Archives for category: Fake

This post appeared on the Network for Public Education blog. It shows the common theme of vouchers in other states: They subsidize the students who are already enrolled in private schools. The legislation was signed into law by Governor Kim Reynolds.

Ed Tibbetts: Few Iowa families will have more choices with GOP ‘school choice’ plan

Ed Tibbetts substacks at Along the Mississippi. In this op-ed for the Iowa Capital Dispatch, he looks at the true cost of Kim Reynolds’ voucher plan.

He writes:

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds says her plan to use taxpayer money to pay for private schooling gives people a choice to educate their kids where they want.

But that’s not what her plan says. Just look at the details: Only certain families with kids in public schools will get that choice.

What this plan really does is pay people who already are sending their kids to private schools.

Like many voucher programs, this one really sticks it to rural taxpayers.

Forty-one counties in Iowa have no private schools, according to the group Common Good Iowa. Another 23 counties only have one private school.

What choice do those kids and their parents have?

Not much.

What Reynolds’ plan really does is take their tax money and send it to families who live somewhere else.

But while this program may have an impact on taxpayers, its impact on students will be meager.

Rural or urban, though, even the governor’s own proposal acknowledges relatively few people will get this money. About 33,000 Iowa kids go to private schools now, and the governor says when her plan is phased in, that number will nudge up to about 38,000.

That’s not much of a change: Just 5,000 kids.

Meanwhile, approximately 500,000 Iowa kids will remain in underfunded public schools.

Do the math: Her plan only pays for 1% of Iowa kids to go from public to private school, but the costs balloon to roughly $340 million a year when phased in – or 9% of the basic state aid going to public schools now.

And like the several voucher plans being rocketed through red state legislatures right now, the Iowa plan is being fast-tracked–quick, before the voters notice!

The plan also is being moved quickly. That’s because the governor knows the longer this lingers, the better people will be able to grasp the consequences. The longer a light is shined on it, the more people realize this plan isn’t supposed to enable them to make a choice, but to pay for people who already have made it.

In the meantime, it sucks money away from the vast majority of public-school students who will remain in classrooms where districts already struggle with rising costs while the state turns a blind eye; in schools where our state spends less per pupil than most other states in the country; in schools where teachers whose salaries lag will eventually go to places where their skills are better rewarded and they aren’t scorned in service of the culture wars.

Read the full piece here. 

You can view the post at this link : https://networkforpubliceducation.org/blog-content/ed-tibbetts-few-iowa-families-will-have-more-choices-with-gop-school-choice-plan/

Maurice Cunningham, retired professor of political scientist, has written an exposé of the well-funded fake “parent groups” that spring up overnight to disrupt school board meetings and demand control of books, curriculim, and COVID protocols. Who is behind them? Read the latest report from the Network for Public Education: “Merchants of Deception: Parent Props and Their Funders.”

They show up shouting at school board meetings with endless complaints. The press interviews them as though they are some “regular moms” looking out for their children, but they are not. They are a well-funded facade for the Koch, Walton, and DeVos families to disrupt and destroy public education.

In our new report, author and academician Maurice Cunningham pulls back the veil on the players, tactics, and funders. This must-read report identifies the who, how, and why behind “Merchants of Deception: Parent Props and Their Funders.

Cunningham is author of the new book Dark Money and the Politics of School Privatization.

In an effort to appear more “inclusive,” the Mars corporation that sells M&Ms offered a new package, with green, brown, and purple M&Ms. In the company’s advertising, the green and brown candies are shown as female, while the purple one (a candy-coated peanut) is obese. In the ad, the green and brown candies were sitting close together and holding hands. Innocuous, FOX commentators wondered, or are those two candy lesbians?

Conservatives began attacking the brand after it announced the release of candy packages with only the female characters Green, Brown, and the new Purple.

The limited edition packages show the three female characters upside down with the message “Supporting women flipping the status quo.” The packages would only contain green, brown, and purple M&Ms.

A chyron on Fox News on the show also noted that Green and Brown had once held hands in a 2015 ad and could be lesbians.

Fox host Tucker Carlson – who famously flipped out last year when the Green M&M was redesigned to be less sexy – called the new packaging “woke” and said that the Green M&M “is now a lesbian maybe?”

“And there’s also a plus-sized, obese purple M&M,” he said, referring to the new Purple character who is supposed to be a peanut M&M.Mars announced that it was withdrawing the inclusive campaign and had hired the “beloved Maya Rudolph” to act as its spokesperson.

The retreat from FOX hysteria was red meat for Twitter commenters, who laughed at the candy makers for retreating.

Thom Hartmann looks back to the Ronald Reagan presidency to explain how Republicans seized the strategy of tax cuts and spending to counter the Democrats’ winning formula of social welfare spending. Now Republicans are threatening to force the federal government to default on the national debt, which would plunge the global economy into chaos, unless Democrats make deep cuts in social programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Hartmann writes:

The media refers to it as a debate around the debt ceiling, but it’s actually far simpler than that. And entirely political.

Back in November, a few weeks after House Republicans won the election and seized control of that body, I wrote to you warning that the House Republicans would try the same scam that Ronald Reagan first rolled out in the 1980s. I wrapped the article up with the “hope that Democratic politicians and our media will, finally, call the GOP out on Wanniski’s and Reagan’s Two Santa Clauses scam.”

So far, no soap. I haven’t heard a single mention of Two Santas in the mainstream media, and I’ll bet you haven’t, either. That’s the bad news.

The good news — perhaps — is that the scam has lost its sting after working so well for them for 42 years. President Biden and House Democrats are standing firm, saying they have no intention of negotiating around the debt ceiling with terrorists threatening to destroy our economy.

But even if it’s the last gasp of this scam, it appears House Republicans plan to go out with a bang. So let’s quickly review how Two Santas works.

Back in 1976 the Republican Party was a smoking ruin. Nixon had resigned after being busted for lying about his “secret plan to end the Vietnam War,” his involvement in the Watergate burglary, and his taking bribes from Jimmy Hoffa and the Milk Lobby. He only avoided prosecution because Gerald Ford pardoned him. 

His first Vice President, Spiro Agnew, had also resigned to avoid prosecution for taking bribes.

Newspaper and television editorialists were openly speculating the GOP might implode. The Party hadn’t held the House of Representatives for more than two consecutive years since 1930(and wouldn’t until 1994), Jerry Ford had ended the War the year before in a national humiliation, the unemployment rate was over 7 percent, as was inflation after hovering around 11 percent the year before.

The Republican Party had little to offer the American people beyond anti-communism, their mainstay since the 1950s.

Americans knew it was Democrats who’d brought them Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, subsidized college, the right to unionize, antipoverty programs, and sent men to the moon. And they knew Republicans had opposed the “big government spending” associated with every single one of them.

But one man — a Republican strategist and editorial writer for The Wall Street Journal named Jude Wanniski — thought he saw a way out. It was, he argued, a strategy that could eventually bring about a permanent Republican governing majority.

In a WSJ op-ed that year, Wanniski pointed outthat Americans thought of Democrats as the “Party of Santa” and Republicans as, essentially, Scrooge. Republicans, he noted, hadn’t even proposed a tax cut in 22 years!

The solution, Wanniski proposed, was for Republicans to start pushing tax cuts whenever the GOP held the White House. This would establish their Santa bona fides, particularly if Democrats objected. It would flip the script so Democrats would fill the role of Scrooge.

To make it even easier for Republicans to cut taxes, Wanniski invented and publicized a new economic theory called Supply-Side Economics. When taxes went down, he said, government revenue would magically go up!

Four years later, when Reagan came into the White House with the election of 1980, he picked up Wanniski’s strategy and doubled down on it. (In the primary of 1980, he’d even run on it: his primary opponent, George Herbert Walker Bush, derided it as “Voodoo Economics.”)

Reagan not only cut taxes on the rich: he also radically increased government spending, goosing the economy into a sugar high while throwing the nation deeply into debt.

Citing Supply-Side Economics, in eight short years Reagan ran up greater deficits than every president from George Washington to Jerry Ford combined, taking our national debt from around $800 billion all the way up to around $2.6 trillion when he left office.

By 1992, when Bill Clinton won the presidency, Reagan and Bush’s debt had climbed to over $4.2 trillion, giving Republicans a chance to double down on Two Santas. Bill Clinton would be their test case.

House Republicans loudly demanded that Clinton “do something!” about the national debt, waving the debt ceiling like a cudgel. Over the next eight years they repeatedly wielded the debt ceiling, shutting down the government twice. The battles lifted Newt Gingrich to the speakership. 

Clinton caved, making massive cuts to the social safety net to get a balanced budget, a gut-shot to the Democratic Santa programs.

By the end of the Clinton presidency the formula was set. When Republicans held the White House, they’d spend like drunken Santas and cut taxes to the bone to drive up the national debt.

When Democrats come into the presidency, Republicans would use the debt ceiling to force them to cut their own social programs and shoot the Democratic Santa. 

As I noted last November, when Clinton shot Santa Claus the result was an explosion of Republican wins across the country as GOP politicians campaigned on a “Republican Santa” platform of supply-side tax cuts and pork-rich spending increases.

Democrats had controlled the House of Representatives in almost every single year since the Republican Great Depression of the 1930s, but with Newt Gingrich rigorously enforcing Wanniski’s Two Santa Claus strategy, they used the debt ceiling as a weapon.

State after state turned red and the Republican Party rose to take over, in less than a decade, every single lever of power in the federal government from the Supreme Court to the White House.

Looking at the wreckage of the Democratic Party all around Clinton in 1999Wanniski wrote a gloating memo that said, in part:

“We of course should be indebted to Art Laffer for all time for his Curve… But as the primary political theoretician of the supply-side camp, I began arguing for the ‘Two Santa Claus Theory’ in 1974. If the Democrats are going to play Santa Claus by promoting more spending, the Republicans can never beat them by promoting less spending. They have to promise tax cuts…”

Ed Crane, then-president of the Koch-funded Libertarian CATO Institute, noted in a memo that year:

“When Jack Kemp, Newt Gingrich, Vin Weber, Connie Mack and the rest discovered Jude Wanniski and Art Laffer, they thought they’d died and gone to heaven. In supply-side economics they found a philosophy that gave them a free pass out of the debate over the proper role of government. … That’s why you rarely, if ever, heard Kemp or Gingrich call for spending cuts, much less the elimination of programs and departments.”

Two Santa Clauses had fully seized the GOP mainstream.

Never again would Republicans worry about the debt or deficit when they were in office, and they knew well how to scream hysterically about it and hook in the economically naïve media as soon as Democrats again took power….

Please open the link and read the rest of the article.

Thom Hartmann provides a brief history of the power of the for-profit healthcare industry, which has successfully blocked a national Medicare-for-All system. Please open the link and read it all. The industry’s current push is to get people transferred from Medicare to for-profit Medicare Advantage plans. Under Medicare, seniors can choose their own doctors and do not have to seek permission for costly procedures. under Medicare Advantages, patients may see only in-network doctors and may be denied permission for treatment. That’s where the profit is: denying treatment. About half of all seniors are on a Medicare Advantage plan, because they were wooed by prescription drug coverage or a free gym membership.

Hartmann begins:

Republicans have taken control of the House of Representatives, and already have their sights set on forcing major cuts to “entitlements” like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

One of the promises McCarthy made to become speaker was to force a vote on dialing back 2023/2024 spending back to 2021 levels — and there’s been a 7% inflation increase in costs/expenses since then. In other words, they want massive cuts.

His Republican colleagues have already outlined the starting point for their demands, as reportedby Yahoo News:

“The Republican Study Committee proposed a budget for fiscal 2023 that would gradually increase the eligibility ages for Social Security and Medicare, and change the Social Security benefit formula for people 54 and younger…”

In that, they’re going to have a hell of a fight on their hands, as Senator Bernie Sanders is taking over leadership of the Senate Health Committee, which oversees Medicare and Medicaid. He’s already promising “a lot of subpoenas” will be arriving at the offices of healthcare and big pharma CEOs.

Most Americans have no idea that the United States is quite literally the only country in the developed world that doesn’t define healthcare as an absolute right for all of its citizens.

That’s it. We’re the only one left. Were the only country in the developed world where somebody getting sick can leave a family bankrupt, destitute, and homeless.

A half-million American families are wiped out every year so completely that they must lose everything and declare bankruptcy just because somebody got sick. The number of health-expense-related bankruptcies in all the other developed countries in the world combined is zero.

Yet the United States spends more on “healthcare” than any other country in the world: about 17% of GDP.

Switzerland, Germany, France, Sweden and Japan all average around 11%, and Canada, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Norway, Netherlands, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia all come in between 9.3% and 10.5%.

Health insurance premiums right now make up about 22% of all taxable payroll (and don’t even cover all working people), whereas Medicare For All would run an estimated 10% and would cover every man, woman, and child in America.

How and why are Americans being played for such suckers?

We are literally the only developed country in the world with an entire multi-billion-dollar for-profit industry devoted to parasitically extracting money from us to then turn over to healthcare providers on our behalf. The for-profit health insurance industry has attached itself to us like a giant, bloodsucking tick.

And it’s not like we haven’t tried to remove that parasite.

Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Jack Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson all proposed and tried to bring a national healthcare system to the United States.

Please open the link and read the rest of this important post.

Billy Townsend writes in the Tampa Bay Times about how Florida politicians game the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) scores to boast about unearned “success.” The gaming consists of bragging about fourth grade scores (which are high) while ignoring eighth grade scores (which are unimpressive).

The big Florida trick is third grade retention—holding back the children in third grade who have low reading scores. This artificially boosts fourth grade scores. But then comes the eighth grade scores, and Florida falls behind. They can’t hide the low-scoring students forever.

He writes:

A close look at ‘the Nation’s Report Card’ shows how Florida fails its students as they move up through the grades.

A few years ago, just before COVID hit, a Stanford University study of state-level standardized tests showed that Florida’s “learning rate” was the worst in the country — by a wide margin.

Florida has the worst learning rate, according to a Stanford study.
Florida has the worst learning rate, according to a Stanford study. [ Provided ]

Florida students learned 12 percent less each year from third to eighth grade than the national average from 2009 to 2018. The next worst state was Alabama, according to The Educational Opportunity Project at Stanford University. Florida’s political and education leaders completely ignored that finding.

Contrast that deafening silence with the hype and misinterpretation that comes with the release of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), “the Nation’s Report Card.” When those results came out last fall, Gov. Ron DeSantis crowed on Twitter that, “We kept schools open in 2020, and today’s NAEP results once again prove that we made the right decision. In Florida, adjusted for demographics, fourth grade students are #1 in both reading and math.”

Tellingly, DeSantis ignored the eighth grade results, which came out far worse than fourth grade — just as they have in every NAEP cycle since 2003.

The “Nation’s Report Card” is a snapshot of group proficiency taken by different cohorts of kids every two years in reading and math in fourth grade and eighth grade. It produces state-by-state results and proficiency rankings. It does not track individual kids year over year. But it does tell you how Florida’s fourth and eighth graders compare with students in other states. I crunched the data, and here’s the bottom line: Florida’s students perform worse as they move up through the grades. There is consistent, massive systemic regression with age. And the gap is widening.

This is a state failure, not a local one attributable to individual districts. Yet, in every NAEP cycle, Florida politicians and education leaders brag about fourth-grade NAEP results in press releases.

But ignoring the eighth grade results or the “learning rate” study does not change these facts:

· Florida kids regress dramatically as they age in the system. Since 2003, Florida’s eighth grade rank as a state has never come close to its fourth grade rank on any NAEP test in any subject.

· The size of Florida’s regression is dramatic and growing, especially in math.Florida’s overall average NAEP state rank regression between fourth and eighth grade since 2003 is 17 spots (math) and 18 spots (reading). But since 2015, the averages are 27 spots (math) and 19 spots (reading).

· No other state comes close to Florida’s level of consistent fourth to eighth grade performance collapse. In the last three NAEP cycles — 2017, 2019 and COVID-delayed 2022 — Florida ranked sixth, fourth and third among states in fourth grade math. In those same years, Florida ranked 33th, 34th and tied for 31st in eighth grade.

· For comparison, Massachusetts typically ranks at or near #1 among states on both the fourth grade and eighth grade NAEP for math and reading. Its eighth grade rank has never been more than one spot lower than fourth.

· Florida has never matched the U.S. average scaled score on eighth grade math NAEP.

· In COVID-marred 2022, Florida’s eighth grade scale scores in reading and math both lost 8 points relative to the national average, compared to fourth grade. That’s larger or equal to the overall collapse of NAEP scores nationwide attributed to COVID.

To restate, what happens every NAEP cycle between fourth and eighth grade in Florida matches and mostly exceeds the negative impact of COVID. Overall, recent NAEP cycles show Florida collapsing from elite test scores in fourth grade reading and math to abysmal in eighth grade math and average in eighth grade reading, even after its much-hyped approach to COVID in 2022.

And, worse, there is no reason at all to believe Florida’s test performance regression with age stops at eighth grade. The only two years the NAEP tested 12th graders — 2009 and 2013 — the Florida collapse worsened significantly with further age, but against a smaller pool of states.

Willful ignorance, useless testing

So what to make of this?

You can rest assured that your top education officials know all about Florida’s eighth grade NAEP and learning rate failures, which is why they never discuss them. I suspect these test data realities helped drive Florida to drop its big state growth test — the Florida Standards Assessment — and move toward a “progress monitoring” regime this year that may or may not create functionally different data reporting models.

The discourse around Florida’s NAEP performance — and the catastrophic learning rate that we ignore on our state tests — makes me deeply skeptical of standardized tests and their use in our education systems and society. I see them as punitive political and social sorting tools, rather than “assessments” designed to help individual children reach their potential.

Forget whether test results are valid or biased. We can’t even accurately describe what the test results say — on their face — about the success of our state school system. So what use are they?

Florida’s politicians, education leaders, policy community and journalists should look at these results and ask this basic question: The data tells us your child will regress dramatically every year he or she stays in the Florida system. What’s going on?

If we can’t do that, then why do we force standardized tests on kids at all?

What we should be studying

I’ve been attempting to draw attention to this dramatic Florida regression dynamic for years. So I was pleased to the see the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board and Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis notice and publicly address the massive drop in test performance between fourth and eighth grade in Florida on the 2022 NAEP. But I was puzzled by suggestions that it was something new, caused by COVID. It isn’t; and it wasn’t.

Indeed, if we took standardized tests seriously as diagnostic and development tools, we would have long ago started asking: What causes this? What changes need to be made beyond rebuilding and supporting a developmentally focused teacher corps? What are the system quirks of Florida that cause this dynamic?

Here are some good questions to ask and study:

· Why doesn’t “learn to read, read to learn” work in Florida?

One of our treasured education cliches is “learn to read” so you can “read to learn.” It’s essentially the policy justification for imposing mass retention on third graders, as Florida does. And yet, although Florida routinely ranks high fourth grade NAEP reading, our readers immediately lose massive ground relative to other states. The data shows that Florida’s often punitive emphasis on “learn to read” by third or fourth grade creates no benefit in “reading to learn” in later grades — in math or reading. Why not?

· What is the role of mass third grade retention in Florida’s fourth grade peak and subsequent collapse?

Florida pioneered mass third grade retention based on reading standardized test scores in 2003. This prevents the lowest scoring third grade readers from taking the NAEP with their age cohort in fourth grade. And when that low scoring third grader finally takes the fourth grade NAEP, retention has made it as if he or she is a fifth grader taking the fourth grade NAEP.

Florida law theoretically subjects more than 40 percent of Florida’s roughly 200,000 public school third graders to retention because of low scores. A smaller — but still significant — number is actually retained. Florida does not appear to publish that actual total number of third graders retained.

· What is the cost to the individual children and overall system performance?

Essentially all data shows that ripping kids away from their age cohort because of testing leads to significant human harm and increased drop out rates over time.

Is that affecting Florida’s learning rate for older kids and the eighth grade NAEP collapse? A 2017 study of a cohort of southwest Florida students showed that seven years after retention, 94% of the retained group remained below reading proficiency. It also showed that third and sixth graders find retention as stressful as losing a parent.

· How many voucher third grade testing refugees are there? What effect do they have on the fourth grade NAEP?

Third grade retention is not Florida’s only way to get low scoring fourth graders off the books for the NAEP. It’s been well-established that Florida over-testing and third grade retention is a primary sales tool for vouchers.TheOrlando Sentinel’sPulitzer-worthy “Schools without Rules”report in 2017 about voucher schools reported: “Escaping high-stakes testing is such a scholarship selling point that one private school administrator refers to students as ‘testing refugees’.”

How many testing refugees are there? And how does Florida’s massive voucher program — America’s largest and least studied — affect performance on the NAEP by allowing low scoring kids to duck it?

· What effect do voucher school dropouts have on scoring when they return in massive numbers to public schools?

At the same time, 61 percent of voucher kids abandon the voucher within two years (75 percent within three years),according to the Urban Institute, in the closest thing to a study ever done on Florida vouchers.

Enormous numbers of “low-scoring” kids duck third and fourth grade tests and then come back into the public system to be counted in the eighth grade NAEP and other yearly tests. That’s likely a recipe for score collapse. But there is no hard data to analyze. Florida is long overdue for such a study, and voucher advocates know it will be a data bloodbath.

Perhaps that’s because independent studies of smaller state voucher programs — with much greater oversight — shows attending a voucher school will “meet or exceed what the pandemic did to test scores,” according to Michigan State researcher and former voucher advocate-turned-critic Josh Cowen.

· Does chasing test scores kill test scores over time?

Test-driven instruction isn’t engaging. Kids come to understand how useless these tests are to their lives; and they behave accordingly. Teachers come to hate the test-obsessed model and leave the profession. How has that affected test scores?

A longstanding waste of human potential

For me, the eighth grade NAEP and “learning rate” failures are evidence that we’ve wasted a generation of human potential and severely damaged Florida’s teaching profession. Will anyone “follow the data” where it leads? Will anyone ask: Should our kids peak at age 9 and decline inexorably from there?

I believe Florida has long had one of America’s worst test-performing state school systems because of its governance model and intellectual corruption and pursuit of useless measures and fake accountability.

I

Billy Townsend was an award-winning investigative reporter for The Lakeland Ledger and Tampa Tribune. He oversaw education reporting as an editor for The Ledger. He has been an independent writer and journalist since 2008, focused on Florida history, education and civic systems. He was an elected Polk County School Board member from 2016-2020. Today he writes the Florida-focused email newsletter “Public Enemy Number 1.” He can be reached at townsendsubstackpe1@gmail.com.

Donna Ladd, editor and CEO of the Mississippi Free Press, writes here about the sustained rightwing effort to co-opt Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy of militant resistance to racism and his dedication to telling the truth about our tarnished history. This is an important essay. It’s about a concerted attempt to hijack the words of Dr. King by those who hate his message. It’s about conservative white people like Chris Rufo and Ron DeSantis trying to use his words to prevent honest teaching about the history of racism. I have left the fund-raising appeals in the article because I hope you will send some money to this brave publication.

She writes, powerfully:

I grew up hearing people around me badmouthing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. To hear white folk in east central Mississippi in the 1960s and 1970s tell it, he was the very root of all evil, and everything wrong in their lives was his damn fault. He had marched in my hometown of Philadelphia, Miss., in 1966 amid violent chaos when I was a kid—he spoke near the murderers of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner by law-enforcement officials.

Yes, Dr. King gave his life in the search for more love and less hate, but he was not only spreading a message of love, as so many white thieves of his legacy try to say today. His message was pure fire. And he was out to hold a mirror up to our nation about white Americans—not only Mississippians and southerners—using terror to maintain power over everyone else and to enjoy the fruits of that terrorism.

Throughout his life, Dr. King toiled and ultimately sacrificed his life in the fight to change power structures and systems established and enforced to keep white people on the top and Black people on the bottom. He wanted America to understand that enslaved people built this nation—after many of their enslavers figured out how to steal the land from Indigenous Americans and forcefully remove them from the land they coveted.

None of this history is pretty or honorable, and Dr. King never tried to say it was or to cover up any of it. He wanted it taught to every person in this country and certainly wanted children to grow up having learned the lessons of the past. He knew that the “arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” And he was blunt that he was not likely to live long enough to see that happen.

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When a white man shot him at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Dr. King was more focused than ever on systemic racism and its links with poverty, and he was a harsh critic of capitalism and the Vietnam War. He was putting together the Poor People’s Campaign intending to occupy Washington, D.C., to bring more attention to the racism-poverty connection.

Of course, I didn’t know all that until I was well into adulthood. I knew most white folks in Mississippi hated him, and he was a martyred hero against racism. Like many Americans, I was fed the whitewashed version of Dr. King, which has worsened over the decades. I was nearly 40 when I studied with Dr.Manning Marable at Columbia University and learned the larger and more accurate history of Dr. King, Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, and many Black freedom fighters. I’ve also read his speeches; I know fully what Dr. King was about and what he supported.

Just read his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop Speech” in Memphis.

Now, 54 years after Dr. King went to Memphis to support a labor strike by sanitary workers, we see so many arrogant efforts by white Americans to remake him into their preferred hero—you know, the one who would tell us all now to forget all that sticky history and get along despite the systemic inequities our history embedded into our nation’s DNA.

It would be funny if it weren’t so sick and offensive. Right here in Jackson, a public-policy institute led by a former Brexiteer from the U.K. used a photo of Dr. King and his words out of context in a report a year ago to push legislation against so-called “critical race theory” in schools. Their report argued the precise opposite of what the Black freedom hero said or wanted. They even twisted his call for “being judged by the content of their character” out of context to make absurd statements about Dr. King, like this one: “Instead of celebrating the enormous achievements made since the Civil Rights Movement, critical race theory specifically rejects King’s color blind ideal and seeks to racialize every aspect of culture, sport, and public discourse.”

“Color-blind ideal”? That’s what this institute—and its board of prominent white Mississippians—think Dr. King meant by the need for white Americans to stop judging people by the color of their skin? Seriously? That’s some shoddy thinking. Or propaganda, as it were. Such cynicism can explain why this institute claiming Dr. King’s moral ground as its own has nine white men and two white women on its board.

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As we consider Dr. King’s legacy this weekend, we must study the whole legacy. No serious person can argue that he would want this nation to block the teaching of our full race history from colleges, schools and homes. No serious person would say that he would want us to simply be proud of how far we’ve come and not examine how far we’ve got to go—until that arc bends toward actual justice and inequity is no longer baked into our systems. No serious person thinks Dr. King would not want us to interrogate how and why inequity became baked into our systems and how to fix them so they don’t keep replicating themselves.

And no serious person would argue that Dr. King would not want the systemic history of slavery, massacres and lynchings that helped end Reconstruction and install Jim Crow, the story of little Ruby Bridges or our Medgar Evers or Lamar Smith down in Brookhaven, the story of ongoing attacks on public education since integration—or the full story of his real dreams taught to every American on this road to eradicating the baked-in legacies of racial suppression and white supremacy.

I get it. Complaining that teaching real race history is somehow “Marxism”—which no serious person would do, either—is bringing back the stunts and propaganda the rich and powerful white people used successfully to scare white folks back in the 1950s and 1960s and even inspire violence against Dr. King and Mr. Evers. The rewriting of history is sick politics. But it is a stunt that all serious people of any party who are, indeed, working not to judge people by their skin color must reject loudly and definitively.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his life to speak truth to power. We owe it to him to continue doing just that.

Donna Ladd, Editor and CEO

[I am not inserting a link because I can’t find one. Google Mississippi Free Press. If you find a link, please send it.]

I am sending my third contribution this year to MFP.

Darcie Cimarusti served on the school board of Highland Park, New Jersey, from 2013 to 2022. She is the communications director of the Network for Public Education. This article appeared in the Bedford Gazette.

She writes:

I have been a local school board member since my daughters, now 11th-graders, were in second-grade. In that time, I have been involved in education policy discussions at the local, state and national levels on issues related to the rights of LGBTQ+ students, standardized testing and the privatization of public education. The rise of the so-called “parental rights” movement in public education has been one of the thorniest, most perplexing issues I have encountered.

There is no doubt that parents play a crucial role in the education of their children. Who would dare argue that they don’t? But in the face of the anti-critical race theory, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-social emotional learning, anti-diversity equity and inclusion juggernaut unleashed by heavily funded, right-leaning astroturf parent groups such as Moms for Liberty, it has become imperative that we have an honest discussion about how much say parents should have in what is (or is not) taught in our public schools.

My district, unlike many, is racially, ethnically and socioeconomically diverse, with 31 languages spoken in the homes of our students. Educating such a diverse student body presents many challenges and requires a nuanced approach to policy and practice that ensures all students have equal opportunities to learn, thrive and grow. While it is easy for school leaders to say they embrace diversity, equity and inclusion, it’s far too challenging to implement policies promoting those principles.

I have spent my time on the school board helping to develop systems that ensure decisions are made collaboratively and with as many voices at the decision-making table as possible. This means making space not only for administrators, teachers, parents and students but also ensuring that historically marginalized groups are represented.

Decisions that affect students should never be based on the whims of those with the most privilege or power and indeed not on who has the loudest voice in the room.

However, the latter has become the hallmark of parental rights activists. They attend meeting after meeting, berating, shouting down and even making death threats against school board members. During the pandemic, battles over masks erupted at podiums at far too many school board meetings across the country and quickly morphed into demands to ban books, censor curriculum and muzzle “woke” teachers that parents accused of “grooming” their children.

In the 2022 midterm elections, parental rights activists were on the ballot in numerous states. With the support and endorsement of Moms for Liberty, they ran campaigns to become school board members in districts in red, blue and purple states. Moms for Liberty operates county chapters that aim to serve as watchdogs “over all 13,000 school districts.” Chapters empower parents to “defend their parental rights” and “identify, recruit & train liberty-minded parents to run for school boards.”

The “anti-woke” agenda espoused by Moms for Liberty endorsed school board candidates who had the greatest successes in Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis proudly declared the state being “where woke goes to die.” But in many other parts of the country, parental rights candidates lost their elections, with even conservative political operatives acknowledging that many of their campaigns were “too hyperbolic.”

Chaos has already erupted in several districts where they succeeded and won board majorities, with newly formed, inexperienced boards firing superintendents or forcing them to resign. One board voted to ban the teaching of critical race theory just hours after being sworn in.

After a decade of experience as a school board member, there’s one thing I can say for sure: The majority of parents, teachers and community members do not respond well to instability and disruption in their local public schools. When school boards run amok and rash decisions make headlines, communities work quickly to restore calm. If parental rights school board majorities continue to govern recklessly, they will undoubtedly face a backlash from voters.

Creating and implementing sound school policies and practices that respect and affirm all students requires collaboration. It does not allow for the divisive, polarizing rhetoric and impetuous, rash decision-making that have become the calling cards of the so-called parental rights movement.

The short answer is: Nothing. At least in Washington, D.C.

The story in New York is different.

Federal and local prosecutors are investigating whether his multiple lies broke any laws. Anne Donnelly, the local prosecutor in Nassau County, where he was elected, is a Republican, and she too has opened an investigation.

The New York Times, which broke the original story, reported last night:

Federal and local prosecutors are investigating whether Representative-elect George Santos committed any crimes involving his finances and lies about his background on the campaign trail.

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have opened an investigation into Mr. Santos that is focused at least in part on his financial dealings, according to a person familiar with the matter. The investigation was said to be in its early stages.

In a separate inquiry, the Nassau County, N.Y., district attorney’s office said it was looking into the “numerous fabrications and inconsistencies associated with Congressman-elect Santos” during his successful 2022 campaign to represent parts of Long Island and Queens.

It was unclear how far the Nassau County inquiry had progressed, but the district attorney, Anne Donnelly, said in a statement that Mr. Santos’s fabrications “are nothing short of stunning.”

Why are the Republicans in Congress silent?

Charlie Sykes, who used to be a conservative Republican, writes in The Bulwark that Kevin McCarthy needs Santos’ vote. End of story. His colleagues are saying “He’s learned his lesson,” although he remains defiant. Santos says “Everyone embellishes his resume.” But the proper word is not “embellish,” it’s “lie.” The Congressman-elect lied about his education, lied about his employment, lied about his religion, lied about his family. What part of his resume is true? No one knows.

Probably none of it except his name.

Sykes writes:

Of course, a political party with any sort of intact immune system would move quickly to send this sociopath back to ScamLand, whence he came.

But this is the GOP circa 2022, and so it faces a painful dilemma. With a narrow majority in the House, Republicans (and especially Kevin McCarthy) need his vote, of course.

But that’s not the real problem here, is it?

After years of ignoring, enabling, and rationalizing Big Lies and small ones, it will now be exceedingly difficult for the GOP to find their misplaced conscience that might morph into outrage and something like a moral standard. As Nick Catoggio writes:

Anyone willing to set aside their qualms about Trump for the sake of holding executive power logically should be willing to set aside their qualms about Santos for the sake of holding legislative power

So, not surprisingly, GOP leaders are either silent, or in a forgiving mood.

To deepen the puzzle of Santos, read this article in The Daily Beast about one of his big donors.

The Boston Globe wrote about the activities of a Dark Money group called Parents Defending Education, which has filed lawsuits against the public schools in Wellesley and Newton in their quest to ban books and cleanse the schools of teaching about racism and gender.

Maurice Cunningham wrote a letter to the Globe explaining the reason for the harassment. He thinks their goal is intimidation. He’s right. But there is more. I think their goal is to undermine confidence in public schools and build support for privatization.

He wrote:

LETTERS

In its challenges to schools, group’s object lesson is intimidation

Updated November 18, 2022, 2:30 a.m.

Moms for Liberty, represented at an event last month in Vero Beach, Fla., is among the groups associated with Parents Defending Education, which has been promoting conservative values in education and challenging school districts in court.

Re “Schools wary as nonprofit targets teaching: Right-leaning group’s complaints cite bias in lessons on gender, race, sexuality” (Page A1, Nov. 15): Parents Defending Education is an obedient franchise of right-wing interests, including Charles Koch and the Council for National Policy, that are working to destroy public education.

Legal actions such as Parents Defending Education’s civil rights complaint against the Newton Public Schools and its lawsuit against Wellesley Public Schools are meant to generate publicity and foster intimidation. As the Globe has reported previously, the group’s civil rights “complaints likely will go nowhere.” The lawsuit settled on terms favorable to Wellesley.


However, Parents Defending Education isn’t after legal recourse; it’s after harassment. Wellesley School Superintendent David Lussier said he has received “obscene” and “awful” e-mails from people connected to the group. In December 2021, the Globe reported that two Black school principals in Newton had received “racist and confrontational” messages after the right-wing publisher Breitbart published an article misrepresenting how the principals’ schools were handling lessons about the verdicts in the trials of Kyle Rittenhouse and the men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery. Breitbart’s story was framed by Parents Defending Education.

Racist and obscene messages menacing educators are not an unfortunate consequence of Parents Defending Education’s machinations; they are entirely foreseeable.

Maurice T. Cunningham

Cambridge

The writer is the author of “Dark Money and the Politics of School Privatization.” He is a retired associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston and a former state assistant attorney general in Massachusetts.