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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.


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.


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.


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.

Read more

Focus group

We’re getting set to try to pass a local tax levy to build a new public school. As you know, I am a public school enthusiast but I also have a child in the local school system and we need a new school.

Because this is a majority Republican county and city I will be working with mostly Republicans to pass a tax levy. Obviously, these aren’t the Tea Party “base” of the GOP. These Republicans support “government schools” and also are mindful of the fact that tangible things like “schools” and “parks” and “libraries” don’t just form like Fruit On the Tree of Liberty and then drop to the ground to be gathered, but have to be paid for with taxes and then built. I think you would all call the levy people Chamber of Commerce Republicans, and that would be exactly what they are except they’re all in Rotary here, not the Chamber.

I have worked with some of them once before on a library levy, in 2006. In that campaign, we did what is called a “stealth levy.” A stealth levy is where one puts the tax increase on the ballot in a low-turnout election cycle and then targets supporters rather than do a big general push because the theory is a big general push only fires up the anti-tax people. The stealth levy worked, BTW, so don’t come crying to me with your “ethical” concerns on stealth. We won’t be using that this time out because there’s already been public meetings and such on finalizing the building proposal and now funding for that specific building plan will go on the ballot.

I’ll do GOTV which I like to think I am quite good at and don’t need any help with but I also will have to make some sort of “pitch” for the tax to local Democrats and, also, people who generally don’t vote. I know what I’ll say to (current) school parents, but what’s the best selling point for people who 1. no longer have children in the system, and 2. never had or never will have children in the system?

A practical hard-nosed explanation of why we need a new school? Property values? For The Children? Civic duty?

The tax isn’t that much so quit being such Dickensian misers? I voted for the senior center levy and I’m not a senior?

The general lay of the land is the public school is a big part of the town. Sporting events, music, social lives of parents, etc. It’s a rural school in a solidly working class/middle class area, so it’s not ultra-fabulous or state of the art or anything, but the (probably dicey and perhaps completely invalid) “grade” of the school is “excellent.” Also, all the employees live here and teachers (although they are union thugs) are not reviled and loathed. All three local judges are married to teachers and the mayor was a teacher before he was a mayor. Political environment would thus be: generally favorable toward public school system BUT read my lips no new taxes (knee-jerk default position).


Commenter Summer sent me a wonderful (short) video of the Moral Monday protests. Mistermix tells me I can’t embed it, so you’ll have to follow the link to watch but it’s worth it.

Thousands marched from Halifax Mall to Fayetteville Street to hear a fiery speech delivered by N.C. NAACP President William Barber II during the final Moral Monday demonstration of the N.C. legislative session. See a highlight video by N&O staff photojournalist Travis Long who covered the majority of Moral Monday and related demonstrations for the The News & Observer.

In the video, Barber speaks about how social issues have been used as a a wedge to divide us on economic issues. He had his own struggle with this, and in my view it’s one of the big victories of the Moral Monday protests – the fact that they was able to mobilize such a diverse coalition. In the video you’ll see religious folks joining with advocates for marriage equality, public education, women’s rights, voting rights, and health care.

Rev. Dr. William Barber is the president of the NAACP’s North Carolina chapter, and the pastor of the 120-year-old Greenleaf Christian Church Disciples of Christ in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Barber also serves as an adjunct professor in the Masters of Divinity program at North Carolina Central University.
Barber first attracted national attention in April 2012, when he joined other black clergy in North Carolina in opposing that state’s Amendment One, which would bar same-sex marriage, along with civil unions and domestic partnerships in the state.

Saving us all from the threat of health insurance

Good for her for keeping Medicaid expansion in the news:

Democratic Sen. Capri Cafaro unveiled during a Tuesday news conference the latest legislative measure aimed at reforming and expanding Medicaid in Ohio. And while Cafaro’s proposal included some new policy, the senator focused mostly on trying to dispel a central Republican complaint — Medicaid expansion would siphon money from state coffers. Cafaro argues that expanding Medicaid would save Ohio billions.
The Northeast Ohio senator provided an analysis of Medicaid spending by the Health Policy Institute of Ohio and Ohio State University that showed that the state’s Medicaid spending would reach $17.4 billion in 2025 if no expansion is agreed to. Ohio could save up to $3.2 billion during that period if lawmakers pass an expansion, according to the analysis.
The GOP-controlled legislature jettisoned the expansion, and a handful of bills circulating the Statehouse seek to reform or expand the federal program.

Cafaro’s legislation is supported by Senate Democrats. No Republicans have endorsed the measure.
“Given what we have laid out, why would somebody not support this?” Cafaro said. “We’ve taken the cost considerations off the table. We are promoting efficiency, we are promoting shared responsibility by both individuals and providers…and we are covering more people. I’d like to know why somebody would say no.”

We already know why Republicans say no, because the Ohio Tea Party has one issue and that issue is opposition to Obamacare. Without that opposition, the Ohio Tea Party has absolutely nothing to offer or talk about and they go back to being what they were prior to Obamacare – the same old cranky and disgruntled GOP base:

The most outspoken House Republican supporter of Medicaid expansion (not much competition for that distinction) has attracted attention from the Toledo Tea Party, which is actively seeking a candidate to challenge her in the 2014 primary.
Rep. Barbara Sears of Sylvania, a member of the House GOP leadership team and considered one of the most knowledgeable members on Medicaid and health care, has backed Gov. John Kasich’s effort to expand Medicaid to Ohioans making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
The expansion is possible under Obamacare – an association that prompted Tea Party groups in Ohio earlier this year to threaten GOP lawmakers with primary challenges if they support it.
The Toledo Tea Party quotes Linda Bowyer, spokeswoman for Conservative Coalition: “NWOCC supporters are very upset with Rep Sears and her continuing efforts to implement Obamacare Medicaid Expansion.” She added: “We’ve been interviewing candidates throughout northwest Ohio. Our supporters have made it clear to us that we need to support candidates who will actively work to oppose Obamacare, and oppose any candidate that is working to implement Obamacare.”
Sears said she is confident she will prevail in next year’s election. Asked if she knows of any colleagues yet who are facing tea party primary challenges over Medicaid expansion, Sears said there is a reason her name is the only one on the expansion bill.

This probably doesn’t help her any:

considered one of the most knowledgeable members on Medicaid and health care

Oh, definitely get rid of her, then. Cull the knowledgeable members – immediately.

North Carolina Meet Up

Commenter Summer had a meet up in North Carolina on very short notice and this is her account:

These two mysterious and exotic people are Summer (NOT a serial killer) and Tom (recent NC transplant), who populated the inaugural NC BJ “meet up.” Being readers of JC’s blog since the early aughts and having five dogs and one cat between our two households, we had a great time regaling each other with pet stories and Balloon Juice memories since the dark days of the Bush administration. We talked some state and national politics, activism, bike commuting, and Durham awesomeness. We raised our glasses to Tunch, in celebration of his life and in gratitude for his influence.
With the Moral Monday momentum, we thought having a bigger North Carolina meet up in three weeks (8/5), again following a Moral Monday, would be great. Sorry we didn’t catch everyone this time. Please email summerjsmith97 at gmail if you’d like to be there or influence scheduling toward another date.


Speaking of North Carolina, conservatives in North Carolina are adding further restrictions to voting. These new rules are directed at college students.

I think it would be a good idea right about now for voting enthusiasts to become poll workers. I resigned as a poll worker after Operation Chaos, which was an order from Rush Limbaugh for Republicans to vote for Clinton in the 2008 Ohio Democratic primary in order to “stop” Obama. Some Republicans in my precinct actually followed this order. They were bragging about it so it wasn’t real hard to figure out. That made me mad because Operation Chaos is contrary to Ohio law and it offends my ideas about fair play but I also just found the whole thing so stupid and dispiriting that I quit. It worked out okay because I do election protection now. We don’t have another Democratic lawyer here to do it so it’s better I stick with that. In a way, Rush Limbaugh is the reason we have a local lawyer doing voter protection in this county. We should all thank him for helping us with strategic placement of volunteers.

Anyway, poll work is a long day (as many of you who are or have been poll workers know) and the pay is lousy but if anyone is willing it would be great to jump in now.