of the Counterintelligence Division of the FBI’s New York office.  

And it was just then, in October 2016, that matters began to spin out of control.  There were two moments, late in the presidential campaign, that decided the matter for Donald Trump.  The first was when Russian rescued him from the Access Hollywood scandal (7 October).  The second was FBI director James Comey’s public announcement that he was reopening the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails (28 October).  The reason Comey made that public announcement at that highly sensitive time, ten days before the election, was not that he believed the public needed to know, nor that the matter was likely of great consequence.  On his account, it was that he believed that FBI New York office was going to leak it anyway.  Rudolph Giuliani had apparently already been the beneficiary of leaks; claimed to know in advance of what he called a “surprise” that would help Donald Trump, namely Comey’s public announcement of the email investigation.  

It looked at the time like Comey had been played by people in FBI New York who wanted Trump to win.  Comey has now confirmed this, although his word choice might be different.  And I did wonder, back then, if those special agents in New York, in turn, were being played.  It was no secret at the timethat FBI special agents in New York did not like Hillary Clinton.  Making emotional commitments public is asking to be exploited.  For people working in counterintelligence, this is a particularly unwise thing to do.  The nature of working in counterintelligence is that, if you are not very good, you will find yourself in the vortex of someone else’s active measure.  Someone else will take advantage of your known vulnerabilities – your misogyny, perhaps, or your hatred of a specific female politician, or your entirely unjustified belief that a male politician is a patriotic messiah — and get you to do something that feels like your own decision. 

Now that we are informed that a central figure in the New York FBI office was willing to take money from foreign actors while on the job, this line of analysis bears some reconsideration.  Objectively, FBI New York was acting in concert with Russia, ignoring or defining narrowly Russia’s actions, and helping deliver the one-two punch to Clinton in October that very likely saved Trump.  When people act in the interest of a foreign power, it is sometimes for money, it is sometimes because the foreign power knows something about them, it is sometimes for ideals, and it is sometimes for no conscious motive at all — what one thinks of as one’s own motives have been curated, manipulated, and directed.  It seems quite possible — I raise it as a hypothesis that reasonable people would consider — that some mixture of these factors was at work at FBI New York in 2016.

All of these pieces of recent history must hang together in one way or another, and the fresh and shocking revelation of McGonigal’s arrest is a chance for us to try to see how.  Again, if these allegations are true, they will soon be surrounded by other heretofore unknown facts, which should lead us to consider the problem of election integrity in a general way.  As of right now, the circumstantial evidence suggests that we consider the possibility that the FBI’s reporting work in 2016, which resulted in a framing of the issue which was convenient for Trump and Russia, might have had something to do with the fact (per the indictments) that one of its lead agents was willing to takemoney from foreign actors while on the job.  In connection with the leaks from FBI New York late in the 2016 campaign, which had the obvious effect of harming Clinton and helping Trump, McGonigal’s arrest also demands a broader rethink of the scale of the 2016 disaster.  How much was FBI New York, wittingly and unwittingly, caught up in a Russian active measure? 

The charges have not been proven.  If they are, it would be a bit surprising if the two offenses with which McGonigal is now charged were isolated events.  There is a certain danger, apparently, in seeing them this way, and letting bygones be bygones.  A U.S. attorney presenting the case said that McGonigal “should have known better”; that is the kind of thing one says when a child gets a bellyache after eating too much cotton candy at the county fair; it hardly seems to correspond to the gravity of the situation. 

Failing to understand the Russian threat in the 2010s was a prelude to failing to understand the Russian threat in 2020s.  And today Americans who support Russia in its war of atrocity tend to be members of the Trump family or people closely aligned with Trump, such as Giuliani.  The people who helped Trump then take part in the war on Ukraine now. Consider one of the main architects of Russia’s 2016 campaign to support Trump, Yevgeny Prigozhin. In 2016, his relevant position was as the head of the Internet Research Agency; they were the very people who (for example) helped spread the story about Clinton that rescued Trump from the Access Hollywood scandal.  Without the Internet Research Agency covering his back, Trump would have had a much harder time in the 2016 election.  Today, during the war in Ukraine, Prigozhin is now better known as the owner of Wagner, sending tens of thousands of Russian prisoners to kill and die. 

The implications of the arrest go further.  McGonigal had authority in sensitive investigations where the specific concern was that there was an American giving away other Americans to foreign governments.  Untangling what that means will require a concern for the United States that goes beyond party loyalty.  Unfortunately, some key political figures seem to be reacting to the news in the opposite spirit: suppressing the past, thereby destabilizing the future.  Immediately after the McGonigal story broke, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy ejected Adam Schiff from the House intelligence committee, in a grand exhibition of indifference to national security.  A veteran of that committee, Schiff has has taken the time to learn about Russia.  It is grotesque to exclude him at this particular moment, in the middle of a war, and at the beginning of a spy scandal.

McCarthy’s recent move against Schiff also recalls 2016, sadly.  Much as I did, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy had an inkling, back then, that something was wrong with Trump and Russia.  He expressed his view that June that Donald Trump was the Republican most likely to be taking money from Vladimir Putin.  This showed a fine political instinct, sadly unmatched by any ethical follow-through.  McCarthy did not share his suspicion with his constituents, nor do anything to follow through.  He made the remark it in a conversation with other Republican House members, who did not disagree with him, and who apparently came to the conclusion the the risk of an embarrassment to their party was more important than American national security.  Republicans in the Senate, sadly, took a similar view.  They deliberately marginalized a CIA investigation that did address the Russian influence campaign for Trump.  In September 2016, Mitch McConnell made it clear to the Obama administration that the CIA’s findings would be treated as political if they were discussed in public.  The Obama administration bowed to this pressure.

The Russian operation to get Trump elected in 2016 was real.  We are still living under the specter of 2016, and we are closer to the beginning of the process or learning about it than we are to the end.  Denying that it happened, or acting as though it did not happen, makes the United States vulnerable to Russian influence operations that are still ongoing, sometimes organized by the same people.  It is easy to forget about 2016, and human to want to do so.  But democracy is about learning from mistakes, and this arrest makes it very clear that we still have much to learn.

26 January 2023

Erin Aubrey Kaplan writes in the Los Angeles Times about a successful public school—Baldwin Hills Elementary—that wants a co-located charter school to leave their space. Kaplan notes that there is a long history of feuding between public schools and charters, but this conflict is a first. The public school has parent and community support for reclaiming its space.

She writes that the fight is forcing a question:

Will the Los Angeles Unified School District find a way to support — even magnify — that rarest of success stories: a high achieving predominantly Black neighborhood school?

For the last seven years, Baldwin Hills Elementary School, a nearly 80-year-old campus in the Crenshaw district, has had to share digs with a charter, New Los Angeles Elementary.

New L.A. has about 200 students; Baldwin Hills twice that, but the neighborhood school’s sense of infringement isn’t just about the comparative sizes of the two student bodies.

BHE features ambitious programs. It houses a gifted magnet and serves as a “community school,” with “wraparound” healthcare and family support services. It’s also a so-called pilot school, which gives it the autonomy to offer unique classes such yoga, chess and orchestra. And it’s a designated STEAM campus — science, technology, engineering, the arts and math. In 2020, the state Department of Education designated Baldwin Hills, where 82% of the student body is Black, a distinguished school.

Not surprisingly, BHE parents and teachers tend to be organized, involved and deeply committed to growing what is regarded as an unqualified school success. To do that, they say, the school needs to get back space that was deemed nonessential and ceded to New L.A.: The charter, they say, must be relocated.

Back in October, members of Neighbors in Action for Baldwin Hills Elementary, a BHE parent-community-teacher coalition, sent a letter to LAUSD outlining their colocation complaints.

Sharing the campus, they wrote, “has greatly diminished the school’s ability to meet students’ social-emotional needs and mental health wellness, and hampered access to the academic programs that the school has been tasked with providing.”

Because of space constraints, Baldwin Hills is out a computer and robotics lab. Orchestra classes have been conducted on the playground blacktop. Students have to eat lunch hurriedly in a time-shared cafeteria. The bathrooms are overcrowded and sometimes unsafe.

In short, Baldwin Hills is an unfolding success story, in spite of colocation. “If we can do this in a stifled environment, imagine what we could do in a regular environment,” says Love Collins, a parent who switched her third-grader from a private school to Baldwin Hills.

The BHE coalition insists the district could find a way within the rules to relocate New L.A. (For it’s part, New L.A. claims to be looking elsewhere for a “permanent” school site.)

Community schools, for example, are supposed to be exempt from colocation, a rule the parents believe should apply at BHE despite the fact that Baldwin Hills wasn’t designated a community school until after New L.A. had moved in.

It’s a point that feels strengthened by recent developments. Two years ago, a new state law, AB 1505, gave school districts — charter school “authorizers” — expanded criteria in deciding whether to deny space to new charters or renew the leases of existing ones.

So far, LAUSD’s response has been underwhelming. Half a dozen district representatives came to Baldwin Hills for a town hall after the October letter, but as a second letter the coalition organizers sent to the district points out, none of their specific complaints or proposed solutions were addressed.

For months, the BHE group has solicited the support — or simply a call-back — from their LAUSD District 1 board member, George McKenna. When he was principal at Washington Prep, McKenna had a well-earned reputation for advocating for students of color and instituting a culture of high expectation. But neither he nor his staff has met with Neighbors in Action for Baldwin Hills Elementary.

“I very much support the parents and programs at Baldwin Hills Elementary, and always have,” McKenna says. “It’s a wonderful school.” What he doesn’t say is anything about the colocation conflict.

But the coalition is not scaling back the pressure for more definitive support.

“All we’re asking district to do is find another place to house [New L.A.], and don’t renew their contract at Baldwin,” says Jacquelyn Walker, a longtime teacher at Baldwin Hills who became its community school coordinator last year.

Underlying the many practical arguments here is a philosophical one: If Black lives truly matter, Baldwin Hills deserves — is, in fact, entitled to — as much space as possible.

With BHE, LAUSD has an organic model of Black success that the district should be nurturing, not stunting. In Walker’s words: “Allow us to thrive, give us the opportunity to do what we can do.”

The stakes for students of color are simply too high to do anything less.

Tom Ultican, who was a teacher of advanced math and physics in San Diego, wrote a terrific post about the results of school board elections in his area of California. The new front of rightwing cranks and anti-vaxxers ran for school boards promising to save children from public health measures, along with the usual religious zealots who were exercised about CRT and teachers turning children gay.

Tom’s description of the contenders and the races is fascinating. I urge you to read it.

He was invited to make endorsements in many school board elections, and he did. His candidates racked up some impressive victories.

If you read his post, you will learn who El Guapo is.

I found his post very encouraging in what is often a tide of bad news. know I would sleep better at night if I knew that Tom Ultican’s stamp of approval was a decisive factor in school board elections.

These are the closing lines in his post:

Some Final Thoughts

We are a society being buried in lies.

“The election was stolen; everybody knows I won in a landslide.” This lie is still believed by 60% of Republicans because they watch Fox News which blatantly lies.

School choice is based on Milton Friedman’s lie that Public Schools are government monopolies. There are about 19,000 school districts in the United States each with their own governing bodies the vast majority of which are elected. That is not a monopoly and in reality school choice is about not having to go to school with those peoples children. It’s a racist agenda.

Well financed propagandist Christopher Rufo has widely spread the lie that CRT is being taught in K-12 Schools. He claims it is making white children uncomfortable; another lie.

A lot of people believe the lie that public schools are grooming students to “turn them” gay. The result is censorship and a small minority of LGBTQ+ students being tormented for who they are. They are people and they deserve respect. Prejudice is a social disease.

These lies have been used to divide us and distract us from billionaires grabbing more and more for themselves. Economic inequality has reached heights never before witnessed in this country and putting up with lies is a root cause. If we lose our Democracy then there will be no choice but to put up with lies. Look at what is going on in Russia, China and Hungry.

The American public school system is a treasure and must be protected from liars and their paymasters. If someone tells you that voucher schools and charter schools are superior to public schools, they are lying.

I agree with every word!