Attacks on Educators

Historically, attacks on educators were confined to attacks on “liberal” professors. Not any more!

Photo Credit: Posted by Gen Z Conservative 

“As Trump clearly signals an escalated attack on teachers, remember that these right wing groups from Turning Point USA to Campus Watch are not only targeting professors but high school teachers. He has blown his dog whistles, so watch out for the vicious dogs now.” (First Posted by Hyung Nam on Facebook 10/31/18. Updated:7/5/2020 )

Attacks on educators— and the whole public education system —will continue. Raging since the 80’s, this modern-day battle for control of education will not simply end with the election of a new president. Any single president is not integral to success of the plan. The plan requires organized control of the rules of governing.

Enter: Turning Point USA Coupled with Leadership Institute

Founded in 2012, Turning Point USA (TPUSA) is led by Charlie Kirk, an affluent young man that sees no need to continue his own formal education. Partnering with the Leadership Institute, the multi-million dollar TPUSA offers activism grants for conservative students around the country.

“Tax filings show the organization is funded by many of the same groups that support the Leadership Institute ... “

“Turning Point USA trains students in the art of viral filmmaking. The goal is to document campus ‘snowflakes’ ­– a derogatory term for young liberals viewed as easily offended – whenever they’re caught pushing leftist agendas. Conservative superstars such as commentator Ben Shapiro and Campus Reform Media Director Cabot Phillips speak at the group’s conventions and encourage college kids to always be prepared to film. They even offer to help student-made videos go viral by reposting them on their websites.”

The Professor Watchlist is another product of Turning Point USA. The blacklist of professors, many sourced from Campus Reform articles, seeks to ‘expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.’ Would-be saboteurs are encouraged to submit tips to the watchlist along with photo or video evidence of the offending professor.”

And the Leadership Institute?

Founded in 1979, Leadership Institute claims non-partisan 501(c)(3) status but clearly “identifies, recruits, trains and places conservatives in government, politics, and the media.” That is their mission.

“The Leadership Institute’s tax filings show net assets of more than $25 million in 2016, just over $1 million of which was funneled into Campus Reform. Roughly two-thirds of the institute’s income comes from philanthropist groups such as the Charles Koch Foundation, The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and DonorsTrust and Republican super-donors such as Richard Uihlein.”

“According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, publications such as Campus Reform and The College Fix pay student reporters about $50 per article. Many of the stories are sourced from the Leadership Institute’s network of close to 1,600 conservative student groups across the country.”

“A liberal influence guide on the Campus Reform website, titled, ‘The Evil Empire on Campus,’ lists college groups supported by ‘major, national leftist organizations’ as one of the many examples of liberal indoctrination at universities.”

 

Orchestrated Attacks on Educators and the Results

“When a teacher is featured on Fox News, Breitbart, Campus Watch or The Red Elephants, the harassment follows in short order, making high-profile cases easy to count. But a recent report by Abby Ferber, a sociology professor at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, suggests that many professors experience targeted online harassment even when stories or videos about them don’t go viral. Those teachers still suffer racial epithets, misogynist comments and death threats out of the public eye.” (Hyung Nam)

These attacks on educators aren’t making headlines across the country. Yet, “according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, editors at Campus Reform’s headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, keep careful track of their ‘victories’ — instances in which a report published on their website results in a change in university policy or the sacking of a professor” (Hyung Nam). Consequently, harassment by politically-motivated, well-financed NON-PROFITS are changing education policies and curriculum. DAMN!?!?!!

Will We Allow This To Continue?

Not everyone put on the “Watch List” had the same experience. Here’s how Heather Cox Richardson described what happened to her four years ago.

“I will never forget standing in my dark kitchen in my pajamas, at the counter, reading my laptop in shock as I found out that some young grifter named Charlie Kirk had found my name online and put it onto his new website as a danger to students (send money to resist left-wing professors like Richardson!). As I stood there, watching in horror, messages came in from all over the country telling me people had my back. And then I wrote a post to reassure my friends that I was used to this sort of harassment and it would be okay, and then that post went viral, and I came off the list within days.”

Professor Richardson’s story ended well. But we can’t count on that being the case for others going forward. There is no certainty that things will go well for the nation’s education system.

Professor Richardson views the “Conservative” warfare waged against “Liberal” educators as follows.

“That the only way Movement Conservatives have managed to stay in power is to game the system through gerrymandering and voter suppression, hatred, and now the intimidation of people like me says to me that even they know they are in danger of losing control of the country. As a friend of mine says, a dying mule kicks the hardest.”

But it feels like we are far from the end of the attacks on educators.

A good first-line of defense includes:

  • being aware of the organizations sponsoring the destruction of public education,
  • being able to hear the dog whistles, and
  • knowing how fervently the ruling class wants control of the whole public education system.

Stopping the overthrow of our government institutions requires we do more.

Image by Xeno Phrenia

“People have asked what they can do in this moment. Across the political spectrum, I would urge everyone who believes in this nation to focus on the mechanics of government … call out official actions that you would find unacceptable … call out those who make assertions without factual evidence … call your representatives constantly to register your opinions — it matters … “

“And try to stop demonizing political opponents who fall within the normal political spectrum so we can all stand together against those who are trashing our institutions and our legal system.” Heather Cox Richardson

Turning Point USA: Aiming to Win

Turning Point USA fits the criteria of an astroturf — fake grassroots — organization. But what makes them a real danger are three things: their strategies, target audience, and mode of operations. Even real Republicans have warned about this far-right danger. It behooves us all to take note!

Turning Point USA (TPUSA) began with the discovery of a charismatic young speaker named Charlie Kirk by Tea Party activist William (Bill) Montgomery. Through Montgomery, Kirk became further connected to the influential and well-to-do. Together they launched TPUSA in 2012. Montgomery left TPUSA in April and recently died due to COVID-19.

In Kirk’s telling, he started the group in his parents garage as a teenager in Chicago and grew it to be a powerful political force through sheer grit and hard work.”

Discrepancy? Or deception? Your call.

The Storm Is Here” is a QAnon rallying cry. Another slogan is “Where we go one, we go all” thus the hashtag #WWG1WGA

Growing Fear: Let’s Connect the Dots

First, breathe. Politics is out of control. But knowing the truth about America’s current power struggle is the first step towards gaining back control of our country. It starts with understanding the rise of people like Charlie Kirk and organizations like Turning Point and QAnon (dots in need of connecting). Start by considering what others fear.

“Today’s politics and social tensions are dominated by three fears: fear of other social groups, fear that those other groups are encroaching on one’s territory, and fear that the state no longer has the ability to protect the people.”

Those fears underlie Turning Point’s strategies. But the strategies are not new. They’ve been used historically and have worked well for President Trump — to date.

“Trump’s aim is to incite fear—fear of violence, disorder, change—and to paint himself as the bastion of law and order.”

BUT “things do not have to get worse.

“… there is still time for political leaders—locally and nationally—to calm the storm, douse the flames, and stifle the violent provocateurs across the spectrum…” Is America in the Early Stages of Armed Insurgency?

First, The Charlie Kirk Story

After launching TPUSA, Charlie quickly rose through the Trump ranks.

“By the time the 2016 election rolled around, Turning Point was a well-funded outfit and Kirk had become increasingly influential. He met Donald Trump Jr. at the GOP convention that year and glued himself to the president’s eldest son.” USA TODAY

In 2018 the Washington Examiner dubbed Charlie “Kid Trump.” The title fit! But it wasn’t simply due to Charlie’s efforts. He already had much in common with Donald J. Trump. Charlie shares a similar background — he’s from a “well off family”— and both operate similarly in keeping their dealings under-wraps.

“Earlier this year, leaked records revealed TPUSA efforts to secretly funnel thousands of dollars into multiple college student government elections to elect conservatives.” Who Funds Conservative Campus Group Turning Point USA? Donors Revealed

Kirk’s TPUSA is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) and as such “may not be an action organization (may not attempt to influence legislation & may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates).” But Charlie Kirk walks a fine line and few will calling him out when he crosses it.

TRUTH: According to the FBI, militants on the radical-right have committed more acts of domestic terrorism. QAnon members included..

Utilizing Kirk’s Charismatic Appeal

TPUSA targets 18-24 year olds (and the larger millennial voting block) with anti-government, anti-leftist propaganda. In the process, Charlie effectively campaigned for Trump in 2016 and has never stopped.

“Don Jr. came in and announced, ‘If it weren’t for Charlie Kirk, my dad would not be president of the United States today.’”

“’If there’s one person this president admires, it’s Charlie Kirk,’ House majority leader Kevin McCarthy tells a roomful of high school students ….”

You see, Charlie is “the hook” at TPUSA meetings, conventions, and social media blitzes. His job is to fire-up the crowds. He is a provocateur.

“Charlie Kirk … has made it his business to ‘own the libs,’…”

“Own the libs” is slang for “triggering the liberals” into reacting. It’s one of Charlie’s favorite games enjoyed by his young audiences.

“He sees himself as a general in the ‘culture war’ and TPUSA’s members as ‘culture warriors’—effective ‘disrupters’ of the left on campus and eventually across America.”

Will TPUSA Turn the Tide for Trump in 2020? And what is the Long-Term Goal?

 

Look at Turning Point USA’s 2018 fourth annual High School Leadership Summit.

“On July 23, hundreds of students gathered  … The four-day event … [was] punctuated by speeches by prominent conservatives, from House whip Steve Scalise and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to rabble-rousers like Sebastian Gorka and Anthony Scaramucci.”

For four days, speaker after speaker, hour after hour, the audience is enraptured by such political entertainment and by the performative politics they’ve come to D.C. to join in.”

“The nation’s villains are obvious at TPUSA: liberals and the media …”

This “us-versus-them” discourse is nothing new in politics. But Kirk’s provocative style of using disinformation targeted at young people must be recognized for the danger it is creating. Therefore, prepare yourself to believe the unbelievable.

“… asking him [Charlie Kirk] about the further growth of TPUSA and whether he’d be interested in bringing the organization abroad. ‘I wouldn’t rule it out,’ he says. ‘It’s something we’re considering. We have groups in Canada.’ Is it something you could see in Europe? ‘Oh, without a doubt. I would love to take this global. Yes.’” (2018 Kid Trump)

Not So Fast Say Traditional Republicans

Some Republicans are questioning Charlie Kirk and his tactics. Look at what Jordan Lancaster, a contributor to “Red Alert Politics,” had to say in 2019 about TPUSA’s growing influence among high school and college students.

“Turning Point’s entire existence is deceptive.”

“Turning Point claims to exist for the mission of ‘promoting the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government.’ In reality, it’s an organization that pulls kids too young to know any better into a group that’s deeply troubled and dishonest at its core.”

“To make matters worse, TPUSA has a troubling track record with racism.”

“Young conservatives should avoid Turning Point USA at all costs.”

Going Global?

That idea did not go on a back-burner.

“Kirk … is  … a smooth-talking, telegenic salesperson pitching Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ agenda to a young audience. Now he has radical ambitions to import its confrontational brand of activism to the UK.”

“But already some of the Tory activists Kirk recruited to launch Turning Point in the UK are having second thoughts about its war on ‘cultural marxism’ … ” Days After Its Disastrous British Launch

This is THE strategy. Find a cause, twist a few facts in with lies, ignite emotions, and later aim the enthusiasm at the real goal. But people are catching on. The question is, will enough catch on in time?

Back in the U.S.A.: Followers & Influence Grow

2015: “ …  Turning Point has a presence … on more than 800 high school and college campuses.”

“GOP donors, strategists, and even presidential candidates are awed by his [Kirk’s] composure, his intellect, his passion for politics …”

2019: “… Turning Point has become the largest student movement in the USA, with 150 staff, a budget of $15 million, and a presence in no fewer than 1400 educational institutions.”

2020: “… $10 [ or $15?] million budget comes mostly from conservative billionaires and the oil and gas industry … funding … student training … including leadership conferences at the White House, attended by President Trump himself. Most of the money comes from very rich conservative donors … including … the in-laws of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

So, where does QAnon fit into the Kirk & Trump Show?

Well, for starters, both Kirk and Trump have promoted QAnon posts on Twitter. But much of the public is still unfamiliar with Q, QAnon, and Twitter. So again I remind readers, you might find this story unbelievable.

Is there “a simple explanation“? ……  But, is it acceptable behavior for a U.S. president?

In short, the anonymous “Q” first posted comments on what was called 8chan. Less than a month after Q’s first post, Trump tweeted the “QAnon-promoting Twitter account MAGAPILL” (2017).

Innocent enough? No, it isn’t ! It’s deceptive.

This is the mechanism being used to shape the “culture wars.” This is how the Trump arm of the 2020 Disinformation War is being waged.

“Q” releases a post (sometimes cryptic in nature). Others pick up on it and social media is flooded. Here’s an example.

“On July 7, [2018] Charlie Kirk ….  published a tweet that contained startling but inaccurately sourced statistics about the alleged growth of human trafficking arrests under the Trump administration.”

When Charlie was called out on it his tweet quickly disappeared. But the fake news spread over social media. Really? Is this THAT important? Yes! This disinformation feeds into the QAnon followers beliefs.

This is how it happens — by design. A fake story is released.

 

It spreads like wildfire. The meme making apparatus goes into overdrive. But before fact-checkers can slap a label on the disinformation, it has been consumed with the result being two-fold. First, this story feeds the QAnon conspiracy. Secondly, the fact-checkers become the villains thickening the plot as a main-stream media (MSM) cover-up.

Yeah, there was no trailer.” This was not a sex-trafficking operation.

You see, QAnon supporters believe that a “deep state” of “elites” exists where pedophiles are running a global child sex-trafficking ring. They believe that Donald Trump’s claim to “drain the swamp” was in reference to his working diligently to end the atrocities and stop the conspiracy waged —by evil Democrats— against America.

How Effective is QAnon’s Spread of Disinformation?

EXTREMELY!

“In July, Q believers co-opted the #SaveTheChildren hashtag and organized rallies that lured in a lot of well meaning people with no idea about the conspiracy theory behind it.” America’s Fastest Growing Cult

Remember, “Turning Point’s entire existence is deceptive.”

TPUSA’s influence runs high. Their effort to reach young hearts and minds runs deep. So  with their leadership linked to QAnon, they are more than a threat to national tranquility. Their agenda includes winning seats at every level of government. Therefore, the public must believe that the threat posed by Kirk, Turning Point USA, QAnon, and the Trump family is real and serious.

Voters NEED TO KNOW If Their Candidates Are QAnon Supporters or Adherents

Back in May, Idaho political journalist Randy Stapilus wrote about Q and a 2017 remark where President Trump referred to “the calm before the storm.”

Mr. Stapilus went on to tell Idahoans about the Senate race in Oregon.

“[Jo Rae] Perkins [R], it turns out — this seems not to have been widely known beforehand — is a Q adherent. In announcing her win, she said on a video, ‘Where we go one, we go all. I stand with President Trump. I stand with Q and the team.’”

Stapilus called for QAnon candidates to stand up and let us know who they are and what they believe.

BELIEVE THE UNBELIEVABLE

“QAnon’s conspiracy theory is a rebranded version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

Compare for yourself. Q’s rebrand is a watered-down version of this.

“A secret cabal is taking over the world. They kidnap children, slaughter, and eat them to gain power from their blood. They control high positions in government, banks, international finance, the news media, and the church. They want to disarm the police. They promote homosexuality and pedophilia. They plan to mongrelize the white race so it will lose its essential power.” From : “the 1902 Nazi newspaper, Der Stürmer —derived from the German word for ‘Storm’.

                            SOURCE: Just Security

The rise of Nazism began as a mass movement. But it did not have social media to use as an accelerant. However, consider this. Hitler understood how crucial it was to win over the youth to his side.

“Turning Point, funded by millions of dollars of dark money seems to have more in common with a culture war approach which embraces partisan gerrymandering and increasing restrictions on voting rights as necessary remedies to combat a liberal scourge.”

“But those things are profoundly undemocratic, as is running stealth student-government campaigns in order to enact an agenda which is hidden during the campaign itself.” SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed

THIS needs to be stopped NOW!

Remember, “things do not have to get worse … there is still time” for local and state actions to calm The Storm.

VOTE AGAINST Q CANDIDATES¦ SAVE AMERICA, STOP FASCISM

Black Politics & Neoliberalism In America

Black Politics and the Neoliberal Racial Orderis an essay worth reading and serves here as the primary source quoted.* But don’t be fooled by the Obama and Jay Z quotes in the introduction. The authors go on to explain how “they represent the ascendance of neoliberal values in black politics.”

Photo credit:Pete Souza

To understand that claim, it’s essential to know how neoliberalism influences black politics and manifests itself in American policy. Furthermore, all of us —black, white and every color in between—must comprehend the effect neoliberal policies have on our nation. Only then can we move this nation from Black Lives Matter protests to fair policies that make sense for America.

Neoliberalism: Placing Profits Over People

Neoliberalism is an economic policy model that transfers control of economic factors … to the private sector … from the public sector.*

Neoliberal policies are based on market principles and theory. They serve as the foundation of “reforms” of all kinds. But the transfer of control of government programs and services to the private sector hasn’t served this nation’s people well, or fairly. Privatization has fueled widening inequality.

Neoliberal economic reforms include fiscal policies (particularly taxation policies) that favor capital accumulation. The result has been income redistribution … from the bottom … to the top.*

Although supply-and-demand (market-based, free trade) systems are foundational to private businesses, when neoliberal policies are applied to essential public services it means trusting the private sector to provide public services honestly and equitably. But based on experience, we know corruption and greed takes over. It’s not been fair because “neoliberals aren’t necessarily averse to picking winners and losers in the economy, and often do not oppose measures such as bailouts of major industries” (Investopedia).

Neoliberalism supports fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade, privatization, and greatly reduced government spending.*

But when it comes to the “smaller government” demand, we’ve seen that ideology primarily applied to what should be our social safety net.

Neoliberalism, once associated with conservatives like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, is now associated with Third Way politics, which seeks a middle ground between the ideologies of the left and right.*

Left, Right, or Middle? In policy-making, neoliberalism is neoliberalism. It’s the acceptance of privatization as a way to address problems because trust in government institutions has been intentionally undermined by corruptive political forces.

Neoliberal Values

By their very nature, market-based policies value competition thus putting “the individual” and wealth accumulation first and foremost. In a sense, that negates the whole idea of a government “of, by, and for the People” — effectively neutralizing a sense of mutual societal responsibility. So in a neoliberal world, there is privatization of public services, crippling of or eliminating state services, and favoritism towards globalization.

The end result of applying neoliberal values to government service policies is the removal of government accountability. What’s accomplished? It transfers accountability from public institutions to corporations that are beholding to shareholders —not to the American People.

Remember

Remember subprime loans being called “ghetto loans”? Predatory lending practices? Credit default swaps? The creation of financial instruments of destruction?

… Wall Street investors hedged their bets and reaped huge monetary rewards during the foreclosure crisis, while working-class minorities defaulted on payments and lost their homes and their futures.*

And what about the result of neoliberal ideology combined with racial discrimination in the criminal justice system? Remember history.

After Reconstruction, the criminal justice system became the institution at the heart of Southern efforts to strip African Americans of their citizenship rights.

Today, under the banner of “law and order” … the state and private corporations have profited from incarceration. (Note: Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has a market value of over $2 billion.)

Prisons partner with Fortune 500 corporations (e.g., IBM, AT&T, and Bank of America) to employ prison labor.*

Remember the War on Drugs?

… the massive levels of incarceration especially of black youth …

[add to that]… the extremely dismal economic opportunities available to most poor black families, and the continued devaluing of black life as unarmed blacks are gunned down by both officers of the state and private citizens …*

Black Politics & The Necessary Revolution in Social Policy

Remember, and think again.

Neoliberalism facilitated a rebirth of two of the Jim Crow flagship elements: race-based crime policies and economic exploitation.*

But with policy-making controlled by moneyed interests, how will we reverse these discriminatory policy trends?

With the convergence of racial, political, and economic unrest, now is the time to insist that political leaders face the truth about their use of neoliberal ideology in the policies they favored. Only then can this country move from protests to better policies — with fairness and equality as guides.

… there has been under neoliberalism a reworking of blacks’ relationship to the economy with disastrous results, particularly for working-class and poor blacks whose very bases for economic success—the public sector and manufacturing— were no longer vehicles for black economic survival, let alone for black economic growth and social mobility.*

A better America requires better leadership on social policies.

Black Politics & The Narrative

Some offer-up a rebirth of family stability as the solution to what ails us. But how does that happen when the prison industry sees human beings as potential revenue and “law and order” policies militarized police departments? Stability isn’t happening. Instead, destabilization has resulted.

And with the election of a black president, much of the country accepted that we were entering a post-racial era.*

If we entered a post-racial era, we weren’t there long. And because President Obama embraced neoliberalism, our nation’s policies —on crime, finance, education, housing, and the development of global monopolies— did not change enough to make progress towards the promise of equal opportunity in America.

The “pull yourself up by the boot-straps” mentality, once a Republican ideology, crossed the political aisle and infected black politics.

Obama’s solution has been to redirect attention to individual choices … According to Obama, government institutions are rarely the source of continuing racial inequalities.

Jay Z has characterized his trajectory as that of the consummate hustler who, through his own hard work, lifted himself out of poverty and into worldwide stardom.

The understanding of the American dream that Obama and Jay Z embrace is one where individuals are, by and large, the sole architects of their fate.

The post-racial narrative is persuasive because it plays to the desires of a citizenry with race fatigue—the large majority of white Americans are convinced that blacks have achieved racial equality …*

That narrative is a barrier to progress. But with the killing of George Floyd caught on tape, the nation saw once again how discrimination becomes deadly. What people can’t easily see is that it’s neoliberal policies throwing the fuel of frustration on the flames of protests.

Civil Rights, Poverty & Economic Justice

Looking back at the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s, it focused not only on blatantly obvious segregation but also on education, employment, and poverty. But in that era, policies changed to benefit the lower and middle-class. Now, the public must see how neoliberal values —competition, individualism, and wealth accumulation— replaced our national values of justice and fairness.

We became a nation of neoliberals!?! Yes? If so, then that explains why we quit addressing poverty through effective government policies. Most developed countries employ effective government solutions to address poverty. Why aren’t we?

“Where poverty is widespread, as most visibly demonstrated by the United States, there has been a failure to institutionalize equality.”

“Compared to other Western industrialized countries, the United States devotes far fewer resources to programs aimed at assisting the economically vulnerable.”

Source: Why is poverty higher in the U.S. than in other countries?

If we have accepted neoliberal values as our guide, then all that matters is our own monetary and material wealth. That mindset doesn’t allow us to consider that economic justice doesn’t mean taking anything from an individual. It only means setting rules that give everyone “a sufficient material foundation” — a fair shot, an opportunity.

Economic justice is a set of moral and ethical principles for building economic institutions, where the ultimate goal is to create an opportunity for each person to establish a sufficient material foundation upon which to have a dignified, productive, and creative life. (Investopedia)

Isn’t it time we replace neoliberal values with true American values?

#####

*Some quotes were altered to fit this format.

A Dangerous Political Game

In the midst of our Coronavirus Crisis, President Trump and Education Secretary DeVos are playing a dangerous political game.

Gambling on parent’s desire for their children to go back to school, Trump and DeVos are pushing for in-person instruction this fall in all schools. But they have no authority over that decision. So why would they make the demand?

The Obvious Set-Up

From the Daily Beast: “Trump Banks on School Reopening to Help Him in November”

“Donald Trump’s aggressive push to fully reopen schools this fall is being driven by a belief inside the president’s orbit that the policy will be a political winner for him this November. Their confidence, they say, is backed up by the campaign’s private polling data.”

“It’s unclear if Trump’s gambit—aimed largely at suburban female voters and moms—will work in his favor. …”

Yes, we know the president only has his eyes on re-election. But we should not think the  appeal is aimed at just suburban women. Opening schools appeals to every single-parent working without support at home, the working-poor couples that can’t afford daycare, and all those still not seeing COVID-19 as a real threat.

But there’s more.

“President Trump understands … that we need to get children back into the classroom so they do not fall behind …” said Trump 2020 spokeswoman Samantha Zager in a statement to The Daily Beast … , adding that …

… “Joe Biden puts his loyalty to the teachers union ahead of the well-being of students and families in America.”

How many times has DeVos said her school choice “freedom” agenda is about “funding to students …not institutions… not systems”? How many times have we heard we must “catch up”? “We’re falling behind.” “Leave no child behind.” —It’s a crisis! —Jump on the bandwagon!

You get the picture.

Photo Credit: Tom Williams/Congressional Quarterly/ZUMA. This article found in Mother Jones highlights DeVos’s preference for funding christian and charter schools through vouchers ahead of improving existing public schools.

 So —given the obvious— what makes this such a dangerous political move and for whom?

The Not-So-Obvious Set-Up

Did you notice the prepared statement released by the Trump campaign included this jab?

“… loyalty to the teachers union ahead of the well-being of students and families…”

Battle lines were drawn. And, the public’s attention was drawn to this story while media coverage of the continued protests of Black Lives Matter went on a back burner. Distraction politics works for both Trump and DeVos.

And with some voters, setting up a fight with the teacher’s union wins political points. But Trump and DeVos are merely pulling that “back-channel strategy” out of an old hat full of political tricks. Back in the 80’s, Lamar Alexander (then TN governor) hatched the anti-teacher’s union strategy to push teacher “career ladder” (pay-for-performance) policies.

Source: A RIDDLE IN A PLAID SHIRT David Jackson, Tribune Staff Writer CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Later as secretary of education, Alexander proposed the first federal voucher legislation in 1991, and as current chair of the senate education committee “dragged Betsy DeVos across the finish line to become secretary of education.”


Then There Is The Matter of Money

So in addition to using the familiar ploys of distraction politics, “putting students first” and setting up the teacher’s union as the bad-guys, this “open-all-schools move” brought in the money follows the student theme —effectively making some people hesitate — stop and think.

From The Hill: “Chris Wallace presses DeVos on threats to withhold funding from schools that don’t reopen”

“Look, American investment in education is a promise to students and their families. If schools aren’t going to reopen and not fulfill that promise, they shouldn’t get the funds, and give it to the families to decide to go to a school that is going to meet that promise,” [DeVos] said.

This dangerous political game appeals to individuals not truly focused on “America” —the country— our country as a united nation. DeVos twists the nation’s ideals and principles making her dogmatic views sound appealing. But she has it wrong. American investment in education is in a system of public schools capable of delivering on the promise of universal education. It’s not about a student; it’s about all students.

Wallace disputed DeVos’s comments on withholding funding, … [and went on to say] …

“I know you support vouchers, and that’s a reasonable argument, but you can’t do that unilaterally,” he added. “You have to do that through Congress.”

DeVos answered by saying the administration is “looking at all the options.”

 

Chris Wallace (like how many others?) acknowledges DeVos’s argument as reasonable, at least on the surface. But, will people dig beneath the surface to find that charters and vouchers fail to deliver on the real promise of American education? Trump and DeVos are gambling that people won’t dig deep.

What are the odds?

And Wallace was right about the need for Congress to approve voucher-funding language in another corona relief bill. Stop and think.

When the DeVos team is “looking at all the options,” does that mean they are looking at existing loopholes in the existing laws, or looking to create new ones? Will anyone in Congress recognize new loopholes if a new relief bill comes forward? Did they see it coming in the relief to “small businesses”? To education?

Search results from 7/10/2020

Is there anyone in either the U.S. House or Senate willing to represent and fight for an honest attempt to help our public education system? Or will we continue to fund the demise of our public education institution?

Some private institutions supporting charters and vouchers are already accelerating marketing of the idea of ten children in a classroom, which they never did for traditional public schools. How appealing will their plan be come mid-October?

We Are Funding Unequal Access

From TruthOut: “Charter Schools May Have Double-Dipped as Much as $1 Billion in PPP Loans”

“… Education Secretary Betsy DeVos awarded to 10 charter management organizations in April, weeks after the PPP was passed, to “fund the creation and expansion of more than 100 high-quality public charter schools in underserved communities across the country.”

That’s additional funding, the double-dip, the set-up, through the use of multiple laws (PPP plus ESSA). But this is only the tip of the federal charter school iceberg. There is a billion wasted here, and multi-billions spent there on this federal 1994 “program” that has not advanced the nation towards educational equity.

“Charters also make appeals under the aegis of ‘school choice’ to students in underserved school districts. Though many charters deliver on promise of higher quality education, others have not, and some of those that do have been accused of siphoning money from public districts that need it the most.

For these reasons [and others], charter schools are seen by some as an existential threat to public education.”

They are robbing our future! From right, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, and Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia listen during a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing the U.S. Department of Education on July 8, 2020, in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong / Getty Images

The Threat Is Real

While push-back against the Trump/DeVos demand to open all schools is prevailing, we won’t know how it fully plays out until November. But the bigger danger is in underestimating the stamina, determination, and political will of voucher proponents. We can’t afford to be recklessly short-sighted.

Those wishing to destroy our institutions are in this dangerous political game for the long-haul. Trumpism is a force. It is a danger to us all.

“Most importantly, we will need to remain vigilant … [and know this] … hope and prayer must be augmented by decisive action.”

 

Independence Day: Why the Republic Requires Rebellion

This Independence Day brings with it a new sense of urgency in the fight to save public education. Because Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is continuing to advance her personal agenda —unchecked by Congress—it is our duty to step in. We the People are the last hope for a nation built upon the ideal that supreme power resides in its citizens.

DeVos Puts Religion Ahead of Duty to Civil Rights

Ms. DeVos is hell-bent on “advancing [her] God’s Kingdom” using our education system as a weapon of destruction. But without a national understanding of why her actions must be seen as tyrannical, our republic is at risk. Hence the urgency of this Independence Day — the need to clearly see what good has come from our rebellious past and the need to rise again.

The foundation for our great country was set by the Declaration of Independence. Its writers were experiencing the corruption and greed of an oppressive government and anticipated this country would see this destructive behavior again, for they went on to say, in reference to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, … (The Crucial Voice of the People)

“… that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” (Declaration of Independence)

Since Betsy (Prince) DeVos’ rhetoric and actions fit the definition of “destructive behavior” towards public schools, she invites our rebellion against her rule.

She and her followers are thumbing their noses at the foundational principles of the Declaration and have moved on to redefining what the First Amendment to the Constitution says.

SOURCE The Privatizer: Betsy DeVos And Her Scheme To Undermine Public Education Have Survived The Tumult Of The Trump Administration

Separation of Church and State

Let’s not forget that many of the early immigrants came to rest on American soil because they were seeking religious freedom. Freedom to practice a religion of ones’ choosing is why there is no government-sponsored religion in America. Consequently, our Founding Fathers held variously religious beliefs.

Although orthodox Christians participated at every stage of the new republic, Deism influenced a majority of the Founders. The movement opposed barriers to moral improvement and to social justice. It stood for rational inquiry, for skepticism about dogma and mystery, and for religious toleration. Many of its adherents advocated universal education, freedom of the press, and separation of church and state. If the nation owes much to the Judeo-Christian tradition, it is also indebted to Deism, a movement of reason and equality that influenced the Founding Fathers to embrace liberal political ideals remarkable for their time. (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Our birth as a rebellious nation has always been tied to religious freedom. But although we hear the phrase “separation of church and state” used as if it is part of the Constitution, it is not. With DeVos blurring the lines between “religious freedom” and “education freedom,” it is not surprising that many standing to benefit personally from her antics don’t see her actions as an over-step of religion into a basic function of the State.

What the First Amendment says is …

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

That’s it! That’s all our founding fathers wrote into our foundational law about religion.

Religious schools are private. No one is prohibiting them from practicing their religion or teaching their young about their chosen doctrines. They have religious freedom. What they do not have is taxpayer dollars to advance their philosophy. That is what is changing quickly under DeVos rules.

I hope religious schools consider this

For churches to accept taxpayer dollar is for them to then invite the State into the functioning of their schools. Anything less would be “taxation without representation.” Religious organizations can’t have it both ways. So are they ready to open their doors, their books, and their gatherings to the greater public, as our real public schools do?

But Let’s Go Back Again to Independence Day

As our country moved forward from our first Independence Day in 1776, we laid our educational foundation on the ideals of American quality and exceptional-ism. But it would take our republic almost two centuries before the country came to develop an education system that embodied the words …

“WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal…”

With time, many of the Founding Fathers came to terms with the hypocrisy of their words and did what they could to free and educate the humans they had allowed to stay in bondage. But it wouldn’t be until after Brown v. Board of Education that a way to achieve equality of educational opportunity was proposed through federal policy.

Foundational Principles for Providing National Equal Educational Opportunity

Our rebellious founding fathers asked that we see rebellion as the Right of the People to alter our Government based on such Principles as shall seem most likely to effect our Safety and Happiness. That same request —to build upon sound principles—is what federal education law once did.

  • Strengthening and improving all schools was to be done through research, dissemination of information, and training aimed at quality teaching, counseling, and state leadership.
  • The determinate of quality was to be based on “appropriate measures” as determined by state and local officials with overview of the federal government to assure that equal access was being provided.
  • Inequality of opportunity was addressed through funding for the educational needs of children of low-income families to meet those children’s needs as determined locally.
  • Equality in access was extended to entire communities where high concentrations of low-income families resided through the funding of educational centers and services deemed vital to educational success.

Now, the legislative branch is corrupted by money. Our federal education laws better serve moneyed interests than the People’s interests.

Now, with Betsy DeVos at the helm of our U.S. Department of Education, we now face a new and very real threat — the Union of Church and State.

Our Republic: Born from Rebellion, Requiring It Again

Major religious conflicts have not divided and destroyed our republic like they have in other countries. Government sponsorship of schools that divide us will not contribute to progress as a nation founded upon the promise of equality. That makes rebellion against all of DeVos’ efforts to push her agenda both proper and necessary.

Rebellion against the destruction of public education requires we see Betsy (Prince) DeVos for what she is — a tyrant. She and her ilk are exactly the kind of people American patriots rebelled against. Never forget —in a republic the supreme power resides in its citizens. Such a republic requires rebellion from time to time to keep it alive.

Let Freedom Ring! Happy Independence Day!

“Money Follows the Student” is Voucher Funding

A Clear Plan: The Revolution in School Policy

The National Governor’s Association (NGA), corporate leaders, foundations and other special interest groups advanced a clear plan to use the rise of the Information Age to float the economy. Their vessel? Our public education system.

Necessary or not, the school policy revolution began.

1969 — 75% of parents sampled (PDK/Gallup) said they would like to see one of their children teach in a public school.

1979 — 86% of parents with children 13 years and older had no desire to send their children to a different public school.

1983 — Governor Lamar Alexander created TN’s “Better Schools Program,” which put a merit pay system (pay for performance/career ladder) at the heart of the plan.

The hook: the idea of “flexibility” in exchange for “results.”

The pretense of accountability in an outcome-based (pay-for-results) system was launched ahead of the Reagan administration’s report A Nation at Risk.

6-14-1983 President Reagan participating in a Regional Forum on the National Commission on Excellence in Education Report with Governor Lamar Alexander at the Farragut High School in Knoxville, Tennessee

The Test-Based Accountability Ship Sailed

Demand for testing needed to be created but a couple of barriers stood in the way — local control and an established and effective education system. So a clear plan to take over school policy needed to begin with a strategy to undermine the public’s trust in the institution of public education. This was known:

Parents know a good deal more about the schools … than nonparents. They are heavily influenced by firsthand knowledge, whereas the opinions of nonparents derive more often from the media,… (PDK/Gallup 1984)

The larger voting block — non-parents — became the first target for an information campaign.

1986:

“When the Carnegie Forum Task Force began its work, we knew that the Governors were the key to the necessary revolution in school policy.”

Marc Tucker 1986— then executive director of the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy

With Governor Lamar Alexander chairing the NGA, they released a report titled Time for Results.

The Reagan administration supported the clear plan to support the education industry.

“What 
is industry in a knowledge-based economy?” The answer is the education industry.

Lewis Branscomb 1986— IBM Chief Scientist, Head of  Carnegie Foundation Task Force on Teaching

The education industry would profit from two main concepts, outcome-based education and “school choice.” But the establishment of national standards were essential for industry “efficiency,” or to reach “economies of scale” (higher return on investment). National standards provided a national foundation for large-scale operations.

The Course was Set: “Education Reform.”

This project was under the direction of Secretary of Education William (Bill) Bennett with assistance from his political bedfellow, Governor Lamar Alexander.

1987 — With Governor Alexander navigating both state and federal policy waters, the governors floated projects in several states with 1991 as the target date for reporting the results. Supposedly “the results” would determine if these “real reforms” should be scaled-up nationwide. Trustworthy analysis was crucial.

It appeared that our national research and development system—Regional Education Laboratories— put in place under the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) — would be central to that research.

In addition to our Regional Educational Laboratories, the Research and Development (R&D) Centers are also part of our U.S. R&D system.

1988 — Before leaving office, Reagan signed the Hawkins-Stafford Amendments to ESEA.

Including: “requirements regarding accountability evaluation of programs conducted in accordance with national standards to be developed by the Department of Education.”

Boundaries Were Crossed

That policy change took ESEA from a law that prohibited any federal influence over curriculum and instruction to placing evaluation of programs associated with national standards under the direction of the Secretary of Education. Not just schools, but the whole governing structure of schools was to be restructured, not just reformed.

“Restructuring” Schools: Creation of the School to Workforce/Military Pipeline

1989—Marc Tucker advised President-elect Bush about the education restructuring efforts underway by businesses and the NGA.

Tucker’s own organization, National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), created the National Alliance for Restructuring Education (NARE) to promote Standards-Based Education. And…

… privately, an education summit was planned. New NGA chairman, Terry Branstad, hoped “the focus of the meeting would be on tailoring our education system for the workforce of the future.”

The first (invitation only) National Education Summit was held for the president with governors, business leaders, and a few representatives.

A joint statement confirmed that the setting of national goals and the development of “a system of accountability that focuses on results” had been agreed to.

1990— Tucker’s (NCEE) publication of “America’s Choice” continued the push for policies to focus on output measures (hear Tucker explain beginning at minute 33:30) as Governor Bill Clinton summarized …

“We need a national exam, measured by international standards, and the continued development of a quasi-governmental institution.”

A Quasi-Governmental Institution? As that sinks in, please keep reading.

 

1991 President George H.W. Bush appoints Lamar Alexander as his second Secretary of Education.

With Alexander in charge, and his Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) being the “lead agencyfor research, the nation should have heard results from Project Education Reform: Time for Results. Instead, the nation got a report card. 

The results? This New York Times reporter gives us some clues about Alexander’s strategies and the results.

“…disappointingly superficial on the issues…

“He resists detailed debate …”

“…and the program he’s got is not a winner, …”

The Alexander agenda included national standards and testing, teacher merit pay, change through competition, and “choice.”

The “Education Council Act of 1991” established a temporary 32 member council — National Council on Education Standards and Testing (NCEST) — “most of whom were appointed by the Secretary of Education.” 

1991 also marked the nation’s first voucher legislation (proposed by Secretary Alexander).

1992 —No surprise. NCEST recommended national standards and testing.  But it was without answering some important questions and …

NCEST does not explain why the proposed tests will not narrow the curriculum.” Daniel Koretz & Others

1992— President Bush lost his re-election bid to Bill Clinton.

Marc Tucker penned his infamous November 11, 1992 letter to Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Tucker’s plan would change the mission of the schools from teaching children academic basics and knowledge to training them to serve the global economy in jobs selected by workforce boards.Thinker, RealistNews

Presidents Changed: The Politically Powerful Continued the Policy Journey

“To remold the entire American system for human resources development.” Marc Tucker

1993— D.C. think tank “Empower America” was co-founded by former Reagan Education Secretary William (Bill) Bennett.

Empower America philosophy: “…opportunity, competition, ownership, and freedom—must be the framework for reform of century-old public systems such as K-12 education, the tax code, and social security.”

1994— President Clinton signed the “Improving America’s Schools Act” (IASA).

Clinton’s ESEA reauthorization -IASA;

  • mandated accountability based on grade-span (3rd,8th,11th) standardized testing,
  • called for content standards to be set by ALL states, and
  • added funding for charter schools into ESEA for the first time.

Meanwhile, Lamar Alexander became a co-director of Empower America.

“We’re planning on [Mr. Alexander] coming back and being a part of a big school-choice initiative.” Empower America

1996-2002 — The school policy revolution shifted to state efforts to expand outcome-based accountability mechanisms (exit-standards testing) and charter schools.

Remember, industries were counting on public education money and governors were always key to the “necessary” school policy revolution.

The role of the governors … was crucial because they mobilized the public and legislators in their states to support educational reforms.”

The Technology Industry Took the Helm

1996 — The Education Summit, as the story goes, gave birth to the Gates’ supported Achieve, Inc.

Keep in mind; setting “higher”content  standards was never proven to improve academic achievement.

1997 — Lamar Alexander & Bill Gates addressed the NGA. Alexander mused about how after all the years of governors “leading the charge” and pouring money into “their plan,” charters and standards had not improved education.

1998 — Tucker’s NCEE created the “America’s Choice School Design Program” (later purchased by Pearson Inc.).

1999 — Tucker’s NCEE launched the National Institute for School Leadership (NISL) and Bill Gates launched the “Gates Learning Foundation.” 

NCEE was asked by Carnegie Corporation, joined by the Broad Foundation, the Stupski Foundation and the New Schools Venture Fund, to create a design for a new kind of national organization to train school principals to lead high performing schools.

 

Time to Drop Anchor on The Nation

2002: The Broad Academy was founded. Source: The Christian Science Monitor

2002 — The 2001 President George W. Bush’s ESEA reauthorization, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) went into effect.

Among other things, NCLB:

  • expanded standardized testing to yearly (3rd-8th grade and once in high school),
  • required ALL students be “proficient” on state tests by the 2013-14 school year,
  • promoted and assisted states in “enhancing” achievement through technology,
  • expanded “school choice” through a variety of programs (Clinton era – $15 Million expanded to $214.8 Million by 2007. Now, FY2018 $1.4 Billion “for public & private school choice opportunities” ),and NCLB
  • allowed access to student data for military recruiters.

In addition to NCLB’s passage, the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 changed the federal system of research, development and dissemination of educational practices by created Comprehensive Centers (Regional and Content Centers).

Failure to get results from standards (Outcome-Based Theory) and “choice” had been blamed on being “too timid,” the addition of federal CENTERS worked to more aggressively implement the agenda. Instead of functioning to meet regional needs like the Regional Educational Laboratories originally did, these centers are being used to “provide frontline assistance.” For example, they were used to implement the Common Core Initiative, an initiative designed and controlled by a quasi-governmental organization.

Last but not least of the 2002 policy anchors, the Educational Technical Assistance Act of 2002 established the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS).

Full Speed Ahead

2003 — Lamar Alexander began his senate career.

2005 — Having been recognized as the most influential person in School Policy, Bill Gates co-chaired the National Education Summit.

2006 — The Data Quality Campaign (DQC) Launched at the Data Summit.

The campaign promoted the Gates’ “ten essential elements” of a longitudinal data system, which included the ability to match student records between the Pre-K and post-secondary systems.

2007 — NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND should have been left behind. (ESEA review & reauthorization IS required every 5-6 years, by law.) NCLB remained anchored in place while common standards and assessments were being “piloted.”

2008 — Idaho was the last state to complete a statewide longitudinal data system with all the elements required by Gates’ DQC

Meanwhile, unofficial “reports” declared an educational crisis in cities while the Great Recession disrupted the nation.

For me, this map represented the War Plan. I watched as city schools and family’s lives were disrupted with school closures. This “report” was prepared with support from America’s Promise Alliance and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Race Begins

2009 —Oh what a year! 43 percent of all large urban superintendent openings were filled by Broad Academy graduates.

In the Education Reform Toolkits by The Broad Foundation.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 went into effect and the quasi-governmental institutions went to work on spending those funds.

 Race to the Top began: “And finally, for the first time in history, we have the resources at the federal level to drive reform.”

Bill Gates explained at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) that a thorough data collection system is the best way to track student success.

2010 — Common Core became a common problem.

The Workforce Data Quality Initiative began granting federal money to connect education and the workforce data.

2011 — The undercurrent of revolt against outcome-based policies —high-stakes testing and the “accountability” systems based on them— began to surface. The resistance organized; we marched and we met.

2012 —The Obama administration called for Congress to “reform NCLB” but instead the nation got accountability waivers in exchange for adoption of “more honest standards.” Honestly, “college and career ready standards” meant the Common Core standards.

2013 — The NCLB replacement the “Every Child Ready for College or Career Act” was introduced by Senator Alexander.

2014 — Revolts against the college, career and military ready Common Core National Standards grew.

2015 Lamar Alexander took over the chairmanship of the Senate education (HELP) committee and introduced a new name for the NCLB replacement, “The Every Child Achieves Act,” which later became the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) we now have as our ESEA reauthorization. Is ESEA better than NCLB? You decide.

The flaws in No Child Left Behind remain. The funding for testing, technology and school choice are increased.

 

Clear Sailing to the Finish Line of the Revolution in School Policy

?

The finish line? A quasi-governmental organization controlling common national standards and testing with all data collection and consolidation in a single office for use in the Workforce Placement System.

A “computer-based system for combining this data” was always central to the Tucker Education-Labor System Plan.

The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking passed as HR 4174 (sponsored by Speaker Paul Ryan) but its identical sister bill was sponsored by Gates’ Washington State Senator Patty Murray.——–2019——–signed into law by President Trump.

This “honestly” is a bipartisan revolution in school policy

The Outcome of the School Policy Revolution?

54% of Americans say they would NOT want their child to become a public school teacher, a majority for the first time in a question initially asked in 1969.

70% of parents still give their oldest child’s school an A or B grade.

The Republic? Creeping or Leaping Towards Totalitarianism.

Lamar Alexander has consistently claimed to support “local control,” but what is left to control?

#####

For those requiring more proof of these historical events, more detailed of educational results, or the references not already provided, please review (and download for free) the journal article Assessing the Cornerstone of U.S. Education Reform.

How Laws are Created: Congress’ Role in Destroying the Republic

Congress is responsibility for creating necessary and proper laws within their authoritative boundaries of constitutional powers. But the current process by which a bill becomes a law desecrates the Founder’s ideals. The “institutional defenses” built into the constitution have been eroded by the malicious use of deception and disregard for ethical principles.

“The most significant danger old republics like ours face is not the sudden assault of an aspiring autocrat but the slow erosion of their cultural and institutional defenses.” The Fall of Rome and the Lessons for America

Here’s How A Recent Data Bill Went Through Congress

“Laws begin as ideas” so they can come from any of us, ideally. But in today’s reality, it’s more likely a special interest group will solicit one of our representatives to move their proposal into law. Enter (in this case) the technology industry — through the Data Summit and the Data Quality Campaign that was launched in 2005.

By 2008, Idaho was the last state in the nation to have a longitudinal data collection system “that provides individual level student data across multiple years from grades K through 12 and into postsecondary education.” (Report to the Idaho Legislature)

With the Great Recession holding the country’s attention, both the Bush and Obama administrations loosened a major privacy law allowing expansion of data collection and its use in “research” on a Human Capital Development Data System.

FERPA: Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act

Acceptance of federal stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, Recovery Act) served as an incentive for completion of the project to collect, share, and link student data between agencies and across states.

FERPA has yet to be changed back to requiring parental notification and consent to share student data.

One strategy used to put these data collection systems in place was to NOT have open discussions or public debates.

State Longitudinal Data Systems Best Practices included “EFFECTIVE” Communications. In this case that means NOT allowing “open forums.” It means communicating the right message.

The “do not engage” practice moved the project along at the state level. Next up was federal legislation, which requires the kind of broad support that only money can buy these days.

2009-

The messaging needed to be just right. The “best practice” of not exposing an idea to too many people, or too much scrutiny, was taken to the next level — to both houses of congress with both political parties involved. The adoption of a federal data consolidation bill began by asking for a commission to study the idea. It was approved by a Voice Vote.

They were only asking for a study to be done. … No big deal.

A Voice Vote means there is no record of individual votes.

Three Months Later, The Report Was Released

D.C. Think Tanks and other organizations rejoiced! The public remained uninformed.

It didn’t take long for the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking bill to emerge.

Note: Senator Patty Murray mentioned “federal agencies” — plural. This is no small deal. This is huge!

The response?

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill under suspension of rules —by Voice Vote!

That was on November 15, 20172017 pre-holidays —and Twitter lit-up in protest.

Throughout the holiday season education activists watched for movement of the bill in the Senate. Pre-Christmas had become a favored time for education bills to quickly become law. This time nothing happened. Had it died in committee? NOPE!

DECEMBER 19, 2018….2018.…real close to Christmas….and it passed by Unanimous Consentthe Senate’s version of a Voice Vote (no roll call, no individual record).

December 20, 2018 —Back to the House.

DECEMBER 21 —the Friday before Christmas with a Lame Duck Congress at 4:14 PM—the House did a roll call vote TO SUSPEND THE RULES. The bill known as HR4174 (FEPA – Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking) officially passed both houses of congress. But the story doesn’t end. Congress recessed. 

The bill did not go immediately to the president’s desk. If it had and he did not sign it within 10 days, this bill would have been killed by what is called a “pocket veto.” But if Congress is in session and the president does not sign the bill within 10 (working?) days, it becomes law.

JANUARY 2, 2019FEPA HR4174 (sister to Washington Sen. Murray’s S.2046) went to the president’s desk.

Today is January 14th. My senators are not answering their phones at 4:14 PM. Nor is the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee (the one that slipped this bill out of committee a year after activist had eyes on it).

Is this acceptable?

We might expect some bad behavior from the liars in the House, but Senators should act with more integrity. 

So, WHAT’S In The BILL? Better question: What is not in the bill?

The public is being told that the recommendations made by the FEPA Commission were followed. They were not. Data privacy recommendations were ignored.

“The Commission’s recommendations for improved data access and strong privacy protections rely heavily on the establishment of the National Secure Data Service [NSDS]. … The Commission envisions that the National Secure Data Service will operate an effective and efficient service that can be held accountable by policymakers and the American public.” The Promise of Evidence-Based Policymaking

Here is what the public should have heard debated.

“Even where data has been de-identified it is still possible to combine certain data sets with others to determine extensive amounts of personal information.”

“…there are real challenges to ensure that the creation of the NSDS does not create a centralized repository of data on Americans, like the proposed National Data Center which was broadly opposed by the public and led to the enactment of the Privacy Act.” Electronic Privacy Information Center

It is a sad day for the republic.

When it comes to Open Government, the Sunlight Foundation asked this about a Trump White House.

“Congress is the ultimate watchdog. Will Congress provide aggressive oversight?”

If Congress is the ultimate watchdog, the republic is in deep trouble.

The Graphic Truth About Our Education System

Please, take a good look at the graphic truth about public education in America.

National leaders and much of the media repeatedly call the system “failed.” That is their version of the graphic truth. They point to test scores as “evidence.” President Trump described the institution as an …

“education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge.”

That’s disturbing. Also disturbing is this reporters response to Trump’s “facts” in Trump’s vision of education begins and ends with schools being bad.

“… it’s true that the United States spends quite a bit, relatively speaking, on education, and test results are fairly disappointing.”

But let’s dig deeper into the Trump/DeVos “facts.”

Look closer at the Graphic Truth About Spending and Outcomes

For now, ignore test scores and ask WHY have costs risen dramatically?

Total costs DID rise dramatically. So did employees. But why?

Since roughly 1992, an Employment/Enrollment GAP developed.

Blame the teacher’s union? Not so fast.Look closer at “The Other Half.”

“America now spends a greater percentage of its education funding on non-teachers than any other country in the world besides Denmark.” CBS News

And the Graphic Truth About Our Education “Outcomes”?

In the news article previously referenced, the reporter states that…

“…tests that try to measure how American students stack up to their peers show that the US is far from No. 1. On the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). … American 15-year-olds scored as average in science and reading and were below average in math.”

Below average in math is what makes the headlines. But to this reporter’s credit, she also stated that…

Another test with different methodology found American students fared better but still scored below Singapore, Japan, Korea, and Russia.”

That other “test” she referred to is TIMSS (Trends in Math and Science Study). It is a study with test results being ONLY one portion of the study —the only portion that makes the news. How about progress on our own national test (NAEP – National Assessment of Educational Progress)?

We made huge progress — until we stalled.

And now, the public education system must defend itself against its current education secretary, Betsy DeVos, who sees traditional public schools as “a dead end.” She, and our other political leaders, need to see the graphic truth about our national progress in a broader historic perspective.

We fought ILLITERACY – From 20% functionally illiterate down TO 0.6 – and were winning that fight before the NCLB-style costly “reforms.”

A dead end system? Hardly.

Ending illiteracy was a primary reason for developing the public education system. Progress was most definitely made …. until it wasn’t!

This graph was made to help justify No Child Left Behind style reforms. NOW, it should be used to demonstrate WHY “NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND” WAS SUCH A COSTLY FAILURE.

*Now, here’s a MUST KNOW Small but Essential Piece of Education Reform History*

During the 60’s, the nation began making universal efforts (through the force of law) to offer educational opportunity to ALL of America’s children.

To help monitor our progress towards that goal, NAEP was designed to provide a randomized sample of education-related information. NAEP provided statistics for researchers to monitor and help guide the nation’s schools towards equal access to quality education. It was not a tool for ENFORCING accountability where it matters most. Unfortunately, the scores have become a weapon.

So if you look back at the colored NAEP charts, you can see that the country was indeed showing MARKED improvement in basic reading and mathematics skills for groups of children that typically were being under-served (disadvantaged groups). And we were making this progress without detriment to the majority group. That was exactly what we wanted to be doing.

Given what was happening in schools and society at the time, a “flat-line” in the early years of NAEP was perfectly acceptable. But yes, we believe it isn’t good enough to remain educationally stagnant especially with such dramatically increasing costs. However, that is why the public needs to understand a bit more of the politics behind the statistics.

Where Congress Took A Wrong Turn

In 1976, Congress began the policy change FROM federal funding focused on meeting the needs of disadvantaged children TO funding achievement in “basic academic subjects.” That took the public’s focus off indicators of educational equity and quality and put it on the simplistic (and misleading) measure of higher test scores.

This was a WARNING!  September 1991: Education Counts: An Indicator System To Monitor the Nation’s Educational Health. … A Warning IGNORED.

By 1992, standards-based (Outcome-Based) education had taken over the states. Education reform plans were “built solely around achievement tests.”

And it didn’t take long for the money-making predators in the education industry to see where profits were to be made. The public was told the restructuring of schools was for our own good — to remain economically competitive internationally. The reality: those selling “education products” benefited most. 

The quest for higher “scores” in basic subjects cost the nation in multiple ways.

Truth Be Told: Education is more than a score!

Before the Corporate-Political Take-Over, U.S educational attainment had skyrocketed.

Before political and corporate leaders pushed their reforms on this nation, we led the world in higher educational attainment.

This Graphic Truth was provided by Sandia National Researchers in 1991.

And after the federalization (NCLB) of Outcome-Based Education Reform???? Look at the graphic truth. From 2000 to 2017, we went FROM being second only to Canada (U.S. 36% to their 40%) TO having three other countries surpass us and two others that have caught up to us!

We were TOLD we needed “higher standards” and they must be “benchmarked” internationally (Common Core).

Yet, we had cultivated educational excellence in our best and brightest —in this country— without common national standards.

This Graphic Truth is provided by Dr. David Berliner.

So why would we want to “benchmark” basic academic standards to these other countries? … ?

We are a productive people.

This Graphic Truth is provided by Dr. David Berliner.

And before No Child Left Behind (2001) and Common Core (2010) wreaked tyranny upon the local control of education, most PARENTS were satisfied with their local public schools.

Politicians and other leaders —with political and monetary agendas— disrupted our educational progress, upset parents and teachers, and decreased the quality of education for many children. They restructured our schools into a standardized, outcome-focused gutted version of what was a great system.

That is what we have allowed.

A Call To Action is Overdue

If this country now wishes to stop the destruction of public schools, we have to take action. The current leadership has no intention of preserving and improving public schools.

“Options” are taking away money … harming the children left behind. Photo credit: Carolyn Kaster/AP Source: Clarion Ledger

To save this system from the current destructive forces of federal law and those administering their wrath upon this nation’s public schools, a wide-reaching Congressional Oversight Hearing concerning the actions of Secretary DeVos are warranted and necessary as a first step.

Then Congress needs to go back to the drawing board on federal education law and MAKE IT RIGHT this time. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) did not fix what was wrong with No Child Left Behind.

Zombie Ideas Are Killing Public Education

“Zombie ideas … are policy ideas that keep being killed by evidence, but nonetheless shamble relentlessly forward, essentially because they suit a political agenda.” Paul Krugman

Zombie Ideas!?!

Exactly! … Policymakers have been using zombie ideas to dismantle, transform, and restructure the public education system. But there is a mountain of evidence that the zombie ideas in No Child Left Behind didn’t show any appreciable improvement in student achievement. So why not end the zombie invasion killing our public schools, now?

Zombie ideas are hard to kill because they have already been killed by evidence! Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec

What Zombie Ideas?

The test-based, metric-driven accountability of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law is based on a political agenda, not proven education reforms. Now, NCLB is called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) but the same policy ideas and political agenda remain in place. The same detrimental consequences persist because the aim and purpose of the law did not change.

Zombie Ideas in Education: High-Stakes Testing and Graduation Policies*

Solórzano (2008) found that the results of high-stakes tests used as a high school diploma requirement “show quite clearly that Blacks and Latinos (and English Language Learners) are disproportionately failing them, whether enrolled in Texas, New York, California, or Minnesota” (p. 312).

He goes on to say that students who do poorly on these exams “are viewed as the problem; they are retained, tracked, or denied graduation” (p. 316) and cites several sources for this statement.

Then, comes the most logical and obvious, yet often negated fact of this matter: “They are held solely responsible for their grades, when in fact, they may not have had equal chance of learning because of the unequal resources and opportunities at their disposal at their school site” (p. 316).

The policy of high-stakes testing that has led to multiple incorrect, unethical, and detrimental uses of test results is just one example of a zombie idea that needs to die —permanently.

Other Zombie Ideas That Just Won’t Die!

Choice and competition are market-based ideas whose theories have been applied to public education to transform and restructure our public system into a privatized system. So based on the idea of school choice as a reform, researchers** examined student achievement under this Market Theory  — with the demand side being “school choosers” and the supply side being schools. They did so while also cautioning that psychologists are well aware of the effect of “choice.”

Theory On the Demand Side:

“The simple act of choosing a school then might contribute to a family’s satisfaction with that school.”

Theory On the Supply Side:

“Decentralized decision-making itself might be beneficial to students. … This local control could lead to more efficient, locally appropriate use of resources, better alignment and camaraderie among the school personnel, and improved responsiveness to opportunities and challenges.”

But Overall:

“While there are isolated (and sometimes very impressive) success stories, school choice reforms have not proven to be unambiguously effective on the whole.”

Charter or Voucher: It Doesn’t Matter

“Much like the charter school literature, the literature on private school vouchers does not conclusively link the use of vouchers to improved academic performance.”

Existing Public Schools are Forced to Compete: True

“While most principals report competing for students, few report that they compete by making curricular or instructional changes that might appeal to parents. Instead, they are considerably more likely to report competing through outreach and advertisement.”

Choice and competition are zombie ideas that increase return on investment to the education industry — and the cottage industries of marketing, data analysis, and advertising. School choice is not a systemic reform. It is a market theory that doesn’t tackle the solutions we should focus on — those that strengthen and improve educational quality and opportunity FOR ALL CHILDREN.

Rising from the Depths of the Swamp: More Zombies or Real Reform?

While the political agenda behind the zombie ideas focuses the nation’s attention on “outputs,” the idea of focusing reforms on “inputs” keeps getting buried alive. Even though it is logical and obvious that learning requires specific inputs, that poorer communities have fewer resources, and that the schools that struggle to provide better education are located in areas of concentrated poverty — our laws remain fixed on Outcome-Based (output) Theory.

While federal and state lawmakers continually mandate higher learning standards, “service delivery standards” remain buried in history.

Yes, it is true. Once upon a time America saw educating its youth as a public service. We were going to set a quality standard for delivering that service. While we still hear the phrase “Opportunity-to-Learn Standards,” those pushing their political agenda to privatize the system kill that conversation. Their actions say they don’t care about all the nation’s children. If those in power really cared, they would have pushed for “service delivery standards” to support local school improvements.

Instead of bad policy ideas being killed by evidence, those with a political agenda are killing the public education system.

Zombies are hard to kill because they are already dead. But it seems to be common knowledge that to kill a zombie you must destroy its brain.

These zombie reform ideas —high-stakes testing, metric-driven centralized accountability, competition through charters and vouchers — don’t die because they serve a political agenda. It is the “brains of the operation” that we must expose and politically destroy.

Sources:
*Kern, Diane. Zombie Ideas in Education: High-Stakes Testing and Graduation Policies. New England Reading Association Journal 49.1(2013): 96.

**Loeb, S., Valant, J., Kasman, M., Increasing Choice in the Market for Schools: Recent Reforms and their Effects on Student Achievement. Forum on the Education Reform in an Era of Fiscal Imbalance. National Tax Journal, March 2011, 64 (1), 141–164.