Archive for December, 2016

In the Time of Trump, All We Have Is Each Other: Chris Hedges

December 27, 2016 Comments off

Read the section about Lewis Powell… Progressives need a Lewis Powell! Donald Trump’s presidency—the outgrowth of the corporations’ 40-year-long war against democracy—we will have to battle a form of state repression far more sophisticated than McCarthyism. Our weapon: rebuilding alternative structures through small, local political actions. – 2016/12/25

Source: In the Time of Trump, All We Have Is Each Other: Chris Hedges

Categories: Uncategorized

David Leonardt Get’s One Distinction… but Misses Another

December 27, 2016 Comments off

David Leonardt is a one of the many NYTimes columnists who believe in the magic of “choice and charters”, but in a column last week he went out of his way to describe to a questioning reader why he supports charters but opposes vouchers. In the column he did a good job of making the distinction between the two, drawing on the expertise of two professors:

“People often confuse charters and vouchers, but they are very different,” wrote Parag Pathak of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology… Vouchers are essentially coupons that allow parents to spend their tax money at private schools, while charters are public schools that operate outside of the normal bureaucracy. Voucher-financed schools often have little oversight or accountability, while many charters must demonstrate that their students are learning.

“The larger theme,” notes Douglas Harris, a Tulane professor who co-wrote the New Orleans paper, “is that not all school reform is created equal. The charter system here has significant accountability: Low-performing schools are closed. Students are assigned by lottery, and system leaders limit mid year transfers and discipline policies to prevent schools from cherry-picking students.”

He concludes his column with these paragraphs:

The best charters combine flexibility and accountability — and have thrived. The record of vouchers is less impressive.

Unfortunately, DeVos has shown little appreciation for the difference and pushed for education reform regardless of results. It’s the mirror image of school boards and teachers’ unions that have cast all education reform as evil, regardless of results. Both stances end up hurting our schools.

What Mr. Leonardt and the pro-reform cheerleaders have failed to do is make a far more important distinction: between de-regulated for-profit charter schools and public schools. Something is amiss when de-regulated schools can deny entry to some students, expel students for nit-picking offenses that public school teachers routinely deal with, and fail to disclose their financial statements to the public while taking funds raised by taxpayers. And when these same schools pay less for teachers, do not employ qualified teachers, get space and utilities paid for by tax dollars, and make huge profits for their shareholders something is absolutely wrong. Public school Regulations are as important as environmental regulations. Moreover, the regulations placed on any business that takes public funds should apply to the for-profit K-12 schools and proprietary post secondary schools.

In a future column, I hope that Mr. Leonardt will recognize that distinction and support the need for more transparency, more regulations, and more equity in charters.

KC Teacher Reminds Us: Education is “Moral Pillar” of Democracy

December 26, 2016 Comments off

Mark Bannen, a Kansas City school teacher, wrote a Christmas Day op ed piece for the Kansas City Star that reminds us of the crucial importance of public education in a democracy. After observing with a hint of dismay that the current trend is to view education as a means to achieve economic gain, he writes:

Public education in a democracy is much more than just an instrumental means to an economic end. It is also a moral pillar upon which the entire structure of democracy rests. It’s true American education has not always lived up to its ideals, but it remains an enduring institution capable of great good.

Those aiming to reform the system, be they businessmen or educators, must recognize that the American public school is an experiment tied to democracy itself, and that the imperatives of business are not the same as those of education…

Let us hope that the Trump administration recognizes this dual purpose. Let us hope it believes that democratic public education can and does teach us to live together cooperatively, to value human dignity, to cherish the free and open practice of inquiry, and to provide a means for social and economic advancement.

Let us also hope that the Trump administration sees it as “…a means for social and economic advancement” of students and not as “…a means for social and economic advancement” of entrepreneurs