Daily Archives: October 25, 2015

The Brazen Ways the Charter School Industry Rips You Off

Alternet has the article The Brazen Ways the Charter School Industry Rips You Off: Charter schools have squandered or stolen millions of taxpayer dollars.

The yearlong investigation makes clear that many federal and state education officials have bought into the school privatization movement’s rhetoric that an intentional lack of public oversight, reporting and accountability enables school operators to efficiently and creatively bring education innovation to underserved communities. The report points out that state after state has adopted legislation transferring the oversight of charters—which are still public schools—from locally elected school boards to remote and newly created state “authorizer” offices. Even though this template was created and promoted by right-wing advocacy groups with deep anti-union sentiments, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, it has been embraced by blue and red states, as well as top federal education officials under the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.
“What has evolved as a result of the more than $3.7 billion… the feds have spent fueling charters—plus other sums from states—is a classic example of ‘industry capture’ of the agencies charged with oversight by the industry they are tasked with overseeing,” CMD explains. “With such capture comes agency devotion to protecting funding, insulated by a lack of transparency about funding oversight and distorted through agency relationships with charter industry cheerleaders… That flexibility has allowed an epidemic of fraud, waste and mismanagement that would not be tolerated in public schools. Charters are policed—if they are policed at all—mainly by charter proponents.”

Doing away with oversight is a classical ploy of con artists to allow then to get away with their crimes. Of course they always claim that oversight will hamper the effectiveness of their programs. What they really mean is that oversight will hamper their efforts to con you.

The CMD report shatters the myth that the private sector always knows best how to do what is difficult and challenging for government. Its recommendations are timid when considering that its report shows public school privatizers can be as abuse-prone as the privatized prison industry or military contractors serving in war zones overseas. CMD is not calling for a pause or moratorium on continued charter school growth, simply for every level of government involved to track where the money is going and to publicly disclose it.

“This investigation reveals huge and continuing gaps in information provided to the public about federal and state tax dollars received by charters and how American taxpayer money is being spent,” the report concludes, adding that to respond “to these severe gaps” federal and state officials “should publish” annually detailed financial information about every school receiving government subsidies, as well as report any school that “never opens or closes voluntarily, or for any reason.”

Here is another example of moving activities from the Democratic Socialism sector of our social system to the Rigged-market Capitalism Sector. See my previous post New Terminology for Socio-Economic-Political Systems for a definition of these terms.

A Dangerous Cycle in Food Production

The New York Times has the article A Dangerous Cycle in Food Production.

Enormous fields devoted to just one crop leave bees with a diet that lacks variety, and is available only during the short window when that plant is in bloom. Efficient modern practices mean the patches of weeds and wildflowers that once provided feeding grounds for bees in and around farms are no longer available.

Sharon was reading this article when she said to me, “See, this is why I don’t want you to mow our field of wild flowers and weeds.”

I said, “OK, I get it. I guess we will only use our lawn tractor to plow the snow and to vacuum up the leaves in fall.” I am just waiting for the article that explains how bad the ecology is of clearing leaves and blowing snow. I may have to break out those cross-country skis and buy some snow shoes yet.

Bernie Sanders Full Speech at Iowa Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson Dinner

YouTube has the video Bernie Sanders Full Speech at Iowa Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.

I was afraid that when I got up today to read the news, I would find that the corporate media, in their parallel universe, would have heard a different speech. I was pleased to read The Washington Post article After a strong stretch for Clinton, Sanders turns more aggressive.

Aware of the new landscape, Sanders (I-Vt.) is drawing new and more aggressive contrasts with Clinton.

This is exactly what I noticed. He hasn’t changed his policy stances. If you have listened to as many of his speeches as I have, you won’t hear any new policy ideas in the current speech. However, you will hear a slightly different tone in how he articulates some of them.

This one quote is an example of the difference.

Quote from Bernie Sanders

If you still don’t get it, I will paraphrase. “Hillary Clinton had to agonize long and hard to figure out which side of this issue she was going to be on. On such a simple issue, do you want a President who doesn’t know almost immediately what the correct stance is? Does she have any principles you can depend on? Sure she says all the right things now, but what will she do once she is in office? Do you want to risk it?”