Sep
01

Now You’re Talking

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“Folks, they want to destroy public education,” the state Senate minority leader told a room full of supporters last year. He said it as though he had just figured it out.

Since the Republican sweep in 2010, Democrats have spent so much time in state capitols defending against one frontal assault after another coming from yards away. They tend not to notice troop movements on the fringes of the political battlefield. Is The Village any different?

Outside the bubbles, it’s been clear for years that destroying public education is where charters, vouchers, and online schools are taking us under the guise of helping the disadvantaged. But one rarely sees it put so bluntly as this week. The WaPo’s Valerie Strauss quotes the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce’s vice president of public policy and economic development:

“The business community is the consumer of the educational product. Students are the educational product. They are going through the education system so that they can be an attractive product for business to consume and hire as a workforce in the future.”

Yup. Like Robocop, your kids are product. Maybe. Allstate CEO Thomas Wilson explained that globalization means, “I can get [workers] anywhere in the world. It is a problem for America, but it is not necessarily a problem for American business … American businesses will adapt.” So unless the little darlings offer some upside to their bottom lines, they add no value. Why should the 1% pay to educate American children when other nations will pay to educate theirs for us? And besides, how much education do waiters and gardeners really need, anyway?

OTOH, if corporations could tap the unrealized potential of that government-guaranteed, recession-proof, half-trillion-dollar stream of public tax dollars states “waste” each year on not-for-profit, K-12 public education? The Big Enchilada? Now you’re talking.

Which is why, as the Education Opportunity Network explains, charters don’t need ad campaigns. They need regulation. There are some good “mom and pop” charters out there, sure, but they are just small fry, bait for the bigger fish. The Progressive reports:

There’s been a flood of local news stories in recent months about FBI raids on charter schools all over the country.

From Pittsburgh to Baton Rouge, from Hartford to Cincinnati to Albuquerque, FBI agents have been busting into schools, carting off documents, and making arrests leading to high-profile indictments.

It’s almost as if charters have become what the Progressive calls “a racket.”

Over the last decade, the charter school movement has morphed from a small, community-based effort to foster alternative education into a national push to privatize public schools, pushed by free-market foundations and big education-management companies. This transformation opened the door to profit-seekers looking for a way to cash in on public funds.

In 2010, Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. has been an ALEC member, declared K-12 public education “a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed.”

The transformation has begun.

“Education entrepreneurs and private charter school operators could care less about innovation,” says [associate professor of education policies at Georgia State University, Kristen] Buras. “Instead, they divert public monies to pay their six-figure salaries; hire uncertified, transient, non-unionized teachers on-the-cheap; and do not admit (or fail to appropriately serve) students who are costly, such as those with disabilities.”

Hide yer children. And yer wallets.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)


Categories : Education, National
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Sep
01

Happy Labor Day

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Categories : Labor, National
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Aug
31

Round and Around

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Hipster Wheel


Categories : Uncategorized
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Chattanooga is a reminder that the best solutions are often local…

A lot of commonalities here with Asheville:

Loveman’s department store on Market Street in Chattanooga closed its doors in 1993 after almost a century in business, another victim of a nationwide decline in downtowns that hollowed out so many US towns. Now the opulent building is buzzing again, this time with tech entrepreneurs taking advantage of the fastest internet in the western hemisphere.

[...]

In large part the success is being driven by The Gig. Thanks to an ambitious roll-out by the city’s municipally owned electricity company, EPB, Chattanooga is one of the only places on Earth with internet at speeds as fast as 1 gigabit per second – about 50 times faster than the US average.

The tech buildup comes after more than a decade of reconstruction in Chattanooga that has regenerated the city with a world-class aquarium, 12 miles of river walks along the Tennessee River, an arts district built around the Hunter Museum of American Arts, high-end restaurants and outdoor activities.

What was it the Cowardly Lion asked?


Categories : Economy, Local
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Aug
31

Sunday Morning Music

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Besides his woman problem, North Carolina GOP Senate nominee Thom Tillis has a toll problem. And a base problem.

Interstate 77 in Tillis’ district badly needs widening. But Thom and his ALEC buddies insist on installing High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes over objections from his party, local Republican lawmakers, and a conservative think tank in Raleigh. His local tea party calls the I-77 project Thom’s Tholl Road.

The GOP is expert at exploiting wedge issues to divide and conquer opponents. But here the wedge is intraparty. There is a split among the GOP’s right-wing populists, its libertarian ideologues, and it’s ALEC-friendly, crony corporatists. It seems HOT lanes have become a flash point. Free-marketeer libertarians consider that when government (We the People) provides any product or service on a not-for-profit basis, it’s another big-government crime against capitalism; they favor anything that gets government out of the way of private profit. Grassroots fiscal conservatives see schemes such as HOT lanes — contracted to foreign conglomerates, funded with federal loans, and with private profit margins backstopped with state tax dollars — as yet another example of crony capitalism screwing taxpayers. It is. And it’s just what the Koch brothers’ privateers want more of.

So how big a wedge is this? Behold the Weekly Standard from April, critiquing at length a 75-year, single-bidder HOT lanes concession in Virginia:

The arrangement is every capitalist’s dream: free land, developed with taxpayer money, for privatized profits and socialized losses.

Of course, in the Weekly Standard’s fever dream it’s not rent-seeking corporatists ramrodding privatization of America’s highways, but progressive ideologues (and libertarians) bent on discouraging a middle-class lifestyle they find “distasteful.”

Thom Tillis himself did not address the HOT lane issue at an appearance before a group of business leaders in Asheville Friday morning (timestamp 1:00:00). But as party activists and business-minded constituents have before, several times on Friday questioners asked state candidates about highway funding and the possibility of seeing of “dynamic tolling” on I-77 and I-26. These aren’t progressives and libertarians. They are Thom Tillis’ base voters. And they are uneasy.

Hard to tell, but when even conservative are worried about the impact ALEC’s designs might have for their small businesses, tolls just might be a sleeper issue for Republicans that so far the press has missed.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)


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Aug
29

No Clue

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Because it’s Labor Day Weekend. It’s after 5 p.m. And because they don’t have a clue about labor either.

The Daily Show
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Categories : Race
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Aug
29

Friday Open Thread

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Are we not men? WE ARE CIBO!

Let’s see? Who’s on tap this morning at CIBO?


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Aug
28

SCOTUS Has Your Back

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No, not your back, innocent victim of law enforcement gone wrong. They’ve got law enforcement’s back. You’re on your own. The dean of the School of Law at the University of California, Irvine, Erwin Chemerinsky, explains. There’s not only immunity for cities for the misconduct of their employees — for, say, wrongful death or prosecutorial misconduct — but immunity for officials themselves against personal lawsuits, and “qualified immunity” for officials unless “every reasonable official” would have known the conduct in question was unlawful. Such as shooting Michael Brown in the head, assuming that was excessive or not self defense.

The Supreme Court has used this doctrine in recent years to deny damages to an eighth-grade girl who was strip-searched by school officials on suspicion that she had prescription-strength ibuprofen. It has also used it to deny damages to a man who, under a material-witness warrant, was held in a maximum-security prison for 16 days and on supervised release for 14 months, even though the government had no intention of using him as a material witness or even probable cause to arrest him. In each instance, the court stressed that the government officer could not be held liable, even though the Constitution had clearly been violated.

Perhaps like me, you’ve noticed a spate of videos surfacing in which a prone suspect is beaten or repeatedly tased as police mechanically scream “Stop resisting!” Or repeatedly yell “Stop going for my gun!” at a suspect with his hands up (as in this video). Make of that what you will. The Supreme Court, it seems, will not.

But in the wake of the police shooting of Michael Brown in Missouri and an Ohio Walmart patron shopping for a pellet rifle (both men black), one has to wonder whether we as a country haven’t created the conditions for these types of tragedies. In the wake of 9/11, Vice-President Cheney advised America that our response might take us to “the dark side.” He would know.

And with the post-9/11 deployment of military gear and chemical weapons against civilian protesters across the country, are we as a culture encouraging — recommending — their use? The famous Stanford Prison and the Milgram experiments showed how, when ordinary people are placed in a position of authority in an environment that encourages wielding imperious power, authoritarian tendencies surface where they might have remained latent. Not to deny the personal culpability of those deserving the accountability Cheney, et. al. have avoided, but given the commonalities in these police shootings and other violent encounters, we might consider whether, America having gazed “long into an abyss” is seeing the abyss gaze back.

Not to mention how, as I hear, black men are calling into radio talk shows complaining they cannot even enjoy driving the cars they worked hard to earn because of being regularly stopped by police in which the first words police utter are “Where are the drugs?” Or producer Charles Belk on his way to the Emmys this week being detained in Beverly Hills for six hours as a suspect in a bank holdup because, “Hey, I was ‘tall,’ ‘bald,’ a ‘male’ and ‘black,’ so I fit the description.”

Charlie Pierce at Esquire:

And there still will be people who will claim not to “understand” why black people dread the approach of the police.

… because it’s not about race because it’s never about race.

America needs to stop staring into the abyss and spend some time staring into the mirror.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)


Categories : National
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Aug
28

Smile For The Camera

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Categories : National
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