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Michelle Rhee, Chancellor, District of Columbia Public Schools, speaks during
Time for a blogger corporate education policy ethics panel! Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst organization is in the news in three different places for three different ethically dodgy practices.

In Florida, a regional outreach manager for StudentsFirst sent out an email blast offering gift cards as a reward for comments on blog posts. Not on StudentsFirst blog posts, but on newspapers and other sites—the email included a list of suggested places to comment. One recommended article was about ALEC's growing influence in Florida education policy. So basically, StudentsFirst was astroturfing in support of ALEC in Florida.

Next, former CNN anchor Campbell Brown wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed criticizing teachers unions, without disclosing that her husband, former George W. Bush staffer and current Romney campaign adviser Dan Senor, is on the board of StudentsFirstNY. Responding to critics of her nondisclosure on Twitter, she made clear that she doesn't see a problem with that.

And in Sacramento, California, the Democratic Party of Sacramento County is asking for an investigation into the use of City Hall resources, such as office space, by Democratic Mayor Kevin Johnson's various nonprofit initiatives. Johnson's education nonprofit in turn shares office space with StudentsFirst. Oh, and by the way, Johnson is Michelle Rhee's husband.

(Continue reading below the fold for more about the war on education, overworked veterans home staff, The Daily Show, and trash and recycling drivers.)

A fair day's wage

  • Technical workers like camera operators and audio technicians at The Daily Show now have their first union contract with the show, after the show's producers voluntarily recognized the union.
  • Workers at King Veterans Home in Wisconsin are stretched to the limit, working insane amounts of forced overtime.
  • Paging Alanis Morissette: Unemployment offices are laying people off as unemployment declines and budgets get cut.
  • It's illegal to fire people for supporting a union, yet the government keeps having to tell employers to stop doing it. This week, a Los Angeles trash hauling and recycling firm.
  • Speaking of trash hauling and recycling, Seattle recycle and yard waste drivers are ending their strike after approving a new contract with Waste Management.
  • Businesses that misclassify employees as independent contractors—not paying unemployment insurance, workers' comp, payroll taxes, and more although the workers' hours and working conditions are set by the employer—can save big money from this form of wage theft. In fact, according to Virginia's General Assembly Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, misclassification may cut payroll costs by nearly 26 percent. Illegally, and putting honest contractors at a disadvantage.
  • Protesters supporting striking Houston janitors were arrested Tuesday. SEIU is targeting JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who, when challenged by a janitor on why the people cleaning JP Morgan Chase buildings are paid so little, told her to call his office to set up an appointment. Needless to say, her call was not returned. Meanwhile, supporters of the Houston janitors have rallied in 17 cities.
  • Texas A&M is outsourcing more than 1,600 jobs to a private contractor. The workers are being forced to resign from the university and reapply for their same jobs with the contractor; they're told they'll get comparable pay and benefits, but you don't have to be a hardened cynic to question the long-term truth of that.
  • More unemployment stories.
  • The decline and rescue of the American auto industry as seen from the shop floor.
  • Let's keep listening to Hyatt workers on why they're calling for a boycott of the hotel chain. Cathy Youngblood says:
    “I would love to have a meeting with (Hyatt family heir, board member and Chicago philanthropist) Penny Pritzker, but then I’m a woman of color and I’m lower wage, maybe she thinks I don’t have enough education,” says Youngblood. “They’re a billionaire company, they have a different mindset. I think it’s ignorant. They should know by now there is worker dissatisfaction within the Hyatt family. They could get on a plane and come in here and say ‘Ok ladies, what’s going on?’ But instead they just talk about all their awards and accolades and diversity, and don’t want to hear the real story.”
    Fitted sheets are one of the things she and other housekeepers say would make their jobs less physically taxing. But Hyatt won't even do a thing as simple as that.

State and local legislation

War on Education

  • Diane Ravitch points out a particularly blatant, but not especially surprising, example of charter school abuse of the concept of public education for all:
    The Minneapolis School Board closed down Cityview, one of its public schools whose test scores were too low, it replaced Cityview with a charter school, Minneapolis School of Science. The charter school has told the families of 40 children with special needs–children with Down Syndrome and autism–that they are not wanted at the school. Clearly the schools is bouncing these children to improve their test scores.
    Picking and choosing which kids they can be successful educating is a choice traditional public schools don't get. They have to try to do their best by every child. So if this charter school succeeds, it does so by refusing to even try to educate special needs students that the public school it replaced did educate. And those kids, for whom stability is especially important, are now forced to relocate on short notice.
  • Parents in Los Altos, California, are organizing against preferential treatment for an extremely litigious charter school that charges a de facto tuition of $5,000 and is discriminating against special education students, English language learners, Latinos and poor students.
  • Sen. Tom Harkin has released his report on for-profit colleges, which paints the industry in a predictably and deservedly bad light.


Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 10:55 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm gonna second (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Puddytat, Churchill, sethtriggs, Mostel26

    your best labor feed on Twitter and since I know he's kinda a humble guy I'm just gonna say that he's the editor for Progressive Congress News' Labor feed that is well loved by staffers on the hill :)

  •  Democratic party and charter schools (10+ / 0-)

    Great to see the Democratic Party taking a stand against abuse of public funds for charter schools. (at least, the Sacramento party!) I wonder what Arne Duncan thinks?

    "When you give back all your ill-gotten gains, you're a reformed crook. When you keep most of the loot and only give back a small part of it, you're a philanthropist." - Alfred E. Newman

    by Abstract668 on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 11:12:47 AM PDT

  •  There should be a special place in hell (11+ / 0-)

    for anyone that deliberately undermines any person's education. StudentsFirst should have their very own circle.

  •  Michele Rhee: GOP Education-Destroyer-in-Chief (10+ / 0-)

    80 % of success is showing up

    Corporate is not the solution to our problem

    Corporate is the problem

    by Churchill on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 11:23:30 AM PDT

  •  Paying or "rewarding" folks for posts (11+ / 0-)

    which I often refer to as PPP (pay per post) is a common Republican tactic.  It's one of the primary reasons Trolls exist outside of rabid ideological beliefs.  They get paid to do it and the corporation, party, or organization doesn't have to pay additional shills to create accounts and do the dirty work themselves.

    During the McCain campaign, there was a special place on the campaign website where supporters could sign up and get points (I referred to them as McPoints) for posting pro-McCain stuff all over the web.  Naturally, the TM never even mentioned this so folks would never know that a blog post or letter to the editor was bought and paid for.

    It says a lot about an issue, campaign or anything else when they have to pay people to be on their side and to convince others by pretending to be just another person.  When you need to fake grassroots support, there's something wrong with your side of the debate.

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

    by Puddytat on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 11:24:02 AM PDT

    •  Well said and agreed. I firmly believe that paying (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Puddytat, fuzzyguy, Mostel26

      people to post destructive corporate garbage under the guise that they're just a "normal, hard-working, tax paying American," should be unambiguously illegal. Companies and individuals that get caught doing it should face jail time, not cute little fines.

      Paid trollery is not a free speech issue. Period. People who are paid to insult teachers, deny global warming, and harass mortgage and student loan debtors into silence, are nothing more than verbal hit-men. Their benefactors, at the very least, need to spend some quality time in a small, cold cell.

      •  Paid trolling is bad... (0+ / 0-)

        ...but it is protected speech. Who would decide what is "paid trolling" and what is not?

        For example, do you trust the current administration to make that call? Did you trust the prior administration as much?

        Journalists are often paid. If they write what is clearly an opinion piece (as all blog comments by unverified users should be assumed to be) and it is determined to be "trolling", should they should go to jail?

        Some of DK front page material is, if I understand, posted by those who receive compensation from DK (including Kos himself). They may (who knows - it's impossible to prove one way or the other) adjust their prose to make "better copy" so they are more likely to be retained or to make the site more successful. Do you think Kos should be subject to "spending quality time in a small, cold cell" because the Commission on Paid Trolling Enforcement decides he is (1) trolling and (2) is benefiting financially from it?

        Expose paid trolling loudly using the same rights to do so that the paid troll used. The negative impact of such exposure far exceeds the benefits of the original troll. Don't trash the First Amendment for temporary convenience or one day you will regret it.

        •  I see the point that you're trying to make, but (0+ / 0-)

          when you compare journalists to paid anonymous trolls, your argument loses all merit.

          There is positively no comparison whatsoever between journalists who write researched articles with their actual, internet-searchable names attached to them; and anonymous, corporate-funded or organization-funded temp workers who pretend to be someone they aren't while muddying discourse by reposting talking points from the sheet that was handed to them.

          The diarists who are paid by Kos are professional writers who are politically active, and who write for a Democratic website because that's where their ideology lies. If you disagree with their point of view, at least you know who they are, and can search their other writings on the internet, or perhaps direct a rebuttal their way.

          Try doing that with some amoral, anonymous slob who's being paid chump change by a corporation or right-wing think tank to manipulate 12 different sock puppets in an effort to silence you on a comments board.

          •  And, an amoral anonymous... (0+ / 0-)

            ...slob, regardless of where they are on the ideological spectrum, just has no influence unless their ideas resonate. Who cares?

            The Federalist papers were, as you will recall, published anonymously. In fact, last I checked (years ago) there is still some debate on WHO wrote at least one of them. There's a long history of anonymous speech being allowed in this country.

            Kos is obviously not a journalist (he doesn't work for any "respected and revered news organization") by many peoples' definition. Nor is Drudge by many people's definition. Are both of their works "researched"? Yes, I'm quite certain both do research. Both, of course, color their research with their respective POVs.

            By definition, someone who writes for pay is a "professional writer" - so these blog commentators ARE professional writers just as Kos and Drudge are.

            Obviously no one would take the DK front pagers views as neutral (as you implicitly admit). Even fewer than no one would take an anonymous slob's comment on a blog, paid or not, as neutral.

            I just don't see a problem here. And, if there is a problem, the answer is not to suppress speech but to use speech to expose shills.

    •  Oh, right! McPoints!! Fond memories :-D n/t (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      apimomfan2, Puddytat, Mostel26

      Code Monkey like freedom / Code Monkey like peace and justice too
      Code Monkey very nerdy man / With big warm fuzzy bleeding heart
      Code Monkey like you!

      Formerly known as Jyrinx.

      by Code Monkey on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 01:21:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Kevin should go re-read Macbeth (4+ / 0-)
    And in Sacramento, California, the Democratic Party of Sacramento County is asking for an investigation into the use of City Hall resources, such as office space, by Democratic Mayor Kevin Johnson's various nonprofit initiatives. Johnson's education nonprofit in turn shares office space with StudentsFirst. Oh, and by the way, Johnson is Michelle Rhee's husband.

    Präsidentenelf-maßschach"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Ensanguining the skies...Falls the remorseful day".政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

    by annieli on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 11:26:06 AM PDT

  •  Not surpised about Campbell Brown (4+ / 0-)

    She is a terrible writer to begin with and this just makes her supposed journalistic "bona fides" worth even less than it was before.

    It's no wonder she still doesn't have a job.

  •  So it's now the Military-Industrial-Education (5+ / 0-)


    The 1st Amendment gives you the right to say stupid things, the 1st Amendment doesn't guarantee a paycheck to say stupid things.

    by JML9999 on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 11:37:31 AM PDT

  •  I'm pretty sure some MI diarists... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...have already covered this ground, but here's the next wave of Charters: Charter District

    Details of Michigan's first Privatized Public School District:

    Mosaica Controller Roger Gray says student enrollment is the big, important unknown in the budget. The amount of money a school district gets from the State of Michigan is determined in part by how many students are enrolled.

    Mosaica plans to have 1,434 in the fall. That would be an increase over last fall’s student count of 1,386. The company plans to reverse the long running decline in student enrollment at Muskegon Heights each year over the next 5 years.

    Mosaica also projects the per-pupil state allowance will increase each year. Per-pupil amounts have leveled off recently after close to a decade of declines.

    A minor complication to student enrollment is that former Muskegon Heights Public School students don’t automatically get enrolled at the new charter academy system. So parents have to actually take steps to enroll their students there. Not many of the hundreds of parents at a “unity meeting” Monday evening knew that.

    More than 100 students have enrolled so far, Mosaica officials said.

    When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Egalitare on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 11:50:54 AM PDT

  •  Here's a link to IAVA and their battle (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quill, Mostel26

    with for-profit colleges.

  •  What is truly amazing about Rhee is how (7+ / 0-)

    she was caught lying about her teaching experience and the results she obtained when she was in TFA, but yet her career continues unabated.  Clearly she's backed by some serious ruling class power brokers.

    "The attack on the truth by war begins long before war starts and continues long after a war ends." -Julian Assange

    by Pierro Sraffa on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 12:11:12 PM PDT

  •  Solidarity Forever (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    WI Rocks It!

    WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For May: Martyrs of the San Diego Free Speech Fight, Spring 1912.

    by JayRaye on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 02:02:55 PM PDT

  •  This woman is... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26 the service of the Lord of the Flies.  

    I fear for our kids, and for this country, beset by Wall Street predators who are more deadly, more malign, and more of a threat to America than any foreign enemy.  

  •  Maleficent thinks... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ..that when her fascist enablers take over there will be a place for people of color.  She doesn't get it: minorities, no matter how rich or well placed, will be headed to the ovens along with the middle class, the working poo, the poor, and anybody else who isn't white and Christian.  Scott Walker will see her off at the train station.  

  •  Campbell Brown. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Of course, there is no problem with an "objective anchor" waxing editorially in an anti-union tirade.

    Oh, and the fact that hubby works for Rhee?  No need to disclose...move along...nothing to see here!

    CNN.  The most trusted name in news.

  •  Also This Week: Philly charter school teachers sta (0+ / 0-)

    Philadelphia Charter School Teachers Stand Up for Their Rights see:

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