Archives for category: Republicans

In this editorial, Harold Meyerson plumbs the depths of meanness in the Senate’s majority party. It would be better for the unemployed if more of them were quarantined and unable to vote:

ON TAP Today from the American Prospect
MARCH 26, 2020

Meyerson on TAP

The Senate’s OTHER Vote Last Night—Along Party Lines. As every news-following American knows, the Senate voted unanimously last night to pass a $2.2 trillion stimulus package for our rapidly shrinking economy. But hardly any news-following American knows about the vote that immediately preceded that—on the amendment that four Republican senators introduced to greatly reduce unemployment insurance payments.

The senators’ objection to the agreed-upon UI fix in the stimulus bill was itself widely reported. Because unemployment insurance levels in many states with right-wing governments are so low, Democrats insisted upon the federal government topping off UI payments with an additional $600 a week to the unemployed for a four-month period. Four conservative senators objected on the grounds that that might create incomes for the unemployed that exceeded their pay when on the job. Not surprisingly, two of those senators were South Carolinians Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott. South Carolina, it should be noted, is one of the six states that have never passed a minimum-wage law, and one of the two states (the other is North Carolina) that always place first or second in having the lowest rate of unionized workers—invariably, below 3 percent. In short, it’s no great achievement to make more money off the job than on the job in the senators’ home state, precisely because South Carolina’s historic denigration of workers creates so many poverty-wage jobs. Graham and Scott were like the kids who kill their parents and plead for mercy because they’re orphans.

But here’s the kicker: Surely, the objections of these two troglodytes and their two co-sponsors (Florida’s Rick Scott and Nebraska’s Ben Sasse) were just idiosyncratic social meanness, right?

Wrong. The vote on their amendment was 48-48; the only Republican to join the chamber’s 47 Democrats in voting no was Maine’s Susan Collins. (Fortunately, the Democrats, as part of the agreement on the stimulus bill, had insisted that the amendment require 60 votes to pass.)

If there’s a clearer expression of Republicans’ concern for their fellow Americans who lose their jobs in the pandemic crisis, I sure don’t know it. ~ HAROLD MEYERSON

Politico Morning Education reported yesterday that the coronavirus legislation in Congress has been delayed because Republicans and Democrats disagree about including college student debt relief.

Of course, other issues between the parties have stymied an agreement, especially the $500 billion economic recovery fund that would be administered by Treasury Secretary Mnuchin. Republicans want him to have broad discretion over where the money goes; Democrats insist on oversight, to ensure that he is not favoring Republican donors and underwriting Trump family properties, like Mar-a-Lago and Trump hotels. The latest speculation in the media is that the parties may reach agreement later today. Keep your eye on the Mnuchin fund.

REPUBLICANS, DEMOCRATS SPAR OVER STUDENT DEBT RELIEF IN STIMULUS BILL: Republicans and Democrats are fighting over how to structure relief for the nation’s tens of millions of student loan borrowers as part of the massive stimulus plan to address the economic havoc caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

— At the core of the student debt dispute: Republicans have largely embraced the idea that borrowers should immediately be able to put their payments on hold without accruing interest; Democrats say that’s an insufficient half-measure and want to see some amount of debt cancellation.

— The latest Senate GOP stimulus bill circulated on Sunday would require the Education Department to suspend payments on federally held student loans for six months without interest accruing — a modest expansion from an earlier bill that called for a three-month mandatory suspension with an additional three-month pause at the discretion of the department.

— Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was unable to advance the bill through a procedural vote on Sunday evening as Democrats objected. Among the many “major problems” with the bill, according to a senior Democratic aide, was that it doesn’t “provide adequate relief for the 44 million federal student loan borrowers.”

— The GOP plan follows the Trump administration’s executive actions to halt interest on federally held student loans and give borrowers a new forbearance option to pause their payments for the next two months. (Sen. Mitt Romney on Friday also proposed a longer forbearance of up to three years for recent graduates entering the job market.)

— But Senate Democrats, led by Chuck Schumer, are pushing a counter proposal: They want to cancel the monthly payments owed during the national emergency and guarantee each borrower receive at least $10,000 in loan forgiveness. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who campaigned on sweeping student debt cancellation, has pressed the issue with Schumer personally, including during phone calls last week, according to a Huffington Post report on Sunday.

— Biden, who has resisted calling for widespread student debt cancellation in his education plans, on Sunday backed the plan to forgive at least $10,000 in debt per borrower as part of the stimulus bill. “Young people and other student debt holders bore the brunt of the last crisis,” Biden tweeted. “It shouldn’t happen again.”

— In the House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indicated she may start drafting her own stimulus bill, there’s growing pressure from progressives to include student loan forgiveness. A group of progressive lawmakers, led by Reps. Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar, urged House leadership to include loan forgiveness in the bill. The letter was signed by Rep. Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Rep. Maxine Waters, the chair of the House Financial Services Committee, has also separately called for including $10,000 in student debt forgiveness in a coronavirus stimulus plan.

— Rep. Bobby Scott, the chair of the House education committee, hasn’t publicly backed any student loan forgiveness plan and it wasn’t included as part of his $3 billion coronavirus bill to address education rolled out last week. But a Democratic committee aide told POLITICO: “The Senate Democrats proposal is a step in the right direction.”

— Republicans, meanwhile, say Democrats are exploiting a crisis to enact their policy agenda. “Democrats are trying to reduce student loans by $10,000. What the hell has that got to do with the virus,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Fox News on Sunday. “I’m sure everybody could use more money, but I don’t want to give money to people who have a paycheck. I want to give money to people who have lost their jobs.”

Last night, House Democrats introduced the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which includes:

Free coronavirus testing for everyone who needs a test, including the uninsured;

Paid emergency leave with both 14 days of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave;

Enhanced Unemployment Insurance, a first step that will extend protections to furloughed workers;

Strengthened food security initiatives, including SNAP, student meals, seniors nutrition and food banks;

Clear protections for frontline workers, including health care workers and other workers who are in contact with those who have been exposed or are responsible for cleaning at-risk places;
Increased federal funds for Medicaid, as states face increased costs.

According to USA Today, Republicans objected to the Democrats’ proposal:

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act is being brought to the floor less than 24 hours after Democratic leaders unveiled the legislation, a stunningly swift turnaround that indicates Congress’ alarm about an emergency that has so far claimed 38 lives in the U.S., roiled the stock market, prompted a ban on travel from Europe and forced the suspension of the NBA season.

It does not include a payroll tax break that President Donald Trump is calling for. And GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy, D-Calif., said the Democratic package “comes up short.”

One of his criticisms is that the way the bill ensures paid sick leave would take months to administer, long after the relief is needed.

Even if it passes the House Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled his opposition to the Families First measure.

“Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi’s first draft from late last night was off-base,” the Kentucky Republican tweeted. “It does not focus immediate relief on affected Americans. It proposes new bureaucracy that would only delay assistance. It wanders into policy areas that are not related to the pressing issues at hand.”

Trump said Thursday he opposes the bill as well, partly because it doesn’t have the payroll tax cut but also because it includes “goodies” he said Democrats have been trying to get approved for years.

Doesn’t the Bible tell us to feed the hungry and help the sick? Is there anything in the Bible about tax cuts?

Stuart Stevens is a Republican political consultant who is helping the campaign of former Massachusetts Governor William Weld, who is running against Trump in Republican primaries that still allow opposition candidates.

In an article in the Washington Post, he writes:

Here’s a question: Does anybody have any idea what the Republican Party stands for in 2020?

One way to find out: As you are out and about marking the new year, it is likely you will come across a Republican to whom you can pose the question, preferably after a drink or two, as that tends to work as truth serum: “Look, I was just wondering: What’s the Republican Party all about these days? What does it, well, stand for?”

I’m betting the answer is going to involve a noun, a verb and either “socialism” or “Democrats.” Republicans now partly define their party simply as an alternative to that other party, as in, “I’m a Republican because I’m not a Democrat.”

In a long-forgotten era — say, four years ago — such a question would have elicited a very different answer. Though there was disagreement over specific issues, most Republicans would have said the party stood for some basic principles: fiscal sanity, free trade, strong on Russia, and that character and personal responsibility count. Today it’s not that the Republican Party has forgotten these issues and values; instead, it actively opposes all of them.

Republicans are now officially the character doesn’t count party, the personal responsibility just proves you have failed to blame the other guy party, the deficit doesn’t matter party, the Russia is our ally party, and the I’m-right-and-you-are-human-scum party. Yes, it’s President Trump’s party now, but it stands only for what he has just tweeted.

A party without a governing theory, a higher purpose or a clear moral direction is nothing more than a cartel, a syndicate that exists only to advance itself. There is no organized, coherent purpose other than the acquisition and maintenance of power.

 

Here is the obituary of former Michigan Governor William Milliken, a man who reminds us of what the Republican Party was like before it was captured by a ragtag coalition of religious extremists and bigots. It appeared in the New York Times. Donald Trump had worked to destroy this wing of his party and transform it into the party of selfishness, greed, and racism.

William G. Milliken, a moderate Republican who as governor led Michigan through a period of profound transformation in the 1970s, as it went from being an economically scarred industrial state to one that embraced technology, business diversity and environmental quality, died on Friday at his home in Traverse City, Mich. He was 97.

His son and only immediate survivor, Bill Jr., confirmed the death.

Mr. Milliken was the longest-serving governor in Michigan’s history, a 14-year tenure that began in January 1969, when, as the state’s lieutenant governor, he succeeded George Romney, who had left office in the middle of his term to join President Richard M. Nixon’s cabinet. Mr. Milliken went on to be elected to three full four-year terms.

Days before he became governor in 1969, he told a joint legislative session, “It is my greatest hope that this administration will be known for its compassion, its idealism, its candor, and its toughness in the pursuit of public ends.”

That vision was largely borne out. His administration invested in urban housing and education, defended auto industry jobs and profits in the wake of the 1974 Arab oil embargo, strengthened higher education and put innovative environmental protections in place.

Once again, we are reminded that charter schools are a Republican cause, and their champion is Betsy DeVos.

Mike Turzai, Republican Speaker of the House in Pennsylvania, was on his way to a meeting with Betsy DeVos when he encountered some public school teachers, who were picketing with signs saying they loved their public schools.

Turzai found this deeply offensive, and he proceeded to lambaste the teachers as a “special interest group” defending a “monopoly.”

In the video, Turzai praised charter schools, which receive government funding but operate independently of the public school system, saying that in charter schools. “you have to care about each child, not about the monopoly.” He then claimed that the public school advocates were part of a monopoly 

What you care about is a monopoly and special interests,” said Turzai, whose district encompasses the North Hills municipalities of McCandless, Pine, Marshall, Bradford Woods, and Franklin Park. 

One of the advocates then said, “I am little offended from that,” to which Turzai responded, pointing to the posters they were holding, “Oh, I am offended by your posters.”

One poster read “I love public schools.” The other read “Public Money for Public Schools.”

We ♥ our teachers.

Sincerely,
All of Pennsylvania

View image on Twitter

Think dirty politics, think North Carolina.

Yesterday, while some Democratic legislators and Governor Roy Cooper attended a 9/11 memorial service, the Republican legislators called a snap vote to override the governor’s veto of the state budget. They had repeatedly assured the Democrats that no votes would be recorded that morning, but they lied. If the full body of representatives had been present, the governor’s veto would have stood.

Cooper vetoed the budget because it did not include Medicaid expansion, which he favors but the Republicans oppose. Thanks to the Republicans, 634,000 citizens in the state will not have health coverage.

This article includes an interview with Democratic representative Chaz Beasley, who explains what was at stake.

He said,

North Carolinians sent us up to Raleigh to have a voice and a say in how we spend $24 billion. And what we’ve seen throughout this process is that many of us were not at the table when whole swaths of the budget were negotiated and settled upon. The governor has made it clear what he would like to see in the budget. One thing he’d like to see is Medicaid expansion in there.

But problems with the budget go beyond the fact that it doesn’t expand Medicaid for 500,000 North Carolinians. We still underpay our teachers. We still have schools that lack the resources to be successful. We still haven’t given a large enough pay increase to our state employees, or a cost of living adjustment to our retirees. Instead, the budget includes things like expanding programs for virtual charter schools that do not have good ratings for how they’re teaching our kids.

Virtual charter schools, we know, are a cash cow for big out-of-state corporations, and they are noted for terrible academic performance, high attrition, and low graduation rates.

The only mildly amusing comment in the article comes from a Republican who said that it was important to take a vote on 9/11 “so that the terrorists didn’t win.” He didn’t explain why it was necessary to take the vote when members of the Democratic party had been assured there would be no vote that morning. When you lie, cheat, and steal to get your way, you undermine democracy. When you betray democracy in your pursuit of power, the terrorists win.

 

 

Pennsylvania’s largest charter school is the Chester Community Charter School. It is owned by Philadelphia lawyer Vehan Gureghian, who is a major donor to the Republican Party in the State. He was the biggest contributor to former Republican Governor Tom Corbett. What is surprising about his political donations is how little it takes to win the affection of the party in power. The Chester Community Charter School enrolls most of the elementary students in its district and even draws students from Philadelphia, despite the fact that it is a low-performing school on state tests. As you will see in one of the articles below, CCCS received a charter renewal through 2026, an extension not given to any other charter in the state.

The Keystone State Education Coalition posted this list of his political contributions. 

Blogger commentary: In an effort to gain a better understanding of the dynamics in Harrisburg, from time to time over the years we have published “Follow the Money” charts using data from the PA Department of State’s Campaign Finance Reporting website:

https://www.campaignfinanceonline.pa.gov/Pages/CFReportSearch.aspx

 

We’ll leave it up to our readers to draw their own conclusions regarding how such contributions may or may not influence policymakers as they go about the people’s business in Harrisburg.

 

The chart below lists over $470,000 in campaign contributions made by Mr. and Mrs. Gureghian for PA state offices from 2013 through 2019.

 

Highlights include $205,000 to the House Republican Campaign Committee, $37,000 to the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, $30,000 to House Speaker Mike Turzai, $82,000 to Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman’s Build PA PAC, $85,000 to Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati and$16,000 to House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler.

 

While school district budgets, check registers and salaries are public information, charter school management companies like Gureghian’s CSMI are not required to provide any details on how they spend taxpayers dollars. CSMI runs Chester Community Charter School, the state’s largest brick and mortar charter. CSMI’s founder and CEO is Vahan H. Gureghian of Gladwyne, a lawyer, entrepreneur and major Republican donor –the largest individual contributor to former Gov. Tom Corbett. And though CSMI’s books are not public – the for-profit firm has never disclosed its profits and won’t discuss its management fee – running the school appears to be a lucrative business. State records show that Gureghian’s company collected nearly $17 million in taxpayer funds just in 2014-15, when only 2,900 students were enrolled.”

 

Over the years, Gureghian has spent well over $1 million on political contributions in Pennsylvania.

https://keystonestateeducationcoalition.blogspot.com/2011/06/follow-money-contributions-by-vahan.html

 

“As previously reported by the (Palm Beach) Daily News, the buyers in this week’s sale are Philadelphia attorney and businessman Vahan Gureghian and his attorney wife, Danielle. Two weeks ago, they sold their never-lived-in oceanfront mansion on 2 acres at 1071 N. Ocean Blvd. for more than $40 million. That 35,992-square-foot mansion had been on the market for about four years. ….Vahan Gureghian is involved in a number of businesses, he said, including management and consulting in the charter-school industry through a company he founded, CSMI Education Management. His wife provides legal counsel for his business ventures, he said.”

Exclusive: Palm Beach mansion lost by developer in bankruptcy sells for $30.275M

Palm Beach Daily news By Darrell Hofheinz  July 12 Posted at 5:46 PM Updated at 6:32 PM

Mortgage-holder sells former home of Robert V. Matthews to couple who just sold a Palm Beach mansion for more than $40 million. As developer Robert V. Matthews awaits sentencing on felony conspiracy and money-laundering charges in Connecticut, the Palm Beach seaside mansion he completed in 2006 has changed hands for a recorded $30.275 million. The deed recorded today shows the house at 101 Casa Bendita was sold by Singer Island Tower Suite LLC, which took title in April via a bankruptcy judge’s order in Matthews’ Chapter 11 case. The seller is identified in court documents as an “assignee” of a Deutsche Bank affiliate owed $31 million from a mortgage it held on the property. Matthews moved out of the mansion with his wife, Mia, shortly after the bankruptcy court’s March 31 order. Matthews developed the long-troubled, never-finished — and since-sold — Palm House hotel-condominium at 160 Royal Palm Way, which is a focus of his federal criminal case in Connecticut. The six-bedroom, two-story residence on Casa Bendita has 15,849 square feet of living space, inside and out, on nearly an acre. With about 188 feet of beachfront, the property lies about a three-quarters of a mile north of Royal Palm way.

https://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/20190712/exclusive-palm-beach-mansion-lost-by-developer-in-bankruptcy-sells-for-30275m

 

Following data is from the Pennsylvania Department of State Campaign Finance website: http://www.campaignfinance.state.pa.us/ContributionSearch.aspx

Selected State Level Campaign Contributions by Vahan Gureghian 2013 – 2019

 

Recipient Date Amount
TURZAI, MIKE FRIENDS OF 9/5/2013 $10,000.00
HOUSE REP CAMPAIGN COM 2004, INC 3/18/2014 $75,000.00
HOUSE REP CAMPAIGN COM 2004, INC 9/16/2014 $27,500.00
HOUSE REP CAMPAIGN COM 2004, INC 10/31/2014 $25,000.00
TURZAI, MIKE LEADERSHIP FUND 10/4/2014 $10,000.00
SENATE REP CAMPAIGN COM 4/14/2015 $25,000.00
SENATE REP CAMPAIGN COM 3/10/2015 $12,727.91
SCARNATI, JOSEPH FRIENDS OF 10/31/2016 $25,000.00
SCARNATI, JOSEPH FRIENDS OF 10/31/2016 $25,000.00
BUILD PA PAC 6/15/2016 $10,000.00
CORMAN, JAKE FRIENDS OF 10/26/2016 $10,000.00
SCARNATI, JOSEPH FRIENDS OF 11/9/2017 $10,000.00
BUILD PA PAC 6/22/2017 $10,000.00
CORMAN, JAKE FRIENDS OF 10/16/2017 $2,500.00
FUND FOR A BETTER PENNSYLVANIA 6/8/2017 $5,000.00
HOUSE REP CAMPAIGN COM 2004, INC 8/29/2017 $2,750.00
HOUSE REP CAMPAIGN COM 2004, INC 11/2/2017 $3,000.00
HOUSE REP CAMPAIGN COM 2004, INC 11/2/2017 $2,000.00
CUTLER, BRYAN FRIENDS OF 6/15/2018 $5,000.00
SCARNATI, JOSEPH FRIENDS OF 10/31/2018 $25,000.00
TURZAI, MIKE FRIENDS OF 9/12/2018 $10,000.00
BUILD PA PAC 6/4/2018 $25,000.00
BUILD PA PAC 7/25/2018 $25,000.00
BUILD PA PAC 10/17/2018 $10,000.00
HOUSE REP CAMPAIGN COM 2004, INC 4/24/2018 $5,000.00
HOUSE REP CAMPAIGN COM 2004, INC 5/1/2018 $20,000.00
HOUSE REP CAMPAIGN COM 2004, INC 7/20/2018 $10,000.00
HOUSE REP CAMPAIGN COM 2004, INC 9/18/2018 $10,000.00
HOUSE REP CAMPAIGN COM 2004, INC 10/26/2018 $25,000.00
SAYLOR, STAN CITIZENS FOR 5/29/2018 $5,000.00
BUILD PA PAC 3/29/2019 $2,000.00
CUTLER, BRYAN FRIENDS OF 4/3/2019 $1,000.00
CUTLER, BRYAN FRIENDS OF 5/28/2019 $10,000.00
$478,477.91

 

 

Mansion of embattled Palm Beach developer sells for $30M (Photos)

By Brian Bandell  – Senior Reporter, South Florida Business Journal Jul 15, 2019, 12:31pm EDT Updated Jul 15, 2019, 12:44pm EDT

Philadelphia businessman Vahan H. Gureghian paid $30.275 million for the Palm Beach mansion that belonged to embattled Palm Beach developer Robert V. Matthews. Singer Island Tower Suite LLC, part of DB Private Wealth Mortgage, sold the nearly 16,000-square-foot home at 101 Casa Bendita to Gureghian. The lender seized the home in April under orders of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Matthew’s personal Chapter 11 filing. DB Private Wealth Mortgage, part of Deutsche Bank, had a $27.4 million loan on the property. The bank provided a $25.67 million mortgage to Gureghian to help him buy the property. Matthews built the oceanfront home on the 0.88-acre site in 2006. The mansion has six bedrooms, eight bathrooms, two half bathrooms and a pool. Gureghian, the founder and CEO of CSMI, which invests in the charter school industry, can immediately occupy the home.

https://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/news/2019/07/15/gureghian-buys-palm-beach-mansion-for-30m.html

 

“The decision means staff and parents at the state’s largest bricks-and-mortar charter – already slated to receive more than $55 million in taxpayer funds this school year – won’t have to worry about its fate for nearly a decade, even if its test scores continue to fall far short of state benchmarks. It also guarantees that CSMI LLC, a for-profit education management company that operates the K-8 school with 4,200 students, will receive millions of dollars in revenue for nine more years. Chester Community’s extension comes as school districts across the commonwealth and nation are wrestling with the growth of charter schools, more privatization in education and the impact on traditional public schools. It also renews lingering questions about the intersection of politics, government and schools.

Reprise Dec. 2017: How Chester Community Charter School got a 9-year deal

Inquirer by Martha Woodall, Posted: December 22, 2017

For years, charter school proponents have been trying to change Pennsylvania law so that operating agreement renewals could be extended from five years to 10. They haven’t succeeded in Harrisburg. But that didn’t deter Chester Community Charter School. One year into Chester Community’s latest five-year agreement, Peter R. Barsz, the court-appointed receiver who oversees the financially distressed Chester Upland School District and wields nearly all the powers of a school board, took the unprecedented step of extending the Delaware County school’s term for five more years to 2026. Barsz contends that the move was designed to protect Chester High School: In return, Chester Community, which already enrolls about 70 percent of the primary grade students in the struggling district, agreed not to open a high school.

https://www.inquirer.com/philly/education/chester-community-charter-school-renewal-extension-under-scrutiny-20171222.html

 

“The Pennsylvania Department of Education is questioning the Chester Upland School District’s decision to renew its operating agreement with the state’s largest brick-and-mortar charter school through 2026 while the school was just one year into its current five-year term.”

Reprise April 2018: Judge, state question quick renewal for Chester charter school

Inquirer by Maddie Hanna, Posted: April 20, 2018

The Pennsylvania Department of Education is questioning the Chester Upland School District’s decision to renew its operating agreement with the state’s largest brick-and-mortar charter school through 2026 while the school was just one year into its current five-year term. “If charters are going to be renewed right out of the chute, … they’ve already been approved before they’ve even performed,” said James Flandreau, a lawyer for the department, at hearings this week ordered by a Delaware County Court judge. “Certainly, one year is way too early to evaluate any charter’s performance.” Kevin Kent, a lawyer for Chester Community Charter School, said the court-appointed receiver and school district could reevaluate the charter school at any point. “Nothing’s been compromised,” he said. Peter Barsz, the receiver for the financially distressed district, testified on Thursday that he had reviewed audits and school performance records and had support from the district’s school board before approving the renewal request last year that allowed the charter school to operate through 2026.

https://www.inquirer.com/philly/education/judge-state-question-quick-renewal-for-chester-charter-school-20180420.html

 

This is a great opinion article by Tony Messenger, a regular columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which is one of the nation’s great newspapers. It is an Open Letter addressed to Missouri’s Suburban Moms and written in the voice of the state Republican party. This is the party that loves women so much that it voted to eliminate all abortions, even in the case of rape, incest, or a threat to the survival of the mother. The GOP loves the unborn but ignores the born.

For starters:

First off, and this is really important: We didn’t raise your taxes. As you save to send your children to college, it’s important to us to allow you to spend your hard-earned money the way you want to. Of course, that doesn’t mean college isn’t going to get more expensive. Because we are so committed to never, ever raising taxes, Missouri is among the lowest-funded higher education systems in the country. And that’s why the Board of Curators of the University of Missouri voted to raise tuition 5 percent starting next year. Some might call that a back-door tax increase. Not us.

Speaking of college, if you are sending your daughter to a university in the state — public or private — we want you to know about our efforts to change the federal Title IX regulations meant to protect her from sexual assault or discrimination. We fell just short in our effort to gut those Obama-era regulations this year, but rest assured, we’ll be back at it next year.

It is a wonderful satire that isn’t funny because it is so true.

 

The biggest battle in the fight against privatization has been to persuade the Democratic Party that it had been hoaxed by Republicans into adopting the Republican agenda. According to this article in The Washington Post, Democratic support for charter schools has evaporated, at least among the candidates.

The title of the article is “Democrats abandon charter schools as ‘reform’ agenda falls from favor.” No one has more egg on their faces than the editorial board of the Washington Post, which loves charter schools and defends them at every turn.

Until 1993, Democrats supported equity and federal funding for public schools, while Republicans supported choice, testing, competition, and accountability.

Then Bill Clinton embraced charter schools, testing, standards, and accountability. Then came NCLB and it was endorsed by Ted Kennedy and the entire Democratic Party.

Then the Obama Race to the Top gave total support to the Bush NCLB approach of charters, testing, and harsh accountability, and Arne Duncan spent seven years parroting the Republican line that the best way to improve schools was to get tough on teachers, make tests harder, and open more charter schools.

According to the Washington Post, the Democratic love affair with charters is over. 

The steady drumbeat of scandals and the vivid advocacy of Betsy DeVos have killed the Democrats’ charter love. 

Suddenly, the Democratic candidates for president  seem to have realized that school choice is a Republican issue. Supporting the public schools that nearly 90% of all students attend is a Democratic issue.

This is awkward for Democrats like Governor Jared Polis of Governor and Senator Michael Bennett of Colorado and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, all fans of charters.

Democrats have long backed charter schools as a politically safe way to give kids at low-performing schools more options. Many supported merit pay for the best teachers and holding schools accountable for test scores.

The presidential contest is proof that’s no longer the case.

If the candidates say anything about charter schools, it’s negative. Education initiatives boosted by the Bush and Obama administrations are nowhere to be found in candidate platforms.

Instead, the Democratic candidates are pitching billions of dollars in new federal spending for schools and higher pay for teachers, with few of the strings attached that marked the Obama-era approach to education.

It adds up to a sea change in Democratic thinking on education, back to a more traditional Democratic approach emphasizing funding for education and support for teachers and local schools. Mostly gone is the assumption that teachers and schools are not doing enough to serve low-performing children and that government must tighten requirements and impose consequences if results do not improve.

As a senator, Joe Biden said private school vouchers might help improve public schools. As vice president, he was atop an administration that made support for charter schools a requirement to access federal grant funding. But when asked about charters — privately run, publicly funded schools — during a recent forum with the American Federation of Teachers, Biden sounded a negative note.

“The bottom line is it siphons off money for our public schools, which are already in enough trouble,” he said….

Bernie Sanders thus far is the only candidate to call for an end to federal funding of charter schools. The safe position for Democrats is to oppose “for-profit” charters, while ignoring the fact that many “nonprofit charters” are operated by for-profit management corporations.

The story continues:

It’s an unsettling development for advocates of the structural changes that have fallen out of favor, and a sharp turn from where many Democrats were just a few years ago. Former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama had pushed a bipartisan drive for accountability, and charter schools were the answer for Democrats who opposed private school vouchers but wanted to offer other options to children — often children of color from low-income families — assigned to low-performing schools. They were important to some civil rights leaders and became a central plank in the drive for school accountability….

The American Federation of Teachers has been hosting candidate forums throughout the country, inviting contenders to spend a day with teachers and then answering questions town hall-style.

At the town hall with Biden last month, AFT President Randi Weingarten was so warm and complimentary that it left some with the impression she was laying the groundwork for an endorsement.

“Vice President Joe Biden was our north star in the last administration,” she said. “We didn’t always get along with the Obama administration positions on education, but we had a go-to guy who always listened to us.” She added: “He’s with us because he is us.”

During the Obama administration, the National Education Association was so angry it called forEducation Secretary Arne Duncan to resign, and the other big teachers union, the AFT, came close…

The shift underway has Democrats who support charter schools and related policies nervous. Democrats for Education Reform is circulating results of a poll that show support for charter schools is higher among African American Democrats than whites. But overall, the poll found just 37 percent of Democratic primary voters have a favorable view of charters.

Some like-minded Democrats are working on something they call the Kids New Deal, hoping to find a candidate to support it. The centerpiece of the proposal is to make children a “protected class” under the law, which would make it easier for them to file lawsuits challenging, for instance, tenure for teachers, on the grounds that it hurts children.

“The goal here is to outflank the teachers unions from the left and not from the right,” said Ben Austin, a longtime education restructuring advocate.

DFER is the hedge fund managers group created to persuade Democrats to act like Republicans and support privatization. It offered big money for candidates who swallowed their line. DFER was condemned by the state Democratic Party in both California and Colorado as a front for Wall Street and corporate interests.

 Ben Austin is one of California’s most aggressive charter school proponents, having run the faux Parent Revolution, whose goal was to convert public schools to charter schools. He spent millions of dollars from Gates, Waltons, and other billionaires, but converted only one or two public schools. If he is behind the “Kids New Deal,”’it is probably another billionaire-funded privatization vehicle.

The great news in this article is that those who have warned Democrats to return to their roots and stop acting like Republicans have won the debate.