A Look at Some of the Driving Forces behind the School Reform Movement and the Effort to Privatize Public Education

SchoolClassroomSubmitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

In recent years, we have heard and read a lot about the failure of public schools in the United States. “Our schools are failing” has almost become a mantra with members of the media, many of our politicians, and the advocates of school reform. I have seen few people who have questioned the assertions made by the media, elected officials, and school reformers that schools in this country are not adequately educating our youth and that our educational system is a total and abject failure.

Many of those who criticize our public education system offer charter schools and the privatization of public schools as solutions to the “education problem” in this country.

I’m a retired public school educator. I have known and am friends with many current and former public school teachers. I know that there are many fine classroom practitioners working in our public schools today…and many excellent schools where our children receive a quality education. I am aware that there are also many schools where children may not be receiving the highest quality education. (What often go unmentioned in the media are the real reasons—including poverty—why some schools in this country may be failing.)

One problem with the “our schools are failing” mantra—as I see it—is that  all our schools are lumped together in one basket labeled “failing.” How did this come to be? Do we Americans really believe that NO public schools in this country provide their students with an adequate education? Do we believe that all schools need to be reformed? If not, do we believe that even the schools which are actually doing an estimable job of educating their students need to be reformed?

I think it is time we start taking a good look at the individuals and organizations that are behind the push to establish thousands of charter schools and to use taxpayer money to fund private and religious schools as the means of raising the quality of education in this country.

ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council)

Last May, education historian Diane Ravitch wrote the following about one group that has been driving the school reform movement:

Since the 2010 elections, when Republicans took control of many states, there has been an explosion of legislation advancing privatization of public schools and stripping teachers of job protections and collective bargaining rights. Even some Democratic governors, seeing the strong rightward drift of our politics, have jumped on the right-wing bandwagon, seeking to remove any protection for academic freedom from public school teachers.

This outburst of anti-public school, anti-teacher legislation is no accident. It is the work of a shadowy group called the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. Founded in 1973, ALEC is an organization of nearly 2,000 conservative state legislators. Its hallmark is promotion of privatization and corporate interests in every sphere, not only education, but healthcare, the environment, the economy, voting laws, public safety, etc. It drafts model legislation that conservative legislators take back to their states and introduce as their own “reform” ideas. ALEC is the guiding force behind state-level efforts to privatize public education and to turn teachers into at-will employees who may be fired for any reason. The ALEC agenda is today the “reform” agenda for education.

Ravitch continued:

A recent article in the Newark Star-Ledger showed how closely New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s “reform” legislation is modeled on ALEC’s work in education. Wherever you see states expanding vouchers, charters, and other forms of privatization, wherever you see states lowering standards for entry into the teaching profession, wherever you see states opening up new opportunities for profit-making entities, wherever you see the expansion of for-profit online charter schools, you are likely to find legislation that echoes the ALEC model.

ALEC has been leading the privatization movement for nearly 40 years, but the only thing new is the attention it is getting, and the fact that many of its ideas are now being enacted. Just last week, the Michigan House of Representatives expanded the number of cyber charters that may operate in the state, even though the academic results for such online schools are dismal.

ALEC Exposed provides a wealth of information about how—through ALEC—“corporations, ideologues, and their politician allies voted to spend public tax dollars to subsidize private K-12 education and attack professional teachers and teachers’ unions…” (You can find the information in Privatizing Public Education, Higher Ed Policy, and Teachers–the ALEC report prepared by The Center for American Democracy.)

Michelle Rhee and StudentsFirst

In addition to ALEC, there is another organization called StudentsFirst that has been helping to spearhead the effort to “reform” our public schools. According to Stephanie Simon, Michelle Rhee, founder and CEO of StudentsFirst, has “emerged as the leader of an unlikely coalition of politicians, philanthropists, financiers and entrepreneurs who believe the nation’s $500 billion-a-year public education system needs a massive overhaul.” Simon added that Rhee, the former chancellor of the D.C. public schools, “has vowed to raise $1 billion” for StudentsFirst, and “forever break the hold of teachers unions on education policy.”

Simon continued:

StudentsFirst has its own political action committee (PAC), its own SuperPAC, and a staff of 75, including a cadre of seasoned lobbyists Rhee sends from state to state as political battles heat up. She has flooded the airwaves with TV and radio ads in a half dozen states weighing new policies on charter schools, teacher assessment and other hot-button issues.

To her supporters, Rhee is a once-in-a-generation leader who has the smarts and the star power to make a difference on one of the nation’s most intractable public policy issues.

But critics say Rhee risks destroying the very public schools she aims to save by forging alliances with political conservatives, evangelical groups and business interests that favor turning a large chunk of public education over to the private sector. She won’t disclose her donors, but public records indicate that they include billionaire financiers and wealthy foundations.

In January the National Opportunity to Learn Campaign published its review of Rhee’s StudentsFirst State Policy Report Card for 2013:

Here’s an excerpt from the summary of the campaign’s review:

On Monday, the pro-privatization education group StudentsFirst, led by former D.C. public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, released a State Policy Report Card, ranking states and giving each a letter grade based on their implementation of a slew of education reform policies. Rather than focus on issues facing students and families, particularly those affected by unequal access to school resources, the policy benchmarks in the new report reveal StudentsFirst’s obsession with charter schools and de-professionalizing the teaching profession. The report pushes policies that are either untested or disproven — but happen to be welcome in the halls of right-wing think tanks and politicians.

The National Opportunity to Learn Campaign listed five reasons why the StudentsFrirst Report Card is “a veritable wish list for privatization advocates and a recipe for failure for everyone else”:

1.      Ironically, It Ignores The Needs of Students

2.      It Opposes Personalized and Student-Centered Learning

3.       It Argues That We Don’t Have Enough Quality Teachers… While Advocating That We Lower the Bar for Teacher Preparation

4.       It Continues the Disastrous High-Stakes Testing Drumbeat

5.      It Advocates “Equal Funding” and “Equitable Access” for Charter Corporations and Private Schools, Not Students

The DeVos Family

In May of 2011, Rachel Tabachnick wrote an article for AlterNet about the DeVos family, a wealthy family that has “remained largely under the radar, while leading a stealth assault on America’s schools” that has the “potential to do away with public education as we know it.”

Quoting Tabachnick:

Vouchers have always been a staple of the right-wing agenda. Like previous efforts, this most recent push for vouchers is led by a network of conservative think tanks, PACs, Religious Right groups and wealthy conservative donors. But “school choice,” as they euphemistically paint vouchers, is merely a means to an end. Their ultimate goal is the total elimination of our public education system.

The decades-long campaign to end public education is propelled by the super-wealthy, right-wing DeVos family. Betsy Prince DeVos is the sister of Erik Prince, founder of the notorious private military contractor Blackwater USA (now Xe), and wife of Dick DeVos, son of the co-founder of Amway, the multi-tiered home products business.

According to Tabachnick, the Devoses, who are big contributors to the Republican Party, spent millions of dollars “promoting the failed voucher initiative in Michigan in 2000.”  Following that defeat, Tabachnick claims that the family decided to alter its strategy.


Instead of taking the issue directly to voters, they would support bills for vouchers in state legislatures. In 2002 Dick DeVos gave a speech on school choice at the Heritage Foundation. After an introduction by former Reagan Secretary of Education William Bennett, DeVos described a system of “rewards and consequences” to pressure state politicians to support vouchers. “That has got to be the battle. It will not be as visible,” stated DeVos. He described how his wife Betsy was putting these ideas into practice in their home state of Michigan and claimed this effort has reduced the number of anti-school choice Republicans from six to two. The millions raised from the wealthy pro-privatization contributors would be used to finance campaigns of voucher supporters and purchase ads attacking opposing candidates.

Dick DeVos advocates “stealth” strategy, Heritage Foundation, December 3, 2002

Last April, Daniel Denvir wrote an article for City Paper about the push for a school voucher program in the state of Pennsylvania. He said that names on the fliers of “legislative hopefuls” sounded like the names of “homegrown” candidates. He said that a “different picture” emerged when one followed the money:

that of a statewide campaign, funded by wealthy donors, to stack the Pennsylvania primary battles on April 24 in favor of those supporting school vouchers, which allocate taxpayer funds for private and religious school tuition. The pro-voucher political action committee (PAC) Students First — funded by Pennsylvania hedge-fund managers and American Federation for Children, a Washington, D.C., pro-voucher group headed by Amway heiress and major right-wing donor Betsy DeVos — emerged on the state’s political scene with a bang for the 2010 elections. And they are back to spend big in 2012.

Lawrence Feinberg, co-chairman of the anti-voucher Keystone State Education Coalition, said, “I see a move by essentially a handful of very wealthy people who want to privatize public education for a wide variety of reasons. Not the least of which has to do with crushing labor unions, but they also want tax dollars going to private and religious schools.”

School Reform and The Profit Motive

In his Salon article The Bait and Switch of School “Reform,” David Sirota writes about the profit motive behind some of the reforms being advocated by “Big Money” interests.


As the Texas Observer  recently reported in its exposé of one school-focused mega-corporation, “in the past two decades, an education-reform movement has swept the country, pushing for more standardized testing and accountability and for more alternatives to the traditional classroom — most of it supplied by private companies.”

A straightforward example of how this part of the profit-making scheme works arose just a few months ago in New York City. There, Rupert Murdoch dumped $1 million into a corporate “reform” movement pushing to both implement more standardized testing and divert money for education fundamentals (hiring teachers, buying textbooks, maintaining school buildings, etc.) into testing-assessment technology. At the same time, Murdoch was buying an educational technology company called Wireless Generation, which had just signed a lucrative contract with New York City’s school system (a sweetheart deal inked by New York City school official Joel Klein, who immediately went to work for Murdoch.

Such shenanigans are increasingly commonplace throughout America, resulting in a revenue jackpot for testing companies and high tech firms, even though many of their products have not objectively improved student achievement.

At the same time, major banks are reaping a windfall from “reformers’” successful efforts to take public money out of public schools and put it into privately administered charter schools. As the New York Daily News recently reported:

“Wealthy investors and major banks have been making windfall profits by using a little-known federal tax break to finance new charter-school construction. The program, the New Markets Tax Credit, is so lucrative that a lender who uses it can almost double his money in seven years…

“The credit can even be piggybacked on other tax breaks for historic preservation or job creation. By combining the various credits with the interest from the loan itself, a lender can almost double his investment over the seven-year period.

“No wonder JPMorgan Chase announced this week it was creating a new $325 million pool to invest in charter schools and take advantage of the New Markets Tax Credit.”


Ravitch: A primer on the group driving school reform (Washington Post)

Activist targeting schools, backed by big bucks (Reuters)

5 Ways Michelle Rhee’s Report Puts Students Last (National Opportunity to Learn Campaign)

The DeVos Family: Meet the Super-Wealthy Right-Wingers Working With the Religious Right to Kill Public Education (AlterNet)

Right-Wing Campaign to Privatize Public Ed Takes Hold in Pennsylvania (AlterNet)

Big corporate money in support of school vouchers hits primary races statewide. Will it tip the scales in Philly? (City Paper)

The bait and switch of school “reform” (Salon)

The Deep Pockets Behind Education Reform (Forbes)

Privatizing Public Education, Higher Ed Policy, and Teachers (The Center for American Democracy)

433 thoughts on “A Look at Some of the Driving Forces behind the School Reform Movement and the Effort to Privatize Public Education

  1. TLDR:I am a former public school teacher. My life was meaningful, and those who say public schools are failing are really propagandizing for purposes of profiting by providing children with choices in education. Parents must not have choices in their children’s education if profit is the result, unless it is union members and not corporations who benefit.

  2. “In 1943, in an analysis of Hitler’s programme in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the word ‘privatisation’ entered the academic literature for the first time. The author, Sidney Merlin, wrote that the Nazi Party ‘facilitates the accumulation of private fortunes and industrial empires by its foremost members and collaborators through “privatisation” and other measures, thereby intensifying centralisation of economic affairs and government in an increasingly narrow group that may for all practical purposes be termed the national socialist elite’.The gung-ho free marketeers who rode to power with Thatcher in 1979 don’t seem to have been aware of the Nazi prelude, although they would have known of later privatisations in Pinochet’s Chile.”

  3. http://open.salon.com/blog/stuartbramhall/2011/03/15/the_history_of_the_school_privatization_movement

    MARCH 15, 2011 1:48PM
    The History of the School Privatization Movement:

    The Neoliberal Goal to Privatize All Public Services

    The Neoliberal Goal to Privatize All Public Services

    “Neoliberal Republicans and Tea Partiers (and now Barack Obama and Department of Education director Arne Duncan) give lip service to improving achievement levels for students in inner city schools. However instead of improving funding to these struggling schools, the one intervention supported by statistical research, they continue to aggressively shift education funding from public schools to private charter schools – despite the Stanford study showing that charter programs don’t improve achievement levels (see previous blog). In my mind, this is totally consistent with what I believe is their real agenda – namely privatizing public education.”

  4. http://open.salon.com/blog/stuartbramhall/2013/03/02/the_corporate_takeover_of_higher_education
    MARCH 2, 2013 6:26PM
    The Corporate Takeover of Higher Education
    This is Part I of a two part guest post by Dr Danny Weil. It’s a repost of an article Cornell University to Offer the “Hypodermic Needle Theory” of Education in an Attempt to Colonize Consciousness and Groom Future Elites originally published at Daily Censored

    Understanding history: The Powell Memo and the Growth of the Reactionary Right

    By Dr Danny Weil

    In order to understand how America’s ruling elites are bivouacking at elite universities with the aim of taking them over and assuring ideology replaces education, it is necessary to understand the historical development of the current colonization of consciousness.”


  5. http://open.salon.com/blog/stuartbramhall/2013/02/19/reducing_students_to_a_commodity
    FEBRUARY 19, 2013 5:23PM
    Reducing Students to a Commodity
    “From the economic conservative and neo-liberal perspective, educational assessment and world class standards must be linked to what it means to be successful in the new global economy. Through their efforts, they have created standard and assessment think-tanks, such as Achieve Incorporated, a non-profit creation by a group of CEO’s and the National Governors Association that is currently co-chaired by IBM’s Chief Executive Officer, Louis Gerstner Jr. and Governor Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin, as well as the National Education Goals Report, launched in 1989 as a result of the controversy over the 1983 report, A Nation at Risk. The Goals Report announces its mission as:

    “By the year 2000, American students will leave grades 4, 8, and 12 having demonstrated competency in challenging subject matter including English, mathematics, science, history, and geography; and every school in America will ensure that all students learn to use their minds well, so they may be prepared for responsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment in our modern society (National Education Goals Report, 1991).”

    “By adopting what they like to call “world class standards”, these corporate and business leaders are working to identify what post-Fordist skills will be necessary for the workplace of the future (Mid-continent Regional Educational Laboratory,1997).”

  6. http://walmart1percent.org/education/



    “Before considering the specific goals and activities of these foundations, it is worth reflecting on the wisdom of allowing education policy to be directed or, one might say, captured by private foundations. There is something fundamentally antidemocratic about relinquishing control of the public education policy agenda to private foundations run by society’s wealthiest people.”[1]

    – Diane Ravitch, education historian and Assistant Secretary of Education under President George H.W. Bush

    When the richest family in the country inserts itself into the education policy debate, ordinary Americans have reason to be concerned. Why should one family’s overwhelmingly deep pockets give them the right to play such an outsized role in determining how the next generation of American students is educated? What are they really trying to accomplish?”

  7. Leftist pro union propaganda.
    No one is saying do away with public education, what they are saying is that education source should be a choice of the parent, not mandatorily funneled into one modality by force and coercion.
    Notwithstanding the quality control problems of our current public education system, our public schools have now become the modern gulag of America with our children as the defenseless innocent victims of violations of all kinds of civil rights.
    Worse, it is the nexus where hysterical ‘mandated reporters’ pull children into the so-called child protective service tarpit, and then demand parents force medicate their children with psychiatric drugs for any incorrigibility they claim, under threat again of CPS involvement.
    So for more than one reason, and on several levels, it makes no sense to campaign against freedom of choice of where to have one’s child educated. To demand otherwise is simply childish and controlling, and obviously driven by agendas having little to do with education.

  8. A little confused here: what was the purpose of this article? Was it to show us steps to improve the failing Saint Louis Public School System (SLPS)? Chicago Public School System? Cleveland Public School System? D.C.’s? Jennings (for those who know Saint Louis County in Missouri), Wellston/Normandy’s? Or to show us that there are public schools that are not failing?

    Are we opening the doors to compare private religious schools (like the Jesuits and Catholics); private, non-religious schools (charter schools), great public schools (for those who know STL & St. Charles County: Clayton, Ladue, Fort Zumwalt, Francis Howell); decent public schools (again for those who know my area: Hazelwood, Ferguson-Florissant), and the very poor ones, mentioned above? Or is this article stating that privatization with or without religious affiliation, of public education is another dead end to resolving the many problems circumnavigating the failing public school districts, mentioned above?

    As I mentioned in an earlier blog, particularly of how public school funding in Missouri was a disgrace and challenged in court (funding formula was found constitutional, but everyone knew that we are heading back to the days of separate-but-unequal), our public education system is doing what it is supposed to do for certain ‘groups of people’, (mostly women and minorities): fail, fail, and continue to fail them.

  9. The goal of these idiots isn’t just privatization of education. That’s just one part of it. Other parts are things like:

    * tax disparity – poor and working class people pay all the taxes, the rich pay none

    * denial of voting rights – it’s not just the barring the poor and non-whites, it’s the criminalization of the populace for petty charges, the permanent denial of the right to vote

    * the partitioning of society and the deliberate destruction of the middle class – the rightwingnuts want apartheid, the separation of Americans into the few wealthy elite and the majority poor

    The goal of rightwingnuts, planned or unplanned, is a return to England of the 18th century. They want to go back to the bad old days of huddled masses with no rights or protections, who work in “satanic mills”, in unspeakable conditions (unsafe and unhealthy) for little or no pay. Only the wealthy elite will have rights and can vote, and the majority with no rights who can be abused with impunity, and killed if they step out of line.

    The “police” will be the same as they are now – nothing but a rabble of violent thugs attacking and violating the rights of those who question the regime, willing kapos who participate in their own oppression.

  10. Michelle Rhee: Wrong again
    Her education “reform” movement sends the lovely message that communities should stay out of their schools

    Most who are reading these words will probably agree that our country is facing a democracy crisis, thanks, in part, to the dominance of money in our political process. Many who read these words will also probably insist that our country is facing an education crisis (though many try to deny the actual cause of that crisis).

    Getting past the denial stage and acknowledging both of these problems is certainly a step toward one day fixing them. However, there’s another more subtle and self-reinforcing form of denial that makes getting to those solutions more difficult. That denial — or perhaps cognitive dissonance — evinces itself in an American psyche that tends to perceive the democracy and education emergencies as separate and distinct.

    Essentially, we see the cause of voting-rights activists, get-out-the-vote pushes and same-day registration crusades (among others) as divorced from the concurrent education policy fight between public school advocates, teachers’ unions and corporate education “reformers.” We see them as disconnected from one another even though the two battles are fundamentally fused by a simple truism: Basically, you can never hope to have a functioning democracy over the long haul if your education system is trying to convince students and parents to abhor democracy.

    That, of course, is exactly what is happening right now thanks to a scorched-earth campaign by the corporate interests that see big potential profits in privatizing public schools.

    Like so many other industries currently waging a war on democratic institutions that get in the way of bottom-line concerns, this Wall Street-backed education industry sees democratic forces — elections, collective bargaining, local control, etc.— as obstacles to private profit. Thus, the industry, through financing the crusades of education “reform” advocates, is trying to maximize its bottom line by reducing democratic control of the most local of local institutions: the schoolhouse. In the process, the “reform” movement is forwarding an extremist message to kids and parents that runs counter to the most foundational ideals of American democracy and self-governance.

    You can see that message in myriad actions over the last few years.

    For instance, at the behest of corporate education “reformers,” more and more cities are moving to eliminate the democratic process of electing school boards, effectively telling students, parents and the larger community that republican democracy cannot be trusted to manage fundamentally public institutions. Similarly, corporate “reformers” are constantly demonizing teachers’ unions, effectively telling students and parents that the major vestige of workplace democracy in schools must be crushed.

    Then there is corporate “reformers’” push to replace publicly run schools with privately run charter schools, even though the charter schools typically perform worse than the public ones. That tells students that a public institution with some modicum of democratic control is inherently less ideal than a private, undemocratic tyranny.

    Likewise, as shown most recently in this recent Reuters investigation, those charter schools often “screen student applicants, assessing their academic records, parental support, disciplinary history, motivation, special needs and even their citizenship” — and then hand-pick only the students the school administrators want. That tells students and the community at large that the core democratic notion of equal opportunity for all shouldn’t be honored even in public education. Just as problematic, as Andrew Hartman noted in his incisive Jacobin magazine report on Teach for America, many of the most hyped charter schools force families to “sign contracts committing (their children) to a rigorous program of surveillance,” thus sending the additional message to low-income kids that to succeed in America, they must be willing to submit to “institutionalization” and give up their most personal democratic freedoms.

    Taken together, the education “reform” movement is waging a comprehensive war on the most basic notions of democracy — and not a secret war, either. It is quite explicit, as evidenced by the comments of the most famous and politically renowned leader of that movement, Michelle Rhee.

    During her tenure as the head of the Washington, D.C., public schools, Rhee engaged in mass firings and school closings; helped private testing companies impose a strict standardized testing regime on students; did nothing about a massive cheating scandal in her midst; and, as PBS Frontline notes, produced an academic achievement record that leaves “Washington still among the worst in the nation and D.C.’s high school graduation rate dead last.”

  11. U.S. Schools Have a Poverty Crisis, Not an Education Crisis
    By Michael Rebell & Jessica Wolff

    In America, we don’t have an education crisis; rather we have a poverty crisis. The latest Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores indicate that American schools that serve few low-income students rank higher than the world’s top-scoring advanced industrial countries. But when they are averaged with the scores of schools with high poverty rates, the United States sinks to the middle of the pack. At nearly 22 percent and rising, the child-poverty rate in the United States is the highest among wealthy nations in the world. (Poverty rates in Denmark and in Finland, top global performers on the PISA exams, are below 5 percent). In New York City, the child-poverty rate rose to over 30 percent in 2010. Like other aspects of the inequitable U.S. distribution of wealth, our child poverty crisis seems to fall within a national blind spot.

    Childhood poverty has a profound impact on learning. Achievement gaps for disadvantaged children begin before they start school and widen throughout their school careers. But research shows that change is possible.

    Most non-poor students in this country come to school equipped with the basics for success. They arrive with the preschool experiences they need to be ready for grade-level work; their health and mental-health needs are largely being met; they enjoy a range of both academic and nonacademic learning experiences beyond the school day that complement what they learn in class; and they receive the family support that ensures they are motivated and prepared to learn during the school day. Children raised in poverty cannot count on these advantages. As a result, too many are unprepared, inattentive, or chronically absent.

  12. Elaine,

    Simply a brilliant guest blog and one that I’ll keep referring to in the future on educational issues because it covers the privatization scheme thoroughly. Thanks to Bruce E. Woych who provided excellent supplementation to Elaines piece. Between you two you have exposed the “Our Schools are failing” con game. Gene and I have frequently written about propaganda and mythology and the “failing schools” meme is a major piece of propaganda that has become mythic. The problems with our public school systems have been manufactured by thieves who want to get their hands on the money. Charte Schools don’t work and school vouchers are a cruel hoax.

  13. What? No mention of Common Core? That’s been implemented in some 47 states?

    No mention of the The Communitarian Network, the Frankfurt School or John Dewey’s and the Marxian technocrats’ influence/vision on today’s refashioning [language manipulation]… of P20 OBE (Pre-school through Graduate School Outcomes Based Education)?

    I’m shocked! Just shocked!

    Perhaps this discussion deserves wider perspective. Would parents go along with a communitarian, cultural Marxist education agenda if they knew how carefully [and deceptively] it was being kept hidden from them?

    That public education was being employed as a covert weapon of modern warfare? Against ‘We, the People’? That they’re little darlin’s are no longer even taught phonics anymore?

    What central planning genius dreamt this one up? No wonder Johnny and Emily can’t read or write. Or ~heaven forbid~ even ‘think’ with the shoddy tools they’ve been handed by the ‘philosopher-kings’ intending to do them grave harm? So that, hey, a proper grounding in the English language… is now thought… passe? Puhhh-leeeeeeze!

    (‘Look-Say method’, ‘whole language’, ‘psycholinguistics’, ‘sight reading’ ‘balanced literacy’ – could it be our ‘free trade’ and immigration policies, multiculturalism, and yes, ‘diversity’ are destroying the very soul of this country [with its debauched ‘currency’] from the inside out?)

    How many Americans are aware of Horace Mann – the avowed socialist – the man our history books call the ‘father of American public education’?

    I say we close down ALL these decrepit social [-ist] engineering and brainwashing factories. Then present young people and their families with real freedom-of-choice again.

    With that accomplished, we should next all go to work and then entirely eliminate the [unconscionably] un-American property taxes which keep feeding this [mind control] cancer!

    After that… those bloodsucking central bankers – our SLAVEMASTERS!

    [monopoly State] capitalism + [federalism] corporatism + [British ‘Anglo-American’ bankster/big corporate-controlled ‘free trade’] mercantilism + [cultural, ‘socioeconomic’, political] communism


    [world-socialism; syndicalism; neoliberalism; parasitism; totalitarianism]



    socialism = gangsterism = slavery

    The Invisible Man (1897), by HG Wells
    The New World Order (1939), by HG Wells

    A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

    The Science of Mass Manipulation Through Crisis Creation

    John Maynard Keynes and Economic Fascism

    UNESCO and the Deliberate Dumbing Down of the Western World

    Common Core
    Invisible Serfs Collar

  14. The toll of school reform on public education
    By Diane Ravitch

    There comes a time when you look at the rug on the floor, the one you’ve seen many times, and you see a pattern that you had never noticed before. You may have seen this squiggle or that flower, but you did not see the pattern into which the squiggles and flowers and trails of ivy combined.

    In American education, we can now discern the pattern on the rug.

    Consider the budget cuts to schools in the past four years. From the budget cuts come layoffs, rising class sizes, less time for the arts and physical education, less time for history, civics, foreign languages, and other non-tested subjects. Add on the mandates of No Child Left Behind, which demands 100 percent proficiency in math and reading and stigmatizes more than half the public schools in the nation as “failing” for not reaching an unattainable goal.

    Along comes the Obama administration with the Race to the Top, and the pattern on the rug gets clearer. It tells cash-strapped states that they can compete for federal funding, but only if they open more privately managed schools (where few teachers have any job protections), only if they adopt national standards that have never been field-tested, only if they agree to evaluate teachers by student test scores, and only if they are ready to close down low-performing schools, fire the principal and staff, and call it a turnaround.

    Race to the Top seems to have catalyzed a national narrative, at least among the mainstream media. The good guys open charter schools and fire bad teachers. The bad guys are lazy teachers who get lifetime tenure just for breathing and showing up. Most evil of all are the unions, who protect the bad teachers and fend off any effort to evaluate them. Anyone who questions the headlong rush to privatization and the blind faith in standardized testing will be smeared as “a defender of the status quo” who has “no solutions.” Even if all the “reformers'” solutions are destructive and stale, even though they consistently have failed to produce better education, the reformers never think twice about their palette of “solutions.”

    Just by happenstance, a major documentary appears in September 2010 (“Waiting for ‘Superman'”) to recapitulate this narrative to millions. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation puts up the money to ensure that this morality tale of good reformers and bad teachers is shown to state legislatures, to civic groups, to people living in housing projects. The movie itself is financed in part by an evangelical billionaire (Philip Anschutz) who contributes heavily to libertarian and ultra-conservative causes.

    At the same time, a small group of high-profile figures, led by Michelle Rhee and Joel Klein, proclaim that low test scores are caused by bad teachers, and if they had their way, they would abolish tenure, seniority, and any other job protections for those greedy, lazy teachers. Freed of those encumbrances, teachers would hold on to their jobs only if their students’ test scores went up. Economist Eric Hanushek adds another twist to the emerging scenario: fire 5 to 10 percent of the teachers whose students get the lowest scores, and amazing things are sure to happen: Bad teachers will be replaced by average teachers, test scores will rise to the top of the world, and the nation’s gross domestic product will rise by trillions of dollars.

    Governors and state legislatures heed these messages. How could they not? In state after state, men with vast personal fortunes invest in campaigns to end teachers’ tenure, end seniority (now called Last In, First Out, or LIFO), and clear the way for private takeovers of public schools, where teachers work with no job rights at all. Understandably, the message is embraced by right-wing governors like Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, John Kasich of Ohio, Mitch Daniels of Indiana, Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, and Rick Scott of Florida, but also by Democratic governors like Andrew Cuomo of New York and Daniel Malloy of Connecticut, as well as independent Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island.

    Meanwhile, the richest foundation in the United States, the Gates Foundation, pours hundreds of millions of dollars into a project to find the perfect teacher evaluation system, thus reinforcing the “reform” narrative that the best way to fix what ails public education is to create a foolproof way to find and fire those malingering bad teachers. Where the Gates Foundation leads, many other foundations follow, sure that this philanthropic behemoth is wisest because it has the most money and presumably the best thinking.

  15. Why Are Walmart Billionaires Bankrolling Phony School ‘Reform’ In LA?
    March 2, 2013
    by Peter Dreier

    For years, Los Angeles has been ground zero in an intense debate about how to improve our nation’s education system. What’s less known is who is shaping that debate. Many of the biggest contributors to the so-called “school choice” movement — code words for privatizing our public education system — are billionaires who don’t live in Southern California, but have gained significant influence in local school politics. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s recent contribution of $1 million to a political action committee created to influence next week’s LAUSD school board elections is only the most recent example of the billionaire blitzkrieg.

    For more than a decade, however, one of the biggest of the billionaire interlopers has been the Walton family, heirs to the Walmart fortune, who have poured millions into a privatization-oriented, ideological campaign to make LA a laboratory for their ideas about treating schools like for-profit businesses, and treating parents, students and teachers like cogs in what they must think are education big-box retail stores.

    As a business chain, Walmart has spent a fortune — in philanthropy and campaign contributions — trying to break into the Los Angeles retail market with its low-wage retail stores.

    Now the Walton family — which derives its fortune from the Arkansas-based Walmart — is trying to use that fortune to bring Walmart-style education to Los Angeles.

    The Waltons have long supported efforts to privatize education through the Walton Family Foundation as well as individual political donations to local candidates. Since 2005, the Waltons have given more than $1 billion to organizations and candidates who support privatization. They’ve channeled the funds to the pro-charter and pro-voucher Milton Friedman Foundation for Education Choice, Michelle Rhee’s pro-privatization and high-stakes testing organization Students First, and the pro-voucher Alliance for School Choice, where Walton family member Carrie Walton Penner sits on the board. In addition to funding these corporate-style education reform organizations, since 2000 the Waltons have also spent more than $24 million bankrolling politicians, political action committees, and ballot issues in California and elsewhere at the state and local level which undermine public education and literally shortchange students.

  16. Walmart, ALEC unite on another school ‘reform’ bill
    Posted by Max Brantley on Tue, Aug 14, 2012

    There’s an Arkansas angle in this story about Walmart’s promotion of a new ideological film, “Won’t Back Down,” aimed at supporting “trigger laws” that give school parents a vote to convert a conventional public school (preferably one with a union workforce) into a non-union charter school. The movie is misleading. It suggests a majority vote of teachers is also needed for school conversion. That’s not what the existing laws provide.
    The legislation is being doled out at cookie-cutting sessions by the American Legislative Exchange Council, the go-to Koch lobby for Arkansas Republican legislators in need of corporate movement bills. Conservative billionaire Philip Anschutz is also promoting the movie.

    Walmart, in Arkansas alone, finances wholly or in part an anti-union lobby group, a similarly inclined nonprofit, a nonprofit that provides advice to charter schools, a new “reform” lobby headed by a former Chamber of Commerce executive who doesn’t like the Little Rock School District, charter schools and most of the key members of legislative education committees. 2013, many think, will be the year it moves to take over the direction of education in Arkansas. (Oh, and I forgot to mention the Walton-financed (with an assist from the equally conservative Windgate Foundation) Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas which churns out a steady diet of corporate movement education tracts, and whose financial arrangements the UA refuses to fully reveal despite the state Freedom of Information Act.)

    Walmart’s hostility to unions and collective bargaining is well-known so its support for a message in favor of stripping teachers of that is not surprising. From Hollywood to a school district near you.

  17. Thanks, Elaine, for the article and others for other articles. I have been aware of ALEC for quite a while and have heard enough about Michelle Rhee to realize she is full of wind and very interested in enriching herself. As a public school teacher for about 25 years, I am in a school district where students perform very well on tests and many go to college. I have also taught in school districts with equally wonderful students but the scores were low, well, they were low for the children of low-income parents or those on food stamps. If I could’ve sent all my badly behaving children to Ms. Rhee or Ms. DeVos; if I could’ve added all the recent children of recent immigrants who didn’t speak English or very little English but still had to take the State Tests; if I could’ve added the students who had one form of autism or other of which some would scream out from time to time; another one would crawl on all fours and lick the floors; if I could have sent to these nice upstanding Evangelical donors the hungry children for which I bought honey graham crackers to keep them energized till lunch… guess what would’ve happened to my former school district? Well, we’d have us a nice group of students with supporting parents with an education and enough money to pay for extra curricular activities etc. You get the gist: Ms. Rhee and Ms. DeVos and Melinda and all those mighty smart and wealthy people would be knocking on OUR doors and propose to privatize it.

    While I’ve enjoyed teaching children from whatever background or ability, whether they were ‘good’ or ‘bad’ little boys and girls. I don’t recommend to anyone a career as a teacher, public or private because the truth is that teachers, the majority of them being women, will remain underpaid and overextended and they will still get blamed for all society’s ills. One day when we as teachers finally stop being abused and noone enters the profession anymore, perhaps we can start all over again… but I doubt it; suckers enough there: like me!

  18. Bravo, Elaine. Thank you. I taught high school before I taught college. There were teachers who were so dedicated but often had to fight the bureaucracy to keep up their level of creativity, interaction with and personal assistance to students. WhewnI hear “privatization” and “voucher,” I hear “control.” I hear no longer being required to give an education to everyone. I am tired of so many knee-jerk, no-nothing “education reformers” (aka too often politicians who want to cut back funding of education) who don’t really give a rat’s butt about all students having access to and receiving a good education.

  19. @Elaine

    Get your children out of the public schools… even the colleges and universities… and fast!

    If you really want the straight skinny, the go-to source is Atlanta attorney Ms. Robin Eubanks… of the Invisible Serfs Collar blog.


    Robin’s a very concerned mom. And she’s extremely well-researched. I’d suggest you give her a shout, as she’s quite friendly, open and honest about sharing her findings.

    P.S. – The teachers and parents themselves are being hoodwinked – with the teachers facing the loss of their J-O-B-S and benefit packages if they don’t bend over and become complicit in the fraud and criminality of it all. The superintendents and principals, the same – if they don’t comply and produce the expected ‘results’… their middle class statuses [if not their ‘upward mobility’]… and their career pathways are blocked… or else they are literally ruined [devastated financially]!

  20. Ah yes, the poverty concept for explaining the failures of some of the urban public schools in America; this concept may work for the public schools serving rural America, but not urban America. Here’s why:

    In his book entitled Dark Ghetto: Dilemmas of Social Power (1967), Dr. Kenneth B. Clark asserts a different view of why urban, public schools in America are failing:

    “The public schools in America’s urban ghetto also reflect the oppressive damage of racial exclusion. School segregation in the South had, for generations, been supported by law; in the North, segregation has been supported by community custom and indifference. It is assumed that children should go to school where they live, and if they live in segregated neighborhoods, the schools are, as a matter of course segregated. But the educational crisis in the ghettos is not primarily, and certainly not exclusively, one of the inequitable racial balances in those schools. Equally serious is the inferior quality of the education in those schools. Some persons take the position that the first must go before the second does; others, that the reverse is true. What is clear is that the problem of education in the urban ghetto seems to be a vicious cycle: If children go to school where they live and if most neighborhoods are racially segregated, then schools are necessarily segregated, too. If Blacks move into a previously white community and whites then move away or send their children to private or parochial schools, the public schools will continue to be segregated. If the quality of education in the Black schools is inferior to that in white schools, whites feel justified in the fear that the presence of Blacks in their own school would lower its standards. If they move their children away and the school becomes predominantly Black, and therefore receives an inferior quality of education, the pattern begins all over again. The cycle of systematic neglect of Black children must be broken, but the powerlessness of the Black communities and the fear of indifference of the white community have combined so far to keep the cycle intact.”

    Furthermore, Dr Clark asserts:

    “Are Blacks such-in terms of innate incapacity or environmental deprivation-that their children are less capable of learning than are Whites, so that any school that is permitted to become integrated necessarily declines in quality? Or has inferior education been systematically imposed on Blacks in the nations ghettos in such a way as to compel poor performance from Black children-a performance that could be reversed with quality education? The answer to these questions is of fundamental importance because the flight of whites from the urban public school system in many American cities is based on the belief that the first is true and the second is false.”

    Although this book was written more than 45 years ago, has anything changed? Saint Louis and Chicago Public School systems have been experiencing this phenomenon for decades……………….the Flight continues…and so does school quality…

  21. There is not enough consistency in our public schools, even in the same town. The schools in wealthy areas receive more money from local and state taxes and the poorer areas get much less.

    In red states public education doesn’t seem to be encouraged and many children are either being educated by ignorant parents, or going to charter schools which or other so called privatized schools which have no minimum standards for educators.

    We need to address these problems.

  22. Hi Elaine.

    Marxism properly understood is about targeting human consciousness. And I did not know that until researching why what had worked in the past was being shut down under Race to the Top and what had been controversial was being expanded. And all the language about “Just enough content knowledge.” Following up on all that eventually took me back to Uncle Karl. Here’s a basic explanation I did some months ago http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/political-primer-101-what-is-the-marxist-theory-of-the-mind-and-why-does-it-matter-in-2012/

    On reading most schools in fact do not teach phonics systematically because phonetic reading bolsters the abstract mind. The current theories prevailing in education are to keep everything concrete and in context. Symbol systems like using letters for sounds are math symbols that do not reflect something “real” again fuel the logical, rational mind. That’s not me saying this. I am simply relaying what psych and sociology and ed professors have said is the reason they push a whole word or look-say emphasis.

    Now obviously being honest about the lack of a systematic phonetic orientation or the insistence kids will read only words made known to them or ed schools now insisting words be taught as a whole or by syllable would not be politically popular. So phonics gets thrown in to obscure the sight word orientation.

    Most of the reading methods being pushed under the Common Core track back to Marie Clay or Fountas & Pinnell. It is called Guided Reading but it all tracks back ultimately to psycholinguistics and Wilhelm Wundt. One of the founders of the field of psychology in the 19th century.

    Trust me. I wish there was no link to Uncle Karl and that the actual Common Core implementation was a skit as humorous as Duck Soup. But those are not the intentions or the plans and the skullduggery here is bipartisan. Your descriptions of the Corporatism links are right on the money. In fact I heard Joel Klein speak about that sub that is now known as Amplify. I wrote a post about his claim that we are seeking “new kinds of minds.”

    I do not think any politician has the right to be selling that goal,

  23. Robin,

    I was a public school teacher for more than three decades. We always taught phonics in the primary grades–as did my friends who teach/taught in other school districts. We didn’t throw phonics in to obscure sight word orientation. Through the years different methods for the teaching of reading came into vogue…and often went out again. Some old methods even returned with new names. Many teachers continue to use both phonics and word recognition…multiple approaches to teach their students how to become literate. There is no one method that is best for all children. Children must learn how to “read words.” It’s just as important that they learn to comprehend what they read.

  24. Robin,

    One of the most educationally destructive things that school reform has brought us is the craze for high stakes testing. Education should be about meeting the needs of our children–not about prepping them for some multiple choice tests that don’t provide us with a true picture of all that our children know and all that they have learned.

  25. The Empire Michelle Rhee Built
    By Charles P. Pierce

    One problem with the education “reform” industry is not merely that it generally looks at “education” as though it were a commodity, like soybeans, and that the problems with how we educate a great many children of our fellow citizens can be solved if we just refine the delivery systems for the product. In other words, most education “reform” proponents treat “education” as though it exists in a vacuum unaffected by the factors — like, say, joblessness and poverty — in the real world outside the classroom. (How many prominent school “reformers” have stepped up and said anything about the increasingly effective campaign by the NRA to arm public school teachers? Thought so.) Thus do we come to the second problem with the education “reform” movement — it is shot through root and branch with patent-medicine remedies pitched by for-profit grifters and hustlers.

    They have their own genre of richly financed propaganda, like 2010’s Waiting for Superman and this year’s Won’t Back Down. There are an awful lot of hedge-fund gunslingers involved in the movement toward charter schools, a phenomenon about which, to his eternal credit, Bob Somerby — who actually has taught in the public schools — has been banging his tin drum at The Daily Howler for some time now. (It should also be said that Somerby’s knee does not jerk. He readily gives some reform programs, and even some of Rhee’s work, the props he thinks they deserve.) Some of the hustlers, alas, have the ear of this administration, and one of those people is Michelle Rhee.

    Rhee’s entire (and very lucrative) career as a proponent of educational “reform” is based on her time as chancellor of the public schools in Washington, D.C. Between 2007 and 2010, she did everything that sends a thrill up the leg of the “reform” community. She bashed teachers, scapegoated principals, and shined up her own armor for public consumption every chance she got. She also instituted a system of standardized testing by which Michelle Rhee would be able to judge the awesome awesomeness of Michelle Rhee.

    Standardized testing is a crack cocaine of education. It is rife with problems. It is also a multimillion industry without which might not exist, among other things, The Washington Post. A reliance on standardized testing as a metric for progress is generally a reliable “tell” that “reform” has ended and that the grift has begun. A reliance on standardized testing as a metric for progress — and, it should be said, as a Procrustean scoreboard to judge whether a teacher, an administrator, or a school system are doing their jobs properly — almost guarantees that some finagling with the numbers will take place. It is a sub rosa way to install a corporate model on public education and, since the corporate model for everything in this country right now is a moral and ethical quagmire, it encourages cheating on a massive scale. Hence, the very real possibility that the empire built by Michelle Rhee, tough-talking “reformer,” may be built upon a wilderness of crib sheets.

  26. I wish we had more teachers like you today, Elaine.

    My daughters and I would watch Sesame Street from the time they were toddlers until about the fifth grade and they retained what they learned, even my Learning Disabled daughter. We also watched Zoom, Mr. Rogers and the Electric Company.

    When I babysat my grandchildren and my oldest Great-granddaughter we would watch PBS and we talked about what she saw on t.v. Sadly my daughter (her Grandmother) and her Mother never had the time to do this with her.

  27. Lark: So that, hey, a proper grounding in the English language… is now thought… passe?

    I think you are blinded by ideology. The purpose of language is to convey ideas, the particular form (or language) is superfluous. I work with many people that are not native English speakers, with heavy accents, broken grammar and missing from their vocabulary words a third grader would know. But they are brilliant scientists, and I regard any difficulty in communication more my fault than theirs: They have at least spent years trying to speak English, by comparison I have made nearly zero effort to learn Arabic, Chinese, French, Greek, Polish, Russian or Spanish.

    What you think of as “proper” English is an unnecessarily complicated language, and what you think of as corruptions of that language are for the most part simplifications in tense, grammar, slang, pronunciation and spelling that should be made to help English along in becoming the global language.

    That is a good thing, not a bad thing. English is a difficult language to learn; the only reason it is even a candidate for a universal language is due to our economic and scientific pre-eminence after WW II. That pre-eminence is declining as many other countries recover and develop economically and scientifically. If you like the idea of English remaining the most common global “second” language a century from now, I suggest you embrace the changes that make it easier for non-native speakers to learn.

    Get over yourself. What it sounds like is immaterial, the only thing that matters is if you understand their idea, and they can understand yours. All else is window dressing.

  28. Oops: That was me above. I had changed my tag to make a point about anonymity on a previous thread, and forgot to change it back.

  29. lyris65,

    I’m fortunate that I have the time to provide daycare for my granddaughter three days a week. I have thousands of children’s books that I collected over the years–some of which I have shared with her. Board books are great for babies. My Julia has been gentle with my hardcover picture books. She turns the pages without tearing them. Two of the words she says quite often are “book” and “read.” She’ll select a book, hand it to me, and climb into my lap. She also enjoys many of the Baby Genius programs on TV–which are about the alphabet, counting, nursery rhymes, etc. I recently found a good Youtube channel for her called Kids TV 123.

    Here’s one of her favorite Kids TV Videos. She’s “into” trains at the present time.

  30. Leading Economist: Gates Value-Added Research Deeply Flawed, Ignores Its Own Data
    By Kevin Hart
    January 13, 2011

    One of the country’s leading economists is warning that a Gates Foundation study on value-added teacher evaluation not only fails to meet key academic standards, but that it dangerously misinterprets its own data.

    Last month, the Gates Foundation released the first report of the Measures of Effective Teaching project, and the report claimed to find strong evidence for a value-added teacher evaluation model, where teachers are evaluated based on student progress on standardized tests.

    But a report by University of California at Berkeley economist Jesse Rothstein, former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor and a former senior economist for the Council of Economic Advisers, found that the report was based on flawed research and conclusions that were contradicted by the study’s own data.

    “In fact, the preliminary MET results contain important warning signs about the use of value-added scores for high-stakes teacher evaluations,” Rothstein wrote in his analysis of the research. “These warnings, however, are not heeded in the preliminary report, which interprets all of the results as support for the use of value-added models in teacher evaluation… This limits the report’s value and undermines the MET Project’s credibility.”

    Rothstein’s critique of the study, scathing by academic standards, found that some of the correlations presented and conclusions reached in the MET research were “shockingly weak.”

    In particular, Rothstein wondered how the report can reach its main conclusion that “a teacher’s past track record of value-added is among the strongest predictors of their students’ achievement gains in other classes and academic years,” when the report did not attempt to study the strength of several other possible predictors.

    Rothstein’s analysis seems to validate a concern that many educators had about the report when it was released – that it was designed to reach predetermined conclusions. The conclusions that should have been reached, Rothstein wrote, would cast serious doubt about whether a value-added model is useful at all in teacher evaluation.

    For example, 40 percent of the teachers who scored in the bottom quartile based on their students’ state standardized test scores actually placed in the top half of teachers when an alternative assessment was used.

    That means, Rothstein wrote, that a value-added model based on standardized state test scores is only slightly more reliable than flipping a coin when used to determine whether a teacher is effective.

    “In particular, the correlations between value-added scores on state and alternative assessments are so small that they cast serious doubt on the entire value-added enterprise,” Rothstein wrote.

  31. Responding to the Gates Foundation: How do we Consider Evidence of Learning in Teacher Evaluations?
    By Anthony Cody on August 8, 2012

    The Gates Foundation continues to fund Teach For America, Stand For Children, The Media Bullpen, the National Council for Teacher Quality, Teach Plus, The New Teacher Project, and literally scores of other groups which carry on campaigns to undermine due process for teachers, and actively lobby for coercive legislation that forces public schools to use faulty test scores for the purposes of teacher evaluation, against the best judgment of administrators and academic experts.

    The Gates Foundation gave $2 million to promote Waiting For Superman, a movie rife with falsehoods about public education, which greatly promoted the hostile climate in which we find ourselves.

    Ms. Phillips’ post focuses almost exclusively on the work of the Measures of Effective Teaching Project, an initiative of the Gates Foundation. While the Gates Foundation has invested upwards of $300 million in this project, they have spent several billion over the past few years funding other groups who are active partisans in the war on the teaching profession. We have not yet seen enough of the systems under development by the MET project to really understand them, so I will focus my attention on the other fruits borne by Gates Foundation investments.

    The first question that arises when discussing teacher effectiveness is how we measure student learning. While Ms. Phillips distances herself from the use of test scores, this has been central to the reforms advanced by the Gates Foundation thus far. It is possible that the MET project will chart new ground, but before it does so, it will need to reverse all the policies and laws mandating evaluation systems that rely on test scores that have been passed at the insistence of the Gates Foundation and programs it has funded.

    Researcher Walter Stroup has given the testing paradigm a much-needed shaking up, in his report, on the way standardized tests have been constructed, as reported in the New York Times.

    He focused on classes of students that had made significant strides in their understanding of math concepts. When he reviewed their standardized test scores, he discovered very little improvement, in spite of their learning gains. How could this be? He discovered that the test designer’s goal was not to create a test that was sensitive to learning, but rather was to rank students, to reproduce the spread of outcomes that we expect. These tests are “insensitive” to a great deal of learning, and of little use in evaluating the quality of instruction. Therefore, when the Gates Foundation (and its myriad sponsored projects) insist that test data be our guiding star, we are often misled.

    This is no surprise to teachers. The Gates/Scholastic survey of teachers found that only 28% of teachers see standardized tests as an essential or important gauge of student assessment, and only 26% say they are accurate as a reflection of student knowledge. Another question reveals part of the reason this may be so – only 45% of teachers think their students take these tests seriously, or perform to the best of their ability.

    Melinda Gates recently said on Nightline, “An effective teacher in front of a student, that student will make three times the gains in a school year that another student will make.” Math teacher Gary Rubinstein did some digging to figure out that the source of this statistic is a very weak twenty-year-old study by Eric Hanushek, an economist who has also “proven” that money does not matter in educational quality.

  32. Education reform as a business
    Posted by Valerie Strauss on January 9, 2013

    Did you know that the education sector now represents nearly 9 percent of the country’s gross domestic product? That for-profit education is valued at $1.3 trillion, and is one of the largest U.S. investment markets?

    These facts were part of an advertisement for a conference for investors in for-profit education ventures, just one example of how much the profit motive has entered into the public education arena. The conference is one of two examples of how school reform has become little more than a business in some arenas (and just how removed some reformers have gotten from classrooms and the actual dynamic of teaching and learning).

    If you had wanted to attend this conference for private equity investing in for-profit education companies, you missed it, (but you did save the walk-in fee of $1,495). Featured at the conference were “20 education experts,” none of whom are actually teachers.

    The Conference:

    Private Equity Investing in For-Profit Education Companies
    How Breakdowns in Traditional Models & Applications of New Technologies
    Are Driving Change

  33. “Marxism properly understood is about targeting human consciousness. And I did not know that until researching why what had worked in the past was being shut down under Race to the Top and what had been controversial was being expanded.”


    you are no doubt an intelligent person who has been made ignorant by pre-judgment and what seems to be a mis-guided libertarian political view. I took the time to follow yours and “Lark’s” link back to your website, so I was able to read the two dense essays that links track back to. You obviously think that Marxism is at base the main problem and frankly that’s your problem and your Achille’s heel. Education is being attacked by the Plutocrats and the Corporate Elite in order to dumb down society and thus make them more pliable for economic slavery. In tandem with that there is money to be made ad that is always an interest for those who rule us.

    This country is not under attack from “Marxists”, but from Plutocrats who want to impose a “new feudalism” upon us. In your paranoia you conflate government with Marxism and that is a faulty premise. Government per se is not the enemy of freedom, those with the wealth and the power to pervert government are the problem. Unfortunately, despite your seeming erudition, your conception of the problems this society faces are filtered through the lens of your political suppositions. Free yourself from ideology and you might be able to see your errors.

  34. September 13, 2012
    Special Report: The profit motive behind virtual schools in Maine
    Documents expose the flow of money and influence from corporations that stand to profit from state leaders’ efforts to expand and deregulate digital education.
    By Colin Woodard
    Portland Press Herald

    Stephen Bowen was excited and relieved.

    Maine’s education commissioner had just returned to his Augusta office last October after a three-day trip to San Francisco where he attended a summit of conservative education reformers convened by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, which had paid for the trip.

    He’d heard presentations on the merits of full-time virtual public schools – ones without classrooms, playgrounds or in-person teachers – and watched as Bush unveiled the “first ever” report card praising the states that had given online schools the widest leeway.

    But what had Bowen especially enthusiastic was his meeting with Bush’s top education aide, Patricia Levesque, who runs the foundation but is paid through her private firm, which lobbies Florida officials on behalf of online education companies.

    Bowen was preparing an aggressive reform drive on initiatives intended to dramatically expand and deregulate online education in Maine, but he felt overwhelmed.

    “I have no ‘political’ staff who I can work with to move this stuff through the process,” he emailed her from his office.

    Levesque replied not to worry; her staff in Florida would be happy to suggest policies, write laws and gubernatorial decrees, and develop strategies to ensure they were implemented.

    “When you suggested there might be a way for us to get some policy help, it was all I could do not to jump for joy,” Bowen wrote Levesque from his office.

    “Let us help,” she responded.

    So was a partnership formed between Maine’s top education official and a foundation entangled with the very companies that stand to make millions of dollars from the policies it advocates.

    In the months that followed, according to more than 1,000 pages of emails obtained by a public records request, the commissioner would rely on the foundation to provide him with key portions of his education agenda. These included draft laws, the content of the administration’s digital education strategy and the text of Gov. Paul LePage’s Feb. 1 executive order on digital education.

    A Maine Sunday Telegram investigation found large portions of Maine’s digital education agenda are being guided behind the scenes by out-of-state companies that stand to capitalize on the changes, especially the nation’s two largest online education providers.

  35. Maybe the present “School Model,” whether public or private, is outdated and a new model needed? –

  36. Robin,

    What also specifically bothers me about your comments and “Lark’s”, might be your doppelganger, is that Elaine’s evidence is both copious and persuasive, is the supplementary evidence added in the links from Bruce E. Woych. However, in the three comments from you, not one bit of attention is paid to Elaine’s points, rather they are cavalierly dismissed with your own self-reference. It’s fine for you to push your viewpoints, but in doing so you add nothing to the discussion of this thread. Because I try to read each comment fairly to then further examine my own positions, I had to take time to see what you were writing about. Frankly, my time at your blog wasn’t worth it.

  37. Mike,

    I’ve met Irene Fountas and know of her work. She’s no Marxist.

    Here’s some information about her:

    Guided Reading expert Irene Fountas is a professor at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has extensive experience as a classroom teacher, language arts specialist, and consultant in school districts across the nation and abroad. Currently, she directs field-based literacy research projects and continues to publish resources for comprehensive literacy programs including guided reading resource guides that quickly become staples for guided reading education across the country.

    With her coauthor Gay Su Pinnell, she has written Guided Reading: Good First Teaching for All Children; Guided Readers and Writers grades 3-6: Teaching Comprehension, Genre and Content Literacy; Word Matters: Teaching Phonics and Spelling in the Reading/Writing Classroom; and Phonics Lessons: Letters, Words and How They Work (for kindergarten, grade one, and grade two).

    She is the recipient of the Greater Boston Council and the International Reading Association’s Celebrate Literacy Award.


  38. “Maine’s education commissioner had just returned to his Augusta office last October after a three-day trip to San Francisco where he attended a summit of conservative education reformers convened by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, which had paid for the trip.”


    I find it very interesting that we see the name of Bush rear its ugly head again. Jeb, who I think will run and get the 2016 Republican nomination, is using the same tactic used by his daddy and his brother. If you remember
    G.H.W. Bush called himself “the Education President” and G.W. Bush gave us the terrible “No Child Left Behind”. That the seldom heard of Marvin Bush is involved financially with the supply of educations materials, this seems a field of family interests. Another murky interest of the “Bush Crime Family” and we all know how well their ascendancy to power has worked out for this country.

  39. The Privatized Mind
    by Liza Featherstone
    Report Card
    Feb. 2012

    Beyond the odd bake sale or PTA party, capitalism doesn’t belong in our schools.

    “Report Card” is not reproaching anyone for participating in schemes like “Power a Bright Future.” Schools are hammered by budget cuts, and of course parents do whatever we can to raise money for good programs. But it’s worth thinking about the values such activities encourage. We are constantly telegraphing the idea that good education is a scarce resource rather than a public good. Or perhaps it’s more like a flat screen TV pilfered from the wreckage in last summer’s riots in London—something we are lucky to get for free, but don’t deserve. Often, in its official literature, a high quality public school will remind parents that it provides a fabulous education with no tuition bill attached, a fact we are expected to receive as a kind of miracle.

    This is what privatization looks like. Our public institutions, starved of funds, are desperately kissing up to corporate America. Worse, our expectations are privatized. We’re thinking of education as a prize—won by fierce competition or dumb luck—rather than a right.

    The private money is everywhere. Our neighborhoods continue to be bombarded with charter schools that could not exist without the financial and corporate elites. Success Academy, the hedge fund-powered entity discussed in the last “Report Card” column, continues to expand like the pre-recession Starbucks, though parents and Occupy forces are still resisting Success Williamsburg. Achievement First, a charter chain known for excessive discipline, which operates in Brooklyn’s poorest neighborhoods, gets money from the Bank of America and Moody’s foundations, as well as Merck, Wyeth, and plenty of hedge funds. But the private sector even underwrites some of our neighborhood schools: Park Slope’s P.S. 321’s website thanks real estate giant Corcoran, calling it “our marquee sponsor.”

    In return for such genuflection, capital is looting our schools. New York city and state are spending hundreds of millions enriching hucksters who peddle wrong-headed teacher evaluation schemes and unproven technology while our schools lack money for the basics (music, gym, substitute teachers). Somehow our school system can’t afford things that have been proven to reduce the achievement gap between rich and poor, like reducing class size, yet has plenty of money to waste on anything that enriches the technology sector—or former Department of Education officials.

    While New York State still does not allow for-profit charter schools, the city is coming dangerously close, expanding its School of One program—now operating in one school in Chinatown—to four more schools. School of One is a name and concept eerily appropriate to our education zeitgeist, because privatization is not only a funding strategy; it is a pedagogy and an experience. The program has been touted as breathtakingly innovative—for allowing children to spend much of their day alone in front of a computer. The founder of the school, Joel Rose, is also the CEO of a firm formed last August solely to provide services to School of One in return for the rights to the technology and intellectual property. In the current edutech bubble, Rose will presumably make a fortune.

    Public schooling should draw families into the public sphere and make us more engaged citizens. But the privatization of the system has quite the opposite effect. Parents act more like consumers than members of a community, simply switching schools when we are unhappy with our kids’ education, though an extensive body of research shows that this practice hurts our kids and their schools. We are like drivers sitting in traffic, constantly switching lanes to get ahead, and thus snarling the traffic even more.

  40. Jeb Bush urges Texas to ‘go big or go home’ on school fixes


    Staff Writer


    Published: 27 February 2013 11:54 PM

    AUSTIN — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush gave a burst of attention Wednesday to Republican efforts to overhaul Texas’ public schools.

    But it’s unclear whether his high-profile appearance before the Senate Education Committee will boost prospects for the legislative package.

    Bush, brother of George W., the former president and Texas governor, urged lawmakers to create a “continuous cycle of reform,” such as expanding school choice. He said that helps spur competition and prods low-performing public schools to get better.

    “When you empower the consumer of any service to be on equal footing with the supplier, that yields a better outcome,” he said.

    Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, the committee chairman, wants to expand the state’s charter school program and increase options for lower-income families, such as taxpayer-paid vouchers for private schools.

    Democrats vow to fight that idea, saying it would hurt public schools.

    Bush said Texans needs to think big.

    “When you have a chance to reform, it ought to be big. … Go big or go home,” he declared, referring to his Florida initiatives that he said helped students and increased accountability.

    What Bush didn’t say: Critics contend Florida is not the model for massive school fixes and has seen lackluster results, such as in its high school graduation rate among minorities.

    Bush, a potential presidential candidate in 2016, said the Legislature must be prepared to pay for major changes.

    “If you are going to create tough love policies, then you need to fund them.”

  41. “Although this book was written more than 45 years ago, has anything changed? Saint Louis and Chicago Public School systems have been experiencing this phenomenon for decades……………….the Flight continues…and so does school quality…”


    Dr. Clark was a wise and prescient man.

  42. “They have their own genre of richly financed propaganda, like 2010′s Waiting for Superman and this year’s Won’t Back Down.”


    This propaganda designed as “feel good movie-making” had me infuriated from the time I first heard of them. Rhee is a con artist shill for the Plutocracy.

  43. The sad truth about Monopolist Shark turned “Philanthropist” Bill Gates, is that his philanthropy has consistently been self serving. Microsoft, was and is a malicious company, which was built in his image. Why would we expect that this pirate would suddenly turn into a benefactor?

  44. I think a lot of the reactions are based on what people think an educational system should “produce.”

    In a society with a government that can’t really handle the reality it has produced, there are competing elements, such as “tell it like it is” vs “tell it like it feels heavenly.”

    Thus, the struggle to make education subservient to a particular world view, and the contrary struggle to form world views according to the real world around us.

    It is as tough a problem as anything else that matters very much.

  45. “Mike,
    I’ve met Irene Fountas and know of her work. She’s no Marxist.”


    The truth is that almost all the people who tend to call other people Marxists, are quite ignorant of what that term stands for. BTW, it’s good to see you back and in top form. We’ve missed you of late and hope things are now in good order.

  46. The Failure of Corporate School Reform: Toward a New Common School Movement
    Monday, 05 December 2011
    By Kenneth J Saltman, Truthout | Op-Ed

    In the United States, a corporate model of schooling has overtaken educational policy, practice, curriculum and nearly all aspects of educational reform.

    While this movement began on the political right, the corporate school model has been heralded across the political spectrum and is aggressively embraced by both major parties. Corporate school reformers champion private-sector approaches to reform including, especially, privatization, deregulation and the importation of terms and assumptions from business, while they imagine public schools as private businesses, districts as markets, students as consumers and knowledge as product. Corporate school reform aims to transform public schooling into a private industry nationally by replacing public schools with privately managed charter schools, voucher schemes and tax credit scholarships for private schooling. The massive expansion of deunionized, nonprofit, privately managed charter schools with short-term contracts is an intermediary step toward the declaration of their failure and replacement by the for-profit industry in Educational Management Organizations (EMOs). EMOs extract profit by cutting teacher pay and educational resources while relying on high teacher turnover and labor precarity.(i) Corporate school reform seeks solutions to public problems in private-sector ways, from contracting out schools and services, to union-busting, a wholesale embrace of numerical benchmarking and database tracking and the modeling of schooling and administration on multiple aspects of corporate culture. Policy hawks make demands, for example, for teacher entrepreneurialism, or insist that students dress like retail chain workers and call school heads “CEO”; or install corporate models of numerical “accountability,” paying students for grades and teachers for test scores; or leaders play intricate Wall Street-style shell games with test performance to show rising “return on investment”; or teachers assign students the task of crafting a resume for Benjamin Franklin; BP was involved in creating California’s new science curriculum: the examples are endless.

    Despite the fact that corporate school reforms have expanded at an exponential speed, the dominant corporate school reforms have failed on their own terms. Such reformers have insisted on “accountability” through test scores and lowering costs, but it is precisely in reference to these accountability measures that corporate school reforms have failed. The failing policies that are being aggressively implemented nonetheless include: contracting out management to privately managed charters or for-profit educational management organizations;(ii) putting in place voucher schemes or neo-voucher scholarship tax credits;(iii) expanding commercialism;(iv) imposing corporate “turnaround” models on schools and faculty(v) that often involve firing entire faculties and administrations, reducing curriculum and pedagogy to narrow numerically quantifiable and anti-intellectual, anti-critical test-based forms; the creation of “portfolio districts” that imagine districts as a stock portfolio and schools as stock investments;(vi) reorganizing teacher education and educational leadership on the model of the MBA degree;(vii) and the elimination of advanced degrees and certification in favor of pay-for-test-performance schemes such as value added assessment.(viii)

    These corporate school reforms are deeply interwoven with commercial interests in the multibillion dollar test and textbook publishing industries, the information technology and database tracking industries and the contracting industries.(ix) The corporate sector has in the last decade positioned education in the United States as a roughly $600 billion per year “industry,” ripe for takeover.(x) As directions for future economic growth are uncertain, public tax money in public services appears to corporations and the super-rich, who are flush from decades of upward redistributions, as tantalizing to pillage.(xi) These upward redistributions of public wealth and governance are particularly obvious in Wisconsin and New Jersey as tax cuts on the super-rich and corporations and slush funds for business development are funded by defunding public and higher education; attacking teacher pay, benefits and unions; expanding privatization schemes including vouchers, charters, tuition fee hikes; and shifting educational costs onto individual working-class and professional-class individuals. The same agenda is being enacted in Michigan, Indiana, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania – to name a few. Chicago could be considered the blueprint with its Renaissance 2010 plan designed by the Commercial Club and implemented by Arne Duncan. That plan – which resulted in failure to raise test scores or lower costs – succeeded in privatizing and deunionizing about 100 of the 600 schools in the district

  47. Mike Spindell: The Bush family appear to breed oxymorons…and one of their latest is “public” monopolies. See here how the family works their treacheries from generation to generation and from Texas to Florida:

    Jeb, George P. Bush push charter schools in Texas

    Associated Press

    AUSTIN, Texas — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his rising-political-star son, George P. Bush, urged Texas on Tuesday to dismantle the “monopoly of public education” by dramatically expanding access to charter schools, embracing online learning and overhauling how teachers are evaluated.

    But neither man offered any hints about his political future.

    The elder Bush, who is often mentioned as a possible contender for president in 2016, told an education forum organized by the Texas Business Leadership Council, “I urge you to be big and bold, and if people get offended, so what?”

    Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/02/26/3254240/jeb-and-george-p-bush-to-speak.html#storylink=cpy

    Regards to you Mike!

    by Barbara Miner
    Testing Companies Mine for Gold
    Rethinking Schools
    Winter 2004/2005

    There’s gold in them there tests.

    Thanks to the testing mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation, private companies are mining the testing field with all the power their accountants, test-makers, and marketers can muster.

    States are likely to spend $1.9 billion to $5.3 billion between 2002 and 2008 to implement NCLB-mandated tests, according to the non-partisan Government Accounting Office (GAO).

    Those GAO figures cover just the direct costs of six years of developing, scoring, and reporting the tests—which is performed under contract with private companies. Add in indirect costs, such as the amount of classroom teacher time devoted to coordinating and giving the tests and, increasingly, preparing students with ongoing “practice” tests, and testing experts say the figure could be 8 to 15 times higher.

    The amount of education money devoted to standardized tests is only part of the problem. Invariably, the private testing companies that control standardized testing operate behind closed doors with little to no public accountability. They function as subsections of multinational conglomerates that view the U.S. testing industry as just one tentacle of publishing and entertainment empires that span the globe.

    “There’s very little oversight of the testing industry,” notes Walt Haney, an education professor at Boston College and a senior researcher at its National Board on Educational Testing and Public Policy (NBETPP). “In fact, there is more public oversight of the pet industry and the food we feed our dogs than there is for the quality of tests we make our kids take.”

    Where’s the Outcry?

    There has been little public outcry over the fact that private, multinational companies operating beyond public oversight are determining which students, schools, and districts in the United States are deemed “failures” and which are deemed “successes.” Given the secrecy that shrouds testing company operations, information is negligible. What the public doesn’t know, the public doesn’t complain about.

    Critics of standardized testing also point to a third problem beyond the amount of money and the secrecy. That’s the problem of missed opportunity. There’s little doubt that the Bush administration’s obsession with standardized tests as the sole determinant of school success has undermined reforms that focus on teaching children to think and to do more than fill in circles on test forms.

    “The amount of money spent on standardized testing is not the real problem,” notes Monty Neill, executive director of the Boston-based group FairTest. “The real problem is how it distorts teaching and learning.”

    The Testing Explosion

    NCLB, introduced two days after George W. Bush took office and passed a year later, instituted an unprecedented level of federal mandates for testing public school students. The mandates built on bipartisan support for a corporate-influenced agenda of increased standardized testing. But NCLB carried that agenda to new levels, both with the number of tests and the harsh sanctions for those schools not meeting predetermined levels of test progress.

    NCLB requires annual testing of students in third through eighth grades in mathematics and reading or language arts, and testing once in high school. Beginning in 2007-08, states will also be required to give tests in science at least once in elementary, middle, and high school. All told, there will be 17 NCLB tests each year for school districts. This translates into unfathomable amounts of school time devoted to standardized testing and teaching to those tests. It also creates untold business opportunities for the companies that produce the tests. (If you add in district- and state-mandated tests on top of NCLB requirements, and the growing number of “practice” tests given to students so they will do well on the “real” tests, the number of tests schools must administer skyrockets.)

  49. Education reform protests pick up steam
    By Valerie Strauss

    In Texas, New York, Illinois and other states, protests by parents and educators are getting louder against school reform that insists on using standardized test scores as the basis for evaluating students, educators and schools.

    It is too early to call it a full-fledged revolt; Washington D.C. has yet to see tens of thousands of people marching through the streets against high-stakes standardized testing, which has been prominent in American education for a decade and is at the core of the Obama administration’s school accountability efforts.

    But opposition is clearly growing, most prominently over “value-added” teacher evaluation models that purport to measure how much “value” a teacher adds to a student’s academic progress by using a complicated formula involving a student’s standardized test score.

    Researchers have repeatedly warned that this evaluation method is not reliable — and doesn’t take into account all of the out-of-school reasons that could affect how a student does on a test — but the Obama administration has pushed it and states have been adopting new teacher accountability systems that are heavily weighted to test scores.

    In New York, hundreds of professors at colleges and universities have banded together and signed a letter to political and education officials protesting the state’s new educator evaluation system, Annual Professional Performance Review, or APPR, which rests largely on test scores, and asking them to reconsider the reliance on high-stakes tests.

    This effort follows one by school principals in New York to protest APPR with a petition that describes APPR is “an unproven, expensive and potentially harmful evaluation system” that “is not the path to lasting school improvement.” At this point, more than 1,432 New York State principals and more than 4,860 friends have signed the petition.

    Meanwhile, in Texas, some 345 school districts — out of about 1,030 districts — have adopted a resolution that says that standardized tests are “strangling” public schools and asking the state Board of Education to rethink the testing regime. Those school districts represent more than 1.6 million students.

    It was in Texas where the era of high-stakes testing was born. George W. Bush started a test-based accountability program when he was governor and then blew it out into a national education initiative known as No Child Left Behind during his presidency.

    Thus it is somewhat ironic that this year Robert Scott, the Republican commissioner of education in Texas, caused a public stir when he told the Texas State Board of Education that the mentality that standardized testing is the “end-all, be-all” is a “perversion” of what a quality education should be. California Gov. Jerry Brown had said essentially the same thing last year. Scott also agreed to postpone by a year a requirement that the results of each end-of-course exam account for 15 percent of a student’s final grade in that course.

    It’s impossible to know if Scott’s comments had an effect on any other officials, but The New York Times reported last month that the chief academic officer of New York City’s public schools, Shael Polakow-Suransky, said publicly that he, too, has concerns about APPR because of the value-added formulas that carry so much weight.

  50. Privatizing Public Schools: Big Firms Eyeing Profits From U.S. K-12 Market
    By Stephanie Simon
    Reuters | Posted: 08/02/2012

    NEW YORK, Aug 1 (Reuters) – The investors gathered in a tony private club in Manhattan were eager to hear about the next big thing, and education consultant Rob Lytle was happy to oblige.

    Think about the upcoming rollout of new national academic standards for public schools, he urged the crowd. If they’re as rigorous as advertised, a huge number of schools will suddenly look really bad, their students testing way behind in reading and math. They’ll want help, quick. And private, for-profit vendors selling lesson plans, educational software and student assessments will be right there to provide it.

    “You start to see entire ecosystems of investment opportunity lining up,” said Lytle, a partner at The Parthenon Group, a Boston consulting firm. “It could get really, really big.”

    Indeed, investors of all stripes are beginning to sense big profit potential in public education.

    The K-12 market is tantalizingly huge: The U.S. spends more than $500 billion a year to educate kids from ages five through 18. The entire education sector, including college and mid-career training, represents nearly 9 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, more than the energy or technology sectors.

    Traditionally, public education has been a tough market for private firms to break into — fraught with politics, tangled in bureaucracy and fragmented into tens of thousands of individual schools and school districts from coast to coast.

    Now investors are signaling optimism that a golden moment has arrived. They’re pouring private equity and venture capital into scores of companies that aim to profit by taking over broad swaths of public education.

    The conference last week at the University Club, billed as a how-to on “private equity investing in for-profit education companies,” drew a full house of about 100.


    In the venture capital world, transactions in the K-12 education sector soared to a record $389 million last year, up from $13 million in 2005. That includes major investments from some of the most respected venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, according to GSV Advisors, an investment firm in Chicago that specializes in education.

    The goal: an education revolution in which public schools outsource to private vendors such critical tasks as teaching math, educating disabled students, even writing report cards, said Michael Moe, the founder of GSV.

    “It’s time,” Moe said. “Everybody’s excited about it.”

    Not quite everyone.

    The push to privatize has alarmed some parents and teachers, as well as union leaders who fear their members will lose their jobs or their autonomy in the classroom.

    Many of these protesters have rallied behind education historian Diane Ravitch, a professor at New York University, who blogs and tweets a steady stream of alarms about corporate profiteers invading public schools.

    Ravitch argues that schools have, in effect, been set up by a bipartisan education reform movement that places an enormous emphasis on standardized test scores, labels poor performers as “failing” schools and relentlessly pushes local districts to transform low-ranked schools by firing the staff and turning the building over to private management.

    President Barack Obama and both Democratic and Republican policymakers in the states have embraced those principles. Local school districts from Memphis to Philadelphia to Dallas, meanwhile, have hired private consultants to advise them on improving education; the strategists typically call for a broader role for private companies in public schools.

    “This is a new frontier,” Ravitch said. “The private equity guys and the hedge fund guys are circling public education.”

  51. Billionaire donors drive anti-teacher, pro-testing education reform agenda
    by Laura Clawson
    Daily Kos

    The faces that dominate the education reform debate today—where “education reform” means increased reliance on standardized tests, the results of which are then used to determine the fates of teachers whose job security has been weakened—are people like former Washington, D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee and Harlem Children’s Zone CEO Geoffrey Canada. They are, or can be packaged as, dynamic and visionary, educators who are passionate about kids. But lots of teachers could fit that bill, so why is someone like Michelle Rhee, who has spent very little time in the classroom, so prominent while the average teacher faces cutbacks and scapegoating? The answer, as in so many things, involves money. Not just any money. Billionaire money. Hedge fund money. Goldman Sachs money. Bill Gates money and Walton money. Michelle Rhee and Geoffrey Canada are prominent because they embody a set of ideas attractive to major philanthropists working to remake public education into their own vision of how the world works.

  52. Column – In the Trenches: Public Education Under Attack- A Response to Waiting for Superman
    Written By: Susan E. Smith

    “Is there no one left to defend public education? The attacks grow more ferocious, as the blood is in the political water, so to speak. Who will defend the purveyor of nascent democratic ideals, the socializing force of the rough American prairie frontiers, the facilitator of public, open-minded controversial discussion, and the bulwark of modern scientific advances? Even Secretary of Education Duncan seems to think that the American educational reform must follow an aggressive business-type plan or be doomed to failure. ”
    (Read More):

  53. http://peoplesworld.org/public-education-under-attack-say-michigan-school-superintendents/
    Public education under attack, say Michigan school superintendents
    by: John Rummel
    December 6 2012

    “ROYAL OAK, Mich. – Republicans are shamefully using the lame duck legislative session to ram through extremist legislation to overhaul public education in radical and dangerous ways. (They are also waging further class warfare by attempting to shackle the states workforce with Right to Work legislation, but that will be the subject of the next article).

    How extreme are their bills? They force school districts to sell vacant properties to charter schools; allow charters to selectively cherry pick their students by gender, ethnicity, or other factors and initiate a “parent trigger” to prod parents into demanding their school be converted to a charter.”
    (Read More):

  54. The Extended Picture:
    Published on Thursday, March 1, 2012 by Common Dreams
    Higher Education Under Attack
    by Immanuel Wallerstein
    [Excerpt] https://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/03/01-1
    …What privatization began to mean throughout the world was several things: One, there began to be institutions of higher education that were established as businesses for profit. Two, public institutions began to seek and obtain money from corporate donors, which began to intrude in the internal governance of the universities. And three, universities began to seek patents for work that researchers at the university had discovered or invented, and thereupon entered as operators in the economy, that is, as businesses.

    In a situation in which money was scarce, or at least seemed scarce, universities began to transform themselves into more business-like institutions. This could be seen in two major ways. The top administrative positions of universities and their faculties, which had traditionally been occupied by academics, now began to be occupied by persons whose background was in business and not university life. They raised the money, but they also began to set the criteria of allocation of the money.

    There began to be evaluations of whole universities and of departments within universities in terms of their output for the money invested. This might be measured by how many students wished to pursue particular studies, or how esteemed was the research output of given universities or departments. Intellectual life was being judged by pseudo-market criteria. Even student recruitment was being measured by how much money was brought in via alternative methods of recruitment.

    And, if this weren’t enough, the universities began to come under attack from a basically anti-intellectual far right current that saw the universities as secular, anti-religious institutions. The university as a critical institution – critical of dominant groups and dominant ideologies – had always met with resistance and repression by the states and the elites. But their powers of survival had always been rooted in their relative financial autonomy based on the low real cost of operation. This was the university of yesteryear, not of today – and tomorrow.”

  55. Bruce,

    There’s plenty of information available about this corporate-driven school reform movement. Yet, we hear so little discussion about it in the MSM.

  56. So true Elaine, and the MSM is also under attack. Concentration is across the “boards” and the Newspaper (5th column of democracy) is all but captured by private equity:

    The Demise of Lean Dean Singleton and the Rise of Private Equity

    Jan 18, 2011

    Dean Singleton worked the deals in corners of the U.S. for decades, building from scratch a major chain, that by circulation (though, not revenue) is probably the second largest in the country. If he was once dismissed by his more patrician peers as Lean Dean, for his lower operating cost philosophy and practices, he did okay for himself, serving as chair of the Newspaper Association of America and now as chair of the Associated Press board.

    He expertly used OPM (Other People’s Money) to finance often complex deals, deals that the company’s 2010 bankruptcy filing only partially brought to light. If he was known as Lean Dean, he also became the Count of Clustering. Why not put together groups of contiguous newspaper titles, and then bring basic corporate principles of consolidation to them.”

    But I have deep respect for your work here, it is never too late! I am also hoping to see a communication base between the Educators and the health care community…especially the Nurses. The problem is that it is so insidious and everyone thinks it is a local crisis rather than a literal asset grabbing conquest by monetarists and power politics.

    Thank you for your article and it is a breath of fresh air to find someone so truly communicating this demolition of democracy for profit!


  57. If you are rich, educating the masses only leads to more competition for your own progeny, that by the simple laws of statistics are typically of only average intelligence, and thus will be out-foxed, out-innovated, and out-worked by the smartest of that truly massive public school crowd.

    There is more than just profits at stake, the rich do not want to democratize the opportunities for wealth, that necessarily increases the chances of their wealth legacy being a one or two generation phenomenon.

    GOOD public schools are not in their interest, they want the country to raise workers and wage slaves, not people that will be checkmating their spoiled brats in their inherited businesses.

  58. Tony: How do you keep people in the dark when “communication” (for the time being) is so extensive & intensive? Control information. The facts of life are that we are already working in a system of inequality not equality:
    Wealth Inequality in America:

  59. Bruce: How do you keep people in the dark …

    Exploit your money. Maybe make the masses pay for schools, by denying public schools the funds to do a decent job. Promote ant-science religion, there is another way. Deny the masses the public infrastructure (like transportation) or anything else that would level the playing field. Make taking the rich to court an insanely expensive proposition, so nobody can do it except the already rich.

    The point is to make what SHOULD be the typical experience so expensive that only the elite can afford it.

  60. ‘GOOD public schools are not in their interest, they want the country to raise workers and wage slaves, not people that will be checkmating their spoiled brats in their inherited businesses.’


    One of the bottom lines of this whole debate. The plutocrats want the public school system to be bad, since their kids go to the best of the private schools.
    This is no different that what occurred in medieval times under feudalism.

  61. Get rid of the teachers unions that have continually done damage to the whole educational system. Quit pushing so many social agendas in the school system – cut all of that out. Then begin teaching the basics again, which was the original intention of schools in the first place. Then maybe the public schools can get back on track.

    Homeschooling and private schooling has been on the rise for a while, which is a clear indicator that the public school system is failing. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out.

  62. Some select history from a former human now a dog who lived through this era in prior life as human.

    1948. Harry Truman promoted Fair Labor Standards Act, Voting Rights, desegregation of schools. Strom Thurman led his crew out of the Democratic Convention and formed the Dixecrats. Southerners of his ilk, are no longer Democrats.

    1950’s: Ike appoints Earl Warrent to be Supreme Court Chief Justice. “Worst mistake I ever made”, he later says to some RepubliCon savant and fund raiser. Brown v. Board of Education desegregates public schools with all deliberate speed. Ike moves with slow deliberate speed if at all and it takes the next real guy.
    1960’s. First Kennedy. He did little in his One Thousand days before getting killed. 1964. LBJ. Lyndon Johnson. The real deal. He pushes through Congress the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In his secret recorded telephone calls revealed by his Library he can be heard lamenting to Senator Eastland, but proudly claiming credit for the reason, the shift in voting patterns in the South, whereby after the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, the Republicons will go after and capture the bigot vote.

    1968 onward. Republicons skillfully use nuance and code words to capture the white bigot vote in the South and the Northern rednecks by going after faux demons like forced busing. They start in 1963 or so with IMPEACH EARL WARREN. Lee Atwater invents the Southern Strategy. Nixon adopts it, Reagun personifies it. Atwater is Reaguns chief demogogue. Forced busing, all the code words.

    Fast foreward to last week in the Supreme Court. Four minions of the Lee Atwater RepubliCon Party are sitting on the Court. Scalia is so dumb and so shallow he almost reverts to the N word. The Voting Rights Act is there to “perpetuate racial entitlements” he says.
    Yeah, right, Mister Original Intentionalist.

    We need to invoke turnabout is fair play. IMPEACH ANTONIN SCALIA and the Gang of Four. Bumper stickers everywhere.

  63. Mike: That is quite an article you provided. I strongly urge everyone to take a moment and copy that link; send it to all the people you care about…

    it would be off topic for me to respond to your voice in history with mine in this blog stream: but I have added some tidbits of an outline in return for your presenting yours. I too…sign my name in full when I post. Please take a look back over to your article and see what you think. I must add, however, Truth hurts.

  64. The real economic competition between nation states is how fast tthe global corporations can drive their middle classes into subsistence living conditions. Mass public education is a hindrance to such designs. They want training centers, not schools.

  65. Some nations, such as those of South East and East Asia are conscious of the fact that they lag behind developed countries in wealth, and the ruling classes in these nations see maximizing the value of human capital as an imperative, thus they support public education that is free and of high quality. China and Taiwan come to mind, in these countries teaching is respected profession, unlike the situation in the UK, the USA and Australia where it is seen as a losers occupation for people too incompetent to find a higher paying job.

    In other nations such as those where English is the language the elites see education policy as being about maintaining the privilege hierarchy and preventing upward social mobility that puts pressure on positional goods that are needed for the comfort of the elites. Upward social mobility is seen as a good thing only when it is restricted to the right people. There is in all the anglophone nations an agenda to destroy high quality public education and to make effective education something only available to those who can pay the fees. It’s about restricting access to the the professions to the wealthy and the upper layers of the middle classes.opportunities for private business.

    Basically this the same argument that that Tony C has already made. However there may be some proponents of education “refor” who are simply misguided and trapped by sloppy thinking and poor analysis of what problems there are.

    There are also some vested interests who want to destroy public education not because it is too good but because they see all functions of government as things which rightly should be providing profitable

  66. I don’t know how it happened but somehow I accidentally submitted the previous post before it was completed. Here is the rest of it.:-

    There are also some vested interests who want to destroy public education not because it is too good but because they see all functions of government as things which rightly should be providing profitable opportunities for business.

    The most powerful force preventing the accurate analysis of the problems that education has I call the single cause fallacy. This states that any serious problem has one and only one cause. To fix the problem one simply identifies this cause and then takes action to mitigate it. However in the case of most serious social problems there are many powerful causes acting in parallel. Supposing one were to take actions that completely suppressed any one of these causes it would make negligible difference. Unfortunately what usually happens is that different advocates only recognize the causes that match their political ideology and the partisans of different causes fight as much to prevent resources being used to target causes other than their favorite as to get resources directed to their choice.

    In the anglophone nations, their is a problem with the status or lack of it of teachers represented by this demeaning quote:-

    Those who can do, those who can’t teach and those who can’t teach teach others how to teach.

    This widespread contempt for teachers makes scapegoating them only too easy. The reason for this contempt comes partly from the bad experience most have at school, so when they leave it it is with a desire to get back at their tormentors. The other cause in the USA at least is that status is based on wealth and earning power. Why would anyone have a vocation for teaching if they could earn more money managing a hedge fund? Teaching is seen by the parents and more importantly by the children as a job for losers. The feminization of the profession also has pernicious effects. I am a baby boomer and when I was at primary(elementary) school in the ’50s it was seen as necessary to avoid being sissy. However most of the teachers were male so that need to adopt masculine values did not interfere with value male students put on the things studied. But now most teachers in both primary and high schools are women and this male need to avoid being seen as girly means a need to treat academic subjects taught by females with contempt.

  67. Report Exposes DeVos Plot To Destroy Public Education

    The Koch-funded war on labor unions is only part of a larger battle plan. Meet the DeVos-fronted war on public education.

    Reasonable people can, of course, disagree over the wisdom of education voucher plans that pay for charter schools, but a new Talk To Action exposé traces financial and organizational ties to show that many of the people behind campaigns for voucher bills coming before state legislatures this Spring don’t want to improve public education; quite the opposite–they want to destroy it.

    My colleague Rachel Tabachnick has just released a groundbreaking report that ties voucher initiatives in Pennsylvania, Florida, and elsewhere to right-wing Think Tanks–funded by the DeVos family but also the Koch brothers and foundations of the Scaife, Olin, Bradley, Smith-Richardson, and Walton families–whose leaders have publicly indicated their desire to completely eradicate taxpayer-financed public education.

    As the report shows, a central part of the strategy is the use of considerable money to sway key Democratic Party figures to back voucher bills so that support for such bills appears bipartisan, and in Pennsylvania an organization called Students First has played a major role in promoting the push for vouchers, but the DeVos-backed group group is run by a Republican political strategist who served as an aide to President George W. Bush.


    Voucher Advocate Betsy DeVos, Right-Wing Think Tanks Behind Koch-Style Attack on PA Public Schools
    Rachel Tabachnick printable version print page Bookmark and Share
    Apr 20, 2011

    The DeVos family crusade to eradicate public education has targeted Pennsylvania, and a voucher bill may come to a vote in the PA Senate as early as Tuesday. It’s being marketed as a solution to save public schools, but the big donors are tied to right-wing think tanks that openly advocate, and strategize, the end of public education. How can vouchers improve public schools if the people mobilizing the movement intend to eradicate public education? Regardless of your personal stance on “school choice,” it’s important to know who is behind the voucher movement and the agenda they don’t share with the public or advertise in their media campaigns.

    A new wave of school voucher bills is sweeping the nation, which would allow public education funds to be used in private or parochial schools. As with past waves of voucher initiatives, these new bills are largely promoted and funded by the billionaire DeVos family and a core group of wealthy pro-privatization supporters. They include Pennsylvania SB-1, soon coming to a vote in the PA Senate, and the “Vouchers-for-All” bill approved by the Florida Senate Education Committee on April 14. Betsy DeVos is at the helm of organizations that have set the stage for both bills, but you would never know it based on the propaganda being marketed to Pennsylvanians. Even if you are from another state, keep reading. Chances are a Betsy DeVos-led campaign is already at work in your state or will be there soon.

    The DeVos family is recognized as one of the top national contributors to the Republican Party, free market policy institutes, and Religious Right organizations. Many of their previous attempts at using voucher initiatives to privatize the nation’s public schools have been transparent. Recent campaigns have been more covert and are camouflaged behind local efforts described as grass roots and bipartisan.

  68. Pro-Voucher Astroturfing: Campaigns Across Nation Coordinated by DeVos, Funded by a Few Mega-Donors
    Rachel Tabachnick
    Sun Apr 24, 2011

    Part Two – Indiana

    In addition to the millions spent in Pennsylvania, over $4.6 million dollars was raised by the Indiana affiliate of the Betsy DeVos-led pro-voucher organizations prior to the 2010 elections, all from 13 mega-donors ($5.8 million for the year). The Indiana PAC money also funded campaigns in Florida, Georgia, Wisconsin and other states.

    The Indiana state senate passed a sweeping school voucher bill on Thursday, April 21, following an intensive crusade by the Betsy DeVos-led American Federation For Children and affiliated organizations. The blitz campaigns in Indiana and other states are similar to the one in Pennsylvania (described in detail in the previous report). A small core group of donors, ideologically opposed to public education, contribute millions of dollars to the pro-voucher movements in states across the nation. The massive funding and distribution of the funds around the nation is a classic case of astroturfing, creating the illusion that there is a spontaneous wave of grass roots and bipartisan support for vouchers.

    Borrowing the definition from Sourcewatch, astroturf lobbying “refers to apparently grassroots-based citizen groups or coalitions that are primarily conceived, created and/or funded by corporations, industry trade associations, political interests or public relations firms.”

    The pro-voucher astroturf model is being repeated throughout the country:

    — DeVos-led organizations fund a local entity and political action committee (PAC) in the state.

    –Funding comes from a few mega-donors who make contributions in one location. These funds are then moved to non-profits and PACs in other states, obscuring the identity of the small group of original donors. (This report focuses on the affiliated PAC in Indiana which had over $4.6 million in receipts from 13 donors prior to the 2010 election, and sent most of the funds to six other states.) The pro-voucher 501(C)(3) nonprofits across the nation, which do not directly fund candidates, are also largely funded by the DeVos-led entities.

    –Contributions are made primarily to candidates in state and local campaigns, and for advertising, direct mail, and canvassing, helping to promote the illusion of a surge of grass roots support. Funding is spent to commission a poll prior to the legislative vote which shows majority support in the state for school vouchers.

    –Funding and advertising support is provided to small group of Democrats who become the face of the movement, promoting the illusion that there is significant bipartisan support.

    –Teachers who have spent years in the classroom, teachers’ unions, and opponents of vouchers, are demonized as not caring about urban children and accused of obstructing the altruistic efforts of pro-voucher supporters. The radical privatization agenda of DeVos and wealthy backers is not revealed.

    In Pennsylvania millions of dollars were raised from a few donors, and contributed to Students First PAC, an affiliate of American Federation for Children. In turn, this money was donated to the Democratic gubernatorial primary campaign of vocally pro-voucher supporter Anthony H. Williams. Contributions, some as much as $100,000, were also made to other candidates’ campaigns. Attack ads have demonized teachers’ unions as big money “special interests” and claimed legislators opposed to vouchers are being influenced by union contributions. However, the campaign contributions from the DeVos-led entities and affiliates in Pennsylvania dwarfed that of teachers unions, who represent hundreds of thousands of educators. The pro-voucher funding across the nation, on the other hand, can be tracked to a few wealthy individuals and family foundations.

  69. Following the Charter Dollars – Tuesday, July 26, 2011
    Who benefits financially from the pro-market charter school movement?
    Louisiana School Boards Association

    The charter school reform emerged in part out of a progressive effort to promote innovation that could be used to improve all public schools, and to open up discus­sion on the relationship between school and community, particularly in urban areas. It was a movement initiated by Ray Budde, a professor at the University of Massachusetts and envisioned as a school that would gain freedom to try different methods of teaching that could be transferred to all public schools.

    However, a funny thing happened along the way. Free-market zealots (with riches) realized that over $600 billion is spent in the U.S. on public schools. A whole new frontier leading to stable profits was recognized. Everyone knows “it takes money to make money,” and the faces behind the voucher/charter “reform” movement are not bashful in stepping up to the bar.

    The economic and political consequences of abandoning public education in the US are grave. Education has always been the gateway of opportunity for working people in America, and that gate is slamming shut. With market-based schools, children from wealthy families are being educated, while those from poorer families are being denied the opportunity. While affluent customers may be satisfied with the outcome for their children, rebuilding the economy in post-imperial America will depend on a large, well-educated labor force that can only be supplied by a free and universal public education system.

    But in basing schooling on consumerism the free-market zealots overlook the cultural role of schools in communities. Essential services such as the military, police protection, and schooling have been accepted for many generations of Americans as too essential to be subject to the whims of corporate interests distant from the community.

    Most education stakeholders see business oriented political figures and tycoons as being the instruments for converting classrooms into profit centers. Few are aware that there are faces unseen manipulating the movement. More importantly, the reality of the interlocking directorships of the front organizations is difficult to illustrate.

    Names such as Dick and Betsy DeVos of the Amway founding family are large contributors to All Children Matter a group of non-profit organizations behind the pro-market charter school initiatives. They have contributed millions to the Republican National Committee and a wide variety of groups that back pro-market charter school expansion.

    The DeVos are joined in the outspoken group of billionaires who proclaim publicly that they favor ending government involvement in education. Among the biggest contributors are Richard Mellon Scaife (owner of the Pittsburg Tribune Review), and the Koch family foundations. Other foundations include Olin, Bradley, Smith Richardson and the Walton family who join in the drive to eliminate public education.

    The DeVos family also helps finance Family Research Council, and Focus on Family. Betsy DeVos is sister to the founder (Erik Prince) of Blackwater (now Xe Corp.) the private security firm that has become one of the largest supplier of mercenary soldiers in the world.

    Much of the research supportive of vouchers and charter schools stems from the Foundation for Education Choice, a think-tank founded by the late Milton and Rose Friedman.

    Betsy DeVos, who heads the Alliance for School Choice, founded All Children Matter in 2003, and the American Federation for Children Action Fund in 2010. These groups include Kevin P. Chavous, a former Washington D.C. council member who reportedly helped foster the D.C. and New Orleans charter school programs. Betsy’s All Children Matter in Ohio was fined $5.2 million for campaign money violations in 2006. The organization was also fined in Wisconsin. Due to such legal difficulties the All Children Matter marquee may now be changed to American Federation for Children.

    Other DeVos advocates for charters include John F. Kirtley (a venture capitalist of Tampa), Boykin Curry (wealthy hedge fund investor), Joel Greenbers, and Carrie Penner. These folks are linked to Cato Institute, The Center for Education Reform, Heartland Institute, Heritage Institute, Institute for Justice, and State Policy Network. Ed Crane, founder and president of Cato, is also involved in the Alliance for Separation of School and State.

  70. All Children Matter Fined for Illegally Funneling Campaign Money
    From One Wisconsin Now

    All Children Matter, the pro-private school vouchers group founded by Michigan Republican billionaire Richard DeVos, was leveled with a $5.2 million fine Friday (April 4, 2008) for illegally funneling money into Ohio campaigns. All Children Matter remains under investigation in Wisconsin after the State Elections Board determined in November 2006 it violated rules about express advocacy in opposing John Lehman’s bid for the State Senate.

    “This unanimous, bipartisan verdict in Ohio shows All Children Matter has little regard for the rules,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now executive director. “Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board should take strong action like Ohio to protect the integrity of Wisconsin’s elections and get to the bottom of how All Children operates to evade campaign finance disclosure laws.”

    In its 5-0 decision, the Ohio Elections Commission ruled that All Children Matter illegally funneled $870,000 to Ohio through a Virginia PAC, allowing it to exceed the state’s $10,000 limit on PAC contributions. Similar allegations have been made about the organization’s actions in Wisconsin. Among those donating to this illegal effort was Akron’s David Brennan, Ohio’s largest operator of charter schools.

    All Children Matter is affiliated with Alliance for Choices in Education (also involved in the Wisconsin Elections Board investigation), run by Wisconsin’s George and Susan Mitchell, who have donated thousands of dollars to Wisconsin political candidates. Its network of affiliated groups includes the Alliance for School Choice, which has employed convicted former Republican Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen.

  71. David Brennan Caught Washing Money Through National Charter Front Group
    Schools Matter

    What happens when someone like charter school kingin, David Brennan, wants to buy more influence in Ohio elections than state law will allow? You do what Tom Delay did–you simply launder the money through an out-of-state outfit like All Children Matter that turns your cash into campaign contributions for your preferred stable of candidates. No fuss, no muss–well, maybe a little muss this time.

  72. Elaine,

    Did you see how they are going about and making charter schools in Michigan now….. They are declaring financial emergency s….. Taking over the schools and making them charter….

  73. AY,

    It’s all part of “The Plan.”

    Remember this post I wrote two years ago?

    Hey! Who Stole My Democracy?…or What’s Going on in the State of Michigan?

    Warning: You are about to enter the Twilight Zone.

    Imagine, if you will, that you live in a state where a governor wields extraordinary power over its residents. Imagine, if you will, that your governor has the legal authority to appoint an “Emergency Manager” to oversee the local government in the town where you reside. Imagine that the monetary compensation for the Emergency Manager of your community has no cap. Imagine that your Emergency Manager declares that there’s a financial emergency in your town and then takes over control of it. Imagine that the Emergency Manager can break contracts, seize and sell assets, eliminate services—and can also fire duly elected public officials who serve your community. Imagine, if you will, that the Emergency Manager empowered by your governor to run your town has the right to dissolve your school district and to disincorporate your town. AND imagine that you and your fellow residents have no say about what is going on! Just imagine how you might feel if you lived in a state where that kind of thing was going on. Well, the people who live in Michigan may not have to imagine much longer.

  74. The inconvenient truth of education ‘reform’
    Posted by Valerie Strauss on February 2, 2013

    Several important things happened in the education world in the last week. Here’s an analysis of why what happened matters, by Jeff Bryant, a marketing and communications consultant for nonprofits. He is a marketing and creative strategist with nearly 30 years of experience – the past 20 on his own – as a freelance writer, consultant, and search engine marketing provider. He’s written extensively about public education policy. This appeared on the Campaign for America’s Future website.

    By Jeff Bryant

    Events this week revealed how market-driven education policies, deceivingly labeled as “reform,” are revealing their truly destructive effects on the streets and in the corridors of government.

    From the streets, we heard from civil rights and social justice activists from urban communities that school turnaround policies mandated by the Obama administration’s education agenda are having disastrous results in the communities they were originally intended to serve.

    From the corridors of government, we were presented with irrefutable evidence that leaders driving the reform agenda are influencing public officials to write education laws in a way that benefits corporate interests rather than the interests of students, parents, and schools.

    These events, in tandem, reveal an inconvenient truth of education reform that should make anyone who promotes these policies question, “Whose interests are being served here?”

    The Message From The Street

    This week, over 200 activists, community organizers, parents, and students from 18 cities across the US gathered in Washington, DC, to confront Secretary of Education Arne Duncan over widespread public school closures prompted by the Obama administration’s policies.

    As reported by Huffington Post’s education reporter Joy Resmovits, “Members of the group, a patchwork of community organizations called the Journey for Justice Movement, have filed several Title VI civil rights complaints with the Education Department Office of Civil Rights, claiming that school districts that shut schools are hurting minority students.”

    Although these school closures are often justified as necessary for budget reasons and declining enrollment, Journey for Justice activists unanimously placed blame for school closures on market-based “reform” polices.

    Resmovits quoted Helen Moore, an organizer from Detroit, who called the current reform movement “tantamount to racism.” She said, “All the things that are happening are by design, by design, by design. They don’t want our children to have an education, but we’ll fight to the death.”

    The “design” Moore likely referred to is the Obama administration’s “turnaround models” proposed for schools that don’t make sufficient growth in student test score results. These models, criticized from the get-go as lacking a research base and being too inflexible, became requirements for states and districts to receive federal grant money in the administration’s Race to the Top and School Improvement Grant programs.

    The results of these punitive measures have been felt disproportionally in communities of underserved children – and especially among children of color.

    In fact, the The New York Times article on the Journey for Justice confrontation referenced data from Action United, a Philadelphia-based group, showing that 80 percent of the students affected by the planned school closings in Philadelphia are black although the district’s enrollment is 55 percent black and 19 percent Hispanic.

    That schools now being designated as “needs improvement” and targeted for closing on the basis of test data tend to be those schools struggling to teach high poverty children should not come as a surprise to anyone. The strong correlation of low test scores to low income is universally true in every country in the world. But that fact alone doesn’t explain why reform leaders chose closure – the harshest of the four turnaround models – as the remedy of choice.

    What may be propelling that decision is another emphasis of the White House’s reform policies – the rapid scaling up of a competitive parallel system of charter schools.

    Another representative from Philadelphia, Helen Gym, explained the role charter schools are having in school closures occurring in her city. On the website Common Dreams she is quoted, “Whatever your opinion may be of [charter schools], there’s no question that the District has failed to explain its inconsistent approach of allowing charter expansion without regard to expense or academic quality while insisting on draconian and widespread sacrifice among [traditional public] schools.”

    In Chicago as well, parents and teachers have pointed out that districts are justifying school closures on the basis of budget and attendance as they lavish millions of dollars on brand new, unproven charter schools.

    The damages of these reform policies are especially harmful to the individual lives of students. In a write-up of the Journey for Justice rally at The Washington Post, a student representative in the crowd, twelve-year-old Gavin Alston, whose Chicago school was closed last year, explained that he is having to be homeschooled because there is no longer a middle or elementary schools in his neighborhood, and he won’t cross gang turf lines to get to his reassigned school 22 blocks away. “I have been denied the right to a quality education,” Gavin said.

  75. Why Are Walmart Billionaires Bankrolling Phony School ‘Reform’ In LA?
    Posted: 02/28/2013
    By Peter Dreier. E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics, Occidental College

    For years, Los Angeles has been ground zero in an intense debate about how to improve our nation’s education system. What’s less known is who is shaping that debate. Many of the biggest contributors to the so-called “school choice” movement — code words for privatizing our public education system — are billionaires who don’t live in Southern California, but have gained significant influence in local school politics. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s recent contribution of $1 million to a political action committee created to influence next week’s LAUSD school board elections is only the most recent example of the billionaire blitzkrieg.

    For more than a decade, however, one of the biggest of the billionaire interlopers has been the Walton family, heirs to the Walmart fortune, who have poured millions into a privatization-oriented, ideological campaign to make LA a laboratory for their ideas about treating schools like for-profit businesses, and treating parents, students and teachers like cogs in what they must think are education big-box retail stores.

    As a business chain, Walmart has spent a fortune — in philanthropy and campaign contributions — trying to break into the Los Angeles retail market with its low-wage retail stores.

    Now the Walton family — which derives its fortune from the Arkansas-based Walmart — is trying to use that fortune to bring Walmart-style education to Los Angeles.

    The Waltons have long supported efforts to privatize education through the Walton Family Foundation as well as individual political donations to local candidates. Since 2005, the Waltons have given more than $1 billion to organizations and candidates who support privatization. They’ve channeled the funds to the pro-charter and pro-voucher Milton Friedman Foundation for Education Choice, Michelle Rhee’s pro-privatization and high-stakes testing organization Students First, and the pro-voucher Alliance for School Choice, where Walton family member Carrie Walton Penner sits on the board. In addition to funding these corporate-style education reform organizations, since 2000 the Waltons have also spent more than $24 million bankrolling politicians, political action committees, and ballot issues in California and elsewhere at the state and local level which undermine public education and literally shortchange students.

    In 2006, Greg Penner, who married Carrie Walton Penner (daughter of Walmart chairman Rob Walton and granddaughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton) and serves on Walmart’s board, spent $250,000 to oppose a statewide ballot initiative that would have created a universal preschool system to give California’s children a much-needed leg up in early education. It also would have created thousands of good jobs for preschool teachers.

    In Los Angeles alone, the Walton Family Foundation has donated over $84.3 million to charter schools and organizations that support them, such as Green Dot Schools, ICEF schools, and the Los Angeles Parent Union, as well as $1 million to candidates or political action committees which support diverting tax dollars away from public schools. They believe in high-stakes testing, hate teachers unions, want to measure student and teacher success primarily by relying on one-size-fits-all standardized tests, but have an entirely different set of standards when it comes to judging charter schools.

    You’d think that the Waltons would invest in ideas that would improve education. But there’s little evidence that private charter schools and vouchers — the Waltons’ two big obsessions — are effective at boosting students’ learning outcomes. A 2009 study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University discovered that only 17 percent of charter schools provided a better education than traditional public schools. Thirty-seven percent actually offered children a worse education. In other words, on balance, charters make things worse, even though many of those schools “cream” the best students from regular public schools. Just this month, the same Stanford center released a study that called for stronger monitoring and review processes for charter schools.

  76. You know Elaine…. I forgot…. You’re absolutely right…. I hate to say this but its all about getting Detroit…… I will say that the DIA or the art museum in Detroit and the Detroit Pulic Library and School system have priceless works of art that have been donated through the years….. I’d say they are in the billions….. Are going to be up for grabs……

    In the most recent years…. Arts have been loaned….. When I think of this…. It reminds me of the nazis looting just for the artworks….. It sickens me…. To think that not much has changed….

  77. Elaine: it is critical for people to recognize that rhetorical “capture” of meaningful words by right wing [“counter-insurgency” (false flags lterally speaking)]… tactics are incestuously corrupting the narrative and controlling the outcome by decisively “packaging” the message in progressive terms. Capture the terms; deceive the receiver.
    In that regard…”market-driven education policies, deceivingly labeled as “reform,” …” is part of the deceptive framing process. Right wing political arguments are rabid with this tactic…and once a term is ‘turned” and usurped it sounds very plausible to the general population.
    “Reform” is one of the most commonly distorted terms that is now used to posture and present extreme ‘reactionary” programs under the cloak and dagger perspective (and its implications of corrections) of “Reform.”

    Chris Christie uses this tactic pervasively to posture his political reactionary rhetoric in a favorable frame & format.

    For the most part…the challenge is typically that these are NOT REforms but De-forms…and the presumption that they are progressive improvements must be (in each and every instance) challenged and the measures for those improvements scrutinized intensely and extensively across the spectrum of regressive policies that take from the many and reward the (same and same again) very few!.

  78. Interesting historic fact; perhaps an essential one in this discussion as it pertains to motives and incentives to control education:

    “Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias was born on July 28, 1954, in the rural town of Sabaneta in Venezuela’s western plains. He was the son of a schoolteacher father and was the second of six brothers. His mother was also a schoolteacher who met her husband at age 16.”

  79. Backed by State Money, Georgia Scholarships Go to Schools Barring Gays
    Published: January 20, 2013

    ATLANTA — As the nation works its way through the debate over vouchers and other alternatives to traditional public education funding, a quieter battle over homosexuality, religious education and school tax money is under way in Georgia.

    At issue is an increasingly popular tax credit program that transforms state money into private school scholarships, some of them used at religious-based schools that prohibit gay, lesbian or bisexual students from attending.

    The policies at more than 100 such schools are explicit.

    The 400 students at a private school in Woodstock, for example, must adhere to a policy that states, “Homosexual behavior, whether an ‘immoral act’ or ‘identifying statement,’ is incompatible with enrollment at Cherokee Christian Schools and is a basis for dismissal.”

    A male student at the Shiloh Hills Christian School in Kennesaw, who utters “I like boys” or “I am a homosexual” will be expelled.

    And at the 800-student Providence Christian Academy 20 miles north of Atlanta, a student who is gay, lesbian or bisexual or supports people who are could be kicked out.

    At least 115 religious-based schools in Georgia have severe antigay policies, according to a report issued this month by the Southern Education Foundation. Public information about the scholarship program is limited by law, so the number is probably much higher, according to the foundation, which was founded in 1867 to improve education for poor children in the South.

    Steve Suitts, the vice president of the foundation and the author of the report, said that as many as a third of the schools in the scholarship program have strict antigay policies or adhere to a religious philosophy that holds homosexuality as immoral or a sin.

  80. Walmart, ALEC unite on another school ‘reform’ bill
    Posted by Max Brantley on Tue, Aug 14, 2012

    There’s an Arkansas angle in this story about Walmart’s promotion of a new ideological film, “Won’t Back Down,” aimed at supporting “trigger laws” that give school parents a vote to convert a conventional public school (preferably one with a union workforce) into a non-union charter school. The movie is misleading. It suggests a majority vote of teachers is also needed for school conversion. That’s not what the existing laws provide.

    The legislation is being doled out at cookie-cutting sessions by the American Legislative Exchange Council, the go-to Koch lobby for Arkansas Republican legislators in need of corporate movement bills. Conservative billionaire Philip Anschutz is also promoting the movie.

    Walmart, in Arkansas alone, finances wholly or in part an anti-union lobby group, a similarly inclined nonprofit, a nonprofit that provides advice to charter schools, a new “reform” lobby headed by a former Chamber of Commerce executive who doesn’t like the Little Rock School District, charter schools and most of the key members of legislative education committees. 2013, many think, will be the year it moves to take over the direction of education in Arkansas. (Oh, and I forgot to mention the Walton-financed (with an assist from the equally conservative Windgate Foundation) Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas which churns out a steady diet of corporate movement education tracts, and whose financial arrangements the UA refuses to fully reveal despite the state Freedom of Information Act.)

    Walmart’s hostility to unions and collective bargaining is well-known so its support for a message in favor of stripping teachers of that is not surprising. From Hollywood to a school district near you.

  81. Ravitch blasts corporate “school reform”

    CLEVELAND – At forums here last week Diane Ravitch , author of “The Death and Life of the Great American School System” and a national leader of the fight to defend public education, sounded the alarm about concerted efforts by corporate and right-wing forces to undermine democracy and destroy public education in our country. At events held by the Cleveland Teachers Union Feb. 2 and the next day at the Cleveland City Club, Ravitch blasted the well-financed “school reform movement” that seeks to bust teachers unions and privatize the schools.

    In her speech to 150 teachers and supporters at Pilgrim Church, Ravitch said major foundations, such as those run by the Gates and Walton families, Wall Street hedge fund groups, Fox News and the Republican Party, are behind the attack which has created “an existential crisis” for public education.

    Unfortunately, she added, the movement has the support of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, although President Barack Obama made a contradictory statement, both supporting and opposing the movement’s aims, in his recent State of the Union speech.

    The movement got official sanction with the No Child Left Behind law, enacted by President George W. Bush when he took office in 2001. Ravitch called the measure, mandating 100 percent proficiency in reading and math by 2014, “a crazy, irresponsible law” that “delegitimized the public school system” and is “the death star of public education.”

    The law was aggravated by the Race to the Top program under the Obama administration which has increased sanctions against teachers and principals and pressure to privatize, she said.

    Privatization, including vouchers for private and religious schools, charter schools, home schooling and cyber-schools, operates under the innocuous-sounding name of “school choice” and is a major goal of the reform movement, Ravitch charged. While these measures are highly profitable for entrepreneurs and in many cases operating licenses are “payoffs for contributions to politicians,” she said, there is no evidence that they improve school performance or test scores. On the other hand there are many examples of financial corruption, score inflation, debased standards and non-accountability in these enterprises.

    It was the total lack of evidence for improved education that caused Ravitch, an initial supporter of “school choice,” to break with the movement. Charters, including cyber-charters, actually do worse than public schools and, after 21 years, the voucher program in Milwaukee has not improved test scores, she said.

    The most reliable predictor of scores on standardized tests, she said, is family income.

  82. Got Dough? Public School Reform in the Age of Venture Philanthropy
    Thursday 06 January 2011
    by: Joanne Barkan | Dissent Magazine | Op-Ed

    The cost of K–12 public schooling in the United States comes to well over $500 billion per year. So, how much influence could anyone in the private sector exert by controlling just a few billion dollars of that immense sum? Decisive influence, it turns out. A few billion dollars in private foundation money, strategically invested every year for a decade, has sufficed to define the national debate on education; sustain a crusade for a set of mostly ill-conceived reforms; and determine public policy at the local, state, and national levels. In the domain of venture philanthropy—where donors decide what social transformation they want to engineer and then design and fund projects to implement their vision—investing in education yields great bang for the buck.

    Hundreds of private philanthropies together spend almost $4 billion annually to support or transform K–12 education, most of it directed to schools that serve low-income children (only religious organizations receive more money). But three funders—the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Eli and Edythe Broad (rhymes with road) Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation—working in sync, command the field. Whatever nuances differentiate the motivations of the Big Three, their market-based goals for overhauling public education coincide: choice, competition, deregulation, accountability, and data-based decision-making. And they fund the same vehicles to achieve their goals: charter schools, high-stakes standardized testing for students, merit pay for teachers whose students improve their test scores, firing teachers and closing schools when scores don’t rise adequately, and longitudinal data collection on the performance of every student and teacher. Other foundations—Ford, Hewlett, Annenberg, Milken, to name just a few—often join in funding one project or another, but the education reform movement’s success so far has depended on the size and clout of the Gates-Broad-Walton triumvirate.

    Every day, dozens of reporters and bloggers cover the Big Three’s reform campaign, but critical in-depth investigations have been scarce (for reasons I’ll explain further on). Meanwhile, evidence is mounting that the reforms are not working. Stanford University’s 2009 study of charter schools—the most comprehensive ever done—concluded that 83 percent of them perform either worse or no better than traditional public schools; a 2010 Vanderbilt University study showed definitively that merit pay for teachers does not produce higher test scores for students; a National Research Council report confirmed multiple studies that show standardized test scores do not measure student learning adequately. Gates and Broad helped to shape and fund two of the nation’s most extensive and aggressive school reform programs—in Chicago and New York City—but neither has produced credible improvement in student performance after years of experimentation.

    To justify their campaign, ed reformers repeat, mantra-like, that U.S. students are trailing far behind their peers in other nations, that U.S. public schools are failing. The claims are specious. Two of the three major international tests—the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study and the Trends in International Math and Science Study—break down student scores according to the poverty rate in each school. The tests are given every five years. The most recent results (2006) showed the following: students in U.S. schools where the poverty rate was less than 10 percent ranked first in reading, first in science, and third in math. When the poverty rate was 10 percent to 25 percent, U.S. students still ranked first in reading and science. But as the poverty rate rose still higher, students ranked lower and lower. Twenty percent of all U.S. schools have poverty rates over 75 percent. The average ranking of American students reflects this. The problem is not public schools; it is poverty. And as dozens of studies have shown, the gap in cognitive, physical, and social development between children in poverty and middle-class children is set by age three.

  83. The Faces of School Reform
    By John Tarleton
    January 29, 2010

    Led by a band of billionaires, the school-reform movement has gained increasing momentum during the past decade, spreading its reach into urban communities across the country. But instead of truly transforming public schools, private funders want to restructure them. They insist running schools like a business is the solution. At stake is not only control over hundreds of billions of dollars in local, state and federal funding, but also the future of the next generation of schoolchildren.

    Bill Gates
    Net Worth: $50 billion

    Using the Gates Foundation as his instrument, the Microsoft co-founder has channeled tens of millions of dollars into transforming large high schools through the schools-within-a-school model. Critics say boutique public schools tend to enroll (or “cream”) the best students while receiving more per-pupil funding than their large-school counterparts. Gates has also allocated large sums of money to help fuel the growth of charter schools.

    During the 2008 presidential election the Gates and Broad foundations teamed up to spend $24 million to influence public education policy. Their shared message: Expand charter schools and tie teacher pay to student performance on standardized tests. President Obama’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, has tapped top Gates Foundation officers to be his chief of staff and to head the agency’s Office of Innovation and Improvement. Foundation officers are also spearheading the $4.35 billion Race to the Top program, which promises aid to cash-strapped states that eliminate caps on charter schools and agree to place even greater emphasis on standardized testing. “It is not unfair to say that the Gates Foundation’s agenda has become the country’s agenda in education,” says Michael Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

    Arne Duncan
    Secretary of Education

    A former professional basketball player and veteran of many pickup basketball games with Obama, the Harvard-educated Duncan has no formal experience as an educator. As CEO of the Chicago school system from 2001 to 2008, Duncan oversaw more than 60 school closings primarily in people of color neighborhoods while rapidly opening charter schools. The Gates Foundation funneled $63.2 million into the Chicago schools during Duncan’s tenure and now Duncan is taking the “Chicago model” nationwide with the help of top aides recruited from the Gates and Broad Foundations.

    Spencer Robertson

    The son of a hedge-fund billionaire who has donated $10 million to Mayor Bloomberg’s school projects since 2003, Spencer Robertson opened the PAVE Charter Academy in 2008 inside P.S. 15, a successful elementary school in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Tensions further escalated when the DOE recently announced that PAVE would be allowed to expand inside P.S. 15 over the next five years, even though Robertson has received $26 million from the DOE to build his own school. Robertson’s wife Sarah, the head of the board at Girls Prep Charter School, was at the center of a similar controversy when the school recently sought to expand inside public school facilities in the Lower East Side.

    James Shelton
    Assistant Deputy Director of Education, Director of Office of Inn ovation and Improvement, DOE

    Following Obama’s election, Shelton moved seamlessly from deputy director of education at the Gates Foundation to a post at the DOE as assistant deputy director overseeing a variety of grant programs that assist charter schools. Operating at the nexus of the public, private and nonprofit sectors, Shelton previously worked at Knowledge Universe, where he launched, acquired and operated education-related businesses. Shelton’s former Gates Foundation colleague Margot Rogers now serves as Duncan’s chief of staff.

  84. Elaine: This stream epitomizes what education / communication is all about! You are so right about Frank Luntz, and it says a lot about American markets when deception becomes a high priced tool of business and politics:
    Frank I. Luntz (born February 23, 1962) is an American political consultant, pollster, and Republican Party strategist.[1] His most recent work has been with the Fox News Channel as a frequent commentator and analyst, as well as running focus groups after presidential debates. Luntz’s specialty is “testing language and finding words that will help his clients sell their product or turn public opinion on an issue or a candidate.”[2] He is also an author of business books dealing with communication strategies and public opinion. Luntz’s current company, Luntz Global, LLC, specializes in message creation and image management for commercial and political clients.” Read all: ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Luntz
    But more importantly, under doublespeak [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doublespeak] is important information that once again shows why the education system has been a threat to tyranny and divisive deceptions:
    [excerpt] [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doublespeak]
    The NCTE Committee on Public Doublespeak
    [Main article: National Council of Teachers of English: [embedded link]

    “The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Committee on Public Doublespeak was formed in 1971, in the midst of the Watergate scandal, at a point when there was widespread skepticism about the degree of truth which characterized relationships between the public and the worlds of politics, the military, and business. NCTE passed two resolutions. One called for the Council to find means to study dishonest and inhumane uses of language and literature by advertisers, to bring offenses to public attention, and to propose classroom techniques for preparing children to cope with commercial propaganda. The other called for the Council to find means to study the relations of language to public policy, to keep track of, publicize, and combat semantic distortion by public officials, candidates for office, political commentators, and all those who transmit through the mass media. Bringing the charges of the two resolutions to life was accomplished by forming NCTE’s Committee on Public Doublespeak, a body which has acquitted itself with notable achievements since its inception. The National Council’s publications on doublespeak have made significant contributions in describing the need for reform where clarity in communication has been deliberately distorted. Such structures can be applied to the field of education, where they could conceivably initiate an anti-pollution bandwagon in educational communication and educate people on how to counter doublespeak.[16]”

    The summary review also states:

    William D. Lutz, serves as the third chairman of the Doublespeak Committee since 1975 to the present. In 1989, both his own book Doublespeak and, under his editorship, the committee’s third book, Beyond Nineteen Eighty-Four, were published. Lutz was also the former editor of the now defunct Quarterly Review of Doublespeak, which examines ways that jargon has polluted the public vocabulary with phrases, words and usages of words designed to obscure the meaning of plain English. His book, Beyond Nineteen Eighty-Four, consists of 220 pages and eighteen articles contributed by long-time Committee members and others whose body of work has made important contributions to understandings about language, as well as a bibliography of 103 sources on doublespeak. [14]

    Lutz is one of the main contributors to the committee as well as promoting the term “doublespeak” to a mass audience so as to inform them of the deceptive qualities that doublespeak contains. He mentions:

    There is more to being an effective consumer of language than just expressing dismay at dangling modifiers, faulty subject and verb agreement, or questionable usage. All who use language should be concerned whether statements and facts agree, whether language is, in Orwell’s words ‘largely the defense of the indefensible’ and whether language ‘is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.'” [15]

    He also mentions that the NCTE Committee on Public Doublespeak and their works with regards to educating the public on doublespeak is responsible for “the rather awesome task of combating the advertisers, the politicians, and the major manipulators of public language in our society.” [15]

    Lutz states that it is important to highlight doublespeak to the public because “language isn’t the invention of human beings to lie, deceive, mislead, and manipulate” and the “purpose of language is to communicate the truth and to facilitate social groups getting together”. Thus, according to Lutz, doublespeak is a form of language that defeats the purpose of inventing language because doublespeak does not communicate the truth but seeks to do the opposite and the doublespeak committee is tasked with correcting this problem that doublespeak has created in the world of language.[15]”

    (There is so much more information in this summary review of Doublespeak and related “deformities” and readers would do well read the entire site.

    Thank YOU Elaine!

  85. School reform players, politics: A view from the left

    Editor’s note: This piece was submitted by Angela Engel, the author of the book, “Seeds of Tomorrow; Solutions for Improving our Children’s Education” and the director of Uniting4Kids a new national non-profit promoting quality neighborhood schools through parent, teacher and student leadership.

    National interests are investing heavily in Colorado’s school board races. The players are many, the politics ugly, and the possibilities well…

    The players

    Stand for Children established a Colorado Chapter in 2010 in order to push legislation that tied teacher evaluations to test scores. Their investors include The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and New Profit Inc. – a “national venture philanthropy fund.” Democrats for Education Reform, DFER, is a newer organization that promotes charter schools, alternative certification training, and performance pay, and in addition promote mayoral control. ACE Scholarshipsoriginated in Colorado in 2000. ACE members made significant campaign contributions to the Douglas County school board responsible for directing private dollars away from some of the most high-performing public schools in the state. Several other funders have also joined the ranks, and the one thing they all have in common are trustees and board members with corporate connections and very deep pockets.
    The politics

    So why are corporate executives and wealthy entrepreneurs suddenly interested in public education? Because they like to make money and recent education reforms along with “new tax credits” and Education Management Organizations, EMO’s, have provided ample opportunity to make a dollar. Here’s how they do it:

    Private charters and online schools – Under the guise of failing test scores, Education Management Organizations co-opt community schools or aggressively market for online students. COVA, Colorado Virtual Academy managed by the Virginia based company K12 projected growth in excess of $100 million last year. It’s fair to note that many charter schools are district managed and publicly controlled. Still, Colorado policy makers have created a double standard favoring charter schools. Education News Colorado reported that nearly half of online student enrollments leave before finishing the year. The majority of programs are low performing and operating outside of the accountability mandates required of public schools. Online and charter schools can hire non-licensed and non-certified employees.

    Alternative Licensing Programs – have become big business. Teach for America (TFA), reported earnings in 2009 of more than $269 million. Their tax documents list their net assets at $261.5 million. This past July the Walton Family Foundation committed $49.5 million to double the number of Teach For America candidates throughout the United States; $3.1 million was designated for Colorado. Senator Michael Bennet, DFER “Reformer of the Month” and recipient of nearly $500,000 in DFER campaign contributions, is sponsoring the GREAT Act, which calls for taxpayer dollars to fund private revenue generating alternative certification models. In a “Statement of Principles to fix the Elementary Secondary Education Act,” the Senator stated: ”We also must support programs like Teach for America…” TFA prepares college graduates in a five-week summer training program. While their results are mediocre at best, TFA candidates are attractive to budget strapped districts. The majority of candidates don’t last and the two year revolving door of cheap labor keeps costs associated with salaries and benefits low. The two year contracts and building transfers allow TFA candidates to maneuver around teacher effectiveness mandates and the accountability required of real teachers.

    Tests, text books, and more tests – While education experts and innovators call for personalized learning and differentiated models of schooling, groups like Stand for Children and DFER, support national standards (Common Core is also funded by Gates), and punishments and sanctions tied to test scores. The McGraw Hill (publishers of CSAP) financial fact book mirrors the national education platform. Pearson and McGraw Hill, the largest testing companies in the nation holds a monopoly over all curriculum and assessments. The failed No Child Left Behind Act based on standardization and high-stake testing has cost taxpayers billions and delivered zero in terms of return on investment. Unless of course you are a publishing company – McGraw Hill listed revenues at $2.3 billion in 2009 and Pearson posted $652 million in profits.

  86. Bruce,

    I thought you’d find this article interesting:

    How George Orwell might explain school reform
    Posted by Valerie Strauss on March 4, 2013

    Here’s a piece that looks at school reform through the eyes of George Orwell by teacher Chris Gilbert. He has written for the Language Experience Forum Journal, the National Council of Teachers of English’s English Journal, and this blog. He teaches English at a high school and community college in North Carolina.

    By Chris Gilbert

    While discussing George Orwell’s novel “1984″, I asked my students why we read books written many years ago.

    Breaking the silence, one student said that such works offer a glimpse of the past and a contrasting reference point for the present. This response excited me, as I had chosen this classic novel for this very reason: the old would provoke an examination of the new. My students learned that scrutinizing current paradigms is an essential, yet difficult, process; familiarity with surroundings frequently creates cognitive blind spots. Orwell spoke of how the past could be utilized to combat this critical blindness, but he also warned that the controlling majority knew this as well. History is malleable, and those who access and shape it possess power.

    This idea is relevant because corporate education reformers deliberately mask history. In fact, their reforms require a forced forgetting, as the public will only embrace irrational notions if opposing ideas are concealed. Orwell’s words (in italics) are used here, as they were in my classroom, to expose misguided narratives and the history they obscure.

    The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.

    Market-driven reformers know that history can challenge their agendas, so they disavow past evidence testifying to the significance of poverty and the importance of out-of-school educational factors. The ultimate goal of this “amnesia” is to promote ideologies that weaken public education and create profit opportunities.

    Orwell: Myths which are believed in tend to become true.

    Reformers such as Jeb Bush and Michelle Rhee relentlessly downplay the educational obstacles resulting from poverty, and they promote the mythic view of impoverishment as something that good schools and teaching can likely overcome. In a recent interview with TIME, Bush was asked, “What’s the role of poverty in education?” He responded, “I would reverse the question: education impacts poverty, not the other way around.” Michelle Rhee has consistently promoted a similar view, saying,

    As a teacher…you have to be willing to take personal responsibility for ensuring your children are successful despite obstacles…You can’t say, ‘My students didn’t get any breakfast today,’…or ‘Their electricity got cut off in the house, so they couldn’t do their homework.’

    These comments reveal a desire to minimize poverty’s effects, as deprivation is characterized here as an easily surmounted obstacle.

    Unfortunately, this is false; poverty matters greatly. While numerous studies have shown that socioeconomic status profoundly influences student achievement, this body of scholarship is crushed under the weight of a new mythology that masks poverty’s importance; additionally, this mask conceals the inequitable funding of schools from property taxes, downplays the physical and emotional consequences of impoverishment, and disregards the interplay of social class, literacy skills, and educational outcomes. This mythmaking shifts the public’s gaze from history to fiction, and an erroneous “truth” is gradually created.

    Orwell: Political language…is designed to make lies sound truthful…and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

  87. Published on Monday, March 4, 2013 by Common Dreams
    Big Monied Education ‘Reform’ Groups Flood Los Angeles School Board Race
    Teachers’ union: ‘This is a race for Los Angeles, not the school board race of America. It would be really tragic if the voices are drowned out’
    – Lauren McCauley, staff writer

    Los Angeles has become the latest battleground in the contested war over school “reform” as a group of billionaire school-privatization advocates have turned Tuesday’s school board election into a national, multi-million dollar “test case” in the fight over the future of education.

    According to reports, last month New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg donated $1 million to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Coalition for School Reform. The group is backing candidates who will support current superintendent John Deasey, formerly of the Gates Foundation, who has been pushing such policy changes as expanding charter schools, limiting the power of teachers unions and using student standardized test scores as a means of evaluating teachers.

    National school privatization advocate Michelle Rhee’s group Students First, donated $250,000 to the same cause, in addition to a host of other titans—which include Walmart heirs and real estate and insurance magnate, Eli Broad.

  88. Thursday, Sep 27, 2012
    School reform’s propaganda flick
    The guys behind “Won’t Back Down” stand to profit from education privatization. No wonder the movie hates on teachers unions
    By Alexander Zaitchik

    The first thing to know about Friday’s opening of the school-choice drama “Won’t Back Down” is that the film’s production company specializes in children’s fantasy fare such as the “Tooth Fairy” and “Chronicles of Narnia” series. The second thing is that this company, Walden Media, is linked at the highest levels to the real-world adult alliance of corporate and far-right ideological interest groups that constitutes the so-called education reform movement, more accurately described as the education privatization movement. The third thing, and the one most likely to be passed over in the debate surrounding “Won’t Back Down” (reviewed here, and not kindly, by Salon’s own Andrew O’Hehir), is that Walden Media is itself an educational content company with a commercial interest in expanding private-sector access to American K-12 education, or what Rupert Murdoch, Walden’s distribution partner on “Won’t Back Down,” lip-lickingly calls “a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed.”

    Walden Media is unique in Hollywood in possessing the will and the expertise to effectively promote the cause of education reform. Its conservative Christian CEO, the billionaire donor and strategist for right-wing causes Philip Anschutz, has built what may be the only media empire ideologically inclined and powerful enough to assemble an all-star, all-union cast to carry water for an anti-union crusade on 2,500 screens in wide release (though apparently not strong enough to get that cast to admit it). “Won’t Back Down” is, as even teachers’ union leader Randi Weingarten admits, an emotionally charged and well-crafted piece of propaganda. For neophytes to the debate — and Walden executive Chip Flaherty has described these people as the film’s target — “Won’t Back Down” will send warm “Stand and Deliver”-meets-”Free Willy”-style fuzzies fluttering around the otherwise cold phrase “school choice.” The company hopes the film’s emotional wallop will linger long enough to drive downloads of the film’s activist tool kit and enlist new foot soldiers in the education reform movement. But the thing is, “Won’t Back Down” is no more useful in understanding the real politics of that movement than Walden Media’s adaptation of “Charlotte’s Web” prepares audiences for careers in chicken farming. Of course, that’s not the point — Walden is aiming for the heart, not the head.

    “Won’t Back Down” dramatizes — approvingly — the execution of “parent-trigger”-style laws that have been passed in three states and are being considered in a dozen more. These laws give parents the power to form discontented majorities and sell their local public school to private charter school companies. As critics have noted, there is no mechanism in these laws to take over failing private schools. In the real world, the two instances in which the parent-trigger has been pulled have been legal and community disasters, and there is indication that even charter school companies are wary of taking over entire failed schools as opposed to skimming the cream off of several.

    But to focus on the parent-trigger plot mechanism in “Won’t Back Down” is to misunderstand the long-term strategy of the deep-pocketed education reform movement. Its plan is to undermine public education from all fronts, to keep throwing reform bills at statehouse walls and see what sticks. Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, the reform movement’s own version of ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), provides legislators with thick “policy combo-packs” and encourages them to file legislation in flurries. Anything that moves the needle of public opinion toward privatizing K-12 is a victory. And it’s a victory for more than just for-profit charter and private school companies. The school-choice army is increasingly diverse. It has a growing “digital learning” wing of technology and software companies eager to “individualize” and “virtualize” American classrooms. There are film education companies like Walden Media, more about which in a minute. There are educational testing companies, such as News Corp’s Wireless Generation, which have been used effectively to pummel public education but have an uncertain future in the brave new unregulated world imagined by corporate reformers. Keeping the alliance flush with tactics and strategy are the libertarian think tanks at war with teachers’ unions and the idea that the rich should pay education taxes to support schools their children do not attend. (Given the movement’s storefront claims to care deeply about poor students of color, it is odd — well, not really — that its lineage begins with the voucher schemes Milton Friedman cooked up in the immediate wake of Brown v. Board of Education.)

  89. My family were mostly factory workers. And, many factories had “piece work.” That’s where you got paid depending on how many pieces[plates, screws, springs, etc.] you produced per hour. Elaine should have worked in a union factory. She can produce more “pieces” per hour than anyone I’ve ever seen. Of course, there was also quality control in these factories where my family toiled. The “pieces” had to be of a certain standard. That could be a probelem here. Just sayn’.

  90. I had a typo w/ “problem,” That piece would be rejected by quality control. Union workers hated quality control in factories..and schools.

  91. nick,

    Do you have a point to make about the subject of this post…a contribution to add to the discussion–or are you just doing your usual drive by? Your behavior is quite predictable.

  92. What Real Education Reform Looks Like
    By David Sirota

    As 2011 draws to a close, we can confidently declare that one of the biggest debates over education is—mercifully—resolved. We may not have addressed all of the huge challenges facing our schools, but we finally have empirical data ruling out apocryphal theories and exposing the fundamental problems.

    We’ve learned, for instance, that our entire education system is not “in crisis,” as so many executives in the for-profit education industry insist when pushing to privatize public schools. On the contrary, results from Program for International Student Assessment exams show that American students in low-poverty schools are among the highest-achieving students in the world.

    We’ve also learned that no matter how much self-styled education “reformers” claim otherwise, the always-demonized teachers’ unions are not holding our education system back. As The New York Times recently noted: “If unions are the primary cause of bad schools, why isn’t labor’s pernicious effect” felt in the very unionized schools that so consistently graduate top students?

    Now, at year-end, we’ve learned from two studies just how powerful economics are in education outcomes—and how disadvantaged kids are being unduly punished by government policy.

    The first report, from Stanford University, showed that with a rising “income achievement gap,” a family’s economic situation is a bigger determinative force in a child’s academic performance than any other major demographic factor. For poor kids, that means the intensifying hardships of poverty are now creating massive obstacles to academic progress.

    Because of this reality, schools in destitute areas naturally require more resources than those in rich ones so as to help impoverished kids overcome comparatively steep odds. Yet, according to the second report from the U.S. Department of Education, “Many high-poverty schools receive less than their fair share of state and local funding.” As if purposely embodying the old adage about adding insult to injury, the financing scheme “leav(es) students in high-poverty schools with fewer resources than schools attended by their wealthier peers.” In practice, that equals less funding to recruit teachers, upgrade classrooms, reduce class sizes and sustain all the other basics of a good education.

    Put all this together and behold the crux of America’s education problems in bumper-sticker terms: It’s poverty and punitive funding formulas, stupid.

    Thus, we arrive at the factor that decides so many things in American society: money.

    As the revelations of 2011 prove, students aren’t helped by billionaire-executives-turned-education-dilettantes who leverage their riches to force their faith-based theories into schools. Likewise, they aren’t aided by millionaire pundits sententiously claiming that we just “need better parents.” And kids most certainly don’t benefit from politicians pretending that incessant union-busting, teacher-bashing and standardized testing represent successful school “reforms.”

    Instead, America’s youth need the painfully obvious: a national commitment to combating poverty and more funds spent on schools in the poorest areas than on schools in the richest areas—not the other way around.

  93. A primer on corporate school reform
    By Valerie Strauss

    This is an edited version of a commentary given by Stan Karp , a teacher of English and journalism in Paterson, N.J., for 30 years. Karp spoke on Oct. 1 at the fourth annual Northwest Teachers for Justice conference in Seattle. He is now the director of the Secondary Reform Project for New Jersey’s Education Law Center and an editor of the 25-year-old Rethinking Schools magazine. A video and fuller version of the commentary can be found here.

    By Stan Karp

    “Corporate education reform” refers to a specific set of policy proposals currently driving education policy at the state and federal level. These proposals include:

    *increased test-based evaluation of students, teachers, and schools of education

    *elimination or weakening of tenure and seniority rights

    *an end to pay for experience or advanced degrees

    *closing schools deemed low performing and their replacement by publicly funded, but privately run charters

    *replacing governance by local school boards with various forms of mayoral and state takeover or private management

    *vouchers and tax credit subsidies for private school tuition

    *increases in class size, sometimes tied to the firing of 5-10% of the teaching staff

    *implementation of Common Core standards and something called “college and career readiness” as a standard for high school graduation:

    These proposals are being promoted by reams of foundation reports, well-funded think tanks, a proliferation of astroturf political groups, and canned legislation from the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Counsel (ALEC).

    Together these strategies use the testing regime that is the main engine of corporate reform to extend the narrow standardization of curricula and scripted classroom practice that we’ve seen under No Child Left Behind, and to drill down even further into the fabric of schooling to transform the teaching profession and create a less experienced, less secure, less stable and less expensive professional staff. Where NCLB used test scores to impose sanctions on schools and sometimes students (e.g., grade retention, diploma denial), test-based sanctions are increasingly targeted at teachers.

    A larger corporate reform goal, in addition to changing the way schools and classrooms function, is reflected in the attacks on collective bargaining and teacher unions and in the permanent crisis of school funding across the country. These policies undermine public education and facilitate its replacement by a market-based system that would do for schooling what the market has done for health care, housing, and employment: produce fabulous profits and opportunities for a few and unequal outcomes and access for the many….

    Standardized tests have been disguising class and race privilege as merit for decades. They’ve become the credit default swaps of the education world. Few people understand how either really works. Both encourage a focus on short-term gains over long-term goals. And both drive bad behavior on the part of those in charge. Yet these deeply flawed tests have become the primary policy instruments used to shrink public space, impose sanctions on teachers and close or punish schools. And if the corporate reformers have their way, their schemes to evaluate teachers and the schools of education they came from on the basis of yet another new generation of standardized tests, it will make the testing plague unleashed by NCLB pale by comparison.

  94. Piece work?……….Quality Control?……………Standards?


    If the sum of your comments here represented your salary as measured by the above set of items. You would be working long hours and making nothing. Your problem in discussion Nick is there’s no there…..there.

    Plese inform us when you having something more to add, other than snide remarks of no value.

  95. The Failure of Corporate School Reform: Toward a New Common School Movement
    Monday, 05 December 2011
    By Kenneth J Saltman, Truthout | Op-Ed

    In the United States, a corporate model of schooling has overtaken educational policy, practice, curriculum and nearly all aspects of educational reform.

    While this movement began on the political right, the corporate school model has been heralded across the political spectrum and is aggressively embraced by both major parties. Corporate school reformers champion private-sector approaches to reform including, especially, privatization, deregulation and the importation of terms and assumptions from business, while they imagine public schools as private businesses, districts as markets, students as consumers and knowledge as product. Corporate school reform aims to transform public schooling into a private industry nationally by replacing public schools with privately managed charter schools, voucher schemes and tax credit scholarships for private schooling. The massive expansion of deunionized, nonprofit, privately managed charter schools with short-term contracts is an intermediary step toward the declaration of their failure and replacement by the for-profit industry in Educational Management Organizations (EMOs). EMOs extract profit by cutting teacher pay and educational resources while relying on high teacher turnover and labor precarity.(i) Corporate school reform seeks solutions to public problems in private-sector ways, from contracting out schools and services, to union-busting, a wholesale embrace of numerical benchmarking and database tracking and the modeling of schooling and administration on multiple aspects of corporate culture. Policy hawks make demands, for example, for teacher entrepreneurialism, or insist that students dress like retail chain workers and call school heads “CEO”; or install corporate models of numerical “accountability,” paying students for grades and teachers for test scores; or leaders play intricate Wall Street-style shell games with test performance to show rising “return on investment”; or teachers assign students the task of crafting a resume for Benjamin Franklin; BP was involved in creating California’s new science curriculum: the examples are endless.

    Despite the fact that corporate school reforms have expanded at an exponential speed, the dominant corporate school reforms have failed on their own terms. Such reformers have insisted on “accountability” through test scores and lowering costs, but it is precisely in reference to these accountability measures that corporate school reforms have failed. The failing policies that are being aggressively implemented nonetheless include: contracting out management to privately managed charters or for-profit educational management organizations;(ii) putting in place voucher schemes or neo-voucher scholarship tax credits;(iii) expanding commercialism;(iv) imposing corporate “turnaround” models on schools and faculty(v) that often involve firing entire faculties and administrations, reducing curriculum and pedagogy to narrow numerically quantifiable and anti-intellectual, anti-critical test-based forms; the creation of “portfolio districts” that imagine districts as a stock portfolio and schools as stock investments;(vi) reorganizing teacher education and educational leadership on the model of the MBA degree;(vii) and the elimination of advanced degrees and certification in favor of pay-for-test-performance schemes such as value added assessment.(viii)

    These corporate school reforms are deeply interwoven with commercial interests in the multibillion dollar test and textbook publishing industries, the information technology and database tracking industries and the contracting industries.(ix) The corporate sector has in the last decade positioned education in the United States as a roughly $600 billion per year “industry,” ripe for takeover.(x) As directions for future economic growth are uncertain, public tax money in public services appears to corporations and the super-rich, who are flush from decades of upward redistributions, as tantalizing to pillage.(xi) These upward redistributions of public wealth and governance are particularly obvious in Wisconsin and New Jersey as tax cuts on the super-rich and corporations and slush funds for business development are funded by defunding public and higher education; attacking teacher pay, benefits and unions; expanding privatization schemes including vouchers, charters, tuition fee hikes; and shifting educational costs onto individual working-class and professional-class individuals. The same agenda is being enacted in Michigan, Indiana, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania – to name a few. Chicago could be considered the blueprint with its Renaissance 2010 plan designed by the Commercial Club and implemented by Arne Duncan. That plan – which resulted in failure to raise test scores or lower costs – succeeded in privatizing and deunionizing about 100 of the 600 schools in the district.

  96. I Am Puzzled by the Gates Foundation
    By Diane Ravitch

    When one foundation has amassed over $30 billion, it has the financial power to shape the policies of government to its liking.

    The Gates Foundation has more than $30 billion, and when Warren Buffet’s gift of another $30 billion is added to the Gates fund, the Gates Foundation will have the power to direct global policy on almost any issue of its choosing.

    Anthony Cody published a guest column in Education Week (funded in part by the Gates Foundation) that describes how the Gates Foundation intervenes in agricultural and environmental issues around the world, often in ways that support corporate profits rather than the public interest.

    I have never believed that the Gates Foundation or the Gates family puts profits above the public interest. I work on the assumption that anyone who has more riches than they can ever spend in their lifetime or in 100 lifetimes is not motivated by greed. It makes no sense.

    I believe that Bill and Melinda Gates want to establish a legacy as people who left the world a better place.

    But I think their their efforts to “reform” education are woefully mistaken.

    I have tried but had no luck in my efforts to meet Bill Gates. On the two occasions when I was in Seattle in the past year, I tried to arrange a meeting with him well in advance. He was never available.

    I am puzzled by what I read in the column cited here. I am also puzzled by the Gates Foundation’s persistent funding of groups that want to privatize public education. I am puzzled by their funding of “astroturf” groups of young teachers who insist that they don’t want any job protections, don’t want to be rewarded for their experience (of which they have little) or for any additional degrees, and certainly don’t want to be represented by a collective bargaining unit.

    I am puzzled by their funding of groups that are promoting an anti-teacher, anti-public education agenda in state after state. And I am puzzled by the hundreds of millions they have poured into the quixotic search to guarantee that every single classroom has a teacher that knows how to raise test scores.

    Sometimes I wonder if anyone at the Gates Foundation has any vision of what good education is, or whether they think that getting higher test scores is the same as getting a good education. I wonder if they ever think about their role in demoralizing and destabilizing the education profession.

    When Bill or Melinda Gates is asked whether it is democratic for one foundation, their foundation, to shape a nation’s education policy, they don a mask of false modesty. Who, little old us? They disingenuously reply that the nation spends more than $600 billion on education, which makes their own contribution small by comparison. Puny, by comparison. Anyone with any sense knows that their discretionary spending has had a powerful effect on the policies of the U.S. Department of Education, on the media, on states and on districts. When Bill Gates speaks, the National Governors Association snaps to attention, awed by his wealth. They are pulling the strings, and they prefer to pretend they aren’t.

    But their disclaimers do not change the fact that they have power without accountability. They want accountability for teachers, but who holds them accountable?

    When I see Bill or Melinda make a pronouncement on education, I am reminded of the song in “Fiddler on the Roof”: “When you’re rich, they think you really know.”

    They don’t. And no one will tell them that they are out of their depth. They may be well-meaning but they are misinformed, and they are inflicting incalculable damage on our public schools and on the education profession.

    Who elected them? Why should they have the power to shape American education?.

    It’s puzzling.

  97. Elaine: Diane Ravitch, if truly puzzled, does not understand how business works.

    Bill Gates is a man with a hammer that thinks all problems look like nails. He is (probably with good intentions but unfortunate results) taking a business approach to the schooling of children. He has been very successful in business, partly by luck but coupled with real skill in negotiation and strategy as well. He has made smart moves, and even on some of the dumb moves, he was smart enough to limit losses and not bankrupt or lose control of his company.

    I am not in communication with Bill Gates, but from his actions I recognize that he sees our problems in schooling as essentially a human resources or human systems engineering problem. People aren’t being fired, held accountable, incentivized, punished, rewarded. He thinks that is because there is a lack of measurable objectives and ways to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    He takes the same approach in his other charities; and they work there; because those ARE engineering problems (getting children vaccinated, fed, drinking clean water and generally healthier worldwide).

    I also do not believe the business approach works in public schooling. But I am not puzzled by what the Gates are doing, they are trying to fix a broken system by their lights, and it is probably impossible to convince the richest man in the world (at least he has been a few times) that his thinking is wrong when he has tens of billions of dollars that says his thinking is right.

  98. “[I]t is probably impossible to convince the richest man in the world (at least he has been a few times) that his thinking is wrong when he has tens of billions of dollars that says his thinking is right.”

    Tony, that is not only a personal flaw, but a societal flaw considering the ‘Merikan propensity for judging people by the content of their wallet versus the content of their character.

  99. Tony,

    Ravitch was once a supporter of No Child Left behind and charter schools.


    Diane Ravitch on the “Effort to Destroy Public Ed”
    Abby Rapoport
    October 2, 2012
    Part 2 of the Prospect’s interview with the former assistant secretary of education

    When Diane Ravitch changed her mind about education reform, she became one of the leading critics of a movement that dominates American policy. For the most part, both Democrats and Republicans now push to make school systems resemble economic markets. They want fewer teacher protections, more testing, and more charter schools for parents to choose from. President Barack Obama’s Department of Education, headed by education reformer Arne Duncan, shares many policy goals with those of George W. Bush’s administration. Ravitch herself was once part of the movement, promoting student assessments and helping to create voluntary academic standards. After serving as assistant secretary of education under George H.W. Bush, she held positions at the pro-school-reform movement Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and was a member of the Koret Task Force at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, which focuses on school choice and “accountability.” But in 2009, Ravitch left both positions and wrote a book announcing her move to the other side of the debate.

    The Death and Life of the Great American School System excoriates the reform movement, arguing there’s virtually no evidence that any of the agenda—school choice, testing, and the like—have improved public education. She writes and speaks frequently about the dangerous role that for-profit businesses have assumed in shaping education policy and about the simultaneous risk that wealthy nonprofit foundations like the Gates Foundation have too much clout in policymaking. Along with actor Matt Damon, she helped organize 2011’s Save Our Schools, a national rally opposing high-stakes testing and budget cuts to schools.

    I sat down with Ravitch while she was visiting Austin, Texas. (She attracted big crowds at both a convention for school boards and administrators and at a public conversation held in a local high school.) On Monday I posted our conversation about the Chicago teachers’ strike, the politics of education reform, and the myth of a crisis in public education. Here is part two of the interview, in which Ravitch addresses the proper role of charter schools, the potentials and pitfalls of technology, and what people can do to really help American schools.

    You’ve been a vocal critic of charters and school choice, arguing that they weed out the students who are difficult to educate and weaken traditional schools. Instead, you’ve advocated for neighborhood schools, saying they promote a better community of parents and teachers working together. But are there any areas in which public schools could learn from charters? For instance, when it comes to a longer school day, as the high-performing KIPP Academies have?

    I think the charter-school movement has as much to learn from public schools as public schools from charter schools. I don’t see any examples of where the charter school movement has been so successful that public schools ought to be learning from them. I hear this question all the time: Why aren’t they learning from charters? Well, there are a lot of terrible charters. Why should we be learning from them? Why aren’t they learning from the best public schools?

    Is the success of charters—those few that are successful—is it because they have longer school days or because they are selecting their students?

    I started out being supportive of charters. Then I became agnostic on charters. Then I became skeptical of charters. And I now think that charter schools are leading us to having a dual school system again. We’re going back to the period before Brown v. Board of Education, but the differentiation in the future will be based on class instead of race.

    Do you think there are any lesson to be learned from charter schools?

    Yes: Take out the low-performing kids and get high scores. That’s the lesson.

    So a longer school day—does that make sense?

    Not necessarily. I mean, the issue in the Chicago strike—one of the issues—was that Rahm Emanuel wanted a longer school day and the teachers said we want a better school day. Longer doesn’t necessarily translate into better. If your school doesn’t have a library, if you don’t have any arts and music programs, why is more time better? Is it more time for test prep? No, it’s not better.

  100. “The Failure of Corporate School Reform”


    Thanks again for continuing to make this thread the “go to” place for information regarding the corporate attempt at taking over the school system.
    You have proved your case against this nonsense time and again, but I would just like to make another simple point on why this doesn’t work and why the model is the height of stupidity in the service of cupidity.

    A corporate model is by definition and in its literature a conformist model. The key to getting ahead in any bureaucracy (Corporations are the essence of bureaucracy) is conformity and playing the game. The corporate school model stresses conformity (school uniforms, hair styles etc.) in its literature.
    Those students who mainly excel in this kind of model are rigid thinkers who regurgitate based on expectations and who most importantly are willing to “kiss ass”.

    The dichotomy in this, especially for those who see capitalism as a system that promotes ingenuity and creativity, is that the corporate system’s history is the story of individuals who went against the system and succeeded via creative entrepreneurship. That’s the myth at least. Yet ironically, these corporate “educators” in practice ignore the very mythology that lent them credence. The irony of someone like Bill Gates flogging this nonsense is either rich, or ominous and most probably ominous. This whole movement is an attempt to instill unthinking, hierarchical worshiping discipline into the “lower” classes the better to control them.

    The purpose of an educational system should be to teach our young to be able to think independently, in addition to gaining well rounded knowledge of the world around them and the tools (science, math, language, historical context) to be able to not only succeed, but hopefully advance all of society. I’m sure Bill and Melinda’s children go to excellent educational institutions that are the essence of what education should be. All the better to keep the descendants of the Gates family ahead of the class.

    Always beware that most of what poses as philanthropy in our society is self-serving public relations to cover up the sins of ones past.

  101. There is a fundamental and inherent lie in teacher’s unions. The PRIMARY function of any union is to protect its members. So, when teacher’s union people say, “It’s all about the kids” that is a lie on its face and hypocrisy personified. If teachers unions would stop that lie I would have less of a problem w/ them.

  102. I must admit that this whole thread upsets me as much as any issue we’ve discussed here in the past and my upset comes out of my own life and experience. I am a perfect example of the fallacy of reliance upon standardized testing to measure scholastic achievement and the irony of this is that is that I owe the fact that I hold degrees at the post Masters levels to standardized testing. I was a troubled student in high school, with disciplinary problems that marked me as a troublesome student. Yet I was blessed with a high IQ (a measure that is being proven every day as inaccurate) and a reading comprehension ability that was off the charts.

    Because I was an emotionally troubled child and teen, I rarely did homework and never took notes in high school, thus was a consistent C- to D student through the year. Yet I was able to always pass the final tests because with my reading speed I would read and absorb all the requisite textbooks the night before the final exams. My final test grades were uniformly in the B+ to A ranges (85-95). Many teachers liked me, despite my behavioral problems, and tried hard to counsel me, though it fell on my deaf ears. Thus I passed through high school in the bottom quarter of my class. My PSAT and SAT scores were at the top of the class so I was able to get into college based on those grades alone. In NY State at the time there was a Regents Scholarship exam, on which if you got a certain high grade, you would win a full tuition scholarship to any NY State college. Needless to say that at Graduation I stood on stage with the other four winners, who except for me were the four students at the top of my graduating class and the Vice Principal scowled at me as he handed me my award certificate.

    I got through college the same way as high school, except for there the most important information I could learn was how many classes I could cut and yet remain eligible for a final grade. After school I floated through life as a Caseworker in Welfare and a hippie in life style. My father had always wanted me to go to Law School and with my parents long deceased at 25 I applied. Naturally, my LSAT put me in a high percentile and I was accepted at St. Johns University Law School based on that. Two and a half years later I flunked out because one really does need to study and take notes in law school and my “skill set” didn’t allow for my usually easy passage. Luckily I learned from the experience and went into personal psychotherapy to resolved the issues of my troubled psyche. Six years later I had won a full tuition scholarship to Columbia University for my Masters and talked my way into simultaneously being accepted in a psychotherapy training Institute. I won my Columbia Scholarship in competition with 9 others from my agency based on our grades from 3 classes totaling 9 credits. I got three A’s because for the first time in my life I actually took notes and studied regularly. When I graduated my career took off and my personal life stabilized.

    That is why the whole issue of this blog and thread resonates so much with me. I look back at the students I knew who actually applied themselves in school and I envy/admire the fact that they were mature enough to put in the work and through it learn the self-discipline necessary to succeed in life. It took me many years to learn the lessons and catch up to them. Standardized testing is not a measure of success, it is a matter of rote learning and regurgitation. They do not take the measure of either an individual student, nor of their teacher. They like IQ tests and SAT’s do not measure the innate abilities of a student and merely result in mainly self-fulfilling prophecies.

    “Gates was born in Seattle, Washington, to William H. Gates, Sr. and Mary Maxwell Gates. His ancestry includes English, German, and Scots-Irish. His father was a prominent lawyer, and his mother served on the board of directors for First Interstate BancSystem and the United Way. Gates’s maternal grandfather was JW Maxwell, a national bank president. Gates has one elder sister, Kristi (Kristianne), and one younger sister, Libby. He was the fourth of his name in his family, but was known as William Gates III or “Trey” because his father had the “II” suffix. Early on in his life, Gates’s parents had a law career in mind for him. When Gates was young, his family regularly attended a Congregational church.

    At 13 he enrolled in the Lakeside School, an exclusive preparatory school”

    Bill Gates success in life came no doubt from his intelligence, but I would submit it was aided by the life of privilege he was born into. That this rapacious pirate, in the mold of the worst of robber barons, is now trying to reform a school system he knows nothing about is an affront to me.

  103. Mike,

    I agree. The new corporate-style school reform is not about meeting the educational needs of children or inspiring their creativity and ingenuity. It’s about training little automatons to only think “inside” the box…to fill in little bubbles on high stakes standardized tests…to control the children AND their teachers. It is actually destroying the good things in the American educational system.

    I have believed from early on that the school reform movement was about busting unions and destroying the public school system so that people would believe there was a need for alternative forms of education in this country. What I wasn’t aware of was how much of it was being driven by people like Gates, the Waltons, Devoses, hedge fund manners, educational publishers, etc.

  104. E-mails link Bush foundation, corporations and education officials
    Posted by Valerie Strauss
    January 30, 2013

    A nonprofit group released thousands of e-mails today and said they show how a foundation begun by Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and national education reform leader, is working with public officials in states to write education laws that could benefit some of its corporate funders.

    A call to the foundation has not been returned.

    The e-mails are between the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) and a group Bush set up called Chiefs for Change, whose members are current and former state education commissioners who support Bush’s agenda of school reform, which includes school choice, online education, retention of third-graders who can’t read and school accountability systems based on standardized tests. That includes evaluating teachers based on student test scores and grading schools A-F based on test scores. John White of Louisiana is a current member, as is Tony Bennett, the new commissioner of Florida who got the job after Indiana voters rejected his Bush-style reforms last November and tossed him out of office.

    Donald Cohen, chair of the nonprofit In the Public Interest, a resource center on privatization and responsible for contracting in the public sector, said the e-mails show how education companies that have been known to contribute to the foundation are using the organization “to move an education agenda that may or not be in our interests but are in theirs.”

    He said companies ask the foundation to help state officials pass laws and regulations that make it easier to expand charter schools, require students to take online education courses, and do other things that could result in business and profits for them. The e-mails show, Cohen said, that Bush’s foundation would often do this with the help of Chiefs for Change and other affiliated groups.

    The e-mails were obtained by Cohen’s group through public record requests and are available here, complete with a search function. They reveal — conclusively, he said — that foundation staff members worked to promote the interests of some of their funders in Florida, New Mexico, Maine, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Louisiana.

    The Web site of the Foundation for Excellence in Education used to list some of their donors but no longer does and is not required to list all of its donors to the public under tax rules for 5013C organizations. However, it is known that the foundation has received support from for-profit companies K12 and Pearson and Amplify, as well as the nonprofit College Board.

    There are strong connections between FEE and the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), according to the nonprofit Center for Media and Democracy:

    Aptly named FEE, Bush’s group is backed by many of the same for-profit school corporations that have funded ALEC and vote as equals with its legislators on templates to change laws governing America’s public schools. FEE is also bankrolled by many of the same hard-right foundations bent on privatizing public schools that have funded ALEC. And, they have pushed many of the same changes to the law, which benefit their corporate benefactors and satisfy the free market fundamentalism of the billionaires whose tax-deductible charities underwrite the agenda of these two groups.

    FEE and ALEC also have had some of the same “experts” as members or staff, part of the revolving door between right-wing groups. They have also collaborated on the annual ALEC education “report card” that grades states’ allegiance to their policy agenda higher than actual student performance. That distorted report card also rewards states that push ALEC’s beloved union-busting measures while giving low grades to states with students who actually perform best on standardized knowledge tests.

  105. E-Mails Show Jeb Bush Foundation Lobbied For Businesses, Including One Tied To Bush
    Lee Fang
    January 30, 2013

    A public interest group has released the results of a multi-state Freedom of Information Act request concerning the lobbying efforts by the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE), the nonprofit led by Jeb Bush. The e-mails confirm previous reporting showing that Bush’s policies are designed to benefit businesses seeking to privatize public education—particularly the companies that finance Bush’s nonprofit.

    What’s new in this release, however, is the revelation that Bush could be using his education reform crusade for personal gain.

    In one e-mail from last year, Bush’s top aide at his foundation, Patricia Levesque, communicated with school officials to urge them to use a company called SendHub, a start-up that uses cloud computing and text messages. Bush, according to TechCrunch, has a modest “five-figure” investment in SendHub. Garrett Johnson, the founder of SendHub, previously worked for Bush and still serves on the board of Foundation for Florida’s Future, another Bush-run education nonprofit.

    In November of 2011, I published my first investigation with The Nation and The Nation Institute concerning the rush of for-profit education technology companies to enact radical “virtual schools” across the country. In the reporting, we uncovered that many individuals associated with the education reform universe—even those ostensibly leading major philanthropic foundations—are closely tied to the for-profit interests who stand to gain from these policies. Levesque, we reported, was quietly receiving funds directly from for-profit education tech companies while also serving as the executive director of Bush’s nonprofit.

  106. How Online Learning Companies Bought America’s Schools
    Lee Fang
    November 16, 2011

    If the national movement to “reform” public education through vouchers, charters and privatization has a laboratory, it is Florida. It was one of the first states to undertake a program of “virtual schools”—charters operated online, with teachers instructing students over the Internet—as well as one of the first to use vouchers to channel taxpayer money to charter schools run by for-profits.

    But as recently as last year, the radical change envisioned by school reformers still seemed far off, even there. With some of the movement’s cherished ideas on the table, Florida Republicans, once known for championing extreme education laws, seemed to recoil from the fight. SB 2262, a bill to allow the creation of private virtual charters, vastly expanding the Florida Virtual School program, languished and died in committee. Charlie Crist, then the Republican governor, vetoed a bill to eliminate teacher tenure. The move, seen as a political offering to the teachers unions, disheartened privatization reform advocates. At one point, the GOP’s budget proposal even suggested a cut for state aid going to virtual school programs.

    Lamenting this series of defeats, Patricia Levesque, a top adviser to former Governor Jeb Bush, spoke to fellow reformers at a retreat in October 2010. Levesque noted that reform efforts had failed because the opposition had time to organize. Next year, Levesque advised, reformers should “spread” the unions thin “by playing offense” with decoy legislation. Levesque said she planned to sponsor a series of statewide reforms, like allowing taxpayer dollars to go to religious schools by overturning the so-called Blaine Amendment, “even if it doesn’t pass…to keep them busy on that front.” She also advised paycheck protection, a unionbusting scheme, as well as a state-provided insurance program to encourage teachers to leave the union and a transparency law to force teachers unions to show additional information to the public. Needling the labor unions with all these bills, Levesque said, allows certain charter bills to fly “under the radar.”

    If Levesque’s blunt advice sounds like that of a veteran lobbyist, that’s because she is one. Levesque runs a Tallahassee-based firm called Meridian Strategies LLC, which lobbies on behalf of a number of education-technology companies. She is a leader of a coalition of government officials, academics and virtual school sector companies pushing new education laws that could benefit them.

    But Levesque wasn’t delivering her hardball advice to her lobbying clients. She was giving it to a group of education philanthropists at a conference sponsored by notable charities like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation. Indeed, Levesque serves at the helm of two education charities, the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a national organization, and the Foundation for Florida’s Future, a state-specific nonprofit, both of which are chaired by Jeb Bush. A press release from her national group says that it fights to “advance policies that will create a high quality digital learning environment.”

    Despite the clear conflict of interest between her lobbying clients and her philanthropic goals, Levesque and her team have led a quiet but astonishing national transformation. Lobbyists like Levesque have made 2011 the year of virtual education reform, at last achieving sweeping legislative success by combining the financial firepower of their corporate clients with the seeming legitimacy of privatization-minded school-reform think tanks and foundations. Thanks to this synergistic pairing, policies designed to boost the bottom lines of education-technology companies are cast as mere attempts to improve education through technological enhancements, prompting little public debate or opposition. In addition to Florida, twelve states have expanded virtual school programs or online course requirements this year. This legislative juggernaut has coincided with a gold rush of investors clamoring to get a piece of the K-12 education market. It’s big business, and getting bigger: One study estimated that revenues from the K-12 online learning industry will grow by 43 percent between 2010 and 2015, with revenues reaching $24.4 billion.

  107. It’s not just Bill Gates who is trying to upset the applecart. The late Steve Jobs, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerburg, et al are also looking to destroy our highly successful education system. What evil people the wealthy are..EVIL!

  108. 60 of 140 comments have been made by the guest blogger on this thread. I’m not sure what that means, but it is noteworthy.

  109. “60 of 140 comments have been made by the guest blogger on this thread. I’m not sure what that means,”


    What it means is this:

    Elaine took what was an excellent guest blog, full of valuable information and made it even more valuable, by adding numerous links with further information. This blog and thread have become a thorough, go to resource for those who are concerned about the corporatization of our education system.

  110. nick,

    I often continue to do research on subjects that I write posts about. I believe in sharing the information that I find. Do you think that is noteworthy?

  111. Mike,

    Thanks. I think it’s of great import to show how corporations, “astro-turf” groups, and billionaires with agendas are the real driving forces behind the school reform movement. Their tentacles are everywhere. Now, we are beginning to uncover and understand what these individuals and groups have been doing “under the radar” for years.

  112. Most of us appreciate Elaine’s thoroughness. We know that if she posts something that it is well researched and well thought out.

  113. When I taught high school history there were always the students when the assignment was 5 pages they would submit 18 pages. I took points off and realized I was most probably alone in doing that by the student’s reaction. Often times, less is more. However, thanks for your generous sharing of info.

    As an investigator I learned when a person I interviewed evaded a question, that it meant they had something to hide.

  114. nick,

    This isn’t high school–and this post wasn’t an assignment. Jonathan gives us free range as to the topics we choose to write about. There are no restrictions on the length of our posts or the number of comments we may leave on our own articles.

    The school reform movement is a subject that I’m very interested in. I saw what it was doing to the educational system in the district where I taught for more than three decades. It’s the reason I left the classroom. I knew I wouldn’t be able to teach the way I had for many years. I knew I’d be much more restricted in the classroom…and that I’d be expected to spend valuable class time prepping my students for mandated high stakes tests. Tests are not what should drive education programs. What should drive education programs is getting children excited about learning, opening up their minds to the world, science, literature, new things, and tapping into their creativity and problem solving abilities.

  115. Nick: There is no fundamental lie in a teacher’s union, the point of the union is indeed to protect teachers, so they can spend more time on children and less time fighting a rear-guard action against those that would corrupt the curriculum with politics, religion and favoritism, and make it impossible for them to teach.

    If I run a hospital and say my focus is on patient care, I am not lying just because I also have to pay doctors, nurses, janitors, repair techs, orderlies, and administrative staff, and for electricity and water. My paying those people and those expenses, and drawing a salary for myself, does not suddenly make it about us. We can’t serve patients if we don’t pay those bills.

    The same thing goes for teacher’s unions: They cannot withstand the forces that would corrupt the school on their own, they need the protection of the union in order to create an environment in which they have enough security to be able to teach kids without interference. Without being threatened by principles or school board members for refusing to do favors for their friends and “important” people, without being subjected to favoritism, without being forced to quit and find a higher paying job with their degree. Teachers already accept a much lower income than they COULD earn in order to teach, my sister doubled her income in a year when she gave up after 15 years of teaching.

    Having an organization with influence protect you is a necessity if you want to concentrate on teaching and kids. The union provides that service.

  116. “When I taught high school history there were always the students when the assignment was 5 pages they would submit 18 pages. I took points off and realized I was most probably alone in doing that by the student’s reaction. Often times, less is more. However, thanks for your generous sharing of info.

    As an investigator I learned when a person I interviewed evaded a question, that it meant they had something to hide.”


    Chickensh*t, Bullsh*t and dishonest to boot. Your comments were obviously done in criticism of Elaine and yet you lack the courage to express it openly.
    You have the right to disagree and you have the right to criticize, but one would hope you would at least do it with honesty.

  117. A Battle Between Education and Business Goals
    By Pauline Lipman (Lipman is a professor of educational policy studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago and author of “The New Political Economy of Urban Education: Neoliberalism, Race and the Right to the City.”

    Chicago was the birthplace of neoliberal education reform — high-stakes testing, closing neighborhood public schools and turning them over to private operators, expanding charter schools, running schools like businesses, test-based teacher evaluation, prescribed standards, and mayoral control of schools.

    Over the past 15 years, these policies were promoted nationally by corporate philanthropies, conservative think tanks, and recently by billionaire-initiated education reform organizations like Stand for Children and Education Reform Now. The Chicago agenda became the official national agenda when President Obama appointed Chicago’s chief executive schools, Arne Duncan, to be his Secretary of Education.

    The first thing Duncan did was fly to Detroit and tell that financially devastated school system that they would have an infusion of federal funds, but only if they did things very differently – that is, implement the Chicago model. That model became the criteria for awarding $4.3 billion in federal funds to states, known as Race to the Top.

    Yet, closing schools has destabilized students and communities and had little positive effect on achievement. Test-based merit pay has been shown to have little validity as a measure of teacher effectiveness. And charter schools are doing no better, and sometimes worse, than regular public schools and are more racially segregated.

    But more deeply, at the school level, there is plenty of research showing that these policies have reduced the curriculum to what is tested, demoralized teachers and degraded the teaching force, and left parents and students with no public school options in their communities.

    These are not education policies, but rather business policies applied to schools with business goals: promoting top-down management, weakening unions, shifting the purpose of education to labor force preparation, and opening up the $2 trillion dollar global education sector to the market.

    Despite efforts by educators, researchers, and parents nationally to contest this agenda, it has become the new status quo. This is why Chicago teachers are on strike.

    After absorbing 15 punishing years of these policies, they have had enough. Compensation is not their biggest concern. They are fighting for respect and for a vision of public education that is grounded in equity, respect for teachers, a rich well-rounded education for all students, and the financing priorities to realize it.

  118. Tony, I just respectfully disagree. I have seen teachers use kids as pawns. It is too common for teachers to stop doing functions like writing letters for students, doing extracurricular work, etc. when there is a contract being negotiated. Happens all the time. And the even sicker thing is the union teachers get their kids to march for them. The kids love their teachers and so they do it. It’s like a Jerry Lewis telethon only the kids can walk. How in the hell does that comport w/ what you just wrote? Again, the FIRST duty of a union is to protect it’s members. In the aforementioned circumstances unions do indeed protect their members on the backs of kids and parents. Probably the strongest teachers union is in Wi. where I live. They simply walked out and got phoney doc excuses when they didn’t like some legislation that was passed. They hung students and parents out to dry w/ that hissy fit. And, they lost a lot of support from people who were w/ them for that illegal work action.

    Is having an attorney present also one of my rights? Can I make a phone call?

  119. nick,

    You certainly have a bee in your bonnet. In your close-minded world all teachers are bad…their unions are all evil. Then again, my teaching experience of more than three decades pales in comparison to your lengthy career as an educator.

  120. “Bee in my bonnet!” Is Ike still prez?

    I believe this country was heading toward a situation where an Elba Esther Gordillo would have been running our schools. One of the good things Obama has done is hire Arnie Duncan and start putting kids first. I am heartened also that those evil billionaires like Gates, Zuckerburg, Brin and the late Steve Jobs are stepping up and showing how public education can be successful like it was when I was a kid. We go through this dance everytime you write a polemic on this topic. We simply disagree, however I do admire your persistance. Sadly, your fighting is akin to those stranded Japanese soldiers on deserted islands still fighting WW2 in the 1950’s. The unions had their shot..they failed our kids. Time for plan B.

  121. Arne “Dunderhead” Duncan is your hero? Go figure.


    “I am heartened also that those evil billionaires like Gates, Zuckerburg, Brin and the late Steve Jobs are stepping up and showing how public education can be successful like it was when I was a kid.’


    Can you please provide an explanation of what you mean by that statement? I don’t know how old you are–but that corporate-style education that you seem to admire was not in vogue when I attended grammar and high school in the 1950s and early 1960s.

  122. The public education has always been geared toward our capitalist system. At about the same time that our economy changed from industrial to service/technical, unions came to power. Unions are not well @ adapting except in rare instances [Ford Motor and the auto union being a positive example, that’s why they didn’t need or want a bailout]. Because of the stifling nature of unions, men have for the most part abandoned teaching. As you should know, the teaching force is currently ~80% female. That % is even higher in grammar school, where you worked FOR 30 YEARS!!! I’ve been told that @ least 20 times. These SUCCESSFUL, TALENTED, BRILLIANT billionaires are trying to have their SUCCESS become a part of a failed public system that has catered to the adults running it instead of the kids. I heard the Chicago union leader mock Duncan’s lisp. I guess calling him a “dunderhead” is slightly less classless. Is Ms. Gordilla is your hero? Mexico had the most powerful teachers union in the world.

  123. Yeah, those stifling unions that brought you a minimum wage, an end to child labor, a forty hour work week, benefits and collective bargaining are sure a pain in the ass.

    Collective bargaining is so important a right in light of the abuses of the industrial revolution that it was protected by Congress when they enacted the National Labor Relations Act in 1935 in partial response to the abuses of management in the period leading up to the market crash of ’29 like the Battle of Matewan in 1920.

    It sure sucks that the one bulwark still standing against corporate and management abuses is standing in the way of men teaching.

    Cryin’ freakn’ shame. *sniff**snort**HONK*

  124. nick,

    So… I take it you’re implying that the teaching ranks were made up of many more males,,,until the advent of teacher unions. Is that right? That males can’t bear to be stifled by unions,,,but women can? That the teaching profession is not what it could/should be because of the predominance of women in its ranks?

    We’ve heard your anti-teacher and anti-union arguments time and again. You’ve had limited experience in the teaching profession. Still, you judge all educators as bad.,,incompetent…uncaring,,,self-serving.

    Arne Duncan is no educator. What did he do as CEO of the Chicago Public Schools that so impresses you?


    Obama’s Betrayal of Public Education? Arne Duncan and the Corporate Model of Schooling
    By Henry A. Giroux & Kenneth Saltman
    Wednesday 17 December 2008

    Barack Obama’s selection of Arne Duncan for secretary of education does not bode well either for the political direction of his administration nor for the future of public education. Obama’s call for change falls flat with this appointment, not only because Duncan largely defines schools within a market-based and penal model of pedagogy, but also because he does not have the slightest understanding of schools as something other than adjuncts of the corporation at best or the prison at worse. The first casualty in this scenario is a language of social and political responsibility capable of defending those vital institutions that expand the rights, public goods and services central to a meaningful democracy. This is especially true with respect to the issue of public schooling and the ensuing debate over the purpose of education, the role of teachers as critical intellectuals, the politics of the curriculum and the centrality of pedagogy as a moral and political practice.

    Duncan, CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, presided over the implementation and expansion of an agenda that militarized and corporatized the third largest school system in the nation, one that is about 90 percent poor and nonwhite. Under Duncan, Chicago took the lead in creating public schools run as military academies, vastly expanded draconian student expulsions, instituted sweeping surveillance practices, advocated a growing police presence in the schools, arbitrarily shut down entire schools and fired entire school staffs. A recent report, “Education on Lockdown,” claimed that partly under Duncan’s leadership “Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has become infamous for its harsh zero tolerance policies. Although there is no verified positive impact on safety, these policies have resulted in tens of thousands of student suspensions and an exorbitant number of expulsions.”[4] Duncan’s neoliberal ideology is on full display in the various connections he has established with the ruling political and business elite in Chicago.[5] He led the Renaissance 2010 plan, which was created for Mayor Daley by the Commercial Club of Chicago – an organization representing the largest businesses in the city. The purpose of Renaissance 2010 was to increase the number of high quality schools that would be subject to new standards of accountability – a code word for legitimating more charter schools and high stakes testing in the guise of hard-nosed empiricism. Chicago’s 2010 plan targets 15 percent of the city district’s alleged underachieving schools in order to dismantle them and open 100 new experimental schools in areas slated for gentrification. Most of the new experimental schools have eliminated the teacher union. The Commercial Club hired corporate consulting firm A.T. Kearney to write Ren2010, which called for the closing of 100 public schools and the reopening of privatized charter schools, contract schools (more charters to circumvent state limits) and “performance” schools. Kearney’s web site is unapologetic about its business-oriented notion of leadership, one that John Dewey thought should be avoided at all costs. It states, “Drawing on our program-management skills and our knowledge of best practices used across industries, we provided a private-sector perspective on how to address many of the complex issues that challenge other large urban education transformations.”[6]

    Duncan’s advocacy of the Renaissance 2010 plan alone should have immediately disqualified him for the Obama appointment. At the heart of this plan is a privatization scheme for creating a “market” in public education by urging public schools to compete against each other for scarce resources and by introducing “choice” initiatives so that parents and students will think of themselves as private consumers of educational services.[7] As a result of his support of the plan, Duncan came under attack by community organizations, parents, education scholars and students. These diverse critics have denounced it as a scheme less designed to improve the quality of schooling than as a plan for privatization, union busting and the dismantling of democratically-elected local school councils. They also describe it as part of neighborhood gentrification schemes involving the privatization of public housing projects through mixed finance developments.[8] (Tony Rezko, an Obama and Blagojevich campaign supporter, made a fortune from these developments along with many corporate investors.) Some of the dimensions of public school privatization involve Renaissance schools being run by subcontracted for-profit companies – a shift in school governance from teachers and elected community councils to appointed administrators coming disproportionately from the ranks of business. It also establishes corporate control over the selection and model of new schools, giving the business elite and their foundations increasing influence over educational policy. No wonder that Duncan had the support of David Brooks, the conservative op-ed writer for The New York Times.

    One particularly egregious example of Duncan’s vision of education can be seen in the conference he organized with the Renaissance Schools Fund. In May 2008, the Renaissance Schools Fund, the financial wing of the Renaissance 2010 plan operating under the auspices of the Commercial Club, held a symposium, “Free to Choose, Free to Succeed: The New Market in Public Education,” at the exclusive private club atop the Aon Center. The event was held largely by and for the business sector, school privatization advocates, and others already involved in Renaissance 2010, such as corporate foundations and conservative think tanks. Significantly, no education scholars were invited to participate in the proceedings, although it was heavily attended by fellows from the pro-privatization Fordham Foundation and featured speakers from various school choice organizations and the leadership of corporations. Speakers clearly assumed the audience shared their views.


    December 29, 2008
    No Cheers for New Education Secretary
    Arne Duncan’s Dark Years in Chicago

    Duncan leaves his position in Chicago with quite a legacy. He used the punitive aspects of No Child Left Behind to close underperforming schools, mandate curricula, and fire entire school staffs based on standardized test scores. Working with the Commercial Club of Chicago, a group representing the city’s wealthy businesses, Duncan headed a program called “Renaissance 2010,” designed to close the most “underperforming” schools based strictly on test scores and open new charter schools in the same neighborhoods – neighborhoods also primed for gentrification. Some of Duncan’s plans have been foiled by community advocacy groups, the only force willing to stand up against the collusion of government officials and corporate interests.

    Over the past seven years, Duncan helped the city of Chicago open over 100 new schools (at least 84 charters run by Renaissance 2010 with 31 more planned), including the city’s second Disney-run elementary school, 5 military academies with more in planning stages, for-profit schools, non-profit organizations receiving financial backing from “educational venture funds,” and charter schools funded by big business (Boeing, Citigroup, Bank of America, Washington Mutual, and the Gates Foundation among others – all given corporate tax breaks, buyouts, and tax deductions that take money from our public schools). There are, undoubtedly, a number of remarkable charter schools in Chicago offering a high-quality education, but they are a small minority. However, since the beginning of his tenure in 2001, Chicago schools have become more segregated (in fact, America’s schools are more segregated now than during 1954′s landmark Brown vs. Board legislation) in part because of expanded charter schools.

  125. Only a Teacher
    Teaching Timeline

    1890s to 1910s: Women Teacher’s Rebellion

    “It was with that first class that I became aware that a teacher was subservient to a higher authority. I became increasingly aware of this subservience to an ever growing number of authorities with each succeeding year, until there is danger today of becoming aware of little else.” — Marian Dogherty, Teacher, Boston, 1899

    By the turn of the 20th century, nearly 75 percent of America’s teachers were women. But women made up a far smaller percentage of administrators, and their power decreased with each higher level of authority. Their deportment had always been closely watched; increasingly their work in the schoolroom was not only scrutinized, but rigidly controlled. Teacher autonomy was on the decline, and teachers resented it.

    Especially in big city schools, teachers at the turn of the 20th century felt like the most insignificant cogs in a huge machine. They felt dictated to and spied upon. Furthermore, they were badly paid and lacked pension benefits or job security. Many teaching positions were dispensed through political patronage. Married women were often barred from the classroom, and women with children were denied a place in schools. And daily conditions could be deplorable. The often-cited developments of immigration, urbanization and westward expansion had swelled, and changed the face of, the student population. Teachers had little flexibility in how they were to teach their myriad charges, who in urban schools particularly, might well come from impoverished families who spoke little English. They taught in classrooms that were overcrowded, dark and poorly ventilated. Schools felt like factories.

    For rural teachers, conditions were not necessarily much better. They had limited resources, with the added burden of keeping up run-down schools. African-American teachers especially suffered from inadequate materials and funding. Though their communities were eager for schooling, teachers found that money was rarely abundant. Well into the 20th century, black school systems relied on hand-me-down textbooks and used equipment, discarded by their white counterparts. African-American teachers were usually paid significantly less than their white peers and their civil rights were often compromised. (For instance, in a later era, belonging to the NAACP could be grounds for dismissal and southern affiliates of the National Education Association denied black teachers membership.)

    In the early decades of the 20th century, even as school districts put greater emphasis on “professionalization,” teachers everywhere felt left behind. City Boards of Education, increasingly made up of business and professional men, worked to reform teaching. Often their goals were laudable: to root out corruption, to raise the practice and status of teaching, to ensure real student achievement. But they rarely had any first-hand knowledge of what teaching actually was like. They worked according to a business model, with clear hierarchies and chains of command — which left teachers at the bottom. The “administrative progressives” (as education historian David Tyack has called them) wanted to impose uniformity and efficiency on classrooms of 50 disparate children. They supported the move away from Normal Schools to university departments of education, where theory would rule. They discouraged individual initiative by teachers, whom they considered too limited to enact worthwhile change.

    Not surprisingly, teachers rebelled. At least in urban districts teachers had the advantage of numbers. Cities became the centers for the teachers associations that eventually grew into unions. In Chicago, Margaret Haley and Catherine Goggin of the Chicago Federation of Teachers rallied their peers (and the city government) for improved pay, retirement benefits and tenure. Haley knew that many women considered teaching genteel, white-collar work. Joining a union was anathema to them. But she convinced them that they needed the union and could do real social good within its embrace. In the process, she laid the foundation for the American Federation of Teachers (one of the two main teachers unions today, along with the National Education Association). In New York, Grace Strachan and the Interborough Association of Women Teachers fought for Equal Pay for Equal Work (despite men’s assertion that they rightfully should be paid more than their female counterparts, since they had families to support).

  126. Turning the Tide: An Historian’s View of School Reform
    Speech to a Principals’ Workshop at Columbia Teachers College
    By Mark Naison

    It is hard to put in words how honored I am to have been invited to speak to this group. I can think of no gathering whose work is more important to the future of this nation, or have handled this responsibility more honorably, than public schools principals in the state of New York. You are the last line of defense between public school teachers and a political juggernaut of unprecedented proportions seeking to change the way public education in the United States is organized.

    This movement, led almost exclusively by people who come from business and the law rather than education, is responsible for the public demonization of members of a human services profession unprecedented in American history, yet it commands virtually unanimous support of the press and broadcast media, leaders of both political parties, the nation’s wealthiest foundations and some misguided civil rights leaders.

    What other cause can you think of that can unite Barack Obama, Newt Gingrich, Al Sharpton, Bill Gates, The Koch Brothers, The Walton Family, Scott Bradley, Andrew Cuomo, Michael Bloomberg and Chris Christie? The unlikeliness of this coalition would be amusing were its consequences not so tragic — the closing of schools which have served hard-pressed communities for generations, the development of testing protocols that crowd out science, history and the arts, the development of school and teacher evaluations whose results defy common sense, the erosion of the democratic rights of school professionals and a daily numbing attack on the teachers that destroys the morale of the best people in the profession.

    But I don’t have to explain these events to people in this room because you live with their consequences every day. You watch your schools be deluged with unnecessary tests. You watch “value added” systems for rating schools and teachers be developed which use minute variations in test scores as the basis for life-changing decisions about schools and the people who work in them. You watch your teachers collapse in tears as their profession is attacked almost daily in the pages of the New York Times, the the New York Daily News and The New York Post, and as people from the President to New York’s Governor and New York City’s Mayor blame them for everything from poverty, to racial inequality to the inability of American workers to compete in a global economy.

    And in the face of all of this, you hold your school communities together. You stand up for your teachers and let them know you have their back, you educate your parents about the craziness of current school evaluation protocols and warn them not to believe what they read in the papers, and you make sure your students in spite of all the testing still have room for imagination and play and community building.

    I know this because I have seen it first hand in working with several extraordinary principals at high poverty schools in the Bronx, as well as from someone many of you in this room know — one of the greatest leaders I have ever met in any capacity, in any profession — my wife, Liz Phillips, principal of PS 321

    But you have done more than just protect your school community. Many of you have spoken up publicly against the policies coming from Washington, and Albany and The New York City Department of Education which undermine the best practices you have spent your life learning and implementing. The Long Island School Principals’ letter, which some people in this room helped to launch, and some of you have signed, is one of the most important grass roots initiative in the nation challenging the stifling, and ultimately reactionary testing and teacher evaluation features of Race to the Top. You have set a standard of professional integrity for the entire nation, and I feel profoundly honored to be in your presence.

  127. Gene,

    It sure sucks that the one bulwark still standing against corporate and management abuses is standing in the way of men teaching.

    Cryin’ freakn’ shame. *sniff**snort**HONK*


    Those evil unions keeping men from teaching and causing the ranks of the profession to be overrun with lowly, self-serving, incompetent women . Oh, the humanity!

  128. Challenging Corporate Ed Reform
    And 10 hopeful signs of resistance
    By Stan Karp
    Spring 2012

    The ‘Reform’ Track Record

    Let’s look for a minute at what corporate reformers have actually achieved when it comes to addressing the real problems of public education.

    First, they chose the wrong targets. They didn’t go after funding inequity, poverty, reform faddism, consultant profiteering, massive teacher turnover, politicized bureaucratic management, or the overuse and misuse of testing. Instead, they went after collective bargaining, teacher tenure, and seniority. And they went after the universal public and democratic character of public education.

    Look again at the proposals the corporate reformers have made prominent features of school reform efforts in every state: rapid expansion of charters, closing “low-performing” schools, more testing, elimination of tenure and seniority for teachers, and test-based teacher evaluation. If every one of these policies were fully implemented in every state tomorrow, it would do absolutely nothing to close academic achievement gaps, increase high school graduation rates, or expand access to college. There is no evidence tying any of these proposals to better outcomes for large numbers of kids over time. The greatest gains in reducing gaps in achievement and opportunity have been made during periods when concentrated poverty has been dispersed through efforts at integration, when lower-income communities have experienced economic growth, or when significant new investments in school funding have occurred, often in response to grassroots campaigns for civil rights and social justice.

    Teachers overwhelmingly agree that poverty is no excuse for lousy schooling; much of our work is about proving that the potential of our students and communities can be fulfilled when their needs are met and the reality of their lives is reflected in our schools and classrooms. But in the current reform debates, saying poverty isn’t an excuse has become an excuse for ignoring poverty.

    The corporate reform plans now being put forward do nothing to reduce the concentrations of 70, 80, and even 90 percent of families living in poverty that remain the central problem in urban education. Instead, educational inequality has become the entry point for disruptive reform that increases instability throughout the system and creates new forms of collateral damage in our most vulnerable communities.

    The upheaval that corporate reformers claim is necessary to shake up the status quo is increasing pressure on 5,000 schools serving the poorest communities at a time of unprecedented economic crisis and budget cutting. The waiver bailout for NCLB announced last fall by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will actually ratchet up that pressure. Although the waivers roll back NCLB’s absurd adequate yearly progress system just as it was about to self-destruct, the new guidelines require states that receive waivers to identify up to 5 percent of their schools with the lowest scores for destabilizing “turnaround” interventions, charterization, or closing.

    Teacher Evaluation as a Weapon

    Teachers and schools, who in many cases are day to day the strongest advocates and most stable support system struggling youth have, are instead being scapegoated for social policies that are failing both our schools and our children. At the same time, corporate reformers are giving parents “triggers” to blow up the schools they have, but little say and no guarantees about what will replace them.

    The only thing corporate reform policies have done successfully is bring the anti-labor politics of class warfare to public schools. By demonizing teachers and unions, and sharply polarizing the education debate, corporate reform has actually undermined serious efforts to improve schools. It’s narrowed the common ground and eroded the broad public support a universal system of public education needs to survive.

    For example, take the issue of teacher evaluation, which the corporate reformers have made a top priority in almost every state. On the surface, there is actually a lot of common ground on the need to improve teacher support and evaluation. There’s widespread agreement among educators, parents, and administrators on the need for:

    – better preparation and evaluation before new teachers get tenure (or leave the profession, as 50 percent do within five years).

    – reasonable, timely procedures for resolving tenure hearings when they are initiated.

    – a credible intervention process to remediate and, if necessary, remove ineffective teachers, tenured or nontenured.

    Good models for each of these ideas exist, many with strong teachers’ union support. (See, for example, this description of the Montgomery County, Md., professional growth system: rethinkingschoolsblog.wordpress.com/2011/12/05/taking-teacher-quality-seriously-a-collaborative-approach-to-teacher-evaluation.)

    But corporate reformers have detached the issue of improving teacher quality from the conditions that produce it. Instead, they are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into data systems and tests designed to replace collaborative professional culture and experienced instructional leadership with a kind of psychometric astrology. These data-driven formulas lack both statistical credibility and a basic understanding of the human motivations and relationships that make good schooling possible. Instead of “elevating the profession,” corporate reform is deforming it.

    Right now, my home state of New Jersey is getting ready to implement a so-called “growth model” developed in Colorado, where they are giving 1st graders multiple choice questions about Picasso paintings and using the results to decide the compensation level and job security of teachers. This is not accountability. It’s a high-tech form of Taylorism, an updated version of industrial-era management by stopwatch-wielding efficiency experts, now with computerized clipboards. It’s what happens when people who have never taught in classrooms control them.

    One of the favorite—and most dishonest—framings of the corporate crowd is counterposing the interests of “adults” vs. “the children.” This rhetoric self-righteously pits the interests of teachers and their unions against those of children. There are certainly times when those interests diverge, and when teachers’ unions have not defended the interests of the families and communities we serve. But the corporate reformers never question the motives of adults like the hedge fund privateers, consultants, private foundation officers, pundits, and politicians who are suddenly the champions of the poor. Only in a corporate media culture could a campaign of billionaires to privatize and dismantle what’s probably the most inclusive democratic institution we have left be dressed up as a selfless campaign for civil rights. New York City union activist Leo Casey noted that, of the top 10 names on Forbes’ list of the richest Americans, only one “is not engaged in active political warfare against public school teachers and teacher unions.” The rest are investing their fabulous wealth in campaigns for vouchers, charter school franchises, astroturf political groups like Michelle Rhee’s self-promoting Students First, and efforts to reduce salaries, benefits, and job security for teachers.

  129. Effects of Inequality and Poverty vs. Teachers and Schooling on America’s Youth
    by David C. Berliner

    This paper arises out of frustration with the results of school reforms carried out over the past few decades. These efforts have failed. They need to be abandoned. In their place must come recognition that income inequality causes many social problems, including problems associated with education. Sadly, compared to all other wealthy nations, the USA has the largest income gap between its wealthy and its poor citizens. Correlates associated with the size of the income gap in various nations are well described in Wilkinson & Pickett (2010), whose work is cited throughout this article. They make it clear that the bigger the income gap in a nation or a state, the greater the social problems a nation or a state will encounter. Thus it is argued that the design of better economic and social policies can do more to improve our schools than continued work on educational policy independent of such concerns.

    It is concluded that the best way to improve America’s schools is through jobs that provide families living wages. Other programs are noted that offer some help for students from poor families. But in the end, it is inequality in income and the poverty that accompanies such inequality, that matters most for education.

  130. Hey Elaine….

    I was scared of mean ole male teachers until 11th Grade….. I preferred female teachers…. The harder the better…. Usually, the male teacher in Texas were coaches that abhorred anyone that did not play football…. Well I didn’t….

  131. Federal employees are not allowed to unionize. FDR knew there was an inherent conflict in unionized govt. employees and all Dem presidents have followed that wisdom. They have a good mix of gender, class, race, etc. The teaching ranks are white, female, middle class. They serve white, female, middle class students adequately. The rest..let them eat cake. Go figure! There is a basic Darwinian law that applies to virtually everything..adapt or perish. The teachers unions have refused to adapt and they are dying. Unfortunately, a generation of kids, except for middle class, white, female, compliant ones have suffered. Now, we’ve had this discussion previously, I know you are very busy and don’t remember everything. I agree that many of the social ills that kids bring to the classroom makes teaching MUCH more difficult. I have an aunt who taught grammar school for 40 years. She talks about how during her tenure[1962-2002] kids came to school w/ an increasing amount of family and learning problems. However, she also hated her union and the constraints put on her to “Go along to get along.” I know you are the majority in the union groupthink. That’s what unions are best at. But, you also know there are a distinct minority like my aunt who did not abide the union. They’ve mostly retired and new teachers have been indoctrinated into the union mindset. That’s why Teach For America is such a threat.

  132. nick,

    I see you have a high regard for women. Those poor men who left teaching because of the “stifling” union movement. I guess you didn’t see the PBS Teaching Timeline that I posted earlier. IHere’s an excerpt from it for you:

    “By the turn of the 20th century, nearly 75 percent of America’s teachers were women. But women made up a far smaller percentage of administrators, and their power decreased with each higher level of authority. Their deportment had always been closely watched; increasingly their work in the schoolroom was not only scrutinized, but rigidly controlled. Teacher autonomy was on the decline, and teachers resented it.”


    It seems every one you know hates unions. Your anti-union rants have become repetitive. Just thought I’d mention that as you often accuse me of repeating myself.

  133. Nick does not like unions, Chicago or democrats……. I guess nick has me covered. My mother lived in Chicago, was a member of the the state employees union and was a democrat.

  134. Swarthmore,

    I don’t think nick is too fond of or has a lot of respect for women–at least the ones who are teachers. He does, however, have great admiration and respect for billionaires who use their money to help pervert/privatize the public education in this country.

  135. Sneak Attack
    Michigan Multi-Millionaire Betsy DeVos Is A Four-Star General In A Deceptive Behind-The-Scenes War On Public Schools And Church-State Separation
    September 2010
    By Rob Boston

    In March, a Michigan multi-millionaire named Betsy DeVos announced the formation of a new national group to fight for voucher subsidies for religious schools and other forms of “school choice.”

    “Political gamesmanship and special interests should never stand in the way of providing children with access to great schools,” DeVos fulminated in a press release announcing the creation of the American Federation for Children. “We know that it takes smart public policy – and political backbone – to bring about the types of school choice programs that provide families with better educational opportunities. That is why we have created the American Federation for Children.”

    But on closer inspection, it turned out that this Washington, D.C.-based organization wasn’t so new after all. As the press release mentioned, the American Federation for Children was just a rebranding effort for a group previously known as Advocates for School Choice.

    Why the name change? DeVos, a fundamentalist Christian and far-right political activist, probably wanted to jump-start the pro-voucher drive with at least the appearance of something new. At the same time, the revised moniker was a slap at the American Federation of Teachers, a teachers’ union much loathed by DeVos and her allies.

    The real news in the release was the growing prominence of DeVos as a linchpin in the voucher movement. Although hardly a household name, if Betsy DeVos has her way, every American could feel her reach: DeVos’ goal is nothing short of a radical re-creation of education in the United States, with tax-supported religious and other private schools replacing the traditional public school system.

    DeVos rarely states it that bluntly. Instead, she crouches behind the euphemism of “school choice” and pretends to be a kindly advocate for downtrodden youngsters trapped in public schools described as “failing.”

    Driven by a relentless faith in ultra-conservative religion and the privatization of public services, DeVos and her husband, Dick, who is best known as the former president of Amway, are pouring millions from their personal fortune into a nationwide voucher push.

    They’ll be bringing plenty of anti-public school allies along for the ride – chief among them the Walton Family Foundation, an entity operated by the heirs of Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart.

    Publicly available documents tell an interesting story of interlocking organizations linked by an ambitious political agenda aimed right at the heart of public education. It’s an alarming tale in which Betsy DeVos poses as a benign benefactor of poor children – all while spearheading a billion-dollar store chain’s crusade to crush unions and privatize a public school system that serves 90 percent of American youngsters.

    A key component of the plot is DeVos’ American Federation for Children, a group that shares a street address with another of her organizations, the Alliance for School Choice (ASC). The ASC has since 2007 spent nearly $13.5 million on its pro-voucher crusade – and much of that money came from DeVos.

    The documents show that in 2008, the most recent year for which figures are available, the Alliance for School Choice poured millions into state-based voucher organizations and front groups claiming to represent black and Hispanic parents. The goal is familiar: pressure legislators by convincing them support for vouchers is growing.

  136. SWM, As I’ve said many times, I LOVE Chicago. It is my FAVORITE city. I deplore the corruption and how one party rule over generations has made it a cesspool of excessive taxes and waste.

    Elaine, Over on the Zimmerman thread some shoot from the hip guy accused myself and others of being “racists” because we have the temerity to say a person has a right to a fair trial. I will say the same to you regarding your sexist taunt that I said to him regarding his racist horseshit; it says everything about you, and nothing about me. My wife, daughter, mother, sisters, friends, female employees, female clients, female teacher colleagues, neighbors, and the many females I have helped gratis, would take offense to that almost as much as I. I moved from KC, to Chicago, to Madison to advance my wife’s career. I left a job I LOVED in KC. I had to find a job when we got to Chicago and I had to start a business in Madsion You went way over the line but I know you don’t apologize for anything. You’re not strong enough for that.

  137. Nick: Unions can engage in abuse and corruption just like other protective organizations can engage in abuse and corruption; think of the police, the court systems, Congress, the Military, various charities that spend large chunks of money on “leadership” or gaining political favor, think of Insurance companies that weasel out of their protective function in order to improve their profits.

    The fact that an organization can have bad apples in it does not mandate the abolition of that type of organization. Unions protect teachers, unions protect workers, unions prevent far, far more abuses of power by the rich and powerful than they commit.

    My city has some corrupt cops; there have been four or five drug scandals. That doesn’t make me want to abolish the police department altogether, I think crime would skyrocket. Our military has some criminally corrupt officers, I do not want to abolish the military. I once had to file a lawsuit to get my home insurance company to pay up on something clearly covered (and they caved the same day we filed and covered all costs) but that doesn’t make me want to abolish the insurance industry.

    You have an irrational hatred of unions.

  138. I misspoke about Federal unions. There are a few as pointed out. However as we all know, they do not have the right to collectively bargain. They’re unions w/o an real power. An intellectually honest response would have included that critical fact. Just ask the millions of federal employees who don’t join them, and those who do.

    TonyC, Grew up in a blue collar, ethnic, union family as I’ve said many times. I understand their history and importance in our countries capitalist society. I hate the teacher’s union for the many reasons stated. I DO NOT hate unions.

  139. I’m waiting for “playing the victim” accusation. Come on, don’t admit you went over the line, keep shooting from the hip. Only people w/ true self esteem can admit when they’re wrong.

  140. Pointing out you’re factually and legally wrong (not merely misspoken) is an intellectually honest response. Being a whiny equivocating twit about being proven wrong? Not so much.

    The rest of your back-pedalling is hilarious.

  141. Or a defective detective.

    Or you could just admit you were wrong like a real man without making snide remarks about intellectual honesty . . . but that supposes you’re qualified to judge what is or isn’t either intellectual or honest when clearly you aren’t.

    As a sidebar, do please return to your bad habits.

    See how that works out for you.

    Just remember, you started it. Again. So you’ll have no one to blame but yourself when it blows up in your face.

  142. We all know that MALE Teachers/Coaches have been the backbone of the public school system until the evil school unions replaced them with lesbian seductresses…………..er at least some of us know that.

  143. Nick: I hate the teacher’s union for the many reasons stated.

    I think those reasons are irrational, cherry-picking reasons, that would be seen just as much in other unions. If you were rational, you would damn them all for the same reasons, but you are irrational and pick on the teacher’s union alone. You are a hypocrite, I think.

  144. “You went way over the line but I know you don’t apologize for anything. You’re not strong enough for that.”


    That is more nonsense from you. When people disagree with you, you claim victim hood. Yet you’ve shown time and again that no one else but you is a victim. Your comment regarding male teachers leaving the school system because of unions was nonsensical and the type of unproven anecdotal commentary you have become known for. It certainly connoted that the school system collapsed because of the absence of males and the males left because of unions. You say that you root for the underdog, yet the truth is by your own words, that you root for people like Gates and Jobs, who were ruthless b*sta*rds in their career and see them as wise.

    “Only people w/ true self esteem can admit when they’re wrong.”

    If that’s the case then you lack self esteem because you never honestly admit you’re wrong in anything. I’m sure though that among your crowd you are seen as the acme of wisdom, but like with Wiley Coyote Acme products never work.

  145. Mike,

    You know how we white-female-middle-class educators are. We are the bane of the the American public schools. We always do as our union masters tell us. We don’t mind being stifled by union bosses–unlike male educators who left the profession in droves because of said unions.

    Nick spouts a lot of nonsense and makes a lot of snide comments and then cries foul when they come back and bite him on the arse.

  146. http://gawker.com/5943005/theres-a-simple-solution-to-the-public-schools-crisis
    There’s a Simple Solution to the Public Schools Crisis
    John Cook
    The ongoing (but maybe soon to end?) teachers’ strike in Chicago is being viewed by many as an early skirmish in a coming war over the crisis in public education—stagnant or declining graduation rates, substandard educations, dilapidated schools, angry teachers, underserved students. There is one simple step that would go a long way toward resolving many of those issues:

    Make all schools public schools.

    It’s an oft-noted irony of the confrontation in Chicago that Mayor Rahm Emanuel sends his children to the private, $20,000-a-year University of Chicago Lab School, which means his family doesn’t really have much of a personal stake in what happens to the school system he is trying to reform.

  147. “I misspoke about Federal unions. There are a few as pointed out. However as we all know, they do not have the right to collectively bargain. They’re unions w/o an real power.”

    Some apology Nick…..weaseling a bit? Who is really being “intellectually dishonest” here? An honest apology would have been “I was wrong”. You fell quite below the mark.

  148. Ah, Porthos has joined Athos and Porthos and the victimhood meme is now out there. As predictable as the beautiful sunsets I watch in San Diego every evening w/ an adult beverage in my hand.

    Tony, I do hate all corruption, lies, power mongering no matter if it is a union, govt., corporation..anywhere. I have ranted about corporate welfare numerous times. There is a very basic difference w/ my derision for the teacher’s union. It hurts kids. I was an IAM member @ Pratt&Whitney for a summer and saw the good and bad in unions. My family members told me their good and bad tales. Some where staunch union, most were objective. They were hard working men and women and could not abide the abuse and corruption they saw. But, it didn’t involve kids. Hopefully you can @ least concede that point. Other than that, I simply and respectfully disagree w/ you.

    As stated previously, I would do “chumming” sometimes when interviewing a witness. That’s throwing out facts, topics, and seeing on which the interviewee bit, and which they avoided. I would stay on the facts/topics,they were comfortable discussing. But, I would slowly work in the ones they were avoiding. Elba Esther Gordilla. “Buehler, Buehler, Buehler..anyone.”

  149. I have apologized in this forum. I have honestly apologized to Elaine and others. It’s on the record. “Never” is a word that should be used wisely, like sexist, racist, etc.

  150. Porthos has joined himself? That’s a helluva thing. Violates the Pauli Exclusion Principle for one thing. I’m pretty sure you missed reading Dumas’ “The Three Musketeers” as well. It’s Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. Sorry, but you won’t be moving on to Final Jeopardy.

  151. People w/o much of a life are often nitpickers. I made a mistake. I have read the Three Musketeers and you obviously would not be Aramis. So, your “pretty sure” is incorrect.

  152. People w/o much of a personality are often snide jackasses.

    Do you really want to keep escalating, nick? Or do you want to learn when to walk away? The choice is yours. I know how this story ends either way.

  153. “That’s throwing out facts, topics, and seeing on which the interviewee bit, and which they avoided. I would stay on the facts/topics,they were comfortable discussing. But, I would slowly work in the ones they were avoiding.”

    Yes a good method of interviewing provided one doesn’t confuse their “facts” with their suppositions based on isolated anecdotes.

  154. Gene,
    The only Musketeers I am familar with are the Mars Candy bar type!
    my wife is a union teacher in the suburbs of Chicago and taught in her early days in the Chicago archdiocese schools before moving on to other jobs. The union she is in is a weak one and even with the IEA and NEA assisting them, they have a poor medical plan and do not have much control. I would prefer that they were in a stronger union, which I believe would help the teachers and the students. Unions do not “hurt” kids as you suggest with no evidence of said hurt. The teachers unions provide ressources to their teachers that enable them to continue to gain insight and the latest teaching methods and techniques that they might not have otherwise. The union contract usually allows them to not worry about losing their jobs, if they are working hard and doing a good job. The problems come with student’s family issues and poverty and over crowding of class rooms that this austerity craze is making worse, not union teachers overall.

  155. Nick: Some were staunch union, most were objective.

    I see, anybody in favor of the union must NOT be objective? What a crock of schit, as I said before, there are reasons to support a union even if you see corruption in it; the question is whether or not people are better off with it than without it, and for the vast majority of unions, the members are better off with it.

    Nick: They were hard working men and women and could not abide the abuse and corruption they saw.

    And yet they did abide it, didn’t they?

    Nick: But, it didn’t involve kids. Hopefully you can @ least concede that point.

    No, I will not, I see no difference between that and a union, of say, nurses, or medical technicians. They work with patients far more vulnerable than kids. Or a union of food workers refusing unsafe conditions, that involves ingested products that could kill people. Or a union of rehabilitation specialists working with disabled or injured adults, or nursing home employees working with the addled elderly.

    There is nothing unique about the vulnerability of kids. In every case, the union exists to protect workers and make sure they are treated fairly, including in matters of compensation, and indirectly that protects the people for whom they are responsible.

    You do not harm a child by going on strike for a month over pay. You do the child good, because the independently wealthy do not become public school teachers. Although I believe you get more than you pay for with public school teachers, if you reduce their pay too much, the rewards of teaching will not pay the mortgage, and the ones that can will be forced to move on to better paying jobs they like much less.

    Higher pay for teachers, secured by a union, are good for kids, because they allow a higher quality of teachers to teach, even though they could make more money doing something they enjoy less.

    I think it would cause vastly MORE harm to kids to have the ranks of public school teachers become filled with minimum wage babysitters from the bottom of the class that aren’t really capable of earning any more than minimum wage.

    That is what you will get if you eliminate teacher’s unions; and that is why the rich WANT to eliminate teacher’s unions, to force the pay down, force the quality down, and then scream about how public school is a failure that should be abandoned so they can earn a profit, while naturally excluding those that cannot afford their private schools.

    Like most ideologues, I think you settled on an emotional trigger that you cannot get beyond, and unfortunately for you and us the truth is a little more complex than you are capable of comprehending. You want a simple solution where none exists.

    True objectivity is beyond your capacity, when you apply the label only to those that agree with you.

    I actually do not like unions, I think they are a poor substitute for the laws that SHOULD be protecting union members (some of which they helped pass, despite knowing it would contribute to their decline). But our lawmakers are corrupted by the rich so they will not countenance the laws that should be there, and since I do care about kids and education, and a union is better than nothing, I think they are a necessary poor substitute.

  156. Elaine,

    I received this in an “E Mail” today. There was a link to share my education story with her. I followed the link and “shared” my story, which was to denounce her as a corporate shill who was trying to destroy our public schools
    and explained that if she followed the link I gave (to your guest blog) she would see ample evidence of her fraud. Nothing will come of it of course, but it felt good.:) It show the deviousness of this movement since they probably got my E mail address from the many progressive organizations that have it.


    We all have our reasons for caring about education, Michael.

    The other week, we asked members like you to share their stories, and tell us why they’re working to put students first. The stories we received were incredible, personal testaments to the fact that the fight for a good education is still ongoing.

    Thousands of educators, parents, and students responded — and I couldn’t help but nod along as I read the same frustrations and motivations that drive me to action reflected in their responses.

    We’re in the midst of sending signed copies of my book, Radical: Fighting to Put Students First, to more than 100 people who shared their stories. It’s our way of saying thank you to the people who make this organization so strong and keep us moving toward our goal. And it’s the kind of thing we intend to keep doing.

    If you haven’t already, share your own motivation. I want to know: What moves you to put students first?
    Share your story

    Heidi L. from California has spent hours in inner-city classrooms with great teachers achieving great results, but she’s seen too many initiatives fail because we prioritize adults over the students.”

  157. The rest of the E mail got cut off in copying it, but of course it was from Michelle Rhee and StudentsFirst.

  158. Mike,

    Gee! I feel left out. I wasn’t asked to share my story.

    BTW, the fight will go on and on and on as long as folks like Rhee are leading the charge in the school reform movement.

  159. Just took a 8 mile walk on the beach. I’ll get in another 4 or so later this afternoon.I get in 70-80 miles a week when I’m in San Diego. Got up to a 100 miles for one week last year but alas I am a year older. The beach @ low tide is perfect for walking. It is much easier on the old joints. I always remember we are body, mind and spirit. I have lead a fascinating life, have a wonderful family and good, close friends. I am happy and earned my ability to vacation w/ intellect, hard work, integrity and honesty. Do you ever question why it’s the same group of 4 or so of you that herd together? Of course not. Your joy seems to come from the comments you’ve made in the last couple hours. Quite sad. Body, mind and spirit, folks. Go take a long walk, it will do you wonders. God bless.

  160. Nick: Do you ever question why it’s the same group of 4 or so of you that herd together?

    Not really. We do not “herd,” we agree. Are you “herding” if you agree with somebody? No. And it is hardly surprising, with the number of posters here, that several of them would agree on many subjects.

    As for the rest of your post, we are body. The mind is part of the body. There is no spirit. I am happy you think your life is fascinating, although that seems like a bit of navel-gazing to me.

    I think it is pretty typical of your shallow thinking skills to presume that what does you good would do me good. I do not need a long walk, it would waste good time I could spend on research, which this month is to improve aircraft safety, which I think benefits everybody, not just me.

    I am happy too, Nick, and I could retire, too, but alas, I am not so fascinated with myself that I am ready to just crawl into my head for twelve hours a day and get nothing new done. I would find that quite sad. But that’s just me.

  161. TonyC, I was trying to follow your train of thought on your 4:30 comment but I ran out of breadcrumbs. I’ll get to the store and try and finish real soon! I did get as far as my family seeing corruption and abiding it. These were blue collar people, and standing up to union bosses waqs too intimidating for them. Can you understand that? And, they worked in a closed shop and had no choice to be part of the union. Teachers in Wi. had a closed shop until 2 years ago. Unchained, they are leaving in droves.

    Your last comment was more cogent. You are assuming a fact not in evidence. I do still work some cases for clients I like. Just prior to coming out here I worked my ass off on a corporate swindler. Our client loaned this swindler 32 million and there was a quick default. The client is an honest man and didn’t do his homework..but the swindler is very good. Part of the loan agreement was my client could begin taking over the corporations and appointing his own officers. Did some computer work, surveillance, and even got to repo a Class E Mercedes from the swindler’s errand boy president. Nice f@ckn’ ride! My client was so pleased w/ my and my partners work he gave a great deal on the car to my partner. His wife loves it. Got to keep our women happy, otherwise we end up divorced, and living in an apartment listening to compalints from the tenants. My partner is currently doing work on the other corporations in several states. He works fulltime and then some. I turned over my biz to him and I just work when I want. Also, as I’ve said previously, I do volunteer tutoring for @ risk kids who are marginalized by public schools. I don’t just gripe about public schools, I do my part to give these kids what they don’t get. I’ve said all this previously. I was pretty sure you were a “There is no spirit” guy. Thanks for confirming. Stay well.

  162. My husband knows how to keep me happy. He respects me, treats me as an intellectual equal, listens to my ideas and opinions on different subjects. He knows he doesn’t have to buy me material things. I’d be insulted if he thought he had to do that to keep me happy in our marriage.

  163. That was a joke. Geez. Lighten up and take a walk. Just did 2 more miles. One of the many benefits of walking is it keeps your sense of humor well honed. Looks like the sunset will be a bust..some rain coming in this evening. Beats that snow! Stay well and happy.

  164. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_%28Internet%29
    “In Internet slang, a troll (pron.: /ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is someone who posts inflammatory,[1] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[2] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion…”

  165. Bruce, I was called stupid, troll, etc. months ago. I have been absolved of those charges by The Gang. I’m now “angry” and “a hypocrite.”The Ivy Leaguer actually said, “You’re not stupid” and the law school grad underachiever absolved me of trolldom @ least a few months ago. You’re the first to call me a troll this year. Get up to speed and then check back. Hope all is well in Wonderland. Remember to buckle up and always wear white when you’re walking, jogging or biking. Keep your sunnyside up!

  166. Bruce,

    Being trollish is not the same thing as being a troll proper. One requires intent, the other just an unpleasant personality or lack thereof.

  167. Then you’ll fit in just fine around here Bruce. Unlike some people.

    BTW, welcome aboard. Your posts have been value adds and generally good content.

  168. Equivocation? No. We’ve had professional trolls (as in paid propagandists), true believers and the merely unpleasant here. Even a few outright crazy people. They come and go like the ebb and flow of the tides. There are distinct differences in methodology, but as to outcome? I’ll stipulate it is perhaps a difference with only minor distinctions.

  169. quibbling…
    signal to noise ratio 63 up, 16 down

    The ratio of useful information to useless information in any given statement.
    oppositional distortions
    of signal to noise ratio
    create pseudo-complexity
    event clouds rising,
    above the Dark Pool…
    threatening to obscure
    with great snare and boom;
    and the people run for cover
    to flight; or fight.
    This stream holds some of the best materials collected as educated research links for people to fight against the dark clouds and noise from big money and tyranny that threatens this great nation. The attack on our public education is a direct attack on the public’s cultural wealth. Your personal messages are interruptions. You should apologize to Elaine and to the serious people attempting to disseminate real information.

    Is that a clear signal?

  170. Wow. You should really get a grip, Bruce. This is a free speech blog. People are generally free to say what they like. There are very few rules here, but the ones we do have, we enforce.

    The rules are:

    First Rule: Don’t Hijack Others Identity. If someone other than you posted as “Bruce E. Woych″ and/or used your avatar and you complained about it? Upon finding that you were indeed being impersonated, that faux-poster would be blacklisted.

    Second Rule: Anonymity. Everyone has a right to post here under a pseudonym and not have their true identity revealed either by other posters or by “blog staff”. The right to anonymous political free speech is guaranteed by law and respected here.

    Third Rule: Civility Is Encouraged. General civility is encouraged, but to cross the line on this rule requires something egregious like taunting other posters about dead children, the inability/unwillingess to use something other than ad hominem tactics or something like that. Encouraging vigorous debate and discussion kind of necessitates that rule being flexible. It is a rule that will probably eventually end with nick eventually being banned because his standard response to being proven wrong is to go on an ad hominem spree. However, we do go to great lengths to avoid banning anyone.

    Aside from those rules, there are a couple of editorial guidelines that only apply to guest blogger articles (try to set up a scenario for debate and/or conversation, etc.).

    Generally speaking though, it’s a free speech zone.

    These policies are the only ones I know of as a guest blogger, they are set by JT and subject to change of course at his discretion. This isn’t your blog nor do you have any editorial control. You aren’t the blog owner or even a guest blogger.

    Is that a clear signal?

    If you want a blog where you make the rules? It’s easy enough to set up your own.


  171. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_%28Internet%29
    “In Internet slang, a troll (pron.: /ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is someone who posts inflammatory,[1] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[2] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion…”

  172. Well Bruce all I can tell you is that if you’re bothered by meandering threads, then you won’t be happy in a free speech blog like this one that has the absolute minimum of moderation and encourages free speech above all. However, one of the secrets of comedy is repetition. Good show.

  173. Gene, Bruce,
    I had to smile at this bit of doggerel in Bruce’s comment: “and the people run for cover
    to flight; or fight.”

    A couple of days ago we were discussing problem situations over on Daily Kos. I mentioned my late wife was Head Nurse of the cancer unit of a big hospital and never backed down from a problem. When there was a bomb threat or fire, she would run toward the problem, not away from it.

    A friend replied to that comment, “I know your family and your wife. The flight response is nonexistent.” I had not thought of it that way.

    I don’t relate well to flight, unless it is an airplane.

  174. OS,
    Your story about having no flight response reminds me of the stories my son told me about his fellow Marines in Afghanistan. The ANA, Afghan National Army guys told them that the Army would run away from the shooting while the Marines were too crazy and ran towards the shooting!

  175. nick,

    If walking helps you to invigorate your sense of humor, I’d say that you have many more miles to go before you sleep…many more miles to go before you sleep.


  176. Michelle Rhee Allies With Corporate Pals To March On LA Schools
    February 16, 2013

    If you ever had any doubts that StudentsFirst was anything other than a corporate front, guess again. In 2011, StudentsFirst received $1 million from the Walton Family Foundation, $7 million from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, and $250,000 from the Doris and Donald Fisher Education Fund. The Walton family are the Wal-Mart founders and owners. Laura and John Arnold are a young couple from Texas with a lot of money and a vision to “go big.” John Arnold made most of his money as an Enron trader, so I’m sure former Enron employees are simply thrilled to know that someone who walked away with the big bucks is now looking to score on charter schools. In addition to his charitable giving, Arnold manages a hedge fund now. The Fishers are the founders of The Gap, and spend millions each year toward inserting charter schools in various districts.

    More corporate philanthropy funds flowed to StudentsFirst via Education Reform Now, which was used as an incubator for StudentsFirst until their non-profit approval was received. Recently, StudentsFirst replaced their founding board with a new board. Those new members include Bill Cosby, Jennifer Johnson (COO of Franklin Resources, Inc), Joel Klein, former chancellor of New York Public Schools and now Executive VP for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation (Educational Products Division), and Jalen Rose, former NBA star, ESPN commentator and founder of the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a charter high school in Detroit.

    Now why on earth are corporations so interested in charter schools? I’ve said here many times that they see education as an emerging market. Clearly Rupert Murdoch does, and so do many venture capitalists, which is why educational philanthropy grants read like venture capital proposals. Hedge fund managers love charter schools too, as Kristin Rawls at AlterNet explains:

    Thanks to a little discussed law passed in 2000, at the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency, banks and equity funds that invest in charter schools and other projects in underserved areas can take advantage of a very generous tax credit – as much as 39% — to help offset their expenditure in such projects. In essence, that credit amounts to doubling the amount of money they have invested within just seven years. Moreover, they are allowed to combine that tax credit with job creation credits and other types of credit, as well collect interest payments on the money they are lending out – all of which can add up to far more than double in returns. This is, no doubt, why many big banks and equity funds are so invested in the expansion of charter schools. There is big money being made here — because investment is nearly a sure thing.

    And it’s not just U.S. investors who see the upside of investing in charters. Rich donors throughout the world are now sending money to fund our charter schools. Why? Because if they invest at least $500,000 to charters under a federal program called EB-5, they’re allowed to purchase immigration visas for themselves and family members — yet another mechanism in place to ensure that the money keeps rolling in.

    When media makes a big deal out of Michelle Rhee tromping around LA trumpeting about how much she cares for public schools, remember that she is merely facilitating even more big tax breaks for her corporate keepers.

    I’ve been studying patterns of giving to education reform on the right and on the left. They’re not much different, largely because their ultimate goals converge. Lefties will make some soft murmurs about keeping schools public while conservatives will say straight out that their goal is breaking unions and privatizing education. If lefties were serious about keeping schools public, they would have gotten behind the idea of magnet schools within existing school district structures and managed by the districts. Instead they’ve all embraced the sainted public-private partnership as some excuse for handing our kids’ education to corporate interests.

    The only ones no one is really thinking about seriously are the kids. Common Dreams reports:

    Corporate school reformers promote privately operated but publicly funded “charter schools” as one of the key components of their profit-friendly approach to solving what they call the failure of traditional public schooling, but a new investigative report from Reuters shows that many such institutions disregard their own promises of inclusion and equal opportunity by creating barriers to needier students while targeting for enrollment those most likely to pad test scores or otherwise enhance their own promises of “success”.

  177. Special Report: Class Struggle – How charter schools get students they want
    By Stephanie Simon
    Feb 15, 2013

    (Reuters) – Getting in can be grueling.

    Students may be asked to submit a 15-page typed research paper, an original short story, or a handwritten essay on the historical figure they would most like to meet. There are interviews. Exams. And pages of questions for parents to answer, including: How do you intend to help this school if we admit your son or daughter?

    These aren’t college applications. They’re applications for seats at charter schools.

    Charters are public schools, funded by taxpayers and widely promoted as open to all. But Reuters has found that across the United States, charters aggressively screen student applicants, assessing their academic records, parental support, disciplinary history, motivation, special needs and even their citizenship, sometimes in violation of state and federal law.

    “I didn’t get the sense that was what charter schools were all about – we’ll pick the students who are the most motivated? Who are going to make our test scores look good?” said Michelle Newman, whose 8-year-old son lost his seat in an Ohio charter school last fall after he did poorly on an admissions test. “It left a bad taste in my mouth.”

    Set up as alternatives to traditional public schools, charter schools typically operate under private management and often boast small class sizes, innovative teaching styles or a particular academic focus. They’re booming: There are now more than 6,000 in the United States, up from 2,500 a decade ago, educating a record 2.3 million children.

    In cities and suburbs from Pennsylvania to Colorado to Arizona, charters and traditional public schools are locked in fierce competition – for students, for funding and for their very survival, with outcomes often hinging on student test scores.

    Charter advocates say it’s a fair fight because both types of schools are free and open to all. “That’s a bedrock principle of our movement,” said Jed Wallace, president of the California Charter Schools Association. And indeed, many states require charter schools to award seats by random lottery.

    But as Reuters has found, it’s not that simple. Thousands of charter schools don’t provide subsidized lunches, putting them out of reach for families in poverty. Hundreds mandate that parents spend hours doing “volunteer” work for the school or risk losing their child’s seat. In one extreme example the Cambridge Lakes Charter School in Pingree Grove, Illinois, mandates that each student’s family invest in the company that built the school – a practice the state said it would investigate after inquiries from Reuters.


    And from New Hampshire to California, charter schools large and small, honored and obscure, have developed complex application processes that can make it tough for students who struggle with disability, limited English skills, academic deficits or chaotic family lives to even get into the lottery.

    Among the barriers that Reuters documented:

    * Applications that are made available just a few hours a year.

    * Lengthy application forms, often printed only in English, that require student and parent essays, report cards, test scores, disciplinary records, teacher recommendations and medical records.

    * Demands that students present Social Security cards and birth certificates for their applications to be considered, even though such documents cannot be required under federal law.

    * Mandatory family interviews.

    * Assessment exams.

    * Academic prerequisites.

    * Requirements that applicants document any disabilities or special needs. The U.S. Department of Education considers this practice illegal on the college level but has not addressed the issue for K-12 schools.

    Many charters, backed by state law, specialize in serving low-income and minority children. Some of the best-known charter networks, such as KIPP, Yes Prep, Green Dot and Success Academy, use simple application forms that ask little more than name, grade and contact information, and actively seek out disadvantaged families. Most for-profit charter school chains also keep applications brief.

    But stand-alone charters, which account for more than half the total in the United States, make up their own admissions policies. Regulations are often vague, oversight is often lax – and principals can get quite creative.

    When Philadelphia officials examined 25 charter schools last spring, they found 18 imposed “significant barriers,” including a requirement from one school that students produce a character reference from a religious or community leader.

    At Northland Preparatory Academy in Flagstaff, Arizona, application forms are available just four and a half hours a year. Parents must attend one of three information sessions to pick up a form; late arrivals can’t get in. “It’s kind of like a time share (pitch),” said Bob Lombardi, the superintendent. “You have to come and listen.”

    Traditional public schools have their own built-in barriers to admission, starting with zip code: You don’t have to write an essay to get into a high-performing suburban school, but you do have to belong to a household with the means to buy or rent in that neighborhood. Many districts also operate magnet or exam schools for gifted students, some of which admit disproportionately fewer low-income and minority students.

    Yet most of the charter schools that screen do not set themselves up as elite academies for the gifted. They bill themselves as open to all. For two decades, that promise of accessibility and equity has been the mantra of the charter school movement. It’s proved a potent political argument as well, as advocates have pressed to expand the number of charters and their share of public funding.

  178. Michelle Rhee Uses Care2 to AstroTurf Edu-Privatizers

    The only way edu-privatizers can make money on education is by cutting the cost of “human capital”. Eliminate experienced, higher paid teachers, end contracts and churn short-term, inexperienced, untrained, Teach for America clones in and out of schools. Rhee’s corporate deformers impose this model under the guise of “saving” children from poor teachers. Their standard marketing tactic casts teacher’s unions as anti-reform for protecting teacher seniority.

    Everyone in the education profession knows that poor, inner city schools NEED experienced teachers, not 5 week trained TfA neophytes, who quit after 6 mos to 2 years and leave a wake of chaos in inner city classrooms. Nor do they need the constant instability and uncertainty of having teachers who can be fired on a whim.

    NO OTHER profession has had experience devalued like the teaching profession (e.g., do you want a heart surgeon who has 20 years of experience or who has 1 year of experience cutting your chest open?). White, upper class communities will never accept staffing their children’s schools with inexperienced teachers, nor do these corporate reformer’s own children go to schools with inexperienced teachers or TfA clones.

  179. Students First? Michelle Rhee’s report card: Is the issue more choices or better choices?
    by Maureen Downey
    January 10, 2013

    All the discussion about expanding school choice through private school tax credits, charter schools and vouchers glosses over a critical caveat: More choices don’t necessarily lead to better choices.

    Earlier this week, Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst organization released a report card on state education policy determined in large part by the extent of school choice afforded families and the effort to dismantle teacher unions.

    By focusing on public policy, the StudentsFirst report card looked more on State Houses than schoolhouses. Georgia earned a D-plus because StudentsFirst felt the state doesn’t go far enough in providing information and choices to parents.

    While the StudentsFirst report card considerations are extensive, they don’t include student outcomes, which is why Louisiana dramatically outscores Massachusetts, the state that leads the nation in academic comparisons.

    StudentsFirst awards its highest marks to Louisiana ( B-), Florida (B-) and Indiana (C+). Massachusetts earned the same grade as Georgia, a D-plus.

    My first reaction on reading the StudentsFirst report card: Does it matter whether a state offers parents more choices or gets rid of unions if neither impacts student achievement?

    Does StudentsFirst believe parents would prefer their children attend school in Louisiana over Massachusetts because Louisiana offers wider school choice and weaker teacher unions?

    Here’s what another report card — issued by the Council for a Better Louisiana — said about Louisiana’s academic performance: “On the most recent national skills test, NAEP, Louisiana ranks 50th among states in the number of 4th graders who read at the proficient level. And, there has only been a dismal 5% gain in the past 17 years for 4th graders reading at the ‘Basic’ or above level. Just as disconcerting, the number of 8th graders reading at the ‘Basic’ or above level has only increased by 1% in the past 11 years. Both 4th and 8th graders in Louisiana, however, now score significantly better in math than in 1992.”

    Massachusetts students ranked first among states in 4th grade reading and in 8th grade mathematics, and tied for first in 4th grade math and 8th grade reading in the 2011 NAEP tests…

    Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute, had a different reaction to the inaugural StudentsFirst report card than Millar and Morgan.

    From his blog:

    Michelle Rhee and her misnamed school privatization organization, StudentsFirst, recently issued a report card on the nation’s schools that has been roundly criticized, and rightly so. Rhee ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia by how closely they hew to her vision of school “reform,” which involves high stakes testing, maximizing the number of charter schools, expanding voucher programs that use tax dollars to pay for private schools, and eliminating teacher tenure and pension plans.

    Rhee is so keen to reduce the pensions of teachers and their reward for longevity that she makes their elimination an “anchor policy” and gives it triple weight in her ranking methodology.

    She also cares deeply about and grades the states on removing school governance from local control and the influence of democratically elected school boards. She prefers giving governance instead to the kind of mayoral control or state control that put her in charge of the D.C. school system under Mayor Adrian Fenty. That gets triple weight, too.

    Curiously, despite Rhee’s love of high stakes testing, student performance as measured by the gold-standard test of student achievement, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), plays no role in her ranking of the states. These “rankings” put Louisiana and Florida (both bottom 10 on the NAEP), for example, far ahead of high-achieving states like Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Jersey, all of which ranked in the top three on the NAEP.

  180. Elaine,

    “These “rankings” put Louisiana and Florida (both bottom 10 on the NAEP), for example, far ahead of ”

    And at that point, I snorted coffee.

  181. Randi Weingarten Arrested For Protesting Philadelphia School Closure Hearing (UPDATE)

    “NEW YORK — Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, was arrested Thursday afternoon for blocking a school reform hearing in Philadelphia, an AFT spokesperson told The Huffington Post.

    Weingarten reportedly stood outside the meeting of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission, in which the group was supposed to decide which Philadelphia Public Schools would close. Weingarten, whose AFT is the second-largest teachers’ union in the country, made a surprise visit to fight school closures.

    AFT spokesman Marcus Mrowka told The Huffington Post that Weingarten was arrested with 18 other community activists for blocking the entrance to the meeting. He added that Weingarten was in handcuffs.

    [Scroll down to read the UPDATES.]

    The Philadelphia police department would not confirm the arrest, because the protest was ongoing. “I don’t have any information at this point and probably won’t until it’s all dispersed,” Lieutenant John Stanford said when reached by phone.

    “There was a rally outside the building and they were probably blocking the entrance for about 20 minutes until police arrested them and escorted them away,” Mrowka said. “She’s in custody now.”

    Weingarten and teachers’ unions throughout the country have protested school closure as a tool for reforming schools. Currently, the nation’s largest cities are deciding which schools to close in a purported effort to save money and improve academic outcomes. But research shows that it’s hard for school districts to recoup the closure savings they project, and a study from the University of Chicago’s Urban Education Institute found that only 6 percent of students displaced by closed schools performed better in their new academic environments.

    Activists have also protested school closures on civil rights grounds, saying that they disproportionately affect black and Hispanic families.

    “Kids have suffered cut after cut,” Weingarten said at the protest, according to Mrowka’s notes. “The powers that be don’t care about opportunity for children.”

    “The people of Philadelphia have come up with a plan to improve schools and it has been ignored,” Weingarten said, according to Mrowka.

    Chicago, which also employs AFT teachers, is currently considering what would be the largest wave of school closures in its history. On Wednesday, the city’s “Commission on School Utilization” issued its final report, which concluded that Chicago Public Schools could shutter about 80 schools. It found that “closing schools and moving students … are only justifiable if, as a result, students are moved into better educational environments,” echoing the UEI research. The report also concluded that “CPS has a responsibility to ensure … the safety of students who are being moved.”

    UPDATE: At around 8:15 p.m., Weingarten tweeted that she had been released from custody, saying: “we must continue the fight for fixing&ensuring great public schools for all kids-in Philly &US.”

    UPDATE: 9:25 p.m. — In an interview following her release, Weingarten said she knew blocking the meeting would get her arrested, but she saw it as a last resort. Along with a community group, Weingarten said she had vainly tried to get a meeting with the SRC and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

    “They refused to listen and would not even consent to a meeting with us,” Weingarten said. (Nutter and the SRC could not be reached late Thursday.) Even during strike conditions in Chicago, Weingarten said she was able to converse with the other side.

    Weingarten said she sees the school closure plan as siphoning money away from public schools, since the plan doesn’t touch charter schools. “This was really a plan to eliminate public education,” Weingarten said. “This is not about how to fix public schools, but to close them — not how to stabilize but to destabilize public schooling.”

    Weingarten called the closings immoral. “When the powers that be ignore you and dismiss you, then you don’t have any choice but try to resort to civil disobedience to try to confront an immoral act,” she said.

    So she joined parents and union activists to form a group of 19 people who blocked the entrance to the meeting. She said she intentionally told Philly teachers not to join, lest they lose their teaching certification, and discouraged parents who are undocumented immigrants from participating.

    “The road to justice is long and the fight is not over tonight,” Weingarten said. “Some schools were saved tonight, but at the end of the day, what I am told is that by all of us doing this together, reflecting on all the four corners of the community, people throughout the country are talking about it.”

    Those pesky unions only looking out for the teacher’s interests!

  182. Gene H:

    my wife and I were talking about teachers this morning [she is a teacher] and discussing the retirement plan in our state. It is state funded and she pays into it [a good portion of her salary] but it is not portable and so teachers are stuck after a certain amount of time.

    She says teachers are getting the shaft right now, her sister is a teacher in a contiguous county and has not had a raise in 5 years. We were commenting that the teachers union is this state fought for a state funded retirement but what that has done is to litterally chain teachers to their jobs in order to have a decent retirement.

    With people being unwilling to leave the profession it has caused administrators to treat teachers with very little respect. And it has, in my opinion, led to lower salaries than would apply in a free market. In my opinion the union is to blame for keeping salaries below market. They get their dime either way and so it makes little difference to them.

    In most cases union leadership is more concerned with the feathering of their own nests and see the rank and file as a path to power and money.

  183. Nick: I was trying to follow your train of thought on your 4:30 comment but I ran out of breadcrumbs.

    Kind of proves my point about the shallowness of your thinking.

    I did get as far as my family seeing corruption and abiding it. These were blue collar people, and standing up to union bosses was too intimidating for them. Can you understand that? And, they worked in a closed shop and had no choice to be part of the union.

    Apparently, then, you do not understand the meaning of the word “abide.” Perhaps you should stick to words you understand. To “abide” means to “tolerate.” If they did not stand up to union bosses, and they remained in their jobs, then they WERE tolerating the corruption.

    To say one “cannot abide” a situation means they cannot tolerate it and will take action to end it; either by reforming the situation or withdrawing from it.

    As for “blue collar,” Yes, I can understand that. I grew up there.

    Nick: I was pretty sure you were a “There is no spirit” guy. Thanks for confirming.

    Yes, I am an atheist. A non-supernaturalist, to be more general (since some faiths believe in supernatural karma, magic, afterlife, and / or spirits but not a supreme being).

    I have stated that (approximately) one hundred billion times on this blog, I am surprised you required such vague “confirmation.” If your belief in your “spirit” provides you some false comfort, I think everybody is entitled to their drug or delusion of choice, up to the point that it does harm to others.

  184. Let’s set aside the issue of a poorly negotiated benefits package for now. That can be due to a number of factors ranging from incompetence at negotiation by union leaders to leverage by the state due to an inherently unequal bargaining position.

    “In my opinion the union is to blame for keeping salaries below market. They get their dime either way and so it makes little difference to them.”

    So let me get this straight . . . strangling the wages of their members – something that would drive people to not join the profession and thus decreasing both their membership roles and ergo their operating capital as determined by gross membership dues paid – is somehow in the best interests of the unions.

    I don’t think I buy that logic.

    Higher salaries and more members equates to more money for the unions. More money is more money. I don’t know of any organization that wouldn’t like more money to use in fulfilling their various goals.

    Public education is a public infrastructure and you get what quality the community is willing to pay for out of their taxes. It will fail to attract quality instructors with substandard pay and restrictive benefits as long as the pols cheap out and attempt to drive teachers to privatized education which can operate at higher cash flow levels than public education but conversely come with a built in discrimination against the poor who cannot afford pricey tuitions and a built in corporate/corporatist agenda that is suspect at best. Thomas Jefferson said in a letter to George Wythe dated August 13 1786, “I think by far the most important bill in our whole code is that for the diffusion of knowledge among the people. No other sure foundation can be devised, for the preservation of freedom and happiness…Preach, my dear Sir, a crusade against ignorance; establish & improve the law for educating the common people. Let our countrymen know that the people alone can protect us against these evils [tyranny, oppression, etc.] and that the tax which will be paid for this purpose is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance.” He also said to James Madison in a letter dated December 20, 1787 that “Above all things I hope the education of the common people will be attended to ; convinced that on their good sense we may rely with the most security for the preservation of a due degree of liberty.” His reasoning? I think can be best summed up in what he said to Charles Yancy on January 6, 1816: “If a nation expects to be ignorant & free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was & never will be.”

    If you think corporations determining who gets educated (by controlling the market) and what gets taught is a better idea? Keep in mind a corporation has no duty to either the public or to even the truth if it serves their bottom line of maximized profits. Privatized education is a bad idea.

    Also, see Tony C’s comments regarding corruption vis a vis feathering nests and the necessity of unions. I know union leaders in several different unions across several different industries and fields. Some are indeed corrupt and often incompetent weasels, but a great many of them – the majority – just want a better deal for employees.

  185. Boron,

    In Massachusetts, teachers can pay into the teacher pension system if they taught somewhere else before coming here. You can purchase up to ten years of prior service in other states.

  186. Elaine,

    I had no doubt that the monies were not made unavailable. That would result in massive law suits to deprive teachers of benefits accrued and paid for. Transferability to other plans? I can see how that could be limited by contract. Why someone would do that though is a mystery. I’d like to see the standard union contract for the state Boron is talking about. I’m betting the specifics are a bit different than portrayed.

  187. One lives to be of something or another, Elaine.:mrgreen:

    It wasn’t a heavily featured article, it almost went below my radar and I stumbled upon it quite by accident. I figured it might have escaped your notice as it almost escaped mine.

  188. How a Leading Rightwing Group Views the Election
    By Diane Ravitch
    November 13, 2012

    The Center for Education Reform in Washington, D.C., is one of the nation’s leading advocates for privatization of public education. Its leader, Jeanne Allen, was an education policy analyst at the rightwing think tank, the Heritage Foundation, before she founded CER in 1993:

    The Center for Education Reform has long advocated for charters and vouchers. It has nothing to say about improving public schools, only that they should be replaced by private management or vouchers.

    CER is closely allied with other conservative groups committed to privatization, like ALEC, the Heartland Institute, Democrats for Education Reform, and Black Alliance for Educational Options. CER claimed credit for helping to write the Heartland Institute’s version of the parent trigger law, which served as a model for ALEC.

  189. Chris Christie’s Education Bills Bear Striking Resemblance To ALEC Models
    By Pat Garofalo
    Apr 2, 2012

    The American Legislative Exchange Council, as has been extensively reported, provides model legislation to state lawmakers, giving them templates for right-wing laws. Some lawmakers take this a bit too literally, as one forgot to remove ALEC’s mission statement from her anti-tax bill.
    According to an analysis by the Newark Star-Ledger, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has quietly been using ALEC legislation in the Garden state during his high-profile education reform push:

    A Star-Ledger analysis of hundreds of documents shows that ALEC bills are surfacing in New Jersey, where Republican Gov. Chris Christie is trying to remake the state, frequently against the wishes of a Democrat-controlled Legislature.

    Drawing on bills crafted by the council, on New Jersey legislation and dozens of e-mails by Christie staffers and others, The Star-Ledger found a pattern of similarities between ALEC’s proposals and several measures championed by the Christie administration. At least three bills, one executive order and one agency rule accomplish the same goals set out by ALEC using the same specific policies. In eight passages contained in those documents, New Jersey initiatives and ALEC proposals line up almost word for word. Two other Republican bills not pushed by the governor’s office are nearly identical to ALEC models.

    Christie’s allegedly ALEC-based bills cover a slew of education topics, including the use of standardized testing and reforming teacher tenure. (Christie, of course, has a habit of publicly berating teachers.)

    The Christie administration is denying that ALEC had any connection to the legislation. “Our reforms have no basis in anyone’s model legislation,” said Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak. “The governor said to me, ‘Who’s ALEC?’”

    State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D), meanwhile, said that she had “never seen anything like this.” “To wholesale just lift up a package of education-reform initiatives that are being developed for use in every state around the country? I don’t think that bodes well for us,” she said.

  190. Nonprofit group releases emails which depict connection between ALEC, education reform and corporate investors
    January 30, 2013

    Any lingering doubts about the connection between public education, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and for-profit education providers may have been erased once and for all with the release of thousands of emails that demonstrate that an educational foundation begun by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is “distorting democracy” by molding state education policies to benefit the foundation’s private corporate donors…

    Donald Cohen, chairperson of the nonprofit In the Public Interest, http://www.inthepublicinterest.org/blog/jeb-bushs-education-nonprofit-really-about-corporate-profits?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+itpi-blog+%28ITPI+Commentary+Feed%29 released the emails, which included correspondence between Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) and a second group Bush founded called Chiefs for Change, whose members are current and former state education leaders who support Bush’s education reform agenda.

    He said the emails “conclusively reveal that FEE staff acted to promote their corporate funders’ priorities, and demonstrate the dangerous role that corporate money plays in shaping our education policy. Correspondence in Florida, New Mexico, Maine, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Louisiana paint a graphic picture of corporate money distorting democracy.”

    That agenda includes school choice, online education, school accountability systems based on standardized tests, evaluating teachers on the basis of student test scores and giving schools grades of A-F on the basis of those test scores.

    Louisiana Education Superintendent John White is a member of Chiefs for Change.

    Some of the emails released by Cohen included correspondence between FEE and White and White’s predecessor, Paul Pastorek.

    The emails provide conclusive evidence that FEE staff promoted their corporate funders’ interests in Florida, New Mexico, Maine, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Louisiana. Those interests coincide with the agenda promoted by ALEC’s pay-for-play operation. Corporate donors work closely with state legislators and state education policy makers at ALEC conferences, seminars and annual meetings, according to the nonprofit Center for Media and Democracy.

    The emails between FEE and state education officials show that FEE, at times working through its Chiefs for Change affiliate, wrote and edited laws, regulations and executive orders in such a way as to enhance profit opportunities for FEE’s corporate funders.

    Bush’s organization is supported by many of the same for-profit school corporations that also provide funding for ALEC. Those corporations vote as equals with ALEC legislators on templates to change laws governing America’s public schools.

    FEE also receives financial backing from many of the same conservative foundations striving to privatize public schools that also bankroll ALEC. FEE and ALEC lobby for many of the same changes to state laws, changes which benefit their corporate benefactors.

    FEE and ALEC also have many of the same “experts” who serve as members or staff employees and the two organizations also collaborate on the annual ALEC education “report card” which grades states’ allegiance to their policies.

    FEE acted as a conduit for ALEC model legislation for Maine Gov. Paul LePage which removed barriers to creating online K-12 schools and in some cases, required online classes.

  191. Elaine,
    it is no surprise that Christie would be using an ALEC designed education “reform” legislation. As the article above suggests, he has been publicly dismissive of the teaching profession.

  192. Education Reform Takes a Corporate Path With Help From ALEC
    By Anthony Cody
    October 3, 2011

    Guest post by the administrative team of United Opt Out: Shaun Johnson, Morna McDermott, Laurie Murphy, Peg Robertson, Tim Slekar and Ceresta Smith (a website dedicated to ending punitive high stakes testing in public education).

    In the past year, a number of states have introduced laws that “reform” education in similar ways. In state after state, teacher seniority and due process has been undermined, and the use of standardized tests to pay and evaluate teachers been expanded. In recent months, reports have emerged of a shadowy group that has developed tremendous influence over legislation in states across the country. This group is the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). And, according to ALEC Exposed,

    Through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights. These so-called “model bills” reach into almost every area of American life and often directly benefit huge corporations. Through ALEC, corporations have “a VOICE and a VOTE” on specific changes to the law that are then proposed in your state.”

    In the context of public education policy in America, ALEC has sponsored legislation that, 1) advocates simple standardized testing as an accountability gauge, 2) calls for rigid accountability systems that ignores substantial research on teaching and learning, 3) supports taxpayer-subsidized vouchers, 4) releases private schools that receive tax dollars from state accountability systems, 5) pushes charter schools as alternatives to community based public schools, and 6) supports the elimination of locally elected school boards. These reforms have been enacted in states such as Wisconsin and Ohio and New York. Also Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan, and Florida are all considering similar legislative actions.

    This legislation embodies the central tenets of corporatized education reform– standardized testing, choice, accountability, and standardized curricula. Each of these tenets has been thoroughly examined over the last decade or more. What else can be said about the validity of these programs other than the fact that the empirical evidence consistently points out that each of these corporate ideas continually fails to deliver positive change to our system of public education in America.

    In fact, as near as we can tell, the current debates in education reform are not about empirical evidence–this fight is largely about ideology. What does it mean to be an educated person? How do we define success and what does it mean to be accountable for it? Arguments and methods that do not adhere to a particular ideology about education are summarily shut out, and it just so happens that the concerns of a vast majority of teachers, parents, higher education faculty members, and even students are being ignored.

    Again, how is it that ALEC can exert so much influence on public education? You would expect that citizens within a democracy can, so to speak, hire and fire those who represent them. You would expect that elected officials were being informed by those most closely associated with public education. As evidenced above this is not the case. Wealth and power as opposed to wisdom and evidence are the new masters driving the corporate reform agenda. Therefore, we at United Opt Out have been pushed to advocate what may seem like an extreme action — the boycotting of state standardized tests.

  193. “I was pretty sure you were a “There is no spirit” guy. Thanks for confirming.”


    Don’t you understand that God hates unions? That’s the extent of my proof, except for some people in my family, that unions are evil. If you dare to question this God will strike you down and you would be attacking me.

  194. Big money doesn’t buy much in L.A. school races
    Los Angeles Times
    March 6, 2013

    Outside interests poured money into Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s war chest for this week’s school board elections in an attempt to influence education reform here and nationwide. But when the votes were tallied, the group could count only one clear winner.

    The mayor’s political action committee, which amassed more than $3.9 million on behalf of three candidates, secured just incumbent Monica Garcia’s seat.

    In the other two races, the Coalition for School Reform lost its bid to unseat incumbent Steve Zimmer, who was backed by the teachers union. The group’s other favored candidate, Antonio Sanchez, is headed for a May 21 runoff.

    The results were “a loss for the mayor and the future of reform in the district,” said former state Sen. Gloria Romero, who is generally allied with Villaraigosa’s education agenda.

    But American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten summed up Tuesday’s election this way: “Big monied interests — most of whom live far away from Los Angeles and virtually none of whom have children in LAUSD schools — were rebuked by parents, teachers and the community.”

    The costliest race was between Zimmer and attorney Kate Anderson in District 4, which spans the Westside and west San Fernando Valley. There, the mayor’s group spent more than $1.5 million on Anderson’s behalf. The coalition campaign portrayed one-term incumbent Zimmer as an L.A. Unified insider who voted to fire thousands of teachers and approved a hugely expensive new school.

    Taking on Zimmer was “an odd choice,” said Charles Kerchner, a professor at Claremont Graduate University. Overall, Zimmer has been the most independent current board member and a “bridge builder,” Kerchner said.

    Zimmer and the union could not keep pace with the coalition’s fundraising, but he was able to turn the tables on the opposition’s attack ads.

    “Our message is very simple,” Zimmer wrote in an email blast just before election day. “Don’t believe the lies of March.” He exhorted supporters who “have joined our students and their families in resisting this takeover of the board and this assault on our democracy.”

    Zimmer, who claimed 52% of the vote, said Wednesday that “the willingness to win by any means necessary makes me very sad…They really did try to buy a seat and were pretty brazen about it.”

    He added that he still intends to cooperate with Supt. John Deasy and Villaraigosa. “This election hasn’t changed me.”

    The coalition’s clear victory was in Garcia’s District 2, which encompasses downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. The two-term incumbent received 56% of the votes. The teachers union had hoped to push Garcia into a runoff but devoted few resources to that goal.

    In all, campaign committees affiliated with United Teachers Los Angeles spent close to $1 million, according to the City Ethics Commission. That included $150,000 from the American Federation of Teachers.

    The coalition’s coffers included $1 million from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, about $340,000 from the California Charter Schools Assn., $250,000 from an organization led by former District of Columbia schools chancellor Michelle Rhee and $250,000 from a New York-based subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

  195. Nashville Leaders Fight GOP Plan to Kill Local Control
    By Diane Ravitch
    February 20, 2013

    Republican leaders in the Tennessee legislature are pushing ALEC model legislation to strip the Metro Nashville school board of its power to authorize charters. This is intended to punish Nashville for refusing to support Arizona-based Great Hearts Academy, a corporate chain that wants to open in an affluent white neighborhood. Memphis is also included in the proposal.

    Nashville leaders, excepting the corporate-friendly mayor, oppose the legislation. The mayor believes that the power to expand charters is more important than local control. .

    The ALEC bill has the support of Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst, the Wall Street hedge fund managers’ Democrats for Education Reform, and Stand for Children. In other words, the usual cheerleaders for corporate reform.

    Opposition to the ALEC legislation was so intense from parents in Nashville and Memphis (the only districts targeted to lose local control) that the House Education Committee delayed a vote on the measure.

    Supporters of public education are not giving up without a fight.

  196. Astroturf Activism: Who is Behind Students for Education Reform?
    George Joseph and StudentNation
    January 11, 2013

    In late November, a small crowd of Columbia University and New York University students organized by Students For Education Reform (SFER) marched from the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) building in downtown Manhattan to the steps of the Department of Education building, demanding that public school teachers reach an agreement with the Bloomberg administration over new evaluation standards. Hanging in the balance is $450 million worth of state aid that will be withheld from city public schools by Governor Cuomo if a deal is not reached by January 17. Students sporting red and green Christmas hats called on teachers to “Make a deal!” and “Compromise!” in a spectacular show of misplaced activist spirit.

    The “compromise” would place teachers at the mercy of a counterproductive test-based system, allowing up to 40 percent of their evaluative ratings to come from the standardized test scores of their students. It’s even worse than it sounds though, because New York state requires that “teachers rated ineffective on student performance based on objective assessments must be rated ineffective overall,” as education historian Diane Ravitch explains, “a teacher who does not raise test scores will be found ineffective overall, no matter how well he or she does with the remaining 60 percent. In other words, the 40 percent allocated to student performance actually counts for 100 percent.”

    SFER, a student network that has exploded on more than 100 college campuses across the country since it was started by two students at Princeton in 2009, is an “education reform” front for a lobbying firm, exploiting college idealism for corporate profit. The group’s website declares: “We believe student voices matter. For too long, policymakers have not heard the voice of the stakeholders affected by education policy: students themselves.” But the pitch should replace stakeholders with stockholders, because the dollars behind the “grassroots” movement say more than the students themselves.

    SFER has received $1.6 million from Education Reform Now, whose PAC, Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), shelled out $1 million to attack the Chicago Teachers Union. DFER worked with the Koch brothers and ALEC to push Proposition 32, which if passed, would have blocked labor unions from using automatic payroll deductions for political purposes. Though SFER claims neutral territory, its motives are laid bare by its rallying around the funding of charter schools, the issue of limiting tenure, and its strict focus on testing. The testing corporations and charter school CEOs might agree with hedge funder and DFER founder Whitney Tilson’s explanation for his interest in education: “Hedge funds are always looking for ways to turn a small amount of capital into a large amount of capital.”

    Attending a counter-rally planned to coincide with SFER’s day of action, I met Stephanie Rivera, a “future teacher” and “educational equity activist” currently studying at Rutgers University. She believes that educational reform “benefits organizations that look at education like a business. It benefits testing companies like Pearson, and groups like StudentsFirst, Teach for America, and DFER rather than the students themselves.”

    Elaborating on the campus-corporate connection, public school teacher and education activist Brian Jones noted that “these are well-funded Astroturf groups with very specific agendas that try and sprout campus organizations to represent them on the idea that this is some kind of grassroots initiative, when really its very tightly scripted, controlled.”

  197. Albany charter cash cow: Big banks making a bundle on new construction as schools bear the cost
    By Juan Gonzalez
    THURSDAY, MAY 6, 2010

    Wealthy investors and major banks have been making windfall profits by using a little-known federal tax break to finance new charter-school construction.

    The program, the New Markets Tax Credit, is so lucrative that a lender who uses it can almost double his money in seven years.

    In Albany, which boasts the state’s highest percentage of charter school enrollments, a nonprofit called the Brighter Choice Foundation has employed the New Markets Tax Credit to arrange private financing for five of the city’s nine charter schools.

    But many of those same schools are now straining to pay escalating rents, which are going toward the debt service that Brighter Choice incurred during construction.

    The Henry Johnson Charter School, for example, saw the rent for its 31,000-square-foot building skyrocket from $170,000 in 2008 to $560,000 last year.

    The Albany Community School’s rent jumped from $195,000 to $350,000.

    Green Tech High Charter School rents went from $443,000 to $487,000.

    Meanwhile, all the Albany charter schools haven’t achieved the enrollment levels their founders expected, even after recruiting hundreds of students from suburban school districts to fill their seats.

    The result has been less money in per-pupil state aid to pay operating costs, including those big rent bills.

    Several charters have fallen into additional debt to the Brighter Choice Foundation.

    You’d think these financial problems would raise eyebrows among state regulators – or at least worry those charter school boards.

    But the powerful charter lobby has so far successfully battled to prevent independent government audits of how its schools spend their state aid.

    And key officers of Albany’s charter school boards are themselves board members, employees or former employees of the Brighter Choice Foundation or its affiliates.

    Christian Bender, for example, executive director of the foundation, is chairman or vice chairman of four of the Albany charters.

    Tom Carroll, the foundation’s vice chairman and one of the authors of the state’s charter law when he was in the Pataki administration, was a founding board member of Albany Community Charter School and is currently chairman of two other charters, Brighter Choice School for Boys and Brighter Choice School for Girls.

  198. Gene H:

    I am not advocating for or against private schools. I am merely pointing out that by making retirement tied to the job they have limited the choices teachers can make concerning their employment. Reducing turnover rates has probably led to lower wages and poorer treatment of teachers by the administration.

    I cannot say for certain but I believe union dues are the same for everyone except new teachers and, for my wife at least, are about $600-700 per year. There is not that much financial value on a per teacher basis. Unions do help teachers when they are wrongfully terminated or have problems with parents. So they are not a waste of money, I just question their reasoning to have a government provided retirement.

    If you leave, the money you put in is returned with whatever interest is required by law but there is much more incentive to stay after a certain number of years. In other words the retirement pays out a little more but it comes with a downside. Which is lower pay and less respect.

    We all know that money today is worth more than money tomorrow so being in control of your retirement is probably a better deal than having it dictated by state government at the behest of the union.

    It could be that state funded retirement was voted on by the rank and file and in that case there isnt much to say to my wife except “deal with it.”

  199. Boron,

    I had money taken out of my paycheck for many years and put into a private retirement fund. I lost a ton of money–twice–when the.com bubble burst and in 2008 when we had a financial meltdown. My pension check, however, hasn’t decreased since I retired in 2004. In fact, I’ve received a couple of increases.

  200. Boron,

    “I just question their reasoning to have a government provided retirement.”

    Do you question the why or the how? I think the case for why is fairly obvious – it’s a benefit fought for and won by the unions and standard across many industries. The how is another matter. Recently on another thread the topic of how the USPS pensions are funded. Congress forced the USPS to fund their pensions in a unique way – unknown and unprecedented in any other sector of government – that essentially served as sabotage to their daily operations by requiring they “pre-pay” their pensions 75 years out. The USPS didn’t want this, preferring as most organizations do to fund their pensions as they go along. However, Congress – using the facile excuse that funding as they go would result in ever increasing postage (when compared to the rest of the world we have been paying way too little for our postal service for 40 years) and funded in their electoral campaigns by companies like FedEx, UPS, and DHL – forced this unwanted change that is the root of the USPS current financial crisis. Not all pension plans or their funding mechanisms are created equal. Just so, it could be that the state funded retirement and its flawed specifics are a poorly formulated plan foisted upon the teacher’s union due to the state’s unfair and inherently unbalanced bargaining position. Without being directly privy to the negotiations or absent further evidence, it is not possible to definitively lay the blame at the feet of the union when the state could be the instigator of a pension scheme designed to “fail on purpose”.

  201. Gene & Boron,

    Michelle Rhee’s Failing Report Card
    Friday, 11 January 2013 08:07

    Michelle Rhee gained notoriety as the chancellor of DC’s public schools under Adrian Fenty’s administration from 2007 to 2011. Her conduct in this position was one of the main reasons he was not re-elected. Among other things, she publicly took pleasure in firing large numbers of teachers and administrators. Incredibly, she also claims not to have realized that high stake testing would provide incentives for teachers or administrators to cheat on the scoring of exams.

    Since she left the DC school system she started a new organization, StudentsFirst, which was created to push for the sort of changes to the school system she sought to implement as chancellor. The organization received considerable media attention for a report card it issued on the public school systems in the 50 states earlier this week. While most of the items on the report card were part of an educational agenda of questionable merit (see Diana Ravitch’s blog for specific critiques), one item had nothing to do with education whatsoever.

    Rhee’s report card gave schools a failing grade if teachers received a defined benefit pension (worse if it was backloaded). The school system gets an “A” in this category if teachers only had a 401(k) type defined contribution plan or a cash balance account.

    Pensions are now and have historically been an important part of teachers’ compensations. Teachers, like most public sector employees, are paid less in wages than workers in the private sector with comparable education and experience. They make up much of this gap with a better benefit package, including better pension benefits, than workers in the private sector receive.

    Given this reality, it is difficult to see how students are helped if a school system replaces a defined benefit pension that guarantees teachers a specific level of income after they retire, with a defined contribution plan, where retirement income will depend on the teachers’ investment success and the timing of the market. Since state governments don’t have to care about the timing of market swings, only overall averages, assuming timing and investment risk is an important benefit that governments can provide their workers at essential zero cost. A defined benefit pension will make a job more attractive to workers than if the state gave teachers the same amount of money in the form of a contribution to a 401(k) account.

    In short, Rhee’s report card means that states get credit for making their teachers more financially insecure without saving the government a penny. This position might coincide with a business agenda to eliminate defined benefit pensions, but it is very difficult to see how it will improve our children’s education.

  202. Elaine:

    I am all for choices.

    Historically, the stock market has performed very well. It is over 14,000 now. Diversification is the key and staying away from risk after 40 helps the retirement.

  203. Our parent report card for Michelle Rhee and StudentsFirst
    January 7, 2013

    Michelle Rhee, former DC Chancellor and founder of the organization StudentsFirst, has come out with a new state by state report card, grading states on how well they adhere to the corporate reform agenda of privatization and “choice” (i.e. expanding charters and vouchers) , merit pay, and rigid evaluation systems based on test scores.

    Her grading scheme actually punishes states that have policies to reduce class size above grade three, or offer incentives to keep classes small – even though class size reduction is one of the top priorities of parents, and one of the few education reforms that have proven to work. At the same time she gives points to states that either have mayoral control, support the “Parent trigger” or provide other ways to supersede the authority of democratically-elected school boards.
    Even as Rhee often claims that student outcomes and achievement are what matters most, the two states with the highest student achievement in the nation, Massachusetts and New Jersey, received a “D-” and a “D.” California got an “F” for refusing to sign onto the provisions of “Race to the Top”, including test-based evaluations of teachers; Richard Zeiger, the state’s deputy superintendent, called the state’s failing grade a “badge of honor.”
    I thought it was a good time to reprint the Parents Across America report card for Rhee, where she received failing grades in categories important to parents. See below.
    Since our report card was produced, there has been more attention paid to the Rhee’s checkered past and recent failings :

    – How she most likely greatly exaggerated her own record as a teacher.

    – Evidence of widespread cheating in DC schools when she ran them, and her failure to investigate these allegations properly — a special focus of a Frontline program due to air tonight [Correction: tomorrow night];

    – The voluminous research pointing out that evaluating teachers on the basis of test scores through value-added models, as she pushed for in DC and now in her state report cards, is unstable, unreliable and unfair. (See the most recent analysis from a group of statistical experts, concluding that “We cannot at this time encourage anyone to use VAM in a high stakes endeavor.”)

    – The way she inflated the number of supporters of StudentsFirst, counting as members anyone who signed deceptively-phrased online petitions, calling for unobjectionable policies like paying good teachers more or stopping bullying in schools.

    – How she fired more than more than 5 percent of the teachers in DC, though at least some of these teachers may need to be reinstated because she did this improperly.

    – How the teacher evaluation system she relied upon, called IMPACT, was altered after she left by her successor to diminish its reliance on test scores, dropping that component from 50 to 35 percent.

    – How a recent report from the organization she used to run, TNTP, though predictably positive in its spin, revealed that the IMPACT teacher evaluation system was one of the top reasons that even “top performing” teachers plan to leave DC schools. The report also cast further doubt on the system, saying that there may be a “flaw in the design or implementation of IMPACT [that] makes it easier for teachers working in low-need schools to earn top ratings.”

    – The documented predilection of StudentsFirst to fund right-wing Republican candidates, despite claims of bipartisanship.

    – Most recently, Rhee made a tone-deaf statement on the mass shootings in Newtown CT, calling such children “our most valuable assets”.

    – Finally, her refusal to oppose a bill in Michigan that would allow concealed weapons in schools, until the legislation had already been vetoed by the Governor.

    If we were updating the report card today, we would certainly give her an “F” for her position on school safety as well.

  204. More of Jindal’s education overhaul ruled unconstitutional
    By Traci G. Lee

    A Baton Rouge judge ruled Monday that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s teacher tenure and evaluation reform was unconstitutional. The measure known as Act 1 would reform teacher evaluations and, as the Louisiana Federation of Teachers argued, make tenure more difficult to obtain and maintain.

    State Judge Michael Caldwell had previously upheld three of four sections of Act 1 last December, but reversed his ruling after a review of the case, declaring the entire bill unconstitutional because it violated the “single object” section of Louisiana’s Constitution, which says any bill brought before the Legislature must contain only one “aim or purpose of enactment.”

    Jindal responded to the judge’s ruling in a written statement that called the decision disappointing, and said he expects to “prevail in the state Supreme Court” later this month. Jindal also blamed “the coalition of the status quo” for blocking reforms that would “reward good teachers and give more choices to families.”

    Under Jindal’s proposals, local school boards would have less power over hiring and firing decisions, establish a statewide salary schedule for teachers, toughen the path for teachers to reach tenure status, remove seniority-based protections for teachers during layoffs, and require state superintendents’ review of local school superintendent contracts.

    This is not the first time a judge has ruled one of Jindal’s educational reform measures unconstitutional. Last November, Louisiana state Judge Tim Kelley ruled Jindal’s private tuition voucher program unconstitutional because it improperly diverted local tax dollars meant for public schools to private schools instead.

  205. Boron: I just question their reasoning to have a government provided retirement.

    I am not sure what that is supposed to mean, but on the face of it, the reasoning for having the government provide retirement, instead of a private organization or corporation or self-directed investment, is blatantly obvious: The government cannot fail.

    (Or if it does, the stock market and all corporations and laws and courts and recourse will go with it, money will be worthless, contracts void, and laws moot.)

    No corporation can say they will never run out of money, no union can say that, no private individual can guarantee it. The government of the USA is unique in the security and benefits it can provide; no matter how byzantine the process in the end it really can just print the money it needs to provide the benefits it has promised. Anything else carries a risk of catastrophic loss.

    I will also point out that the Dow Jones industrial average was at an all time high the month before the Great Depression began, and no amount of diversification or “staying away from risk” would have “been the key” to financially surviving that crash.

  206. Tony C:

    “The government cannot fail.”

    Really? I am all ears.

    You dont know much about the depression do you.

  207. The government didn’t fail during the Depression. There was no collapse into anarchy or a coup. Bonds were paid. The doors of government stayed open and there was no transition of power that was out of the ordinary. Un- and under-regulated private industry failed (specifically bank failures and a demand driven stock market crash) and that caused the Depression.

  208. Boron: You can’t read very well, can you?

    First, the US government survived the depression, partly by using its power to print money for jobs programs and redistribute wealth through taxation.

    Second, IF the US government fails, US currency is worthless, US laws, rights, and protection are worthless, the country will be overrun by coup, revolution, or invasion.

    Planning for THAT circumstance in retirement is like trying to plan for retirement if the Earth is struck by an asteroid, disease or gamma ray burst that wipes out 99% of all life, it is a pointless exercise.

    For the purposes of planning a retirement, it is safe to assume the government will not fail within one’s lifetime and will be able to meet its financial obligations and keep its financial promises. That is not true of any other entity in the country.

  209. Gene and Tony C.,
    you are correct that it wasn’t the government that caused the Depression and it was the government that helped sustain the country during that stock market and bank induced crash. It is amazing how historical facts can be ignored.

  210. TonyC, You’re obviously not well versed in union bosses. I grew up out east where many union bosses are organized crime, particularly the trades and service industries. To stand up to a union boss could get you killed. I’m sure Tough TonyC would stand up to them. HORSESHIT! Union bosses of that ilk are exponentially worse than the shop boss. You’re showing how little you really do know about unions. I now have an added fear of air traffic safety. How about a new enterprise in toy trains or kitchenware?

  211. Get up to speed, Elaine. Tony took the discussion to ALL unions. But, even if you had taken the time to do your homework, my comment said “trade and service” unions. Step up your game, girl.

  212. nick,

    My post is about education reform. You’re the one who has continually castigated teacher unions–including in some of your comments on this post. I wasn’t aware that I couldn’t leave a comment about teacher unions and organized crime in response to what you wrote to Tony. I didn’t know that you were making the rules about our discussion on this thread.

    Your EXACT words:
    “I grew up out east where many union bosses are organized crime, particularly the trades and service industries.”

    Did you actually limit the involvement of organized crime to “trade and service” union bosses in your comment? I think not.

    Geez, lighten up, will ya?

  213. “No corporation can say they will never run out of money, no union can say that, no private individual can guarantee it.”


    To add to that, we have seen many cases now where corporations put themselves into bankruptcy to avoid paying for pensions that had been part of the original employer/employee bargain.

  214. “I grew up out east where many union bosses are organized crime, particularly the trades and service industries”

    The unproven Anecdote King strikes again detailing those mob bosses who run the teacher’s unions in this country………Please!

  215. “This stream holds some of the best materials collected as educated research links for people to fight against the dark clouds and noise from big money and tyranny that threatens this great nation. The attack on our public education is a direct attack on the public’s cultural wealth. Your personal messages are interruptions. You should apologize to Elaine and to the serious people attempting to disseminate real information.”


    Because in your brief time here you have brought such a plethora of good information and good discussion I would like to specifically address your disquiet at the fact that often excellent threads get partially disrupted by Trolls and the counter-attacks by those responding to them. I do get your “don’t feed the trolls attitude” and on occasions here in past years it has sometimes worked. However, on other occasions it has proved to only give them license and to even expand their horizons and so proved a failure. Those of us who have been around for awhile and guest bloggers like myself, have developed a variety of strategies to deal with them. Yet, however-much, we might stategize they remain a problem. Were this like other websites, some excellent ones in fact, trollish comments would be thrown off the sight and banned. On this site because of the commitment of Jonathan to free speech, as exemplified by the courage of his career accomplishments, almost no-one gets “banned” except for truly hateful, highly uncivil and/or illegal content. Like the championing of free speech in general, it sometimes gets messy.

    The reason that I in certain cases will take on a “troll”, or someone who behaves in a troll-like manner, is because their content is such that it really serves as propaganda and/or mythology. To me personally, propaganda unanswered, is ultimately somewhat effective. On this particular blog and thread what are we really discussing except for the false propaganda that our school systems are failing because of greedy teachers and government bureaucracy. That Elaine and yourself have exposed the true problems is wonderful, especially because it provides the rest of us with valuable resources for future discussions. However, as this thread has shown, the false propaganda keeps getting repeated by some and when that occurs I feel it is incumbent upon me to expose it. I acknowledge and admit that sometimes I find ridicule effective. I am hoping this doesn’t deter you from hanging around because based on your contributions thus far I think you would be a valuable member of our community.

  216. Mike,

    Well said. I, too, hope Bruce will “hang around.”

    I’d add that we have heard repeatedly that education in America is a failure and that teachers and teacher unions are the main causes of the problem. We have heard it from talking heads on TV, members of the media, politicians, conservatives and liberals–as well as leaders of the astro-turf school reform movement. I think we have to start talking back…to respond to such propaganda when those spouting it have no proof to back up their claims.

    I am truly disturbed by what I have seen happening to education in this country and by what this school reform movement has done to good schools.

  217. The Puppet Masters
    By Dan Greenberg, Sylvania Education Association

    The education community is getting bombarded with new acronyms all the time: OTES, SLO, SGM, etc. Figuring out what they stand for is difficult. Figuring out their impact on public education in the short and long term is nearly impossible.

    However, they are probably missing one very important acronym from their lexicon, one that represents the most influential corporate-funded political force operating in America today, one that has worked to dilute collective bargaining rights and privatize public education. ALEC.

    ALEC, which stands for American Legislative Exchange Council, is a conservative organization that develops policies and language that can be used as part of legislation by multiple states across the country.

    That probably doesn’t clarify much of anything.

    In more concrete terms, ALEC creates legislation for elected officials to introduce in their states as their own brainchildren. ALEC is comprised of legislators and corporate leaders and has been operating in the shadows for about 40 years. They don’t solely focus on public education either. ALEC was the group behind the controversial “Stand your Ground” legislation in Florida, which was at the center of the Trayvon Martin shooting case.

    In the documentary “United States of ALEC,” Bill Moyers calls the group “an organization hiding in plain sight, yet one of the most influential and powerful in American politics.”

    Moyers’ comment about ALEC is absolutely on point. ALEC is more or less unknown in teacher circles. Teachers, who are focused on their students, generally don’t dabble in the political realm. They have not been interested in knowing or getting to know ALEC, at least until recently.

    After the 2010 election — with the assaults to collective bargaining rights, the expansion of voucher programs and education reforms that emphasized testing and “accountability” — teachers in the Midwest got to know ALEC the hard way, though they still probably couldn’t identify it by name.

    Think back to those bills that were signed into law in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio in early 2011. Ask yourself, how was it that different state legislatures came up with virtually identical anti-labor bills at the same time? The answer: ALEC. The group crafted the language and legislators waited for the most opportune time to introduce it. In Ohio they found it following the 2010 elections when Republicans took control of the Governor’s office and the legislature.

    ALEC’s strategy is like the kid’s game of whack a mole. If they were to put out one piece of legislation at a time, education groups and organized labor could easily defeat each one in succession. Instead they toss out a slew of legislation all at once, so there isn’t enough time or resources to educate and mobilize the public. There is no way to effectively beat back all the reforms.

    In “How Online Learning Companies Bought America’s Schools“ Lee Fang summed up ALEC’s strategy: “spread the unions thin ‘by playing offense’ with decoy legislation.” Spreading the unions thin has resulted in radical changes to classroom teachers’ everyday lives — changes that were made without the input of local school boards or educators.

    As states have expanded voucher systems, schools have had to drastically reduced funding. These programs take money away from traditional public schools and give it to unaccountable and very often less effective private and charter schools. This means larger class sizes for us, less extra help for students and fewer electives.

    They have also increased standardized testing, bringing with it the stress that goes along with constantly prepping students for high stakes tests. It’s frustrating because we all know that these tests are not a true indication of students’ progress and understanding. And now teachers are also experiencing the stress of state-mandated teacher evaluations.

    These ALEC-induced policy changes have devastated teacher morale and driven many to retirement.

    It’s astonishing how much impact one group can have without 95% of the public even knowing it exists.

  218. Alleged smart should learn how to read everything before talking out of their ass. Elaine has exhibited a problem w/ reading and/or reading comprehension in the past. I have had to direct her to the comment[s] on too many occassions. Then, when she finally realizes she was wrong, she jumps to aanother subject. I see why you all feel compelled to help her. The rape thread is a classic example. You remember that, where the grammar schoolteacher was lecturing me about rape victims w/o having ANY experience.

    I did not say, nor, did I imply that teacher union bosses in the US are organized crime. They are in Mexico.Tony brought the discussion to ALL unions and how corruption occurs in ALL unions, a point in which we both agree. “trade” means building trades in this context. That would be carpenters, plumbers, etc. for you Ivy Leaguers “Service” means hotel, restaurant, etc. READ for chrissake. You’re all getting to the assh@le childish phase. Maybe because this is a grammar school teacher thread. Is it nap time? Why don’t you lemmings just appoint a spokesperson and the rest of you can just respond w/ emoticons. It would be easier for everyone and I would enjoy it. Thsoe emoticons are really cool, like the hula hoop. Or, why don’t you take walks. I sensed you were all sedentary, unhappy people. Those endorphins make you happy and positive. Just start walking a few blocks and work up to it.

    Now please, can we end this tedious infantile banter? It would make everyone happy, except for you children. If not, who is your spokesperson? How about rafflaw?

  219. Nick: I’m sure Tough TonyC would stand up to them.

    I don’t think I’m that tough. I have, however, quit jobs over personal moral outrage at high level corruption and racism (not against me).

    You STILL do not understand the word “abide,” or apparently the word “tolerate.”

    Quitting a job is ALWAYS an option. If you cannot stand up against a criminal for fear of your life, you can at least stop working for him. Your family did not do that. Teaching is not the only job on the planet. If you cannot abide the monetary support you are giving a mandatory union, you can stop giving it, and get a non-unionized job. Especially if you have a Bachelor’s degree, as public school teachers do. you can make just as much as teaching in an office somewhere as a mid-level manager, a corporate trainer or an HR officer.

    If they REALLY could not abide it, and they couldn’t change the union, they could have left the job and done something else. Heck, they already have a B.A. or whatever, they could have taken a few night classes at the local college and learned to do something else that interested them in a field that was hiring.

    But they didn’t do that, they stayed, which means they obviously could abide by whatever corruption they saw.

  220. You seem to be under the impression that you’re going to be allowed to continue your childish name calling when proven wrong and then playing victim without there being eventual consequences, nick.

    That would be a mistake.

  221. nick,

    “I did not say, nor, did I imply that teacher union bosses in the US are organized crime. They are in Mexico.”

    Did I say that you did? I was making a comment. I’m allowed to that, you know.

    When did Mexico enter the discussion on unions?


    Oh…this is priceless: “The rape thread is a classic example. You remember that, where the grammar schoolteacher was lecturing me about rape victims w/o having ANY experience.”

    I have never been raped. Does that mean I can’t have an opinion on the subject?

    Have you ever been pregnant? Do you have an opinion on pregnancy and abortion?


    Once again, nick, you are not the arbiter of what we can discuss and how we choose to discuss it. You are not the master here. Get over yourself!


    I guess you haven’t read this post carefully. It is not a grammar school teacher thread. Then again, I know you think you insult me when you make note of the fact that I was a grammar school teacher. I take pride in what I did in the classroom. It was hard but very rewarding work. The “union bullies” didn’t scare me away from teaching. I was able to stick it out for more than three decades.

    It’s hard to be sedentary when one cares for a nineteen-month old. You ought to try it. You’d be on approximately the same intellectual level–no offense to my granddaughter.


    “Now please, can we end this tedious infantile banter?”

    Yes, as soon as you choose to discontinue your tedious infantile banter. Bring something substantial to the discussion of this subject for a change.

  222. Gene,

    Nick has nothing of substance to share…no facts, no information. He prefers to name call and criticize me and others. That’s his modus operandi. So it goes.

  223. New York Activists Form National Coalition to Fight Big Ed-Reform Dollars
    By Jason Lewis
    Mar. 8 2013

    Parents, activists and educators who are against the so-called education-reform movement are forming a national coalition to combat what they perceive to be a corporate assault on education.

    They thought it’d be wise to organize their fight on a more national level — especially since their opponents have a ton of money and resources at their disposal to orchestrate the dismantling of the traditional public school structure.

    To get an idea of how much cash ed-reform supporters are willing to shell out to shape education policy, wealthy reformists poured nearly $4 million into elections involving three school board seats up for grabs in Los Angeles.

    Our generous Mayor Michael Bloomberg threw $1 million into the mix to help get ed-reform-friendly candidates elected. Our former public schools chancellor, Joel Klein, who now heads media magnate Rupert Murdoch’s education technology company, Wireless Generation, donated an estimated $25,00-$50,000 to the campaign.

    With this kind of money being dropped on a local school board election, corporate reform critics likely realized that it’s time for them to up the ante. They announced the formation of the Network for Public Education yesterday. Diane Ravitch, an education historian, and Leonie Haimson, an education advocate, were instrumental in the founding of the coalition and are two of the leading voices against education privatization in New York City.

    “With all the billionaire cash trying to buy elections, we need to amass people power to ensure that individuals who care about preserving and strengthening our public schools are elected to positions of power,” Haimson, of Class Size Matters, said in a statement. “As the recent Los Angeles school board election shows, when we are organized we can overcome the forces of the privateers and the profiteers, intent on pillaging and dismantling our public schools.”

  224. Elaine,

    There is something about seeing the word “education” and the name “Murdoch” in the same paragraph that makes me get a bit nauseous.

  225. Well, I do immediately drink an entire bottle of Emetrol so the effect is fairly minimized, Elaine. Better living through modern chemistry and all that.😀

  226. “for you Ivy Leaguers “Service” means hotel, restaurant, etc. READ for chrissake.”


    The pose you make as “a man of the people” is absurd, as are you. I for one am an Ivy Leaguer. I got my Master’s there on a full-tuition work study scholarship, which I won in competition. As far as your being working class, perhaps you are, but then so am I and again perhaps you just talk a good game. My father was a felon who served jail time and dropped out of school in the 9th grade. My mother a high school dropout, who had 7 heart attacks, three strokes while I was growing up and suffered from Major Depression to boot. Both were the children of immigrants. My parents never had a home of their own until I was 12. Before that we lived for 6 years in a 600 square foot two bedroom apartment, one bath apartment. My brother and I shared a room with my aged grandmother, who had diabetes and Parkinson’s disease, quite a “privileged” life. By the time I was 18 both my parents were dead and I was living in a furnished room, with a bathroom in the hall. I worked my way through college working a 36 hour week at a liquor store, making $38 and tips as a delivery boy. Before that I was a cook and I also worked stock at a department store. Before that I was a night watchman at a hospital, going to college in the day. Now it was true I also had won a full tuition Regents Scholarship to College, but that didn’t make my life any easier.

    So please why don’t you spare us the crap about your “blue collar” background being trashed by us “snobs” at this blog? I know damned well that I’ve had it harder in my life than you have, but the difference is I don’t wear it on my sleeve. The other difference is that with all of my Parent’s problems they raised me well and taught me not only to care for others, but to have empathy for them. You on the other hand talk a good “caring game” but that just could be more smoke exiting your rear end. Politically, you’re not so caring for other people and you seem to be unable to actually think very deeply as shown by your tendency to use personal anecdotes to make unfounded generalizations.

    Your intimations of “snobbery” here Nick is a reflection of your feeling ill-used when we call you on your snide attacks. That was why I even bothered to respond to you here, because rather than come out against Elaine’s points
    honestly and openly, you chose to be disingenuous and snide. Then as usual when you were called on it, you play the victim. The truth is Nick that you are the snob here as you imagine yourself far above it all looking down at those “pointy headed Libruls”. That you still respond in that manner shows your own lack of reading comprehension, since it should have been obvious to you by ow that this is not a “Librul” blog, but representative of a wide range of views. That is as true by the way with the guest bloggers as it is with our other regulars. I know by the way that I’m not the only guest blogger here who’s had a difficult life and that is also true of our many regulars. The thing is that almost all of our regulars are skilled in discussion and you are not.

  227. I especially enjoyed the part where nick asked Elaine if she had had experience being raped.

    Rape certainly isnt funny but that exchange was priceless.

    With all due respect to nick, I dont have any experience with being shot in the head with a hellfire missile from a drone but I am pretty certain I can have an opinion about it without having had the experience.

    I am also pretty certain it would be most unpleasant.

  228. The keyboard is mightier than the sword, but under the hands of the dim it is at best a clacker.

  229. Bron,

    I won’t even ask your opinion about being raped by a Hellfire missile, but then again, I don’t know if you have any experience with that either.

  230. In the court of public opinion

    Darren: I would prefer not to be raped by a hellfire missle as well, though I admit I haven’t had such an experience so I am not really qualified to comment here.

    Judge: The witness is excused, the jury will disregard the testimony of this witness.

    Well, at least I got 51 cents a mile and $23.00 for a witness fee.

  231. Off Topic:

    Guns In Classrooms: South Dakota Governor Signs Law Allowing Teachers To Arm Themselves
    The Huffington Post
    By Sara Gates
    Posted: 03/08/2013


    Teachers are now allowed to bring guns into the classroom in South Dakota.

    Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed House Bill 1087 into law Friday, enabling state school boards to “supervise the arming of school employees” or hire security personnel.

    As The New York Times notes, South Dakota is believed to be the first U.S. state to sign such legislation into law.

    Rep. Scott Craig (R-Rapid City) and Rep. Betty Olson (R-Prairie City) drafted South Dakota’s armed teachers legislation following the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In December, Olson told the Black Hills Pioneer that she “believes arming school personnel could have mitigated the Newtown massacre.”

    The legislation passed the state’s House with a 42-17 vote in January and was approved by state senators, 21-14, last week.

  232. When Billionaires Become Educational Experts
    “Venture philanthropists” push for the privatization of public education.
    By Kevin K. Kumashiro
    American Association of University Professors
    May/June 2012

    For years, critics have pointed to the decreasing ability of health-care professionals to make decisions and provide services because of the demands of insurance companies and health-management organizations to sustain profits. Health-care decisions are increasingly being made by the wrong people and for the wrong reasons.

    So, too, with public education. Current reforms are allowing certain individuals with neither scholarly nor practical expertise in education to exert significant influence over educational policy for communities and children other than their own. They, the millionaires and billionaires from the philanthropic and corporate sectors, are experimenting in urban school districts with educational reform initiatives that are not grounded in sound research and often fail to produce results. And yet, with funding for public education shrinking, the influence of these wealthy reformers is growing.

    There is also much profit to be earned from public education. The American educational system today is a $500–600 billion enterprise, funded overwhelmingly by public dollars, with billions of dollars in services and products being outsourced, and with political lobbying groups like the Democrats for Education Reform, financed by hedge-fund millionaires, leading the push to further outsource. The public educational system has always had ties to the business sector, including business leaders themselves and the philanthropies funded by business fortunes. But that influence has not always looked the same. Despite the fact that philanthropic giving has never constituted more than 1 percent of total educational funding, in recent years a handful of millionaires and billionaires have come to exert influence over educational policy and practice like at no other time in American history. What has happened? The roles of business and philanthropy have shifted, reconfigured, and converged over the past century, and therefore seeing the bigger picture of public education requires understanding the interrelated histories of philanthropic and corporate influence

  233. Bron, You, like many folks have problems reading. I know you would love to be part of the “cool” club[losers really] but I DID NOT SAY THAT I WANTED TO KNOW IF ELAINE HAD ANY EXPERIENCE BEING RAPED. Back when this woman was preaching about rape victims last Fall she had the temerity to accuse a man who has helped prosecute hundreds of rapes, what I knew of the subject. A quick cross examination was Elaine was talking out of her ample ass. She has never worked w/ rape victims and only knew what she has read on her idealogical websites. She NEVER worked w/ any rape victims, while that was my job for 4 years. Bron or Boron, these folks will never be your friend. Just stick to whatever philosophy you have, assuming you have one. They will never be your friend even if you gratify them sexually. Read the transcripts and stop being so f@ckn’ needy. These losers are playing you like a cheap guitar. And the guy you really want to please is a loser w/ no career, no family, and few prospects.

  234. Bron:

    I especially enjoyed the part where nick asked Elaine if she had had experience being raped.

    I have to agree with nick on this one, he did not ask Elaine if she had had experience being raped. An honest reading of his poorly worded comment is that it refers to any experience with rape victims.

  235. Humor is often where you find it though, Nal. Bron took incidentally clumsy language, added exaggeration and misdirection to make a joke. It’s not much different in process than the “Why a duck?” bit Chico and Groucho did.

  236. Gene,

    Yet another creepy joke by Bron? I admit to not having a deep appreciation for the Andrew Dice Clay school of comedy.

  237. Nick: Ahhh, now we are all “losers”. Is that a label you attach to anybody that disagrees with you? Or are we losers because we believe there is a positive role for community and public action that cannot ever be met by free enterprise?

    You are the loser, Nick, after your hundreds of miles of self-congratulatory navel gazing, you have learned nothing; your only conclusions are those of a child, that you are right and everybody else is wrong, and logic doesn’t matter, and reasoning doesn’t matter, statistics, science, and psychology do not matter because if they disagree with what you think they are wrong.

    Is this really your purpose in life now, to walk alone for 12 hours a day so you can brag about how far you walk? To each his own, but that seems like an excessive amount of self-indulgence in endorphin production to me.

    Perhaps you should spend that energy volunteering at the local women’s shelter to help prosecute wife beaters, secure protective orders and ensure violators of protective orders get jailed, to help secure fair divorce and child support deals for their victims.

    Have no fear, people like me will pony up any and all court costs. It would be a good place to focus some of your internal rage, to apply it to people that truly deserve it, and your victories will have all the endorphin punch you crave with real effect in making the lives of victims better.

    Don’t be a loser living your empty life of walking in circles, Nick, go be a hero. Have an impact on the world.

  238. ALEC Exposed: Starving Public Schools
    by Julie Underwood
    Published on Thursday, July 14, 2011 by The Nation
    This article is part of a Nation series exposing the American Legislative Exchange Council, in collaboration with the Center For Media and Democracy.

    Public schools,” ALEC wrote in its 1985 Education Source Book, “meet all of the needs of all of the people without pleasing anyone.” A better system, the organization argued, would “foster educational freedom and quality” through various forms of privatization: vouchers, tax incentives for sending children to private schools and unregulated private charter schools. Today ALEC calls this “choice”—and vouchers “scholarships”—but it amounts to an ideological mission to defund and redesign public schools.

    The first large-scale voucher program, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, was enacted in 1990 following the rubric ALEC provided in 1985. It was championed by then-Governor Tommy Thompson, an early ALEC member, who once said he “loved” ALEC meetings, “because I always found new ideas, and then I’d take them back to Wisconsin, disguise them a little bit, and declare [they were] mine.”

    ALEC’s most ambitious and strategic push toward privatizing education came in 2007, through a publication called School Choice and State Constitutions, which proposed a list of programs tailored to each state. That year Georgia passed a version of ALEC’s Special Needs Scholarship Program Act. Most disability organizations strongly oppose special education vouchers—and decades of evidence suggest that such students are better off receiving additional support in public schools. Nonetheless, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Florida, Utah and Indiana have passed versions of their own. Louisiana also passed a version of ALEC’s Parental Choice Scholarship Program Act (renaming it Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence), along with ALEC’s Family Education Tax Credit Program (renamed Tax Deductions for Tuition), which has also been passed by Arizona and Indiana. ALEC’s so-called Great Schools Tax Credit Program Act has been passed by Arizona, Indiana and Oklahoma.

    ALEC’s 2010 Report Card on American Education called on members and allies to “Transform the system, don’t tweak it,” likening the group’s current legislative strategy to a game of whack-a-mole: introduce so many pieces of model legislation that there is “no way the person with the mallet [teachers’ unions] can get them all.” ALEC’s agenda includes:

    § Introducing market factors into teaching, through bills like the National Teacher Certification Fairness Act.

    § Privatizing education through vouchers, charters and tax incentives, especially through the Parental Choice Scholarship Program Act and Special Needs Scholarship Program Act, whose many spinoffs encourage the creation of private schools for specific populations: children with autism, children in military families, etc.

    § Increasing student testing and reporting, through more “accountability,” as seen in the Education Accountability Act, Longitudinal Student Growth Act, One-to-One Reading Improvement Act and the Resolution Supporting the Principles of No Child Left Behind.

    § Chipping away at local school districts and school boards, through its 2009 Innovation Schools and School Districts Act and more. Proposals like the Public School Financial Transparency Act and School Board Freedom to Contract Act would allow school districts to outsource auxiliary services.

    ALEC is also invested in influencing the educational curriculum. Its 2010 Founding Principles Act would require high school students to take “a semester-long course on the philosophical understandings and the founders’ principles.”

    Perhaps the Brookings Institute states the mission most clearly: “Taken seriously, choice is not a system-preserving reform. It is a revolutionary reform that introduces a new system of public education.”

    ALEC’s real motivation for dismantling the public education system is ideological—creating a system where schools do not provide for everyone—and profit-driven. The corporate members on its education task force include the Friedman Foundation, Goldwater Institute, Washington Policy Center, National Association of Charter School Authorizers and corporations providing education services, such as Sylvan Learning and the Connections Academy.

    From Milton Friedman on, proponents of vouchers have argued that they foster competition and improve students’ learning. But years of research reveal this to be false. Today, students in Milwaukee’s public schools perform as well as or better than those in voucher schools. This is true even though voucher schools have advantages that in theory should make it easier to educate children: fewer students with disabilities; broader rights to select, reject and expel students; and parents who are engaged in their children’s education (at least enough to have actively moved them to the private system). Voucher schools clearly should outperform public schools, but they do not. Nor are they less expensive; often private costs are shifted to taxpayers; a local school district typically pays for transportation, additional education services and administrative expenses. In programs like Milwaukee’s, the actual cost drains funds from the public schools and creates additional charges to taxpayers.

    But a deeper crisis emerges when we privatize education. As Benjamin Barber has argued, “public schools are not merely schools for the public, but schools of publicness: institutions where we learn what it means to be a public and start down the road toward common national and civic identity.” What happens to our democracy when we return to an educational system whose access is defined by corporate interests and divided by class, language, ability, race and religion? In a push to free-market education, who pays in the end?

  239. Blouise:

    I was agreeing with Elaine:

    “Oh…this is priceless: “The rape thread is a classic example. You remember that, where the grammar schoolteacher was lecturing me about rape victims w/o having ANY experience.”

    I have never been raped. Does that mean I can’t have an opinion on the subject?”

  240. Elaine,
    Starving public schools is exactly right. The hell with the facts. They just get in the way of a good business deal.

  241. nick:

    Thanks for the information. I cant have a sense of humor? Come on.

    This is cyber space, I dont know what these people even look like.

    I find this site interesting because I do have very strong ideas about how the world works, in fact I find your ideology more closely aligned with the regulars than I could ever hope to be.

    I would hope some of these people consider me a cyber friend but I have no illusions that they agree or ever will agree with my economics or politics. I agree with them on individual rights and disagree with them on much.

    I would not want to live in a world populated only by people who think like these people but then I wouldnt want to live in a world populated by people who think only like I do.

    I am sorry if I offended you.

    I hope you understand that the internet is not very anonymous, its elemental.

  242. Bron,
    Nail. Head. Hit.


    I don’t know anyone with whom I agree with on everything. Think what a boring world it would be if everyone marched in lockstep on philosophy and beliefs. That is why Baskin-Robbins makes so many flavors of ice cream. I have dear friends with whom I enjoy spending time, but we all know better than to bring up politics. We do not want a social visit to turn into a barroom brawl.

    The internet and a law blog, not so much circumspection.

  243. OS:

    that is a great cartoon. LMAO.

    I think maybe Nick is at that stage in his online discourse.

    At some point you have to let go of all the stupidity you see and give up trying to change peoples minds.

    I think people are starting to realize that when they argued with someone in meatspace and the other person agreed with them, the other person was just being polite and following social norms. When in reality there was a whole lot more going on.

    Politicians had better start realizing that or they are going to be hating life. We will know who the tyrants are by which ones want to control the internet.

  244. OS, Bron: Think what a boring world it would be if everyone marched in lockstep on philosophy and beliefs.

    I think there is a balance to be struck. Don’t 99.9% of us march in lockstep on the prohibitions against murder, slavery, theft, fraud, and rape?

    I could go on, but suffice to say I prefer lockstep on some important philosophical points, and would prefer a world in which absolutely everyone agreed with me on those points.

  245. Bron, Thanks for the apology. You’re a standup guy w/ the integrity to apologize. In the scheme of things this was a nothingburger. But, as you see, this miscommunication did not occur in a vacuum. I accept my responsibility using poor grammar and overreacting. Finally, we are sympatico in not wanting a world where we agree w/ everyone. When I’m in Madison, it is an echo chamber and quite stifling. San Diego is much more diverse in every way. We’re cool.

    Nal, Thanks for your comment. It means a lot to me.

    Tony, What empathetic advice. Throughout my career I have helped women find deadbeat dads. I started doing it for friends, acquantances, and then by word of mouth it became women I didn’t know. You see, I did this gratis. I did not even charge my expenses. It wasn’t 100% altruistic, I wrote it all off which helped. I still do this but much less because I’m really not working fulltime. I worked a case gratis that’s still active. I was investigating a shitbird for fraud and came upon an old girlfriend of his. I’ll cut to the chase. When this shitbird lived w/ her the daughter from a previous marriage died, ostensibly of SIDS. I did some investigation and got the case reopened. He almost certainly smothered the child because she was crying..mom was in the shower. When the shitbird learned of this case being reopened he fled. I keep tabs as does the homicide detective. He’ll get arrested somewhere. This woman is so grateful she calls me all the time. She’s poorly educated and very low income. I hate talking on the phone..but I’ll alwaays take her call. Tony, I’m a good man and I don’t need advice or validation from you. My volunteering started in high school tutoring low income students. It continued in college working w/ flood victims and I was a “professional” volunteer w/ VISTA right out of college. Got $375/month.

  246. Hi everyone. I am sorry to have been missing for a while but I broke my ankle recently. I noticed on this thread a lot of personal stuff that, as you know, we do not allow on this site. We remain committed to our civility rule at this site — something that distinguishes this site from other sites. There is no need to make any of this personal. We can be passionate about these issues without dishing on each other. Now even if you don’t respect the civility rule, for the sake of my ankle, stay civil. Please.

  247. Teach for America’s new partnership with largest for-profit charter network
    By Valerie Strauss

    Teach for America loves to expand its reach, and so it has again, this time partnering with the controversial Imagine schools, the nation’s largest for-profit charter school network.

    That’s an interesting pairing.

    Imagine is based in Arlington, Virginia, with some 75 schools in more than a dozen states, including Maryland, and the District of Columbia. The for-profit charter operator has been investigated in some states for the way it exercises control over the schools it manages, essentially ignoring the boards of trustees that are supposed to really run the schools.

    It has also come under scrutiny for its complicated real estate deals that generate millions of public dollars for Imagine. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, for example, detailed the deals involving six Imagine schools operating with public money in St. Louis. Essentially Imagine opened schools and then sold the buildings in which the schools operated to a company that then leased them back to Imagine at often extremely high rates, which are, of course, paid for out of public money.

    Beyond the rent, the paper also reported that Imagine’s charter schools must pay 12 percent of their budget for management costs. Still, it said, some Imagine schools were missing pencils, paper, books and other basic supplies.

    As for student outcomes, the standardized test scores in that city’s Imagine schools are below the state and city average, the paper said.

    And that’s just what’s going on in one city. There’s trouble in others, too.

    Now Imagine is partnering with Teach for America, the organization that takes new college graduates, gives them five weeks of training in a summer institute and — thinking that five weeks is somehow enough preparation — sends these recruits into some of America’s neediest schools to teach troubled kids in a quest to help close the achievement gap.

    The press release, naturally, indicates none of the above. I’m publishing it as the best example I’ve seen lately of a public announcement that just makes you shake your head and wonder whether the people involved really believe their own publicity.

  248. TONY C:

    it depends on how you define theft and slavery. Personally, I am against all kinds at any level of misbegotten gain from any party.

  249. Bron,

    I don’t think the key is giving up on changing people’s minds. That a fundamental underlying mechanism of the marketplace of ideas. The key to not making yourself crazy in the process is not caring if they don’t change their mind. It’s their decision. If you don’t change their mind, maybe someone else will. Maybe they won’t ever change. Some people are simply broken and incapable of learning or changing their mind. In the end, you make the arguments and the arguments stand or fall on the merits. How many times in our disagreements over the years have I told you I don’t care if you change your mind? A great many and it is as true today as it was the first time I said it. How many times have I said
    agreement is not required? I have always known that your mind is yours to change and the best that can be done is to present options for you to choose from. Sleep in class? Pay attention? Some like Coke, some like Pepsi, but the choice remains yours.

    However, true anger in the light of having your preconceptions and prejudice is always a self-defeating option. Your response to the XCKD cartoon OS posted shows you know this. True anger harms only the self. Does anyone paying attention really think that Louis Black is as angry in person as he appears on stage? He’d catch fire if he was. The mask of anger can have utility in an argument. The mask, however, is not the real thing. Appearance is not always reality and the study of propaganda will reveal that truth if one has not come to that conclusion via other paths. Real anger? Not so much utility. It harms the holder. I know this because Buddha (and Jesus and Confucius and Aristotle, et al.) tells me so. True anger makes people irrational. The only utility in true anger is arousing it in your opponent as it causes them to make mistakes. I know this because Sun Tzu told me so and because I have seen it in action.

    nick’s mask slipped and revealed that behind it is simply true anger.

    While this makes him infinitely predictable, it does not change that his actions run him afoul of one of the very few rules we do have in this place. Something that has (as you know) eventual consequences. One can illustrate the futility of his persistent ad hominem over substance attacks. One can warn him he’s behaving in a way that is not acceptable to the community and that there are consequences for those choices. The choice of paths is his just as your choice of paths is yours and mine is mine. Absent the fluttering of ego, in the end, that’s all there is: options, choice and consequence.

    If someone’s choice is true anger in response to everything and everyone who doesn’t agree with them?

    It’s sad and ultimately self-defeating, but it is their choice.

    Unless, of course, they are a malignant narcissist or suffering from some other kind of mental defect. There is a difference between, for example, having bad ideas promulgated by sociopaths and actually being a sociopath. One is not a barrier to being part of a community as agreement is not required. The other? Most certainly is. And the proof of that is always in the eating of the pudding.

  250. “I would hope some of these people consider me a cyber friend but I have no illusions that they agree or ever will agree with my economics or politics. I agree with them on individual rights and disagree with them on much.”


    I do consider you a cyber friend, but we will never agree on economics, or politics. Our agreement on individual rights though is quite important. Many of my social friends would make you look like a progressive politically and I like them anyway. If we all agreed here it would be a dreary place.

  251. Nick: Tony, I’m a good man and I don’t need advice or validation from you.

    I see, but you have no compunctions whatsoever in repeatedly telling the rest of us to get out and walk, start with a few blocks, the endorphins will do you good. Plus, do not forget you are mind, body, and spirit! Plus, we should not forget, as you told Bron, we are all losers that do not agree with you.

    You are a hypocrite, Nick.

    JT: Just playing some tit for tat.

  252. Bron,

    What Mike said. I’d add that it’s good to have people challenge our positions on different subjects/issues. It makes us question our own beliefs and positions more carefully.

  253. Bron: Please consider those words (theft and slavery) in the literal sense of their definitions, not some expanded view. One person with zero governmental or legal authority to do so taking your money or your property against your will. Person A with zero governmental or legal authority to do so using force or the threat of it to make Person B work for the benefit of Person A, without any agreement ever by Person B to do so.

    I think everybody but perhaps psychopaths are in lockstep on those points.

  254. Folks:

    I must admit I am at a bit of a quandry here. 98% of the time most people here I disagree with I can at least respect and understand where they are coming from and I don’t see the need to engage in criticizing their personal character and I agree this type of behavior degrades the blog.

    But what is to be considered acceptable to that other 2% where a person makes such outrageous allegations such as holocaust denial, conspiracy theories, and then goes on a warpath of attacking the other bloggers, and it is their personal character that is at the heart of their insane beliefs and posts? Is it that poisonous character that can be considered to be fair game to criticize or should we just say our piece to dispute their claims and say nothing about the underlying cause of their maligned beliefs, their personal flaws?

    Succinctly, we can look at two persons. Rand Paul and Pol Pot. Many can criticize Rand Paul’s politics but it isn’t really fair to say he is evil. Is it fair to call him a fool for some of his policies or his failure to recognize certain aspects of his approach? We call Pol Pot hearless murdering and depraved tyrrant and it would not be any exaggeration of the sorts, but where does one judge what is to be considered an acceptable retort, when the other party is the holocaust denying, or racist commenter?

  255. Tony C.
    I was speaking in the broadest sense, not looking for details. There are always commonalities of interest among people of good will who are interested in getting along. On the other hand, there are some people who could start a fight in an empty room.

  256. Darren: How do you know you are right about their personal character?

    I am an atheist, because between some combination of nature and nurture (my agnostic father raised me to question all authority, including his own), I came to my own conclusion forty years ago that religion is all lies, the remnants of stories told to frighten untrained minds into submission, and I have seen only reinforcement of that conclusion since then.

    Atheists are less trusted in this country than sex offenders, and I have heard many a person (both first hand and second hand from my fellow atheists) attribute all sorts of depraved thoughts and motivations to atheists, and they are certain they are right. They are not.

    We always face the chance of serious error when determining the contents of a closed box (a skull in this case) by inference.

  257. Tony,

    “How do you know you are right about their personal character?”

    Just like you do in meatspace. Absent action, words depart information. All kinds of both direct and indirect information in fact. The completeness and validity of that information under the light of critical scrutiny is another issue and as with anything probability is not that fickle and often false mistress certainty. Estimating the character of others absent action is always an estimation and sometimes even then. Unless you’re psychic. This is part and parcel of why psychology – even in these days of increasing ability to discern physiological causation with tools like the fMRI and modern neurochemistry – is a soft science that has a large component of art to it.

  258. Mr. Turley, I apologize to you for any angst I may have caused, broken ankle or not. I’m still being lectured to by folks but I will unilaterally withdraw further response out of respect for you and your request. I’m the first and almost certainly the last to apologize. However, I seriously doubt I was the ONLY person to whom you were speaking, unless I am “everyone.”

    Is there some reckless b@stard that can be sued for your medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of earnings and consortium?

  259. Gene: There are not that many atheists in the country; when I first concluded I was an atheist, only about 2% or 3% of people in the country openly identified as atheists. Many more are “out of the closet” now, but I was speaking from personal experience; I don’t think that 98% of people vehemently disagreeing with me on an issue (like the existence of a deity) makes me insane, or grants a license to abuse me.

    I think we can over time discern character without much error; to me the telling points of character are the inconsistencies and contradictions presented by the person in question. Bad logic and the inconsistent application of their supposed “principles” are indicative of at best careless thinking, and at worst (like Ayn Rand) a rotten to the core belief system of vindictive selfishness and disregard that they are trying to dress up as a “philosophy.”

  260. I guess I should also apologize for some of the comments I have made where I have also criticized personally some of our more inflamatory commenters. I tried to make an effort to do better as when the case of the last time Professor Turley requested this a few months ago. But, I got caught up in some of the flame wars that ensued from some rather racist and holocaust denial advocates.

    Everyone could do some good from what is discussed here based upon their own situation. In my own world I took to heart what was happening to the distillery, Ogden’s Own, which produces the Five Wives Vodka which was illegally banned in Idaho and the subject of several blog subjects and Professor Turley’s legal help and was upset as to what was going on. So I took action and helped them bring it into Washington State, (my store was the first in WA to sell it) Now, many stores carry their products here. And, I did it because I felt it was unjust what Idaho did and I wanted to embarass Idaho for their actions and help out the underdog. When I brought the product to my store, I took out a big advert in the newspaper of our state’s capital, ridiculing the state of Idaho for its actions and promiting Ogden’s Own’s product. I have sold a lot of their products, all generating revenue for WA and sales for the distillery.

    Anyone can do something similar, find the right topic, take action, and do the right thing.

  261. Nick says, I’m the first and almost certainly the last to apologize.

    That’s hilarious, he turns his apology into the very kind of insult and character attack on everybody else for which he is supposedly apologizing!

  262. Darren,

    From what I’ve seen, you have noting to apologize for. You generally follow the Ethic of Reciprocity whether you decide to engage or turn the other cheek. You understand the idea of “don’t start none, won’t be none”. You also understand that the EoR does not obligate you to either suffer fools or turn other cheek in response. It is an obligation on your actions, not your reactions in response to the actions of others. You are exactly as nice to people as they let you be, which in your case is generally pretty nice.

  263. “I apologize to you for any angst I may have caused, broken ankle or not. I’m still being lectured to by folks but I will unilaterally withdraw further response out of respect for you and your request.”

    And Nick,

    I sincerely apologize to you, if by ill chance you somehow misinterpreted my discussion with you as attacking you in any way other than on the merits.

  264. Mike,

    You reference Mr. South’s song fairly frequently and I must say every time you do, I’m a bit surprised that someone hasn’t had success with a remake of it in the intervening years. It’s a well written song.

  265. Gene,

    It is a catchy song musically and very meaningful lyrically. As you know it’s take from the title of Eric Berne’s book “The Games People Play”. That book had a profound effect on me at a crucial time in my life in the late 60’s. Berne invented Transactional Analysis, which is a sister therapy to Gestalt. I think that book is still valuable for people today and the song does get a lot of the books essence.

  266. Gene,

    “And they while away their hours,
    In their Ivory Towers,
    Til they wind up with flowers in the back
    of a black limousine”

  267. Indeed, Mike.

    “Everything that has a beginning has an end.” – Buddha

    (I know it may come as a shock to some of you, but the Oracle borrowed that bit of wisdom.)

  268. tony c:

    I think many people still need God to behave. And I think some people are atheists because they have rotten souls and are scared of the consequences.

    I dont think most people can act morally without God. Granted, many act badly because of God but the majority of people are moral because of a religious belief. Please dont use Westboro Baptists and Jihadis as examples, they are but a small minority of people who pervert religion to bad ends.

  269. Bron,

    I think there is truth in that. Psychological studies on cheating have revealed that people are quite a bit more willing to cheat when they don’t think they are being observed and there are no immediate consequences known. I can see where that comports to ethical behavior in general and the practice of religion.

  270. Bron,

    “I dont think most people can act morally without God.”

    I think you’re wrong. Ethical people of principle who have empathy for their fellow man can certainly act morally without a belief in God. Haven’t we seen enough religious people who have done terribly immoral things–including members of the Catholic clergy? Haven’t we seen and learned about religious wars? Haven’t we witnessed people who have done terrible things in the name of religion? Aren’t there many religions where women are treated as second class citizens?

  271. Gene,

    Is not cheating because you’re afraid God will see you considered a form of ethical behavior? I think a better example of ethical behavior is not cheating because you believe it’s wrong to do so.

  272. Elaine,

    I’ll have to agree there is a divergence between the word “many” and “most”. Many people probably do need to compunction provided by an imaginary invisible Sky-daddy looking over their shoulder. Most? Probably not. And the question you point to indirectly is “Are the injustices perpetrated by those who would use religion as a tool to control and oppress a cost worthy of the benefit of using religion instead of rationally based ethics as a guideline in modern society?”

    While that point is debatable, I would tend to agree with you that no, the costs are not worth the benefits any more. Being primitive in your beliefs in the information age is a choice. We know for a fact that storms are not the anger of Poseidon.

  273. Elaine,

    “Is not cheating because you’re afraid God will see you considered a form of ethical behavior?”

    In outcome, certainly, but ethical intent without coercion is by far the better individual choice.

    “I think a better example of ethical behavior is not cheating because you believe it’s wrong to do so.”


  274. Gene,

    Some religious people “know for a fact” that the Earth is thousands–not millions–of years old. They figured that out from reading a “nonfiction” book. I think you know what tome I’m talking about.

  275. Elaine,

    And therein lies the basic problem with fundamentalism (of any stripe) and treating a book of parables and allegory as literal. It’s delusional behavior. But not all religious people are fundamentalists and/or delusional. Look to our own Orolee as a prime example of a rational being with religious foundations for his ethics.

  276. Gene,
    You are spot on about fundamentalism. It is dangerous whether it is the Taliban or the Religious right.

  277. Gene,

    I didn’t imply that all religious people are fundamentalists. That’s why I used the word “some” in my sentence.

    I have old and dear friends who are very religious. They’re Roman Catholics. They attended parochial school with me. They kept their faith.I lost mine when I was in my early twenties. BTW, I was taught in my Catholic high school that the Bible should not be taken literally.

  278. Bron: Sorry, I was working.

    Particularly in the Biblical religions, the idea that confessing one’s sins clears the deck seems like a recipe for betting on sin; or more specifically, betting one can sin and make to to confession to erase it.

    I, for one, am grounded in evolutionary psychology and do not believe people need God to behave. I think that long ago when people were uneducated and naive, what was repeatedly discovered by the elite was that frightening people with religion, backed up by small amounts of brutality, worked better as a tool of enslavement than large amounts of brutality alone. Religion frightens people into obeying whatever the rules may be; and one of the rules in almost all religions is abject obedience to the authority of the parents, the church, and the hierarchy in place. Revolt is punished by eternal damnation of the soul.

    People do not need the threat of God to behave, patriarchs need the threat of God’s power to control people with their arbitrary, self-serving rules.

    The prohibitions on murder, theft, perjury, etc do not need a God to punish them, and in fact virtually nobody actually leaves the punishment for those sins to God, those crimes get prosecuted and punished by humans.

    (I find it ridiculous that an all powerful and all-knowing God would give instructions to men for punishing men when presumably he could punish the criminals Himself, with greater certainty and no error. It is just another drop of evidence in the bucket of “all made up.”)

  279. Why ‘school reform’ is a misnomer — principal
    Posted by Valerie Strauss
    February 3, 2013

    Carol Burris is the award-winning principal of South Side High School in New York who has been at the forefront of opposition to New York State’s new teacher evaluation system. Named the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State, Burris is one of the co-authors of the principals’ letter against evaluating teachers by student test scores, which has been signed by 1,535 New York principals. Here are excerpts from the keynote address that Burris delivered last week to the New York Performance Standards Consortium:

    We are living through a time of unrelenting change driven by political and economic agendas. It is inappropriately referred to as education reform. The label reform is not appropriate because there are three possible outcomes that can follow from externally mandated school change — our schools can become worse, they can stay the same, or they can improve. Improvement would qualify as reform.

    However, I do not think improvement is the most likely outcome when the culture and values of the corporate world are forced upon public education.

    And for those who seek to profit from the turmoil caused by chaotic change, public education is the new real estate bubble. It is the way of capitalism to always seek new markets. In the words of Mr. Murdoch: Public education is a $500 billion market waiting desperately to be transformed.

    And so each of us has a choice to make for our students and for our profession. We can stand up and speak out against ill-conceived change, or we can cower, hunker down and allow our profession and our public schools to slowly be dismantled.

    I guess that brings us to the principals’ letter against APPR and how it came to be. When my Long Island colleagues and I first heard that the New York State Education Department was seriously considering evaluating teachers by test scores, we did not really believe that it would happen. We thought the idea was ludicrous — we thought it was political pandering — and that somehow reason would prevail. We were wrong. When we saw the final plan, and realized that we were to rate teachers with numbers in order to sort them into four categories, we were both indignant and outraged. Not only was this an assault on the professionalism of teaching, we knew that the negative consequences for our students and our schools would be enormous. Although we understood that the intent of policymakers was school improvement, we knew that the opposite –school decline, was a far more likely outcome of the evaluation system called APPR.

    We were naïve enough, however, to believe that the opinion of the principals of some of the most successful schools in New York State – principals who led schools on every national list of success — would matter. We thought that someone in Albany might respect what we had to say. Silly us. We didn’t know that we were waiting desperately to be transformed.

  280. The Neoliberal Attack on Education
    Posted on Oct 17, 2012
    By Henry A. Giroux, Truthout

    Public education is under assault by a host of religious, economic, ideological and political fundamentalists. The most serious attack is being waged by advocates of neoliberalism, whose reform efforts focus narrowly on high-stakes testing, traditional texts and memorization drills. At the heart of this approach is an aggressive attempt to disinvest in public schools, replace them with charter schools, and remove state and federal governments completely from public education in order to allow education to be organized and administered by market-driven forces.[1] Schools would “become simply another corporate asset bundled in credit default swaps,” valuable for their rate of exchange and trade value on the open market.[2] It would be an understatement to suggest that there is something very wrong with American public education. For a start, this counter-revolution is giving rise to punitive evaluation schemes, harsh disciplinary measures, and the ongoing deskilling of many teachers that together are reducing many excellent educators to the debased status of technicians and security personnel. Additionally, as more and more wealth is distributed to the richest Americans and corporations, states are drained of resources and are shifting the burden of such deficits on to public schools and other vital public services. With 40 percent of wealth going to the top 1 percent, public services are drying up from lack of revenue and more and more young people find themselves locked out of the dream of getting a decent education or a job while being robbed of any hope for the future.

    As the nation’s schools and infrastructure suffer from a lack of resources, right-wing politicians are enacting policies that lower the taxes of the rich and mega corporations. For the elite, taxes constitute a form of class warfare waged by the state against the rich, who view the collection of taxes as a form of state coercion. What is ironic in this argument is the startling fact that not only are the rich not taxed fairly, but they also receive over $92 billion in corporate subsidies. But there is more at stake here than untaxed wealth and revenue, there is also the fact that wealth corrupts and buys power. And this poisonous mix of wealth, politics and power translates into an array of anti-democratic practices that creates an unhealthy society in every major index, ranging from infant mortality rates, to a dysfunctional political system.[3]

    What is hidden in this empty outrage by the wealthy is that the real enemy here is any form of government that believes it needs to raise revenue in order to build infrastructures, provide basic services for those who need them, and develop investments such as a transportation system and schools that are not tied to the logic of the market. One consequence of this vile form of class warfare is a battle over crucial resources, a battle that has dire political and educational consequences especially for the poor and middle classes, if not democracy itself.

    Money no longer simply controls elections; it also controls policies that shape public education. One indicator of such corruption is that hedge fund managers now sit on school boards across the country doing everything in their power to eliminate public schools and punish unionized teachers who do not support charter schools. In New Jersey, hundreds of teachers have been sacked because of alleged budget deficits. Not only is Governor Christie using the deficit argument to fire teachers, he also uses it to break unions and balance the budget on the backs of students and teachers. How else to explain Christie’s refusal to oppose reinstituting the “millionaires taxes,” or his cravenly support for lowering taxes for the top 25 hedge fund officers, who in 2009 raked in $25 billion, enough to fund 658,000 entry-level teachers.[4]

    In this conservative right-wing reform culture, the role of public education, if we are to believe the Heritage Foundation and the likes of Bill Gates-type billionaires, is to produce students who laud conformity, believe job training is more important than education, and view public values as irrelevant. Students in this view are no longer educated for democratic citizenship. On the contrary, they are now being trained to fulfill the need for human capital.[5] What is lost in this approach to schooling is what Noam Chomsky calls “creating creative and independent thought and inquiry, challenging perceived beliefs, exploring new horizons and forgetting external constraints.”[6] At the same time, public schools are under assault not because they are failing (though some are) but because they are one of the few public spheres left where people can learn the knowledge and skills necessary to allow them to think critically and hold power and authority accountable. Not only are the lines between the corporate world and public education blurring, but public schooling is being reduced to what Peter Seybold calls a “corporate service station,” in which the democratic ideals at the heart of public education are now up for sale.[7] At the heart of this crisis of education are larger questions about the formative culture necessary for a democracy to survive, the nature of civic education and teaching in dark times, the role of educators as civic intellectuals and what it means to understand the purpose and meaning of education as a site of individual and collective empowerment.

  281. Why the United States Is Destroying Its Education System
    Posted on Apr 11, 2011
    By Chris Hedges

    A nation that destroys its systems of education, degrades its public information, guts its public libraries and turns its airwaves into vehicles for cheap, mindless amusement becomes deaf, dumb and blind. It prizes test scores above critical thinking and literacy. It celebrates rote vocational training and the singular, amoral skill of making money. It churns out stunted human products, lacking the capacity and vocabulary to challenge the assumptions and structures of the corporate state. It funnels them into a caste system of drones and systems managers. It transforms a democratic state into a feudal system of corporate masters and serfs.

    Teachers, their unions under attack, are becoming as replaceable as minimum-wage employees at Burger King. We spurn real teachers—those with the capacity to inspire children to think, those who help the young discover their gifts and potential—and replace them with instructors who teach to narrow, standardized tests. These instructors obey. They teach children to obey. And that is the point. The No Child Left Behind program, modeled on the “Texas Miracle,” is a fraud. It worked no better than our deregulated financial system. But when you shut out debate these dead ideas are self-perpetuating.

    Passing bubble tests celebrates and rewards a peculiar form of analytical intelligence. This kind of intelligence is prized by money managers and corporations. They don’t want employees to ask uncomfortable questions or examine existing structures and assumptions. They want them to serve the system. These tests produce men and women who are just literate and numerate enough to perform basic functions and service jobs. The tests elevate those with the financial means to prepare for them. They reward those who obey the rules, memorize the formulas and pay deference to authority. Rebels, artists, independent thinkers, eccentrics and iconoclasts—those who march to the beat of their own drum—are weeded out.

    “Imagine,” said a public school teacher in New York City, who asked that I not use his name, “going to work each day knowing a great deal of what you are doing is fraudulent, knowing in no way are you preparing your students for life in an ever more brutal world, knowing that if you don’t continue along your scripted test prep course and indeed get better at it you will be out of a job. Up until very recently, the principal of a school was something like the conductor of an orchestra: a person who had deep experience and knowledge of the part and place of every member and every instrument. In the past 10 years we’ve had the emergence of both [Mayor] Mike Bloomberg’s Leadership Academy and Eli Broad’s Superintendents Academy, both created exclusively to produce instant principals and superintendents who model themselves after CEOs. How is this kind of thing even legal? How are such ‘academies’ accredited? What quality of leader needs a ‘leadership academy’? What kind of society would allow such people to run their children’s schools? The high-stakes tests may be worthless as pedagogy but they are a brilliant mechanism for undermining the school systems, instilling fear and creating a rationale for corporate takeover. There is something grotesque about the fact the education reform is being led not by educators but by financers and speculators and billionaires.”

    Teachers, under assault from every direction, are fleeing the profession. Even before the “reform” blitzkrieg we were losing half of all teachers within five years after they started work—and these were people who spent years in school and many thousands of dollars to become teachers. How does the country expect to retain dignified, trained professionals under the hostility of current conditions? I suspect that the hedge fund managers behind our charter schools system—whose primary concern is certainly not with education—are delighted to replace real teachers with nonunionized, poorly trained instructors. To truly teach is to instill the values and knowledge which promote the common good and protect a society from the folly of historical amnesia. The utilitarian, corporate ideology embraced by the system of standardized tests and leadership academies has no time for the nuances and moral ambiguities inherent in a liberal arts education. Corporatism is about the cult of the self. It is about personal enrichment and profit as the sole aim of human existence. And those who do not conform are pushed aside.

  282. Capitalism and the War on Public Education

    by Charles Sullivan / November 8th, 2010

    […school reform movement…] is sweeping the country as part of a political agenda to privatize the public domain and put it under absolute corporate control.

    “Right-wing politicians of the Republican and Democratic parties are wrecking what remains of the public education system. They have been doing so for decades. Some of them are castigating it as socialist. Under the guise of reform, a movement is afoot to under fund public schools and replace them with ‘for profit’ charter schools. Firing qualified teachers and busting teachers unions is part of the process. College and University education is being priced out of the reach of working class people. We are witnessing the death of the liberal arts. The war on public education is a front in the broader class war that pits workers against owners and the working class against the wealthy.”

    “The war on public education is part of a broader capitalist agenda to produce a global plantation of private owners and worker drones. Their purpose is not to produce an educated citizenry, but to deliver an obedient and cheap work force to the corporate plantation.”

  283. http://dissidentvoice.org/2013/01/the-testing-logjam-dynamited-teacher-style-how-standardization-race-to-the-bottom-sic-top-and-most-children-left-behind-nclb-sic-frame-how-we-talk-about-education/
    The Testing Logjam Dynamited Teacher-style

    How Standardization, Race to the Bottom (sic-Top) and Most Children Left Behind (NCLB – sic) frame how we talk about education

    by Paul Haeder / January 24th, 2013

    Can culture-civilization-the world-with-us survive as schools privatize, turn into pipelines to prison and fall prey to charter schools for the rich & broken windows and computers for the poor?

    “Preface — Thanks to DV for providing teachers, et al. this column-writing space. It’s absolutely important to emphasize the School Yard Fights our culture and the globe are fomenting. As a call to others out there – theorists, higher education teachers, PK12 educators, cognitive behaviorists, creative artists, planners, anyone with a point or points to make around E-D-U-C-A-T-I-O-N – I want your stuff sent to me, at gro.eciovtnedissid@luap. It’s a great big topic. Lots of leeway. So bring it on: Poems, photographs, personal narratives, wonky stuff, and just good old opinion writing and creative non-fiction. Hell, fiction is accepted to. Capiche? And, yes, adjunct faculty writers rule, too.”

    “Of course, the large majority of critics of the teachers – dedicated instructors who are not just rebelling but creating a movement toward gaining back the curriculum and the narrative — are anti-worker, anti-collective action, AKA, anti-union.”

    (Read ALL);

  284. Kia mau ki te Kaupapa ! (Hold fast to the Vision)
    Indigenous Struggle for the Transformation of Education and Schooling

    Transformative Praxis

    “Underpinning the Maori intervention elements described above are important understandings about transformative praxis and by extension, critical pedagogy. The intervention strategies applied by Maori in New Zealand are complex and respond simultaneously to multiple formations of oppression and exploitation. This expansive resistance approach is important in responding to the new formations and re-shaping of cultural oppression(s) and economic exploitation(s). That is, multiply formed oppressions need to be responded to multiply formed resistance strategies.”

    “The position implicit within the new formations of Maori intervention, and which may have wider significance for other indigenous populations…”

    “One of the most exciting developments with respect to the organic resistance initiatives of Maori in the 1980s and 1990s has been the discernible shift and maturing in the way resistance activities are being understood and practiced.”

    “Where indigenous people are in educational crises, indigenous educators and teachers must be trained to be ‘change agents’, to develop transformation of the undesirable circumstances. They must develop a ‘radical pedagogy’ (a teaching approach for change). Such pedagogy must also be informed by their own cultural preferences and respond to their own critical circumstance.”

    Kia mau ki te Kaupapa ! (Hold fast to the Vision)

  285. “Teacher Bashing Has To Stop”
    CTC Fired Lawyer Carroll on Conflicts Of Interests & Lobbyists

    Whistleblower and Fired Commission On Teacher Credentials lawyerKathleen Carroll on 1/22/2012 made a presentation on Conflicts Of Interest, Lobbyists & Privatization Of California Public Education.
    For further video on Kathleen Carroll go to:

  286. Professor George Wright from Skyline Community College who is also a member of AFT 1493 puts historical context into the present privatization and destruction of public education. He also looks at how capitalism in the post war period has driven the present crisis. George Wright is also on the Steering Committed of United Public Workers For Action which hosted the conference. It was held on January 22, 2012 at Laney College in Oakland.

    A more complete document is at

  287. Author and historian Gray Brechin reports on the organized selling off of the University Libraries and the export of brains. According toBrechin, this plan is to make the UC a privatized corporation for billionaire regents and the corporations.
    Brechin outlines the history of UC and how the now rapid push for profits through privatization threatensa great public university built over generations by the people in California.

  288. Corporate Shills, Propaganda And The Media Agenda For Education Privatization with

    Mickey Huff, a professor at Diablo Valley College and director of Project Censored as well as a co-host of the KPFA Project Censored show gave a report on the media coverage and framing of charters and privatization.

  289. Sorry about that one…Mickey Huff’s video title:
    Mickey Huff Of Project Censored On The Media And The Media & The Attack On Public Education

  290. Mickey Huff, a professor at Diablo Valley College and director of Project Censored as well as a co-host of the KPFA Project Censored show gave a report on the media coverage and framing of charters and privatization.
    Mickey Huff:

  291. Published on Jan 21, 2013

    Danny Weil is a teacher, author and journalist who is an expert on privatization and charters.He writes for “Truth Out” “Daily Censored” and other publications. At an education conference on Privatization of Public Education and the Unions in San Francisco he discusses the corporate financialization of public education and and how this is destroying the public education in the United States along with the role of the education unions in confronting this frontal attack on public education.
    The presentation was made on January 19, 2012 and was sponsored by United Public Workers For Action with the title “Public Education, Privatization and The NEA/CTA, SEIU and AFT/CFT and What Can Education Workers, Students & Parents Do To Defend Public Education?”.
    Production of United Public Workers For Action

  292. School Vouchers and Privatization: A Reference Handbook (Contemporary Education Issues) [Hardcover]
    Danny Weil (Author)

    “The book covers everything from school vouchers to little-known market-based educational reforms like for-profit management of public schools, commercialism in the classroom, philanthropic tuition sponsorships, faith-based charities, educational tax credits, corporate curriculum, and advertising as well as exclusive agreements between companies and schools. It includes case studies of two well-established voucher systems: the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program and the private national voucher policy in Chile, a program started in l973. The book also includes a chronology, directories, bibliographies, and other reference content.”

  293. Papantonio: Texas Schools Ban Critical Thinking
    Published on Nov 13, 2012

    If you saw an article on the Internet telling you that schools in Texas were trying to ban the teaching of critical thinking, you’d probably think it was an article written by The Onion. But the sad and scary truth is that Republicans in Texas are actually writing laws that would ban school teachers from teaching their students how to look at facts, analyze data, and form conclusions based on observations. Essentially — they are trying to prevent children from developing critical thinking skills. Mike Papantonio talks about the dark ages mentality of Texas Republicans with Danny Weil, an investigative journalist with Truthout.

    Texas GOP Declares: “No More Teaching of ‘Critical Thinking Skills’ in Texas Public Schools”

  294. Bruce,

    I see you’ve been busy!


    Plutocracy with a Philanthropic Face
    Posted on September 10, 2011
    by Sam Pizzigati

    But plutocrats today don’t all spout crude libertarian bromides or even play footsie, as the Kochs have, with sloganeering from our segregationist past.

    Indeed, many of our mega rich bear little resemblance to the brothers Koch. These more enlightened plutocrats seem to obsess over philanthropy, not profits. They do their sliding in and out of foundation board rooms, pledging their support, at one high-minded symposium after another, for initiatives sure to bring “efficiency” and “innovation” to our society’s most pressing problems.

    This may be plutocracy’s future face, what plutocracy, in the 21st century, really “looks like.” What will this plutocracy really do, for — and to — us? We have one clue from the ongoing high-stakes battle over reforming America’s public schools.
    “The hottest cause among Wall Street hedge-fund managers these days is not financial reform,” as the Toronto Globe and Mail’s chief U.S. political writer, Konrad Yakabuski, noted earlier this month. “It’s education reform.”

    Billionaires, of course, have every right as citizens to advocate whatever public policy stance and vision they choose. But, in a deeply unequal America, these billionaires don’t just have rights. Their immense fortunes give them enormous power, more than enough to dominate, not just advocate.

    “A few billion dollars in private foundation money, strategically invested every year for a decade, has sufficed,” notes education analyst Joanne Barkan, “to define the national debate on education.”

    Three billionaire foundations set the pace for this defining, one funded out of the Microsoft fortune, one out of Wal-Mart, and one out of the AIG insurance empire. The Gates, Walton, and Broad foundations don’t agree on every single educational policy twist. But they do all follow the same basic script.
    America’s public schools are failing poor kids, this script’s storyline posits, because too many ineffective teachers are staffing our classrooms. We need to test kids to identify — and replace — these ineffective teachers. We need to hire good teachers, pay them extra if they perform well, and keep subjecting students to standardized tests to make sure these good teachers keep performing.

    Teacher unions, the storyline continues, will fight these reforms. But real reformers can beat back the unions — by shutting down “failing” schools, for instance, and replacing them with publicly funded, privately managed “charter schools.” Such charter schools will succeed because they don’t have to worry about due process, seniority, or any other teacher union contract niceties.

    This entire approach to school “reform” rests on two seldom defended assumptions. The first: that poor kids would learn just fine if only they only had better teachers. The second: that student scores on standardized tests give us all we need to identify better teachers.

    But independent education researchers have repeatedly exposed the emptiness of both these assumptions. The research consensus, one recent survey relates, has concluded that teaching likely “accounts for about 15 percent of student achievement outcomes.”

    Out-of-school factors — poverty dynamics that range from homelessness and hunger to home and neighborhood instability — make four times more impact.

    And high-stakes standardized tests can be gamed, add researchers like Harvard’s Dan Koretz, by drilling students in “test-taking strategies that pollute testers’ ability to see what the students actually know.”

    If drilling fails, the high stakes in high-stakes testing — “pay for performance” bonuses and promotions — create systemic incentives for cheating. Massive testing scandals have already surfaced in Atlanta, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., three cities where billionaire foundations have wielded massive influence.

  295. Scrutiny on Murdoch’s School Reform Agenda Grows
    Dana Goldstein
    July 21, 2011

    If you watched Rupert Murdoch’s weak-sauce testimony in front of the British Parliament Tuesday, you might have felt just a teensy bit sorry for former New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein, who sat directly behind Murdoch the entire afternoon, pouting.

    Sure, Klein is probably earning more money than God in his new role as executive vice president at News Corp. But the Justice Department attorney turned data-and-accountability school reformer signed up with Murdoch to get out of the harsh political limelight and help News Corp. make a mint selling educational technology products to school districts. Instead, Klein now finds himself heading up the company’s internal response to the explosive phone-hacking scandal, which has tainted nearly every august institution in British society, from Fleet Street to the Cameron government to Scotland Yard.

    The FBI is currently investigating News Corp. to learn if its illegal and unethical activities victimized any American citizens, or penetrated the company’s US holdings, which include Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.

    But what’s been less well understood is the impact the scandal might have on Murdoch’s attempt to make a profit off the American public sector, most notably through seeking to provide technology services, such as data-tracking systems and video lessons, to public school districts.

    Last November, shortly after hiring Klein, News Corp. acquired Wireless Generation, an education technology firm that had worked closely with Klein during his tenure as chancellor on two projects: ARIS, a controversial (and buggy) data system that warehouses students’ standardized test scores and demographic profiles; and School of One, a more radical attempt to use technology to personalize instruction, reorganize classrooms, and reduce the size of the teaching force.

    The acquisition put Klein, who was set to supervise Wireless Generation, in an awkward position vis à vis city ethics regulations. The Times reported:

    Conflict-of-interest rules set strict limits for city employees, both during and after their tenure, which could make Mr. Klein’s transition a tricky one. City employees are never allowed to disclose confidential information about the city’s business dealings or future strategy, and they cannot communicate with the agency for which they worked for one year after they leave. The rules also bar them from ever working on matters they had substantial involvement in as city employees.

    It seemed unlikely Klein would be able to fully follow those mandates when, in May, the city Department of Education renewed its contract with Wireless Generation, asking the company to provide testing materials and software. Last month, New York State moved to award Wireless Generation a $27 million no-bid contact to create a state student data-tracking system similar to ARIS—despite the fact that many New York City principals have decided not to use the $80 million software, which doesn’t track helpful day-to-day information on attendance, behavior or homework completion.

  296. News Corp. Education Tablet: For The Love Of Learning?
    by David Folkenflik
    March 08, 2013

    The educational division of the media conglomerate News Corp., called Amplify, unveiled a new digital tablet this week at the SXSW tech conference in Austin, Texas, intended to serve millions of schoolchildren and their teachers across the country.

    Amplify promises the tablet will simplify administrative chores for teachers, enable shy children to participate more readily in discussions, and allow students to complete coursework at their own pace while drawing upon carefully selected online research resources.

    News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch views the digital tablet as part of a push to modernize the educational system. But he has another goal in mind as well. The media mogul is counting on future revenues from his educational branch to help shore up the finances of his newspaper and publishing division as it is split off later this year from the conglomerate’s vast holdings in television and entertainment.

    And as a result, News Corp.’s initiative is stirring both interest and controversy.

    In the past few years, Murdoch has described education as a market worth hundreds of billions of dollars. At a May 2011 event in Paris, Murdoch noted that the fields of medicine, finance and media have all accelerated their adoption of technology. But schools have failed to share such advances, he said.

    “Today’s classroom looks almost exactly the same as it did in the Victorian age: a teacher standing in front of a roomful of kids with only a textbook, a blackboard and a piece of chalk,” Murdoch said.

    The person Murdoch hired to lead his charge, Joel Klein, is familiar in education circles. Klein is a Democrat and served as assistant attorney general under President Clinton. He was chancellor of the New York City school system for more than eight years for Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He’s easy to pick out at Amplify’s offices in midtown Manhattan. He’s the only person dressed in a suit and tie in a workspace that more closely resembles a startup — replete with people confidently volleying at a pingpong table and piloting miniature helicopters overhead as their CEO walks by.

    “Critics and others have said, ‘You know … technology has been around a long time, but it hasn’t changed the learning experience,’ ” Klein told NPR. “It’s not about hardware, it’s not about devices, it’s really about learning.

    “And if this does what I believe it will do — which is enhance the teaching and learning processes — then it’s going to be a home run.”

    A sneak peak revealed an Android tablet with a firm silicone jacket (designers say they have to expect pupils to be as careless with the tablets as they are with traditional textbooks). It is customized with apps for teachers to help them run quizzes and determine pupils’ progress with ease while containing all of their coursework in a single, 10-inch device. It comes loaded with Amplify’s curricular materials that satisfy so-called “Common Core” requirements mandated in all but five U.S. states. If Amplify wins the rights to carry most texts electronically — admittedly a tough nut to crack, given how warily publishers view e-books — the tablet can truly serve as a digital backpack.

    Other companies, including such giants as Apple, are trying to sell school districts on the value of their tablets, too. Stephen Smyth, president of Amplify’s Access division that creates the digital platforms on which its curricular material is delivered, argues that his company’s tablet is distinctive because it is designed to allow students to interact with teachers instantaneously.

    “These devices are connected,” Smyth said recently. “If you go to Best Buy or a retailer and buy a tablet off the shelf, it can’t do this. Really, what we’re trying to solve here is actually how to have teachers use tablets in the classroom environment.”

    But some critics question what problem the tablets from Amplify — and its competitors — are solving. Some teachers union officials argue that Amplify’s efforts are part of a disturbing effort to lure politicians with technology that promises to enable teachers to handle more students per class — and thus reduce how many teachers school districts will need to employ.

    Leonie Haimson, executive director of the nonprofit Class Size Matters in New York City, said Klein and Murdoch “believe that public school kids should have larger classes, and instead of getting personalized instruction via their teachers, should do it via a computer.”

    The tablet may well function perfectly well on its own terms, Haimson said, but she contends that Amplify’s goal is less about helping schoolchildren than about turning a profit.

  297. Joel Klein’s Misleading Autobiography
    What the former chancellor of New York City schools’ sleight of hand tells us about education reform
    Richard Rothstein
    October 11, 2012

    This is a story about a story, of how a fiction about impoverished children and public schools corrupts our education policy.

    The fiction is the autobiography of Joel Klein, the former chancellor of the New York City Department of Education. Appointed in 2002 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Klein transformed the city’s public-school system by promoting privately managed charter schools to replace regular public schools, by increasing the consequences for principals and teachers of standardized tests, and by attacking union-sponsored due process and seniority provisions for teachers. From his perch as head of the nation’s largest school district, Klein wielded outsize influence, campaigning to persuade districts and states across the nation to adopt the testing and accountability policies he had established in New York. Deputies he trained when he was chancellor now lead school systems not only in New York but also in Baltimore, Chicago, New Orleans, Newark, and elsewhere.

    Klein resigned in 2010 to develop a new division at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation to sell tablet-based curriculum to public schools. His prominence in national education policy, though, has not diminished. He is chair of the Broad Center, which is funded by Los Angeles billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad to train and place school superintendents who’ve been recruited not only from the education sector but also from leadership positions in government, the military, and corporations. The center’s graduates have included the Obama administration’s assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, state school superintendents in New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Delaware, and district superintendents in Charlotte, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Seattle, and dozens of other cities. Earlier this year, Klein co-chaired, with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a Council on Foreign Relations commission that concluded that the country’s public schools are in such crisis that they threaten national security. Klein has also become a contributor to The Atlantic; his latest piece, in August, denounced “ideological foes of business’ contribution to the public good” who resist efforts of private firms to sell innovative products to public schools.

    Klein and his allies hold teachers primarily responsible for the achievement gap between disadvantaged and middle-class children. In a 2010 “manifesto,” Klein and one of his protégés, Michelle Rhee, the former schools chancellor of Washington, D.C., summed up their campaign like this: “The single most important factor determining whether students succeed in school is not the color of their skin or their ZIP code or even their parents’ income—it is the quality of their teacher.”

    As proof, Klein—and others for him—cites his life story in what has become a stump speech for his brand of school reform. Again and again, Klein recounts his own deprived childhood and how it was a public-school teacher who plucked him from a path to mediocrity or worse. He offers his autobiography as evidence that poverty is no bar to success and that today’s disadvantaged children fail only because they are not rescued by inspiring teachers like those from whom Klein himself had benefitted.

    This has become conventional wisdom in national education policy. As Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has declared, “Klein knows, as I do, that great teachers can transform a child’s life chances—and that poverty is not destiny. It’s a belief deeply rooted in his childhood, as a kid growing up in public housing. … Joel Klein never lost that sense of urgency about education as the great equalizer. He understands that education is the civil-rights issue of our generation, the force that lifts children from public-housing projects to first-generation college students. … In place of a culture of excuses, Klein sought [as chancellor] to build a culture of performance and accountability.”

    Here is Klein’s autobiographical account in his own words, faithful to original context, culled from numerous speeches and interviews that Klein has given and continues to give:

    I grew up in public housing in Queens and grew up in the streets of New York. I always like to think of myself as a kid from the streets, and education changed my life. … I stood on the shoulders of teachers to see a world that I couldn’t have seen growing up in the family that I grew up in.

    My father had dropped out of high school in the tenth grade during the Great Depression. My mother graduated from high school and never went to college. No one in my family had attended college … or knew about college. I had no appreciation of reading or cultural activities. …

    By most people’s lights, we were certainly working-class, poor. … I grew up in a pretty unhappy household. …

    Teachers set expectations for me that were not commensurate with my background or my family’s income. …

    Nobody in [my] school said to me, ‘Well, you grew up in public housing, your parents don’t read, you’ve never been to a museum, so we shouldn’t expect too much from you!’ … I wanted to play ball, I had a girlfriend at the time. I thought school was OK, a little overrated but I thought it was OK. … Mr. Harris, my physics teacher at William Cullen Bryant High School, saw something that I hadn’t seen in myself. … I realized, through him, that the potential of students in inner-city schools is too often untapped. We can fix that. Demography need not be destiny.

    From the day I took the job as chancellor of the New York Public Schools, friends told me that I would never fix education in America until you fix the poverty in our society. … I’m convinced now more than ever that those people have it exactly backwards—because you’ll never fix poverty in America until you fix education.

    I reject categorically the principle that poverty is an insurmountable impediment, because I see that we have surmounted it time and again.

    I never forget and never will forget who I am, where I came from, and what public education did for me. I am still the old kid from Queens.

    The lesson Klein, Duncan, and others draw from this autobiography is that poor children today fail because their teachers, unlike the 1950s Mr. Harris, are overprotected by union contracts, have low expectations for poor students, and so barely try to teach them. To correct this, Klein and others who call themselves “school reformers” hope to identify ineffective teachers and replace them with new ones who rest their security not on union rules but on an ability to rescue children from material and intellectual deprivation.

    Unlike a politician’s biography, which gets vetted by the press, Klein’s account has never been questioned. That’s too bad, because in nearly every detail the story he tells is misleading or untrue. The misrepresentations call into question the reforms he and his acolytes promote.

    As a policy analyst, I have often criticized those who dismiss the powerful influence of poverty on academic achievement and the belief that better teachers can systematically overcome that influence. In making this critique, autobiography influences me as well, because as it turns out, Klein and I grew up in similar circumstances—third-generation, educationally ambitious, Queens, New York, Jewish households, with parents who had nearly identical jobs and incomes. I’m just a few years older than Klein. We attended neighboring schools; I even had the same physics teacher, Mr. Sidney Harris, whom Klein credits with his rescue. We both attended Ivy League colleges (he went to Columbia, I to Harvard), but unlike Klein, I have always considered myself lucky to have come from an academically motivated family and would never dare suggest that I had material or intellectual hardships that were in any way comparable to those faced by poor minority children from housing projects today. Some of my teachers were superb, some not so, but with backgrounds like ours, Klein and I would probably have succeeded no matter what shortcomings our schools might have had.

    Klein is right that “demography need not be destiny.” Human nature and environments are variable, children are complex, and so although disadvantaged children on average perform more poorly than typical middle-class children, some disadvantaged children do better and some do even worse than their circumstances would seem to predict. A few respond exceptionally well to teachers and schools. Some poor parents are literate, take education unusually seriously, seek the best out-of-school enrichment, and read to their children at home. These are the few low-income minority children whom some high-profile charter schools serve. It’s when poverty combines with chaos at home, adult illiteracy, neglect, unaddressed health issues, constant dislocation, and a neighborhood pervaded by addiction and crime that most children in these environments become, in sociologist William Julius Wilson’s phrase, “truly disadvantaged.” It’s these children whose academic performance we must help to improve and who are the target of most self-described school reformers.

    For Klein’s life story to serve his argument, he can’t merely have grown up in a housing project but in a home that failed to support middle-class values of academic ambition and striving. To support his program, he’s had to suggest he had an “inner city” upbringing on “the streets” and was raised in a dysfunctional home we typically associate with the truly disadvantaged. This is where his misrepresentations and distortions come in. The discrepancies matter because they go to the heart of what’s wrong with his reform agenda.

    Educational values were not absent from Klein’s family. His father, Charles Klein, like many of his generation, left high school during the Depression, but the notion that his parents couldn’t read or didn’t know about college is misleading. His mother, Claire Klein, was a bookkeeper. With fierce competition for scarce jobs, Charles did well enough on a civil-service exam to land work at the post office, remaining for 25 years in a secure job he hated to ensure he could send his children to college. This was not the commitment of semi-literate parents with little knowledge of higher education.

    Indeed, while serving as assistant attorney general in the Clinton Justice Department, and before becoming schools chancellor, Klein recalled how he was inspired to become a lawyer: He sometimes skipped school, he told an interviewer, so his father could “take me to the federal courthouse in Manhattan, and we’d just watch cases.” This is not the typical father-son activity of public-housing residents with “no appreciation of reading or cultural activities.”

    Klein graduated high school at 16, because, like me, he was placed in a New York City program that compressed three years of junior high school into two. These “special progress” classes, at Klein’s Junior High School 10 and my nearby Junior High School 74, were not for would-be truants and gang members but for academically advanced students with ambitious parents who were impatient with the regular curricular pace. Special-progress classes were even more racially and academically segregated from other students than their contemporary version, “gifted and talented” programs that retain middle-class parents in the public-school system by separating their children from most low-income and minority-group peers. Klein may recall that he was not academically engaged until inspired by his high-school physics teacher. But in the 1950s, you weren’t assigned to seventh-grade special-progress classes unless you were already performing well above grade level.

  298. The reform movement is already failing
    By Diane Ravitch
    August 23, 2011

    In my nearly four decades as a historian of education, I have analyzed the rise and fall of reform movements. Typically, reforms begin with loud declarations that our education system is in crisis. Throughout the twentieth century, we had a crisis almost every decade. After persuading the public that we are in crisis, the reformers bring forth their favored proposals for radical change. The radical changes are implemented in a few sites, and the results are impressive. As their reforms become widespread, they usually collapse and fail. In time, those who have made a career of educating children are left with the task of cleaning up the mess left by the last bunch of reformers.

    We are in the midst of the latest wave of reforms, and Steven Brill has positioned himself as the voice of the new reformers. These reforms are not just flawed, but actually dangerous to the future of American education. They would, if implemented, lead to the privatization of a large number of public schools and to the de-professionalization of education.

    As Brill’s book shows, the current group of reformers consists of an odd combination of Wall Street financiers, conservative Republican governors, major foundations, and the Obama administration. The reformers believe that the way to “fix” our schools is to fire more teachers, based on the test scores of their students; to open more privately-managed charter schools; to reduce the qualifications for becoming a teacher; and to remove job protections for senior teachers.

    The reformers say that our schools are failing and point to international test scores; they don’t seem to know that American students have never done well on international tests. When the international tests were first launched in the 1960s, our students ranked near the bottom. Obviously these tests do not predict the future economic success of a nation because we as a nation have prospered despite our mediocre performance on international tests over the past half century.

    The last international test results were released in December. Our students ranked about average, and our leading policymakers treated the results as a national scandal. But here is a curious fact: low-poverty U.S. schools (where fewer than 10% of the students were poor) had scores that were higher than those of the top nations in the world. In schools where as many as 25% of the students were poor, the scores were equal to those of Finland, Japan and Korea. As the poverty rate of the schools rose, the schools’ performance declined.

    An objective observer would conclude that the problem in this society has to do with our shamefully high rates of child poverty, the highest in the developed world. At least 20% of U.S. children live in poverty. Among black children, the poverty rate is 35%.

    Reformers like to say — as they did in the film “Waiting for ‘Superman’” — that we spend too much and that poverty doesn’t matter. They say that teacher effectiveness is all that matters. They claim that children who have three “great” or “effective” teachers in a row will close the achievement gap between the races. They say that experience doesn’t matter. They believe that charter schools, staffed by tireless teachers, can close the gap in test scores.

    Unfortunately, research does not support any of their claims.

    Take the matter of charter schools. The definitive national study of charters was conducted by Stanford University economist Margaret Raymond and financed by the pro-charter Walton Family Foundation and the Dell Foundation. After surveying half the nation’s 5,000 charter schools, the study concluded that only 17% got better test results than a demographically similar traditional public school; 37% got worse results, and the remaining 46% were no different from the matched public school. An eight-state study by the Rand Corporation found no differences in results between charter and regular public schools. On federal tests, students in charter schools and regular public schools perform about the same.

    The overwhelming majority of charter schools are non-union. They can hire and fire teachers at will, and teacher attrition at charter schools is higher than in regular public schools. Many studies have shown that charters have a disproportionately small number of students with disabilities or students who don’t speak English. Yet, despite these structural advantages, they don’t get better results. Furthermore, right-to-work states where unions are weak or non-existent don’t lead the nation in academic achievement; most are middling or at the bottom on federal tests. Brill simply refuses to acknowledge these inconvenient facts because the charter movement is a central part of the “reform” claims.

  299. A false paradise and the height of folly to accept this article for its face value. It is certainly well meaning and the comments (wow) very extensive and heavily weighted with concern and sincerity. But consider that “previous” (historically based) “reformers” are presumed to apply to the current wave of (similarly misguided?) reformers. This is an unsubstantiated appeal to history as a standard for a categorical base for reform attitudes in the past, and essentially commits a fallacy of composition. Today is based upon money objectives; control; power; and a process of building succession into markets. The scope and scale of this incentive has never existed before, and the desperation of massive financial “survival” tactics to sustain itself by accessing mass market revenue streams has never been technologically possible either. It is a critical mistake to think that MONEY and capital advantage is not going to outlast popular defenses by the (somewhat incrementally retiring) education professionals. It is a mistake to think that money interests are not buying influence and actual appointments, as well as political office itself…in its lust and addiction to predatory capital resourcing & colonization. And it is a mistake to think that the process isn’t already deeply entrenched right under our noses:

    Privatizing Public Schools: Big Firms Eyeing Profits From U.S. K-12 Market
    Reuters | Posted: 08/02/2012 10:16 am Updated: 08/02/2012 12:18 pm
    By Stephanie Simon

    “NEW YORK, Aug 1 (Reuters) – The investors gathered in a tony private club in Manhattan were eager to hear about the next big thing, and education consultant Rob Lytle was happy to oblige.

    Think about the upcoming rollout of new national academic standards for public schools, he urged the crowd. If they’re as rigorous as advertised, a huge number of schools will suddenly look really bad, their students testing way behind in reading and math. They’ll want help, quick. And private, for-profit vendors selling lesson plans, educational software and student assessments will be right there to provide it.

    “You start to see entire ecosystems of investment opportunity lining up,” said Lytle, a partner at The Parthenon Group, a Boston consulting firm. “It could get really, really big.”

    Indeed, investors of all stripes are beginning to sense big profit potential in public education.

    The K-12 market is tantalizingly huge: The U.S. spends more than $500 billion a year to educate kids from ages five through 18. The entire education sector, including college and mid-career training, represents nearly 9 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, more than the energy or technology sectors.

    Traditionally, public education has been a tough market for private firms to break into — fraught with politics, tangled in bureaucracy and fragmented into tens of thousands of individual schools and school districts from coast to coast.

    Now investors are signaling optimism that a golden moment has arrived. They’re pouring private equity and venture capital into scores of companies that aim to profit by taking over broad swaths of public education.

    The conference last week at the University Club, billed as a how-to on “private equity investing in for-profit education companies,” drew a full house of about 100.


    In the venture capital world, transactions in the K-12 education sector soared to a record $389 million last year, up from $13 million in 2005. That includes major investments from some of the most respected venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, according to GSV Advisors, an investment firm in Chicago that specializes in education.

    The goal: an education revolution in which public schools outsource to private vendors such critical tasks as teaching math, educating disabled students, even writing report cards, said Michael Moe, the founder of GSV.

    “It’s time,” Moe said. “Everybody’s excited about it.”
    …and this process has not regressed; it has incrementally transgressed into the e-text books, e-curriculum; and every asset of institutional educational systemics is sucked into this process from A to Z in a process of path dependency and capital intensive interest baring debt.

    The process is not failing; it is becoming blindingly normalized.

  300. http://www.privatizationwatch.org/
    Under the model, a consortium of private companies would agree to build, renovate and operate city-owned schools for a given period in exchange for a set monthly fee that would be paid with city and state dollars. The school system would be the first in the nation to use this method to renovate and rebuild school buildings. The Journal News

    Yonkers report: Public-private schools partnership ‘doable’
    Mar 8, 2013
    Written by
    Gary Stern
    and Colin Gustafson


    “YONKERS — School officials have received a long-awaited report that they say supports a possible private-public partnership to rebuild the city’s aging and crumbling schools.

    Now they have started to share the report with city and state officials whose support they would need to move forward.

    “We now have a pretty clear idea that this is doable,” said Joseph Bracchitta, the school system’s chief administrative officer. “We have to out and get support.”

    The school district has spent several years researching the use of private-public partnerships around the world, seeing no other way to address more than $1.5 billion in renovations needed at its 40 schools.

    Under the model, a consortium of private companies would agree to build, renovate and operate city-owned schools for a given period in exchange for a set monthly fee that would be paid with city and state dollars. The school system would be the first in the nation to use this method to renovate and rebuild school buildings.

    Last year, the district chose three firms with private-public experience to study whether this route could be affordable and practical for Yonkers.

    Bracchitta would release only limited details before all city and state officials are briefed but said that the report concludes that a private-public partnership — known as a P3 — would work and looks at a first phase that would focus on six schools.”

  301. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/08/education/philadelphia-officials-vote-to-close-23-schools.html?ref=us&_r=0

    Philadelphia Officials Vote to Close 23 Schools

    Published: March 7, 2013
    PHILADELPHIA — Officials on Thursday night approved closing 23 public schools, about 10 percent of the city’s total, largely backing a plan by the school district to erase a huge budget deficit and reduce the number of underused schools.

    The decision was made after the police arrested 19 protesters, including Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, charging them with disorderly conduct. The protesters blocked doorways into a meeting room in an attempt to prevent members of the School Reform Commission from entering.

  302. http://www.networkforpubliceducation.org/
    We are many. There is power in our numbers. Together, we will save our schools.
    “Our public schools are at risk. As public awareness grows about the unfair attacks on public education, parents, teachers, and concerned citizens are organizing to protect our public schools.

    Public education is an essential institution in a democratic society. We believe that we must stand together to resist any efforts to privatize it.

    We must also stand together to oppose unsound policies that undermine the quality of education, like high-stakes testing and school closings.

    High-stakes testing takes the joy out of learning. It crushes creativity and critical thinking, the very qualities our society needs most for success in the 21st century. High-stakes testing does not tell us whether and how well students are learning or teachers are teaching; it does waste precious time and resources.

    No school was ever improved by closing it. Every community should have good public schools, and we believe that public officials have a solemn responsibility to improve public schools, not close or privatize them.
    Read more…

  303. http://www.networkforpubliceducation.org/network-membership/


    The Network for Public Education is an advocacy group whose goal is to fight to protect, preserve and strengthen our public school system, an essential institution in a democratic society. Our mission is to protect, preserve, promote, and strengthen public schools and the education of current and future generations of students.


  304. Bruce E. Woych,

    I just happened to be under the blog’s hood just now (correcting a typo on one of my posts) when I noticed you have quite a few posts in stuck in the moderation filter. The default setting for maximum links in posts (a way to control spam) on WordPress is two. That is what this blog is set at as well. I tell you this because almost no one ever goes into the moderation queue to clear it so it is effectively limbo. You post good links. Be a shame to loose some.

  305. Gene H. : Thank you so much ! I thought it was something with my own computer, and had no idea it was part of the fire wall system of the site.

    I am wondering now if any (or how much) went through on review? There was quite a lot of critical research material posted yesterday for anyone that wants to follow on the more extensive side of this growing crisis. Much of what is happening in education is also happening generally to medical health delivery systems being distressed and turned over to privatizing for profit extension networks or directly from non-profit to for profit interests. The same tactics are used, and the same values are obscured by appeals to financial debt overload (taxes raise reactionary support: profit ratios are called cost cutting / containment and service is based upon a cost/medical ratio (where revenue is measured by how much capital is “wasted” on actual medical costs) and tables are skewed with cost shifting tactics that obscure the upstream / downstream demand on those revenue sources and resources.

    Overall, these are relatively patterned but small town America is also being sold out to the highest bidder and “charter” governments are popping up that are run by committees (appointed) that are not even elected by the people but make major policy decisions. (Take a look at this article:
    Paul Buchheit: Five Poisons of Privatization

    I was hoping that the material I posted yesterday would get to the hands of concerned Educators that are serious activists but do not realize that they are not alone.

    Once again I thank you for the message, I am in your debt.

  306. http://www.privatizationwatch.org/
    March 12, 2013
    CA: News Corp Spends Big on LA School Board Race, Sets Sights on Public Education “Market”
    A subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp – parent company of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal – has spent a whopping $250,000 on the Los Angeles school board race, just as the corporation focuses on making money off of public education. News Corp and its for-profit education subsidiaries are also members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and the education initiatives promoted by News Corp’s preferred candidates track the ALEC agenda. PRWatch


    From Tabloids to Tablets: News Corp Spends Big on LA School Board Race, Sets Sights on Public Education “Market”
    by Brendan Fischer — March 11, 2013 – 8:23am
    Projects: ALEC Exposed
    “A subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp — parent company of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal — has spent a whopping $250,000 on the Los Angeles school board race, just as the corporation focuses on making money off of public education. News Corp and its for-profit education subsidiaries are also members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and the education initiatives promoted by News Corp’s preferred candidates track the ALEC agenda.

    Murdoch has called the for-profit K-12 education industry “a $500 billion sector in the US alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed” — and his News Corp is investing big to capture that market. In 2010, News Corp acquired Wireless Generation, a for-profit online education, software, and testing corporation, for $360 million. Its latest venture is a digital K-12 curricula to be sold and taught on a specialized “Amplify Tablet” that runs on the Android platform.”

  307. Elaine: You may well have accomplished the best single resource for history, information and critical education that is consolidated in and under one article: my congratulations and gratitude!
    of interest:
    Glen Ford: Corporate Assault on Public Education
    Published on May 9, 2012

    In the space of less than 20 years, the public school privatization movement has emerged from the narrow, right wing fringes to dominate both major political parties. From vouchers to school choice to charter schools, the issue has divided even Black Americans, who were once public education’s most fervent supporters. Glen Ford explains how this came about by wealthy individuals buying black politicians and promoting their careers, particularly Corey Booker.

  308. http://www.alternet.org/economy/wall-sts-next-profit-scheme-buying-every-piece-your-home-town?paging=off

    Michael Hudson’s blog / By Michael Hudson
    Wall St.’s Next Profit Scheme — Buying Up Every Piece of Your Home Town
    Across America, schools, roads, and water systems are for sale to the highest Wall Street bidder.
    September 27, 2012

    “By depicting local employees as public enemy #1, the urban crisis is helping put the class war back in business. The financial sector argues that paying pensions (or even a living wage) absorbs tax revenue that otherwise can be used to pay bondholders. Scranton, Pennsylvania has reduced public-sector wages to the legal minimum “temporarily,” while other cities are seeking to break pension plans and deferred-wage contracts – and going to the Wall Street casino and play losing games in a desperate attempt to cover their unfunded pension liabilities. These recently were estimated to total $3 trillion, plus another $1 trillion in unfunded health care benefits.

    Although it is Wall Street that engineered the bubble economy whose bursting has triggered the urban fiscal crisis, its lobbyists and their Junk Economic theories are not being held accountable. Rather than blaming the tax cutters who gave bankers and real estate moguls a windfall, it is teachers and other public employees who are being told to give back their deferred wages, which is what pensions are. No such clawbacks are in store for financial predators.

    Instead, foreclosure time has arrived to provide a new grab bag as cities are forced to do what New York City did to avert bankruptcy in 1974: turn over management to Wall Street nominees”


  309. Bruce,

    You certainly have helped by seeking out and providing us with more information on the subject. There is so much more to the story of corporate attempt to privatize public schools…to make a bundle of money off of public education.

  310. Elaine: Thanks to Gene H. advising me that I ” have quite a few posts in stuck in the moderation filter.” (as a result of…)
    “The default setting for maximum links in posts (a way to control spam) on WordPress is two. That is what this blog is set at as well. I tell you this because almost no one ever goes into the moderation queue to clear it so it is effectively limbo.”
    By way of explanation, I am assuming that any (yellow tagged) moderation notice on my posts (that do show up on my end) are actually not posted for outside viewers. Since I am no computer wiz on navigating, I am going back and repost those tagged items within the two link fire wall set point barrier for entry.
    In the event they are duplicated, I apologize but they are all good links to resources and consolidating them (at this late term) on the comment stream may provide an odd service to interested readers. With that prelude, please excuse a longer set of posting that follow.

  311. (well first attempt was a total blunder…) Here is a limited effort, since i do not know how to get (as Gene H. calls it…) to get under the hood to fix this:


    Philadelphia Officials Vote to Close 23 Schools

    Published: March 7, 2013
    PHILADELPHIA — Officials on Thursday night approved closing 23 public schools, about 10 percent of the city’s total, largely backing a plan by the school district to erase a huge budget deficit and reduce the number of underused schools.

    The decision was made after the police arrested 19 protesters, including Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, charging them with disorderly conduct. The protesters blocked doorways into a meeting room in an attempt to prevent members of the School Reform