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Education

Trump, DeVos look to crush student borrowers

by Dan Burns on March 27, 2017 · 0 comments

Student-loans-can-be-a-challengeIn the world we’re in:
 

Student loan companies will be free to charge thousands of dollars in fees to borrowers who miss payments, even if they immediately attempt to catch up, the Trump administration said (March 16), reversing Obama-era guidance that banned the charges.
 
The reversal was the first visible move on student loan policy by Trump’s Education Department, and suggests the administration may ultimately take a more industry-friendly approach to student lending…
 
USA Funds, then the country’s largest guarantor of indirect federal loans, sued the Education Department in 2015 for the right to charge a fee as high as 16% to people who had started to repay their loans within 60 days of defaulting. The woman at the center of the case had tried to repay her loans just 18 days after she was told she had gone into default — and then was hit with $4,500 in fees on a loan of $18,000.
(BuzzFeed)

“The number of hungry and homeless students rises along with college costs” (MPR)
 
In a potential, better one:
 

The election of 2016 forced us, like so many Americans, to reconsider much of what we imagined we knew about our country and our society. For example, only a few months ago there was a growing, nation-wide movement for tuition-free higher education. At the time, we proposed debt forgiveness for the many Americans – the figure now stands at 43 million – who carry the burden of student loans.
 
Now, all three branches of government are under the control of ideologues who espouse a harsh and individualistic brand of conservatism. That forces us to ask ourselves: How can we pursue such an ambitious and visionary goal when we are confronted with a direct challenge to the communitarian ideals that have guided this nation to its best achievements?
 
And yet, individually and together, we have reached the same conclusion: this is a more important time than ever to reaffirm our bravest and highest values. Jubilee – the ancient concept of debt forgiveness as an affirmation of community – reflects those values. We can reject the reactionary principles that the right wing represents by embracing the concept of a student debt jubilee as the symbol of our long-held community values.
(OurFuture.org)

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schoolsI admit that since the election I’ve generally seen fit to be somewhat measured when it comes to education issues. The Trumpkins won’t really be able to literally destroy public education, will they? As it turns out, they really do damn well plan to try.
 

The budget includes increases for the charter school fund, a new program for private school choice, and incentives for states to make sure some Title I dollars for low-income students follow them as they move among schools. The $1.4 billion in new dollars for school choice eventually will ramp up to $20 billion, the budget says, matching the amount Trump pledged to spend on school choice during his campaign.
 
“We will give our children the right to attend the school of their choice, one where they will be taught to love our country and its values,” Trump pledged at a rally in Nashville Wednesday evening.
 
The department overall would see cuts of $9 billion, which amounts to 13 percent of its “discretionary” budget (the part not including mandatory higher-education spending).
(The 74)

Don’t count on Congress changing this much. Plenty of Democrats there remain fans of the school deformer movement, despite the proven failure and corruption of its agenda. They will probably mitigate the cuts to public school spending somewhat, but won’t change the privatization initiatives to speak of.
 
Here’s where some hope that we can avoid total disaster comes from. (Don’t get me wrong, there will be plenty of opposition in urban districts, too.)
 
…READ MORE

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Opting out of the testing regime in Minnesota

by Dan Burns on March 15, 2017 · 0 comments

school2I don’t have a good handle yet on what I think Trump, DeVos, and their minions will be able to do to public education, other than that it won’t be good. Meanwhile, I’m noting some relevant items for this state.
 

In 2016, 2,227 high school juniors opted out of the MCA tests statewide. That’s just a drop in the bucket, compared to the 55,975 students who did take it. But it is more than three times the number of eleventh grade students–694–who opted out of the MCAs in 2015.

This is a startling jump, taking place in schools and cities as diverse as suburban St. Louis Park, rural Pine City and Minneapolis.
(Bright Light Small City)

And for pretty good reasons.

 

A state audit is highlighting several major flaws connected to Minnesota’s standardized testing landscape, and educators are calling for change.
 
“One thing is obvious after reading this report. The taxpayers are not getting their money’s worth from this sprawling system of state and local standardized testing,” said Denise Specht, a fourth-generation teacher who heads up Education Minnesota, which represents 80,000 educators from across the state.
 
The Office of the Legislative Auditor released its findings earlier this week. Educators have zeroed in on what they call four major flaws.
(Education Votes)

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Trump voters got well and truly suckered, Part 15

by Dan Burns on February 20, 2017 · 0 comments

devos2Though it’s certainly possible, we probably can’t count on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos getting caught up in this Russia thing.
 

Levy’s observations are confirmed by my report on how the “school choice” issue, so beloved by big-money Republicans, is hitting opposition from red state rural Americans. Rural schools across the country face formidable problems including high dropout rates, low academic performance, and lousy funding. None of these problems will be solved by creating more charter schools and using vouchers to siphon off even more students and resources. In fact, that option will only make things worse.
 
So the unprecedented opposition to DeVos is more about a struggle over the soul—at least an education soul—of America. And regardless of how the vote turns out, this fight is not about to end.
(Jeff Bryant/OurFuture.org)

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MN lege: A new tactic for school voucher backers

by Dan Burns on February 2, 2017 · 0 comments

school2If you’re at all interested in this issue, and frankly you should be, you need to click and read the whole article.
 

In St. Paul, the OAK folks were also on hand to support the latest attempt to keep Minnesota taxpayer dollars in private hands, when it comes to education funding. Through a bill introduced by Republican Ron Kresha of northern Minnesota, lawmakers will be asked to provide a tax credit for individuals and corporations who make “equity and diversity donations” to private and religious school foundations.
 
Such donations are then supposed to be used as scholarships for kids withering away at miserable and/or secular public schools, but don’t call them vouchers (at least not yet). A school voucher, strictly speaking, draws money directly out of public education coffers, and directs it to private schools, including religious schools, in the form of reimbursement. A tax credit, or “neo-voucher,” on the other hand, allows taxpayers (corporate or individual) to avoid paying into the public education coffers in the first place.
(Bright Light Small City)

It will be interesting to see how this fares in the state Senate (assuming it gets that far, this session – could be a trial balloon, for now), where the MNPoT (Party of Trump) has a one-vote majority. Including whether it gets any DFL support there.
 

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Minnesota teachers dis DeVos

by Dan Burns on January 22, 2017 · 0 comments

devos2Solid.
 

Public school teachers scared s*itless by the prospect of Betsy DeVos becoming Secretary of Education filled the Internet with bear memes and rallied in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Brooklyn Park, and Eyota on Thursday as part of the national “Reclaim our Schools” protests.
 
DeVos is seen as a threat to public education because she’s a billionaire lobbyist whose career was built on expanding charter schools (typically underachieving and union busting) and routing taxpayer money to private schools (not subject to uniform standards of student performance). She has never attended or worked in a public school.
(City Pages)

Two significant points:
 
– The committee vote on DeVos has been postponed.
 

– Much more often than not, voters rejected the deformer agenda last November. Even in Georgia.
 

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While they like to give lip service to being the party of small government, and moan and groan about government over-reach ad nauseum, the GOP is the worst offender for unwarranted intrusion into the lives of citizens minding their own business.  The right is obsessed with controlling our sexual and gender identity, sexual orientation, and reproductive choices, attempting to variously criminalize those decisions, or to make them for us.  These are things which largely cannot be legislated, as gender and sexuality, and individual body autonomy are intrinsic and inherent parts of each human being.  The GOP, particularly the MN GOP, must get out of our bedrooms, our bathrooms, our locker rooms, and our pants.

 
It should be an accepted premise of government that any legislation that interferes with the free will and action of citizens should serve a demonstrated NEED for such legislation.  In the case of the transgender and bathrooms, there have been more instances of Republican politicians arrested for sexual misconduct in bathrooms than there have been documented incidents, much less arrests or convictions, of transgender persons behaving inappropriately or illegally.  One of those GOP pols, Larry Craig, was arrested right here in Minnesota, at the International Airport.

 

As noted by the Intellectualist:

 

According to Media Matters, there haven’t … been any reports of men ‘pretending’ to be transgender to gain access to women’s spaces and commit crimes against them. You know who have been arrested in public bathrooms for sexual misconduct?Republican politicians.
Without even diving too deep, we found three GOP legislators who were picked up for lavatory indiscretions.
Their names: Larry Craig …, Jon Hinson, and Bob Allen.

We may need laws against GOP politicians using public bathrooms. By contrast, trans people are doing just fine.

It has long been my contention that not only are a number of conned-servatives are controlling, authoritarian hypocrites, but also that many are bigots, (bigotry being defined as “sincerely” believing broadly denigrating and factually false things about a broad group of people in order to in some way demean or discriminate against them). In the case of transgender people, American or otherwise, it is a fact that there have been more Republican members of Congress arrested for illegal sexual conduct in public bathrooms than there have been arrests of transgender people for either sexual assault or sexual harassment, both of which are the justification for transgender bathroom bill legislation.

 

The most recent example of that is HB 41, a bill introduce by three of the most consistently stupid members of the state legislature since the super star of MN lege stupid, Michele Bachmann, moved on to a larger public platform for embarrassment. Her most recent public embarrassment was the lie that President Obama had extorted foreign governments to walk in gay pride parades.  Because you can’t make up stupid, especially dishonest stupid, the way Michele Bachmann can.  Sadly all too often, when the facts are not on the side of conservatives, like Bachmann, like the authors of HB 41, they just make up stuff; worse they come to believe their lies.

From lgbtqnation:

 

Former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann appeared on the Family Research Council‘s “Washington Watch” radio program late last week to discuss the incoming Trump Administration.
In her appearance, which was captured by RightWingWatch, she denounced the State Department for forcing foreign government ministers to march in gay pride parades. It is unclear what she is referring to.

Financial incentives are withheld from countries unless they advance, for instance, the gay agenda. In a country that doesn’t believe in the gay agenda, the Obama State Department has said, “Look, you have to have a Gay Pride parade. You have to make sure that you can show us that ministers are marching in this Gay Pride parade.” What? The US government is telling another government, “You have to have Gay Pride parades”? That’s unbelievable! “You won’t get your PEPFAR money, you won’t get your USAID money, unless you follow our radical social agenda”?

HB 41 is the latest effort at a bathroom bill, a bill to make life more of a living hell for transgender students.

From OnTop magazine:

 

Three Republican members of the Minnesota House have introduced a bill that targets transgender students.
The Student Physical Privacy Act (HF 41) seeks to “protect and provide for the privacy and safety of all students enrolled in public schools and to maintain order and dignity in restrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms, showers, and other facilities where students may be in various states of undress in the presence of other students.”
It defines “sex” to mean “the physical condition of being male or female, which is determined by a person’s chromosomes and is identified at birth by a person’s anatomy.” The bill would designate restrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms and shower rooms for the “exclusive use by students of the male sex only or by the students of the female sex only.”
The bill’s authors are Representatives Duanne Quam of Byron, Steve Drazkowski of Mazeppa and Eric Lucero of Dayton.
Introduced on Thursday, the proposed legislation has been referred to the Education Innovation Policy committee.

 

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Globe University is going under

by Dan Burns on December 22, 2016 · 1 comment

studentdebtThe Globe empire has been a textbook example of for-profit education gone very wrong, and the righteous endgame has looked inevitable for a while. Having a state Attorney General, Lori Swanson, who is not a corporate tool has of course been a big help.
 

Globe University and Minnesota School of Business will be shuttering their Minnesota campuses, the Woodbury-based schools announced on Tuesday.
 
The for-profit schools have been cut off from federal funding and were stung by a lawsuit that found they had committed fraud in their criminal justice program.
(Star Tribune)

It looks like steps are being taken to help current students there with getting their credits to transfer and so on. As far as teachers and other staff, it sucks for now, but letting this corrupt institution continue its ways wasn’t doing anyone any good.
 
If you read the Strib article you’ll see that Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) is indulging in a bit of a tantrum about this. Tough.
 
Comment below fold.
 
…READ MORE

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Ed. Secretary pick is on fire for God in schools

by Dan Burns on December 9, 2016 · 0 comments

school3I’ll have more in-depth stuff about Trump and education, but for now I’m just noting this huge red flag regarding his cabinet pick. It’s an aspect of her agenda that I don’t think has been getting the attention that it should, what with the wretched, and disturbing, reality of Trump’s planned Cabinet of Deplorables on the whole.
 

Why did (Betsy DeVos) and her husband choose to get involved in the political battles over public education even though they did not send their kids to public schools and they financially support private Christian schools?
 
In a joint interview for “The Gathering,” a group focused on advancing Christian ideology through philanthropy, she and her husband said they decided to focus on reforming public education and funding for private education because the “Lord led us there” and “God led us.”
 
At that meeting, they were asked if it would not have been simpler to fund Christian schools directly rather than fund political efforts like vouchers to get more tax dollars to fund Christian schools, and she replied: “There are not enough philanthropic dollars in America to fund what is currently the need in education versus what is spent every year on education in this country… So, our desire is to confront the culture in ways that will continue to advance God’s Kingdom,” adding that they want “to impact our culture [in ways] that may have great Kingdom gain in the long-run by changing the way we approach things.”
(Center for Media and Democracy)

I’m not a religion-basher. I am strongly against efforts to destroy public education, on right-wing religious grounds or otherwise.
 

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minneapolis_skyline__hero(Update: A candidate forum was held on October 26, and you can read about it here.)

 
(Update 2: Someone did have time and expertise to go through finance reports, and did a great job, here.)
 
Minneapolis has been, and remains, far and away the biggest pro-public schools vs. deformers stage in the state. This excellent article from Southwest Journal has candidate profiles and links to websites.
 

Four of the nine seats on the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education are up for general election on November 8, 2016. Incumbent Kim Ellison is running for the at-large seat, leaving her District 2 seat open for a newcomer. She faces challenger Doug Mann. The race for the open District 2 seat features candidates Kimberly Caprini and Kerry Jo Felder. In District 4, incumbent Josh Reimnitz is running against challenger Bob Walser. In her bid for re-election in District 6, incumbent Tracine Asberry faces challenger Ira Jourdain. In addition to choosing which candidates to add to the board, citizens of the district will vote on an operating referendum.
(Ballotpedia)

If you click that Ballotpedia link and scroll down some, you will also see information on the operating referendum question.
 
Ellison, Felder, Walser, and Jourdain are endorsed by the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, and the DFL. According to the SW Journal article, they “see eye-to-eye on the issues and are running as a team.”
 
All that I can tell you for sure is that Reimnitz is a deformer. I don’t know who all may be getting deformer “dark” money in this election; I couldn’t find a convenient source for that, and I have neither the time nor the expertise to pore through individual campaign reports. Anyone who knows more is more than welcome to comment here or on our Facebook page. From their website it appears that Minnesota Comeback, the new face of the deformer movement in this state, hasn’t endorsed anybody. They just might realize that doing so could well be an electoral liability for any “favored” candidate(s).

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