Reforming K-12: Scarborough Blames Teachers Unions 2

Today on Morning Joe, Joe went crazy accusing Howard Dean of being a liar when it comes to education reform and blaming Democrats and Teachers unions for the state of our k-12 system. Public schools just like reproductive rights attract Republican attacks often.

Scarborough was not just rude, he is wrong and it is easy to blame the teachers unions for everything. Joe is wrong when he first begins to speak about education reform, he says: “Republicans love to talk about education reform, it’s the Democrats that don’t like to talk about education reform.” This is where is he is not just wrong he is lying.  Republicans like to talk about getting rid of teachers unions and charter schools, that is all they talk about when they address reforming the k-12  They never discuss the actual problem educating large diverse population with a variety of needs. It is easier though to present the problem as simple, with easy solutions, but if there were such easy solutions as Joe seems to believe, the problems would have been solved 30 or more years ago.

Joe happens to be continuing to rant on this issue on twitter, which is how I found out he went on this epic rant this morning against Howard Dean. He is ranting to prove himself right. Joe doens’t offer facts though, just opinions. He is only convincing people who already believe what he believes, he isn’t convincing anyone who knows the facts.

Let’s discuss real reform and why we have many underperforming school districts, this will be something Joe Scarborough and his ilk will not discuss because there is no way to gain the political upper hand if  he were to really talk about how to reform our k-12 public schools.

Let’s take Joe’s biggest talking point he said: “We as a nation spend more money per child than any other nation in the world.”

Wrong, we are third coming in behind Switzerland and Norway but that doesn’t mean anything really. Our funding mechanisms, student populations are completely different.

But let’s talk about the Charter School panacea, that Republicans never stop talking about. We know now that Charter Schools more often than not do not educate students adequately. And yet they never ever stop with the “We need more charter schools and we need to get rid of teacher unions”.

Charter schools are notorious for not taking students with special needs, public schools are mandated of course through title i, to educate special needs students. This is part of the reason that the job of the traditional public school system, which still educates about 95 percent of all school children, is far more complicated than Republicans and conservatives who advocate reform want you to know. Reform to them is no teacher unions and no title i funding, I wonder how many kids would remain uneducated if Joe and his Republican goon friends got to do what they really wanted to do, complete the circle, subpar education for everyone who doesn’t have money and no college education for those who don’t have access to at least 50,000 for tuition.

We also have some facts now on charter schools, let’s take Florida’s charter school the International Academy, funded by public dollars and run by a private businesses. Well when all the schools took the FCAT, the International Academy garnered a grade of F. Yeah, even though they get to reject subpar students, they still scored an F.  In Miami-Dade a greater percentage of charter schools failed the FCAT than did public schools and in Broward county all the schools that failed were Charter schools. According to a CBS report in Florida;

“A CBS4 News analysis of Department of Education numbers shows fewer than one percent of public elementary and middle schools received an “F” in grades released last week.  In contrast, nearly six percent of charter schools received an “F.”

Charter schools got failing grades at a rate more than seven times that of public schools.”

But Florida isn’t the only example of this of course, let’s talk about New York State and charter schools.

Charter schools in New York City and everywhere else have yet to prove that they can solve the problem that is America’s education system. In the South Bronx, the Academic Leadership Charter School has been put on probation this week for not randomizing admissions—as charter schools are supposed to do—and possibly testing or interviewing applicants, which they are not, the Times reports.

This is a typical tactic of charter schools, yet empirical evidence exposes that despite their built-in test-score advantage of not accepting every student, they don’t outperform public schools in any meaningful way.

Then of course we have the Houston, Texas scandal. Is privatizing public schools really the way to educate students? Doesn’t seem to be, unless you want uneducated students. Charter schools over and over again, in state after state do not educated children any better than public schools, although in many cases those schools perform worse than public schools and are not educating students. I imagine it is because those private companies who are running these schools care more lining their pockets than they do about educating students.  With Republicans corporate profits = #winning, educating all students = #losing

New Jersey is just another example of the failure of charter schools. This more progressive state has the same problem with their charter schools that the other states have had, they have a high rate of failure, in fact 40 charter schools in New Jersey have lost their licenses to operate.

According to the article:

Advocates continue to argue that charters’ freedom to innovate allows them to provide an intense focus on achievement lacking in many traditional public schools, particularly in poor urban communities like Trenton, where test scores remain far below state averages and large numbers of students drop out.

I have to ask Joe Scarborough why this is adequate for children whose parents can’t afford private schools, why it is okay to not serve special ed students equally, and why it is Republicans always blame teachers unions for the failure to educate students when the issue is much more complex and has very little to do with teacher’s unions and much more to do with how states and levy’s fund school districts and educating diverse populations?  Public schools continue to do a better job in educating our students over-all. Charter Schools have yet to achieve the rigor and standards of public schools. Hey Joe, it’s easier to play politics with issue of public schools then solve problems! Yelling a Howard Dean proves this.

Next blog: Complexity of school funding and educating disaffected populations

Crossposted @DAGBlog

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Below the Beltway: a Mockumentary of the Anatomy of a Political Scandal 2

I saw this movie the other morning on Showtimes Movie Channel. It is the perfect movie to see this political season, it not only brings on the big belly laughs but the story has a edge of the “real”  and as a viewer I became pretty convinced this could easily happen to any politician.

Below the Beltway is an indie film, from 21st Street Films. 21st Street Films seems to do micro-budget films, $20,000 – $500,000. It might have a micro-budget but it isn’t low quality by any means. The films story moves quickly and the story is as hilarious as it is real.

This is the story of Paul Gibson (Tate Donovan), a disgraced former beltway lobbyist. He is disgraced because there was a viral YouTube video of him speaking to a gathering of reporters and black citizens, he uses the word “niggardly” in reference to social welfare.  A hilarious and ironic scene takes place between describing what happened to Gibson, they laugh about it, and indicate they don’t give a shit whether is was deserved or not, in fact is it funnier that what Gibson said wasn’t offensive in that he used the term correctly, but it was funny cause no one seemed to understand that! But these staffers they just accept the circumstances, where truth doesn’t matter and go on, hoping like hell it doesn’t happen to them. At the beginning of the film  Gibson has one client left, the National Rendering Association, (NRA) heh, showing just how far he’s fallen. They drop him too, he’d become toxic, not jail time toxic of course, where he might get a book deal, but toxic enough that no one really wanted to be associated with him.

Gibson is trying to make his way back into politics. He finds out a salacious and scandalous story about a U.S. senator’s affair with a high school intern.  What is interesting about the film is that its foci is not just how this information is manipulated on its own, but it is also about lobbyists’, politicians’, and reporters’ manipulation of each other in their attempts exploit the impending scandal. And it makes you laugh hard throughout. It’s a wild romp with a twist at the end that is screamingly funny. It’s a fun film, I do recommend it.

*Full disclosure, I went to boarding school the Spencer Garrett, he plays the disgraced senator and produces the film. But I still y’all should see it if you get a chance, you’ll see  Spence  is funny as hell, and you will catch a glimpse of why he made boarding school a much more tolerable place.

Crossposted @DAGblog

Misrepresenting Liberty: Private Property Rights, Oppression and Ron Paul 2

Try to leave this place a little better than when you got here.

I can’t remember if it was the debate this morning or last nights debate when Ron Paul blurted out; “I’m for Liberty!” I hate it when politicians deliberately talk in slogans and sound bites. But leave it to Ron Paul to have that as his slogan, and it was certainly different than every other Republican at their 38th debate.

Let’s face it Ron Paul is an old style demagogue who covers his demagoguery in a pseudo-legal analysis of our Constitution. Now I am no legal scholar, but neither is Dr. Ron Paul, and I am pretty sick of that guy, because I think as a civilization we have moved beyond the glib analysis that all rights stem from property rights. Let me just say, even John Locke himself, if he were living, would have moved beyond such a limiting anti-progressive view of how humans organize and distribute power, seriously! He was a bigger thinker than that, as evidenced in his writing. We most certainly have evolved past 1787, and that is a good thing. You can see from Paul’s beliefs he doesn’t believe we should have evolved past that time.

I have some serious questions for Ron Paul supporters, how is it you can tolerate a guy who makes claims like: “Lincoln shouldn’t have fought the Civil War, he should have simply purchased those slaves from slave owners”. Does anyone else see how fucked up that is, in that it indicates he believes people can legitimately be owned by others, and you must purchase them to set them free.  To a person who has lived in the 20th and now 21st century, that line of reasoning makes no sense. It also occurs to me how little sense it makes to continually second guess past events, and make specious claims about what should have been done at that time. Pretty easy to talk shit like that, when it’s irrelevant since the Tardis isn’t available and even that Hitler thing kind of backfired on the good Doctor. Seriously, Ron Paul does the same thing when he talks about WWII, but here is the deal, who cares, he didn’t get to make that decision, this kind of half-assed I could have done it better, BS should be unacceptable to  a sentient being. How anyone can take that seriously leaves me incredulous. If Barack Obama said shit like that, he would  be living next door to Alvin Green in South Carolina. Sorry, but it’s a fact.

It isn’t just that he hangs with the likes of Alex Jones either, but that certainly doesn’t make him more appealing to a woman, a minority or a normal person who doesn’t revel in hatred.

Unfortunately, Ron Paul’s own beliefs and statements make me believe if Ron Paul could he would return us to an era where oppression was wrapped in the guise of  the catch-all phrase “property rights”. I don’t think that should be acceptable once again.

Ron Paul is wrong morally and probably legally when it comes to his glib pronouncement that the Civil Rights Act destroyed privacy.  What on earth does Ron Paul mean by that? He is basically saying business owners have the ultimate right to discriminate, because only they have the right to make decisions about what happens on their property? Answer this please Paululons,  can a civil society exist if we all were to simply shrug our shoulders and say; “oh well, if that cafe owner refuses to allow black people into that restaurant, no biggie we will just move on to the next restaurant” “Or oh well, too bad you can’t use that bathroom or that hospital or go to that school”. Come on, we all know those are dog whistle statements which are used to attract a certain kind of voter.

Ron Paul also said this: “[T]he forced integration dictated by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 increased racial tensions while diminishing individual liberty.” But we need to critically unpack that statement.Is he really sure about that? He is saying of course integration wasn’t worth it, but let’s look around us people, I’d say it was totally worth it, we  have many many gains in the past 40+ years, and many things have changed in the attitudes of the majority of Americans. These things are good, and I think it was totally a worthwhile cause, just as it was worth it to integrate aka mainstream all kinds of students, as exposure to difference leads to tolerance and the ability to live together, more peacefully. Ron Paul is wrong, things are better, how on earth can he not see that?

It kind of bugs me though that so many people are willing to throw women and minorities under the bus for that kind of dude. Seriously, this guy is at best a relic, at worst he believes as women, we continue not to be full members of society and we are unable to make decisions for and about our own bodies. He is not a civil libertarian in the truest form as he favors government legislation that limits our access to health care. What right does he or anyone else have to intervene in a conversation we might be having with our personal physician?  I don’t necessarily want to have the abortion argument, but my opinion is this, it simply isn’t your business what goes on between a woman and her physician. You don’t have to like it, you can believe it is against god or whatever, but since we are not a theocracy then you don’t get a say in our bodies.

Ron Paul isn’t just against abortion he is also against birth control.  He made the claim that “Greater Access to birth control makes a mockery of Christianity”. Is this really a guy who should be getting 20% of any electorate anywhere? How is this possible?

So officially Ron Paul was once the sponsor of a bill to outlaw Roe V Wade, in his eyes we simply don’t have the same rights as men to make decisions about our lives. He makes the excuse of course that states should get to determine what individual rights a woman has over her body and essentially allows a state to determine what kind of medical discussions a woman is allowed to have with her physician.   It rubs me the wrong way though, I just don’t get how this guy has so many hard core followers?

Some people seem to think that Ron Paul is entirely different than your run of the mill Bircher, but he isn’t. Don’t ever forget that. Ron Paul doesn’t know what liberty is and if you vote for him, you are voting for that.

Glenn Greenwald – now worse than ever! Reply

Salon’s pet Libertarian, Glenn Greenwald, has made even more of an ass of himself than before.

I know, I know, it hardly seems possible.   Facts have a nasty way of trashing suppositions, though, and this time he did.

Greenwald went so far as to claim that supporters of President Obama would literally excuse him for committing forcible rape, even against a nun.

Yes, you read that right.

Let’s leave aside for the moment that this first requires us to believe that President Obama would do something so heinous.  The suspension of disbelief that alone requires, straining credulity as it does, has to be left alone for the moment to carry Greenwald’s latest burst of insanity just a bit further.

I can safely presume everyone reading this had a mother.  I know I did.  I have a sister, and there is a woman in my life I love very deeply.

To presume that I can leave those aside and rationalize a hypothetical crime of violence even against an abstracted nun in order to continue to support President Obama is a contortion of imagination that defies…well, imagination.

Greenwald’s loathsome nonsense has been annoying and offensive before.  This, though, is an affront to every norm of civilized discourse, and it’s time for him to go.

I’ve written Salon’s management insisting they publicly fire him.  I know it won’t happen, they like the page views his libertarian fanbois bring them far too much to let something so inconvenient as using images of forcible rape as discussion fodder dissuade them from publishing his repellent screeds.

I have only one more message for Greenwald: