Reformers celebrate budget cuts to local public schools

Funding for traditional Ohio public schools was the big loser again in the last state budget. Kasich and an army of school reform lobbyists got more charter schools, more reliance on standardized tests, further deregulation to facilitate privatization of our existing public schools and a state-wide expansion of vouchers. A friend is on Michelle Rhee’s lobby shop email list. He has no idea how he got on it. He forwarded an email from Rhee’s Ohio franchise. Here are the reformers celebrating the Ohio budget, a budget that harms every kid who attends a traditional public school:

Ohio has proven itself a national leader when it comes to how we fund our schools. Thanks to the efforts of Governor Kasich, the General Assembly, and StudentsFirst members like you, public school financing will now be fairer and will be linked to real student outcomes.The sweeping legislation that was just signed into law is a huge win for Ohio students, but there is still a lot of work to do to make sure that every child receives an excellent education. We should commend public officials for their hard work and cooperation and encourage them to continue to make important reforms once the legislature is back in session later this summer.Send Governor Kasich and your legislators a note of thanks and encouragement now!By entering your address below, you will be able to send an email directly to your Members of the General Assembly and the Governor. Thank them for their support!

Not surprising to me, this complete disconnect between school reform marketing rhetoric and my local reality of school reform. I have 4 children, 3 are grown and our youngest is 11, so I’ve watched “market based” reform play out in one local school district over the last decade, up close and over time. What school reform means to me is this: funding cuts, encroaching privatization, an insane focus on standardized testing, knee-jerk blaming of local public schools and a complete lack of accountability for the national leaders of the reform “movement”, the same “reformers” who are driving the national agenda and have been driving it for more than a decade. When do traditional public schools benefit from reform? I get that charters and private schools benefit. What about the traditional public schools that 95% of US public school kids actually attend?

What I want is competent stewardship and thoughtful long-term investment in the school system I already had and valued when this “reform” insanity started more than a decade ago. I also want advocates and allies in government who support public schools. Not some abstract, round-table concept of “great schools” but the actual public school my kid attends. That’s what I want. I’m not getting it. I’m getting Milton Friedman’s theories on public schools.

I don’t think I’m alone in this so I was glad to see some polling on it. A labor union commissioned the poll which means it will be dismissed by media and the national reform groups as self interested, but I don’t buy that public school teachers who belong to unions are “self interested” while national reform celebrities and their many, many, many lobbying groups are not. By using this lop-sided credibility metric media and reformers have effectively marginalized anyone who acts as an advocate for a traditional public school system, because we, parents and teachers, support the dreaded “status quo” by supporting our existing school system. I reject that. It’s dumb.

I think about my own work and compare it to what media and national reformers have done to discredit public school teachers and I’m amazed at how misguided and unfair it is. I’m a lawyer and I work some in the juvenile court system. When we have discussions on the juvenile court system here, lawyers and judges who work in the juvenile court system run the show. This, despite the fact that many lawyers bill the county for work (self interested!) and judges are actual public employees (with pensions!) Under the “school reform credibility rubric” lawyers and judges would be dismissed as hacks who seek only to keep their jobs, never mind that we actually work IN juvenile courts, with real live juveniles, every day. I’m here to tell you that would never, ever happen. Judges and lawyers would raise hell. In my darker moments watching this “reform” madness unfold I sometimes wonder if public school teachers are so easily dismissed and marginalized on “school reform” because K-12 public school teachers are 1. middle class and 2. primarily women.

In spite of all the trashing of public schools by media and reformers, you may be shocked to learn that the parents of kids who attend traditional public schools support their local (shudder) “government schools.” Since 95% of US public school kids attend traditional public schools not “choice” schools or the “miracle” charter chains that get all the attention, this polling probably matters if one is interested in the opinions of the not-famous people who use public schools:

*The two biggest problems facing public schools are too much testing and too little funding — both at 32 percent. Third on the list is large class sizes (23 percent), fourth is lack of support for teachers (17 percent) and fifth, poor teacher quality (16 percent).
*Sixty-eight percent of parents are satisfied with their children’s public schools, including 66 percent of parents with children in urban schools and 62 percent of parents with incomes under $50,000.
*Seventy-six percent oppose reduced funding for traditional public schools to increase spending on public charter schools.

Thursday Evening Open Thread: Goodbye, Guv Goodhair

perry makes texas safer ohman
(Jack Ohman via

So, in case anyone wondered why the Governor of Texas had just rediscovered his inner Savonarola, the latest next-time-for-sure happytalk from America’s Revanichist Party pretends Perry’s a contender in 2016. Yet DFHs are not afeared, as per Alex Pareene:

Perry is not going to seek a fourth term as governor of Texas, a high-status, low-authority gig that he has worked at longer than anyone else in history. The next governor will likely be Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott

Perry isn’t just going to go away, or at least he doesn’t intend to. He is not going to put on a stupid hat and retire to a ranch that was until very recently named something unspeakably awful. He is going to run for president. Because once a sufficient number of people have convinced an egomaniac that he would be a very good president, it’s hard for that egomaniac to let go of that dream, even after a bunch of voters do everything they can to discourage it.

In 2011, we in the rest of America were told to look out for Perry, that he was savvy, a brilliant politician, and that he’d be totally irresistible to the electorate once he made his inevitable decision to run for president. He turned out to be a dunce, completely incompetent at basic tasks like “debating” and “public speaking.”… No one in 2016 will be particularly frightened of him, and he also probably won’t have the luxury of running against a field made up entirely of clowns and a front-runner no one in the party actually liked.

As the lawyers say: Assumes facts not in evidence. But still.

He’s amiable, decent-looking, and right-wing enough to suit the modern Republican Party, but he is also a bit of an idiot and nothing about him appeals to anyone outside his state. Republicans aren’t interested in him anymore, even in Texas. Public Policy Polling (a liberal shop, but still) has Hillary Clinton beating Perry 50 to 42 in a potential presidential contest. A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll showed Texas Republicans preferring Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul over their finally outgoing governor. And if they don’t want him there’s no reason to suggest Republicans anywhere else will want him. “Vote for your dumb right-wing dad” won’t work any better in 2016 than it did in 2012….

Charles Pierce:

What does Perry have to recommend him now that he didn’t have in the late summer of 2011, when he completely obliterated Michele Bachmann’s victory in the Iowa Straw Gooberfest? More uninspected, deregulated exploding fertilizer plants? He’ll be taken seriously for a while because he’s white, a Republican, and possesses a penis, but that won’t last. He’s still the guy who wanted to give illegal sponging wetbacks a complimentary college education. Forget his later stumbling and bumbling. That’s what killed his campaign with Republicans, and it looks as though, against all odds and logic, The Base wants a tougher line on that issue. No, Goodhair, your time, if it ever was, has passed.

Apart from smacking around the old pinata one more time, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

Who Is There?

I saw a concern trolling piece earlier today (too lazy to dig for a link) about what happens if Hilary doesn’t run, and on top of Anne Laurie’s Nate Silver clip the other night, that’s kind of what has been banging around my head all night even though it makes me hate myself to start talking horse race right now.

But if not Hilary, who? Howard Dean? Robert Casey? John Edwards (Ha! I just can’t stop trolling. It’s an unsavory addiction.)? I really have no idea who.

Horror Story Open Thread: Nate Silver Is Trying to Kill John Cole

Or maybe it’s just the Aspen Institute has it in for DougJ?… Via Garance Franke-Ruta, at the Atlantic, “Hillary Is the Strongest Non-Incumbent Ever“.

And we’ve already got a [semi]declared candidate from the Other Party, according to Robert Costa at the National Review:

Almost everybody has written off Rick Santorum as a 2016 contender — everybody, that is, except Rick Santorum.

Behind the scenes, the former Pennsylvania senator is quietly preparing for another presidential run. Trips to Iowa are in the works, he’s meeting daily with his advisers, and he’s already fine-tuning his message for the early primaries…

… For now, Santorum’s nonprofit organization, Patriot Voices, is his chief vehicle for staying in play. He’s working to develop the group into a film and educational outfit that informs voters about issues he considers important. Brabender tells me that more than 400 chapters of Patriot Voices are being formed. Those clusters of Santorum supporters will likely be important as he maneuvers to run again.

Nadine Maenza, the finance director for his 2012 campaign, has also been keeping the senator in touch with his major donors, including Foster Friess. According to several sources, Friess, the top financier of Santorum’s super PAC, has privately said that he’ll once again be a major backer.

“The presidential election is a long way away,” Santorum says. “I know we’re not on the front burner of anybody’s mind right now, and there’s a lot going on that’s getting people’s attention. But I’m going to stay out there, and you’ll see me in Iowa soon.”…

The Return of the Sweater-Vest, or C.H.U.D. in the Heartland. “Santorum/Random Token 2016 – “Tomorrow Belongs to Us!

Old Folks Boogie

Most folks realize that we are all heading for our second taste of non-existence at a constant rate of one day per day (don’t give me none of those event horizon/Protoss portal/twins paradoxical time bending maundering, either  you denizens of  ‘con and SciFi channel) .


What’s more — and I’ll admit this may be the fifty-something me talking, so feel free to challenge this presumption in the comments — I’m guessing that most of us recognize certain rewards that accrue as we successfully complete each circuit ’round the sun.  Losses too, of course, and more of them as the decades past (I’d love to reacquaint myself with my knees of twenty years ago, and certain summers, and the people now gone always and most of all).

But I wouldn’t want to give up what I’ve learned, the stuff I now know how to do, the way I come at the world with enough understanding to help me act each day with at least a bit more capacity than I had in my happy, high energy, dumb 20s (or 40s).  What’s more I value evidence of that kind of accumulated judgment in folks who seek to lead me and my country (and world).  I don’t think I’m entirely alone in this.*

Which is why I read this in today’s NYT with such…well…


Jonathan Martin’s piece on the GOP’s emerging strategy for dealing with the presumptive Hilary Clinton juggernaut is in fact a masterpiece of subtle knife work.  Read more