Archives for category: Ignorance

Carol Burris knows every detail of the U.S. Department of Education’s new regulations for charter schools. She has studied them closely and written about what they mean. They are a reasonable effort to create accountability for the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars a year on charter schools. The federal Charter Schools Program began in 1994 as a $4 million annual fund to start new charter schools. In the nearly three decades since then, the program has grown (in response to the powerful charter lobby) to $440 million a year. The program, until now, has been unregulated. It has been riddled with waste, fraud, and abuse. As two well-documented reports (see here and here) by the Network for Public Education demonstrated, a large number of charters received federal funding but never opened or closed soon after opening. While the original intent of the program was to jumpstart small, teacher-led or mom-and-pop charters, the program grew into a slush fund for big charter chains, grifters, and slick, for-profit entrepreneurs.

The U.S. Department of Education wisely decided it was time to set some rules. Federal funding comes with rules.

Billionaire Mike Bloomberg knows none of this context. He recently wrote (or one of his aides wrote) an uninformed article in the Washington Post about the Department’s new regulations for the Federal Charter School Program. He falsely claimed that the regulations were a “victory” for the charter industry, even though the charter industry fought the regulations vigorously. Bloomberg’s article was a lame attempt to put a happy face on a major defeat for the charter lobbyists.

Carol Burris responded:

Michael Bloomberg embarrassed himself with his recent op-ed published in the Washington Post entitled “Charter School Change is a Victory for Children.” It would appear that given the efforts and funding that his organization put into blocking Charter School Program reforms, he now feels the need to take an unearned victory lap.

Bloomberg begins his op-ed by thanking the Biden Administration for listening to parents and editorialists—like himself. After participating in the month-long hate fest that claimed the President was “at war with charter schools,” he and his allies at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools are likely eager to creep out of the doghouse.

In addition to its heated rhetoric insulting the President and telling Secretary Cardona to back off, the charter lobby deliberately spread misinformation regarding the U.S. Department of Education’s then-proposed Charter School Program reforms. They falsely claimed that over-enrollment in district schools and cooperation with a public school district were prerequisites to obtaining CSP funding. Bloomberg used his influence to write op-eds that parroted the campaign of misinformation.

As I explained here in the Washington Post Answer Sheet, neither claim was valid. Now, Bloomberg once again twists the truth with three additional false narratives in his recent op-ed.

The first is as follows.

“The Department of Education’s original proposal could have prevented public charter schools with long wait lists from expanding or replicating if the district schools were under-enrolled.”

This was inaccurate when he first wrote it and is still untrue. Under-enrollment was an example of one of the ways charter schools could demonstrate need. Waiting lists, special missions, and other ways to show need were always allowed. This was clarified by the Department long before the final regulations were published.

The second false claim in his op-ed is:

“It [proposed regulations] would have prioritized funding for public charter schools that enter into formal contracts with district schools, making charters dependent on the good will and good faith of schools that may see them as competitors.”

Mr. Bloomberg better check again.

Priority 2 (charter/district cooperation) is still in the regulations as an invitational priority this year. Invitational is one of three levels of priority. The proposed regulations never stated which level priority 2 would have. The priority, by being retained, also opens the door for priority 2 to become a higher priority in the coming years.

And finally:

“And it would have restricted public charters from receiving early implementation funding that can be crucial to the process of opening a school. The proposal was amended to prevent those outcomes.”

The amendment he refers to (see below) was a change without distinction. Those implementation funds cannot be used; therefore, the original restriction, for all intents and purposes, is still intact.

This is the minor change between the proposed and final regulations, as explained by the Department here.

“We amended Assurance (f) to remove the requirement that applicants provide an assurance that they will not “use or provide” implementation funds for a charter school until after the eligible applicant has received an approved charter and secured a facility so that applicants are required only to provide an assurance that they will not “use” implementation funds prior to receiving an approved charter and securing a facility.”

If the schools cannot use the funds, whether or not they are “provided” is irrelevant.

I do not know who penned this op-ed for Mr. Bloomberg. But I do know this. His buddies at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, likely with his financial support, spent a king’s ransom trying to get the U.S. Department of Education to scrap or delay the regulations. In the process, they alienated members of Congress, especially powerful House Appropriations Chair Rosa De Lauro, as well as members of the Department. Their campaign was relentless, nasty, and very expensive.

But in the world of Michael Bloomberg, the truth is flexible, and he can use the influence derived from his fortune to put in print whatever “truth” suits his purpose.

However, those of us who have followed this carefully know the deal. As charter devotee, Jeanne Allen tweeted to the National Alliance’s Nina Rees, who was also trying to claim victory, “You should probably read thoroughly the final CSP #charterschool rules. All 135 pages. Not only did nothing really change, but the explanations make it worse than it was to start.”

Andrew Van Wagner warns that the neoliberal experiment in Arizona is intended to atomize, indoctrinate, and control the population.

As he writes, if you can dumb people down, you can control them. If you can declare some topics unacceptable in the classroom, like racism, you can indoctrinate them.

Van Wagner writes:

“It’s part of the way of controlling and dumbing down the population, and that’s important.”

“Everyone should fight back against the effort to dumb people down and control people—it’s scary to think that the GOP is turning America into a country where people don’t have enough education to be able to resist the GOP’s legislative and cultural agenda.”

“So the new Arizona law is a fantastic and quintessential and perfect example of neoliberalism. The vision is—as I’ve written about previously—atomization for the general population and lots of society and organization and community for elites.”

“Everyone needs to fight back against the GOP’s attack on education. We can’t afford—in a pivotal period like this—to let the GOP impose atomization and indoctrination and control on the American population.”

Peter Greene tells the story caught on tape when Larry Arnn, president of rightwing Christian Hillsdale College, tells Tennessee Governor Bill Lee that teachers are the dumbest, trained by the dumbest, and you don’t need to know anything to be a teacher.

Governor Lee listens abjectly. He invited Hillsdale to open 100 charter schools across Tennessee. Hillsdale agreed to open 50.

Greene writes about Arnn’s tirade, which was taped:

“The teachers are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country.”


“They are taught that they are going to go and do something to those kids…. Do they ever talk about anything except what they are going to do to these kids?”


“In colleges, what you hire now is administrators…. Now, because they are appointing all these diversity officers, what are their degrees in? Education. It’s easy. You don’t have to know anything.”


“The philosophic understanding at the heart of modern education is enslavement…. They’re messing with people’s children, and they feel entitled to do anything to them.”


“You will see how education destroys generations of people. It’s devastating. It’s like the plague.”

“Here’s a key thing that we’re going to try to do. We are going to try to demonstrate that you don’t have to be an expert to educate a child because basically anybody can do it.”

Someone should have told Arnn that America was built by people who attended public schools, not by graduates of Hillsdale.

Governor Lee didn’t have the guts to stand up for the teachers of Tennessee. Probably he thinks the people who voted for him are the dumbest of the dumb.

Anne Thomas-Abbott, a teacher in Knoxville, did respond to Larry Arnn, whose contempt for teachers is abhorrent and ignorant.

Greene adds:

If you are shaking your head at Tennessee, I suggest you look around your own state first, because these public education-hating faux Christian right wingers are all over the country, and when he’s selling his product in public, Arnn is rarely as blunt as he was before the Tennessee crowd. Make sure everyone gets to hear what he really thinks.

Dana Milbank is my favorite columnist at the Washington Post. In this column, he responds to the Texas GOP platform, which proposes that the state secede from the US and become a sovereign nation. Milbank says. “Good riddance!” As a native Texan, I’m ashamed for my state, ashamed that it’s been taken over by theocrats and dumbbells.

The Lone Star State does not have the best track record as a sovereign power. The Republic of Texas survived only 10 years from independence to annexation by the United States in 1845. Texas seceded during the Civil War — and, with the rest of the Confederacy, was crushed.


But, as the saying goes: If at first you don’t secede, try, try again. The Texas GOP now wants the state to vote on declaring independence.


And the United States should let Texas go! Better yet, let’s offer Texas a severance package that includes Oklahoma to sweeten secession — the Sooner the better.

Over the weekend, while many Americans were celebrating the 167th anniversary of Juneteenth (when Union Gen. Gordon Granger, in Galveston, Tex., delivered the order abolishing slavery) the Texas Republican Party voted on a platform declaring that federal laws it dislikes “should be ignored, opposed, refused, and nullified.”


The proposed platform (it’s expected to be approved when votes are tallied) adds: “Texas retains the right to secede from the United States, and the Texas Legislature should be called upon to pass a referendum consistent thereto.” It wants the secession referendum “in the 2023 general election for the people of Texas to determine whether or not the State of Texas should reassert its status as an independent nation.”


Yee-haw!


Of course, protections would have to be negotiated for parts of Texas that wish to remain on Team Normal. Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio and parts of South Texas would remain in the United States, and they will need guaranteed safe passage to New Orleans or Santa Fe, along with regular airlifts of sustainable produce, accurate textbooks and contraceptives.

But consider the benefits to the rest of the country: Two fewer Republican senators, two dozen fewer Republican members of the House, annual savings of $83 billion in defense funds that Texas gets. And the best reason? The Texas GOP has so little regard for the Constitution that it is calling for a “Convention of the States” to effectively rewrite it — and so little regard for the United States that it wishes to leave.


In democracy’s place, the Republican Party, which enjoys one-party rule in Texas, is effectively proposing a church state. If you liked Crusader states and Muslim caliphates, you’ll love the Confederate Theocracy of Texas.


The Texas GOP platform gives us a good idea what such a paradise for Christian nationalists would look like. Texas would officially declare that “homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice.” It would redefine marriage as a “covenant only between one biological man and one biological woman,” and it would “nullify” any court rulings to the contrary. (The gay Log Cabin Republicans were banned from setting up a booth at the convention.) It would fill schools with “prayer, the Bible, and the Ten Commandments” but ban “the teaching of sex education.” It would abolish all abortions and require students to “learn about the Humanity of the Preborn Child.”


The Texas Theocracy, which maintains that President Biden “was not legitimately elected,” would keep only traces of democracy. It wants the Voting Rights Act of 1965 “repealed,” and it would rewrite the state constitution to empower minority rule by small, rural (and White) counties. It would rescind voters’ right to elect senators and the Constitution’s guarantee of birthright citizenship.

The Texas Theocracy would probably be broke; it wants to abolish the federal income tax, “Axe the Property Tax” and do away with the estate tax and various business taxes. Yet it is planning a hawkish foreign policy! The platform argues that Texas is currently “under an active invasion” and should take “any and all appropriate measures the sovereign state defines as necessary to defend” itself. It imagines attacks by a “One World Government, or The Great Reset” — an internet-born conspiracy belief — and proposes “withdrawal from the current United Nations.” The Theocracy would put the “wild” back in the West, abolishing the minimum wage, environmental and banking regulations, and “red-flag” laws or waiting periods to prevent dangerous people from buying guns.

Above all, the Confederate Theocracy of Texas would be defined by thought police. It would penalize “woke corporations” and businesses that disagree with the theocracy over abortion, race, trans rights and the “inalienable right to refuse vaccination.”

Government programs would be stripped of “education involving race.” Evolution and climate change “shall be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change.” There would be a “complete repeal of the hate crime laws.” The Texas Revolution “shall not be ‘reimagined’” in a way the theocracy finds “disrespectful.” Confederate monuments “shall be protected,” “plaques honoring the Confederate widows” restored, and lessons on “the tyrannical history of socialism” required.

In their platform, the Texas Republicans invoked “God” or the “Creator” 18 times and “sovereignty” or sovereign power 24 times. And the word “democracy”? Only once — in reference to China.

I hope you can read the comments. Readers suggest other states that should secede with Texas.

Dean Obeidallah, a regular contributor to CNN, describes the Texas GOP’s defiant rejection of democracy. In an earlier post, I pointed out that the state convention booed Senator Jon Cornyn for daring to negotiate a bipartisan gun control deal (which did not include any of President Biden’s demands). That was the mildest of their actions.

He writes:

CNN) – Disturbing video from the Texas Republican Convention this weekend shows convention-goers mocking GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw — a Navy SEAL veteran who lost his right eye to a bomb in Afghanistan — with the term “eye patch McCain.”

Fox News’ Tucker Carlson coined the derisive nickname after the Texas lawmaker dared to express support for beleaguered Ukraine following Russia’s barbaric attack on it.

But apparently even more heinous in the eyes of some attendees is that Crenshaw rejected former President Donald Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was stolen. One man wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat can be seen yelling in an online video, “Dan Crenshaw is a traitor!” and “He needs to be hung for treason!”

As despicable as the behavior toward Crenshaw was, even more alarming were the actions taken by the Texas GOP and the convention’s 5,000-plus delegates.

The gathering rejected the outcome of a democratic election, supported bigotry toward the LGBTQ community and imposed far-right religious beliefs on others by seeking to have them enshrined into law. And that wasn’t half of it.

In fact, the convention showed us one thing: Texas Republicans are no longer hiding their extremism. Instead, they are openly embracing it.

Even before the opening gavel, they gave us a glimpse of the party’s extremism in the Lone Star State by banning the Log Cabin Republicans from setting up a booth at the convention.

Texas Republican Party Chairman Matt Rinaldi cast the deciding vote on the move to bar the group that has advocated for LGBTQ Republicans for decades. “I think it’s inappropriate given the state of our nation right now for us to play sexual identity politics,” Rinaldi told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Once it formally got underway, the convention took a number of appalling and un-American actions. First, delegates approved a measure declaring that President Joe Biden “was not legitimately elected.” In short, the Texas GOP — like Trump himself — is embracing a lie because it’s unhappy with the election results. Put more bluntly, the Texas GOP voted to reject American democracy.

Republican delegates also booed John Cornyn, the senior US senator from Texas, at the convention Friday because of the Republican lawmaker’s role leading negotiations to reach a Senate deal on a bill to stem gun violence. Those legislative efforts follow last month’s horrific shooting that claimed the lives of 19 schoolchildren and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas.

The platform approved at the convention called for repealing or nullifying gun laws already in place, such as the Gun Control Act of 1968, which prevents felons and other dangerous people from being able to purchase a gun legally. Apparently, the Texas GOP believes that even dangerous people should have a constitutionally protected right to buy a gun.

The Texas GOP platform also embraced ramping up anti-abortion rhetoric in public schools. For example, the platform states that “Texas students should learn about the Humanity of the Preborn Child, including … that life begins at fertilization.” It even seeks to force students to watch “a live ultrasound” and for high-schoolers to read an anti-abortion booklet that critics say “includes scientifically unsupported claims and shames women seeking abortion care,” according to The Texas Tribune.

It sounds like the curriculum that you might find in a theocratic government such as the Taliban — not one in the United States funded by taxpayer dollars. But the GOP in large swaths of this country is no longer hesitant to support laws to impose its religious beliefs — as we see with measures some Republicans champion that would totally ban abortion. The GOP convention’s document additionally urges officials “not to infringe on Texas school students’ and staffs’ rights to pray and engage in religious speech.”

The Texas GOP platform also does its best to demonize those in the transgender community. It describes transgender people as suffering from “a genuine and extremely rare mental health condition.” And it sees sexual reassignment surgery as a form of medical malpractice.

The platform takes aim at gay Americans as well with the statement that homosexuality is “an abnormal lifestyle choice.” Instructively, the Texas GOP platform did not include such language in 2018 and 2020.

This platform gives us a glimpse into the views of the Republican base on key issues that in turn will pressure GOP elected officials in Texas — and possibly beyond the state — to adopt similarly extreme positions or run the risk of a primary challenge from an even more extreme Republican.

What caused this move to the far right? Brandon Rottinghaus, a political scientist at the University of Houston, told The Texas Tribune about the state GOP’s new extreme platform, “Donald Trump radicalized the party and accelerated the demands from the base.” He added alarmingly, “There simply aren’t limits now on what the base might ask for.”

I agree — in part. I don’t think Trump radicalized the base — rather he simply gave people permission to be who they always wanted to be.

But I agree with Rottinghaus that there are now no limits for what the GOP base might seek — be it rejecting election results it doesn’t agree with to enacting more laws based on extreme religious beliefs. And that should deeply alarm every American who wants to live in a democratic republic.

The convention also issued a call to repeal the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which guaranteed the right to vote for every citizen of voting age.

The only thing the Texas GOP neglected to do was pass a resolution congratulating the shooter at Uvalde for exercising his “God-given right” to use his AR15 as he saw fit.

I am tired of rightwing politicians distorting our language to suit their bigoted ideology.

They have the nerve, for example, to quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he spoke at the March on Washington in 1963 and said he hoped for the day when his children would be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Dr. King was projecting a vision of a world without racism, when people would see each other as friends, neighbors, and fellow human beings.

But rightwing politicians twist his words to insist that we should ignore racism right now, stop teaching about it, and pretend it does not exist. They use his words to justify prohibitions on teaching about or discussing the racism in the here and now. They use his appeal for an unrealized future to blind us to a cruel present.

I propose that we make a conscientious effort to reclaim the plain meaning of words.

One of the hot-button words that has been appropriated by rightwing politicians is “woke.” They are trying to turn it into a shameful word. I looked up the definition of WOKE. It means being aware of injustice and inequality, specifically when referring to racism. I strive to be aware of injustice and inequality and racial discrimination and to do whatever I can to change things for the better. Shouldn’t we all do that?

My acronym for WOKE is “Wide Open to Knowledge and Enlightenment.”

What would you say about someone who is not WOKE? They are “asleep,” “unconscious,” “indifferent.” They are “Mind Closed, Mouth Open.”

Yes, I am WOKE. I want Dr. King’s dream someday to be true. It is not true now.

Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida believes it is terrible to be woke. He demeans those he says are woke. He claims that the woke are politically correct and are intimidated by organized efforts to reduce racism in schools and the workplace. He thinks that being woke is so dreadful that it must be made illegal.

He urged the Florida legislature to pass “anti-woke” legislation in March. And they did. The so-called STOP WOKE” Act means “Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act.”

This legislation is intended specifically to silence discussions and study of racism. It bans the teaching of critical race theory in schools and colleges and bans diversity training in the workplace.

Governor DeSantis doesn’t want people to be opposed to injustice and inequality. He doesn’t want them to be opposed to racism. Such awareness makes some people feel uncomfortable, he says. We should teach nothing that makes anyone uncomfortable.

Who is uncomfortable when racism is discussed? In my experience, the people who don’t want any discussion of racism are either racist or are embarrassed by their acts of racism in the past.

To protect the tender sensibilities of white people, we must avoid any discussion that makes them or their children uncomfortable. We must not take the risk that they or their children might feel uncomfortable for terrible things that happened long ago. So don’t talk about them. Don’t read books that discuss slavery, the Ku Klux Klan, lynchings, or segregation. Don’t mention the distant past or the wrongs of the present. Don’t dare to talk about discrimination against black people, or the passage of laws that impair their right to vote, or the persistence of racially segregated schools.

Not only is it wrong to be woke, in the eyes of those who prefer to stifle all recognition of racial discrimination, it is absolutely forbidden for teachers or professors to examine the causes of racism and its persistence today in our laws and policies. Making a conscientious effort to understand the causes of racism and to seek remedies is called “critical race theory” (CRT).

The attacks on critical race theory are intended to intimidate teachers and to prevent students from learning about racism, past or present.

In states that have banned the teaching of critical race theory, the legislators can’t define CRT, so they make it illegal to teach “divisive concepts” or anything that makes some students “uncomfortable.”

When a white supremacist massacred ten Black people in Buffalo, New York, teachers in anti-CRT states were not sure if they were allowed to teach about what happened. Would they lose their jobs if they taught the truth?

The states that prohibit the teaching of critical race theory are banning the teaching of honest history, for fear that someone might be uncomfortable when they learn the facts about what was done to Black people in our history. Some states have explicitly banned Nikole Hannah-Jones’ “The 1619 Project,” because it might make some white people uncomfortable. I may be wrong, but I can’t recall a state that ever passed a law censoring a single book. This book is obviously very powerful and very frightening to those who feel the need to ban it. It cannot be refuted by the DeSantis faction so it must be banned.

The same states that want to ban honest teaching about racism are also banning books about gender identity and sexuality. The legislatures in Republican states think that the schools are filled with pedophiles. The rightwing zealots claim that teachers are “grooming” their students to become gay or transgender. They pass laws like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which bans teaching about gender identity and sexuality in grades K-3 (where gender identity and sexuality are not taught) and tolerate only “age-appropriate” discussion of gender identity and sexuality in other grades.

Like the STOP WOKE law, the “Don’t Say Gay” law is vague, which makes teachers fearful of teaching anything related to gender or sexuality. If schools can’t teach about gender identity, then they cannot teach about married couples of any gender. If you take them literally, you should not refer to Moms and Dads, men and women. Dare we teach young children about heterosexuality? Apparently not, if you follow the letter of the law.

The groups that are behind these attacks are familiar to us. They are Moms for Liberty, Moms for America, Parents Defending Freedom, and a bevy of other groups funded by rightwing billionaires.

Not coincidentally, these are the same groups that are fighting to pass funding for charter schools and vouchers.

What is their motive? They want to destroy not only freedom of thought but public schools.

Recently, I watched the far-right provocateur Chris Rufo give a speech at Hillsdale College. He called on his audience to act in a speech titled “Laying Siege to the Institutions.” (Please watch it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8Hh0GqoJcE). Rufo claims credit for making CRT a national issue. He boasts that a few years ago, CRT had virtually no public recognition. Thanks to his lies and distortions, most people have heard of it and some think it is a radical, Marxist plot to destroy America by turning race against race. Because he says so.

This is absurd.

For the past four decades, CRT was known as a law school study of the origins of systemic racism and the extent to which it is embedded in our laws and institutions. Its founder was Derrick Bell of Harvard Law School. He was a friend of mine. He was not a Marxist or a radical. He was a great American who wanted America to live up to its promises. Unlike Rufo, he didn’t believe in gag orders and bans. He believed in study, scholarship, debate and discussion.

Chris Rufo offers one solution to all the problems he sees: school choice.

To him, the public school is the most dangerous of all institutions, because it teaches equality, justice, and critical thinking. It teaches students to respect others. It teaches them to abhor racism and other forms of bigotry. It teaches students about American history without censoring the unpleasant and horrifying parts. The laws passed to ban CRT and to gag teachers have one purpose: Teach lies, not honest history.

Here is what I suggest.

Fight censorship.

Fight privatization of our public assets.

Read without fear.

Read “The 1619 Project,” which will open your minds. Read critiques of “The 1619 Project” by reputable scholars, not by rightwing ideologues.

Think about it. Discuss and debate the issues.

Say gay.

Stand up to the craven politicians who attack your freedoms.

Vote against them when you have the chance.

Fearlessly defend the freedom to read, the freedom to teach, and the freedom to learn.

Work towards the day when we treat each other with respect.

Wake up.

Ever since Governor Ron DeSantis punished the Disney Corporation for opposing his “Don’t Say Gay” law, I’ve been wishing that the Magic Kingdom would pull up stakes and move to another state. It’s one of Florida’s biggest employers and attracts millions of tourists every year. Surely it would be welcome in any other state, especially one that does not insult and humiliate any of its employees.

Turns out that Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank had the same idea.

He wrote:

Mickey Mouse needs a sanctuary city.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Hades) got his state legislature this week to abolish the favorable tax arrangement that brought Disney World to Orlando and kept it there for 55 years. It’s the latest salvo against corporate America from the Trump right, which has already threatened Twitter, Facebook, Citigroup and Delta Air Lines. But now they’re canceling Mickey and Minnie? That’s just Goofy…

Suddenly, sad times are upon the Happiest Place on Earth. Jared Polis, the Democratic governor of Colorado, has promised to “grant Mickey and Minnie full asylum in Colorado” and offered Disney a “Mountain Disneyland” retreat from “Florida’s authoritarian socialist attacks on the private sector.” Many Disney fans online are urging Disney World to leave Florida.

Of course, you can’t just put a resort with six theme parks and two dozen or so hotels on a magic carpet ride to, say, New Jersey. (As it is, central Floridians could be stuck with more than $1 billion in debt and a massive property-tax increase because of DeSantis’s anti-Disney vendetta.) But Disney is the place where dreams come true, and mine is that the whole of Disney World, which employs roughly 80,000 Floridians and attracts tens of millions of tourists every year, will take the second star to the right and straight on till morning — and abandon Florida entirely.
DeSantis would be left with a 25,000-acre house of horrors in Orlando: an abandoned resort in a state nobody wants to visit, thanks to Ron’s Runaway Railway.

His “don’t say gay” legislation makes Florida unwelcoming to LGBTQ people. His voter-suppression laws and race-baiting attacks on teaching history and race make Florida hostile to Black, Latino and Asian Americans. Rising antisemitism (Florida’s most famous resident just had a film screening at Mar-a-Lago characterized by antisemitic swipes at Mark Zuckerberg) gives Jews pause about the state. DeSantis’s MAGA-signaling anti-immigrant and antiabortion laws repel more large swaths of the population. His banning of math textbooks should send educated Floridians packing. His opposition to Medicaid expansion and Florida’s excessive covid-19 death rate over the past year have sent many Floridians to the morgue.


Soon, there won’t be much of a constituency left. As J.D. Vance, a Republican Senate candidate from Ohio, put it in a just-released private message from 2016, “We are, whether we like it or not, the party of lower-income, lower-education white people, and I have been saying for a long time that we need to offer those people SOMETHING.” So offer them a theme park! Rename Disney World’s ruins DeSanty World.

DeSanty World would make the Carousel of Progress turn in reverse, reimagining the Disney classics to suit its growing audience of Snow White nationalists. Pinocchio would dream of becoming not a “real boy” but a Proud Boy. Lady Tremaine, the wicked stepmother, would become the heroine of Cinderella, championing parental rights. Bambi would be seen from the hunters’ point of view. Aladdin’s new soundtrack would warn of “A Whole New World Order,” and Mulan would be reviled for spreading the coronavirus. Brave Frollo would fight valiantly to free France of minority groups and the disabled. And all would cheer for QAnon’s own Captain Hook as he battles to prevent villainous Peter Pan from grooming the Lost Boys.

Some attractions would require only minor changes. The Barnstormer roller coaster (“a staggering series of stupendous stunts”) would be dedicated to DeSantis instead of Goofy. The Mad Tea Party and Festival of Fantasy Parade could pretty much stay as they are, and the Hall of Presidents would just be dispossessed of its 46th inductee. DeSanty World would build a wall around the Alien Swirling Saucers. And, because of the park’s new open-carry gun policy, the whole thing would become a Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade.

DeSanty World would surely sack the China Pavilion at Epcot and its planned film “Wondrous China.” This would be replaced by a Covid Theater (no masks allowed!). A new 101 Dalmatians Dog Whistle attraction would feature DeSantis, who said, when he had a Black opponent in 2018, “The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up.” The existing Under the Sea Journey of the Little Mermaid would be repurposed to promote offshore oil. The Frozen Ever After boat ride would refute the climate change hoax. Splash Mountain, already getting re-themed around “The Princess and the Frog,” would now swap the evil voodoo practitioner Dr. Facilier with the more evil Dr. Fauci.

A thoroughly remodeled Tower of Terror would have the MAGA faithful screaming as Ursula lures them into gender reassignment surgery, Maleficent tries to enchant them with universal health care, and the demons Pain and Panic attempt to vaccinate them.

Then, after all but the QAnon faithful had self-deported from DeSanty World, the few remaining stragglers would sing as one: It’s a small world after all.

Amber Phillips reported in The Washington Post that the Michigan Republican Party selected a Trump-chosen person for the role of Secretary of State—the official who oversees and certifies elections. She sounds like a true believer in conspiracy theories:

Until the 2020 election, secretaries of state — at least at the state level — worked mostly under the radar, overseeing state elections and certifying the results. But then an election in a pandemic, combined with efforts by the sitting president to call into question the results, suddenly made the job a politically charged one.

That’s still true for the 2022 midterm elections. Donald Trump and his allies have recruited, supported and endorsed candidates who have denied the results of the 2020 election to run for secretary of state in key swing states. That has election-integrity experts worried that people who haven’t recognized basic election facts could be in charge of deciding who wins the 2024 presidential contest.

In Michigan, one of those candidates just got nominated to be on the ballot in November. Kristina Karamo is one of the loudest provocateurs among a dozen or so secretary of state candidates running on false election-fraud claims. She has Trump’s endorsement.

This weekend, in a sign of how much the grass roots of the Republican Party is with Trump on election fraud, the Michigan GOP voted to nominate her. In addition to denying election results without evidence, she has called schools “government indoctrination camps,” opposes the teaching of evolution and opposes coronavirus vaccines and childhood vaccines.

Thinks Trump won in 2022: check.

Hates public schools: check.

Opposes teaching about evolution: check.

Opposes COVID vaccines: check.

Opposes all childhood vaccines (polio, measles, mumps, smallpox, diphtheria, etc.): check.

No one asked about the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.

Wrap all those issues into one candidate and you gotta worry about the future of our democracy.

A

Conservatives used to be known as people resistant to radical change. In decades past, conservatives sought to conserve traditional institutions and make them better. That stance appealed to many Americans who were unsettled by radical ideas, opposed to big-box stores that would wipe out small-town America’s Main Street. Conservatives were also known for opposing government intrusion into personal decisions; what you did in your bedroom was your business, not the state’s. What you and your doctor decided was best for you was your decision, not the state’s.

Chris Rufo is the face of the New Conservatism, who wants to frighten the parents of America into tearing down traditional institutions, especially the public school that they and their family attended.

Rufo became well-known for creating a national panic about “critical race theory,” which he can’t define and doesn’t understand. But he seems to think that schools are controlled by racist pedagogues and sexual perverts. In his facile presentation at Hillsdale College, one of the most conservative institutions of higher education in the nation, he makes clear that America has fallen from its position as a great and holy nation to a slimepit of moral corruption.

He has two great Satans in his story: public schools and the Disney Corporation. The Disney Corporation, in his simple mind, is a haven for perverts and pedophiles, bent on corrupting the youth of the nation.

Rufo asserts, based on no discernible evidence, that the decline and fall of America can be traced to the failed revolution of 1968. The radicals lost, as Nixon was elected that year, but burrowed into the pedagogical and cultural institutions, quietly insinuating their sinister ideas about race and sex into the mainstream, as the nation slept. Rufo’s writings about “critical race theory,” which he claims is embedded in schools, diversity training in corporations, and everywhere else he looked, made him a star on Tucker Carlson’s show, an advisor to the Trump White House, and a fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute. Benjamin Wallace-Wells wrote a profile of Rufo in The New Yorker and identified him as the man who invented the conflict over critical race theory, which before Rufo was a topic for discussion in law schools.

Before Rufo’s demonization of CRT, it was known among legal scholars as a debate about whether racism was fading away or whether it was systemic because it was structured into law and public policy. I had the personal pleasure of discussing these ideas in the mid-1980s with Derrick Bell, who is generally recognized as the founder of CRT. Bell was then at the Harvard Law School, after working as a lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He reached the conclusion that the Brown Decision of 1954 was inadequate to root out systematic racism.

At the time, I was a centrist in my politics and believed that racism was on its way out. Derrick disagreed. We spoke for hours, he invited me to present a paper at a conference he was organizing, which I did. Contrary to Rufo, I can attest that Derrick Bell was not a Marxist. He was not a radical. He wanted an America where people of different races and backgrounds had decent lives, unmarred by racial barriers. He was thoughtful, gentle, one of the kindest people I’ve ever known. He wanted America to be the land it professed to be. He was a great American.

Was 1968 the turning point, after which the radicals took over our culture and destroyed our founding ideals, as Rufo claims? No, it was not. I was there. He was born in 1984. He’s blowing smoke, making up a fairy-tale that he has spun into a narrative.

In 1968, I turned 30. I had very young children. I was not sympathetic to the hippies or the Weather Underground or the SDS. I hated the Vietnam War, but I was not part of any organized anti-war group. I believed in America and its institutions, and I was firmly opposed to those who wanted to tear them down, as the Left did then and as the Right does now. I worked in the Humphrey campaign in 1968 and organized an event in Manhattan—featuring John Kenneth Galbraith, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., and a long lineup of “liberals for Humphrey”— that was disrupted and ruined by pro-Vietnam Cong activists. That event, on the eve of the 1968 election, convinced me that Nixon would win. (While my event was disrupted, Nixon held a campaign rally a block away, at Madison Square Garden, that was not disrupted.)

1968 was the year that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy were assassinated. It was a horrible, depressing year. America seemed to be falling apart.

Did the Weathermen and other radicals begin a long march through the institutions and eventually capture them? That’s ridiculous. Some became professors, but none became college presidents, to my knowledge. Many were ostracized. Some went to prison for violent crimes. Those who played an active political role in 1968 are in their 80s now, if they are alive.

Rufo’s solution to what he sees as the capture of our institutions by racists and pedophiles is surpringly simple: school choice. He hopes everyone will get public money to send their children to private and religious schools, to charter schools, or to home school them. If only we can destroy public schools, he suggests, we can restore America to the values of 1776.

Good old 1776, when most black people were slaves, women had no rights, and the aristocracy made all the decisions. They even enjoyed conjugal rights to use their young female slaves. Those were the good old days, in the very simple mind of Christopher Rufo.

Turning the clock back almost 250 years! Now that’s a radical idea.

High school students in several districts in Iowa have staged walkouts to protest legislation that affects their education. Students want their teachers to have the freedom to teach, and they want the freedom to learn. Iowa legislators don’t want either.

In light of recent education bills at the Iowa Legislature, whether it’s promoting vouchers for private schools or restricting what teachers are allowed to mention in class, many Iowa students are getting fed up. And they’re standing up.

Friday afternoon in Johnston, a group of close to 100 students walked out of class and stood on school grounds to talk about those bills, explain how they’re impacting Iowa students and teachers, and encourage their peers to register to vote and to elect different legislators.

“I think the biggest thing now is putting people in positions of power that actually will do the work and will care and represent the student voices that are speaking out about this,” said Waverly Zhao, a junior at Johnston High School who helped lead the walkout.

The walkout was organized by students and two student organizations, Johnston Community of Racial Equity (CORE) Club and Iowa WTF.

And Johnston was only one of several with recent walkouts. Thursday, students walked out at Ankeny and other events have been planned for public and private high schools in Ames, West Des Moines, Des Moines, and possibly Waukee. All are organized by student groups, and generally around the same issue of not having their voices heard about their educations. Students have also held walkouts in recent months in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and Waterloo.

Specifically, students are calling out House File 2577, the bill that requires teachers to post every single piece of classroom material online, and Senate File 2369, the bill which allows vouchers for private schools and includes a parents’ bill of rights. Both have only passed in their chambers.

Students are also calling out House File 802, the law that prohibits so-called “divisive concepts” being taught in school, which passed last year…

HF 802 prohibited teachers from teaching “divisive concepts” and targets ideas such as systemic or institutionalized racism and sexism, and how those have shaped the way the country was built and how it functions now. Students say they’ve already seen it cause a chilling effect in their classrooms.

“As a student of color, it’s been hard enough in the district, and with the recent legislation, it’s harder to discuss racism and harder for us to combat that in schools,” said Anita Danakar, a Johnston high schooler.

For example, she said her history teacher made sure to tell students they weren’t trying to make student feel guilty when they talked about redlining in class.

Zhao said in her history and social studies classes teachers are talking less about racism and sexism so they don’t cross any lines. A history lesson she had about the 3/5ths compromise in the Constitution left most of the class confused, Zhao said, because the teacher was never quite able to explain why it existed….

Overall, the students said they want to learn about these topics in school, from a trusted source and in an environment where they can ask questions.

“This entire attitude that [says] these students are not mature enough to learn and have mature conversations in the classroom about race, gender, sexuality, to say we can’t even talk about that in an educational environment is disgusting,” said Nicholas Arick, a 17-year-old student who plans to vote in the next presidential election. “It’s saying these students don’t deserve to learn about these things, and eventually when they get out of high school, they’re be ignorant and they won’t know what they’re voting for.”