The Top-10 Most Unwanted List—the Enemies of Public Education

Lloyd Lofthouse (Crazy Normal’s author) has a Top !0 List – of the enemies of public education. Do you know all the people in the list and why they made his list?

Crazy Normal - the Classroom Exposé

This list reveals the most dangerous enemies of public education and how they earned their spot in infamy. To discover why they landed on this list, click the links included with each name. This list is subject to change at any time.

#1
#BillGates
Spending billions to destroy Public Schools
with testing agenda to rank & fire teachers
Living in Dialogue

#2
The #Waltons
Why are #Walmart Billionaires Bankrolling Phony School Reform
Bill Moyers.com

#3
Who is #EliBroad and why is he trying to destroy public education?
Defend Public Education.net

#4
#KochBrothers
cherry-picks Constitution
Rewriting History
To brainwash children with libertarian ideas
Diane Ravtich.net

#5
#ArneDuncan
False apologies of Arne Duncan
Who contributed to significant crises in urban school districts
Yohuru Williams at The Huffington Post.com

#6
Who is #DavidColeman
Architect of Common Core and War on Pub-Ed
who ignores professionalism of teachers
Diane Ravtich.com

#7
#JebBush
Horrible record on…

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I Love Cartoons – about Charter Schools!

Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mark Fiore created a short cartoon about little Timmy and his experiences with a charter school.  You can see the YouTube video by clicking here:  Profitship!  Cashing In On Public Schools

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The cartoon has an interesting backstory.   There actually is a for-profit charter school chain called Rocketship.  As published in the online newspaper The Progressive:

Rocketship (see Barbara Miner’s report from our new Save Our Schools issue) uses computer programs to teach children for a significant portion of the day, and eschews “extras” like school librarians, art, gym, and social studies, which further reduce staff costs. This combination of real teachers and online programs, dubbed “blended learning,” is the fastest-growing sector of the burgeoning charter school industry.
“The call for public schools to be replaced by such tech-heavy, teacher-light operations comes from some of the most powerful actors in local and national politics,” Lafer wrote in his report.

If you would like to read The Progressive’s entire article, click here: ProfitShip Learning | The Progressive.

Should You Read the Book “Losing Our Way”?

cover

I read the book Losing Our Way by Bob Herbert over Thanksgiving.  Several of my fellow bloggers recommended it so I was eager to begin reading the book when it arrived.  After finishing the book I was at a loss as to how to write about it.  Then last weekend I saw the movie “Interstellar“.  The movie had beautiful scenes, complex characters, an interesting plot yet I came out of theater scratching my head knowing I missed something.  I had that same experience after reading Losing Our Way.

When I first heard about Losing Our Way I was excited to think that someone had put their finger on the malaise that seems to surround us now.  I was hoping Herbert could trace the roots of some of America’s biggest problems and provide some magical formula as to how to put America back on the right course.  Perhaps that was too much to expect.  It wasn’t until after reading the book that I took a closer look at the cover and saw that Herbert sub-titled his book “An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America”.   That’s what he did a good job at – superbly documenting some of the troubles we are experiencing.

Don’t get me wrong – Losing Our Way was a very enjoyable book to read.  Herbert was an op-ed writer for the New York Times for many years and is an excellent writer.  He delves deeply into the lives of a few people and tells their story, using them as exemplars of some of the troubles America has.  His stories are compelling and written with compassion.

So what troubles do we have?  SPOILER ALERT!  War is bad.  Killing and maiming people during war is bad.  Our infrastructure is bad.  Fewer people in the middle class is bad.  Wealthy people are bad.  Education reformers are bad.

Suffice it to say, a very liberal agenda.  I could just imagine my dad reading passages like:

The recklessness of the nation’s approach to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was underscored by the federal government’s willingness, even as the troops were pouring into harm’s way, to dramatically cut taxes and sharply increase nonessential domestic spending. (p. 74)

With its Walmart fortune, the Walton clan alone was worth more than the collective wealth of the bottom 125 million Americans.  These are the kinds of distortions that used to alarm people when they were associated with thuggish third-world dictatorships.  Now they’ve become the norm in a country that for many long decades had pointed proudly to its vast and prosperous middle class as its defining characteristic. (p. 116)

To his credit, Herbert did and excellent job of describing the attacks on education.  If you’re wondering why I am concerned about public education I would suggest reading Herbert’s book as he told the story much better than I have.

Should you read Losing Our Way?  I think you should.  My more conservative friends have now been forewarned that some of the judgmental language will put you off.  That shouldn’t stop you from reading the poignant stories of people who have been hurt by some of the mistakes America has taken.  My more liberal friends will have many of their beliefs about America validated.

Herbert did a great job of documenting some of the problems we Americans are experiencing.  He wants us to get mad enough about those problems to do something.  He left it up to us to come up with the solutions.

A successful history of—and the threat to—Public Education in the United States

Lloyd Lofthouse has written a brief history of public education, including information about the threats to public education. He starts out by saying:

I’m sure you’ve heard for years—even decades—that the public schools are failing; that teachers are lazy, incompetent and their labor unions are responsible for this so-called failure.
The solution: fire the teachers, close the public schools and get rid of the labor unions. Then turn education over to private sector corporations run by CEOs who only answer to their wealthiest stock holders.

I think you’ll find it an informative read.

Crazy Normal - the Classroom Exposé

I’m sure you’ve heard for years—even decades—that the public schools are failing; that teachers are lazy, incompetent and their labor unions are responsible for this so-called failure.

The solution: fire the teachers, close the public schools and get rid of the labor unions. Then turn education over to private sector corporations run by CEOs who only answer to their wealthiest stock holders. For instance, Bill Gates, the Koch brothers, the Walton family, Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdock and a flock of Hedge Fund billionaires.

Let’s see what you think after we go back to 1779 and walk through 235 years of history to the present. It won’t take long—a few facts and a conclusion.

  • We’ll start with Thomas Jefferson in 1779, because he thought the US should have two education systems: one for the wealthy and one for everyone else.  As Jefferson said, we’ll “rake a few geniuses from…

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We Got a “C”!

 c-big

Today the newspaper announced the release of a “new report grading public education in Illinois…” (Daily Herald, Nov. 20, 2014).  The report, titled “The State We’re In: 2014”, was published by Advance Illinois.  The report said it looked at 55 metrics and, after comparing the metrics those from the other 49 states, found that Illinois got a grade of “C”.  Using their logic, that means Illinois ranked in the middle of all 50 states overall.  Not bad really, considering the terrible shape our finances are in (of course none of the metrics included the degree to which states fund schools – isn’t Illinois at the bottom there?).

I always look at reports like these from well-funded education think-tanks with jaundiced eyes.  Who is Advance Illinois?  What’s their agenda?  Where’s the money coming from?

Of Advance Illinois’ 18 board members, one is listed as an “Instructional Support Leader” for Chicago Public Schools – the only K-12 educator on the board.  At the end of the report Advance Illinois acknowledges 25 “education experts” for their help – only three appear to be from K-12 public schools.  The Executive Director of Advance Illinois is Robin Steans.  Look at the list of supporters below.  Yep, the Executive Director is the daughter of one of Advance Illinois’ contributors.  Is that a conflict of interest?

How about Advance Illinois’ mission?  In part it says it will be “an independent, objective voice to promote public education in Illinois…”  One of their eight mission statements says, “Students and families should have choices in how to meet their educational needs.”  Is it objective to promote charter schools as a solution?

A look at Advance Illinois’ supporters:

Wonder why support for charter schools is part of Advance Illinois’ mission?  The Gates Foundation has given them almost $2.5 million since 2008.  The Gates Foundation supports charter schools.  The Joyce Foundation recently gave Advance Illinois $1.05 million.  It also recently gave $700K to support the formation of charter schools in Illinois.

The report said that Illinois’ “C” grade was based on the comparison of 55 metrics.  It was only 24.  Seven of the 55 were just facts (i.e. number of schools in Illinois).  Of the remaining 48 metrics, 24 had no data available for Illinois.  So the “C” grade was given with half of the data missing.

I actually like some of the things the report says (i.e. “Illinois is notorious for its inadequate, inequitable method of funding public schools”).  But you have to be careful when reading reports like this from private organizations – you don’t know what their agenda is.  And with well-heeled supporters, there is always an agenda.

Sunny Beach

Peter Greene is the author of the blog Curmudgucation.  He is a teacher who cares about his profession and an eloquent writer.

One of his recent pieces, titled “Nobody Owns the Beach”, hit a chord with me.  In it he points out that the beaches in Hawaii are public resources.  It doesn’t matter how much money you have, you can’t “own the beach” in Hawaii.  Why is it important that nobody owns the beach?  Peter says:

That’s because your government recognizes that certain resources are a public good and need to be maintained as public goods. So even when somebody offers to “manage” that public good for you, just for a cut of the take, that doesn’t happen. Because as soon as a public resource becomes a way of enriching private interests, the public interest in that resource takes a back seat.

At the end of his essay, he beautifully transitions this concept to public schooling.  I would encourage you to read this short, but insightful piece.  Click below to read “Nobody Owns the Beach”

Nobody Owns the Beach

hawaiibeach

Aloha

Thanks for Your Contribution!

I was playing golf this summer and my playing partner Jim asked me how I liked retirement.  I told him it was great, and since Jim was about my age I asked him when he was going to retire.  His response was, “I have to keep working so I can pay for your pension.”

I get this a lot – friends who have heard about Illinois’ pension crisis and somehow think it’s my fault.  They don’t want to hear that 10% of my salary was automatically put into the pension system for the past 35 years.  They don’t want to hear that two-thirds of the pension system’s revenues (2013) came from its investments and member contributions, not the state.

So how much did Jim “pay” for my pension last year?  According to TRS (Teacher Retirement System) 32.4% of its revenues in 2013 came from the State of Illinois.  So that means for every $10,000 of my pension, $3,240 came from the state of Illinois.

Now according to the US Census bureau in 2013 there were approximately 9.9 million people in Illinois over the age of 18 (i.e. taxpayers like Jim).  Dividing the $3,240 that came from Illinois by 9.9 million taxpayers, that means each taxpayer contributed $.0003 per $10,000 of my pension.   According to TRS, last year the average pensioner received just under $50,000, or about $1.6 tenths of a penny per Illinois taxpayer.

So next time Jim complains about having to work to pay for my pension, I’m going to toss him a nickel – that should be more than enough to cover his contributions for the next 15 years.  Maybe now he’ll retire.

Jefferson-Nickel-Unc-Obv