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mpr2002-02p01a

I saw that Cuccinelli in Virginia released his education plan (pdf) so I thought I’d compare his work to model bills churned out by ALEC, the corporate-owned state law factory.

Cuccinelli:

Review and reform teaching requirements and establish paths to teacher licensure external to education institutions.

Model Law that corporations wrote:

Offer teaching credentials to individuals with subject-matter experience but no education background with the Alternative Certification Act, introduced in seven states.

Cuccinelli:

Create and expand Virtual Classrooms. Provide legislation that will eliminate barriers to successful implementation of a virtual school curriculum such as seat-time, pupil-teacher ratios and high school course hour requirements.

Model law that corporations wrote:

Send taxpayer dollars to unaccountable online school providers through the “Virtual Schools Act,” introduced in three states, where a single teacher remotely teaches a “class” of hundreds of isolated students working from home. The low overhead for virtual schools certainly raises company profits, but it is a model few educators think is appropriate for young children.

Ohio was the poster child of online for-profit K-12 scams for years, but now I think Pennsylvania has us beat. Here’s great reporting out of Maine with details on all the sleaze. As usual, there’s a Bush brother involved.

Cuccinelli:

Enact Parent Empowerment And Choice Act Legislation For Parents In Failing Schools.

Model law that corporations wrote:

Create opportunities to privatize public schools or fire teachers and principals via referendum with the controversial Parent Trigger Act (glorified in the flop film “Won’t Back Down”), introduced in twelve states.

Here’s an inspiring story about how parents in Florida banded together and beat Michelle Rhee’s lobby shop when they parachuted into that state to sell Parent Trigger. I’m waiting for a movie about how grass roots public school parents beat Michelle Rhee and Jeb Bush but I’m not holding my breath. That’s a movie that will never be made.

For the second straight year, significant parent opposition to “parent trigger” legislation in Florida has led to defeat in the legislature despite powerful supporters, including former governor Jeb Bush. The parent trigger campaign in Florida has recently been marked some unusual episodes, including the gathering of signatures on a pro-parent trigger petition by StudentsFirst, Michelle Rhee’s advocacy group, that includes names of people who didn’t sign it. Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano said in this piece that the petition backfired: The petition was supposed to prove this pro-charter school legislation had grass roots support among parents, but instead it highlighted what critics have been saying all along: This law is about pushing Jeb Bush’s education agenda, and little else.

Cuccinelli:

School Choice: provide opportunity scholarships to allow parents to enroll students in the public schools of their choice, or tax credits to enroll in the private schools of their choice. Establish a separate tax credit program and/or scholarship fund specifically for students in failing schools.

Virginia has provisions in its constitution that explicitly bar government aid to “sectarian” schools or institutions, including the so-called Blaine Amendment. The Blaine Amendment was passed as a result of anti-Catholic bigotry in American politics in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A state constitutional amendment is needed that is narrowly drafted to allow for school choice programs that do not restrict parents’ choices about what is best for each of their children.

In other words, he wants to amend the state constitution to allow taxpayer funding of Catholic schools.

Model law that corporations wrote:

Create or expand taxpayer-funded voucher programs, using bills such as the “Parental Choice Scholarship Act” (introduced in three states). Under many state constitutions, the use of public dollars to fund religious institutions has been rejected but the ALEC Great Schools Tax Credit Act, introduced in ten states in 2013, bypasses state constitutional provisions and offers a form of private school tuition tax credits that funnel taxpayer dollars to private schools with even less public accountability than with regular vouchers.

Cuccinelli:

Additionally, while Virginia technically allows charter schools, any charter school has to be approved by the local school district within the boundaries it would be operating. In 2013, SJ 302,wasintroduced by Senator Mark Obenshain, proposing a constitutional amendment to grant the state Board of Education authority to establish charter schools within the school divisions of the Commonwealth.

Another constitutional amendment! This one gets around elected school boards and lets his hand-picked state board take over schools.

Model law that corporations wrote:

Create an appointed, state-level charter school authorizing board through the Next Generation Charter Schools Act, introduced in seven states, which effectively shields charters from democratic accountability. The legislation “would wrest control from school boards, and likewise from the community that elects those school boards,” Mead says, since it takes away their power to authorize charters in the community.

Terry McAuliffe’s education plan is incredibly vague, so not much to compare there. His website is also cluttered and horrible looking, BTW. I hope he didn’t pay a lot for it.

update on McAuliffe from commenter Van

72 replies
  1. 1
    Van says:

    Agree about the website for McAuliffe, however here’s a link taking you to a more detailed rundown of his education plan:http://terrymcauliffe.com/on-t...../#fulltext

    Seems pretty progressive to me. How much of it he can accomplish in Va is another thing.

  2. 2
    aimai says:

    This school “reform” stuff just makes me want to puke, and then cry. I was thinking about it last night and thinking that this is really just another way in which our capitalist overlords have simply ceased to have any productive role to play in our economy. School reform, like Credit Default Swaps and Hedge Fund managers, are just ways to increase profit taking without creating any kind of real productivity. Say what you will about Andrew Carnegie or Henry Ford at least they fucking produced something instead of just siphoning wealth from other people.

  3. 3
    Kay says:

    @Van:

    Thanks!

  4. 4
    Kay says:

    @Van:

    Over time, the Commonwealth has reduced state investment in our schools, reducing the resources of our schools and shifting the burden to local school districts.

    This is actually huge. Ohio cut state funding for education first, so districts passed levies to make it up. THEN (this year) they cut the state funding portion if you pass a levy. Foiled again!

  5. 5
    Van says:

    You have to look around for it, but here he is in more details on the policies. I know that McAuliffe is not a favorite of liberals, but I see little here for them to hate and a lot to like:http://terrymcauliffe.com/on-the-issues/policy/

  6. 6
    Kay says:

    @Van:

    I’ll update. Thank you.

  7. 7
    Belafon says:

    @Kay: Welcome to Texas. We skipped the state funding completely, and then passed a law a few years ago limiting the rate of property tax increases. And we have a state constitutional requirement to “provide a free and efficient” education to all children, though not all Republicans seem to know that.

  8. 8
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    Thanks for keeping us updated on this, Kay. Disheartening as it is, we need to keep our eyes open.

  9. 9
    MomSense says:

    @aimai:

    And Henry Ford at least thought it wise to pay his workers enough that they could purchase the vehicles they produced.

    I want to scream and throw things and then have a good cry. Some brave soul here in Maine released some documents from our Education Commissioner. It was a disgusting collection of plans to defund schools, end programs to provide support and education to special education students, and cut off funds for children with disabilities. At one point in the memo they said that the biggest obstacle would be a democratic legislature (memos were written before the election). Reading that made me forgive myself completely for all the nights my kids ate sandwiches or had to do their homework at the local Dems office because I was phonebanking.

  10. 10
    slag says:

    Create or expand taxpayer-funded voucher programs, using bills such as the “Parental Choice Scholarship Act” (introduced in three states).

    Vouchers vouchers vouchers. There’s a campaign slogan in there somewhere. “A voucher in every pot!”

  11. 11
    PeakVT says:

    How do the people who produce that “report” live with themselves?

  12. 12
    boatboy_srq says:

    One of Toxic Cooch’s minions had the gall to show up at my doorstep the other day, assuming I would vote for his candidate (maybe because I’m not obviously one of Those People, I suppose). Told him I had no interest in a candidate who wanted to subjugate women, defund schooling, reinstate the 17th Century and prep for Virginia’s eventual membership in the New Confederacy. He turned white(r) and left abruptly.

    Cooch really is a bought-and-paid-for stooge of Mammon Koch.

  13. 13
    Cermet says:

    @PeakVT: Easy – in a gated community full of McMansions.

  14. 14
    c u n d gulag says:

    Where there’s either bad and evil shit going on, you can always find a member of the Bush family involved.

    I suggest we stop saying, “shit,” and start using “Bush.”

    “Excuse me, I gotta take a bush.”

    “OY! I just stepped in a pile of bush!”

    “What’s that on my new suit? Pigeon-bush.”

  15. 15
    Van says:

    @boatboy
    Hope you will get out and work for the Democrats. I’ve been canvassing every weekend for McAuliffe. We have to turn out the base this fall or Cuccinelli will be our Governor. The Repugs are working hard to take this thing and we need to work even harder.

  16. 16
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Van: I already have plenty of reason to get involved. I’m in Delgaudio’s district. ‘Nuff said.

  17. 17
    The Dangerman says:

    @slag:

    Create or expand taxpayer-funded voucher programs…

    I suspect about two decades years months days after vouchers were instituted, they would have to be slashed (see Stamps, Food) because people were buying crack or t-bones with them.

  18. 18
    drew42 says:

    Minor quibble — You probably shouldn’t link to a cracked.com article when making a point. They like to do a lot of “X, Y, and Z are exaggerating and/or full if shit” and act all snarky, while the Cracked writers themselves are often exaggerating or leaving out key pieces of data. It’s just a humor site, after all.

  19. 19
    Roger Moore says:

    @Kay:

    Ohio cut state funding for education first, so districts passed levies to make it up. THEN (this year) they cut the state funding portion if you pass a levy.

    Wow, that’s really evil. Did they cut by the full amount of the levy, or only part of it? OTOH, I’m a little bit uncomfortable with districts having extra levies, since they seem like a way of increasing inequality. People in rich districts will be less inclined to support good statewide funding if they know they can make up for state shortfalls with local funding, and you’ll wind up with good schools in rich areas and inadequate ones in poor areas.

  20. 20
    Belafon says:

    @Roger Moore:

    People in rich districts will be less inclined to support good statewide funding if they know they can make up for state shortfalls with local funding, and you’ll wind up with good schools in rich areas and inadequate ones in poor areas.

    Once again, welcome to Texas. The State Supreme Court has ruled this unconstitutional, but, as you can imagine being in a fully Republican state, the poor here vote against changes because they think they’ll get taxed to pay for “those people” and they are under the impression that they’ll become rich some day through hard work.

  21. 21
    Chris says:

    @aimai:

    Say what you will about Andrew Carnegie or Henry Ford at least they fucking produced something instead of just siphoning wealth from other people.

    My feeling exactly.

    Interesting point: Hannah Arendt’s theory on the French Revolution is that the peasants were willing to tolerate bad behavior from their noblemen as long as they saw them as actually performing a service. Once they congregated in Versailles and become basically socialites, that’s when the public sentiment of “why the fuck do we put up with these clowns again?” really started gathering steam.

    The public would tolerate cruelty, injustice, absolutism, but not uselessness.

  22. 22
    Chris says:

    @c u n d gulag:

    I don’t want that many constant reminders of the existence of that fucking family.

  23. 23
    Kay says:

    @Roger Moore:

    I see the inequity argument, but this isn’t a rich district. What are we supposed to do? I don’t think they can cut anything else, as far as programs or staff. We already have pay to play for sports and no field trips unless they’re parent funded. They cut art and gym down. My friend Tammy was the volunteer art teacher and she’s a social worker.. They kept music, but they have a tradition of strong music programs.

    I have no idea what will happen when we go to online standardized testing. It’s expensive and they take a LOT of tests.

  24. 24
    Ruckus says:

    @Roger Moore:
    As you noticed one of the vital reasons for state funding of education. And not of vouchers which serve the same function as stripping out funding. All the vouchers in the world won’t help if there are no local schools to go to nor teachers to teach. Which I believe is the next step. Once everyone is on vouchers the next thing is to close “those” local schools due to some made up thing like unsafe buildings or revoke charters for schools in poor areas. So only those so “deserving” will get education.
    Fucking parasitic, conservative, grifter assholes.

  25. 25
    The Moar You Know says:

    People in rich districts will be less inclined to support good statewide funding if they know they can make up for state shortfalls with local funding, and you’ll wind up with good schools in rich areas and inadequate ones in poor areas.

    @Roger Moore: AMERICA FUCK YEAH

  26. 26
    Chris says:

    @Belafon:

    and they are under the impression that they’ll become rich some day through hard work.

    … and (the unspoken implication) that the people who don’t become rich some day don’t matter because they deserve all the shittiness for being lesser human beings.

    Crab bucket society at its finest, not to say outright hunger games. It’s not enough for you to make it to the top, other people have to be crushed at the bottom, too. And the result is a society with one of the lowest rates of social mobility in the developed world.

  27. 27
    Ruckus says:

    @c u n d gulag:
    I like to think of my toilet bowl as a bush. So every day I get to take a shit in a bush. Now it’s my shit but they get to swallow it.

  28. 28
    Paul in KY says:

    @aimai: Hear, hear!

  29. 29
    rikyrah says:

    nothing you have posted surprises me in the least.

  30. 30
    James E. Powell says:

    The truth is that there are many things about American public education that are long overdue for examination, discussion, and, perhaps, some changes. But the “reform” movement seems to be all about standardized test scores and lowering teachers’ income. In fact, the only purpose suggested for the test scores seems to be that they will be useful in deciding which teachers to fire and which schools to close.

    But there are a number of changes that I’d like to see discussed. One example. I’m very much in favor of re-thinking the certification/credentialing system. I am in a credential program and, with all due respect, it’s a joke. It’s a lot of money to get a piece of paper that will allow me to get a job. It is not education or training that is helping me to do that job or to do it better. I am only getting that from on the job experience, advice and guidance from experienced teachers, and my own constant effort to improve.

    I came to education after I turned 50 and after I’d worked in a few different jobs. My impression is that the whole world of public education, but particularly the students, would benefit from the participation of people who have had careers outside of education.

    Another example. The whole thing with grade-level and age being pretty much the exclusive basis for assigning a particular student to a particular class. In other words, the fact that a student was born in a particular year is not a good reason for that student to be in geometry this year. Same with reading. There is no such thing as a 9th grade reader as distinct from a 10th grade reader. Reading skills don’t happen to divide into 12 levels just because our public school system developed with 12 grades.

    One final thing. We, and by that I mean the whole of American society, need to have an extended and contentious discussion about what exactly we mean by education, why we do it, what we expect from it, and how important it is. Too often, it’s talked about as job training. Is that all it is?

  31. 31
    Paul in KY says:

    @Van: Any ‘liberal’ in Virginia (of voting age) that doesn’t vote for McAuliffe is a POS, loser, emo-wanking, douchnozzle.

    Compared to Coochienelly, McAuliffe is the 2nd coming of Freidrich Engels.

  32. 32
    negative 1 says:

    Honestly the one thing keeping this whole movement afloat at this point is Obama’s insistence on keeping Arne Duncan as the secretary of education. He supports it, so it becomes ‘bipartisan’. If Obama fires Duncan, there’s no debate that this is ‘republicans want to defund public education’ in the public eyes. Then, it becomes ‘angry old people’ yelling at ‘families with kids’ in their own district.

  33. 33
    Paul in KY says:

    @MomSense: God bless you for your work there.

  34. 34
    Ruckus says:

    @c u n d gulag:
    Where there’s either bad and evil shit going on, you can always find a member of the Bush family involved.

    Nixon/Reagan may have started the ball rolling but the entire bush family have done more to fuck up this country than any other I can think of. If I believed in religion they would all be the incarnation of the devil. As it is they are all just the epitome of evil, corrupt, conservative assholes. And yes I meant to repeat myself.

  35. 35
    Roger Moore says:

    @Ruckus:
    My impression is that one of the few good aspects of Prop 13 is that it shifted the bulk of school funding to the state, which wound up leveling funding between districts. And I don’t think that “unsafe buildings” will necessarily be an excuse when they go to shut down schools in poor areas. Maintenance is one of the “unessential” things that tends to get cut when schools have budget problems, so schools that have chronic funding problems tend to have a lot of deferred maintenance.

    My Jr. High was actually condemned by the fire marshal when I was in High School because of that kind of deferred maintenance, and that was in a district that wasn’t particularly poor. It was a district that was perpetually on the short end of the state funding formula, though. I guess that’s a potential downside to state funding of schools; their funding rules can be as bad at creating inequality as any other way of funding the schools. Of course, my district was also a stronghold of the “no taxes ever” crowd, who successfully blocked a bond issue that would have repaired the school before it was shut down and fought against one to repair it by claiming the only reason it had been closed was to punish voters for refusing to fund the first bond issue.

  36. 36
    Kay says:

    @Roger Moore:

    It’s all about the tax cuts:

    as part of a bigger program of tax cuts, the budget removes a state subsidy for local school levies. The state used to pick of 12.5 percent of the cost of new or replacement levies from its general fund, which is mostly sales- and income-tax revenue.
    That pick-up is going away. Without the state subsidy, supporters say, the full cost of local levies will become more transparent but that will likely make it harder for districts to sell voters on approving levies.
    That’s just fine with some leading Republicans.
    Gov. John Kasich has in the past told voters not to support local school levies. And last week, Senate President Keith Faber had a similar message:
    “If you want to know what my message is from the property-tax adjustment, it’s to local colleagues: Don’t pass new property-tax levies….For those who say, ‘Oh no, you’re making it more difficult to raise property-tax levies,’ the response is: Are you for property-tax levies? Do you think that’s a good thing? I’m not.”

    I’m in favor of paying for things.

    These people are ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. They’re not adults. They think they’re going to get this world class system on the cheap with these stupid gimmicks and fads and it ain’t gonna happen. They natter on and on about Finland, but Finland has union teachers and they don’t rely on standardized tests. Finland if the polar opposite of “reform”. The next time you hear some idiot pundit say “Finland” like it’s a magic incantation just know they’re a bullshitter. They’d never adopt “Finland”. It costs money.

  37. 37
    Ruckus says:

    @James E. Powell:
    I believe that the 1% want public education to only be about the absolute minimum necessary to create compliant workers.
    So, standardized testing – getting you ready to know and apply only those rules that effect your obedience to your minimal wage job.
    Minimal education – only that necessary to understand and pass those tests. Anything more and you might be willing to forgo subservience to make your own path, thereby depriving the 1% from getting all they can.

  38. 38
    sparrow says:

    @James E. Powell: You cannot have a working democracy without an educated populace. That is the answer, and if anyone gives you “job training” instead, what they really mean is that they want labor to be a commodity that they can exploit as easily as any other natural resource — in other words, they’re anti-democratic assholes.

  39. 39
    rikyrah says:

    Rachel Maddow did an excellent rundown last night of the real time ramification of Voter Suppression in North Carolina and their attack on Black College Students.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26.....1#52769481

  40. 40
    Ruckus says:

    @Roger Moore:
    Did you live in Mobius? That is some circular thinking there. Not unusual in school funding bond issues in CA though.

  41. 41
    sparrow says:

    @Kay: Finland respects their teachers and pays them well. They study a long time and get excellent training. It’s pretty much the opposite of what these fools want.

  42. 42
    Russ says:

    Schools have not kept pace with change in society and changes in technology. Compare a hospital in the 60’s to one today and you will see what I mean.

  43. 43
    Roger Moore says:

    @Kay:

    They’d never adopt “Finland”. It costs money.

    This is the fundamental things that convinces me that testing mania is a lie: the people who are in favor of high-stakes testing aren’t willing to spend real money on good tests. I think there’s probably some real benefit to testing students to see how well they’re learning, though not nearly as much as the testing advocates say there is.

    But if testing is the most important thing ever for getting good schools, we should be willing to put our money where our mouth is and do it right. Re-write the tests every year so there isn’t a risk of students cheating by learning the answers to last year’s test. Include questions that require long-form answers and human beings to grade them. Yes, that will cost a lot of money, but it’s a worthwhile expenditure if it’s essential to improving our schools. As long as we’re using multiple choice tests so we can grade them cheaply by machine, we’re admitting that we care more about the fact of testing than whether it’s actually measuring anything meaningful.

  44. 44
    Kay says:

    @Russ:

    Finland respects their teachers and pays them well.

    I shouldn’t be a teacher because I’d be a bad one, but if I WERE I would be insanely angry, all the time. I have never seen anything like the coordinated campaign by media and these “reformers” to demean and discredit the people who actually work in schools.

    It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. I have no idea what this management theory is, or where it came from, but I would quit doing it if I were them. It’s not going to work. You can’t bully people into compliance. If you can, you don’t want those people anyway.

  45. 45
    Roger Moore says:

    @sparrow:

    You cannot have a working democracy without an educated populace.

    Shhh. Don’t tell the 1%, or it will give them one more reason to gut our public education system.

  46. 46
    Roger Moore says:

    @Ruckus:

    Did you live in Mobius?

    Nope, Loveland, Colorado. I think the kind of “thinking” I’ve described is typical of the anti-tax crowd, though; the goal is to come up with a reason why taxes shouldn’t go up, not to be logical or self-consistent.

  47. 47
    Kay says:

    @Roger Moore:

    I didn’t have any problem with testing for my older kids. I lack imagination. I like a number. I knew it wasn’t the be-all and end-all.

    But it is crazy what has happened. It’s all they do. I don’t know that they can go to “good” tests at this point. It may be too late. They’d have to change the whole dialogue around testing, the incentives are all screwed up, and they’re not willing to do that because then they’d have to admit a mistake, and admit they spent a decade on testing and ended up with a system that revolves around testing.

  48. 48
    stinger says:

    @James E. Powell: The whole idea of “Teach for America” and people becoming teachers who have had previous careers outside of education is a good thing — from the 20,000-ft. viewpoint of a Hollywood “pitch”. But in actual practice, how can it possibly work well, unless the credentialing program comes close to replicating the training that a college education major receives? I took courses in child psych, learning psych, child development, family environment, statistics, and many other areas that each provided a window into some aspect of teaching children, as well as subject-specific courses so that I would understand *what* I was teaching, and courses on pedagogy so that I would understand *how* to teach. And then two semesters of supervised student teaching.

    I’d be very interested to know what your credentialing program provides. (None of the above is meant as a criticism of you, or of anyone else who wants to teach but wasn’t an Ed major.)

  49. 49
    fuckwit says:

    A couple years ago I worked briefly for one of these privatized tutoring outfits to make some extra bucks. It was a company that won some bid on a contract with the state. The program was a resource for tutoring Chinese immigrant kids living in public housing.

    It was a total clusterfuck. Nobody knew what they were doing. It was mostly people like me with no experience or credentials but who just needed money, and college interns. The pay was, IIRC, $15/hr. It was 3 hours every Saturday morning.

    There was no training. The materials were the cheapest crap they could find, and largely useless. The kids running/coordinating/managing the sessions knew even less than the (mostly) kids teaching. There was one owner/adminstrator who ran the whole thing, but she had these in a couple cities and we only saw her once, breifly, at the end of the semester, for some staff meeting to issue some pronouncement. It seemed she was cutting corners at every opportunity.

    Even though it was an hourly job, we had to write down progress reports while we were teaching, and mail or FAX those in, in order to get paid, and write all this down while trying to tutor and keep all the kids attention. The privatization company handed those in to the government agency in order to get their pay, which is how we got our pay. The ages of the kids were from 6-13, grouped roughly by grade, and we’d have 3-4 of them for tutoring at a time in a group, on hour each group, 3 groups a day.

    It seemed to me like the combination of the worst possible elements of the private and public sector. All the cheapness and penny pinching and red tape of the public sector, and all the exploitation and “who gives a shit about quality as long as we’re making a profit” of the private sector.

  50. 50
    boatboy_srq says:

    @James E. Powell:

    My impression is that the whole world of public education, but particularly the students, would benefit from the participation of people who have had careers outside of education.

    There’s a lot of “those who can’t do, teach” approaches to US education: the assumption that “teacher” equals “somebody who couldn’t find employment doing anything else”. And no small part of that is compensation. You want folks with real-world experience in the classroom? Then you better be able to pay them enough to make that attractive. Too many people shun education as career (first, second or otherwise) because they’ll starve to death on the salary and keep hours they never would have tolerated doing anything else. And far too many school districts are having difficulty finding the budget to increase headcounts even to keep up with enrollment at the current salaries, never mind improving the pay scale to attract the kind of talent you’re suggesting is needed. Community colleges do get a fair share of their faculty from the local business communities – but that’s essentially “volunteer community service” and not an actual occupation.

    The simple fact is that the US public sector shortchanges education – and has for decades – based on multiple misguided assumptions: a) that teacher dissatisfaction with compensation is nothing more than union posturing (i.e. more “unions BAD” talk); b) that the schools are ineffective so don’t even deserve the hard-fought tax dollars in this year’s budget; c) that K-12 is “somebody else’s problem” – especially for elderly and retired who aren’t interested in youth outside their grandkids; that Teh LibrulSoshulists are using education to remake society into some unGawdly Commie paradise; etc etc. We have to get past all those arguments if we’re going to get to where you think we should be in that statement.

    @Kay: They’ve been taught for decades now that they don’t have to pay for anything. Ending the Cold War was done on the federal debt. Peace Dividend? Step One was cutting taxation (again). Medicare Part D? Put it on the national credit card. Two theatres of combat and the GWoT? “Go shopping” and the revenues will attend to themselves (first time the US went to “war” without war-level tax levies in over a century). And all the while education – currently the most critical public service provided – is getting shafted because Property Taxes Are Too High So Shut Up. Taxpaying as a patriotic duty is so far from the public discourse it isn’t funny – and it’s there because Kochistan thinks it’s “owed” somehow, that its own burden is somehow excessive, and that there are too many “takers” sucking on the federal teat from cradle to grave. It’s worth taking note of how much of the anti-tax No Federal Debt Anymore whinging actually involves state/local assessments and not income tax: the two get conflated all too often.

    @Paul in KY: As I say – when the choice is between the at-least-marginally competent and the b@tsh!t crazy, the decision isn’t especially difficult.

  51. 51
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Kay

    I have no idea what will happen when we go to online standardized testing. It’s expensive and they take a LOT of tests.

    The answer is ‘Courseware’. That’s the answer for most every question in the industry.

    You can do the expensive online testing with the money you save by going to online teaching. Hire a bunch of ed-techs at $11.00 an hour to take attendance and hand out detentions, and fire the expensive staff. The rest is done automagically via the intertubes.

  52. 52
    aimai says:

    @James E. Powell: Maybe you should read Discipline and Punish and some actual history of schools before you begin complaining about the fact that schools try to move kids on at basically the same speed?

    Also: the credentialling push is not something that teachers, or parents, have pushed for so why do they “need to have a conversation about it?” The entire conversation about schools is actually being had, to the extent its being had, between people who want to steal the money for schools without actually educating the populace, and people who have children in the system but not enough clout or money to push for proper funding. Thats it. No one is talking about actual education at all–the 1 percent and their grifter sons and daughters are only talking about minimum and maximum standards in terms of cost and profit. The parents and children want a full on, high quality, liberal arts and sciences education that includes sports and art as well. But they can’t get it because the political class has been captured by the penny pinchers, tax cutters, and education grifters.

  53. 53
    The Other Chuck says:

    You have got to love that last headline on the cover: “Enron and Social Security Reform”. No doubt a glowing hagiography on the efficient and unshakable foundations of Enron’s pension plan.

    Oops.

  54. 54
    gene108 says:

    @aimai:

    like Credit Default Swaps

    CDS’s were not inherently a bad idea. They were a good way to for businesses to insure counter party risk, when private firms issued debt (i.e. bonds).

    In the wake of Enron, Worldcom and another collapses tent to twelve years ago, it seemed even if the public statements on a firm were looking good they may actually be in junk bond territory. With a CDS, if you bought bonds from Ford you could have someone insure you against the risk of Ford not being able to pay back the bonds.

    The problem with CDS’s is they started getting written for every damn transaction. They became more than a way for firms to insure themselves against another firms potential corporate maleficence; they became another way for financial firms to take bets on seemingly every transaction imaginable and when things went catastrophically bad the counter parties didn’t have the money to pay up which just compounded the problems of already over leveraged firms.

    EDIT: What happens when someone takes something that’s useful in moderation and tries to use it for everything. I don’t know if I’d blame the “thing” or the purveyor or consumer of the thing for excess; i.e. I eat too much ice cream, I don’t see a reason to blame ice cream for me being fat.

  55. 55
    Kay says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    You can do the expensive online testing with the money you save by going to online teaching. Hire a bunch of ed-techs at $11.00 an hour to take attendance and hand out detentions, and fire the expensive staff. The rest is done automagically via the intertubes.

    I’m on it. I hear “blended learning” and my response is “stop lying!” I don’t trust these people as far as I can throw them. Ugh. Campbell Brown. She’s the newest school expert.

  56. 56
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @aimai: I’m a 30-year veteran of HS teaching and while i’ve been certified for 26 of those years, I was an alternative-entry teacher — came in from parochial schools, which were hiring bodies with subject-area MA’s and MS’s and dropping them into place, at least when I started.

    Since my certificate is on a 5-year cycle for renewal, I’ve taken the necessary number of credit-hours to get my certificate renewed now 5 times, and I’d concur about the lion’s share of the coursework.

    It’s too full of jobs-for-the-boys classes with guaranteed enrollment and low-risk students (hell, we’re all teachers) for the staff at the local cow college. It’s also a delivery system for the panacea-of-the day. At this point I’ve been through four or five major school-improvement movements, each one The Answer.

    Schools, especially high schools, do try to move kids on at a standardized annual rate, because we’re dinged if we don’t.

    We’ve got a very good alternative ed program, and it gets a lot of kids graduated eventually, but any kid who’s not in and out in a standard 4 years counts as a dropout for Federal nose-counting purposes, even if they get their diploma in the fall of year 5. That’s really hard to do with the clientele — a lot of them work part-time, have transportation issues (hoopties, no public transport), live in seriously non-standard living situations, etc.

  57. 57
    The Other Chuck says:

    @gene108: CDSs themselves are basically insurance, but a “naked CDS” is a third party basically making a side bet you they wouldn’t even let you place in Vegas. That these derivatives became such a huge thing is just criminal negligence on the part of regulatory authorities (specifically those authorities who outright prohibited the regulation thereof).

  58. 58
    PIGL says:

    The school reform movement is a conspiracy to defraud the public and steal the teachers unions pension funds. There also a conspiracy to violate peoples voting rights. Both involve the same people, and cross state lines.

    The authorities could perfectly well use the unlimited espionage power they have acquired to obtain evidence to try, convict and imprison the responsible party.

    Why no action will ever be taken is a deep, impenetrable mystery.

  59. 59
    A Humble Lurker says:

    @Chris:

    Interesting point: Hannah Arendt’s theory on the French Revolution is that the peasants were willing to tolerate bad behavior from their noblemen as long as they saw them as actually performing a service. Once they congregated in Versailles and become basically socialites, that’s when the public sentiment of “why the fuck do we put up with these clowns again?” really started gathering steam.

    The public would tolerate cruelty, injustice, absolutism, but not uselessness.

    Sort of like Chicago, then. (<-lives in the Chi)

  60. 60
    gene108 says:

    @James E. Powell:

    One final thing. We, and by that I mean the whole of American society, need to have an extended and contentious discussion about what exactly we mean by education, why we do it, what we expect from it, and how important it is. Too often, it’s talked about as job training. Is that all it is?

    I think the bigger issue is do we want to have a system controlled by localities or if we really went all “Finland* / Japan/ France” etc., we’d have a very centralized education curriculum for the whole country.

    If we want local control, we’ll have to accept the fact we can’t do straight up standardized testing as a measure of much of anything, because the tests and curriculum for school districts will never match up enough to really compare.

    *Finland has a population of 5.4 million people. I think managing the U.S. educational system would be much more challenging just because of our greater population.

  61. 61
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @James E. Powell:

    One final thing. We, and by that I mean the whole of American society, need to have an extended and contentious discussion about what exactly we mean by education.

    Education stopped 25-40 years ago.

    Training happens instead. The MLR, the universities, is being overrun as we speak.

    If any education happens, it happens in defiance of orders, or when no one’s looking, or by accident, or by teachers who are the educational equivalent of the guys at the siege of Petersburg, who just couldn’t take it any more, and jumped up on the parapet, dared the Rebs to take a shot at them, and kept shooting rifles handed up to them by comrades till they themselves were shot.

  62. 62
    gene108 says:

    @The Other Chuck:

    That these derivatives became such a huge thing is just criminal negligence on the part of regulatory authorities (specifically those authorities who outright prohibited the regulation thereof).

    The fact the derivatives market hasn’t been reigned in much after 2008 is currently even more criminal.

    Part of me can forgive the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 (I think that’s what it was called) that unregulated the derivatives market, but because things had been going so well for so long, a lot folks figured we’d learned how to beat cyclical market problems (i.e. major recessions) and were entering a brave new world of super-duper-prosperity-all-the-time.

    But never underestimate the greed of the truly greedy, because after a couple of decades of very high returns on investments they weren’t willing to accept lower rates of return that trended towards historical rates in the ’00’s and when the choice had to be made to sacrifice short term bonuses for long term financial stability, long term financial stability was shoved out the window.

  63. 63
    James E. Powell says:

    @stinger:

    First, I don’t take anything you say as a criticism of me personally and I hope, if you are or were an ED major that you won’t take anything I say in a personal or insulting way.

    I don’t think it’s useful to put TFA and people who’ve had careers outside of education in the same sentence. I’ve worked with quite a few TFA’s and exactly one of them stayed in teaching.

    I have been teaching for a while now. I am in a credentialing program. I completely understand that teachers need more than subject matter knowledge. I am not arguing that psych, development, pedagogy, etc. are unnecessary, but rather that the way that teachers are trained in them are not effective. The classes teachers take now provide windows, as you say, but only windows. And subject matter knowledge is very underrated. It’s a longer, different discussion.

    I realize that the changes that I’m suggesting would require a pretty radical redesign of the system, probably impossible, but I’m just saying. But there needs to be a more rigorous, on the job training program. More like an apprenticeship program.

    I don’t want to talk about anything I’m doing in a credential program until the ink is dry, if you know what I mean. Another thing about this business is that it’s filled the brim with vindictive petty tyrants.

  64. 64
    James E. Powell says:

    @aimai:

    Maybe you should adopt a less hostile tone. Or did you post that to express anger?

    No one is talking about actual education at all–the 1 percent and their grifter sons and daughters are only talking about minimum and maximum standards in terms of cost and profit.

    That’s one of my main points. We, meaning we the people, need to talk about this. There is far too much deference to elites.

  65. 65
    James E. Powell says:

    @boatboy_srq:

    We have to get past all those arguments if we’re going to get to where you think we should be in that statement.

    I totally agree. But we are never going to get past any of them so long as elites are controlling the discussion. Whose idea was it to do all this testing? Has anyone demonstrated that it makes any student’s life better?

    It’s a cliche that we are using an industrial era model for a post industrial population, but it’s also true. Speaking just of high schools, because that’s where I’m working, why do we insist on using the 30 – 40 students in a room with one adult, six or seven times a day, for about an hour each method?

  66. 66
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @James E. Powell:

    do we insist on using the 30 – 40 students in a room with one adult, six or seven times a day, for about an hour each method?

    Because everything else is either more expensive for the taxpayers (capital), or less convenient for the administrators (management)? Schools aren’t for children — they’re not even for teachers. Schools are for the rest of us having something to point to and say ‘See that — that’s our school’. Within reason it doesn’t really matter what’s in the box, what matters is that there’s a box.

    Whether it works well, or ill, or works at all, doesn’t seem to matter that much.

    I have a thought experiment that I’ve used with superintendents and other exalted orders of being.
    “Assume you’re a parent. I’m giving you $30,000 to spend this year on your 9th-grade child’s education. You can’t bank it or spend it on anything else. What would you buy with it? Is that what we’re doing now? If not, why not?”

    The answers have been…. revealing.

  67. 67
    negative 1 says:

    @James E. Powell: This is the surprisingly under-reported aspect of the whole thing, IMHO. We’ve now had ed reform in place in my state for going on 6 years. The needle hasn’t moved one iota. I’m not saying I agree with their methodology, I think the thing is a crock from jump. However, by their own methodology, it’s been a failure. We’ve collected all of this data, and what have we done? Point to one thing that this has accomplished. In my state, you can’t.

  68. 68
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @negative 1:

    and what have we done? Point to one thing that this has accomplished. In my state, you can’t.

    Have you elected a Republican governor? Has either house of the legislature (assuming you don’t live in Nebraska) turned over? Because that would be something.

  69. 69
    James E. Powell says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    Why $30K? The last thing I saw had California’s (my state’s) per pupil spending at $8K something.

    And are parents the only ones who get to say what an education should be composed of? If it’s a public education provided by the state, how much input should the parents of the students have?

  70. 70
    boatboy_srq says:

    @James E. Powell: A chunk of the reason that CA gets to keep its costs so low is that so much of the facilities are WPA-project-period construction or older and are already paid for or depreciated, and haven’t been nearly as hard-hit as post-Prop-13 construction. Another is scale: CA can set a lot of the pricing for things like textbooks and other items because the state is buying a bigger quantity than any two other states put together (usually a bigger quantity than any ten other states put together), so the CA education dollar goes further. $30K would be a reasonable sum – especially compared with private schooling (another reason vouchers can’t work: tuition is a much higher cost than the per-student allocations of most public systems).

  71. 71
    Original Lee says:

    Some days I have a feeling there was an Ahaerlebnis for a couple of 1% types, and that they have a list of to-do items that are getting checked off.

    Somewhere, a couple of drunk rich men were complaining about how there aren’t any more worlds to conquer, that it’s boring to earn money for making things.

    “Once you have the formula to make a widget profitably, you just have to keep turning the handle,” says one. “The problem is, you have to keep finding new kinds of widgets with different formulas to stay interested in the game.”

    “Well, there’s always stealing money instead of making it,” says another. “It’s even more interesting and you also get to be swashbuckling.”

    “Logically, robbing banks should be the most efficient, because that’s where all the money is,” says a third.

    “No, it’s not,” says the first. “The biggest pot of money in the world is pensions.”

    And then the next morning, one of them sat down and made a list of where all the money is. They decided to use advertising and to manipulate public opinion to get their hands on the money, because that way was more fun, and now we’re starting to see the results.

    Damn, now I wish Donald E. Westlake was still alive so he could write the book.

  72. 72
    Matt says:

    @Roger Moore: The state Supreme Court already *said* it was unconstitutionally unfair, but that hasn’t kept the pols from avoiding actually implementing a legitimate funding system.

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