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Keyword: ‘"ESSA"’

ESSA and the “Death of the Compassionate Democracy”

March 18, 2019 Comments off

NYTimes columnist Margaret Renkyl offers a scary and scathing insight into the synergistic efforts of the religious right and pro-business libertarians to undermine democracy in Tennessee in the name of God and mammon. In so doing she describes how the notorious Koch brothers use the causes of the religious right to help advance their goals, which are described in Nancy Maclean’s book “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America”as follows:

According to Dr. MacLean, the Koch network’s goal — and the goal of all legislators in thrall to the Kochs’ PACs — is to weaken unions, suppress voter turnout, privatize public education, undercut climate science, roll back existing environmental protections, dismantle the social safety net and, of course, stack the courts with sympathetic judges.To enact that unpopular agenda, they’ve had to make common cause with the religious right.

And so we have a world where religious zealots who presumably believe in the teachings of Jesus are stripping poor people of medical coverage, relegating their children to substandard schools, and subjecting all of their fellow citizens to polluted air and water… all in the name increasing the bottom line of corporations.

Ms. Renkyl’s column is full of excellent insights, but it’s closing paragraph overlooks one reality that is most unsettling:

For all its often-empty swagger, the Tennessee General Assembly has made one thing very clear: If Americans don’t start paying closer attention to what’s happening in statehouses across the country, the republic may never recover.

The one reality that Ms. Renkyl overlooks is that Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, the champion of the bi-partisan disaster known as ESSA, has enabled states like Tennessee to set their own standards for education and, in so doing, effectively support the notion that STATES should be able to define curriculum standards… and if Ms. Renkyl doesn’t think that the Koch brothers are willing to throw science education standards, reading lists, and literacy under the bus in the name of free enterprise she is not paying attention herself.

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Build a Wall… or Build a Floor? Clearly the Wall is Unnecessary… But a Floor for Earnings is an Emergency

February 28, 2019 Comments off

Reverend William Barber and Dr. Liz Theodoris, co-chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, wrote a compelling op ed piece for the Guardian declaring that poverty, not the threat of an invasion by Spanish speakers, is the real emergency in our nation. The essay is full of chilling statistics illustrating the widespread poverty in our nation and the crumbling infrastructure that has resulted from decades of underfunding by governments at all levels… and by both parties! Here are some examples:

And the fact is, it’s not just the Republican party that has ignored these issues. Poverty has increased by 60% since the Rev Dr Martin Luther King launched the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, under both Democratic and Republican administrations.We can no longer accept the same political discourse that for the past 50 years has refused to mention poverty nor can we accept politicians enacting policies that prey on the poor. It’s time to talk about the real emergencies plaguing our nation and the real moral issues of our day – the lack of health care, living wage jobs, clean water and sanitation, the militarization of our communities, the attack on indigenous sovereignty….

This is the time to take on the lies of the enablers. When people say poverty is caused by laziness, race, or lack of moral character, we must expose these lies.

In today’s America, the real emergency is that a quarter of a million people die from poverty each year while our political system refuses to use the great wealth of this nation to lift the load of poverty.

Democrats should validate the fact that 250,000 people die from poverty each year, and hammer that fact home during this debate. One way they could do so is to declare that when they have the opportunity to do so, hopefully after the 2020 election, whoever is elected President as a Democrat will declare a national emergency and divert funds earmarked for wars abroad to deal with the decades-long emergency of poverty. Such a declaration would shine a spotlight on this shameful reality.

Bloomberg’s Message to His Billionaire Buddies: Help Pay Tuitions for Neediest

November 19, 2018 Comments off

I wholeheartedly disagree with Michael Bloomberg’s approach to public education and despair at how he “reformed” public schools in New York. I do, however, appreciate his can-do attitude. If he observes a problem, he attempts to fix it using his money and expertise for what he perceives as “good”. His money and expertise helped make NYC a livable city, albeit not an affordable one. In doing so, he unwittingly illustrated the pitfalls in expanding market theories to public schools, but he also exhibited a willingness to use government policy to tackle major problems like obesity, global warming, and fitness. In sum, he used his billions and his expertise to do the best he could to solve serious and protracted social problems: he exemplifies the best instincts of philanthropy.

Quartz recently described Mr. Bloomberg’s latest foray into solving a serious social problem, access to higher education for those who cannot afford college, by donating $1,800,000,000 to his alma mater Johns Hopkins. While others are debating the admissions policies (and politics) of entry to Harvard, Mr. Bloomberg is tackling the issue head on by making a donation to an equally prestigious school that will ensure that Johns Hopkins is “forever needs blind” in its admissions. Quartz concludes with this synopsis of Mr. Bloomberg’s approach to philanthropy:

Bloomberg’s message to other big donors is clear: In lieu of donating yet another fancy building with your name on it, tackle educational opportunities at the root, and liberate young Americans from the decades-long prison of student debt.

And if you must donate a piece of architecture, at least do it with a sense of humility. In 2016, Bloomberg, who grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts, donated $50 million to the Boston Museum of Science, the museum’s largest-ever private donation. He chose the Museum of Science because besides his parents, he says the museum was the most profound influence on his life (he earned his bachelors degree in electrical engineering). The money is being used to support the museum’s education center. Its new name: The William and Charlotte Bloomberg Science Education Center, named in Bloomberg’s parents’ honor.

Here’s hoping Mr. Bloomberg’s billionaire boys club buddies heed his message.