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Wow, public education stinks. Teachers are to blame for everything. Let's just turn schools over to private corporations who get public funds with no guidelines how to spend them. Let's make sure teachers have to jump through all kinds of educational requirements, but pay them a wage they can barely live on. Let's give some benefits and make them pay 20% of their health care so they don't think too highly of themselves. Let them pay for school supplies out of their own pockets. Keep telling the teachers that they are failures and their schools are failing. And if their students don't meet arbitrary standards of growth, fire the teachers. After all, everyone should  be exactly the same. Yea, that'll help American education get better.

Sounds irrational, doesn't it? But that's what is happening in public education all over the country right now. We have seen a crisis - be it real or inflamed by right wing media - and legislatures are rushing to put bandaids on the patient. We don't care if the patient has a thorough exam and diagnosis. Just quick, give an aspirin or put a bandaid on it, anything so it looks like we are doing something.

Michigan is a prime example of what is happening in public education today. The legislature continues to hammer on teachers and their unions in the effort to "reform" education. The Michigan legislators are working hard to save money because of the dire fiscal situation in Michigan. In their wisdom, they are cutting funds to public schools. However, some legislation seems purely vindictive as it will not save any money at all. Some examples:

SB 619: lifts restrictions on cyber schools; allows cyber schools to receive same per-pupil foundation allowance as brick and mortar schools

HB 4019: lifts caps on number of charter schools so universities and out of state charter companies can open schools in Michigan; also waives property tax for owners of property leased to charter schools

HB 4142: a teacher does not need to be notified that their employment is discontinued if they receive less than "effective" on their evaluation

HB 4152: freezes wages and benefits during contract negotiations; protracted negotiations could provide savings to employers at employees' expense

HB 4300:  school boards must publish on their website the amount of union dues withheld from employees if prior to a contract agreement

HB 4466 & 4465: amend the Michigan Public Employee Relations Act (which already makes it illegal for  public employees to strike); if a public school employee strikes, the union may be fined $5,000 per day of the strike, employee may be fined one day's wage per day of the strike, and teacher certificate may be suspended 2 years or revoked permanently

HB 4902: law requiring schools must honor request of parents of twins, triplets or other single birth multiple siblings to put siblings in same class or separate class as requested by parents, except when documented evidence exists that this is disrupting to the educational process; what - really? this should be a law?

HB 4929: prohibits public schools from deducting union dues from paychecks of employees; this is an electronic transaction that costs the school district nothing

SB 729: makes Michigan a "right to teach" state by eliminating service fee requirements for teachers as a condition of employmet; allows non-union members to benefit from collective bargaining; specifies unions with 50,000 or more members, which is only the MEA

SB 157: now signed into law; provide emergency financial managers to take over failing school districts (and local government) to be replaced by a manager chosen and serving at the pleasure of the governor; circumvents the constitution guarantee of republican form of government by allowing local elected school officials to be thrown out of office

HB 4625-4628: now signed into law; changes in teacher tenure including teacher evaluations based on student scores on standardized test or merit pay; teacher placement by principal, non-agreement resulting in unpaid leave; limits items that may be collectively bargained, including how teachers would be evaluated

SB 733:  bans spouses, children, siblings, other relatives from serving on school board; does not restrict city, county, or state government or business owners from being elected to save themselves from various laws or taxes

for more laws see the following website:

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. This is just a sample of a few of a plethora of laws that micromanage education in a GOP majority legislature in Michigan. Note: This legislation by legislators that have a starting salary of $71,650, plus $10,800 expense account. Roughly $43 per hour if you count 40 hrs/week times 48 weeks (and that's being generous). Say, that's well over the minimum wage of $7.40 per hour, isn't it? I bet they get benefits, too. Also, the Michigan legislature invited Michelle Rhee to talk to them about how to reform Michigan public schools. Enough said.

This isn't happening only in Michigan. This is going on across the nation. As laws continue to be enacted that reduce the ability of public schools to be effective, more and more of them will "fail". This legislation is intended to prove that public schools are no good. What alternative do we have but to replace them?

Some have suggested looking to Finland for answers to improving public schools. As a nation they made a commitment to quality public education for all citizens, then actually made it happen. It wasn't quick, either. It took decades. But look what Finland has now - a world class education system, the best in the world.

Critics say we can't do what Finland did - our country is too big, our country is too heterogeneous, our country is different, wah, wah, wah. We can't, we can't, we can't. Let's quit spending money on education and put it into the military. Unfortunately with so much taken out of education we may soon be defending a country with little education at all.

So what is the answer? What do we do? I wish I had a quick fix to offer, but I don't. Here are a few ideas to get started:

1. Decide what we want public education to do - teach people how to become productive citizens of society or score well on standardized tests?

2. Make a commitment to quality education for everyone - not just for those who can afford transportation to charter schools.

3. Quit vilifying teachers - most went into education to be a part of the solution

4. Study successful educational systems like Finland - what can we take away from their successes?

5. Enlist teachers in the educational reform process, maybe even let teachers form or lead public schools

6. Become a part of the solution, not just whine about the problem. Go to a school and volunteer to read, sort, cut, staple, anything to free up a teacher to teach.

7. Write to your state legislators to begin true reform in public schools, not just cuts to
funding that hurt education.

8. Write to your U.S. legislators to reduce military spending. We need to take care of ourselves before we can save the world.

Thanks for reading and letting me have my say. This has bothered me for a long time.

Originally posted to 50sbaby on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 10:39 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  And of course, (25+ / 0-)

    only teach the history that the Texas State Textbook Commission says is accurate. Here in AZ they banned ethnic studies because, you know, we wouldn't want to give kids who live in majority-Hispanic districts a sense of pride in their heritage.

    Great diary. You're right, similar bills are being enacted nationwide. More restrictions on public schools, more handouts to the private education industry. Sheesh, if we can't do public schools as a public, what the heck can we do?

    The largest donor, by far, to wingnut AZ Senator Russell Pearce in his Nov. recall election is the private school industry.

    stay together / learn the flowers / go light - Gary Snyder

    by Mother Mags on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 10:55:06 AM PDT

    •  I think the establishment of multiple levels (7+ / 0-)

      of micromanaging is part of the plan to kill public education. It's been done in many fields, from education to water and air quality, to food and drug safety. By passing so many laws and regulations, and micromanaging every aspect of operations, the Republicans have managed to make government through law and regulation seem to be the problem, and in some cases it is the problem.

      Laws and regulations have usually been passed only when necessary to address abuses. But when the regulatory process goes overboard, and begins to manage things that are not a problem, that's when regulation becomes ineffective. And I think that's just as it was planned, and what has been done by Republicans, under cover of blaming Democrats for being bleeding heart tree-hugging  liberals.

      When I worked for the Social Security Administration, during the Reagan administration, I was more than a little surprized that directives kept coming out from DC to get people on the Supplemental Security and Medicaid roles. If people were entitled then they needed to be in pay status. This directive was in the face of the Reagan administration public face of too many people on "welfare" and taking advantage of the system, and the meme that the creation of the nanny state was destroying the fabric of the country.

      If these programs were so awful, why were there directives to get people on the roles? Well, if you don't like lifeboats taking up space on the deck of the ship, then do what you have to to prove they are useless. Overload them till they sink.

      Education has been micromanaged to the point that is has become ineffective. This is I think mainly because the "solutions" like NCLB have been formulated as a solution that had no relation to the problem. But it has helped sink the lifeboat that education has been to countless numbers of citizens in changing their station in life for the better.

      •  Here's a recently declassified document (11+ / 0-)

        a Field Manual on Sabotage.  [Warning: pdf document]
        Scroll down to page 32-36. I heard one teacher say that this seems like the tactics used in every faculty meeting she's attended. Keep in mind these are tactics for sabotaging something. It reads like a Republican playbook.

        (11) General Interference with Organizations and Production
        Organizations and Conferences
        Insist on doing everything through "channels." Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.
        Make "speeches." Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your "points" by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate "patriotic" comments.
        When possible, refer all matters to committees, for "further study and consideration." Attempt to make the committees as large as possible — never less than five.
        Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
        Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.
        Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.
        Advocate "caution." Be "reasonable" and urge your fellow-conferees to be "reasonable" and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.
        Be worried about the propriety of any decision — raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.
    •  my high school english teacher (5+ / 0-)

      was repeatedly harassed by the admins, because he had a sign denoting his classroom as a safe place for LGBT kids. This was a terrible high school...

      On my very first day, this history teacher took the time to talk about 9/11. Why? To be a bitch I assume. Basically ended up claiming all of shiia islam was evil. Boy I bet she didnt expect me to be in that class. Me, who actuallly lost a friend in that event. Me, whos relationship with my mother was on the verge of falling apart befoer i accidently ended up telling her of her friends demise (same event.) Somehow, our fights just seemed petty after that.

      To say the least, I was quite unhappy with her lies and propaganda. And I made this clear.

      I stopped going a month after that. then i dropped out and got accepted into college because im scary brilliant with science, so long as they thing im sciencing doesnt bleed. Had medical problems not shifted my plans, i wouldve totally just smashed every bit of the system they built up into useless dribble.

      And thats scary. I shouldnt be able to drop out of school because ym teachers are idiots. I shouldnt have idiot tteachers!

      The Reason why there are so many colors in this world...white, black, red, green, blue, that they can be mixed to create an explosion of new color! Boom!

      by kamrom on Sun Oct 30, 2011 at 05:01:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent diary / Crucial issue (15+ / 0-)

    I'd add

    9. Run for the schoolboard.


    10. Tax the shit out of the rich bastards and make ours the best education system in the galaxy.

    Most of what's needed can't happen without the money.

  •  And here all I want is to get back to the basics: (3+ / 0-)

    Let teachers teach what they think is best for the kids in their class.

    •  There is nothing wrong.... (0+ / 0-)

      with a curriculum and assessment of student performance as well as teacher effectiveness.  My daughter had a math teacher who didn't like math who taught it about 1 hour a week, and daughter fell behind that year.  We have big urban areas with failing schools that need to be addressed.  Teachers need to be creatively involved in putting together the solution, and all charter schools (for profit or not) that are successful do this.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Sun Oct 30, 2011 at 04:10:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are correct. There is nothing wrong with (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        accountability for teachers. I am sure there are teachers who should not be teaching. I had a junior high school history teacher that was ineffective and couldn't control the class. I loved U.S. history but hated going to that class .

        As important as accountability is the Michigan legislature has used teacher evaluation and standardized test scores as a cudgel to beat teachers into submission.

        By the way, where does it make sense in any place or time to take funds away from a "failing" school that needs help and reward a prosperous, successful school with MORE money? Sounds illogical, right? But that's what we have done. Maybe it works to award prizes in contests or races, but where schools are concerned we are talking about children's lives.

        Liberal (from Webster's Dictionary): tolerant of views differing from one's own; broad-minded

        by 50sbaby on Sun Oct 30, 2011 at 06:08:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, that is a Democratic Party "cudgel"... (0+ / 0-)

          One of the major planks of Obama's ed reform mission. One of his many cudgels. An extension of what Bush and the GOP did and wanted to do (but couldnt, until more Dems and their union tie-ins got on board).

          With a democratic president in the wh pushing this and other rightwing wishlist items, 34 states, last I looked, passed rightwing education laws - ostensibly to "win" race to the top, Obama/Duncan's grand "reform" scheme, but actually to promote rightwing reforms that the GOP were all lined up to pass thru... as soon as they got the dems, who in turn, got many unions, to sign on to Race to the Top's conditions, to give their votes and blessing to the reform laws.

          Oh, and in NY, we had Hedge Fund Operatives leading the pack to promote and donate millions to get Obama's reforms into law. With new "reform" Dem allies in league with them. And they did. They won. NY won (RttT). (Deal w the devil, we lost)

          Evaluate teachers by students' test scores.

          Increase charters, pushing out the public schools.

          And merit pay and other corporate infringements upon the greater merit of functioning as a collective, collegially and to improve each other thru open sharing, not "what's mine is mine, and I got more than you!"

          And the minimizing and weakening of our union benefit/s, in many ways.

          And corporate money and influence flowing in... like billionaires from Walmart, Gates, et al...

          I am curious to know how many Democrats in the MI legislature support this rightwing legislation. Perhaps the WI movement and OWS has tamped down their enthusiasm for wrecking our public ed system under the guise of bettering it. Or perhaps not. Perhaps they will let the GOP go out in front and propose extremely extreme changes and then they come in and do their "nicer guy" nip and tuck, their ameliorating amendments and counterproposals. leaving us with more Overton Window rightward push, as they so often do, while ducking the wagging finger of blame and any deserved outrage.


          Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a lame party, or should it drive a lame party to break out? If it cant, should it break out?

          by NYCee on Sun Oct 30, 2011 at 10:13:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  About Michelle Rhee... (0+ / 0-)

            Re your Rhee comment in the diary:

            Also, the Michigan legislature invited Michelle Rhee to talk to them about how to reform Michigan public schools. Enough said.

            Let's not forget what Obama said about Rhee during his campaign, this Rhee (just a snippet of her abysmal CV):


            Since resigning as chancellor last year, Rhee has launched a new organization, Students First, with the express goal of raising $1 billion to counter teachers unions. Her approach remains confrontational. In a profound sense, Democrats like Michelle Rhee have paved the way for Scott Walker.

            Lauded by this Obama:

            But Rhee couldn't have done it alone. Then-candidate Barack Obama endorsed Rhee in a 2008 debate as a "wonderful new superintendent" and later applauded the firing of every single unionized teacher at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island. (The teachers were later rehired.) Rhee's agenda also received a big boost from liberal movie director Davis Guggenheim, whose film, "Waiting for 'Superman,' " implies that teachers unions are to blame for the failures of urban education and that non-unionized charter schools are the solution. The movie includes no acknowledgment that the things teachers want for themselves - more resources devoted to education, smaller class sizes, policies that allow them to keep order in the classroom - are also good for kids

            What is the Democratic behavior/attitude in the MI lege body re Rhee and the (largely bipartisan) rheeforms of modern day education (insanity)?

            Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a lame party, or should it drive a lame party to break out? If it cant, should it break out?

            by NYCee on Sun Oct 30, 2011 at 11:30:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Education is one of my biggest disappointments (0+ / 0-)

            with Obama.  I don't know why he has swallowed the party line about charters, Rhee, etc. My next letter will be written to Obama, requesting him to reexamine his educational policies.

            In Michigan it is a Republican Party cudgel. The GOP has enacted numerous anti-teacher and anti-union legislation. Our Republican businessman governor is all too willing to support these bills.

            The education reform legislation in Michigan is punitive and totally from the Republicans, who are in the majority. I have checked the sponsors of the bills and who has voted for them. I have heard of only 1 Democrat who has supported these heinous reforms.  

            Liberal (from Webster's Dictionary): tolerant of views differing from one's own; broad-minded

            by 50sbaby on Sun Oct 30, 2011 at 04:00:17 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Where there is money (16+ / 0-)

    Republicans are ready and willing to do anything or create any pretend crisis in order to get their greedy hands on it.

    •  You're right, it's all about the money (15+ / 0-)

      Hundreds of billions are spent annually on k-12 public education in the US and they want it.

      My school has a $3 million contract with America's Choice (Pearson).  They showed up one day last spring and three days in August basically telling us how wonderful they are.  They were going to go over our inventory.  Never happened. I asked if they were going to help us with age and content appropriate lesson writing. Yeah, sure they were.  Never happened. They've never been back since August.

      That's basically how all the proprietary school improvement packages work in my experience. They show up, talk a lot of stuff in a very vague general way laced with neologisms.  Then they disappear.  They never help with implementation of their classroom models, even the ones that might have some merit (America's Choice has none, IMO)

      Meanwhile, teachers are having to buy their own copy paper.  There is $0 science budget. etc., etc.

      What this country needs is a massive anti-helminth cocktail. We need to reduce our [macro]parasite load.

      Light is seen through a small hole.

      by houyhnhnm on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 03:16:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  NCLB and Race to the Top (18+ / 0-)

        Privatization Is the rule, not the exception in both of these disasters.  Arne Duncan is a corporate tool and hisDOE has mandated  every one of the diaried mandates in his Race to the Top. This bribe to starving states  align perfectly with ALEC's anti teacher union legislation. The RttT grants were written by the Gates & Broad foundations to crack open the public school coffers to Wall Street. I live in TN, recipient of RTTT ,and every law in this diary has been enacted here. Our schools are living a true nightmare- thanks to George Bush, Barak Obama, and the republican leg & governor.

        Fight them, if you can.

        Read about the pernicious effect of billionaires on school policy all over the country in this excellent article by Joanne Barkan:

      •  We had a Republican State Legislator come (20+ / 0-)

        into to give a speech in a school assembly the other day (it was non-ideological -- basically a history lesson and encouragement for students to get registered to vote when they were old enough).  I took the opportunity to walk with her to the door.

        I told her that we needed money for science classes -- not more technolgy -- we need consumables like dirt, seeds, chemicals, balloons, glassware, agar, slides etc.  I told her I spent well over a thousand bucks a year for our students to be able to have labs ... and that that is on top of our kids selling candy bars door-to-door as a fundraiser each year.

        Her response:  Send her an email and she'll see what she can do tapping into some buddies on the local Chamber of Commerce for a donation.

        A donation?  Science labs for American middle school students have become a charity scenario?

        Maybe I should get a bunch of jars with Please Help stickers and sit them on counters by cash registers around the neighborhood ... to beg for money to help teach young Americans science?  Maybe a lemonade stand on the corner ... or better yet, an apple stand ... brother can you spare a dime to help a kid learn physics?

        And the pisser is that I will send her an email, and if a couple of the 1%'ers sends me a check, I'll send a thank you note.  I'm already near my $1000 level, this year, and I can't stand not doing my best to give my kids the best damn education I can.

        THAT's the crisis in American education from my perspective.


        Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

        by bkamr on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 05:49:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  And the Democrats? (0+ / 0-)

      They have had a heavier hand than Bush, under Obama, in pushing these rightwing education reform memes.

      Talk about money, ask Wall Street Hedge Fund Operatives who are so keen these days on ed "reforms," who partnered with them for the law changes in NY that would get us Obama's Race to the Top?

      Democrats for Education Reform!

      They are now seeding their money and power in many states to topple over the next, soon to be obsolete, sacred cow of the D party of yesteryear - oppo to vouchers.

      Obama has helped usher in these terrible changes in education. He has led the pack ever since coming into office.

      Hopefully the strong WI protests and now, OWS, will make the Dems step back a bit, slow their momentum in tandem w the GOP to privatize education...

      In Chicago they call the chancellor the CEO. Fitting, no? Democrat Arne Duncan left that system privatized a lot more than he found it, with Dem mayor Daley his partner in ed reform, both in charge of the schools.

      Now Mayor Rahm is big on more of the same, it seems... Look who he's picked for the current "CEO" position... A New York export who got a whopping 95% NO CONFIDENCE vote from the teachers who were blessed with his reign in NY. Parents and community members also gave him a giant thumbs down.

      Urbanski said teachers feel Brizard has ignored their input and neglected city schools to promote private charter schools.  In addition, teachers have been without a contract since last June.  "We need to send a message, not only to Mr. Brizard, but the community," said Charlotte teacher Charlie Avino.  "We're out here, we're working, we're working hard for kids and we don't seem to be getting anywhere with the contract and we don't seem to be getting anywhere with improving the conditions at the schools."

      The teacher's vote was preceded by a vote of no confidence for Brizard by parents and community members February 1.  "He clearly does not value the involvement of parents and community members in the decision-making process about the lives of our children," said Howard Eagle of the Rochester Community Education Task Force.

      Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a lame party, or should it drive a lame party to break out? If it cant, should it break out?

      by NYCee on Sun Oct 30, 2011 at 11:12:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'd rather keep the public schools and (21+ / 0-)

    get rid of all the Republicans.  Please vote these fools out of office!

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." A. Einstein

    by moose67 on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 11:18:25 AM PDT

  •  Just returned (18+ / 0-)

    From braving the nor'easter to attend a meeting detailing the co- location of an elementary school charter in a building that currently houses two public 6-8 schools and one school for autistic children. Most of the parents in attendance opposed it and the woman who runs these charters,former NYC council member Eva Moskowitz, was incredibly condescending and walked out after 15 minutes.

  •  I think the "reform" meme has taken hold so (15+ / 0-)

    firmly among the public at large, that one could be fooled into believing that "reform" is absolutely necessary and that good, viable sugestions for improving public education will be acceptable to the moneyed interests and the political operatives who serve them.  Think again. These privateers and their political operatives aren't actually looking to "reform" anything.

    Instead, they are interested in another agenda, and are currently about the business of financing local school board candidates who are willing to carry it out. Bruno Behrend of the Center for School Reform at The Heartland Institute is making the rounds among local rightwing organizations to posit the following methods for "reforming" public education.

    1.  The current system is beyond reform.

    2.  It cannot be fixed.

    3.  No amount of money will fix it.

    4.  Transform though managed dismantlement; not reform.

    5.  Replace the Government Education Complex with an Open Source Learning Network (privately funded educational products).

    6.  The state should set high standards and allow for expanded educational providers (again, read private).

    [emphasis and parantheticals mine]

    The only way to fight this 30-year agenda of the right is to vote them out of local, state and federal office whenever possible, and then reverse the legislation.

    "Repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed." --J. Steinbeck

    by livjack on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 12:48:06 PM PDT

  •  Finland also has an excellent health care system. (10+ / 0-)

    That would be my first choice for a model to emulate.

  •  Why educate when there are NO jobs (6+ / 0-)

    After all, it just leads to greater dissatisfaction.

    Best if the dumbass poor just sit in their cardboard huts owned by BofA that they pay for by working at McDonald's--if they are so lucky.

    Otherwise, they must sit on corners begging for "alms for the poor," like they do where country's got it right--relying on charity.

    Separation of Church and State AND Corporation

    by Einsteinia on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 04:17:52 PM PDT

  •  Jeb Bush and Rupert Murdoch (6+ / 0-)

    Are just two vultures waiting for these laws to pass so that they can set up operations.

  •  in Douglas County, Colorado, (5+ / 0-)

    Voters have a choice on Tuesday to approve a bond issue that will fund schools semi-adequately but force pay-for-performance, or, defeat the bond and lose art, music, gym, and library in every elementary school.

    What kind of choice is that?

  •  Vouchers are code for: help me pay for my private (8+ / 0-)

    tuition.  But don't you love how they present the rationale as caring about the poor kids in failing schools?  The same poor kids to whom they'd eliminate all government aid and subsidies in a heartbeat if they could.  The same poor that they blame as lazy, etc.

    The pro-voucher people already have their kids in private schools (mostly Catholic) and just want our tax money to help them pay the rising tuition.

    My state of PA, that claims to be broke and cut public education by $1 billion, just passed vouchers.  How do they expect to pay for the $1 billion cost over 4 years?  

    •  The only time the 1%'ers care about us (9+ / 0-)

      99%'ers is when they think up another way to rip us off.

      Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

      by bkamr on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 06:05:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  With New "Reform" Dem pushing! (0+ / 0-)

      They are the same group that is one with Hedge Fund Operatives on Wall Street, who pushed, with their $$$, to propagandize against teachers and unions for Obama's reform laws to get passed in NY last year - reforms that were passed, that got us Race to the Top, second round. (Meager monetary "help" for a whole lotta nightmares re evals and charters. great.)

      Reform Dems, so called, are pushing vouchers in quite a few states now.

      That's what happens when D supporters keep focusing solely on the GOP as the villains. First they come for your x, then your y, then your vouchers.

      They being the Dems, in obvious cahoots with the GOP.

      All on board with Wall Street!

      ("Education Next" reporter Peter Meyer, someone who, unlike me, is sympathetic to the ed reform movement, did a series of pieces in Education Next which laid out the hedge fund operative and reform dem machinations behind NY's new ed laws, for RttT. Cant access the site/pieces right now.)

      Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a lame party, or should it drive a lame party to break out? If it cant, should it break out?

      by NYCee on Sun Oct 30, 2011 at 10:51:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My experience in seeing the product (11+ / 0-)

    of the education system - and it is not just the American system - is that kids are graduating without really knowing anything. I see young people with degrees who do not seem to have acquired any particular knowledge as a result of it. I worry that there is something more profound happening in society and education is bearing the brunt of it. I wonder if we have now become a society that does not see knowledge as valuable, that does not admire the learned for being so, and thinks of children as being empty knowledge vessels that are simply filled up daily. To me, learning is a value. You have to have families that believe in learning and honor it. Teachers, no matter how good, cannot instill that value. No teacher, however bad, can eradicate it. I had awful teachers who clearly hated children. I was beaten frequently. I am now a Professor at one of the best universities in the country. I owe my success to my father. He was curious about many things. He was a doctor, but he could build furniture, paint pictures, sing, and do a host of things. He encouraged me to think, to look twice at things, to carry a slight disdain for rules. He was my real teacher. He made me be,I've in learning. That, to me, is the real problem with education today.

    •  I agree. I think that we do not value education in (3+ / 0-)

      America and other parts of the world. There is a real distrust by many people of the educated. Look no further than a recent candidate who touted Joe the plumber and repeated the "I am just like you" mantra for proof.

      Liberal (from Webster's Dictionary): tolerant of views differing from one's own; broad-minded

      by 50sbaby on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 06:37:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  no value = no future (0+ / 0-)

        The biggest crime of all is the meme that has been out there for at nearly 30 years that "a college education isn't worth the cost for many people".  That was, and always has been B.S.

        Back when he was graduating high school my younger brother heard that Big Lie from both his friends and the media, but he was smart enough not to believe it. He's now vested in a very good pension plan.

        Bottom line is this: if you don't get a college education your options for the future are going to be severely limited -- maybe even exhausted.

        (Even G.W. Bush with all his economic and political connections went to college and graduate school! Not saying the education actually did him any good -- you can lead a horse to water... but it will still be a horse's * when it gets there.)

        As for public and private secondary school education, there's no denying that in many places they're in a shambles. The blame rests more with administrators and boards than it does the teachers (not to mention the "textbook industrial complex" -- its hard to do good teaching from an awful curriculum). But parents and the kids themselves shouldn't be let off the hook. If we have a culture of disrespect for education it starts at the dinner table, or the lack thereof.

        For some of us the only option has been to take the 2nd income pay cut and home school. That's right. Non-ideological, non-parochial home school. The kind that isn't cool, where kids have to actually learn and submit not to just one standardized test a year but multiple tests a week -- not to mention the writing! Unfortunately I can't wait for my local education establishments to get their collective acts together: my kids need a good education now.

        The real worry is what we'll do in not very many years when they're ready for college. Even if we get them into advanced placement before they graduate high school to eliminate as many prereqs as possible so we can shorten their stay, how are they going we going to afford the king's ransom that even state colleges charge for tuition and fees? About the only solution offered are student loans -- but that's like offering people subsidized health insurance rather than overhauling the delivery system to address substantive problems with quality and cost (is there a pattern there?).

  •  Yep. (11+ / 0-)

    You're frustrated with the obviously insane policies of psycho-babbling Republi-cons blatantly promoting ripoffs and scams to funnel more public money into the pockets of the elite cadre, the Party Of Greed (POG), which has taken over leadership of the Republican Party.

    As I have frequently done, you rail in impotent rage at the execrable abomination of corporatist stooges usurping the will and best interests of the people. You are sickened by the appalling, blithe ignorance of the great mass of the electorate to the clearly superior and eminently rational alternatives to this madness exhibited in foreign countries. It doesn't make any sense that what these chowder-heads tout as "reform" is nothing short of the intentional destruction and dismantling of public institutions so that private firms can step in and extract mind-boggling amounts of money from government coffers while supplying as little material benefit to the public as they can get away with.

    They've already done a job on health care, transforming it from a social institution into a profitable business that systematically kills people to increase their profits. Now, they are stealing the educational system, supplanting public schools with crappy charter schools and other privately-run education factories.

    It makes me sick. I feel like moving to a sane country. But, like you, I'll probably just keep railing and battling, trying to vote these bastards out. I'm despondent and depressed. Thank God I'm retired and don't have to contend with most of these issues for myself or my children, who are both adults now. Still, I'm getting pretty nervous about Medicare. I'll be eligible in less than two years and I'm worried that they will have destroyed it before I get any use from it.

  •  "It's all about competition" (8+ / 0-)

    at least that's what they say.  Any they are right, but in a way they won't admit.

    All the fake reform moments reflect one thing:  public schools are the most serious competition to private schools,  because there is no tuition.

    Well, in business, you have to beat the competition one way or another, so you have to ask: "What is my competitive advantage?" (this is the mantra of business schools"

    Private schools can't compete on price, no advantage there.  And they can't compete with the best public schools on quality.

    They can compete on quality with underfunded, collapsing schools however, so it is in the vested interest of private schools to destroy the funding of public schools.  

    This is true from the elementary through the post graduate level.  The student loan business can't compete with public college education, and has a vested interest in discrediting or destroying state universities.

    Your 8 suggestions are right on, particularly the point about cutting military spending in favor of education spending.  Those who say we can't afford to educate US citizens have no problem pulling money out of thin air for imaginary threats.  Economic collapse is not imaginary; it's real, and it is averted by having a populace educated enough to rebuild a nation.

    A note regarding the Finland example:  while you are right, I am convinced that we can't sell an idea to the American people by suggesting that any other country does something better than we do; we'll be lambasted as unpatriotic.  Instead, we need to say it this way (unfortunately): "if those idiots in (country x) can do it, we can do it 10 times better!"

    Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. -Frank Zappa

    by TheGrandWazoo on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 06:52:55 PM PDT

  •  remember to ask (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    When you write, "Is this really the best we can do for the children?"

    I've added the word, "Shame" to my letters.

    Propaganda is where someone uses the truth as a context for sneaking in their own bullshit.

    by jcrit on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 07:22:00 PM PDT

  •  You and I both know that hasn't a thing (6+ / 0-)

    to do with improving education.    MI has some of the best and highest performing public schools in the country.  They are dismantling them just as quickly and in the same way as the poorest performing.   What this is about is union busting and privatization.  

    Cyber schools are for the "home schooling" crowd.   Put some classes and a curriculum on a website, an presto, you have education worth $7.400 per ea. one year curriculum.   If teachers teachers were smart, they'd resign in droves and open private schools.  Fuck them.   Two can play that game, and who needs the crappy "you must serve everyone" when the privates and charters don't have to.

    MI is a disaster.  The same way I don't recognize my country, I don't recognize my state.   Mark Brewer and the MDP are a joke.  They are just as inept and useless as the DNC.  The only ray of sunshine in our state is that everyone hates  Gov. Tricky Ricky and hopefully he'll be gone in one term.  But his damage will remain because the MDP is useless and the wingnuts in Grand Rapids and Holland will continue to support crooks like Camp and Hoestra making it unlikely we can undo the damage they have done.  

    This was a very informative diary, but it was a drag seeing it all collected in one spot.

    Yes we can, but he won't.

    by dkmich on Sun Oct 30, 2011 at 02:45:30 AM PDT

  •  Ugh. I want to participate.. (0+ / 0-)

    But I CANT. My public school experience was so full of hateful monster children and apathetic administrators who wouldnt even help me when i had what amounted to sexual harassment. So I am completely shaded.

    And dont think im joking. I dropped out of school since it felt like, I either do that, or i kill myself.

    And its a good thing I did! Imagine if I hadnt, and had never let myself dwell on it enoughto come to the conclusion that: A) I want my life to improve, not be over. and B) That I can only ensure that doesnt happen if I kill myself.

    THATS my public school experience. Although Ill make it clear, I dont think they should be closed or defunded.

    The Reason why there are so many colors in this world...white, black, red, green, blue, that they can be mixed to create an explosion of new color! Boom!

    by kamrom on Sun Oct 30, 2011 at 04:55:22 AM PDT

  •  What I tell wingnuts about private education (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    karmsy, dizzydean

    "So," I tell wingnuts, "you want to leave it up to private corporations what gets taught in our schools?"

    "Then get ready for a curriculum that tells your kids what a bad president Ron Reagan was, and emphasizes how Barack Obama was the greatest president in half a century."

    It's clear to you and I, the more enlightened, that those points of emphasis would highly likely be entirely reversed, but the staged scenario gets the point across in an astoundingly impactful way.

    I refuse to believe that Corporations are People until Texas executes one.

    by thenekkidtruth on Sun Oct 30, 2011 at 07:48:41 AM PDT

  •  Oh, you even get participants in this venue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    swearing that "bad teachers" are the chief problem with public education.

    Thanks for the diary.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sun Oct 30, 2011 at 08:29:23 AM PDT

  •  PA's GOP legislature and Gov. Corbett (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    are pushing vouchers again.

    Buck up--Never say die. We'll get along! Charlie Chaplain, Modern Times (1936).

    by dizzydean on Sun Oct 30, 2011 at 09:10:58 AM PDT

    •  vouchers are the symptom (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      its obvious what the strategy is. GOPers push for ever more tax and spending cuts at the national and state level, which trickle down to the local level forcing communities to consider raising property taxes just to keep the status quo. vouchers are pushed to mask the impact the cuts are having. you're offered small amount of money that neither makes up for the cuts nor covers the cost of actual private schools. meanwhile, areas like mine (Bucks County PA), have their quality public schools undermined by relentless cuts that begin to hit education and athletic programs that have been in place for decades. and yet every day I get junk mail from "fiscal conservative" candidates for local office that attack people who point the inevitable costs for all of this in mindless 3 word bullet points that bitch about raising taxes.

      we're systematically dismantling the world we built over 50 years out of sheer greed and selfishness.

  •  Regarding reform, there are a host of things (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sunny skies, Seeds, 50sbaby

    that could be done to improve the schools.

    1.  End property taxes as the means of funding education.  This simply exacerbates the inequalities of the system.

    2.   End standardized testing, including for college admissions.  It has always been a square peg way to measure round hole educational success or ability.

    3.  Reform the teacher certification process.  Sorry, but getting a degree in education and a minor in your specialty is backwards.  Furthermore, the certification process is a barrier to good people who want to teach.  A good example is JoePa--he was once asked what he would do if he retired from football.  He responded that he would teach in inner-city Philadelphia.  Sad thing is that he could not do so because he lacked the teaching credentials.  There are plenty of other ways to evaluate and screen teachers.

    4.  End the tyranny of the lesson plan.  Too much time is spent by teachers trying to keep up with their lesson plans.  Teachers should have greater flexibility in what they teach from day to day without having to adhere to some set of detailed plans that their administrators have forced down their throats.

    5.  Reform the education schools.  Too much emphasis on the pedagogy-of-the-day fashions has led to a cottage industry of education school types trying to come up with the next big idea.  My school recently had us do "pedagogy ninja training".  What BS.  And many of these folks have never set foot in a classroom for any length of time.  

    6.  Administrators should be teachers first.  Get them out of the office and into the classroom!  Too many principals hopped on the administration track too early and are disassociated from the issues that teachers deal with while they try to impress their higher-ups.

    7.  Finally, teachers are the real job creators.  Pay them and provide the benefits befitting their position in society.

    Buck up--Never say die. We'll get along! Charlie Chaplain, Modern Times (1936).

    by dizzydean on Sun Oct 30, 2011 at 09:26:37 AM PDT

    •  Regarding point 1 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      What options are considered in place of local property taxes?  I'm very interested in knowing what choices we have that are actually being discussed.

      I haven't forgotten The Path to 9/11, Disney. You're still dead to me.

      by beemerr on Sun Oct 30, 2011 at 09:51:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Michigan went from property taxes to (0+ / 0-)

        the sales tax, with the state managing the funds back in the 1990s.  The world did not end and, while they obviously still have a lot of issues with funding due to the economy there and Republicans never ending attempts to cut funding, it is still seen as a big step forward.  

        Buck up--Never say die. We'll get along! Charlie Chaplain, Modern Times (1936).

        by dizzydean on Sun Oct 30, 2011 at 10:41:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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