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In this clip you get a look at Ben Austin. I've been following this story from afar, but it's time to get it up. I feel for these parents because they want the best for their kids, but it appears a trap may have been set for them by astroturfers. I'm still taking in the reports so please add to the conversation.
Building genuine parent engagement is a critical element of improving our schools. Two-way ?conversation? and not the all too common one-way ?communication? between schools and parents needs to be developed through strategies such as teacher home visits to build relationships and working together to address the two-thirds of outside school factors that affect student achievement (health care, affordable housing, neighborhood safety).
The so-called ?parent trigger? law in California, which allows a majority of parents (from a school or from their ?feeder? schools) to sign a petition that forces a school to be converted into a charter, is not one of those genuine parent engagement strategies.
The recent effort to apply this law for the first time in Compton highlights all the reasons why it is an unwise strategy for students, families, teachers, and administrators.
When organizers are interested in helping community residents build leadership skills, develop genuine ownership of the group they are creating, and leave a lasting organization for the long-term, they do not work ?under the radar? as the Parent Revolution (the group behind the law) organizers did in Compton (their first contact with school officials apparently occurred when the petitions were delivered)
Unions were not begun, nor led, by leaders of groups that want to start competitive companies (the chair of Parent Revolution?s board is the head of charter operator Green Dot Schools). They are also not funded by groups that want to do so (Parent Revolution?s primary funders are the same ones who are the biggest funders of charter schools).
Parents are very susceptible to charter school pitchmen selling themselves as agents of reform. The LA Times has a take on this. Regulations aren't enough to fix the sloppy law that created the parent trigger
This week, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that some parents are withdrawing their signatures, saying that they were intimidated or misled by Parent Revolution, the Los Angeles-based group that organized the petition drive.
The Los Angeles Times reports:
"They told me the petition was to beautify the school," said Karla Garcia, whose two children attend McKinley. "They are misinforming the parents, so I revoked my signature."
On Friday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a supporter of the parent-trigger effort, took the other side, condemning alleged "intimidation tactics" by charter opponents at McKinley.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa weighed in with similar views. The mayor was flanked by parents and petition organizers Friday as he visited the home of a Compton petition signer to praise the effort and condemn what he described as harassment by opponents."
Similar "parent-trigger" laws are being considered in other states. Meanwhile, the ability of charters to "solve" the problems of the low-performing public schools remains far from clear. [Read Kevin Drum for a good backgrounder on charter schools.]
Kevin Drum writes that so far charter schools aren't performing very well in New York.: Bad News for Charter Schools
Statewide in New York, about 50% of high school graduates are college ready. In charter schools, about 20% of graduates are college ready. This isn't an apples-to-apples comparison, since we don't know whether the charter schools had the same quality of incoming students as the public schools. Most likely they didn't, as the lower graduation rate shows. Still, that's a helluva gap. It's not good news for the charter school movement
In an effort to deny more than 30 million uninsured Americans health care coverage, 26 states have filed legal action against the Affordable Care Act which passed last year. But Republican demagoguery costs money and “the [lawsuit's] cost the states have split so far amounts to $46,000.” But Florida Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi has “paid less than $6,000″ for its lawsuit. Why? Because an anti-health care lobbying group is picking up the 26-state tab:
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi told a state House committee this month that most of the rest is being covered by the National Federation of Independent Business, a group that opposes the law because of what it considers unconstitutional costs and regulations on firms and people.
“They have dedicated a tremendous amount of resources to the lawsuit,” Bondi said Feb. 10. “We’re thrilled, because that’s saving our state money. That’s saving the 25 other states money as well.”
As the Huffington Post notes, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) is no “mom and pop” operation. While dubbing itself “the Voice of Small Business,” NFIB has spent the past two years “yoking itself to the GOP” while simultaneously “jeopardizing billions of dollars in credit, tax benefits and other federal subsidies” at the expense of small businesses. Affiliated with both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the GOP “since the Reagan era,” NFIB “is run mostly by and for Republicans” and spent 93 percent of its campaign contributions on GOP candidates. It is no wonder, then, that NFIB is happy to pay to secure the top GOP priority and equally “delighted” to see the pay off.
There are differences between the proposed Wisconsin and Indiana measures: the Indiana ones are actually quite a bit worse. Governor Mitch Daniels de-certified the state's public employee unions on his first day in office back in 2007. It got little[...]
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When I take a step back and really look at what's happening in the world today, I can't help but marvel at the irony.
Peoples across the Middle East are fighting and dying to pry themselves from under brutal dictatorships. Many of those oppressive governments are being, if not actually created then at least propped up by American Financial interests. And this happens while Americans on the other hand, seem hell bent on burying themselves under the same kind of systems... created and maintained by those same financial vultures those in the Middle East are trying to escape.
Maybe somebody can make some kind of sense out of this picture but I've been sitting here looking at it all morning now and so far, the only picture that emerges here is that average working class Americans are... hell, I don't know. Stupid comes to mind but these days stupid is an epithet, not a description of someone's mental status.
If we take the dictionary definition of stupid...
Slow to learn or understand; obtuse. Tending to make poor decisions or careless mistakes.
But you know what? I'm going to use it anyway. Not only is it the right word but the fact that it pisses wingers and Teapers off is a plus as far as I'm concerned. Fuck 'em if they can't take a little constructive criticism.
Working class Americans are some of the most gullible, steerable, HERDABLE, easily confused and distracted creatures ever placed upon this planet not withstanding the fact that they walk upright and shit between their feet. Opposing thumbs my ass. Should have given them no thumbs and just enough extra brain to get them to understand that you don't crap in your own nest and you don't let any one else do it either. Planet might not be so fucked up today.
Let's see where their fascination with shiny objects, big assed sports spectacles ten second sound bytes and Britney Spears' crotch... and their total failure to see what's been happening to them behind all that crap... has brought them (and the rest of us, whether we like it or not). This guy can say it better than I can. ( I know, I know... that might sound like faint praise since we know a chimpanzee with a laptop can say most things better than I can but hey, I'm less expensive to feed.)
The Republican strategy is to split the vast middle and working class - pitting unionized workers against non-unionized, public-sector workers against non-public, older workers within sight of Medicare and Social Security against younger workers who don't believe these programs will be there for them, and the poor against the working middle class.
By splitting working America along these lines, Republicans want Americans to believe that we can no longer afford to do what we need to do as a nation. They hope to deflect attention from the increasing share of total income and wealth going to the richest 1 percent while the jobs and wages of everyone else languish.
Republicans would rather no one notice their campaign to shrink the pie even further with additional tax cuts for the rich - making the Bush tax cuts permanent, further reducing the estate tax, and allowing the wealthy to shift ever more of their income into capital gains taxed at 15 percent.
Seriously, this is a good read folks and it doesn't need me playing my silly games through it. BG got me started reading Professor Reich when I first came here (Thank you ma'am). Up until then I had just figured him for another (most likely wealthy) Washington insider bobblehead.
Actually he's not only got his shit together, he's one of the few public figures in the country who has found a sack big enough to carry it in. I highly recommend him... and the article linked here.
Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick said Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is doing the "right thing for his state" and called government bureaucracy "the next bubble."Putting aside Mikey?s typical boilerplate idiocy about the situation in Wisconsin, I should ask the following: If Fitzpatrick is supposedly so concerned about the deficit, then why is he fighting tooth and nail to repeal health care reform, which would only add to it (and when even the Washington Times reports on that here, I would say that that pretty much eliminates any further wingnut argument).
"I've got to tip my hat to any governor willing to take on that bureaucracy," Fitzpatrick said Monday night. "We can't just load that debt onto future generations."
(Fitzpatrick) also spoke of the GOP's allowing debate on the House floor as a significant change from the last Congress; the need for tort reform to bring down health care costs; and why he voted to reduce funding for the Public Broadcasting System.The part about the Dem congress supposedly not allowing debate on the House floor is a typical lie (as if he would know since he wasn?t even there at the time). The process of submitting amendments was regulated, I?ll admit, but that?s because his party sought to gum up the legislative process by submitting amendments that had nothing to do with actual legislation, as they did here on April 20th, 2009 concerning a Washington, D.C. voting rights bill ? the Repugs inserted an amendment to loosen the district?s gun laws (and what exactly does owning a gun have to do with voting?).
"I support public broadcasting personally," he said, adding that he has written checks to PBS. "Today there is less need for significant federal support as there was in the 1960s or '70s. We just don't have the money with a $1.6 trillion deficit."
Joey Vento, owner of the city's popular Geno's Steaks, told the crowd to clean up the fraud in the entitlement programs. He asked how you could give health care to 30 million people and save money over 10 years. "I've got a bridge to sell you if you believe that."Fortunately for us all, nobody elected Joey Vento to a damn thing (try reading this, wise guy ? and by the way, your sandwiches stink too?go here instead).
Confirming earlier reports that Indiana House Democrats have left the statehouse to prevent Republicans from stripping away collective bargaining rights for workers, Indiana's Democratic Chair Dan Parker says that:
"Republicans have decided to bring their Wisconsin assault to Indiana, and we're not going to just sit around and take it," Parker told me, confirming that Dems went "into caucus last night and they remain in caucus today." That phrase means they are "not returning to the floor," he said.
"I have been in contact with some of them, and they are not going to allow Republicans to try to lower wages for middle-class Hoosiers," Parker continued, adding that he didn't know if they'd left the state yet. [...]
"They will stay in caucus until these bills are removed from the agenda," Parker vowed. "They are not coming back."
For more discussion, see mille147's diary.
MARK KARLIN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker expected opposition to his union busting from the Democratic minority in the legislature, but what he didn't anticipate was a general uprising.
Walker, who is a Koch brothers Manchurian candidate, felt comfortable that a partisan battle would lead to an easy Republican victory.† His wealthy oligarchical backers saw Wisconsin as easy pickings for leading a national wave of states crushing organized labor and collective bargaining.
Although the White House and the national Democratic Party have been giving lip support to the revolt in Wisconsin, they haven't been showing full-throttle backing for what is a major skirmish over who controls American government: corporations or people.
What is most uplifting about this moment in Madison is that progressives, young people, union members and working class citizens have created a movement on their own to fight back against the corporatists that the national Democratic Party and the White House have so frequently accommodated. (Needless to say, the corporatists completely control the Republican Party.)
This is a progressive populist moment, a battle for the middle class, and while the legislative battle is Republican vs. Democrat, the estimated 80,000 people who came to Madison this past weekend are not fighting for a party; they are battling for economic justice.
National Republicans and Democrats cheered on the union solidarity movement in Poland led by Lech Walesa, why should it be any different for union members in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin State Rep. Gordon Hintz (D), who's been getting attention for an impassioned speech he delivered last week in defense of those opposing the state's anti-union budget bill, is now getting attention for a sexual misconduct citation he received earlier this month. In an e-mail to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Hintz says he's willing to take responsibility for his actions, but is also concerned that his "personal situation is distracting from the much more important issue facing the state."
"We have tens of thousands of working people at the Capitol every day, and that must remain our focus," Hintz wrote.
According to the Journal Sentinel, Appleton police arrested Hintz on Feb. 10 for violating a city ordinance against "touching/offering to touch sexual parts." He posted $2,667.50 bail.
Appleton police told the AP that the citation came in connection to an ongoing investigation of the Heavenly Touch Massage Parlor in Appleton. In late January, six women were arrested in connection with the investigation.
A group of government whistleblowers wants a special prosecutor appointed to handle the case of former Bush administration official Scott Bloch. The whistleblowers wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder that Bloch "gravely damaged the federal civil service" and say they are concerned about "about the appearance of impropriety" because the federal prosecutor currently handling the case supported a plea agreement before Bloch withdrew his guilty plea.
"Attorney General Holder, we have long waited for Mr. Bloch to be held accountable in a court of law," they write in the open letter to Holder. "For too many of us, the erosion of the rule of law and ethical conduct in government came with a heavy price. With our whistleblowing activities, we sought, and continue to seek, a government of laws, not of men. Please help us restore this noble and long-standing principle by appointing a special prosecutor to lead United States v. Scott J. Bloch."
The group of whistleblowers wrote that they "are not of the belief that there is improper involvement by current DOJ officials in the defendant's case" but say "the concern about the appearance of impropriety is equally pressing."
Bloch pleaded guilty last spring to misdemeanor contempt of Congress, admitting that he phoned Geeks on Call to wipe his government hard drive clean a investigators probed his alleged retaliation against employees.
Bloch, the whistleblowers write, "eroded workplace discrimination protection on the basis of sexual orientation, conducted a political purge of his own employees, attempted to intimidate subordinates from cooperating with outside investigators, deleted computer files and destroyed whistleblower cases, and made false and misleading statements under oath to Congress."
Former government employee David Pardo posted the letter and the signatories on his blog. Bloch is due back in U.S. District Court in D.C. on March 10th at 2:30 p.m.