Archives for category: Stupid

Governor Youngkin invited parents to report the names of teachers who are violating the state’s vague and ill-defined law banning the teaching of “divisive concepts,” critical race theory, and anything else any parents object to.

Peter Greene describes the creative responses of respondents. Responses to an email address can come from anywhere, not just Virginia. You too can write to Youngkin’s Stasi.

Anyone can send their reports to the tip line email:

helpeducation@governor.virginia.gov

Greene writes:

But of course you know what else happened next. The tip line has apparently been hit with a variety of reports, like a complaint that Albus Dumbledor “was teaching that full blooded wizards discriminated against mudbloods.” Some of this has been goaded on Twitter by folks like human rights lawyer Qasim Rasgid. And John Legend correctly pointed out that under the guidelines of the decree, Black parents could legitimately complain about Black history being silenced (because, as sometimes escapes the notice of anti-CRT warriors, some parents are Black). Ditto for LGBTQ parents.

Greene also includes a useful list of questions to answer if you write the Governor: like, “who was your favorite teacher and what did they teach?”

There seems to be no bottom to “how far can Republicans fall?” Fall from common sense, fall from civic duty, fall from intelligent decision-making?

Texas created a model for deputizing private citizens to report abortions and offering them a $10,000 bounty. Now, a Republican in Oklahoma has copied that model to catch and punish schools that hold copies of forbidden books.

Under a new senate bill in Oklahoma, if a parent objects to a book in a school library, then it must be removed within 30 days. If it is not, a librarian must be fired and parents could collect at least $10,000 per day from school districts until it is removed…

State Senate Bill 1142, authored by Republican State Sen. Rob Standridge, would place the power to ban books into the hands of parents in a profoundly unprecedented manner. “Under Senate Bill 1142, if just one parent objects to a book it must be removed within 30 days,” reportsthe McAlester News-Capital. “If it is not, the librarian must be fired and cannot work for any public school for two years.”

There was also this tidbit buried in the same report: “Parents can also collect at least $10,000 per day from school districts if the book is not removed as requested.” (Emphasis added.)

Will the bill be passed? We will see. Passed or not, it’s an ominous sign of a nascent thirst for censorship, book banning, and—yes—fascism.

Michael Hiltzik, a superb columnist for the Los Angeles Times, says farewell to “the stupidest year in American history. “ (Again, I violate copyright law by posting this column. I appeal to the good graces of the wonderful L.A. Times. If they object, I will delete the post.)

My one criticism of his incisive critique is that he nearly ignores the astonishing, unprecedented attack on the U.S. Capitol by insurrectionists on January 6, 2021, a day that will live in infamy, a day that a sitting President urged his supporters to overturn the election he lost, a day that the Capitol was breached and ransacked by hundreds or thousands of Trump supporters, who proceeded to attack scores of law officers defending the Constitutional transfer of power and hundreds of legislators. Hundreds of those legislators—all Republicans—soon became defenders and apologists for the insurrectionists who besieged them. It doesn’t get stupider than that.

Hiltzik writes:

One year ago, we were looking forward to a safer and sounder 2021.

The Food and Drug Administration had granted emergency authorization to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines against COVID-19.

A new presidential administration was poised to take office in the next month, armed with a commitment to bring together a nation cleaved by four years of divisive policymaking.

Instead of unity and immunity, this year has brought us stupidity and insanity on an unimaginable scale. In the categories of public health, education policy, fiscal policy and investment options, we appear to have taken leave of our collective senses.

Certainly there are other years or periods in which stupidity or heedlessness brought civilization in general close to eradication.

Consider 1914, when most of Europe dived hellbent to war for no discernible reason. (Read Barbara Tuchman’s book “The Guns of August” for the full horrific picture.) The Dark Ages were a period benighted by scientific ignorance.

Some individual countries and national leaders stand out for tempting fate, to their and their citizens’ misfortune. Britain in 1938 under Neville Chamberlain. Russia’s warmongering with Japan in 1904-1905. Louis Napoleon poking a stick into the Prussian bear’s cage in 1870-1871. Saddam Hussein invading Kuwait in 1990.

The perpetrators of some of these errors might assert in their defense that they were brought low by circumstances they didn’t know at the time.

But America in 2021 can’t plead that it didn’t know. Didn’t know that vaccines representing stupendous scientific achievements were the solution to the COVID-19 pandemic?

It was not to be.

Didn’t know that Donald Trump wasn’t joking when he demanded that government officials overturn a fair presidential election? Didn’t know that bitcoin, NFTs, SPACs and meme stocks were destined, even designed, to take unwary investors to the cleaners?

Of course we knew, and know. We don’t seem to care.

In reviewing the most intellectually demoralizing events of 2021, I’ll leave aside a few discrete outbursts of asininity.

So I won’t go into detail about the conservative movement’s lionizing of Kyle Rittenhouse, the self-confessed but acquitted killer of two unarmed men at a protest rally in Kenosha, Wis. Or the openly antisemitic ravings by former President Trump. Or the ugly, dishonest attacks that forced the withdrawal of Saule Omarova, one of the most qualified nominees for a federal banking regulatory job in memory.

Or the shameful behavior of congressional Republicans, who cowered in safety during the Jan. 6 insurrection, pleading with Trump to help quell the riot, only to claim ever since that the violence of the crowd was no big deal.

Or the posting of Christmas cards by politicians showing their families hoisting assault weapons, as Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) did just four days after a gunman killed four students at a Michigan high school. He was followed by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.).

Instead, we’ll focus on a few of the bigger pictures. So, as Virgil said to Dante before guiding him into the Inferno, “Let us descend now into the blind world.”

COVID-19

The pandemic is surely the focus of the most obtuse and ignorant public reactions and state and local policy responses to any crisis in American history. It’s as if the grown-ups have all been beamed up, and we are left in the hands of people like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. (I am paraphrasing a line from the great pandemic movie “Together.”)

In any rational world, the refusal or failure by some 50 million adult Americans to take a vaccine of known efficacy against a deadly disease would be inexplicable. But this is not a rational world, and the situation is even worse.

Vaccine refusal is seen in many benighted corners of the United States not merely as the exercise of personal choice for personal reasons but as a means of showing moral superiority over the vaccinated.

A conservative critic of anti-pandemic measures writing from rural southwest Michigan for the Atlantic bragged absurdly and selfishly, “I am now closer to most of my fellow Americans than the people, almost absurdly overrepresented in media and elite institutions, who are still genuinely concerned about this virus.”

The author may think he’s remote from virus concerns, but that’s not the case at a hospital visited by CNN in Lansing, Mich., which can’t be much more than 100 miles from his location and where “the latest COVID-19 surge is as bad as healthcare workers there have seen.”

How did it come to pass that Americans, who almost uniformly are inoculated against at least a half-dozen serious diseases in childhood, chose this moment to refuse a spectacularly effective shot against one of the most dangerous diseases to arise in their lifetimes, out of pure ignorance?

Its effectiveness is scarcely disputable: The Commonwealth Fund estimates that the vaccine averted about 1.1 million American deaths from COVID-19 and more than 10.3 million hospitalizations this year.

A chart showing COVID-19 deaths

The Commonwealth Fund estimates that the U.S. would have experienced more than 1.1 million additional deaths from COVID-19 if not for the vaccines.(Commonwealth Fund)

The answer lies in politics.

Trump drew the line first, dismissing social distancing steps and refusing to speak up for vaccination. He established these steps as partisan choices, and his political acolytes followed him over the cliff.

DeSantis has been a leader in this descent into the Inferno. He’s chosen to make Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and America’s most respected authority on the pandemic, a target of partisan calumny. He’s appointed a vaccine doubter as his state’s top public health official.

What is the outcome? Florida currently ranks eighth-worst among states in its COVID-19 death rate, with more than 62,000 Floridians having perished from the virus. Of the seven states with worse records, six are red states like Florida.

Corporate America has not showered itself in glory. On Dec. 18, Boeing announced that it was dropping its requirement that all U.S. employees be vaccinated. Its explanation was that a federal judge had blocked the enforcement of a federal executive order that employees of government contractors be vaccinated.

This is absurd. Nothing in the ruling required Boeing to drop its requirement. The company announced its step back just as the Omicron variant was about to produce a surge in infections. The pusillanimity of American corporations on this subject continues to astound. (The Times, which is owned by a physician and biomedical entrepreneur, is requiring all employees to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 31.)

To its credit, on Dec. 17 the Biden White House issued an uncompromising warning about the dangers of remaining unvaccinated.

“For the unvaccinated, you’re looking at a winter of severe illness and death for yourselves, your families and the hospitals you may soon overwhelm,” White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said. “So, our message to every American is clear…. Wear a mask in public indoor settings. Get vaccinated, get your kids vaccinated, and get a booster shot when you’re eligible.”

Investment follies

In May, I asked whether we were experiencing a peak in investment absurdity. The examples then were bitcoin, dogecoin and nonfungible tokens (NFTs), as well as meme stocks, the prices of which were not tied to sober reflections about their issuers’ business prospects but to internet-fueled speculation.

Assets like these, which are priced in accordance with the “greater fool” theory (they have no intrinsic value beyond what you can cadge from a bigger fool than yourself), have only proliferated since then. Or perhaps it’s only the absurdity that has ballooned.

NFTs, for instance, are tradable digital files that confer no ownership to anything but the digital file, which may be an image of an object that is actually owned by someone else. Someone has parodied the NFT market by purporting to sell NFTs of images of individual Olive Garden restaurants, but it’s the kind of parody that gets at the essential truth of the target.

You don’t get to own the restaurant or the photo. You don’t get a discount on menu items or a guarantee that the photo is even accurate. You supposedly get to own something on the Non-fungible Olive Garden Metaverse, whatever that is, and you can try to find a greater fool to sell it to.

NFTs generally don’t confer ownership of the underlying asset or even the digital representation of the asset. The market doesn’t exist for any reason except to produce activity to suck in greater fools.

The best clue that there’s something hinky about these markets is that the Trump family is going all in. A purported media company started by Donald Trump, for instance, is merging with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC.

As I reported, the deal promptly came under the scrutiny of financial regulators. In any case, no discernible business plan of any substance has emerged for the Trump company. People appear to have invested because of his name.

Now Melania Trump has gotten into the act, hawking NFTs of paintings of her eyes—”an amulet to inspire,” the pitch says, though obviously you don’t get to own the eyes or even the original watercolor.

Software developer Stephen Diehl, an established skeptic of these things, writes that we are entering upon “a hustler’s paradise … where the market now provides a financial token game for every meme, every celebrity, every political movement, and every bit of art and culture.” The old saw applies about how if you’re looking around the poker table and can’t identify the mark, it’s you.

Inflation and Build Back Better

Republicans and conservatives have never cottoned to spending on programs that assist the middle and working class. President Biden’s Build Back Better program was destined to get their backs up.

How could they attack a program that provides for universal prekindergarten education, assistance with child care, caps on the price of drugs such as insulin and better access to healthcare? Simple: Raise the old bugaboo of inflation.

That’s been the approach of Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), who recently announced — via Fox News, of course — that he couldn’t support the plan in any way. He’s since backed off a bit from his adamantine opposition, but the core of his position was concern that the measure would add to inflation.

As we’ve reported, that’s just wrong. Not even former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, who sounded an inflation alarm about the pandemic relief package enacted this year, thinks it applies to this measure. The provisions of Build Back Better are paid for and represent investments in the economy, so they’re anything but inflationary.

Indeed, Wall Street views Manchin’s resistance as an economic negative. According to MarketWatch, Goldman Sachs cut its growth forecast for the first quarter of next year to 2% from 3%, for the second quarter to 3% from 3.5% and for the third quarter to 2.75% from 3%.

That’s not counting the direct impact of Build Back Better on Manchin’s own state, which is among the poorest in the nation and one in which government programs are crucial. That’s well understood on the ground: The United Mine Workers union publicly urged Manchin to reconsider his opposition to a program that would have “a meaningful impact on our members, their families, and their communities.”

Much more happened in 2021 that prompts one to hold head in hands. To be fair, however, there were also glimmers of hope.

Biden on Dec. 21 announced steps to strengthen the country’s response to the Omicron variant, including mobilizing troops to help staff overwhelmed hospitals, opening thousands of vaccine sites and sending 500 million free testing kits to households. The Build Back Better plan is not entirely dead, and a revival effort will start in January.

Whether 2022 will be less stupid and insane than 2021 won’t be known until we can view it in a rearview mirror 12 months from now. We can only hope.

Thanks to reader Kathyirwin1 for bringing this article to my attention. Egged on by Governor Gregg Abbott and legislator Matt Krause (who circulated a list of 850 books that should be removed from public school libraries, most because they deal with race, sexuality or inequality), critics are now targeting the books in the public libraries.

The public library in Llano County closed for three days while librarians reviewed their holdings. Libraries in other counties saw challenges to books that conservatives want removed from shelves.

Local public libraries in Texas, including those in Victoria, Irving and Tyler, are fielding a flurry of book challenges from local residents. While book challenges are nothing new, there has been a growing number of complaints about books for libraries in recent months. And the fact that the numbers are rising after questions are being raised about school library content seems more than coincidental, according to the Texas Library Association.

“I think it definitely ramped it up,” said Wendy Woodland, the TLA’s director of advocacy and communication, of the late October investigation into school library reading materials launched by state Rep. Matt Krause in his role as chair of the House Committee on General Investigating.

In response to Krause’s inquiry, Gov. Greg Abbott tapped the Texas Education Agency to investigate the availability of “pornographic books” in schools. In the weeks since, school districts across the state have launched reviews of their book collections, and state officials have begun investigating student access to inappropriate content…

In Victoria, about 100 miles southeast of San Antonio, Dayna Williams-Capone says the number of complaints about books is the most she’s seen in her nearly 13 years working at the Victoria Public Library.

In August, Williams-Capone, the director of library services in Victoria, said her office received about 40 formal requests for review of books, primarily books for children and young adults that touch on topics of same-sex relationships, sexuality and race.

After Williams-Capone and her staff reviewed the requests, they decided to keep the books in the library. Residents who filed the complaints pushed forward, appealing the decision to the library’s advisory board for about half of the books, Williams-Capone said.

Last Wednesday, the library’s board voted not to remove the books from library shelves.

Most of the complaints are directed at books that feature same-sex relationships.

Wendy Woodland of the Texas Library Association said that:

“These efforts to mute or censor diverse voices in books is part of the just overall extreme divisiveness in our country that was really just exacerbated by the pandemic, [and] the actions taken by Rep. Krause and others have added fuel to that,” Woodland said.

She understands there will be those who may not like all of the books in a library. That’s not the point of a public library, she said.

“No book is right for everyone, but one book can make a big difference in one person’s life,” she said. “That’s what libraries are about — providing those windows and doors and mirrors to the community.”

Leonard Pitts, Jr. wrote the following article in the Miami Herald:

Once again, carnage goes to school. Once again, American students are used for target practice. But conservative leaders are on the case. Recognizing the ongoing threat to our children, they know it’s time for decisive action.

It’s time to do something about books.

And if you expected that sentence to end differently, you haven’t been paying attention. In red America these days, books are Public Enemy No. 1.

As Time magazine recently reported, librarians are seeing a definite spike in censorship activity. Deborah Caldwell-Stone, executive director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, called it “an unprecedented volume of challenges.” From Texas to South Carolina, to Virginia to Florida and beyond, conservative governors and advocacy groups are removing books from school library shelves, particularly those that deal with the two subjects they find most threatening: sexuality and race.

All to protect our children.

Open the link and read the article in full.

Yes, you read that right. The astroturf Koch-funded “Moms for Liberty” is offering a $500 reward to anyone who catches a teacher teaching “divisive concepts,” which is against state law. What is a divisive concept? Maybe teaching about the First Amendment is one. Teaching about the horrors of war is another. Teaching about the effects of climate change, for sure. Teaching that vaccines save lives is another so don’t talk about polio or other diseases, certainly not coronavirus.

Randi Weingarten spoke out:

For Immediate Release
Nov. 18, 2021

Contact:
Janet Bass
                            jbass@aft.org
                            301-502-5222


Statement by AFT President Randi Weingarten on
Bounties on Heads of NH Teachers

WASHINGTON—Statement by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on a $500 bounty offered by Moms for Liberty to someone who alleges a New Hampshire teacher is teaching so-called divisive concepts and breaking the New Hampshire law called Right to Freedom from Discrimination in Public Workplaces and Education:

“Putting bounties on the heads of New Hampshire teachers, much like the controversial vigilante bounties envisioned by Texas law to thwart the legal right to reproductive choice, is offensive and chilling in any context. The New Hampshire bounty effort is a result of a state law that bans something that doesn’t happen in New Hampshire or anywhere else—teaching that any group is inherently superior or inferior to another. We teach honest history and respect for all. Culture warriors offering bounties for a teacher supposedly violating the law are doing this at a time when we all need to work together. The stakes are high—unjustified accusations against teachers could cost them their teaching licenses. The clear intent is to undermine public education and scare teachers. 
 
“State Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut even set up a webpage to facilitate complaints against teachers. Perhaps Edelblut’s judgment should lead him to a different line of work. We need school leadership that believes in safe and welcoming environments, not one of fear and division. This is distracting from teachers’ focus on helping our kids thrive and excel. Teachers shouldn’t have to worry that history, literature, science or art lessons can be misconstrued and lead to a public flogging or worse. The overwhelming majority of parents support and trust their children’s teachers, value their neighborhood public school as the center of the community and are astounded by this brazen attempt to stifle learning. 

“Parents and teachers are partners in supporting children. Teachers work very hard to help our children through tough times like the pandemic and now to get them back on track. We should do everything we can to support them, not put a price on their head.”

# # #

Governor Gregg Abbott wants to win the competition to be the most immoral, dishonest, loathsome, and extremist Governor in the nation.

Pastor Charles Foster Johnson, leader of Pastors for Texas Children, called out Abbott for his latest, most disgusting ploy.

Pastor Johnson writes:

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued not one but two letters this month calling for Texas public schools to “ensure no child is exposed to pornography or other inappropriate content.”

The first letter on Nov. 1 to the Texas Association of School Boards stated that “Texas public schools should not provide or promote pornographic or obscene materials to students,” and that “the organization’s members have an obligation to determine the extent to which such materials exist or are used in our schools and to remove any such content.”

Dan Troxel, executive director of the Texas Association of School Boards, responded in a Nov. 3 letter reminding the governor that his organization “has no regulatory authority over school districts and does not set the standards for instructional materials, including library books. Rather, we are a private, nonprofit membership organization focused on supporting school governance and providing cost-effective services to school districts.”

Charles Foster Johnson

Furthermore, Troxel took the opportunity to give the governor a civics lesson, informing him that the responsibility for the review of schoolbooks and materials belongs to the State Board of Education and the Texas Education Association — two organizations over which the governor himself has responsibility and authority. Both organizations are led by individuals appointed by Greg Abbott.

Presumably now embarrassed, but not to be outdone, Abbott then issued a second letter to the two bodies his appointees oversee, instructing them “to immediately develop statewide standards to prevent the presence of pornography and other obscene content in Texas public schools, including in school libraries.”

Instead of apologizing for his error in misidentifying the role of the Texas Association of School Boards, the governordoubled down on his attack on them, saying “Instead of addressing the concerns of parents and shielding Texas children from pornography in public schools, the Texas Association of School Boards has attempted to wash its hands clean of the issue by abdicating any and all responsibility in the matter. Given this negligence, the State of Texas now calls on you to do what the Texas Association of School Boards refuses to do.”

What is going on here? Why, after seven years of gubernatorial tenure, is Greg Abbott now launching a crusade against public school books? If the governor believed our Texas public schools were teaching objectionable material, why didn’t he address the issue years ago? Why is he only now concerned about it?

Here’s why: Greg Abbott knows it is open season on public schools in our current political climate, and he is cynical enough to capitalize on every single misconception of it.

“Greg Abbott knows it is open season on public schools in our current political climate, and he is cynical enough to capitalize on every single misconception of it.”

Abbott faces not one but two opponents in the upcoming primary elections next spring, former State Sen. Don Huffines of Dallas and former U.S. Congressman and state Republican Party chairman Allen West of Garland. Both are rightwing firebrands who constantly question Abbott’s conservative credentials and bona fides. And his own lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, continues to pressure Abbott from the far right.

Nothing like a good old-fashioned book ban to throw some red meat to his right flank.

With the rampant COVID chaos afflicting our nation at this time came opportunity for well-funded forces of confusion to wreak their havoc on our most cherished institutions, including medicine, science and education

In September 2020, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, right, listens to Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, left, during a news conference where they provided an update to Texas’ response to COVID-19. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

This is what spawned the national meltdown over so-called Critical Race Theory alleged to be taught in our public schools. When cooler heads finally prevailed, one could hardly find a K-12 public educator who knew what Critical Race Theory was, much less committed to teach it. But that didn’t prevent national fringe organizations from funding the disinformation campaign against our public schools on the basis of it.

What resulted was trumped up legislation all over the country, including Texas, that was designed to put a chilling effect on any content or curriculum that addressed complex issues of race and our country’s sordid history surrounding it. Abbott and his counterpart, Lt. Gov. Patrick, pushed such a bogus bill in Texas, and it passed.

But with the 2022 election season upon us, and with chaos and confusion on the winning ticket, why let clarity and calm prevail? Having wielded the ruse of reverse racism so effectively, Abbott reached into the demagogue’s favorite bag of tricks again and found — voila! — that old saw of adolescent sexuality as his next contraption of chaos.

“Abbott reached into the demagogue’s favorite bag of tricks again and found — voila! — that old saw of adolescent sexuality as his next contraption of chaos.”

Anyone with a lick of sense knows we have long-established and effective safeguards to prevent inappropriate content in local public schools. With such content readily available on the world wide web, child protection is one of the main responsibilities of our public educators, and they discharge this moral duty with astonishing distinction.

Pastors for Texas Children sees through this stunt. We are not amused.

To imply that our public schools are centers of pornography and our educators purveyors of smut is a devil’s lie. Greg Abbott knows it. And does it anyway.

Here is the real moral crisis: The highest office in our land advancing his political ambition on the backs of dedicated, deeply moral public school teachers, who work hard all day at low pay in the work of love for our children, most of whom are poor. It is beyond cynical. It is morally reprehensible.

The de rigueur political attack on public education is based on lies. Our children suffer from it. We must find the moral courage to stop it now.

Charles Foster Johnson is founder and executive director of Pastors for Children.

Governor Gregg Abbott has banned any mask mandates, despite the fact that cases and hospitalizations are soaring. What’s the matter with him?

Erica Grieder of the Houston Chronicle wonders about Governor Abbbott’s indifference. Does he want to prolong the pandemic?

She writes:

We all know that the Lone Star State has experienced some setbacks in dealing with this horrid plague, namely the emergence of the highly transmissible delta variant as the state grapples with lagging vaccination rates. On Wednesday, according to a Houston Chronicle analysis, more than 10,000 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported to the Department of State Health Services — the largest single-day jump since mid-February. And across Texas, 5,662 people were hospitalized.

And here comes Abbott, a Republican, bravely into the breach, responding by…imposing further limits on the capacity of local officials to take action in response to The governor on Thursday issued an executive order barring local governments from imposing mask mandates or the like, even in areas where COVID patients account for 15 percent of hospital capacity over the course of seven straight days. The order also reiterates that cities and counties can’t mandate vaccines, and it bars any public entity or recipient of taxpayer money from asking about a consumer’s vaccination status.

“The new Executive Order emphasizes that the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates,” Abbott said in a written statement. “Texans have mastered the safe practices that help to prevent and avoid the spread of COVID-19.”

If that’s the case, why are hospitalizations on the rise?

When I started the new blog format, I said I would repost blogs from others only in rare instances. This is one of those rare instances. Peter Greene has written a devastating analysis of the oligarchs’ plans to attack public school teachers and defund public schools in Arizona. You need to read this story. The privatizers’ game plan is on full display, in all its ugliness. It’s a reverse Robin Hood scheme, which will steal from everyone so as to reward the rich.

Here are a few excerpts from the exceptionally vicious legislation that has been filed:

Arizona has lost its damn mind, this week passing some of the stupidest, most aggressively anti-public ed laws anywhere, including an absolutely insane law requiring teachers to file lesson plans a year in advance.

Arizona has always been a strong contender for most anti-public education state in the county. They’ve had trouble convincing teachers to work there for years (at one point they were recruiting in the Phillipines), using the one two punch of low salaries along with rock-bottom spending on classrooms (this is the state wherethe house GOP leader contended that teachers were just working second jobs so they could buy boats). In the meantime, they have done their best to foster charter profiteering and set up vouchers at the expense of public ed. Did I mention that Arizona is the Koch home base?

There was no reason to be surprised when Arizona’s teachers rose up in revolt. Governor Ducey made noises about recognizing the problem, but he’s been trying to slap teaches around ever since. Arizona legislators have come after teachers and public schools before, but this week is really something special.

This week Ducey issued an executive order requiring all schools to return o in-person learning by March 15, with exceptions only for the counties (there are three) with high transmission–there, the middle and high schools can stay remote. No other exceptions, no consideration for local concerns, issues, situations, etc. 

But now for the legal highlights of the week.

SB1058 is the one I mentioned above. In this bill, every school (charters get hit with this foolishness, too) must, by July 1 of each year, post, where parents can see it, all lesson plans, materials, activities, textbooks, videos, online stuff. Parents in Arizona already have the right to review all materials, so nthis is just a next step. “It should be reasonably easy to access the information.” This bill passed the Senate on Tuesday.

This is more than just an unnecessary burden on teachers. It’s more than just a way to legislate bad teaching (if you already know what you’re doing in class on a particular Tuesday five months from now, you are not doing a great job teaching). It also makes each teacher’s lesson planning–their professional intellectual property–open to the public. Starting a charter school but you don’t know a damn thing about teaching? Just log on and lift your curriculum, scope, sequence, plans, etc from any actual teacher…

All of this comes on the heels of a massive voucher expansion in Arizona, worth noting because it was one more example of the state’s GOP working in direct defiance of Arizona voters, who decisively rejected voucher expansion just two years ago. 
It’s an ugly frustrating mess. What exactly is your next move if you’re in a state where the reaction to “If you keep this up, you’ll destroy public schools” is “Good.”Jeb Bush is a big fan of Arizona’s work, mostly because it so closely follows his own playbook in Florida. It all points to an ugly future in which the wealthy can buy the education they want and not have to pay taxes to educate Those People’s Children. 

Seriously, if you want to place bets on which state will be first to destroy its public schools, you wouldn’t be wrong to bet on Arizona. It is a wholly-owned Koch franchise.

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