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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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Trump loves the school deform movement

by Dan Burns on September 28, 2016 · 1 comment

abandonedThis first one is called “Is Donald Trump The Charter School Industry’s Worst Nightmare?” Let’s make sure he is. Does Trump’s vigorous support mean that all charters are evil? Of course not. Is it yet another strike for the deformers? You bet it is.
 

Presidential candidate Donald Trump likely just handed the charter school industry the worst sort of favor.
 
In unveiling his education plan, the Republican candidate proposed a $20 billion federal block grant to allow states to give vouchers to low-income students to attend whatever school they want.
 
The proposal is the most full-throated support for school choice ever issued by a presidential candidate in a general election campaign. It’s also the ill-conceived, grandiose and politically polarizing gesture that many charter school proponents feared most.
 
In a recent op-ed in USA Today, two prominent proponents of charter schools – David Osborne of the neoliberal, D.C.-based Progressive Policy Institute and Richard Whitmire, author of a laudatory biography of Michelle Rhee – warn of “two possible nightmares” that could befall the charter school industry during the presidential race. One nightmare is that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton allows “charters to drift from the Democratic agenda” by providing only nuanced or lukewarm support for the schools. The other nightmare is that Trump’s support for these schools “turns charters into a right-wing cause … that deep down only wants to fund vouchers.”
(Campaign for America’s Future)

A couple more items relevant to the impending election:
 
…READ MORE

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Following the recent right wing propaganda driven BS about the American flag being prohibited at a South Carolina High School sporting event that I wrote about, which conveniently and dishonestly neglected to mention that those American flags were ONLY brought to games against a largely Hispanic opposing team, and used to taunt the other team, rather than for valid patriotic purposes, it is worth debunking this persistent right wing propaganda lie as well.

 
I recently saw this particular rubbish accusation included in an anti-Ilhan Omar comment in a piece over at City Pages, where Obama was blamed for banning the pledge so immigrants like Omar could avoid saying the ‘pladge’ of allegiance (why are so many right wingers also poor spellers?), assorted references to God, and the questioning of the legal citizenship status of Ms. Omar.

 

That of course ignores and denies all of the processes that immigrants go through including swearing allegiance to the USA, but it plays into xenophobic fears that the right likes to stoke with their agitation propaganda.  It also promotes the LIE that people are voting and running for office who are not citizens, in spite of the many ways this is prevented.  Voters, candidates and election judges ALL demonstrate proof of citizenship at some point or points in the election process.

 
So fresh from HERE at Factcheck.org

 

Obama Did Not Ban the Pledge

FULL QUESTION

Did Obama sign Executive Order 13738, revoking the federal government’s official recognition of the Pledge of Allegiance and banning it in public schools? Did he say the language of the pledge is “divisive” and “contrary to America’s deepest held values”?

FULL ANSWER

The rumor that President Barack Obama banned the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools originated from a satirical article posted last month by a fake news website under the headline “Obama Signs Executive Order Banning The Pledge Of Allegiance In Schools Nationwide.” The site is designed to look like ABC News, but uses the URL “abcnews.com.co,” the first tip-off that this isn’t a legitimate news site.
The made-up story begins: “Early this morning, President Obama made what could very well prove to be the most controversial move of his presidency with the signing of Executive Order 13738, which revokes the federal government’s official recognition of the Pledge of Allegiance.” It goes on to say the order makes it “illegal for any federally funded agency to display the pledge or for any federal employee to recite, or encourage others to recite, the pledge while on duty,” which also applies to “public schools.” Those who violate the order, the bogus story says, “can face fines of up to $10,000 and up to one year in federal prison.”
The satire becomes abundantly clear for those who read on. The story includes quotes from “Sock it Forward, a group that provides the homeless and those less fortunate with brand new socks” and “Fappy the Anti-Masturbation Dolphin.”
And then there’s this description of “abcnews.com.co” at the bottom:

abcnews.com.co: Thanks to ABC News President & CEO, Dr. Paul Horner for making ABC News the greatest website in the universe. We need writers! Contact us! Looking to advertise? Contact us! All trademarks, service marks, trade names, trade dress, product names, images and logos appearing on the site are the property of their respective owners. Do you have a complaint? We love to hear them! You can call our complaint department directly at (785) 273-0325. Do you have a problem with self-rape? Are you looking to get off the Devil’s playground? Fappy The Anti-Masturbation Dolphin can help! Praise Fappy! We reserve the right to change, modify or delete comments on this website, so post accordingly!

The real president of ABC News is James Goldston. Paul Horner is an internet satirist who has created many fake news websites, articles and hoaxes. He takes responsibility for the pledge article on another one of his websites. The phone number listed for the “complaint department,” as well as at the bottom of the article as an “Obama administration hotline,” is the number of the Westboro Baptist Church, which is best known for its anti-gay views and protests.

An executive order with the number 13738 does exist, but it deals with labor laws and the federal government’s use of private contractors. It has nothing to do with the Pledge of Allegiance. Obama signed it on Aug. 23, and the text is available from the U.S. Government Publishing Office. The National Archives also publishes an official list of all executive orders issued by Obama.

There’s more on this at Factcheck.org, and you should read it for yourself,  but I think this sufficiently makes the point.  Few righties eager to believe the propaganda feed that is the primary purpose of the right wing media, ranging from talk radio to Fakes News, to the most egregious statements made by the GOP candidates for office will ever do their own fact checking, or pay attention to it when their noses are rubbed in it.  But at least we can limit the extent to which right wing agit prop takes hold this election cycle.  We can push back against the numbing and dumbing down and the stupefying of America, one post at a time, day after day.

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Remembering WHY we celebrate Labor Day

by Dog Gone on September 5, 2016

child labor from the bad old days the right wants to bring back

This holiday is the culmination of Labor efforts that have given us the five day work week, the 8 hour work day, sweatshop working conditions, overtime, an end (in most respects, but not all) to child labor, lunch breaks, and to greater worker safety.

 

It is worth noting that conservatives are still attempting to undo those advances, notably not only in union busting like right-to-work-for-less, but in ending safety regulation and eliminating guarantees of overtime pay.

 

Labor Day became an official public holiday in 1894; between the late 1870’s and that date, 30 states had started separately celebrating the advances and efforts of the Labor Movement. In New York City they held parades. We are not the only nation to celebrate Labor Day; Canada does so on the same date.

 

What so many people either have forgotten, or never learned, was how bloody, even deadly, the efforts were of Unions to form for fair wages and safer working conditions. Specifically, Grover Cleveland, a president who gets relatively little attention, signed the federal holiday into Law after a particularly bloody strike breaking period where both the U.S. military and the U.S. Marshal’s service killed people to break unionizing efforts in the historic Pullman strike in 1894. …READ MORE

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Educating the whole child

by Dan Burns on August 30, 2016 · 0 comments

abandonedYes, that’s something of a buzz-phrase, but it’s a worthy one. This is not utopian fantasy, though it is true that in many ways a lot of supporters of the most effective and best education currently still have little choice but to be preoccupied with holding our own vs. the despicable onslaughts of the deform movement.
 

Traits and skills such as critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, persistence, and self-control — which are often collectively called noncognitive skills, or social and emotional skills — are vitally important to children’s full development. They are linked to academic achievement, productivity and collegiality at work, positive health indicators, and civic participation, and are nurtured through life and school experiences. Developing these skills should thus be an explicit goal of public education.
(Economic Policy Institute)

Another development with a lot of potential is community schools. (Though, as always, fraught, if the wrong people get in charge and f*ck it all up.) They’ll require a lot of resources, though. So for that potential to really start to be realized, we’ll need big changes in who is holding public office and what their priorities are.
 

Using public schools as hubs, community schools bring together many partners to offer a range of supports and opportunities to children, youth, families and communities. Partners work to achieve these results: Children are ready to enter school; students attend school consistently; students are actively involved in learning and their community; families are increasingly involved with their children’s education; schools are engaged with families and communities; students succeed academically; students are healthy – physically, socially, and emotionally; students live and learn in a safe, supportive, and stable environment, and communities are desirable places to live.
(Coalition for Community Schools)

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Back to all-too-often underfunded public school

by Dan Burns on August 18, 2016 · 0 comments

abandoned2Though I was good at school I didn’t like it much, and always got bummed out at this time of year. Decades later I still experience a residual echo of that, now and then. Anyway:
 

Indeed, back to school supply lists are likely longer than ever before due to the simple reason that schools increasingly don’t have the funds to pay for items on the list. And because of persistently inadequate budgets that continue to dog our schools, you can be sure the longer your shopping list, the worse the funding situation is throughout your child’s school system.
 
Not only are school stockrooms increasingly bare of supplies, but teachers aren’t being adequately paid, class sizes are ballooning, programs are being cut and school buildings increasingly forego required maintenance.
(Campaign for America’s Future)

Two more relevant items:
 
…READ MORE

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