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abandoned2Here are several items about education, the first being of particular importance.

Progressive Democrats are right to hail the new populism in their party driving the debate about the nation’s economic policies and the atrocious inequality those policies have created. Heartened by the bold leadership of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and the huge crowds cheering on the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, progressives can truly feel their agenda is driving the national debate and propelling change.
So it’s beyond disappointing when progressive leaders in the Democratic Party who can knock an argument for economic populism out of the park continue to whiff on education populism…
Classroom teacher and popular edu-blogger Steven Singer wrote on his site, “This provision was an attempt to keep as many test and punish policies as possible … The Democrats seem to be committed to the notion that the only way to tell if a school is doing a good job is by reference to its test scores. High test scores — good school. Bad test scores — bad school. This is baloney!”

Fact is, no one has seriously tried appropriate financial investment to deal with the achievement gap.

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Professor Richard J. Jensen

Recently I have come across multiple references to what widely seems to be a losing battle between a conservative history revisionist and a child history buff, regarding the 19th century.  This is significant not only because the kid pretty thoroughly spanks the old white duffer, but because revisionist history is a key political agenda item for the right, ranging from their policies to propaganda.


It must sting, being routed by a mere girl,  a liberal.


In particular denial of very real discriminatory and violent victimization of certain groups, such as native Americans, blacks, progressive waves of voluntary immigrants, and those persecuted for religion (Catholics, Jews and Mormons, and more recently Muslims) is a key point on which the right are relentless.  The past intolerance of conservatives haunts them, even as they continue that intolerance and bigotry in the present against all of those groups as well as against women.  Consistently, bad historians like Jensen want to discredit the very real bigotry these groups suffered, while at the same time consistently playing the bogus white victim card. Jensen is very keen on ‘nativism’, which is the bias of established immigrants and their descendants, against new immigrants.


This provides a fascinating lens through which to view a range of controversies, from the revisionist history the right has attempted to foist on advanced history classes in high schools for qualification for college credit, to the political campaigns on the right dealing with issues of discrimination in voting rights and on the topic of immigration.


The two adversaries in this particular informational and intellectual battle are a 14 year old girl in the 8th grade at the same school attended by the Obama daughters, Sidwell Friends, which some might consider a bastion of elite liberal education.  While the retired professor was previously predominantly teaching in Illinois – the state from which Obama was elected president.  Professor Richard Jensen taught at the University of Illinois, Chicago, from 1973 to 1996.


Jensen is also an editor at Wikipedia, which notes he has strong ties as well to Conservapedia, a right wing revisionist source noted for errors of fact and for promoting widely disputed and discredited theories.  (Pithily put, Conservapedia is a sh*t source.)


President Obama taught at the very prestigious University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004, and began his career in state government representing Chicago in the state legislature from 1997 to 2004.  While it is impossible to know if the two men ever met, they clearly represent the opposite sides of both the educational and the political spectrum from that geographic area, a difference now being continued by a new generation.


I find this new battle over revisionist history particularly interesting from a personal perspective, because when I took high school honors history around the same age, back in the days of the dinosaurs, as it seems now, my own teacher, a PhD in history, REQUIRED that we do research into primary sources, much like that done by this 14 year old, ‘for fun’.


In doing similar research, I found not only very much the same information as this young woman, but additional primary source material in the historical museums at the state and local level, that documented fear and discrimination against most of the large waves of immigrants that tended to overwhelm those who were already established. I’ve SEEN this kind of evidence myself, at her age, on this topic (more generally on 19th century anti-immigrant bias) without using google, seeking out primary sources.  So this story particularly resonated for me.


Each wave received its own discrimination, not only the Irish, but also Germans, Scandinavians, southern and eastern Europeans, and the Chinese, to name a few, with additional religious bias against Catholics and Jews associated with the southern Mediterranean and eastern European / Russian Jews getting singled out for particularly virulent bias.  As a general rule, anyone who was not a native speaker of English as their first language was targeted then, as now, by those who were bent on bigotry and fear of the ‘other’.  Anyone who was more WASP – (perceived as)white anglo-saxon protestant (Christian) – received less demonizing than those who were perceived to be more different in key categories.  For example, up until the last century or so, Irish immigrants were not considered ‘white’, to give an example of crazy justification for bias, even though they are clearly primarily a Caucasian ethnicity, and spoke an accented English dialect. From wikipedia (ironically) by way of Upworthy.   (Let me know if this looks like ethnic and racial bigotry to you that would likely lead to job discrimination, of the kind Jensen is denying, that would carry over into employment as well as other aspects of normal civil life.)  If you can read the small print, note the references to superior/inferior races:


Or did you know that the Irish weren’t even considered “white” until the last hundred years? So while you probably won’t witness much Irish racism in 2015, the reverberations from that suffering surely still exist.

The evidence for these waves of discrimination are frequent, and obvious. To deny them or to ignore them requires a massive effort of ideology driven intellectual dishonesty, which is what we are consistently seeing from the right, and it is more extreme the further to the right the ideology. This is nothing less than a denial of large collections of evidence.  This is on a par with claims that slavery was benevolent and good for black Americans in history, and denials of the facts of evolution or that the earth is only 6,000 years old. They might as well claim the earth is flat, or that the sun orbits the earth.


Here is one link of many to the specific story from the Smithsonian:



abandoned2The U.S. Senate has passed the Every Child Achieves Act, and the House has passed Rep. John Kline’s (R-MN) Student Success Act. They are now trying to reconcile the two, and produce something that President Obama will sign. Whether they’ll succeed in the first of those objectives, much less the second, remains an open question. Anyway:

The (Every Child Achieves Act) also modernizes the Charter Schools Program (Title V), ensuring the opening of new charter schools, the replication and expansion of the most successful of charter school models, and support for facility financing and authorizer quality. We applaud the committee for strengthening this program that has been critical to the growth of charter schools nationwide.
(National Alliance for Public Charter Schools)

First, the SSA expands America’s already-successful charter school system and allows federal funds to follow low-income students to the public school of their parents’ choice, not the school dictated by district lines.
(National Review)

And what could be wrong with more resources directed to charters, at this time? Just a handful of items; one could go on all day:
Charter schools are cheating your kids: New report reveals massive fraud, mismanagement, abuse (Salon)

How Wall Street’s Greedy Tentacles Sank Into Schools, Trapping Them in Massive Debts (AlterNet)

Charter schools struggling to meet academic growth (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Education “reform’s” big lie: The real reason the right has declared war on our public schools (Salon)

Charters do potentially have a place, which is to deal with very challenging students via specialized approaches and services. Currently, the charter movement, through no fault of its teachers or students, is too often being used to undercut traditional public education, and line the pockets of odious, despicable greedheads. What needs to be fundamental in American education is a great public school in every town and every city district. Period.
Comment below fold.

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Time to Point the Stinky Blame Finger

by Dog Gone on August 18, 2015 · 1 comment

This dedication to job creation has been a promise made not only by Boehner and McConnell, and the right wing members of Congress.


It is a promise made as well by the various governors and members of state legislatures on the right.


NONE of them have delivered.


States like Kansas, Wisconsin and Louisiana, with right wing supermajorities and control of the governor’s chairs, are all at the bottom of the lists for job creators, at the top of lists of sweetheart deals and give-aways to big business and to the wealthy 1%. These states are all in poor health by most metrics, including schools, infrastructure such as bridges and roads, lowered credit ratings for the state, and worst in budget deficits to pay for necessary services.

In contrast, liberal states are tending to do much better.


This is what the face of failure looks like. This is the face of failure of economic policy and right wing ideology. This is the face of failed values expressed in government action and inaction.


This is EPIC failure of the most endemic, systemic and pernicious kind. It is an indictment of right wing governance and belief. It is a failure to live up to promises. Only those who seek to vote against their own interests and the interests of the nation would continue to vote for these people and policies.


It is time to hold not only the politicians and policy-makers accountable, it is time to hold those who vote for them accountable as well. This means underlining these failures to conservative family and friends, and pointing the stinky blame finger at them for voting for these people and for supporting these failed policies and legislative failures. Those voters enable the actions of the failures of and in government.
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School deformers will not relent, regardless

by Dan Burns on July 28, 2015 · 0 comments

abandoned2About the only area in which I don’t agree with many other progressives, regarding the federal role in education, is federal standards. I’m seriously concerned that (largely) eliminating them would allow states run by right-wingers, who are generally confused and scared by real intelligence and knowledge as they lack both, to have schools teaching as little legitimate fact and reasoning ability as they can get by with, and spend the rest of their time trying to drill nonsensical, failed right-wing doctrine into kids’ heads.
I acknowledge that there is a strong counterargument. Namely, that the assaults on public schools enabled by No Child Left Behind, with its test-until-you-drop federal “accountability” provisions, are already resulting in that.
There really is a movement, mostly financed and run by the same kinds of despicable, greedhead parasites that have been f*cking up everything else that they touch for a long time now, to destroy public education in the U.S. The public, which loves public schools, seems unaware. I suspect that it’s a phenomenon similar to that regarding Social Security and Medicare, where people just refuse to believe that anyone would seriously want to destroy them. That they would is regarded as just cartoonish evil, like, to take a vaguely recollected name from my long-lost youth, Dick Dastardly. That’s a big advantage that the deformers have. And despite a lot of big negatives in the charter movement (which are not the fault of charter students or teachers), they’re still hard at it.


Should the onerous provisions imposed on schools by NCLB indeed be lifted, lots of struggling schools will breathe easier without the “failed” brand looming over their buildings. But if this new flexibility comes to pass, it’s no time to take a victory lap if you’re someone who believes teachers, parents, and students should have a voice in how their local schools operate.
As anti-democratic pressures appear to be easing on the federal front, they are ratcheting up in states across the country. In fact, the next form of education “reform” may be as bad or worse than what NCLB imposed…
The danger, in particular, comes in the form of new policies being taken up by an increasing number of states to create special agencies – usually made up of non-elected officials – with the power to swoop into communities, take over local school governance, and turn schools over to private management groups often associated with large charter school chains.
(Campaign for America’s Future)


Cooper-Union-We-are-Students-Not-Customers-e1373664073701Not in a good way. The author of this is also an editor at


This past March, (Minnesota Attorney General Lori) Swanson amended her consumer fraud lawsuit she filed against Globe University and Minnesota School of Business last July, to now include two additional counts: Unlicensed Lending and Usury. These two additional charges specifically involve the schools’ EdOp and StA loans. As stated in her lawsuit, “Defendants engage in unlicensed lending, charge usurious interest rates, and take aggressive action against students who fall behind on their institutional loan payments; preventing students from completing the program in which they are enrolled.” Swanson also asserts that these loans are “void” and “students are under no obligation to pay any amount owing and are entitled to recover all amounts paid.”
According to the case, Globe University and Minnesota School of Business also provided “misleading and incomplete information” to some students about their loan obligations for their institutional loans. In Minnesota, it is illegal to charge interest rates above eight percent, and as Globe Education Network president, Jeff Myhre admitted in his online rebuttal to my claims, their “StA loan starts at 12 percent interest…”
(Huffington Post)

Apparently Rep. John Kline (R-MN) determined that it was, well, prudent, not to take campaign money from Globe this past quarter. (Based on what’s reported. We don’t know about dark money, one way or the other.) He’s still the for-profit industry’s best bud.


Minnesota’s Most Reprehensible Congressman™ continues to pocket generous campaign donations from disgraced for-profit colleges, according to his recent second-quarter report filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). This coming at the time his conservatism is being questioned for supporting a bailout for students who attended fallen for-profit college Corinthian.
(City Pages)


Senate passes NCLB revision

by Dan Burns on July 17, 2015 · 1 comment

schoolIt’s called the Every Child Achieves Act, and is possibly not far from what President Obama will end up signing. Though one can’t be too sure; you may well share my concern based on recollections of what can happen when he gets totally obsessed with making a deal. Any deal. Like what seems to be happening now with the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But that’s another matter.

The Senate bill retains annual testing, but removes federal sanctions attached to test results. Any rewards or sanctions attached to test scores will be left to states. The Senate rejected private school vouchers; nine Republican Senators joined with Democrats to defeat the voucher proposal. The bill also strengthens current prohibitions against the Secretary of Education dictating specific curriculum, standards, and tests to states, as well as barring the Secretary from tying test scores to teacher evaluations. The bill repudiates the punitive measures of of NCLB and RTTT.
(Diane Ravitch)

First, though, there will be negotiations with the House involving what it passed, namely, Rep. John Kline’s (R-MN) Student Success Act. I haven’t seen anything yet to the effect that Kline plans to try to seriously insist that the Senate essentially adopt his bill, rather than vice versa as most observers seem to expect. But we’ll see. It could get complicated. Right-wingers feel that neither bill is conservative enough, as public schools in conservative areas still won’t be able to propagandize right-wing extremism as their primary function. Civil rights groups believe, with considerable justification, that neither has enough safeguards to keep disadvantaged children from being shorted. The White House wants more “accountability.” The negotiations could fall apart, and life will go on. Here’s more detail on all of this, from Mother Jones.
The Column has a story about the Senate having blocked Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) Student Nondiscrimination Act.
Comments below fold.

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From US Uncut on Facebook:

According to the Pew Charitable Trusts:

If President Barack Obama has his way, the nation’s taxpayers would not help finance a new arena
proposed for the Milwaukee Bucks professional basketball team.

Nor would taxpayer-financed, tax-free bonds be used to help finance a new stadium being discussed in St. Louis for the NFL Rams, or in Oakland for a new complex aimed at keeping the area’s professional football, baseball and basketball franchises from leaving town.

An obscure item in the president’s new budget would put an end to the longstanding practice of states and cities using tax-exempt bonds to finance professional sports arenas, a practice that costs the U.S. Treasury $146 million, according to a 2012 Bloomberg analysis.
Dennis Zimmerman, an economist who worked for the Congressional Budget Office and is now director of projects for the American Tax Policy Institute, is a longtime critic of the financing. He said the president is right in proposing to eliminate the subsidies that benefit often wealthy professional team owners.

“I’m glad he put it in the budget,” Zimmerman said. “Tax-exempt bonds are supposed to be for state and local infrastructure” and not private business.

In Wisconsin, Republican Gov. Scott Walker in January proposed funding a $470 million arena for the Bucks with the help of $220 million in state bonds as part of his budget plan.
Walker said that without a new arena, the Bucks would “likely leave Wisconsin in 2017, costing the state nearly $10 million per year in income tax collections alone.”
The proposal is drawing criticism from conservatives such as the Wisconsin chapter of the free-market group Americans for Prosperity. State director David Fladeboe said the group is “disappointed that the (governor’s) budget still plans to use public funds on the Milwaukee arena.”

Laurel Patrick, Walker’s spokeswoman, said that until Congress acts, the governor is undeterred.

Yup, the corruption has to be pretty bad before even fellow conservatives working for another arguably competing Walker donor / politician “buyer” objects.


This is what thinly veiled public corruption looks like (imho).


Does anyone SERIOUSLY believe that there would be no quid pro quo, direct or indirect, between the owners and the newly minted candidate for president, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker?


Good for President Obama that he is at least attempting to block this kind of extortion by rich sports team owners of the public and public officials.
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Conservative governance, conservative policies are epic failures.  They rely on blind, unquestioning, cultish ideology, without regard to actual outcomes, bottom lines or facts.  They deny reality, in the hopes that saying something is true will be enough to make it true.


Yesterday, one of these failed conservative governors, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, promoted his failed leadership of Wisconsin as success, something it is very definitely NOT.   Let’s look at a few of the many ways in which Wisconsin is NOT thriving under Scott Walker or conservative policies.  Walker is running for the GOP presidential nomination on the basis of his success in Wisconsin.  And “God”; because conservatives like to invoke God when they lie, to give them legitimacy as a means of hiding they are lying.  Or maybe the Koch brothers;  Walker may have confused God and the Koch Brothers. Like Michele Bachmann, and other candidates, Walker hears voices in his head and believes that it is God and not his own over-arching personal ambition up for sale.


Infrastructure is one of the most fundamental and essential functions of state government.  Infrastructure along with the educational level of your workforce, are the two most important drivers of state-level economic development and growth.  Walker’s administration and the conservative dominated Wisconsin legislature, in their efforts to govern on the cheap, so as to give every possible financial advantage to the wealthiest 1%,  is the 3rd worst nation for the condition and safety of their roads and bridges.


A press release from Wisconsin Congressman Pocan from July 10, 2015:


71% of the state’s roads are in need of repair

Washington, D.C – U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02) released a troubling Department of Transportation report detailing the urgent need to improve infrastructure in Wisconsin. A staggering 71 percent of the state’s roads are rated as being in poor or mediocre condition. This puts Wisconsin in the bottom three states for road conditions in the country. With Governor Scott Walker set to sign a budget which further reduces state investment in transportation projects, now is the time to take immediate action to ensure the current patch of Highway Trust Fund does not expire on July 31st.
“Building roads and bridges are core functions of our government,” said Rep. Mark Pocan. “Once again, Gov. Walker has failed to provide critical investment to programs that matter most to the people of Wisconsin.”
“Republicans in both Washington and Wisconsin are jeopardizing public safety and economic growth by failing to provide adequate funds for transportation needs,” continued Rep. Mark Pocan.

The driving force of every capitalist economy is a large, healthy middle class; demand and consumption drives our economy, including economic growth.  Under conservatives led by Gov.  Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s middle class is not thriving, it is shrinking, the worst decline  of any state in the country, and a significant result of the war on Unions and everyday citizens by Walker and conservatives.  THIS is one of the reasons Wisconsin is one of the worst state level economies in the nation.  Depending on which statistics, Wisconsin is 38th or 44th in job creation.  This represents policies which intentionally redistribute wealth and income upwards to the wealthiest and privileged few, in action.


From the Madison Capitol Times in March 2015:


Report: Wisconsin worst in nation on shrinking middle class

If you feel like you’re working harder for less money, it’s not your imagination.
Wisconsin ranks worst among the 50 states in terms of a shrinking middle class, with real median household incomes here falling 14.7 percent since 2000, according to a new report.
The Pew Charitable Trust report showed Wisconsin with the largest decline in the percentage of families considered “middle class,” or those earning between 67 and 200 percent of their state’s median income.
In 2000, 54.6 percent of Wisconsin families fell into the middle class category but that has fallen to 48.9 percent in 2013, according to U.S. Census figures compiled by Pew.
All other states showed some decline but none as great as Wisconsin’s 5.7 percent figure.

If you are consistently among the worst — and Wisconsin is among the wort by multiple metrics — you are not as a governor, you are not as an example of conservative ideology, a success.  You are a failure lying to people, misrepresenting yourself as a success.


For contrast, the Hill announced yesterday that under the Obama administration, the national deficit is down $455 Billion-with-a-b.  This is an example of a genuinely successful democratic leader, applying successful outcome based policy rather than ideology driven and schismatic policy to correct the problems created by the last Republicans when they had control at the federal level.  The contrast is profound.


White House projects deficit to fall to $455B for 2015

The federal deficit is estimated to tick down to $455 billion by the end of the fiscal year in September, according to the Office of Management and Budget’s mid-session review released Tuesday.
As a share of the economy, the shortfall would equal 2.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
“Under the President’s leadership, the deficit has been cut by more than two-thirds as a share of the economy, representing the most rapid sustained deficit reduction since World War II, and it continues to fall,” OMB Director Shaun Donovan wrote in a blog post.
The new projected deficit would be nearly $30 billion less than the government’s red ink in 2014 and $128 billion less than administration’s 2015 deficit prediction back in February.
OMB’s mid-session review updates the administration’s estimates for spending, revenue and the deficit over a 10-year period.

Even with the most trivial matters, Republicans are wrong, and Republicans LIE about the factual numbers, misrepresenting their success. A recent example is the clown prince of the Republican candidates, Donald Trump, the same man who paid people to show up at his announcement as a candidate while proclaiming a huge turn out of people who loved him and were excited he was running. The turnout was not large, and it was not apparently of people who in fact were actual supporters. Continuing the exaggerations (no numbers on who might have been paid to show up) in Arizona, Trump proclaimed he was drawing larger crowds than the legitimate grass roots support for lefty Bernie Sanders. The reality is that Senator Sanders has drawn crowds of 15,000 people while Trump only filled a venue that holds less than 5,000. There were no 15,000 Trump supporters; there were 4,200 — and it is unknown how many of those were paid to attend, given the crowd claims when Trump first announced his candidacy.


From abc 15:


Phoenix Fire says capacity rules not broken after Trump tweets officials broke fire code

Trump tweeted Sunday morning that city officials “don’t want to admit that they broke the fire code by allowing 12-15,000 people in the 4,000 code room” on Saturday.
Donald J. Trump✔@realDonaldTrump
Convention Center officials in Phoenix don’t want to admit that they broke the fire code by allowing 12-15,000 people in 4,000 code room.
8:18 AM – 12 Jul 2015    614 Retweets

He followed the statement by another tweet stating that the convention center allowed everyone to come inside so they wouldn’t be left outside in the heat.

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump  

Phoenix Convention Center officials did not want to have thousands of people standing outside in the heat, so they let them in. A GREAT day!

Phoenix Fire Department says City of Phoenix Fire Prevention Specialists set the capacity for the room at 4,200 people.
The fire department reportedly closed the doors once they reached capacity.
“No rules or codes were broken and no one was in danger at any time,” Deputy Chief Shelly Jamison says.
According to Phoenix Fire, a Fire Prevention Specialist is an expert on large events and are assigned to specifically enforce large-capacity events such as Comicon, Super Bowl Fan Fest, rallies and other.


Cooper-Union-We-are-Students-Not-Customers-e1373664073701I’m passing along a couple of recent items about for-profit colleges. The purpose of for-profit “educators” is to make money. The legitimate purpose of education is to create a more intelligent, knowledgeable, able populace. You’d have to be a moron to think that those two are compatible, based on “the markets” or some such imbecile nonsense.

For-profit colleges in Minnesota have been coming under increasing scrutiny in the past year.
The state Office of Higher Education has been sending out “secret shoppers” to see whether colleges are dealing honestly with prospective students. It’s starting to compare notes with the state Attorney General’s Office. Its new watchdog also is investigating an increasing number of student complaints.

I’m probably pushing it, here, but while in a positive, optimistic frame of mind one can get the impression that AG Lori Swanson and Gov. Mark Dayton intend to see that for-profits shape up or get run out of business, and that it’s unlikely to be the former. It’s not about a political attack on Rep. John Kline (R-MN). It’s just an understanding that Minnesota will be better off without these places.

Federal and state investigators have suspected the for-profit school of defrauding its students for years. But with protection from powerful members of Congress — like Burnsville Republican John Kline — ITT nonetheless flourished. The Carmel, Indiana corporation now has 57,000 students at 135 campuses, including Brooklyn Center and Eden Prairie.
Its specialty is using multimillion-dollar ad campaigns to carpet-bomb the vulnerable: poor folks, minorities, military veterans, and single moms, people unaware that a degree at half the price and with twice the respect can be had at the community college down the street.
ITT sells career fulfillment and a better life. The reality, however, is thousands of alums with lives unchanged — except for the crushing new burden of student loans.
(City Pages)