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Member since: Sun Jul 11, 2004, 07:58 PM
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RAVITCH: Bill Gates: "We Won’t Know for a Decade Whether Our Ideas {for public education} Work"

It's hard to think of a better example that our education policy has been as corrupted by big campaign donors as our economic, trade, and foreign policy.

Bill Gates has money to spend, so politicians will force whatever idea he pulls out of his ass on public school teachers and kids.

If he really thinks he knows how to run schools, he should open up some entirely private ones, and see how many paying customers he'll get.

The federal government, fully on board with the Gates idea, now has almost every state following agates' plan. As Valerie Strauss points out on her blog, Gates now says that it will take about a decade to determine whether his latest hunch actually works.

So far, it has failed to produce a reliable metric or results anywhere. So far, it has failed wherever it was tried, and billions of dollars have been wasted.

In the meanwhile, real teachers are being fired and losing their livelihood based on Gates' latest bigidea. Strauss writes: "Hmmm. Teachers around the country aresaddled every single year with teacher evaluation systems that his foundation has funded, based on no record of success and highly questionable “research.”

And now Gates says he won’t know if the reforms he is funding will work for another decade. But teachers can lose their jobs right now because of reforms he is funding.


the Wall Street take over of public education

In reviewing Diane's Ravitch's book
Reign of Error on the corrupt corporate take over of public schools and what real reform would look like, this reporter summed up what they reformers want, why, and what it will and is actually doing to public schools pretty well.

We have to take education policy out of the hands of the sociopaths who broke our economy, gambled with our mortgages, stole private employee pensions and working to steal public employee pensions, and would like to steal our Social Security too.

The financial sector's behavior in the last ten years alone is reason enough to keep them miles away from our children.

School privatization is an attempt to replace the current system of neighborhood public schools with a market-based system where parents choose their child's school, public or private, paid for with tax dollars.

The political advantages for conservatives are obvious. Privatizing education directs huge sums to profit-making entrepreneurs who become campaign donors. It sends money and students to church-run schools, something religious conservatives relish. And it cripples the progressive activism of teachers unions who are the chief lobbyists for public education.


After years of experiments in vouchers and for-profit charter schools, including in Florida, Ravitch dives into the evidence and finds that they don't provide a significant boost in learning for low-income students. Harm, though, comes to public schools, our nation's great democratizing institution. They lose vital funding and community support.


A possible unintended side effect of Obamacare

California has set up their exchange and has a calculator to show what your premiums would be if you used it to get your insurance.

My family is currently covered through my job, though if my wife lost her job, I'd have to pay quite a bit to cover her and my daughter with my job's insurance.

So I was curious to see what the exchange would cost.

I plugged in our numbers and got about $1200 a month for the three of us for the gold coverage (the ones below that had such high deductibles it wouldn't make sense for us).

I had two reactions to seeing that number:

1. That is significantly cheaper than it would cost to get covered in the past (I've checked).

2. It's still a hell of a lot.

That second reaction is the one I'm wondering if more people won't have.

Since most people get their insurance through their job, they probably have no idea what the total cost of their coverage is.

I've worked with my union local, and the only time I felt the least bit sympathetic for management was when I heard how much health insurance costs went up every year.

I think a lot of people will appreciate the lower cost, but after the initial gratitude wears off, I wonder if they won't be a bit critical of the total number and ask if their isn't a way to reduce it further--like taking the for-profit leeches out of the equation altogether.

Is anyone sad to see Larry Summers withdraw his name for Fed chairman?

Given his advocacy for bank deregulation not just for the US but every other country in the world during the Clinton years, and his strong arming of Brooksley Born, an financial regulator who was actually trying to enforce the fews laws and regs that remained, it is hard to think of someone worse for the job.

Larry Summers was a slug in the garden of our battered democracy, and I for one am glad that he salted himself and melt his own political career.

But I'm curious what the defense is that could possibly have been given for him in the corridors of power, other than that he did exactly what Wall Street bankers told him to do.

Can someone make the case that bank deregulation was GOOD for the US and the world?

Or that intimidating a regulator from doing their jobs was somehow GOOD for America and the world?

Are you sad to see Jabba the Summers go?

Will it turn out that Kerry/Obama played 3D chess on Syria or that Putin pulled us back from war?

I'm not sure.

Though if the last decade and a half is any precedent, I suspect it is the latter.

When the US invaded Iraq to gain further hegemony over Middle East oil, that COULD have triggered World War III, if Russia and China saw it as one of the last dominoes that could lead to US business having a stranglehold on their economic growth through control of oil.

But they held back and let us screw ourselves rather than jumping in screwing themselves too.

Likewise, when we invaded countries on the eastern and western border of Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq, they could reasonably have taken that as a provocation, just as we would if Russia invaded Canada and Mexico.

But instead, they mostly held back.

It seems in this War on Terror era, it's like those two women who came to Solomon claiming the same baby, and Solomon proposed cutting it in half because the real mother would give the baby up rather than do that.

The baby is the world, and we and Russia are the mothers, but our government is the "mother" who wants the baby cut in half--as long as they get both halves.

But I would be glad to be proven wrong.

Which of the major explanations is more likely true?

I finally realized why Obama and Congress never punished Bush/Cheney war crimes...

You can't punish your own war criminals, other countries have to do it for you.

So who should teach us a lesson?

We will certainly have to suck it and say we deserved it if some of our civilians who live near depleted uranium, white phosphorous, and napalm facilities are accidentally killed.

But that is far preferable than Congress impeaching a then president or the attorney general indicting a past president and his cabinet for war crimes and a judge and jury trying the case, which, while unlikely to result in prison time, would be an embarrassment and inconvenience to those charged.

Many in Congress voted to give Bush the power to commit war crimes against children

and earlier voted for sanctions against Iraq that killed up to half a million people by keeping medicine out of the country.

But you go right on thinking they're going to attack Syria for the children.

PHOTO: Why we should punish the use of chemical weapons...

Starting with our own war criminals. Those who ordered two out of three of those are still alive, free, and unindicted.

Shouldn't we take the plank out of our own eye before we take the speck out of Syria's?

If they don't care enough to punish those, what are the chances that the use of particular weapons is why they are itching to enter the war in Syria they already funded well before this chemical attack?

NOTE: This would be a good one to send your senators and representative.

What do you do when politicians ignore polls, contact from voters, demonstrations...

and Media Benjamin yelling in committee hearings?

Since Washington acts like they are immune to public opinion, and the constraints of our two party system make that true in some ways, what can we do to bend their will in the direction of public opinion?

Besides the anti-war protests, the long occupy protests seemed to only give the politicians fodder for campaign commercials.

Is more substantial civil disobedience called for?

Also, can insiders do more than oppose internally and leak to the public?

For insiders, they could also do things that would gum up the works more without endangering American lives:

  • leak orders that could lead to a world war

  • slow walk on orders

  • refuse to follow orders that would lead to a world war

  • Not pass on orders if they are higher up the chain of command

  • monkey wrench

This would apply to the relevant civilians as well as military.

What can those us who aren't in the DC bubble do to alter the course inside?

Before we contribute to regime change in Syria, how are Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya doing?

Are people in those countries better off than they were before we invaded or bombed their governments out of office?

Are they even up to as well off as they were before we "helped" them?
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