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Peter Greene’s Offers Clear Explanation of DeVos’ End Run

May 29, 2020 Comments off

In this Forbes article education writer Peter Greene offers a clear explanation of Betsy DeVos’ decision to allocate Title One funds to private and parochial schools in a fashion that robs from the poorest children and gives to the more affluent.

In the article Mr. Greene makes the same point I made in an earlier post: DeVos is essentially doing the same thing as Arne Duncan. Whereas Mr. Duncan used 4.5 billion to leverage changes that reinforced NCLB’a test and punish paradigm, Ms. DeVos has over three times as much to funnel funds to parochial schools. But UNLIKE Mr. Duncan case, Congress placed a constraint on how funds could be used, requiring that they be allocated by the Title One formula that sends more funds to underfunded schools. Ms. DeVos, however, read the law differently, claiming that they should be distributed to ALL schools on a per capita basis. As Mr. Greene notes in his concluding paragraph, this is clearly unfair:

Supporters of the DeVos view have argued that some of the private and religious schools serve some students from low-income families. But that’s beside the point—no one is arguing that the private and religious schools should be ignored entirely, and the law is clear that they should receive relief funds for the Title I students they serve. The question is whether or not the law should perform a reverse Robin Hood to serve even the most wealthy and privileged private school students.

But with bigger problems than the misappropriation of funds for poor children facing them and a AG who will do the bidding of the libertarian wing of the GOP I do not expect much to change… especially given the precedent set by the Obama administration.

The Federal Reserve May Rescue Public Schools if Congress Fails

May 28, 2020 Comments off

Our local Rotary Club often gets speakers from Dartmouth College and one Dartmouth professor we often hear from is David Blanchflower, an internationally renowned economist. Yesterday Professor Blanchflower offered a very sobering report on the state of the economy as a result of the pandemic, noting that the real unemployment rate is now approaching 25% and that non-college educated whites are in the depths of a despair unlike any he’s witnessed in his many years as an economic forecaster.

During the question and answer session that followed, I asked him how state and local governments and school districts can survive without more money from the federal government. His answer was very reassuring: the Federal Reserve could buy long term municipal bonds issued by State and local governments that would enable them to, in turn, keep schools from suffering staggering cuts and assure that public services would remain in place. He felt that the Federal Reserve would be inclined to do so because they realize that the alternative is horrific.

One of my fellow Rotarians asked what would happen to the deficit… and Professor Blanchflower analogized our current situation to that of an attack from a foreign country, posing this question: “If we were attacked by a foreign country that killed 100,000 people would we worry about the potential long term impact of deficit spending?” The answer is: “Of COURSE NOT!” Cold 19 has wreaked havoc on our economy the same way an advancing army from a foreign country would… and we need to inject lots of cash into the economy if we ever hope to have a smooth transition from what WAS “normal” to a NEW “normal” that will undoubtedly have a different landscape.

I came away with a good-new/bad-news summary. The good news is that state and local economies have a means of staying afloat even if Congress fails to act. The bad news is, any thoughts of things “going back to normal” are out the window…. and since “normal” wasn’t that great for lots of students MAYBE a new normal will be fairer, more just, and more equitable.

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Is Mitch McConnell Blocking State Aid to Enrich Vulture Funds and Bolster Corporate Control of the Economy?

May 27, 2020 Comments off

John Buell leaves it to the reader to connect the dots… but here’s what McConnell and the GOP want to see happen:

  • The federal government doesn’t bail out the states
  • States are forced to go through bankruptcy proceedings, a process that is not clearly defined on a national or, in some cases, even a state level.
  • State and local government functions that are now manned by union employees and therefore provide a decent wages, hours, working conditions, and benefits are eliminated and provided instead by private corporations who use the same employment strategies as Amazon and Walmart to milk profits.
  • The quality of life and quality of products deteriorates over time.

This is the world the GOP wants… and as Mr Buell points out they will see the American public on their “dream” through the “…moralistic reference to the profligacy of state governments” and the politics of resentment that accompany it.

Mr. Buell ends his essay with a different vision:

A robust safety net, debt relief, extended unemployment compensation, universal healthcare, assistance to routine state expenditures could spare us the most extreme possibilities. A more ambitious response would be a guarantee of a living wage job, to limit private capital’s inordinate control of the workplace and the job market and public banking to limit the power of the private banking community’s undemocratic Federal Reserve.

If no action is taken at the federal level before the end of November, expect the politics of division and resentment to play out at the state and local levels across the country as states and municipalities struggle to balance their budgets….

Source: Is Mitch McConnell Blocking State Aid to Enrich Vulture Funds and Bolster Corporate Control of the Economy?

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