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John Kline

Beating down the education deformers, Part 3

by Dan Burns on February 21, 2016 · 3 comments

abandonedschool(Part 1 here. Part 2 here.)
 

The following blockquote is from the best succinct description of the goals and tactics of the deformer/privatization movement that I’ve seen. It was originally published in the Washington Post.
 

The pitch
 
Talking Points: (a) Standardized testing proves America’s schools are poor. (b) Other countries are eating our lunch. (c) Teachers deserve most of the blame. (d) The lazy ones need to be forced out by performance evaluations. (e) The dumb ones need scripts to read or “canned standards” telling them exactly what to teach. (f) The experienced ones are too set in their ways to change and should be replaced by fresh Five-Week-Wonders from Teach for America. (Bonus: Replacing experienced teachers saves a ton of money.) (g) Public (“government”) schools are a step down the slippery slope to socialism.
 
Tactics
 
Education establishment resistance to privatization is inevitable, so (a) avoid it as long as possible by blurring the lines between “public” and “private.” (b) Push school choice, vouchers, tax write-offs, tax credits, school-business partnerships, profit-driven charter chains. (c) When resistance comes, crank up fear with the, “They’re eating our lunch!” message. (d) Contribute generously to all potential resisters — academic publications, professional organizations, unions, and school support groups such as PTA. (e) Create fake “think tanks,” give them impressive names, and have them do “research” supporting privatization. (f) Encourage investment in teacher-replacer technology—internet access, iPads, virtual schooling, MOOCS, etc. (e) Pressure state legislators to make life easier for profit-seeking charter chains by taking approval decisions away from local boards and giving them to easier-to-lobby state-level bureaucrats. (g) Elect the “right” people at all levels of government. (When they’re campaigning, have them keep their privatizing agenda quiet.)
(AlterNet)

Needless to say, corporate-controlled “legacy”/”traditional”/whatever-you-want-to-call-it media (the daily papers, the nightly news broadcasts, etc.) play a big, key part in all of this.
 
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kline2Believe it or not, Rep. John Kline (R-MN) actually could leave some elements of a positive legacy, in what remains of his final term in Congress. Starting with some veterans issues.
 

The obvious question then is : What part does John Kline play as his time in the House runs out ?
 
As a veteran, there are some issues that need to be on his To-Do list:
 
H.R. 3988: Military and Veterans Education Protection Act which has been assigned to Chairman Kline’s committee. This bipartisan legislation would close a loophole that allows For-Profit schools to avoid having to secure at least 10 percent of their revenue from non-federal sources…
 
H.R. 1603: Sexual Assault Victims Empowerment (SAVE) Act is a bipartisan bill designed to address military sexual trauma survivors who face bureaucratic red-tape that often gets in the way of their seeking treatment from qualified, experienced providers outside the Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system and TRICARE. The Military SAVE Act would give these survivors the option to seek reimbursable care from non-VA/TRICARE medical providers who can best provide the care these victims need…
 
A bipartisan group of 46 members, led by Tim Walz, have offered H.R.3423: Agent Orange Extension Act of 2015 to reinstate it for two more years. Further, John Katko (R-NY-24) and Collin Peterson have teamed up to offer H.R.3547 – Vietnam Veterans Agent Orange Fairness Act…
 
ToDo List: Congressman Wenstrup has offered H.R.475 – GI Bill Processing Improvement Act of 2015 … Chairman John Kline needs to save the taxpayers some money and co-sponsor this legislation that will limit private schools to a $20,235 cap.
(MN Political Roundtable)

Also, Kline and everyone else in Congress should note: “New bi-partisan poll of veterans shows they oppose privatization or voucherization of VA care.” The polling was commissioned by the Vet Voice Foundation.
 
Comment below fold.
 
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MN-02: The John Kline replacement sweepstakes

by Dan Burns on September 24, 2015 · 2 comments

gopWhen Rep. John Kline (R-MN) announced his retirement, and many names were being thrown around by observers as potential replacements, I figured that I’d hold off for a while on blogging about it, and hopefully save myself considerable time and effort. Was I ever right, for a change.
 
To get the DFL side out of the way, first, Angie Craig and Mary Lawrence obviously have big head starts. Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-St. Paul) expressed interest, but subsequently declined.
 

As far as Republicans go, this article is from yesterday:
 

Two Republicans are now competing to replace John Kline in Congress.
 
Former state Sen. John Howe on Tuesday joined David Gerson in seeking the Republican endorsement to run for Congress in the 2nd District next year…
 
At a recent tea party event in Red Wing, Gerson gave about two dozen people an update on his campaign. Dressed in a blue button-down shirt, jeans and a handgun on his hip, Gerson told the tea partyers that he wants Congress to defund Planned Parenthood and that he hopes to reduce the size and scope of the federal government…
 
Former state Sen. Ted Daley, former state Rep. Pam Myrha, state Rep. Tony Albright and Savage-based businessman Chris Andryski are other Republicans thinking about jumping into the race.
(MPR)

Those who I saw had their names thrown out there, and in at least most cases expressed interest at some point, but who have all now explicitly said no, include former Minnesota district judge and First Lady Mary Pawlenty, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty press secretary Brian McClung, State Reps. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa), Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington), and Roz Peterson (R-Lakeville), State Sens. Dave Thompson (R-Lakeville) and Eric Pratt (R-Prior Lake), U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s utterly hapless 2012 opponent Kurt Bills, and Sen. Al Franken’s 2014 opponent Mike McFadden. Nearly all of the preceding have lengthy records of utterances and actions that would have provided ample attack material for opponents. I thought that Pawlenty would have been a pretty strong candidate, though there could have been suspicion that she was just running on her last name working against her. I’ve also seen talk about state Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont), but no indication as to whether she is really considering it or not.
 

We’ll see what more shakes out in the next couple of weeks.
 
Image: Randy Molton.
 
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MN-02: So, what got into John Kline?

by Dan Burns on September 9, 2015 · 3 comments

kline2(Update: Dig “John Kline’s Top 10 Greatest Hits Of Evil.”)
 
That is, why did he suddenly announce that he’s leaving Congress at the end of this term? I think the biggest reason is that he is starting to burn out on Washington, D.C., and while he still has energy and drive of some sort left, it’s time to make his pile. His likeliest destinations for lobbyist gigs are with the warmongering-industrial complex and/or shameless, despicable education deform profiteers. But, really, every corporate greedhead has reason to be grateful to John Kline. He hasn’t been a leader on every issue, but his vote for plutocracy has always been there.

 
The number two reason, which he’s acknowledged, is that Kline is about to be term-limited out of his chairmanship of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. (As an aside, his dismal record in that job is very unlikely to improve, in the time remaining). For an authoritarian social dominant like Kline, the congressional equivalent of being knocked down from brigadier general to captain or something is presumably far, far from pleasing.

 
I don’t think that fear of a humiliating electoral defeat was a big factor. Like most right-wingers in politics his belief as to where he really stands in the eyes of the populace is so unrealistically inflated as to be legitimately called “delusional.”
 
For the bigger picture, the key thing is whether or not this becomes part of a wave of GOP retirements. That’s usually a good sign that word within a party (it happens with both) is that the upcoming election isn’t looking good. Even if a player is confident of holding onto his own seat, a pending lessening of party power can be demoralizing.
 
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State reps deny charge of lewd behavior in a public park

by Eric Ferguson on September 4, 2015 · 4 comments

State Rep. Tim KellyState Rep. Tara MackThe first couple paragraphs of the Pioneer Press’s story sum it up:
 

A Dakota County sheriff’s deputy allegedly caught two Minnesota lawmakers “making out” in a parked car last week, according to law enforcement reports and court records, but the lawmakers say that accusation is “completely false” and a “lie.”
 
State Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, and Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley, were issued citations for causing a nuisance on Aug. 25.

 
So the gist is a park ranger, rangers being deputies of the Dakota County sheriff, approached their car for being double-parked. He said in his report that Mack and Kelly were “making out” and Mack’s pants were “unzipped and pulled down”. Both legislators say the deputy is lying, and that they met there to exchange documents about an Owatonna-based health plan.
 
My first reaction was actually to think about the news stories of recent years about police fabricating their reports or covering up misbehavior, so I can’t dismiss the possibility the legislators are right. Wait, I’m handed this story about to two elected officials — of the opposing party — and representing swing districts — and my reaction is something other than cackling with glee? Well, I don’t cackle generally, but it’s more a matter of trying to apply the same skepticism I would if these were two DFLers. My next thought after treating the Mack and Kelly’s claim as plausible is to wonder where the body cam or dash cam video is. What we have however is the deputy’s word, and there’s a balance to be struck between the need for police to be trusted when they report something, and the fact some abuse that trust. So I’m not believing the legislators; just admitting the chance they’re telling the truth pending more evidence.
 
Of course, to be skeptical the other way, why would they meet in a park to exchange documents? I get why politicians might have grown leery of email, when every passing thought becomes public record to be searched by people who mean you ill, but still, wouldn’t handing off documents be a matter of attaching them to an email? OK, maybe they’re only in hard copy, or maybe they aren’t real, or maybe that was an alibi constructed after the fact. The most skepticism-inducing claim however is that the deputy is lying.
 
Yes, police lie sometimes, but usually not about a misdemeanor. Cover-ups normally happen when a suspect has some inexplicable injuries. Or when the suspect’s suspicious activity is something like walking through his own neighborhood, or driving through a white neighborhood while persistently failing to be white. Did the deputy want to endanger the political careers of the two people in the car? He probably had no idea who they were. So why would he make up something about people who attracted his attention by being double-parked allegedly? “Allegedly” because Kelly apparently is disputing that too. However, both were factually wrong when they asserted the information on their charges was released illegally. The Pioneer Press’s tipster may have had whatever motive, but those are public documents.
 
The implication of the allegations is that Kelly and Mack are having an affair, and we don’t know that yet. I’m guessing it’s true, but I’m actually feeling no schadenfreude over the possible repercussions to their marriages. This has to be painful on a personal level. These are Republicans, but I can think of others where I’d greet such news with the thought “glad it happened to one the legislature’s biggest a__holes” and yes, I do think in underscores instead of letters. I’ll seek help when I’m ready. Seriously, I don’t take any pleasure in it. The fact they’re ideologically hidebound on almost all policy matters doesn’t mean I wish them ill.
 
That’s not to say I’m unaware of the political implications, because these are both committee chairs. Both districts are purple and should have been winnable anyway, but obviously just became more winnable. Usually incumbents make the strongest candidates, but sometimes incumbents are so weakened that their parties would be better off replacing them as nominees, and that just might be the case here. Mack was the rumor mill’s pick to replace US Rep. John Kline, who just announced today that he’s not running for reelection. That seat is deep purple, and without an incumbent, becomes a top DFL pickup opportunity, so to have a MNGOPer who was being groomed for the seat screw up just now is a big deal.
 
Before making the “family values” hypocrisy charge, I wanted to see that this was actually the case. Pretty much, I don’t. Yes, each had an abortion bill during this year’s session. But otherwise, Kelly actually opposed the gay marriage ban amendment. Mack made mention of her faith being important to her in the introductory video before her speech at last year’s CPAC. I heard her mention there and in the video on her web site that her husband is pastor, but her speech was the basic conservative ideological pabulum — Obamacare is bad, liberal professors are indoctrinating students, etc. So in being holier-than-thou legislators, neither of them is exactly Tim Miller or Mary Kiffmeyer.
 
Is it fair to have their political careers ruined by a tryst? I actually don’t want to see them bounced from office for an affair (I made a deliberate choice to avoid using photos that include their family members, even though most politicians use family in campaign materials — this is probably bad enough without me piling on). I want Mack and Kelly to be bounced because they’re terrible on policy on health care and transportation respectively, though if they’re lying about the deputy lying, that would be good reason to bounce them too. And if they’re right that the deputy lied, I expect them to come around on the issue of police accountability. If they don’t start giving serious consideration to other people’s claims that the police fabricated their charges, then I’ll call them hypocrites.
 
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MN-02: John Kline will not seek reelection

by Dan Burns on September 3, 2015 · 3 comments

271_19344293946_1831_nMakes my day, and I know I’m not alone.
 

Republican Rep. John Kline announced Thursday he won’t seek re-election in 2016, after serving in Minnesota’s 2nd congressional district since 2002…
 
Kline’s announcement Thursday didn’t say why he had decided to step down, but he is 67. He scheduled a call with reporters later in the day.
(CBS Minnesota)

We’ll have plenty more about this. Just getting the great news out there, far and wide, for now.
 
Addendum: I’m passing along this, from Daily Kos, with useful numbers on recent district outcomes for big races. And this, from mnpACT!, speculating on who all might be running to replace him (in addition to the current candidates, Democrats Angie Craig and Mary Lawrence). State Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington), who is mentioned in the latter, is my pick for Minnesota’s most obnoxious legislator, and him on the general election ballot should make it easy pickings for our side. So, Run Pat Run!
 
Addendum 2: More from Kline himself.
 

On a call with reporters shortly after the announcement, Kline was relaxed and candid, saying it was “just kind of time” to move on, and emphasizing the work he still has left to do in Congress over the next 16 months, including the passage of a package to reform the No Child Left Behind K-12 education law.
 
Kline also made clear that his decision was not made due to health concerns, or worries that he might not win re-election in 2016. He explained that “it’s been a lot of years of me being in Washington,” adding that his grandkids had grown up in a “blink of an eye.” Kline was elected to Congress in 2002, and turns 68 this Sunday.
 
The seven-term congressman also acknowledged that his decision was partly motivated by the imminent end of his chairmanship of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, the apex of his influence in Congress. (House committee chairmanships are limited to three terms.) “It’s time to let someone else have a shot,” he said.
(MinnPost)

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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.
 
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MN-02: Kline up to the same crap

by Dan Burns on July 24, 2015 · 0 comments

kline2A couple of recent items.
 

Meanwhile, after three years of public comment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s issued its first-ever coal ash rule in December … to be effective on October 14, 2015.
 
So with that as a backdrop, John Kline co-sponsored a bill to remove the rule’s national standard for drinking water protection and cleanup of coal ash-contaminated sites.
 
And the House voted on that bill (Wednesday) … in six votes … and each time John Kline’s side prevailed (meaning “Coal Man” won, clean water lost)…
 
The Kline-backed bill allows states to decide that groundwater contamination and other pollution need not be cleaned up — in other words, if the “mess” can be ignored or impacts other states, so what.
(MN Political Roundtable)

(In early July), Kline resumed his role as corporate manservant, rising up against President Obama’s proposal that would make nearly five million more U.S. workers eligible for overtime pay. According to the White House, overtime rules are in dire need of recalibration, since they easily allow companies to skirt paying overtime without much creativity…
 
Meanwhile, as the nation comes out of the (July 4) weekend, Kline will be far removed from the daily challenges of working Minnesotans and back inside the Beltway, enjoying his annual congressional salary of $174,000 that’s flanked by benefits for which the rest of us would donate a kidney.
 
After all, this is Kline’s world. We just get to work in it.
(City Pages)

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

 

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)

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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.
 
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