After For-Profit College Agrees to Forgive $141 Million in Student Debt, Sanders Says: ‘Good. Now $1,685,456,413,335 More to Go’

December 13, 2019 Leave a comment

Bernie Sanders deserves credit on two counts.

First and foremost, he underscores the difference between Millions and Billions… and in so doing shows that conceding millions of dollars is “chump change” for the profiteers.

Secondly, he offers specific examples of how for-profit colleges prey on prospective students through misleading advertising full of fraudulent claims.

Student debt is a drag on the economy, an anchor on upward mobility, but a bonus for wealthy shareholders of the profiteering education enterprises and the banks who benefit from the government’s guarantees to back the loans. The folks who brought down the economy in 2008 are swindling those who felt the real pain of that collapse. Time to turn the tables.

Source: After For-Profit College Agrees to Forgive $141 Million in Student Debt, Sanders Says: ‘Good. Now $1,685,456,413,335 More to Go’

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Women in Politics

December 12, 2019 Leave a comment

NYTimes reporter Maggie Astor’s article, “She’s 16 and Wants to Be President…“, describes the increased engagement of young women in politics… especially the engagement of young women who lean to the left. Why? Because the policies of the POTUS are inimicable to women and the major issues facing their generation– climate change and gun control— are not being tackled by today’s politicians.

I was heartened to read about this trend, for I do believe women tackle problems in a more collaborative way than men and that unity and collaboration— not division and combativeness— will be the key to solving these complicated issues. But I was dismayed to read how advocates for gender equity are framing their arguments, using phrases calling for young women to be “flexing their political power and normalizing political ambition”. Ultimately, in a well functioning democracy, “flexing” is less important than “flexibility” and when flexing is the dominant paradigm we witness a division in government that makes it impossible to achieve the kinds of bipartisan solutions needed to address thorny issues like climate change, gun control, and birth control.

President Trump’s War on the Poor… and the GOP’s Support for it

December 12, 2019 Leave a comment

Jesse Jackson underscores the flaw of using employment levels as a metric with this paragraph:

Trump, of course, brags on his economy and the low unemployment. He argues—without evidence—that his tax cut is trickling down to workers. What he doesn’t realize is that this economy continues to generate jobs that won’t support a family. That’s why so-called poverty programs—from CHIP to food stamps to public housing to low income heating assistance to Medicaid—are so necessary. They give vital support to low-wage workers who do some of the hardest, most taxing jobs in our country.

So Mr. Trump points at low unemployment as “proof” that the economy is strong and our citizens are well off and at the same time creates a crisis in revenue by cutting taxes on the rich… a crises that is solved by cutting the spending for the social programs that enable upward mobility. Here’s Jesse Jackson’s take on these cuts:

Cuts in student aid, cuts in Pell grants, cuts in food stamps, cuts in the poverty level—Trump is putting low wage workers and their families in a box with no way out except down. Our country is paying a very high price for this meanness.

But it isn’t the POTUS’ meanness that is building this box with no easy escape: it’s the GOP itself!

Source: President Trump’s War on the Poor

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Foxes Watching Henhouses = Dead Chickens

December 11, 2019 Leave a comment
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Standardized Test on Trial in CA

December 10, 2019 Leave a comment

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I wouldn’t be surprised if CA preempts this suit by envying a policy that eliminates the use of these tests, but I do hope it goes forward so that the premise of the tests are put on trial.

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Frederick Hess and Chester Finn Defend “True Reform” and Data Driven Instruction Against “Wokeness”

December 6, 2019 Leave a comment

Frederick Hess and Chester Finn have been vocal supporters of “school reform” for decades so it was no surprise to see them co-authoring an essay in the National Review that views “wokeness” as the enemy of “true reform”. In their laughable opening to the essay, Mr. Hess and Mr. Finn write:

The damage inflicted on our educational institutions by the onrushing tsunami of wokeness is starting to worry even a few prominent progressives. Former president Obama himself recently fretted about young activists who are “as judgmental as possible about other people,” cautioning that they’re “not bringing about change.”

As a hyper-judgmental, hyper-sensitive mindset washes from colleges into our nation’s schools, however, change is indeed being brought about: The wokeness wave is destroying unblemished reputations, driving admirable people from the field, and undermining sorely needed efforts at school improvement.

First, the notion that former President Obama is a “prominent progressive” is absurd We’re talking about the President who had a once in a lifetime opportunity to reverse the emphasis on high stakes testing and the data collection that accompanies it and instead doubled down on it. If Mr. Hess and Mr. Finn cannot accept Mr. Obama as one of their greatest advocates, any conclusions they draw about “true reform” are suspect. Secondly, it is not “wokeness” that is destroying “unblemished reputations” or “driving admirable people from the field” or “undermining sorely needed efforts at school improvement”. It is the very test-centric data-driven movement that Mr. Hess and Mr. Finn advocate!

When tests are the primary metric for measuring “school success”, reputations can be destroyed by cheating on tests or by driving students who do poorly on tests out of schools or by denying access to students based on pre-tests. Cheating scandals destroyed far more reputations than those destroyed by “woke” parents or activists.

And when teaching-to-the-test using pre-scripted lesson plans is the method advocated by data-driven “reformers” it is no surprise that admirable creative and independent thinking teachers are driven from the field.

Finally, nothing undermines efforts at school improvement more than underfunding… and underfunding has occurred for at least a decade in public education.

Mr. Hess’ and Mr. Finn’s gaffes are not limited to the first paragraph. Their essay touts KIPP and TFA as successes and blames the de Blasio administration for creating “a vast, Kafkaesque system” that was actually established by one of the darlings of school reform: former mayor Mike Bloomberg.

Mr. Hess and Mr. Finn conclude their article with a call to arms against a preposterous and imaginary threat to their “reform” movement:

There is now a loud, punitive-minded cohort of “reformers” who honestly believe that data is a tool of white oppression and that leaders who champion academic rigor should be fired as bigots. The many of us who abhor their nihilistic doctrine — and believe that improving our children’s schools is far too serious a cause to be undone by their shenanigans — must stand up and be counted.

Their suggestion linking teaching-to-the-test and gathering meaningless data from the tests to “academic rigor” and moral principal is as absurd as assuming that only those with a “hyper-judgmental, hyper-sensitive mindset” oppose the existing test-an-punish model or “reform”… and as absurd as believing that the Obama administration did not endorse the same model. Sorry gentlemen, school reform has been in play for nearly two decades and the test scores they focus on have not moved an inch. Maybe the “woke” people are onto something even if their logic is questionable.

1,000,000 Students Will Go Hungry if GOP Plan is Fully Implemented

December 5, 2019 Leave a comment

The NYTimes Lola Fadulu reported today that a recent change in regulations in the Trump administration will result in “hundreds of thousands” losing access to food stamps with a like number of students losing ready access to free or reduced lunches. As critics of this change note, this change is the result of the GOP’s mindset that hundreds of thousands of people want to be dependent on the government for food stamps and they are unwilling to work the hours needed to improve their lot in life. As for their children, they are, in effect, collateral damage.

The article describes the GOP’s desire to curtail these government programs in the name of eliminating dependency. Of course one way they could eliminate dependency on “costly programs” that “handout food to lazy individuals” seeking a “government dole” would be to increase the minimum wage to a level where fewer people would qualify for the program… or compel businesses to schedule workers to long enough work shifts that they would be able to earn living wage… or ensure that people have sufficient money to afford housing and food. But such actions would cramp the profits of corporations (or in the favored parlance of the GOP “hurt small businesses”) and require government regulators. Better to punish the “lazy” than reward hard work with a living wage.