Archive for the 'Versailles Villagers' Category



The news media’s war on teachers

FAIR: First, Bash the Teachers
Media find a scapegoat for educational failure
No evidence required

What goes mostly if not entirely unexplained amid these anti-teacher assaults is any coherent explanation of what it is that teachers unions have done or failed to do to promote excellence in schools. A survey by Robert M. Carini of Indiana University (School Reform Proposals: The Research Evidence, 2002) of the available research comparing achievement in unionized versus non-unionized schools found that “teacher unionism favorably influences achievement for most students.” Such findings are not the final word, of course. But given corporate media’s relentless message that unions are the enemy of “reform,” it is worth noting that this is based largely on the media’s elevation to scientific truths of a set of mostly unproven strategies for improving schools—from charters to “merit pay”—and their suggestion that the implementation of said truths is made impossible by teachers unions.

Take “merit pay,” which would mostly use test score data to identify effective teachers and pay them more for their success—a “no-brainer,” according to Newsweek (3/15/10). As Diane Ravitch recounts in her recent book The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, much research suggests that teachers judged excellent or effective one year often fall out of the category the next, and vice versa. Either the teachers themselves are practicing wildly different methods from year to year, or the attempts to link test scores to teacher performance are not actually a “no-brainer” at all, no matter what the media might think.

And as journalist Barbara Miner pointed out in Rethinking Schools (Fall/09), the idea that unions are opposed to differential pay as a matter of principle is simply wrong: “Although the media promotes the view that teacher unions are inflexibly opposed to modifying the traditional pay structure, both the AFT and NEA [unions] have been involved in local initiatives that differentiate teacher pay.” Miner noted that surveys of teachers find some openness to different pay structures, but that merit-pay schemes in some places saw most of the benefits flowing to teachers in upper-income schools.

The superiority of charter schools, touted by many of the media’s most prominent education “reformers” as an obvious and necessary element of their schools agenda, is likewise more based in faith than in empirical research. One of the most exhaustive studies of charter performance, from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, found 37 percent of charter schools “deliver learning results that are significantly worse than their students would have realized had they remained in traditional public schools.” About half produced similar outcomes to public schools, with just 17 percent outperforming public schools (Extra!, 8/09).

Charters should be controversial for other reasons as well. A report from UCLA’s Civil Rights Project (2/4/10) found that they are more racially segregated than traditional public schools. Another long-standing criticism of charters is that they tend to educate lower numbers of English language learners. The UCLA study noted that gaps in data collection make it difficult to offer any definitive national assessments—which is a problem in itself. The data available for California, though, showed the number of English learners attending charter schools was minuscule.

Phillip Anschutz

Finally there’s Phillip Anschutz, the owner of the Examiner, which is nothing but filthy little right-wing tabloid, disguised as a newspaper.  But Anshutz also bankrolled the hot propaganda film, Waiting for Superman. Just in case you thought this film was made only by a group of well-intentioned, but misguided liberals.

Anschutz is a far right-wing, evangelical billionaire who inherited his fortune from his father’s oil business and who has become a media mogul, publisher of the Weekly Standard, the S.F. Examiner,  and owner of  L.A.’s Staples Center. He was also the force behind California’s anti-gay initiative

The US today

comment at Unqualified Offerings:

The country I grew up in, the one that went to the moon, passed the Civil Rights Bills, and created the Great Society looks to be on life support to me.

Answering KevinK’s question

KevinK

I know this question will make heads explode on both the right and the left, but can you ever remember a time in your life when the Congress worked harder than they have since the beginning of 2009 (when they weren’t, you know, intently examining the Clenis)? Pretty good for the underrated Pelosi/Reid combo and the inexperienced, lazy-ass Kenyan.

Yes, the 88th Congress

Between Obama, Reid, and Pelosi, she is the best of a bad lot; but that is not saying much. However, should she be replaced by Steny Hoyer (D-MBNA) it would mean the end of the Democratic party, women really would walk out if the first female speaker was replaced for a crony capitalist.

However, should the Republicans retake Congress, Obama, Reid, and Pelosi would have no one but themselves to blame.

The truth about the health care bill

Firedoglake has an excellent comparison chart that makes clear why this is such a bad law.

Today in deficit phonies

Connolly Votes For PAYGO To Restore Fiscal Discipline

Congressman Gerry Connolly voted for fiscal discipline in Congress today by supporting “pay-as-you-go” legislation – better known as PAYGO – which ensures that all new spending passed by Congress is paid for, instead of adding to the federal deficit.

Oh really? Does that include his vote for HR 4173? The bill with a $4 TRILLION bail out for banksters?

Does it include support for AFRICOM?

Colin Powell and our national day of shame

Colin Powell

Speech to the UN part 1

part 2

part 3

part 4

part 5

part 6

part 7

part 8

The court of Versailles: dramatis personae

These people act like they are on stage and the world is their audience.

Economic Club of Washington, DC

Chartered astroturf

Goodness, gracious me, it seems that the Chartered School movement did not spring up from the grassroots. Via Susie, Mad Floridian:

Here is how a lot of it has been accomplished. They call them grassroots parent groups, but in reality they are formed and funded by charter school corporations.

Andy Stern is the new John L Sullivan and not in a good way

Andy Stern and the Public Option

I am here today to say I think the employer-based health care system is dead. I think we need to find a system that’s not built on the back of the government. I am here to also say I don’t think we need to import Canada or any other system. We are going to build an American system because we are Americans and we don’t like any other system. So we are going to build our own….. This is now simply a question of leadership and political will. It is not a question of policy. No more policy conferences. (See pages 15-16 of the transcript of the conference proceedings.)

Those were the remarks of Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, a member of the Herndon Alliance and Health Care for America Now (HCAN). Stern made those comments at a June 16, 2006 conference sponsored by the Brookings Institution and the New America Foundation.

It is interesting to consider how similar Stern’s remarks are to those of other “option” movement leaders I have quoted in this six-part series. Like Celinda Lake, Jacob Hacker, Roger Hickey (Campaign for America’s Future) and Bernie Horne (also CAF), Stern has no qualms about promoting the insidious claim that single-payer cannot be enacted in America because “Americans” don’t want it. Like Hacker, Stern preaches opportunism dressed up as political wisdom (he calls for more “political will” and no more stinkin’ “policy conferences”).


Categories


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.