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Member since: Sun Jul 11, 2004, 07:58 PM
Number of posts: 39,405

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MARKETING PRO: Common Core propaganda fails: Well-financed education “reformers” fight common sense

If Democrats were really worried about losing the midterms, they might consider doing a 180 on feeding our kids to the wolves on Wall Street.

In addition to eroding our kids public education, DC Democrats have put the knife in the back of one of their largest and most consistent constituencies, teachers.

Tell all the hedge fund managers to keep their campaign donations and grants to schools that come with strings that turn into nooses and instead make those sociopaths pay more taxes and use the money to improve public schools to model the best of real private schools and past public schools before we started letting Wall Street and dilitante billionaires looking for a new public asset to plunder dictate education policy.

Jeff Bryant

For years, elites in big business, foundations, well-endowed think tanks, and corporate media have conducted a well-financed marketing campaign to impress on the nation’s public schools an agenda of change that includes charter schools, standardized testing, and “new and improved” standards known as the Common Core.

These ideas were sold to us as sure-fire remedies for enormous inequities in a public school system whose performance only appears to be relatively low compared to other countries if you ignore the large percentage of poor kids we have.

But the “education reform” ad campaign never got two important lessons everyone starting out in the advertising business learns: Never make objective claims about your product that can be easily and demonstrably disproven, and never insult your target audience.

For instance, you can make the claim, “this tastes great” because that can’t be proven one way or the other. But when you claim, “your kids will love how this tastes,” and parents say, “my kids think it tastes like crap,” you’re pretty much toast. And you make matters all the worse if you respond, “Well, if you were a good parent you’d tell your kid to eat it anyway.”


RAVITCH: Apathy about growing monopoly in education materials

Public education curriculum is becoming the next big monopoly. If a handful or only one company sell s the testing, textbook, and other curriculum materials to schools, how much say will parents and teachers have about what's in them?

And if parents and teachers have legitimate gripes, who are politicians more likely to listen to, them or the monopoly that can put a big chunk of change in their pockets?

Robert Shepherd on Apathy about the Death of Competition for Education Materials

by dianeravitch

It is curious that though many supporters of the Common Core standards want choice among schools but celebrate the standardization and lack of choice among suppliers of education materials. They want to multiply choices of schools while standardizing learning and standing back while only two, perhaps three at most, mega-publishers create nearly identical products for the nation's students and schools.

Robert Shepherd posted a comment about the death of competition in the marketplace for educational materials. Consolidation started years ago as large companies bought up small companies, and as small companies found they were financially unable to compete with the giant corporations. Those trends have accelerated to the point where only two or three corporations control the education publishing industry. He wonders if anyone cares. I say yes, but no one knows how to stop this monopolizing trend. We feel powerless. To whom do we direct our complaints? This is not an oversight. Creating a national marketplace for vendors of goods and services was an explicit purpose of Race to the Top.

Joanne Weiss, who was Arne Duncan's chief of staff and who directed Race to the Top, wrote in The Harvard Business Review:

"The development of common standards and shared assessments radically alters the market for innovation in curriculum development, professional development, and formative assessments. Previously, these markets operated on a state-by-state basis, and often on a district-by-district basis. But the adoption of common standards and shared assessments means that education entrepreneurs will enjoy national markets where the best products can be taken to scale.


Cliven Bundy showed it's time to look at how little we get from business use of public land

Grazing is probably the least of it.

From mining to fracking, oil drilling, and timber leases, are we getting what our assets our worth?

What do we get compared to what those companies would have to pay to use someone (or a corporation's) private property?

This is also one "tax" we can impose without being threatened with them taking their business elsewhere--Bundy can't exactly move his cattle to graze in Bangladesh and the Koch brothers can't move their coal mines to Africa.

Former National Security Advisor explained current Russia policy almost 20 years ago

Zbigniew Brzezinski was Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor, but he laid out in pretty blunt terms what our foreign policy was and would be for all the decades that followed.

He now brags about how the public was misled into thinking the Soviets started their Afghan War, but our support for the Mujahadeen started before that to lure the Soviets into a trap, as he says in this interview:

Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.


This astroturf rebellion has been played out over and over for decades in country after country where their governments refused to play on the terms Wall Street bankers, oil, sweatshop, and plantation corporations dictated.

In his book THE GRAND CHESSBOARD, his explanation of our goals in Eurasia are likely what is driving our current conflict with Russia:

“America is now the only global superpower, and Eurasia is the globe’s central arena. Hence, what happens to the distribution of power on the Eurasian continent will be of decisive importance to America’s global primacy and to America’s historical legacy.” (p.194) “It follows that America’s primary interest is to help ensure that no single power comes to control this geopolitical space and that the global community has unhindered financial and economic access to it.” (p148) …

The world’s energy consumption is bound to vastly increase over the next two or three decades. Estimates by the U.S. Department of energy anticipate that world demand will rise by more than 50 percent between 1993 and 2015, with the most significant increase in consumption occurring in the Far East. The momentum of Asia’s economic development is already generating massive pressures for the exploration and exploitation of new sources of energy and the Central Asian region and the Caspian Sea basin are known to contain reserves of natural gas and oil that dwarf those of Kuwait, the Gulf of Mexico, or the North Sea.” (p.125) …

“…how America `manages’ Eurasia is critical. Eurasia is the globe’s largest continent and is geopolitically axial. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions. …About 75 per cent of the world’s people live in Eurasia, and most of the world’s physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for 60 per cent of the world’s GNP and about three-fourths of the world’s known energy resources.” (p.31) …
(Excerpts from The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives — Zbigniew Brzezinski, Basic Books, 1997)

Taken as a whole, Brzezinski’s “Chessboard” is a pretty straightforward strategy for ruling the world. All one needs to do is seize critical energy supplies and transit lines, crush potential rivals, and subvert regional coalitions, or as Brzezinski breezily puts it, “keep the barbarians from coming together.”


Our leaders in Washington like to focus on just what happened in the last 24 hours or a few weeks at most, but it's important to look at the bigger picture and what foreign policy is about overall.

A cynical thought on Armenian genocide, genocide in general, & politics

Maybe somebody else figured this out a long time ago, but the publicity in America about the genocide coincided with the West's push to break up the Ottoman Empire.

Once it was gone and replaced with Western colonies and a neutral to pro-West Turkey, our government saw no self-interest in pushing the issue, so it was swept under the carpet for most of the last hundred years.

That would also fit the pattern of genocides that get noticed in our media and that seemingly prompt action from our government.

By contrast, ones like that in Indonesia in the 60's or East Timor a decade and a half later are unknown here beyond academic circles.

Will the American public buy the New Cold War with Russia?

Last summer, the American people prevented Washington from becoming more directly involved in the war in Syria.

Now Washington seems to think they can crank up a new Cold War with Russia over this business with Ukraine.

Are they American people going to buy it?

Any chance our new Cold War with Russia will be cancelled due to budget deficit concerns?

If not, wouldn't our government have to make a plausible argument that Russia is a direct threat to us here in the US?

I might be a little rusty on my history, but since they sold Alaska, they haven't invaded any territory in the Western Hemisphere or even got much further than some islands pretty close to the Eurasian land mass.

It also seems unlikely that Russia would want to start a nuclear exchange that would leave the whole world dead, including Russians.

Or are we going to back to the pre-Iraq War logic of our enemies are like the villains in cartoons and action movies who don't mind dying and taking their whole country with them if they can wing the good guys on their way out?

Can someone back large inheritances and NOT back guaranteed minimum income without hypocrisy?

It would seem all the arguments against giving everyone a minimum income, that it would lead to idleness, sloth, and a couple of other synonyms for laziness, would also apply to those who inherit great wealth.

George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, Donald Trump, the Koch brothers, and many others had a pile of money waiting for them before the umbilical cord was even cut. I don't particularly care for any of them, but would righties say they are lazy layabouts because they never had to worry about paying the rent or where their next meal would come from?

Of course there are people who came from money that we on the right admire like Gore Vidal, JFK, and FDR.

Why would the rest of us having a modest floor of income be bad if some are going to argue that being showered with money didn't hurt those lucky few?

Big Profits in Not-for-Profit Charter Schools

If you get into an argument with Wall Street driven education "reform" advocates, one of their defenses is that many (and in some states most) charter schools are non-profits.

How can they be a scam to enrich the already wealthy when they are set up like a frickin' charity?

Here's one way: they overpay their executives up to a hundred times as much per student as actual public employees get like a state education commissioner.

Actually, this doesn't sound that different from the trust and foundation scams the wealthy run: they avoid inheritance taxes by setting up charities that give money to their children as well as some worthy causes (though the causes are even suspect on some issues).

However, operating non-profit charter schools can be very profitable for charter school executives like Eva Moskowitz. Moskowitz earns close to a half a million dollars a year ($485,000) for overseeing school programs that serve 6,700 children, which is over $72 per student. By comparison, New York State Education Commissioner is paid a salary of $212,000 to oversee programs with 2.7 million students or about 8 cents per student. In other words, Moskowitz earns about 100 times more than King for each student enrolled in a Success Academy Charter School. Carmen Farina, New York City School Chancellor is paid $212,000 a year to oversee 1.1 million students or about 19 cents per student.

According to my calculations and The New York Times, other non-profit charter school administrators also make some very heady profits. The head of the Harlem Village Academies earns $499,000 to manage schools with 1,355 students or $369 per student. The head of the Bronx Preparatory School earns $338,000 to manage schools with 651 students or over $500 per student. The head of the Our World Charterearns $200,000 to manage schools with a total of 738 students or $271 per student. The local head of the KIPP Charter Network earns $235,000 to manage schools with 2,796 or $84 per student. By comparison, the chief educational officer of Texas is paid $214,999 to manage a system with almost 5 million public school students.


Robert Hughes and New Visions for Public Schools is another example. New Visions operates 4 charter schools, operates a school support network, and, claims to be the largest education reform organization working to improve New York City public schools. As president of New Visions, Robert Hughes earns $333,500 on 2012. The highest paid New York City teachers with 22 years of experience can earn $100,000. A New York City high school principal with 22 years of experience as a principal earns $154,000 a year.

I have one misgiving about publishing these figures. Once Eva Moskowitz sees what CEOs are earning at KIPP, Our World, Harlem Village, and Bronx Prep, she will probably be demanding even more money to run her non-profit charter schools.


RAVITCH: BREAKING NEWS: Chile to End Public Funding of Private Education

"The pursuit of profit is not a good objective for educational institutions. It is not a good ally of a good education," is obvious when you look at Wall Street driven education reform here, but those words were spoken by the CHILEAN equivalent of the Secretary of Education not ours.

How much longer are top Democrats going to soil themselves and screw our kids out of a good education before they admit they have made a horrific mistake?

NO politician that I know of demands that the private schools they send their kids to about the "reforms" they are forcing on public school kids.

If they don't want it for their own kids, we certainly don't need it for ours.

Under the dictator Pinochet, Chile became devoted to the free-market theories of libertarian economist Milton Friedman. It adopted a voucher system and embrace choice.

Over the years, the schools experienced growing social segregation and little or no improvement.

A vigorous and outraged student movement in Chile demanded changes.

Just today, a news story appeared saying that Chile intends to end public subsidies for private schools. (Oddly enough, the story is from Shanghai!)

We will keep watch on this breaking story.

The story says:

Chilean Education Minister Nicolas Eyzaguirre Thursday reaffirmed the government's commitment to ending private education."The pursuit of profit is not a good objective for educational institutions. It is not a good ally of a good education," Eyzaguirre told a press conference.

The administration of President Michelle Bachelet, who took office in March, has proposed an ambitious overhaul of the education system to provide affordable, quality education, as demanded by a national student movement launched in 2011.

The government's proposed reforms basically call for greater public spending on education, free primary education, and an end to state-subsidies of private schools and to profit-oriented universities.

"The state needs to withdraw from many productive activities, but not those that are considered a social right," said Eyzaguirre.

The current educational system, which was increasingly privatized by the previous pro-business administration, creates more tension between the nation's privileged and working classes, the minister said.

State support for universities will have to be phased in slowly, the minister indicated, as many of the centers of higher education have not been certified.

"We can't be throwing around public money without ensuring quality," he said.

To finance the education reform, Bachelet has proposed increasing the corporate tax rate from 20 percent to 25 percent, an initiative opposed by the business and conservative political sector, but expected to be adopted by the country's legislature.

Shanghai Daily story

Ravitch story
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