The WV Education Bill is Mostly Dead

Dropped off Steve at the groomers, and on my way home, I picked up a dozen donuts , a dozen paczki, some apples, and a case of bottled water and dropped it off at the teacher strike. By the time I got home, the bill was mostly dead:

The West Virginia House of Delegates voted today to kill an education omnibus bill that would have provided a pay raise to teachers and school workers, but would also have opened the door to charter schools and private education savings accounts, among other measures opposed by teachers and school workers unions.

The House vote to kill the bill, officially a vote to postpone it “indefinitely,” was 53-45. A previous motion to delay consideration of the bill until 4 p.m. failed by the same margin.

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

The Senate will need to learn that the House of Delegates is a co-equal branch of government, and learn to work with them rather than trying to just ram shit through. Additionally, it is worth remembering that what they were trying to do was to take the teacher pay raise that Justice promised last year, and add in a bunch of egregious nonsense, and force it through that way. However, it ain’t just over yet:

BREAKING NEWS: It’s been brought to our attention that Delegate Steele (R-Raleigh) switched his vote at the last minute even after giving a passionate speech against those who killed SB 451 with the Motion to Postpone Indefinitely. It appears the Republicans still have some tricks up their sleeve, because according to parliamentary procedure the Republicans could technically move to make a Motion to Reconsider the Motion to Postpone Indefinitely which would bring the motion back to the floor for another vote. Only Delegates who voted in favor of the winning motion can move to reconsider it. In a process full of dirty parliamentary procedure tricks, it appears we aren’t out of the woods quite yet. Ultimately, we don’t think they can flip enough votes to change the outcome, but it’s a possibility….

They’re sneaky and shameless. In the years before social media and cell phones, they would have gotten away with it.

West Virginia Teacher Strike

A work action has been initiated today in West Virginia, and all county schools (save one) are closed because of a really bad education bill that the Senate is trying to ram through:

A little less than a year since the start of West Virginia’s first statewide public school workers strike, leaders of the state’s three major school employee unions called Monday evening for another strike to begin, starting Tuesday, over the education overhaul bill.

All but one of West Virginia’s 54 countywide public school systems canceled school Tuesday. The outlier was Putnam County, which is among West Virginia’s wealthier counties and is near the state Capitol.

“We are taking action,” said Fred Albert, president of the West Virginia branch of the American Federation of Teachers union. “We are left no other choice, but, as of tomorrow, we are calling a statewide strike.”

He briefly referenced that he’s been told there’s support in the House of Delegates for a version of the bill that the unions oppose.

Long story short, the Republican led legislature in the state, which did not even mention “comprehensive education reform” as a legislative priority before the session started, has been up to their usual bullshit. Sen. Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael, who is as wingnutty as they come, was dead set on retribution for last year’s strike, so some heretofore relatively unknown Senator introduced a piece of ALEC written legislation with all sorts of nonsense, to include charter schools, union-busting, and a whole sort of stuff that had no chance in the House of Delegates.

The Senate, being the Senate, passed it anyway despite the fact that Republicans in the House said they hated it, the Republican governor said he would veto it as is, and virtually everyone who has ever worked in or works in education said the bill is horrible. It then went to the House of Delegates, which promptly stripped most of the crap (you can get a good look at the changes here) and passed it with a bipartisan majority. It was then sent back to the Senate.

Once back in the Senate, they promptly went back to putting all the crap back into it, including jacking up the number of charter schools, removing a provision that said legislators can not profit off charter schools, and reincluding measures to punish unions and prohibit striking. The Senate Republicans refused to allow the minority party to see the bill, and wanted to rush a vote for last night, but there was so much outrage that the votes were postponed until today. It’s a bad bill, but these are Republicans and don’t give a shit. My Senator, William Ihlenfeld (you might remember I volunteered for him and we fundraised for him) put it this way:

Last night, the comprehensive education reform bill was amended by a 18-16 vote and now will go back to the House of Delegates for consideration. Changes from the most recent House version include the increase of charter schools from 2 to 7 and putting ESAs back in after they had been removed. The amendment (130+ pages worth) was worked on all weekend by the majority without any input from the minority, and then provided to everyone 10 minutes before we were asked to vote. This is not how government is supposed to work but it is how the West Virginia Senate operates in 2019.

I voted against the Senate Amendment because of the expansion of the charter schools provision, the addition of ESAs, the uncertainty of what else was in the amendment (even the lead sponsor admitted she hadn’t read all of what was being proposed), the lack of real input from West Virginians, and the oversized influence from outside interests like ALEC and the the Koch brothers-funded Institute for Justice. We don’t need outsiders to tell us how to run our system of education in West Virginia but that’s what has happened with SB 451.

The House Version that was passed last week wasn’t perfect but it was much better than the mess of a bill that the Senate passed out originally. What the House sent back to us was a gift and Senate leadership should have accepted it and said thank you. Instead, they refused it, and added back in much of the garbage that the House had removed.

I’m hearing that the House of Delegates may have the votes to pass the Senate version but that the margin is very slim. I encourage you to contact your representatives to let them know how you feel. Make sure that your voice is heard as you may be able to persuade those who are on the fence.

If you are an educator and will be in Charleston today, please stop by my office in W-229 and say hello. If you need a place to put your jacket, charge your cell phone, or fuel up (I have lots of candy), my office is your office. I hope to see many of you today at the Capitol, and despite what the Putnam superintendent did, we are still #55Strong.

We’ll see what happens next. Now we have to watch as the legislature tries to ram through campus carry over the objection of every educator and educational establishment in the state.

Post-Racist America Open Thread: Toppling Silent Sam

Once again, in a less news-intensive week, the protest where a notorious monument to treason in the defense of slavery was pulled down would’ve been a leading headline and the excuse for much punditorial thumb-sucking…

But of course the WUT ABOUT MAH HURTIGE?!? crew — and we’re not talking UNC students, we’re talking Repub opportunists and the revanchists who support them — will not let their bronze idol go unavenged. Per the local News & Observer:

The UNC Board of Governors will hire an outside firm to look into university and police actions at the protest where Silent Sam was toppled this week, the board’s leader said Wednesday.

At least one board member, former Republican state Sen. Thom Goolsby, posted a YouTube video with his questions about the incident, including what’s being done to repair and reinstall the statue.

Harry Smith, who became chairman last month, said Wednesday in an interview he wants an independent group to study the facts of what happened, or what didn’t happen, during Monday’s rally. A group within a crowd of about 250 protesters used rope to pull down the controversial Silent Sam Confederate monument Monday night, more than two hours into a rally…
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Education Open Thread: Not the Best Advertisements for Their Pricey Private Schools

Just a few hours earlier…

DeVos, who rarely gives interviews to journalists, is a longtime school choice advocate who once said that traditional public education is “a dead end” and who has made clear that her top priority as the nation’s education chief is expanding alternatives to traditional public schools. A champion of using public funds for private and religious school education, critics say she is determined to privatize public education. She has denied it…

More than a year after becoming education secretary, DeVos again had trouble answering questions put to her by Stahl and seemed to contradict herself. For example, the two had this conversation about what happens to underperforming traditional public schools when children leave for alternatives and take funding with them:

STAHL: Why take away money from that school that’s not working — to bring them up to a level where they are, that school is working?

DEVOS: Well, we should be funding and investing in students, not in school, school buildings, not in institutions, not in systems.

STAHL: Okay. But what about the kids who are back at the school that’s not working? What about those kids?

DEVOS: Well, in places where there have been, where there is, a lot of choice that’s been introduced, Florida, for example, the studies show that when there’s a large number of students that opt to go to a different school or different schools, the traditional public schools actually, the results get better, as well.

STAHL: Now, has that happened in Michigan? We’re in Michigan. This is your home state.

DEVOS: Yes, well, there’s lots of great options and choices for students here.

STAHL: Have the public schools in Michigan gotten better?

DEVOS: I don’t know. Overall, I, I can’t say overall that they have all gotten better.

STAHL: No, but your argument that if you take funds away that the schools will get better is not working in Michigan where you had a huge impact and influence over the direction of the school system here.

DEVOS: I hesitate to talk about all schools in general because schools are made up of individual students attending them.

STAHL: The public schools here are doing worse than they did.

DEVOS: Michigan schools need to do better. There is no doubt about it.

STAHL: Have you seen the really bad schools? Maybe try to figure out what they’re doing?

DEVOS: I have not, I have not, I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming.

STAHL: Maybe you should.

DEVOS: Maybe I should. Yes…

DeVos is a billionaire fundamentalist fronting for fellow billionaires who want to make sure that ‘the peasants’ aren’t given enough education to let them escape the fundamentalists’ capitalist baronies. Real education should only be available to those who can pay for it!

Unfortunately, while her parents could certain afford to give Betsy the best education, the soft cocoon of Rich White Mediocrity ensured that she’s never actually have to learn more than an accepted scripture of catchphrases and mantras to “succeed.” Much like her crony Donald Trump… who got shipped off to a private military school when NYC public schools “couldn’t handle” his refusal to meet minimal behavioral standards, like ‘do not physically attack teachers who won’t let you do just what you feel like, when you feel like it.’

That’s our best hope, at the moment — powerful as these people are, they’ve got Death Star-class liabilities due to their blinkered insularity. They’re mean and ruthless, but also lazy, pampered, and not trained to persist rather than walk away from the messes they make.

Open Thread: Trying to Reclaim the “Best” Colleges for “the Elites”

Another craven reversion to the original Gilded Age, when Ivy alumni like Teddy Roosevelt worried publicly that “our” (their) “best young men” were being crowded out of the finer American academies by grade-grubbing, tenement-raised offspring of immigrants. Young men who lacked the capacity to understand that the true value of the college experience was not mere credentialism, but the nuturing of the “best classical traditions” in an environment removed from the populist fads of the moment. In other words, what we now call networking in a high-value environment

The document, an internal announcement to the civil rights division, seeks current lawyers interested in working for a new project on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”

The announcement suggests that the project will be run out of the division’s front office, where the Trump administration’s political appointees work, rather than its Educational Opportunities Section, which is run by career civil servants and normally handles work involving schools and universities.

The document does not explicitly identify whom the Justice Department considers at risk of discrimination because of affirmative action admissions policies. But the phrasing it uses, “intentional race-based discrimination,” cuts to the heart of programs designed to bring more minority students to university campuses…

Roger Clegg, a former top official in the civil rights division during the Reagan administration and the first Bush administration who is now the president of the conservative Center for Equal Opportunity, called the project a “welcome” and “long overdue” development as the United States becomes increasingly multiracial…

Mr. Clegg said he would expect the project to focus on investigating complaints the civil rights division received about any university admissions programs.

He also suggested that the project would look for stark gaps in test scores and dropout rates among different racial cohorts within student bodies, which he said would be evidence suggesting that admissions offices were putting too great an emphasis on applicants’ race and crossing the line the Supreme Court has drawn…

Given the semi-surreptitious release of this “document,” it may have been intended as one of the Trump mis-administration’s trial ballons; they may have wanted to see how bad the pushback is. Or it could just be intended as a sop to their “economically anxious” basket of deplorables, even if many in that group would bitterly reject any of their own kids who betrayed Heartland values by so much as applying to an institution full of soft-handed globalists and probable sexual deviants…
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