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Beyond the Class Ceiling: Education and Upward Social Mobility

Photo by Piedmont Virginia Community College | CC BY 2.0 One of the major differences between working and middle to upper-class parents, when it comes...
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Video: Tear gas & burning cars: Mexican teachers rally against education reforms

Members of the CNTE teachers union took to the streets of Oaxaca protesting Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's visit to the city. COURTESY: RT's...
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Video: Whistle Blower Teacher Says Charter Schools Draining Students, Resources from Public Education

In the third installment of TRNN's investigation into the decline of public education another whistle blower teacher says Baltimore's focus on charter schools is...
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Video: Demolition of education: Israel razes EU-funded schools in West Bank

Belgium is demanding compensation from Israel after the authorities razed six EU-funded schools in a village near Bethlehem last week. The children now have...

The Possible Education of Donald Trump

Exclusive: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is ratcheting up war tensions in Syria again, but President Trump reportedly is not happy...

Education or Brainwashing?

Inculcating youngsters with national myths is a key way for societies to control their populations – as is clear in...

A College Education

APPIP ERROR:nodata[ (0) NO DATA August is the month when parents bid farewell to not only their college-bound youngsters but also a sizable chunk...

The Despotic Origins of U.S. Public Secondary Education

This article is part of a project that critically analyzes the historical and present day purposes of U.S. public education. Related articles focus on...
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Video: Catherine Hannaford On The Impact Of Education, Medication & The Environment On Our...

Please Support The Show – http://paypal.me/richieallen https://www.facebook.com/therichieallenshow http://www.youtube.com/RichieAllenShowMedia Tune in ... Via Youtube

Florida’s Education System—the one Betsy DeVos Cites as a Model—Is in Chaos

The K-12 education system in Florida — the one that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos likes to praise as a model for the nation — is in...

Higher Education Fallacies: What’s Behind Rising Conservative Distrust of Learning?

Photo by Hammerin Man | CC BY 2.0 I recently delivered a lecture at the “Open University of the Left” in Chicago, titled “Does Capitalism...

Don’t Trust Business with Education

Betsy DeVos and her husband Dick are lucky: They inherited a big chunk of the multi-billion-dollar fortune that Dick’s dad Richard amassed through his...
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Video: How Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Undermines Civil Rights & Favors Predatory Lenders Over...

https://democracynow.org - Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, joins us to discuss recent developments with billionaire ... Via Youtube

How Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Undermines Civil Rights and Favors Predatory Lenders Over Students

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, joins us to discuss recent developments with billionaire Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a longtime backer...

18 states & DC sue Dept. of Education over delay of for-profit college loans...

A group of 19 Democratic attorneys general have banded together to sue Education Secretary Betsy DeVos...

Trump Is Vulnerable On Education. Do Democrats Care?

A string of special election defeats has left Democrats bewildered at how they can continue to lose against a party led by the most...

Senators Send Letter to DeVos about Civil Rights Enforcement at the Department of Education

WASHINGTON - Earlier today, 34 Democratic U.S. senators, led by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos expressing...

Here’s an Idea: Guarantee Every Child an Excellent Education

Let’s get one thing straight: there are plenty of things wrong with America’s school system. But they almost all stem from one major error. We...
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Video: Democrats Launch “Resistance Summer” Focused on Healthcare, Education & Social Security

https://democracynow.org - As President Trump goes to Miami today to announce the closing down of the opening of the relationship between Cuba and the...
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Video: Trump Education NHS Dementia Tax #ToryElectionFraud BCfm 2017 General Election Politics Show

First hour: News review: with Bristol city councillors Asher Craig (Labour), Geoff Gollop (Conservative) & Jude English (Green): What got you interested in politics...

DeVos Hires Top Official at For-Profit University to Help "Right-Size" Department of Education

Jennifer Berkshire reports that Secretary Betsy DeVos has turned to a top official from the scandal-plagued for-profit higher education industry to “right-size” the Department...

Education Secretary DeVos booed at historic black college during commencement speech

Shouts and boos disrupted Education Secretary Betsy DeVos during her first official commencement speech, with one...
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Video: US Secretary of Education booed by students at graduation ceremony in Florida

United States Secretary of Education Betsy Devos was booed and jeered while attending the graduation ceremony of Bethune-Cookman University in Florida, ... Via Youtube
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Video: ‘End the Debt’: Chilean students throw rocks at police over education fees

Tens of thousands of students marched through Santiago expressing their anger over education fee debts on Tuesday, clashes with police ensued. Protesters ... Via Youtube

Richard D. Wolff: The State of Economic Education Today

In this educational video, University of Massachusetts Professor of Economics Emeritus Richard Wolff talks about the state of economic education today, and the role...
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Video: Trumps Taps Billionaire School Privatizer for Education Secretary

Barack Obama and corporate Democrats opened the door to the serious threats to public education represented by Betsy Devos, says Glen Ford of Black...

School in Birmingham sends kids home 30 minutes early as education cuts bite

Published time: 26 Apr, 2017 15:59 A school for children with special needs will have to...

Exclusive: Teacher speaks to RT about her viral ‘rant’ against Tory education cuts

A teacher’s “massive rant” about what she sees as the Conservative government’s undermining of the...
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Video: Opponent of Public Schools Now Leads Federal Education Policy

Karen Dolan of the Institute for Policy Studies says Betsy Devos is likely to seek the rollback of protections for children in public schools...

The Big Lie Behind Trump’s Education Budget

Public school supporters are angry at President Trump’s budget proposal, which plans to cut funding to the Department of Education by 13 percent ...

Former Lobbyist With For-Profit Colleges Quits Education Department

Also see: For-Profit Colleges Gain Influence in Trump Administration A former lobbyist for an association of for-profit colleges resigned last Friday from the Department of...

What Trump’s Travel Ban Reveals About His Long-Term Educational Policy

Photo by Jake Cunningham | CC BY 2.0 President Trump’s executive order that bans refugees and immigrants from six predominately Muslim nations from entering the...

Education Secretary DeVos weakens school accountability law

Published time: 14 Mar, 2017 23:28Edited time: 15 Mar, 2017 09:38 Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has taken...

The Best Education Our Money Can Buy

Most of us know folks who owe everything they have in life to education. That explains, I suspect, why we nod in agreement whenever...

The Best Education Our Money Can Buy

Most of us know folks who owe everything they have in life to education. That explains, I suspect, why we nod in agreement whenever...

Scholarships Presented to Black Youth in North Carolina Recall Kochs' Troubling History on Education...

The fossil fuel industry's effort to "start winning hearts and minds" arrived at a Baptist church in North Carolina recently in the form of...

The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Is Not a Substitute for Education

Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps students wait to enter a Veteran's Day Parade on November 11, 2009. (Photo: Katie Spence) Delving into the underbelly of...

‘Shame!’: Education Secretary DeVos blocked by protesters in first school visit

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had to be escorted away from a public school when protesters physically...

GOP lawmaker introduces bill ‘to abolish Dept of Education’

A Kentucky lawmaker has proposed a bill to completely abolish the federal Department of Education at...

Rep. Maxine Waters: DeVos Is a Billionaire Wannabe Teacher Who Doesn't Care About Public...

Update: On Tuesday afternoon, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as education secretary, with Vice President Mike Pence's vote acting as a tie-breaker.The Senate is scheduled...
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Video: Rep. Maxine Waters: DeVos is a Billionaire Wannabe Teacher Who Doesn’t Care About...

http://democracynow.org - The Senate is scheduled to hold a full vote today on the confirmation of Donald Trump's nominee for education secretary, billionaire ... Via...

Senate Committee approves DeVos as education secretary

Published time: 31 Jan, 2017 16:51Edited time: 31 Jan, 2017 17:05 The US Senate committee for health,...

What Is the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act?

Betsy DeVos' hearing before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions raised quite a few eyebrows, as the candidate for Secretary of...

Trump claims cabinet has ‘highest IQ’ with education levels lower than Obama’s

President-elect Donald Trump attended a luncheon with leaders of Congress and several of his administration picks,...

Natural Selection Making 'Education Genes' Rarer, Says Icelandic Study

Tempting as it may be, it would be wrong to claim that with each generation humans are becoming more stupid. As scientists are...
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Video: Jeremy Scahill: Did Education Nominee Betsy DeVos Lie to Senate About Ties to...

http://democracynow.org - On Tuesday, education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos faced intense questioning by Democratic senators during her confirmation ... Via Youtube

Will Betsy DeVos Restart The ‘Education Wars’?

Education, which was hardly ever mentioned in the recent presidential election, has suddenly been thrust to the frontline in the increasingly heated conflict over...

New Zealand student visa fraud: 'It's not about education'

Ask an experienced teacher what needs to change on the front line of international education and the response is blunt. "We need...
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Video: Public (School) Enemy No. 1: Billionaire Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Pick for Education Secretary

http://democracynow.org - Donald Trump has tapped conservative billionaire Betsy DeVos to serve as Education Secretary. DeVos is the former chair of the ... Via Youtube

Trump taps Michigan philanthropist Betsy DeVos to be secretary of education

President-elect Donald Trump will nominate Michigan philanthropist and chair of the education organization American Federation of...

‘Students’ future for sale’: Thousands march against education cuts in London

Thousands of students, teachers and university staff took to the streets of the British capital...
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Video: Israel must annex West Bank settlements if UNSC adopts Palestinian resolution – education...

Israel should declare sovereignty over the occupied territories in the West Bank, which is home to Israeli settlers, if the UN adopts any Security...

Education Technology, Surveillance, and America’s Authoritarian Democracy

The NSA has nothing on the monitoring tools that education technologists have developed to ‘personalize’ and ‘adapt’ learning for students in public school districts...

From Higher Education to Water Treatment, Financialization Is Harming Our Economy

An empty classroom at Junior High School 50 in Brooklyn in June 23, 2016. Public schools around the nation have all seen...

The Case for a Right to Education

In September, a unique lawsuit was filed in Michigan against Gov. Rick Snyder and numerous state education officials, claiming that students in Detroit are...

Students at Islamic school reject sex-segregated education, court hears

Students at an Islamic faith school have complained their sex-segregated education does not adequately prepare...

Education Department Terminates Agency That Allowed Predatory For-Profit Colleges to Thrive

The Education Department announced last week that it is stripping the powers of one of the nation's largest accreditors of for-profit schools. The...
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Video: ‘Free education for all!’ Clashes erupt at S. African student protest in Johannesburg

South African university students demanding free education protested on several campuses, clashing with security guards and police in Johannesburg, and ... Via Youtube

NZ web series tackles racism in education

I, Too, Am Auckland is a student initiative dedicated to the collaboration of Pacific Islander and Maori students & the wider...

The ITT Fraud: For-Profit Education and the Crisis of the Commons

The rapid decline of the ITT for profit-college may represent a pivotal moment in modern history, as seen in rising challenges to predatory capitalism....

This Guardian Piece Touting Bill Gates’ Education Investment Brought to You by Bill Gates

Bill Gates’ influence is so ubiquitous it’s invisible. (photo: Sebastian Derungs/WEF) The Guardian (8/31/16) published a broadly positive report on Liberian education, which is handing...

Socializing the Corrupt: Cheating, Education and Law Enforcement in Pennsylvania

(Photo: ini budi setiawan / Flickr) Collaborations between higher education institutions and law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania have multiplied in the past two...
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Video: Sian Bloor “Tories Deliberately Destroying Education To Privatise Every School In The Country!”

Please Support The Show – http://richieallen.co.uk/ https://www.facebook.com/therichieallenshow http://www.youtube.com/RichieAllenShowMedia Tune in at ... Via Youtube
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Video: The Resurgent Movement for Public Education in the Obama Era

The Real News spoke to author and journalist Nikhil Goyal at last week's DNC about growing calls to reform our education system and whether...

New Jersey education dept. nullifies majority votes, allocates $32mn+ for school expansion

Overriding two voter referendums, the New Jersey State Board of Education granted nearly $33 million to...

#BlackLivesMatter calls for slavery reparations, free education & justice reforms

A coalition of over 50 organizations affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement has issued a...

Sex education ‘unfit’ for Britain’s ‘smartphone generation’

Sex education in British schools is “unfit” for the “smartphone generation,” according to a new...

US local, state govts spend 3 times more on jails than on education –...

Over three decades, state and local governments have tripled the amount spent on jails, compared to spending on educating students, the US Department of...

School’s out! English teachers strike against Tory education cuts

Teachers in England are “solidly” on strike over the government’s cuts to funding, pay and...
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Video: Harsh crackdown: Chile police suppress student rally against education reform

Clashes erupt in Santiago during an educational reform rally organized by the Confederation of Chilean Students. The demonstrators aim to pressure the ... Via Youtube
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Video: Commentary: Oaxaca Teachers Strike Is About Defending The Revolutionary Educational Tradition

John Ackerman of UNAD says that acts of state violence, like the police killings at the Oaxaca teacher strike and the "disappearance" of 43...
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Video: SCOTUS Ruling on Race-Conscious College Admissions a Great Victory for Equal Educational Opportunity

http://democracynow.org - On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Fisher v. University of Texas and held that...
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Video: RoseAnn DeMoro: Sanders Campaign a Historic Source of Political Education

At The People's Summit in Chicago, Executive Director of National Nurses United Roseann DeMoro says that the Sanders campaign has made the immense ... Via...
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Video: ‘In name of education?’: At least 6 killed in violent clashes between teachers...

Violent clashes between police and a teachers' union in southern Mexico have left six people dead. The radical union is opposed to the mandatory...

The Every Student Succeeds Act and the Future of Public Education

The proposed regulations for national implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) signal that new Education Secretary John King is determined...

Michigan legislature approves attack on public education in Detroit

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Shannon Jones Under the guise of “rescuing” the Detroit Public Schools (DPS),...

Anti-Intellectualism, Terrorism, and Elections in Contemporary Education: a Discussion with Noam Chomsky

photo story | Shutterstock.com Washington DC based History Teacher Dan Falcone and New York City English Teacher Saul Isaacson sat down with Professor Noam Chomsky to discuss...

Mizzou Faculty Offers Educational Videos for White People Who Have a ‘Way of Life...

Does the University of Missouri have a death wish?  In the wake of capitulating to race grievance demonstrators, Mizzou is already experiencing...

US Can’t Say Whether or Not $759 Million Spent on Education in Afghanistan Helped...

Peter Van Buren If at where you work you spent $759 million on something, and then told your boss you have no idea if anything...

School Shutdown in Chicago Underscores Attacks on Public Education Nationwide

Annie Tan demonstrates with fellow Chicago Teachers Union members in February of 2016 during a protest over debt owed by the school...
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Video: VIDEO: Public Education is a Right! Voices of CUNY Students, Faculty and Staff...

http://democracynow.org - Students, faculty and staff staged a die-in Thursday in New York City to demand the state fully fund the City University of...
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Video: Alum: Teach for America Covertly Privatizing Public Education

T. Jameson Brewer, co-editor of Teach For America Counter-Narrative: Alumni Speak Up and Speak Out, discusses his journey from TFA corp member to ... Via...
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Video: What Will it Take for the Candidates to Talk About Public Education?

Nikhil Goyal, author of Schools on Trial, compares Sanders and Clinton education platforms and responds to the calls of the leading Republican candidates to...

Hundreds of teachers’ fight to save public education

Jerry White The World Socialist Web Site salutes the fight by Detroit teachers against the deplorable conditions in their schools and urges workers throughout the...

The Disingenuous Apologies for Israel’s Assault on Palestinian Education

As the American Historical Association (AHA) prepares to vote this week on a symbolic resolution that affirms support for the right to education in the occupied...
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Video: New Education Bill: Downloading and its Impact on Schools

Lois Weiner of New Jersey City University says the main issues facing public schools are privatization, testing, teacher performance and school budgets - and...

Does Bernie Sanders Offer Education Advocates Enough? Are We Feelin’ the Bern or Just...

If Sanders is going to make a play for teachers, parents, students and education advocates, he still has a chance. But time is running...
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Video: Days of Revolt: Militarizing Education

In this episode of teleSUR's Days of Revolt, Chris Hedges discusses the militarization of higher education institutions with journalist Alexa O’Brien to ... Via Youtube
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Video: South African Students Demand Free University Education While Building a Broad Front (2/2)

Vishwas Satgar of The University of the Witwatersrand says peaceful and deciplined student protests over several weeks have brought about a concession from ... Via...

UK students to hold fresh protests against education reforms

British students are planning more protest rallies against the government’s planned reforms in the higher education. According to a report by the Guardian, the student...
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Video: Resolved: Debate Win for Inmates Against Harvard Shows Benefits of Higher Education Behind...

Democracynow.org - Despite their stellar record, a loss by the Harvard University debate team wouldn't normally be national, let alone international, news. Via Youtube
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Video: Obama’s Education Reversal is Sheer Political “Theater”

Executive editor and founder of Black Agenda Report Glen Ford says that the Obama administration claim to want a reduction in time spent on...

LA Times’ ‘Independent’ Education Project Bankrolled by Charter School Backers

Molly Knefel Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times (8/18/15) announced an initiative called Education Matters, “an ongoing, wide-ranging report card on K-12 education in Los...

LA Times’ ‘Independent’ Education Project Bankrolled by Charter School Backers

The Wasserman Foundation, one of the funds behind the LA Times‘ new education initiative, advertising its involvement in the education debate. Earlier this month, the...

A College Education Instead of Mindless Militarization

Adam Vogal (Common Dreams) - As the United States military continues to sell the idea of joining its ranks to high school students throughout the nation...

When Candidates Talk Education, Media Rarely Go Beyond Buzzwords

The New York Times quoted Jeb Bush saying he’s in favor of “raising expectations”–but failed to examine whether the education policies he supports will...

The End of Higher Education as We Know It

The academy is entering a dangerous time. Academics now find themselves entering a time when a more comprehensive politics that deals with the rise...

Chicago Democrats prepare new attacks on public education

By Kristina Betinis (WSWS) - As the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the Democratic administration of Mayor Rahm Emanuel continue negotiations for a new contract covering 30,000...

‘We Refuse to be Pawns’: Student Debt Strikers Slam Education Department

by Deirdre Fulton (Common Dreams) - A group of student debt strikers will boycott a meeting scheduled for Monday with U.S. Education Department (DOE) officials,...

Big education firms spend millions lobbying for pro-testing policies

The four corporations that dominate the U.S. standardized testing market spend millions of dollars lobbying state and federal officials – as well as sometimes...

Gallup Finds: Among Conservatives, Education Increases False Belief

Eric Zuesse 100% agreement among scientists does not exist on anything, not even on basic laws of physics; but there are some scientific topics where...

Watchdog: Children Need Better Education

A major academy chain has been heavily criticised by the schools watchdog after inspectors concluded that too many pupils are not getting a decent...

California’s 2014-2015 budget attacks education

Theo Mclean California’s recently enacted 2014-2015 budget codifies the continuation of the attacks on education by the ruling class. Teachers and students are among those...

Teachers Demand Bill Gates Stop Corporatization Of Education

Seattle rally puts focus on how what kids need for authentic learning is absent from corporate-driven policies A group of teachers is holding a rally...

A damning exposure of the assault on public education in the US

Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools Nancy Hanover Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization...

Dangerous Court Rulling Is Latest Attempt to Blame Teachers and Weaken Public Education

Diane Ravitch Judge Rolf M. Treu, who decided the Vergara case , declared that he was shocked, shocked to learn from Professor Raj Chetty and Professor Thomas Kane of...

Logic and illogic in education

Logic and illogic in education by Jon Rappoport June 8, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com In two of my collections, The Matrix Revealed and Power Outside The Matrix, I include training in the art of logic and critical analysis. The basic fact is: students in schools are rarely taught how to follow a line of reasoning from beginning […]

The Answer to Common Core: Alternative Models of Education

by James Corbett BoilingFrogsPost.com June 3, 2014 One does not have to scratch very deeply into the surface of pop culture to see that “schools” are nearly universally portrayed in our culture as boring, stultifying, prison-like environments where...

Is the “Common Core” Educational Standards Initiative Part of a Domestic Spy Program? The...

Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News – In 2009, US President Barack Obama and the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan had announced the “Race to the Top” initiative to reform the American education system. But there is a lot more to know about the new education standards known as the ‘Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI).’ It is not about educating students for a better life or for a successful career, it sounds more like a domestic spy program. In a 2010, Arne Duncan gave a speech on Obama’s education agenda at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris and said:

The North Star guiding the alignment of our cradle-to-career education agenda is President Obama’s goal that, by the end of the decade, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. That goal can only be achieved by creating a strong cradle-to-career continuum that starts with early childhood learning and extends all the way to college and careers 

It is bizarre just to think that the government may want to continue to monitor your progress after high school right through your first job or career.  What happens if you don’t get along with the manager? Will they send you to a re-education camp? Of course I am being sarcastic, but with Washington’s growing police state, who knows? The Department of Education (DOE) released in October 2012 an “Issue Brief” titled ‘Enhancing, Teaching and Learning through Educational Data Mining and Learning Analytics.’ The Educational data mining procedures were described as a program to track student’s progress through their behavioural patterns so that school officials can predict which career path they will most likely choose or if there is enough evidence to suggest that they were most likely to drop out of school. The Issue Brief clearly states how data mining technology would operate:

A student learning database (or other big data repository) stores time-stamped student input and behaviors captured as students work within the system” and “A predictive model combines demographic data (from an external student information system) and learning/behavior data from the student learning database to track a student’s progress and make predictions about his or her future behaviors or performance, such as future course outcomes and dropouts

The US Department of Education’s Common Core standards does raise an important question. Why does the federal government want student’s personal information in order to achieve educational success? The DOE’s “Issue Brief” also stated how predictions must be proven. If they cannot prove that their assessment is correct, then they may collect even more data on the student’s behalf if necessary:

Policymakers bear an ethical responsibility to investigate the validity of any predictive model that is used to make consequential decisions about students. Policymakers must be able to explain the evidence for predictions and the actions taken by the computer system on the basis of learning analytics. Analysts conducting data mining may discover patterns or associations that were previously unknown and that involve sensitive information (e.g., teacher performance or student’s family situation), and validating them with external observations and further data collection will be needed

The 2009 Stimulus bill included the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) which offered governors bailout money for state educational purposes such as the ‘Race to the Top’ program. Competitive grants were offered as an incentive for states to accept Common Core standards for their schools.  To be eligible, states had to adopt standards and assessment procedures provided by the DOE to prepare students for success in college and in their chosen careers after they graduate from high school. It requires states to build student databases such as the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) to track over “400 data points” including behavior, disciplinary history, family problems, interests and other personal information. Data will then be given to the “Smarter Balanced consortium” which is a state-led consortium working in collaboration with educators, researchers, policymakers, community groups and government bureaucrats to develop assessments that measures student progress toward college and their chosen careers. It is part of the national testing standards that sends completed assessments to the Department of Education so that they can share data with public and private interests.  One particular area concerning the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund’s recommendation is to establish a student data system starting from pre-K. Then States would be eligible to receive funds if they followed the basic requirements:

As part of its application for initial funding, the state must assure that it will take actions to: (a) increase teacher effectiveness and address inequities in the distribution of highly qualified teachers; (b) establish and use pre-K-through-college and career data systems to track progress and foster continuous improvement; (c) make progress toward rigorous college- and career-ready standards and high-quality assessments; and (d) support targeted, intensive support and effective interventions to turn around schools identified for corrective action and restructuring

The standards focus on concepts and procedures of certain areas of concentration for example, English or math. However, each standard is labeled with an alphanumeric code for identification purposes, which is then used to identify which standards are successfully met by the lessons taught to the student. By using a coding system it allows them to track which standards were applied to the student whether in the classroom or through online learning (where third party apps can also keep a record). It can also track how much time was spent on each standard.

Who is behind “Common Core”? 

Common Core Standards was supported and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Pearson Publishing Company, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, several Governors and school officials from various states. It is also funded by Rupert Murdock’s News Corp called ‘Amplify Education.’ In 2012, Bob Corcoran of General Electric donated more than $33 million to the Common Core project. In 2013, Reuters reported who funded the $100 million project in an article titled ‘K-12 student database jazzes tech startups, spooks parents’:

The database is a joint project of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which provided most of the funding, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and school officials from several states. Amplify Education, a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, built the infrastructure over the past 18 months. When it was ready, the Gates Foundation turned the database over to a newly created nonprofit, inBloom Inc, which will run it.

States and school districts can choose whether they want to input their student records into the system; the service is free for now, though inBloom officials say they will likely start to charge fees in 2015. So far, seven states – Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Massachusetts – have committed to enter data from select school districts. Louisiana and New York will be entering nearly all student records statewide

The article also stated how the database would operate on a local and federal level:

But the most influential new product may be the least flashy: a $100 million database built to chart the academic paths of public school students from kindergarten through high school. In operation just three months, the database already holds files on millions of children identified by name, address and sometimes social security number. Learning disabilities are documented, test scores recorded, attendance noted. In some cases, the database tracks student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school – even homework completion.

Local education officials retain legal control over their students’ information. But federal law allows them to share files in their portion of the database with private companies selling educational products and services

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and their ‘inBloom’ database were one of the data mining programs associated with Common Core. But it has recently failed because New York state legislature forced its state education bureaucrats to shut down the Gates-funded project amid growing opposition of parents and privacy advocates. It was designed to collect student data and store the information in a cloud service and make it available to commercial vendors and apps so that teachers can eventually track student’s progress. Bill Gates and his project has failed and that is only one battle both parents and privacy advocates has won and that is a good start. But it is only one battle, with many more to come. Although the Bill Gates project inBloom has failed, the DOE will still manage to track students.

Collecting Data from “Pre-K through workforce”

Common Core standards require an invasion of privacy in order to educate students, but it comes at a cost. It should concern both students and their families. Will Estrada, director of federal relations for the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) told World Net Daily what common core’s data collection is capable of achieving once it is fully implemented. He said “It’s their likes and dislikes, grade-point average all the way through school, their home situation, health questions,” he said. “It’s an incredibly invasive collection of information that they are trying to collect in what they call P-20, or pre-K through workforce.”

Private interests in Washington decided back in 2007 to move full force in an attempt to nationalize educational standards and curriculums, which started the early development of the Common Core project. After the stimulus bill was signed in 2009, the DOE’s “Race to the Top” program was born.  The DOE made ‘Race to the Top’ grants competitive so that states would jump aboard rapidly and agree to implement Common Core standards that would be aligned with mandatory national tests. Most US states adopted Common Core for federal money without any approval or votes from legislators’ and without public knowledge.  Parents and communities were not even aware that their states and their elected representatives had adopted Common Core in the first place.  Besides data collection, the education Common Core provides is based on rigorous test taking procedures and memorization. Parents in Brooklyn, New York pulled their children in protest against the standardized tests saying that it brought unnecessary stress onto their children.

Washington’s goal is for Common Core to be implemented in every state by 2015. So far 44 states adopted Common Core standards although it has been an uphill battle for Washington’s education plan, especially when it comes to privacy concerns regarding students’ personal data. With a majority of states adopting Common Core Standards, it seems that there is an uphill battle for the growing anti-common core movement as well. Will parents, privacy advocates and even teachers who oppose Common Core continue the battle well into the future? I believe they will, especially when it involves their children’s education. What is the real agenda behind Common Core? Does collecting personal data so that bureaucrats can analyze your progress over a period of time improve your chances of getting a better education and a career?  After all, they can barely create any new jobs for recent college graduates, yet Secretary Duncan says the US will have the “highest proportion of college graduates” in the world. With NSA revelations spying on the entire planet, it would not surprise me that the Department of Education is setting the stage for a domestic spy program on a personal level.

Education Secretary Removes Classic Literature From Schools

RINF Alternative News In what is looking increasingly like a long running campaign of destruction against children's learning, controversial Education Secretary Michael Gove has caused further outrage...

Challenging Bullets, Not Boycotts: Education Under Occupation in Palestine

"God Kristian, I can't even remember how many times my school closed this semester," Amanda Mansara, a Palestinian university student wrote to me in January...

ADHD in the new education

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Israel’s education system peddles intolerance and lies

The National – 7 January 2014

John Kerry spent last week testing the waters with the Israelis and the Palestinians over his so-called framework agreement – designed to close the gaps between the two sides. But the issues he is trying to resolve appear more intractable by the day.

As he headed to the region, Israel’s hawkish cabinet ministers gave their blessing to legislation to annex the Jordan Valley, a large swathe of the West Bank that might otherwise be the Palestinian state’s economic backbone and its sole door to the outside world. On Sunday, as Mr Kerry left, the defence minister, Moshe Yaalon, argued that peace was impossible as long as the Palestinians and their schoolbooks “incited” against Israel, even quoting from a government-compiled “Palestinian incitement index”.

The hyperbole overshadowed two Israeli surveys that might one day provide a yardstick by which to judge an equivalent “Israeli incitement index”.

An opinion poll revealed that nearly two-thirds of Israeli Jews believe the conflict’s Palestinian narrative – including the nakba, the great dispossession of the Palestinians in 1948 to create Israel – should be taught in schools.

This flies in the face of Mr Netanyahu’s own view. His government passed a law in 2011 banning public institutions from giving a platform to such commemorations.

The other study demonstrated that when Jewish students are exposed to spoken Arabic at an early age, between 10 and 12, they hold far less hostile and stereotypical views of Arabs. Currently, many Jewish students never learn Arabic.

With the experimental programme employing teachers from Israel’s large Palestinian minority, the study noted that for most of the Jewish children it was the first time they had developed a close relationship with an Arab.

The education ministry, however, was reported to have waved aside the findings and is apparently failing to fund the existing, small programme, let alone expand it.

This is no oversight. Successive Israeli governments have carefully engineered the structure of Israeli society to ensure that Jewish and Palestinian citizens are kept in separate linguistic, cultural, educational and emotional worlds.

The reasoning is not hard to discern. The last thing Israeli leaders want is for Jewish and Palestinian citizens to develop shared interests, forge friendships and act in solidarity. That would start to erode the rationale for a Jewish state, especially one premised on the supposed need of the Jews to defend themselves from a hostile world – Israel’s self-image as “the villa in the jungle”.

In short, a Jewish state’s future precisely depends on the anti-Arab stereotypes inculcated in young Israeli minds.

It may not therefore be coincidental that, as Israel has faced increasing pressure over the past 20 years to make peace, the separation of Jews from Palestinians has entrenched.

Today, most Israeli Jews rarely meet a Palestinian, and especially not one from the West Bank or Gaza. It is easy to forget that before the 1993 Oslo accords, many Israeli Jews regularly ventured into Palestinian areas, to shop, eat and fix their cars. Palestinians, meanwhile, were evident in Israeli communities, even if only as builders or waiters. It may have been a very unequal, even colonial, encounter but it made it hard for Israelis to demonise their neighbours.

Such contacts are now a distant memory. And that is precisely how leaders like Mr Netanyahu want to keep it.

Inside Israel, the direction of policy is the same. In recent weeks, the government has insisted on raising the electoral threshold in a barely concealed effort to rid the parliament of Arab parties. Legislation is also being revived to tax into oblivion human rights organisations, those that give a voice to Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories.

At the weekend, Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister, argued that a peace agreement must include disappearing hundreds of thousands of Palestinian citizens by transferring their homes to a future, but very circumscribed Palestinian state.

Palestinian legislator Ahmed Tibi’s complaint that Palestinian citizens were viewed by Israel’s leaders as nothing more than “chess pieces” goes to the heart of the matter. It is easy to dehumanise those you know and care little about.

Israel’s separation policy – and its security justifications – requires not only that Jews and Palestinians be kept apart, but that Palestinians be confined to a series of ghettos, whether in the West Bank, Jerusalem, Gaza or Israel.

These divisions are the cause of endless suffering. A recent study of Gaza, the most isolated of these ghettos, found that a third of Palestinians there were physically separated from a close relative. Israeli-imposed restrictions force Palestinians to forgo marriages, learn of relatives’ deaths from afar, miss college courses, and lose the chance for medical treatment.

The prioritising of Israelis’ security over Palestinians’ freedom was a central weakness of the Oslo process, and the same skewed agenda pollutes the current peace talks.

In a commentary for the Haaretz newspaper last week, Gadi Shamni, a leading general, set out at length the many military reasons – quite apart from political ones – why Israel could never risk allowing the Palestinians a viable state. On the army’s best assessments, he argued, Israel would need to control such a state’s borders and much of its territory, including the Jordan Valley, for a period ranging “from 40 years to forever”.

The reality is that no arrangement on earth can guarantee protection for those in the villa from the beasts lurking outside. Either it is time to abandon the villa, or to start seeing the jungle as a forest to be explored.

Tagged as: , ,

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With the national uproar over the Obama administration-backed “Common Core” nationalization of education reaching a fever pitch from Florida and Louisiana to New Hampshire and Wisconsin, education expert Dr. Duke Pesta is now speaking out in an exclusive video for The New American about the looming nationwide school standards for history, science, and sexuality. The goal of it all, according to Dr. Pesta, academic director at FreedomProject Education and an English professor at the University of Wisconsin, advance social engineering while denying truth — an argument that numerous other prominent experts and educators across the country have also made.

“Many states across the union are having second thoughts,” said Pesta, who oversees academics at FPE, an online K-12 school offering classical education to students across the country. “They see the English and the math standards that are already in our schools, and they’re just a heap of trouble. The math standards aren’t real math. The English standards are involving all sorts of things that aren’t really literature — all of this tangential political material.”

Indeed, it started as a mere handful of states that refused taxpayer-funded bribes from Obama’s Department of Education in exchange for adopting the deeply controversial standards — Alaska, for example, and Texas. As the public slowly learns about Common Core and what it means, however, outrage is boiling over all across the country — and the pro-Common Core establishment is frantically trying to clamp down.

In multiple states, official hearings in recent days and weeks have drawn legions of furious educators and parents demanding an end to Common Core. A recent hearing in Wisconsin, where Dr. Pesta testified against the scheme, featured testimony from a member of the Common Core Validation Committee who refused to sign off on the English standards. Now, however, as information about the bid to nationalize education in other fields emerges as well, the picture is not pretty — and resistance is expected to intensify.   

“We have word of a pending danger,” explained Dr. Pesta, a contributor to The New American magazine, in an in-studio video about the future of Common Core and related efforts. “We now have a sense of what the health standards are going to look like, what the science standards are going to look like, and what the history standards are going to look like. They are as bad, or worse, than what we already have.”

As an example, Dr. Pesta cited the national so-called “health” standards, developed largely by tax-funded abortion behemoth Planned Parenthood, “which advertise teaching our kids health and sexuality skills from kindergarten to 12th grade,” he explained. “I don’t know about you, but the idea that we’re going to send our kids to public schools to learn sexuality skills is very disturbing.” One of the numerous complaints is that children will be required to “identify different kinds of family structures” — read: homosexual and transgender — and “provide arguments as to why all different types of families are equal.”     

The consequences of the radical “health” and “sexuality” schemes being foisted on impressionable young children “are grave,” Dr. Pesta said, noting that only the government’s view would be taught. “No longer do moms and dads get to educate their kids at home about their views on sexuality,” he said, citing Christians and members of other faiths. “The state standards mandate that every kid in kindergarten, first, and second grade engage in these exercises.” By the time kids reach third grade, he continued, they will have to make arguments explaining why “there is no such thing as gender biology.”

Speaking about the standards on alleged “world history,” financed by billionaire globalist Bill Gates, Dr. Pesta noted that it is broken into two sections — and the first half has nothing to do with human beings. “It is a pseudo-scientific overlay that is designed to make your kids atheists and materialists, to promote an absolutely materialist paradigm when it comes to globalism; it’s highly environmentalist,” he said. “This is what’s going to pass for history.”

Gates, the key financier behind Common Core as well as a strong supporter of the United Nations and Planned Parenthood, has also been funding Orwellian technology to monitor and track students for data-mining purposes — all of which will be shared with government. The most recent controversy around Gates-funded technology aimed at your children: so-called “Galvanic Skin Response” (GSR) bracelets, which track physiological reactions to “measure engagement” of kids in the classroom.    

In the short video, Dr. Pesta also addressed the deeply controversial so-called “science” standards. As The New American has previously documented, the “Next Generation Science Standards” are filled with unscientific propaganda on everything from United Nations “man-made global warming” theories to evolution. “Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming),” the elementary-school standards claim, despite the fact that even climate alarmists admit there has been no “global warming” in over 15 years and that CO2 released from fossil fuels represents a fraction of one percent of the greenhouse gases present naturally in the atmosphere. 

For Dr. Pesta and other experts, the trends and the real agenda behind the nationalization of schooling are clear. “It is an education that fundamentally denies truth, not just in the humanities and history, but alarmingly, as we’ve seen, in science, math, and biology,” said Dr. Pesta. “It’s all done for social engineering aims,” he added. “This is what’s coming. Common Core is bad now — it’s going to get a lot, lot worse.”     

However, despite the progress Common Core plotters have made, analysts say the tide may be turning — and that the pushback is set to accelerate as Americans learn more. In testimony before an official Wisconsin committee investigating Common Core, Dr. Pesta and other experts slammed the controversial standards and urged lawmakers to reject them. What would happen if rather than Bill Gates, conservative billionaires had instead dumped hundreds of millions into developing national standards, backed by a right-wing presidential administration, he asked rhetorically.

Pesta also noted that both of the subject-matter experts on the Common Core Validation Committee — one of whom, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, also testified against the standards at the same hearing — had refused to sign off on the scheme. Meanwhile, Pesta’s own experience teaching high school students as a volunteer who later wound up at the university where he teaches shows that Common Core standards are having a negative effect on students and learning, he said.

The New American has written extensively on Common Core, including keeping up with the latest developments and two in-depth articles on the standards, the agenda, and the accompanying data-mining programs. To watch a recording of Dr. Pesta’s most recent testimony at the Wisconsin hearing, click here. Dr. Stotsky’s recorded testimony can be accessed here. A detailed presentation on Common Core by FPE can be viewed here. Finally, watch Dr. Pesta’s latest video commentary for TNA about the radical “science,” “history,” and “sexuality” standards below:

Chile: Led by Students, Tens of Thousands March for ‘Free Public Education’

Students clash with riot police during a protest to demand Chilean President Sebastian Pinera's government to improve the public education quality, in Santiago, on October 17, 2013. (Photo: AFP Photo/Hector Retamal)More than 50,000 students, unionized teachers, and social activists took to the streets in Santiago, Chile on Thursday to demand dramatic reforms to the nation's education system ahead of next month's presidential elections.

The education reform movement, which demands the return of public control over schools and universities and 'free education,' has been an increasingly important voice in Chilean politics in recent years with large street protests and organized opposition to the ruling conservative government of President Sebastián Piñera.

On Thursday, according to the Santiago Times, the student-led protests came out in force in order to "send a message to the next government" and promised that their revolt would continue until their demands are answered with real policy changes.

“There is no way this social outcry will stop next year,” Moisés Paredes, spokesman for the highschool student association Cones, said.

“The message we want to send to the next government is that it can’t pretend there won’t be demonstrations next year, that this is all settled, that everything can be resolved with discussions of their education programs,” Paredes told The Santiago Times. “On the contrary, it is crucial to understand that next year the movement will be more present than ever.”

The Santiago Times continued:

Education has been central to presidential debates, a state-of-affairs student leaders credit to the success of the movement in forcing a debate on the current system.

While the students’ calls for free education and an end to profit-making have been ignored by the governing right-leaning Alianza coalition, the majority of the nine presidential candidates are in favor of overhauling the current education system to varying degrees.

And Global Post adds:

Leaders of the student movement [...] asked the candidates vying for the presidency in the Nov. 17 election to provide specifics of their education proposals.

The two serious contenders, center-left former President Michelle Bachelet and rightist Evelyn Matthei, have so far limited themselves to vague platitudes, according to Diego Vela, president of the students federation at Universidad Catolica.

Matthei seems to want to "deepen" the current model, Vela said, adding that while Bachelet, who governed from 2006-2010, says some positive things, she has yet to offer concrete proposals.

Regardless of who is president, the students will continue to agitate until they achieve their goals, Vela said.

Pinochet, who led the bloody Sept. 11, 1973, coup that removed elected President Salvador Allende, pursued free-market fundamentalism and privatization during his repressive 17-year rule.

He reshaped Chile's education system in 1981, slashing government support for public schools and giving municipalities control over how to spend the reduced amounts coming from Santiago.

Private schools mushroomed under the military regime and the trend continued after democracy was restored in 1990.

Photos captured the street protests on Thursday and some of the violent confrontations which culminated:

Students protest in Santiago just one month before Chile goes to the polls, insist the movement is the answer to the education crisis, not any one candidate. (Photos: Santiago Times)

__________________________________________________

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Thousands of Chilean students clash with police over education reforms (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Published time: October 18, 2013 03:49
Student protesters clash with riot policemen during a demonstration against the government to demand changes in the public state education system in Santiago, October 17, 2013. (Reuters//Ivan Alvarado)

Student protesters clash with riot policemen during a demonstration against the government to demand changes in the public state education system in Santiago, October 17, 2013. (Reuters//Ivan Alvarado)

Thousands of protesters filed through the center of the Chilean capital of Santiago on Thursday during a mass student march, clashing with police. Dozens of demonstrators were arrested.

Officials believe some 18,000 demonstrators took part in the march, which was organized by the Confederation of Chilean Students (CONFECH) and two secondary school student groups, Aces and Cones. The demonstration resulted in 34 arrests while 14 police officers were said to be hurt, according to La Tercera.

Students in Chile are demanding reforms be made to the country’s public education system. Among other things, they are fighting to be given a greater role in the decision making process in the run-up to the country's presidential election on November 17. 

Education has become a key electoral issue for political candidates in Chile, following a spate of mass protests that led President Sebastián Piñera into the lowest approval ratings since the end of General Pinochet’s dictatorship in 1990.

Protesters are demanding that the country’s government hand control of the largely privatized universities back to the state and make education free.

Michelle Bachelet, Chile’s former president and the current front-runner in the upcoming elections, has already indicated that she would pursue policies to meet some of the protesters’ demands, including free university education.

Students clash with riot police during a protest to demand Chilean President Sebastian Pinera's government to improve the public education quality, in Santiago, on October 17, 2013. (AFP Photo/Hector Retamal)

Demonstrators try to knock down the door of a house where there are policemen inside during a protest of sutudents demanding to Chilean President Sebastian Pinera's government to improve the public education quality, in Santiago, on October 17, 2013. (AFP Photo/Hector Retamal)

Students clash with riot police during a protest to demand Chilean President Sebastian Pinera's government to improve the public education quality, in Santiago, on October 17, 2013. (AFP Photo/Hector Retamal)

Students clash with riot police during a protest to demand Chilean President Sebastian Pinera's government to improve public education quality, in Santiago, on October 17, 2013. (AFP Photo/Martin Bernetti)

A student protester is detained by riot policemen during a demonstration against the government to demand changes in the public state education system in Santiago, October 17, 2013. (Reuters//Ivan Alvarado)

Students clash with riot police during a protest to demand Chilean President Sebastian Pinera's government to improve the public education quality, in Santiago, on October 17, 2013. (AFP Photo/Hector Retamal)

Students clash with riot police during a protest to demand Chilean President Sebastian Pinera's government to improve public education quality, in Santiago, on October 17, 2013. (AFP Photo/Martin Bernetti)

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Extreme Political Correctness Is Making Public School Education Pure Hell For America’s Children

Political correctness is taking over America, and this is especially true when it comes to our public schools. In the United States today,...

Extreme Political Correctness Is Making Public School Education Pure Hell For America’s Children

Political Correctness

Political correctness is taking over America, and this is especially true when it comes to our public schools.  In the United States today, our public schools are being transformed into “Big Brother” training centers where virtually everything that our children do inside and even outside of school is being monitored, tracked, scrutinized and put into permanent records.  As you will read about below, some U.S. public schools are now even monitoring the social media accounts of their students and are ready to pounce on any perceived violation.  “Zero tolerance” policies have been implemented at public schools nationwide, and if a student does break “the rules”, it can result in immediate arrest and it can end up haunting them for the rest of their lives.  Meanwhile, the content of the “educational instruction” that our children are receiving continues to decline.  At this point, public schools in American have become little more than government indoctrination centers, and a steady stream of politically correct propaganda is being endlessly pumped into their heads.  Our children may not know how to read, write or do math very well, but they sure do know how to let others do their thinking for them.  As a result, most of our public school students are dumb as a rock, and as you will see below a new study has found that U.S. adults “are dumber than the average human”.

Political correctness in our schools has become so pervasive that it has even crept into the playgrounds.  For example, footballs and baseballs have been deemed “dangerous” at one middle school in Long Island and have been permanently banned…

As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Monday, officials at Weber Middle School in Port Washington are worried that students are getting hurt during recess. Thus, they have instituted a ban on footballs, baseballs, lacrosse balls, or anything that might hurt someone on school grounds.

But if that was the worst our kids had to put up with, they could certainly survive it.

Unfortunately, these days a single politically incorrect mistake by your kid could result in an arrest and being hauled out of school in handcuffs.  Just consider the following examples from a recent article by John Whitehead

These days, it is far too easy to rattle off the outrageous examples of zero tolerance policy run amok in our nation’s schools. A 14-year-old student arrested for texting in class. Three middle school aged boys in Florida thrown to the ground by police officers wielding rifles, who then arrested them for goofing off on the roof of the school. A 9-year-old boy suspended for allegedly pointing a toy at a classmate and saying “bang, bang.” Two 6-year-old students in Maryland suspended for using their fingers as imaginary guns in a schoolyard game of cops and robbers. A 12-year-old New York student hauled out of school in handcuffs for doodling on her desk with an erasable marker. An 8-year-old boy suspended for making his hand into the shape of a gun, in violation of the school district’s policy prohibiting “playing with invisible guns.” A 17-year-old charged with a felony for keeping his tackle box in his car parked on school property, potentially derailing his chances of entering the Air Force. Two seventh graders in Virginia suspended for the rest of the school year for playing with airsoft guns in their own yard before school.

This is the constant danger that is looming over the heads of our public school students today.  And what makes this even worse are the “zero tolerance” policies that have been put in place all over the country.  It does not matter if your kid is a straight A student that has never done a single thing wrong.  If your kid breaks the politically correct rules, the hammer will be brought down on your kid very hard.  And according to Whitehead, many schools are now continually monitoring the social media accounts of their students for any “violations”…

Despite a general consensus that zero tolerance policies have failed to have any appreciable impact on student safety, schools have doubled down on these policies to the detriment of children all across the nation. Indeed, the zero tolerance mindset is so entrenched among school administrators all over America that we are now seeing school officials reaching into the personal lives of students to police their behavior at all times. For example, 13,000 students in the Glendale Unified School District in California are now being subjected to constant social media monitoring by school officials. Superintendent Richard Sheehan has hired private firm Geo Listening to analyze the public social media posts of students both off and on campus. Whether on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or any other social media platform, students will have their posts and comments analyzed for evidence of “bullying, cyber-bullying, hate and shaming activities, depression, harm and self harm, self hate and suicide, crime, vandalism, substance abuse and truancy.”

Unfortunately, the Glendale program is simply one component of a larger framework in which all student activity is treated as an open book by school administrators. What we are witnessing is a paradigm shift in American society, in which no personal activity is safe from the prying eyes of government agents and their corporate allies. Every decision and action, no matter how innocent, is scrutinized, analyzed, filed, stored, and eventually held against you when those in power feel like it.

You can read the remainder of Whitehead’s outstanding article right here.

So does it make you feel safer knowing that school authorities are “monitoring” your kids at all times?

And while they are sitting in the classroom, the goal is to “shape young minds” to accept the politically correct agenda of the progressives.

If parents only knew what was going on in these classrooms they would be absolutely shocked.  For example, one sixth grade class in Arkansas was recently given an assignment to “revise” the Bill of Rights because it has become “outdated”

Sixth graders at the Bryant School District in Arkansas were given an assignment to “revise” the “outdated” Bill of Rights by deleting and replacing two amendments, using the “War on Terror” and the Patriot Act as a guide.

The worksheet, which is the first Constitutional assignment of the school year, tells students that they will be on a “National Revised Bill of Rights Task Force” who will “prioritize, prune, and add amendments” for a “Revised Bill of Rights.”

“The government of the United States is currently revisiting the Bill of Rights,” the assignment states. “They have determined that it is outdated and may not remain in its current form any longer.”

Is that the kind of stuff that you want your kid to be taught?

Meanwhile, the reading, writing and math skills of U.S. students continue to decline.  The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Dave Hodges

For the most part, the end product our schools are producing is grossly substandard. SAT reading scores have declined to 40 year lows and there is no sign of a rebound. Since reading is the key to all knowledge, we are sending our children to a gunfight with a butter knife. Before the defenders of the public school system raise their voices in opposition, everyone needs to realize that our school children have been under attack for decades. Even the best educators have referred to our public education system as “the deliberate dumbing down of America.”

The results of our foolish national experiment with progressive education are predictable.  A brand new international study just released by the U.S. Department of Education revealed that “U.S. adults are dumber than the average human“.  The following is how USA Today described the findings of the study…

Americans have been hearing for years that their kids are lagging behind the rest of the developed world in skills. Now it’s the adults’ turn for a reality check.

A first-ever international comparison of the labor force in 23 industrialized nations shows that Americans ages 16 to 65 fall below international averages in basic problem-solving, reading and math skills, with gaps between the more- and less-educated in the USA larger than those of many other countries.

What is the solution?

Well, it would be nice if our public schools would stop doing all of the politically correct garbage and would start focusing on reading, writing and math again.

But we all know that is not going to happen.

So it is up to individual parents to make the choices that are going to be right for their own children.  Our kids are not going to be getting a high quality education in the public schools, but they are not going to be able to be successful in life without one.

About the author: Michael T. Snyder is a former Washington D.C. attorney who now publishes The Truth. His new thriller entitled “The Beginning Of The End” is now available on Amazon.com.

Michael T. Snyder's Shocking New Novel About The Future Of America

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The Great University Gamble — Privatising English Higher Education against the background of global...

Similar to other public sector areas in the UK, Higher Education (HE) is currently under attack. The introduction of tuition fees of up to £9000 per year, the downward pressure on wages and the attack on pensions imply a fundamental transformation of the sector. In The Great University Gamble: Money, Markets and the Future of Higher Education (Pluto Press, 2013), Andrew McGettigan unravels the true objectives underlying restructuring in English HE. In this post, I review this fascinating book and provide some additional reflections on aspects of resisting restructuring.  


Unravelling the restructuring of higher education

The cuts of direct government funding for universities was part of the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review. Having assumed office with the promise to get national debt under control, cuts across the public sector including Higher Education (HE) were justified by the new coalition government through reference to the fallout of the global economic crisis. In The Great University Gamble, Andrew McGettigan unravels the true objectives underlying this policy. The crisis provided a convenient justification for cuts, he concludes, but it was the opening up of HE to private competition, which was the real purpose of restructuring: ‘new private providers are encouraged to enter the sector, established charitable institutions must become more commercial and more corporate in their governance, new opportunities are created for private equity’ (P.185).


Student loans: smoke and mirrors

In exchange for losing government funding, universities have been allowed since September 2012 to charge students annual fees of up to £9000. It is the risky way in which the related student loans have been organised, which clarifies that financial savings cannot have been the prime motivator of government policy. In the new system, instead of providing direct grants to universities for teaching, the government advances cash to the Student Loans Company, which in turn provides loans to students so that they can cover their tuition fees. Any saving realised through the new regime results from an accounting trick. ‘Grants paid to institutions are expenditure. A £3 billion cut to grants is a £3 billion cut to expenditure. Loans work differently. The money loaned is expected to come back – therefore it is not straight-forwardly expenditure. Initially, only the estimated loss on loans counts as expenditure’ (P.159). Currently, the government operates on the assumption that it will lose 32 per cent of what has been loaned, which if calculated as expenditure, will still imply a reduction of annual spending on education. This accounting practice, however, bears great risks. Student loans have a long re-payment cycle. For years, governments will have to advance billions of pounds of fees without knowing exactly how much will be paid back. ‘Outstanding student debt, money owed to the government, will climb from £35 billion in 2012 to £191 billion by 2046’ (P.165). And while the government calculates with a loss of 32 per cent, other assessments predict 37 per cent, which would result in an additional £680 million per year of costs. In general, ‘these loans are unsecured, there is no asset connected to them that can be cashed in, such as, say, a mortgage backed by property. We have to assume that there are no profound political or economic changes’ (P.48). Why would the government embark on this financial gamble at a time, when it has been proven that gambles of this kind can go horribly wrong?


Privatisation, competition and commodification

The government’s real ambition, McGettigan convincingly argues, is the partial privatisation of HE in order to introduce market competition in the sector and to provide new outlets for private investment. It is the same rationale, which also underlies NHS reforms and the restructuring of primary and secondary education. Public services and their democratic accountability are eroded in favour of the market and private companies. It is the shift to fees, which gives new providers and private equity access to the student loan book, thereby ‘creating new outlets for value extraction’ (P.78). And with private providers entering the market, ‘the majority of universities will need to become more akin to commercial operations, charging for services’ (P.5). In short, the nature of the whole sector is transformed. Private companies such as Pearson/Edexcel have not yet been given Degree Awarding Powers. Nevertheless, throughout the volume McGettigan provides a number of examples of joint ventures in which private companies become directly involved in the organisation of HE in order to make profit.

Commodification is part and parcel of private sector participation in HE. ‘The higher fee encourages the applicant to consider undergraduate study as a form of “human capital” investment, or the purchase of a financial asset, the returns on which are to be seen after graduation in the form of higher earnings’ (P.25). Unsurprisingly, this focus on high paid employment and employability comes at a cost. Subjects not directly related to employment, as for example Philosophy or History of Arts, are likely to lose out. ‘Becoming responsive to demand may see universities shedding subjects which could lead to lost capacity and a contraction in the breadth of what is on offer’ (P.63). Wider public goods such as the formation of critical citizens will be lost as a result of this sole focus on employment.


Resistance and mobilisation

In sum, this book provides an excellent and highly important overview of current restructuring of HE in England and its underlying purpose of privatisation. And yet, for those of us interested in resisting restructuring, it can only be a starting-point. The future of HE in England does not only depend on who has the ‘better’, ‘objective’ arguments about what a ‘good’ HE system should look like. Restructuring is first and foremost also an issue of balance of power between different interests in wider society. As McGettigan makes clear, it is the interests of private equity to find new investment opportunities, which are behind the government’s agenda (P.8). In order to resist these interests, counter power needs to be built up through broader mobilisation within HE and society more widely. In the reminder of this review, I will reflect on several additional aspects relevant to resistance.

First, current restructuring of HE does not only consist of an increase in tuition fees and private sector participation, which is mainly the focus of McGettigan’s book. It is also reflected in the attacks on pensions as well as staff’s general terms and conditions. Moreover, the sector is increasingly characterised by performance related pay schemes intended to ensure the close monitoring of employees. An ongoing process of de-professionalisation is reflected in the transformation of academics from autonomous, independent and collegial professionals into a standardised workforce, operating within an ever tighter net of regulations. Considering that these cuts in pay and working conditions are imposed at a time when ‘the sector overall in England is at its healthiest for many years’ (P.113), it is clear that employers have fully bought into the government agenda. Universities themselves have increasingly contributed to the marketisation of HE especially through the way they have tried to establish themselves as key players in an increasingly global market of HE, be it through campuses in other countries, be it through joint ventures with institutions elsewhere around the world. Resistance to restructuring needs to confront employers head on and forget past notions of supposedly joint interests between university employers and staff.

Second, when reflecting about resistance, we need to acknowledge that restructuring offers powerful incentives to individual academics, who perceive university administration as an attractive alternative career route to the traditional focus on excellence in teaching and research. The dramatic increases in Vice Chancellors’ (VCs) pay are regularly reported in the news. Underneath VCs, however, we can observe the rise of a powerful, well paid and expanding group of academics turned administrators, who personally benefit from restructuring through increased salaries and status. Resistance to restructuring needs to take into account the complicity of some colleagues in these developments and find an appropriate response.


What sort of trade union?

Finally, reflecting on resistance to restructuring also requires reflecting on the appropriate type of trade union organisation for this purpose. The University and College Union (UCU), which organises employees across Further and Higher Education in the UK, is at a crossroads. Should it pour further resources in the representation of individual members and transform itself into a kind of service union or should it develop more strongly an image of a campaigning union with the goal of impacting on the shape of HE as a whole? Clearly, it is only the latter strategy which may be able to resist restructuring successfully, while the former can at best ameliorate the situation for individuals without challenging restructuring itself.

These additional reflections should not, however, distract from the achievements of this fascinating book. McGettigan succeeds at providing an in-depth overview of key aspects of current restructuring and successfully uncovers the political and economic rationale driving these processes. It is a must-read for all those interested in understanding current change in HE in order to resist it.


[This post was first published in Another education is possible, No.4 (Spring/Summer 2013), pp.5-6.]


Prof. Andreas Bieler
Professor of Political Economy
University of Nottingham/UK

Personal website: http://andreasbieler.net

30 May 2013

Education Not Debt

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Netflix CEO’s Education Reform Views Sneak Into House of Cards

I blame John Amato for getting me hooked on the new Netflix Series, House of Cards. Kevin Spacey is fantastic, the pace is great, but unfortunately, the policy issues they tackle in this first season are predictably corporate.

Nothing screams corporate like the storyline about education reform. After Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) forces his colleague to abandon education reform because he's "too left", Underwood finds himself negotiating a package with union representatives that feels a lot like Reed Hastings' dream "reform package."

Adam Bessie introduces Ms. Reform, Hastings' dream girl of education reform:

Ms. Reform is the Marilyn Monroe of domestic policy. The corporate media – and the President himself – can’t get enough of her.

It’s no surprise she’s become famous. Ms. Reform is sexy and seductive, especially to the powerful: she looks like a philanthropist – kind and nurturing, committed to helping the poor, forgotten black and brown children in the inner-cities. Who in their right mind could be against her plans to help our children – especially our most vulnerable and least privileged – have a fair shot in life? But inside – a side she never shows the camera, and when she does, it’s Photoshopped – Ms.Reform is a cutthroat businesswoman: she’s read Ronald Reagan’s economic advisor Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom from cover to cover, she has complete faith in “free enterprise,” she’s never heard of John Dewey nor deigned to teach a day in her life, and boy, does she friggin’ hate unions. In short, Ms. Reform appeals not just to the bleeding heart social justice Obamaites, but also, to venture capitalists that think Obama is fomenting a socialist take-over of America. The only surprise is that she didn’t become famous sooner.

Now, Ms. Reform is starring once again, this time, along (another) Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey in the NetFlix original seriesHouse of Cards, which explores the sordid underbelly of Washington politics. The protagonist Congressman Frank Underwood – who has no allegiance but to his own power – takes on the education reform bill for the new President, one which looks strikingly similar to No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top: the bill increases charter schools, and ties test scores to teacher evaluation, echoing the corporate style, free enterprise reforms both bills have implemented. And of course, as is always the case, Ms. Reform is cast as heroine – and the unions, at best obstructionist and only interested in the needs of the teachers, and not the children (To be fair, though, it’s clear that the real villain in the show is not the unions, but Underwood himself – and as Underwood is supporting the bill, it might cast a negative light on the policies to some viewers).

[...]

To be clear, Ms.Reform’s on-screen portrayal mirrors Hasting’s values and his hefty investments. Hastings – who objectifies and commodifies education by characterizing it as business “space,” devoid of humanity – is invested both in for-profit, non-profit, and lobbying efforts that push for the very reforms reflected in House of Cards.

Alyssa Rosenberg at ThinkProgress noticed it too:

Elsewhere in the education fight, the only discussion of policy are facile mentions of charter schools, collective bargaining, and performance standards. A union official appears in one scene to declare that “Charters jeapordize our ability to organize, which is reason enough” to object to Frank’s draft of the bill. Otherwise, the movement is represented only by picketers who melt when Frank and his wife serve them barbeque, and by a paid lobbyist who is manipulated into decking Frank in his office, giving him the advantage he needs to force a settlement to a teacher’s strike and a legislative deadlock. When Frank manipulates Congressman Russo (Corey Stoll) into running for Governor of Pennsylvania, his opposition is largely personified by the head of a shipbuilder’s union decimated by the BRAC process that shutters a local shipyard.

It's true that Hastings didn't write the script, but I can't help thinking he shaped a narrative that lends itself to such a script. The casual treatment and perception of unions as thugs, of teachers as incompetent, of solutions as simply privatizing the effort altogether while using data analysis as the benchmark for nearly everything is characteristic of today's reform discussion.

News broke late tonight that Chicago Public Schools may be closing 50 public schools. FIFTY. There is absolutely no way the school system can absorb that kind of shock. I don't think the number 50 is a coincidence. Back in the days when the Gates Foundation thought charters were the answer to everything, the foundation put millions into the district to create charter schools, including 50 new high schools under their "small high school" initiatve.

In 2012, the Gates Foundation announced they would not put any more funds into CPS, leaving the district with a choice as to which schools to de-fund and which to keep. That wouldn't have anything to do with Chicago teachers going on strike last year, would it?

Shall we take bets on which schools stay open and which ones close? I'm betting on the charters staying open and the public schools closing. You?

It worries me that we're seeing the reformers worm into popular culture without fully exploring all of the issues around education reform. I realize Reed Hastings, Bill Gates, Betsy DeVos and Michelle Rhee think they have all the answers, but they really don't.

A show like House of Cards is uniquely positioned to honestly explore all facets of an issue like this in a fast-paced and entertaining way. It's disappointing to see the writers reach for the corporate solution without even looking at the other side of things.

Solution to Student Debt is to Get the Banks Out of the Education Business

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Report: State Education Cuts Causing ‘Surge’ in University Tuition Prices

The gross slashing of funds for public universities has caused a "surge" in tuition prices, disproportionately impacting low-income students says a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

States are spending an average of 28 percent less this year on public university funding than they did in 2008—a decrease of $2,353 per student. According to CBPP, thirty-six states cut funding by over 20 percent and eleven slashed their budgets by more than one-third. Arizona and New Hampshire have cut their higher education spending in half.

To compensate for this massive gap in funding, the burden of cost has shifted to students in the form of surging tuition which, at four-year public colleges, has grown 27 percent since the 2007-08 year.

"These numbers are a vivid demonstration of why Washington's post-recession path has been so disastrous," said the Atlantic's Jordan Weissman in response to the report.

According to the report:

Average annual tuition at four-year public colleges has grown by $1,850, or 27 percent, since the 2007-08 school year when adjusted for inflation. In seven states — Arizona, California, Florida, Washington, Georgia, Hawaii, and Alabama — average tuition has increased by more than 50 percent. In Arizona and California, tuition has risen by more than 70 percent.

"It's very clear that rising costs dissuade students from attending college, particularly students from low-income families," said CBPP policy analyst Phil Oliff on a call with reporters. Citing a 1995 study by Harvard University researcher Thomas Kane, CBPP notes that states that had the largest tuition increases during the 1980’s and early 1990’s “saw the greatest widening of the gaps in enrollment between high- and low-income youth.”

Compounding these rising costs, the rate of growth for public university tuition has outpaced the growth in median household income nearly 159 to 3 percent between 1991 and 2011, leaving students and families beholden to mounting levels of debt to cover the exploding cost of schools.

According to CBPP:

Between the 2007-08 and the 2010-11 school years, the amount of debt incurred by the average bachelor’s degree recipient at a public four-year institution grew from $11,800 to $13,600 (in 2011 dollars), an inflation adjusted increase of $1,800, or 15 percent. The average level of debt incurred had grown from $11,100 to $11,800, an increase of $700, or about 6 percent, over the previous eight years.

"We're going to be living with the effects of these cuts for a long time," added Weissman. "We'll see them in the form of higher student loan bills and students who can't graduate on time, because the classes they needed filled up too quickly."

The report concludes that these disturbing figures will have widespread impacts on an already weak national education system and consequently, states' future economic success. “At the very least," the authors write, "states must avoid shortsighted tax cuts, which would make it much harder for them to invest in higher education, strengthen the skills of their workforce, and compete for the jobs of the future.”

_____________________

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Report: State Education Cuts Causing ‘Surge’ in University Tuition Prices

The gross slashing of funds for public universities has caused a "surge" in tuition prices, disproportionately impacting low-income students says a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

States are spending an average of 28 percent less this year on public university funding than they did in 2008—a decrease of $2,353 per student. According to CBPP, thirty-six states cut funding by over 20 percent and eleven slashed their budgets by more than one-third. Arizona and New Hampshire have cut their higher education spending in half.

To compensate for this massive gap in funding, the burden of cost has shifted to students in the form of surging tuition which, at four-year public colleges, has grown 27 percent since the 2007-08 year.

"These numbers are a vivid demonstration of why Washington's post-recession path has been so disastrous," said the Atlantic's Jordan Weissman in response to the report.

According to the report:

Average annual tuition at four-year public colleges has grown by $1,850, or 27 percent, since the 2007-08 school year when adjusted for inflation. In seven states — Arizona, California, Florida, Washington, Georgia, Hawaii, and Alabama — average tuition has increased by more than 50 percent. In Arizona and California, tuition has risen by more than 70 percent.

"It's very clear that rising costs dissuade students from attending college, particularly students from low-income families," said CBPP policy analyst Phil Oliff on a call with reporters. Citing a 1995 study by Harvard University researcher Thomas Kane, CBPP notes that states that had the largest tuition increases during the 1980’s and early 1990’s “saw the greatest widening of the gaps in enrollment between high- and low-income youth.”

Compounding these rising costs, the rate of growth for public university tuition has outpaced the growth in median household income nearly 159 to 3 percent between 1991 and 2011, leaving students and families beholden to mounting levels of debt to cover the exploding cost of schools.

According to CBPP:

Between the 2007-08 and the 2010-11 school years, the amount of debt incurred by the average bachelor’s degree recipient at a public four-year institution grew from $11,800 to $13,600 (in 2011 dollars), an inflation adjusted increase of $1,800, or 15 percent. The average level of debt incurred had grown from $11,100 to $11,800, an increase of $700, or about 6 percent, over the previous eight years.

"We're going to be living with the effects of these cuts for a long time," added Weissman. "We'll see them in the form of higher student loan bills and students who can't graduate on time, because the classes they needed filled up too quickly."

The report concludes that these disturbing figures will have widespread impacts on an already weak national education system and consequently, states' future economic success. “At the very least," the authors write, "states must avoid shortsighted tax cuts, which would make it much harder for them to invest in higher education, strengthen the skills of their workforce, and compete for the jobs of the future.”

_____________________

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Chomsky: The Corporate Assault on Public Education

Our kids are being prepared for passive obedience, not creative, independent lives.

March 8, 2013  |  

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The following is Part II of the transcript of a speech Noam Chomsky delivered in February on "The Common Good." Click here to read Part I.

Let’s turn to the assault on education, one element of the general elite reaction to the civilizing effect of the ‘60s. On the right side of the political spectrum, one striking illustration is an influential memorandum written by Lewis Powell, a corporate lawyer working for the tobacco industry, later appointed to the Supreme Court by Richard Nixon. At the other end of the narrow spectrum, there was an important study by the Trilateral Commission, liberal internationalists from the three major state capitalist industrial systems: the US, Europe and Japan. Both provide good insight into why the assault targets the educational system.

Let's start with the Powell memorandum. Its title is, “The Attack on the American Free-Enterprise System." It is interesting not only for the content, but also for the paranoid tone. For those who take for granted the right to rule, anything that gets out of control means that the world is coming to an end, like a spoiled three-year-old. So the rhetoric tends to be inflated and paranoid.

Powell identifies the leading criminals who are destroying the American free-enterprise system: one was Ralph Nader, with his consumer safety campaigns. The other was Herbert Marcuse, preaching Marxism to the young New Leftists who were on the rampage all over, while their “naive victims” dominated the universities and schools, controlled TV and other media, the educated community and virtually the entire government. If you think I am exaggerating, I urge you to read it yourself (pdf). Their takeover of the country, he said, is a dire threat to freedom.That's what it looks like from the standpoint of the Masters, as the nefarious campaigns of Nader and the ‘60s popular movements chipped away very slightly at total domination. 

Powell drew the obvious conclusion: “The campuses from which much of this criticism emanates are supported by tax funds generated largely from American business, contributions from capital funds controlled or generated by American business. The boards of trustees at universities are overwhelmingly composed of men and women who are leaders in the business system and most of the media, including the national TV systems are owned and theoretically controlled by corporations which depend on profits and the enterprise system on which they survive.”

Therefore, the oppressed business people who have lost all influence should organize and defend themselves instead of idly sitting by while fundamental freedoms are destroyed by the Marxist onslaught from the media, universities and the government. Those are the expression of the concerns elicited by '60s activism at the right end of the mainstream spectrum.

More revealing is the reaction from the opposite extreme, the liberal internationalists, those who staffed the Carter administration, in their study called "The Crisis of Democracy." The crisis that they perceived was that there was too much democracy. The system used to work fine when most of the population was silent, passive, apathetic and obedient. The American rapporteur, Professor Samuel Huntington of Harvard, looked back with nostalgia to the good old days when “Truman had been able to govern the country with the cooperation of a relatively small number of Wall Street lawyers and bankers,” so that democracy flourished, with no crisis.

But in the ‘60s, something dangerous happened. Special interest groups began to try to enter the political arena and press for their demands. The special interests were women, minorities, young people, old people, farmers, workers. In other words: The population, who are supposed to sit obediently while the intelligent minority runs things in the interest of everyone, according to liberal democratic theory – and this is no exaggeration either. There's one group omitted in the lament of the liberal internationalists: The corporate sector. That's because they don't comprise a special interest; they represent the national Interest. Therefore their dominant influence in what we call democracy is right and proper, and merits no mention or concern.

Big Monied Education ‘Reform’ Groups Flood Los Angeles School Board Race

Los Angeles has become the latest battleground in the contested war over school "reform" as a group of billionaire school-privatization advocates have turned Tuesday's school board election into a national, multi-million dollar "test case" in the fight over the future of education.

UTLA and community members protest a 2009 decision to put 250 schools up for bidding by charter schools and other outside entities. (PHoto: UTLA) According to reports, last month New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg donated $1 million to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's Coalition for School Reform. The group is backing candidates who will support current superintendent John Deasey, formerly of the Gates Foundation, who has been pushing such policy changes as expanding charter schools, limiting the power of teachers unions and using student standardized test scores as a means of evaluating teachers.

National school privatization advocate Michelle Rhee's group Students First, donated $250,000 to the same cause, in addition to a host of other titans—which include Walmart heirs and real estate and insurance magnate, Eli Broad.

As the nation's second largest school system, the Los Angeles school system represents a "good investment" for the billionaires who aim to reshape the US education system, writes professor Peter Dreier. He continues:

The corporate big-wigs are part of an effort that they and the media misleadingly call "school reform." What they're really after is not "reform" (improving our schools for the sake of students) but "privatization" (business control of public education). They think public schools should be run like corporations, with teachers as compliant workers, students as products, and the school budget as a source of profitable contracts and subsidies for textbook companies, consultants, and others engaged in the big business of education.

“School board races are a way to take the temperature of whether people like the direction schools are going in,” said President Warren Fletcher of the United Teachers of Los Angeles, which has spent nearly $450,000 in opposing campaigns. “This is a race for Los Angeles, not the school board race of America. It would be really tragic if the voices are drowned out by folks who have no sense of what is going on here to begin with.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, Villaraigosa's group has raised more than $3 million for the upcoming election and the city's ethics commission estimates that total race spending from outside groups, including the teachers’ union, has reached $4.4 million as of Friday.

The candidates receiving the big money backing include current school board President Monica Garcia as well as Kate Anderson (District 4) and Antonio Sanchez (District 6). In the most expensive of the races, Anderson, an attorney, is taking on incumbent and former teacher Steve Zimmer, who is being specifically targeted because of a proposal he made last year to put a hold on creating new charter schools.

_____________________

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College Education in America: “Learning to Be Stupid in the Culture of Cash”

academic

Incisive and provocative analysis first published by Global Research in August 2003.

You might think that reading about a Podunk University’s English teacher’s attempt to connect the dots between the poverty of American education and the gullibility of the American public may be a little trivial, considering we’ve embarked on the first, openly-confessed imperial adventure of senescent capitalism in the US, but bear with me. The question my experiences in the classroom raise is why have these young people been educated to such abysmal depths of ignorance.

“I don’t read,” says a junior without the slightest self-consciousness. She has not the smallest hint that professing a habitual preference for not reading at a university is like bragging in ordinary life that one chooses not to breathe. She is in my “World Literature” class. She has to read novels by African, Latin American, and Asian authors. She is not there by choice: it’s just a “distribution” requirement for graduation, and it’s easier than philosophy -she thinks.

The novel she has trouble reading is Isabel Allende’s “Of Love and Shadows,” set in the post-coup terror of Pinochet’s junta’s Nazi-style regime in Chile, 1973-1989. No one in the class, including the English majors, can write a focused essay of analysis, so I have to teach that. No one in the class knows where Chile is, so I make photocopies of general information from world guide surveys. No one knows what socialism or fascism is, so I spend time writing up digestible definitions. No one knows what Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” is, and I supply it because it’s impossible to understand the theme of the novel without a basic knowledge of that work – which used to be required reading a few generations ago. And no one in the class has ever heard of 11 September 1973, the CIA-sponsored coup which terminated Chile’s mature democracy. There is complete shock when I supply US de-classified documents proving US collusion with the generals’ coup and the assassination of elected president, Salvador Allende.

Geography, history, philosophy, and political science – all missing from their preparation. I realize that my students are, in fact, the oppressed, as Paulo Freire’s “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed” pointed out, and that they are paying for their own oppression. So, I patiently explain: no, our government has not been the friend of democracy in Chile; yes, our government did fund both the coup and the junta torture-machine; yes, the same goes for most of Latin America. Then, one student asks, “Why?” Well, I say, the CIA and the corporations run roughshod over the world in part because of the ignorance of the people of the United States, which apparently is induced by formal education, reinforced by the media, and cheered by Hollywood. As the more people read, the less they know and the more indoctrinated they become, you get this national enabling stupidity to attain which they go into bottomless pools of debt. If it weren’t tragic, it would be funny.

Meanwhile, this expensive stupidity facilitates US funding of the bloody work of death squads, juntas, and terror regimes abroad. It permits the war we are waging – an unfair, illegal, unjust, illogical, and expensive war, which announces to the world the failure of our intelligence and, by the way, the creeping weakness of our economic system. Every man, woman, and child killed by a bomb, bullet, famine, or polluted water is a murder – and a war crime. And it signals the impotence of American education to produce brains equipped with the bare necessities for democratic survival: analyzing and asking questions.

Let me put it succinctly: I don’t think serious education is possible in America. Anything you touch in the annals of knowledge is a foe of this system of commerce and profit, run amok. The only education that can be permitted is if it acculturates to the status quo, as happens in the expensive schools, or if it produces people to police and enforce the status quo, as in the state school where I teach. Significantly, at my school, which is a third-tier university, servicing working-class, first-generation college graduates who enter lower-echelon jobs in the civil service, education, or middle management, the favored academic concentrations are communications, criminal justice, and social work–basically how to mystify, cage, and control the masses.

This education is a vast waste of the resources and potential of the young. It is boring beyond belief and useless–except to the powers and interests that depend on it. When A Ukranian student, a three-week arrival on these shores, writes the best-organized and most profound essay in English of the class, American education has something to answer for–especially to our youth.

But the detritus and debris that American education has become is both planned and instrumental. It’s why our media succeeds in telling lies. It’s why our secretary of state can quote from a graduate-student paper, claiming confidently that the stolen data came from the highest intelligence sources. It’s why Picasso’s “Guernica” can be covered up during his preposterous “report” to the UN without anyone guessing the political significance of this gesture and the fascist sensibility that it protects.

Cultural fascism manifests itself in an aversion to thought and cultural refinement. “When I hear the word ‘culture,’” Goebbels said, “I reach for my revolver.” One of the infamous and telling reforms the Pinochet regime implemented was educational reform. The basic goal was to end the university’s role as a source of social criticism and political opposition.

The order came to dismantle the departments of philosophy, social and political science, humanities and the arts–areas in which political discussions were likely to occur. The universities were ordered to issue degrees only in business management, computer programming, engineering, medicine and dentistry – vocational training schools, which in reality is what American education has come to resemble, at least at the level of mass education. Our students can graduate without ever touching a foreign language, philosophy, elements of any science, music or art, history, and political science, or economics.

In fact, our students learn to live in an electoral democracy devoid of politics – a feature the dwindling crowds at the voting booths well illustrate.

The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote that, in the rapacity that the industrial revolution created, people first surrendered their minds or the capacity to reason, then their hearts or the capacity to empathize, until all that was left of the original human equipment was the senses or their selfish demands for gratification. At that point, humans entered the stage of market commodities and market consumers–one more thing in the commercial landscape. Without minds or hearts, they are instrumentalized to buy whatever deadens their clamoring and frightened senses–official lies, immoral wars, Barbies, and bankrupt educations.

Meanwhile, in my state, the governor has ordered a 10% cut across the board for all departments in the state – including education.

Luciana Bohne teaches film and literature at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania. Please send your comments/feedback/discussion on this article to [email protected] .

Get Corporations Out of Education: An Open Letter to Arne Duncan

(Note from the Answer Sheet's Valerie Strauss: A coalition of teachers from public and private schools — including the school that Education Secretary Arne Duncan attended as a child and where President Obama’s daughters were enrolled before they moved to Washington — are releasing an open letter to Duncan expressing concerns about department policies that they say promote the overuse of standardized tests. Among the signees are teachers from the Ariel Community Academy, a public school that was founded by a team of people that included Duncan.)Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. (AP file)

Dear Mr. Duncan,

As primary, secondary, and university educators who are passionate about the importance of a liberal arts education in building and maintaining a democratic society, we are very concerned with the impact of standardized testing on humanities curricula. The widespread trend of teaching to the test is undermining primary and secondary education. Social studies, history, the fine arts, the study of literatures and languages, drama and music; these and other subjects not assessed in the standardized tests of “No Child Left Behind” are subjects that are themselves being left behind as administrators pressure teachers to raise narrowly conceived test scores in a few core areas.

We seek to build respect for the democratic process, critical thinking skills, writing skills, and understanding that is not accurately measured in multiple-choice tests.  (see the Fair Test website for a review of the literature: http://www.fairtest.org/k-12/high%20stakes). While we see the Common Core Curriculum as a step in the right direction, we steadfastly reject attempts pushed by testing companies to devise standardized assessments to measure progress in reading, writing, and speaking. Nor do we believe that computer programs currently being developed by major assessment corporations, or any form of outsourcing of essay assessments, are viable solutions.

Put your faith in teachers rather than corporate interests to assess reading, writing, and speaking. Do not allow corporations to control American education.

Instead of relying on standardized tests, we believe that the best way to pursue higher standards in reading, writing, and speaking skills is to develop standardized and widely accepted rubrics for assessment and allow teachers to assess their students with these rubrics.

We are very concerned with the extent to which current educational policies have embraced what John Dewey would call “instrumental rationality” in seeking solutions that can be statistically measured. We are currently seeing a national backlash against such measurements from parents, teachers, and administrators. These statistical measures merely confirm the very real social gaps between the haves and the have-nots in American education.  (For a review of the literature see http://cepa.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/reardon%20whither%20opportunity%20-%20chapter%205.pdf).

University administrators have known for some time that high SAT scores correlate closely with socioeconomic class. Students who do well on them may succeed more frequently in college than those who do not, but this correlation may be telling us more about the test than about the students. Secondary teachers often see students who are terrific at taking tests, but who choose to avoid tasks requiring difficult thinking.

University educators want students who can write, research, and think: students who are open minded, passionate, and curious. These qualities are snuffed out under the drive for high scores on standardized multiple-choice tests under “No Child Left Behind."

Secondary educators want to prepare students for the challenges that they will face at colleges and universities. This is difficult to do when an overemphasis on discrete item standardized testing prevents them from engaging their students in the meaningful work that best prepares them for the next level.

We know that your office is bombarded with lobbyists from major testing companies, textbook companies, and big donors with big money who seek to shape education reform. State Boards of Education are faced with similar pressures. We feel strongly that big money is far too invested in the current debate, and we are concerned that their influence is determining much of what passes for “reform.” Put your faith in teachers rather than corporate interests to assess reading, writing, and speaking. Do not allow corporations to control American education.

We invite further discussion at your convenience. A delegation from among the signees below will be happy to meet you for hoops and a discussion.

Sincerely yours,

New Trier High School:
Lindsey Arado
Mike Baeb
Kerry Brennan
Ian Duell
David Hjelmgren
Tim Kajfez
Tom Kucharski
Debbie Johnson
Todd Maxman
Dean Pinos
John O’Connor
Alex Zilka

 Northern Illinois University:
Jerome D. Bowers, History Dept.

 University of Illinois-Chicago:
Robert Johnston, History Dept.

 Concord Review:
Will Fitzhugh, Editor and Publisher

 The Report Card:
William Korach, Editor and Publisher

 University of Chicago Laboratory Schools:
Luicija Ambrosini
Allen Ambrosini
Suzanne Baum
Charles Branham
Wayne Brasler
Brad Brickner
David Derbes
Steve Granzyk
Lee Gustafson
Paul Horton
Chris Janus
Bob Kass
Mark Krewatch
Andrea Martonffy
Lisa Miller
Rachel Nielsen
Diane Puklin, Emeritus
Susan Shapiro
Kelly Storm
Brian Wildeman

Ariel Community Academy
Allie Griffin
Shirley Knox
Jake Sklarsky
Willis Niederfrank

 Chicago Teachers Union

Get Corporations Out of Education: An Open Letter to Arne Duncan

(Note from the Answer Sheet's Valerie Strauss: A coalition of teachers from public and private schools — including the school that Education Secretary Arne Duncan attended as a child and where President Obama’s daughters were enrolled before they moved to Washington — are releasing an open letter to Duncan expressing concerns about department policies that they say promote the overuse of standardized tests. Among the signees are teachers from the Ariel Community Academy, a public school that was founded by a team of people that included Duncan.)Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. (AP file)

Dear Mr. Duncan,

As primary, secondary, and university educators who are passionate about the importance of a liberal arts education in building and maintaining a democratic society, we are very concerned with the impact of standardized testing on humanities curricula. The widespread trend of teaching to the test is undermining primary and secondary education. Social studies, history, the fine arts, the study of literatures and languages, drama and music; these and other subjects not assessed in the standardized tests of “No Child Left Behind” are subjects that are themselves being left behind as administrators pressure teachers to raise narrowly conceived test scores in a few core areas.

We seek to build respect for the democratic process, critical thinking skills, writing skills, and understanding that is not accurately measured in multiple-choice tests.  (see the Fair Test website for a review of the literature: http://www.fairtest.org/k-12/high%20stakes). While we see the Common Core Curriculum as a step in the right direction, we steadfastly reject attempts pushed by testing companies to devise standardized assessments to measure progress in reading, writing, and speaking. Nor do we believe that computer programs currently being developed by major assessment corporations, or any form of outsourcing of essay assessments, are viable solutions.

Put your faith in teachers rather than corporate interests to assess reading, writing, and speaking. Do not allow corporations to control American education.

Instead of relying on standardized tests, we believe that the best way to pursue higher standards in reading, writing, and speaking skills is to develop standardized and widely accepted rubrics for assessment and allow teachers to assess their students with these rubrics.

We are very concerned with the extent to which current educational policies have embraced what John Dewey would call “instrumental rationality” in seeking solutions that can be statistically measured. We are currently seeing a national backlash against such measurements from parents, teachers, and administrators. These statistical measures merely confirm the very real social gaps between the haves and the have-nots in American education.  (For a review of the literature see http://cepa.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/reardon%20whither%20opportunity%20-%20chapter%205.pdf).

University administrators have known for some time that high SAT scores correlate closely with socioeconomic class. Students who do well on them may succeed more frequently in college than those who do not, but this correlation may be telling us more about the test than about the students. Secondary teachers often see students who are terrific at taking tests, but who choose to avoid tasks requiring difficult thinking.

University educators want students who can write, research, and think: students who are open minded, passionate, and curious. These qualities are snuffed out under the drive for high scores on standardized multiple-choice tests under “No Child Left Behind."

Secondary educators want to prepare students for the challenges that they will face at colleges and universities. This is difficult to do when an overemphasis on discrete item standardized testing prevents them from engaging their students in the meaningful work that best prepares them for the next level.

We know that your office is bombarded with lobbyists from major testing companies, textbook companies, and big donors with big money who seek to shape education reform. State Boards of Education are faced with similar pressures. We feel strongly that big money is far too invested in the current debate, and we are concerned that their influence is determining much of what passes for “reform.” Put your faith in teachers rather than corporate interests to assess reading, writing, and speaking. Do not allow corporations to control American education.

We invite further discussion at your convenience. A delegation from among the signees below will be happy to meet you for hoops and a discussion.

Sincerely yours,

New Trier High School:
Lindsey Arado
Mike Baeb
Kerry Brennan
Ian Duell
David Hjelmgren
Tim Kajfez
Tom Kucharski
Debbie Johnson
Todd Maxman
Dean Pinos
John O’Connor
Alex Zilka

 Northern Illinois University:
Jerome D. Bowers, History Dept.

 University of Illinois-Chicago:
Robert Johnston, History Dept.

 Concord Review:
Will Fitzhugh, Editor and Publisher

 The Report Card:
William Korach, Editor and Publisher

 University of Chicago Laboratory Schools:
Luicija Ambrosini
Allen Ambrosini
Suzanne Baum
Charles Branham
Wayne Brasler
Brad Brickner
David Derbes
Steve Granzyk
Lee Gustafson
Paul Horton
Chris Janus
Bob Kass
Mark Krewatch
Andrea Martonffy
Lisa Miller
Rachel Nielsen
Diane Puklin, Emeritus
Susan Shapiro
Kelly Storm
Brian Wildeman

Ariel Community Academy
Allie Griffin
Shirley Knox
Jake Sklarsky
Willis Niederfrank

 Chicago Teachers Union

Congress Can Avert Dangerous Automatic Cuts and Protect Investments in Jobs and Education by...

WASHINGTON - February 14 - Unless Congress acts, on March 1 automatic and indiscriminate spending cuts will hit key programs, costing our economy more than 1 million jobs and cutting essential services for millions of low- and middle-income families. But a new infographic released today by the Center for American Progress explains how Congress can act to avert these dangerous cuts and protect investments. The infographic, “Tax Loopholes for Corporate Jets or Investments in Jobs and Education?”, illustrates how through a balanced approach to deficit reduction—an approach that eliminates wasteful tax loopholes that only benefit a wealthy few—Congress can protect critical investments that create jobs and lift up the most vulnerable Americans.

“Congress has a choice to make. They can ensure that 600,000 women and children don’t go hungry, that 125,000 American families don’t lose their homes, and that 7,400 teachers and staff who support students with disabilities don’t lose their jobs, or they can protect an irresponsible tax loophole,” said Melissa Boteach, Director of CAP’s Poverty to Prosperity program. “This choice should be easy.”

Just by eliminating a loophole that gives special treatment to corporate jets, for example—at a cost to taxpayers of $3.2 billion over 10 years—Congress could avert cuts that would cost thousands of jobs, hurt millions of disadvantaged students, and force hundreds of thousands of vulnerable families to lose critical nutrition and housing supports this year. Here’s the math:

Congress has some key choices to make in the coming weeks. If they don’t close the loophole for corporate jets:

  • 600,000 women and children will lose the critical nutrition assistance they need
  • 125,000 families will lose their permanent housing
  • More than 100,000 formerly homeless people, including veterans, will be at risk to go back on the streets
  • Students with disabilities will lose critical instruction and support from more than 7,400 teachers and staff
  • 1 million disadvantaged students will lose critical education funding and 10,500 teachers and staff will be at risk for losing their jobs
  • 70,000 poor children will lose their Head Start and Early Head Start slots as the jobs of 14,000 teachers and other staff are put at risk

To speak to CAP experts about this issue, please contact Madeline Meth [email protected] or 202.741.6277.

Related resources:

  • Follow Half in Ten’s #TalkPoverty campaign here.

The Center for American Progress is a think tank dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through ideas and action. We combine bold policy ideas with a modern communications platform to help shape the national debate, expose the hollowness of conservative governing philosophy, and challenge the media to cover the issues that truly matter.

Congress Can Avert Dangerous Automatic Cuts and Protect Investments in Jobs and Education by...

WASHINGTON - February 14 - Unless Congress acts, on March 1 automatic and indiscriminate spending cuts will hit key programs, costing our economy more than 1 million jobs and cutting essential services for millions of low- and middle-income families. But a new infographic released today by the Center for American Progress explains how Congress can act to avert these dangerous cuts and protect investments. The infographic, “Tax Loopholes for Corporate Jets or Investments in Jobs and Education?”, illustrates how through a balanced approach to deficit reduction—an approach that eliminates wasteful tax loopholes that only benefit a wealthy few—Congress can protect critical investments that create jobs and lift up the most vulnerable Americans.

“Congress has a choice to make. They can ensure that 600,000 women and children don’t go hungry, that 125,000 American families don’t lose their homes, and that 7,400 teachers and staff who support students with disabilities don’t lose their jobs, or they can protect an irresponsible tax loophole,” said Melissa Boteach, Director of CAP’s Poverty to Prosperity program. “This choice should be easy.”

Just by eliminating a loophole that gives special treatment to corporate jets, for example—at a cost to taxpayers of $3.2 billion over 10 years—Congress could avert cuts that would cost thousands of jobs, hurt millions of disadvantaged students, and force hundreds of thousands of vulnerable families to lose critical nutrition and housing supports this year. Here’s the math:

Congress has some key choices to make in the coming weeks. If they don’t close the loophole for corporate jets:

  • 600,000 women and children will lose the critical nutrition assistance they need
  • 125,000 families will lose their permanent housing
  • More than 100,000 formerly homeless people, including veterans, will be at risk to go back on the streets
  • Students with disabilities will lose critical instruction and support from more than 7,400 teachers and staff
  • 1 million disadvantaged students will lose critical education funding and 10,500 teachers and staff will be at risk for losing their jobs
  • 70,000 poor children will lose their Head Start and Early Head Start slots as the jobs of 14,000 teachers and other staff are put at risk

To speak to CAP experts about this issue, please contact Madeline Meth [email protected] or 202.741.6277.

Related resources:

  • Follow Half in Ten’s #TalkPoverty campaign here.

The Center for American Progress is a think tank dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through ideas and action. We combine bold policy ideas with a modern communications platform to help shape the national debate, expose the hollowness of conservative governing philosophy, and challenge the media to cover the issues that truly matter.

A Real Paradigm Shift in Education

(Photo: Alamy)I envy Thomas Paine’s way with language. I’ve been searching for years for words that would have the impact of those he penned in his 1776 pamphlet, “The Crisis.”

Admittedly, “These are the times that try men’s souls,” and the words that followed, weren’t a howling success. Only about a third of the colonists agreed with Paine’s call for revolution. Another third wanted to stick with England. The remaining third were neutral or apathetic.

What Paine was able to do that I can’t do is sell an idea to at least enough people to make something happen. I need to convince not a third of readers but, say, a tenth, to call their legislators and tell them to dismantle the education “reform” machine assembled in Washington by business leaders and politicians.

Long before corporate America began its assault on public schooling, American education was in trouble. Educators were, however, increasingly aware of the problems and were working on them. When Bill Gates, Jeb Bush, Mike Bloomberg, Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, and other big name non-educators took over, that worked stopped.

What I want people to understand is that the backbone of education — the familiar math-science-language arts-social studies “core curriculum” — is deeply, fundamentally flawed. No matter the reform initiative, there won’t be significant improvement in American education until curricular problems are understood, admitted, addressed, and solved.

Few want to hear that. Reformers are sure America’s schools would be fine if teachers just worked harder and smarter, and reformers are sure the teachers would do that if merit pay programs made them compete for cash. They seem incapable of understanding that classroom teachers are doing something so complicated and difficult that even the best of them are hanging on by their fingernails. If they knew how to do better, they’d be doing it. Would surgeons operate differently if they were paid more? Would commercial airline pilots make softer landings if they made more money? Would editorial writers write better editorials if their salaries were raised?

Teachers are doing the best they can with the curriculum they’ve been given. Here (in regrettably abstract language) is the curricular problem at the top of my list:

Change is in the nature of things; it is inevitable. Human societies either adapt to change or die. The traditional core curriculum delivers existing knowledge, but adapting to an unknown future requires new knowledge. New knowledge is created as relationships are discovered between parts of reality not previously thought to be related. The arbitrary walls between school subjects, and the practice of studying them in isolation from each other, block the relating process essential to knowledge creation.

Stick with me here. This isn’t complicated, just different from the usual school fare.

(1) Change is in the nature of things; it is inevitable. The earth heats and cools. Seasons come and go. Water tables rise and fall. Human populations increase, decrease, migrate. New tools change the ways societies function. People multiply, resources diminish, and waste builds. Civilizations appear and disappear. This is — or should be — the usual content of the core curriculum.

(2) Human societies either adapt to change or die. Ancient Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome are no more. A century ago, the Elks, Eagles, and Masons were popular organizations. More recently, Kodak, Bethlehem Steel, and Sony dominated whole industries. If we value our way of life, we need to understand the dynamics of change, but it’s not in the core curriculum.

(3) The traditional core curriculum delivers existing knowledge, but adapting to an unknown future requires new knowledge. Obviously, what will need to be known in the future isn’t yet known, from which it follows that it can’t be taught. However, the process by means of which new knowledge is created can be taught.

(4) New knowledge is created as relationships are discovered between parts of reality not previously thought to be related. Levels of respect for elders and rates of societal change are related. Elapsed time since death and level of isotopes in fossil remains are related. Exposure to lead and learning difficulties are related. Discovering and exploring relationships, not mentally storing information, educates.

(5) The arbitrary walls between school subjects, and studying them in isolation from each other, block the relating process essential to knowledge creation. If astronomers only studied the heavens, and oceanographers only studied the ocean, the relationship of moon, sun, and tides would remain unknown. Technological and economic change profoundly impact values, beliefs, and behavior, but study of their connections is missing from the curriculum. Again: Discovering and exploring relationships, not mentally storing information, educates.

(6) What needs to be known in the future can’t yet be taught, but the process by means of which that knowledge is created can-and must-be taught. Traditional instruction places far too much emphasis on content. The problem isn’t just that what students need to know can’t be known. The unreasonable amount of information dumped on them, the brief life in memory of most of it, and easy electronic access to a near-infinite amount of it, make merely delivering information a poor use of time. Focusing on the real world rather than on second-hand textbook versions of reality, and understanding the process by means of which sense is made of that world, are keys to new worlds of performance.

Standardized, high-stakes tests are the single greatest obstacle in the way of curricular improvement. Sold to the public as a necessary club to hold over teachers’ heads, the tests are dumbing down kids at a spectacular rate. The problem isn’t test overuse. The problem is their inability to measure what most needs to be measured.

Standardized tests are to accountability what a finger in the wind is to a weather station. What they measure — information stored in memory — is useful, but for kids facing an unknown future, that’s not nearly enough. They need to know how to create new knowledge. That knowledge will be original, and standardized tests can’t evaluate original, non-standard thought.

Unwilling to trust teacher judgment, we’ve handed their responsibilities to machines incapable of making judgment calls.

Tell business leaders and politicians to put their own houses in order and give education back to educators.

© 2012 The Washington Post

Marion Brady

Marion Brady is a veteran teacher, administrator, curriculum designer and author.

Knowledge and Public Education in Crisis. “Accelerated Privatization of Global Education”

Chile-student-protests

Thomas Friedman may praise the emancipatory potential of online university courses, but are they really capable of producing more than docile workers?

Education is a concept that we confront every day in some way, shape or form, directly or indirectly. It has long been considered to be the “silver bullet” in addressing the greatest injustices pervasive in society; poverty, crime, racism, patriarchy, and socio-economic inequality. Our interaction with education is influenced by and varies based on the tentacles of power relations; class, ethnicity, gender, geography, and life experiences. For some, this interaction manifests itself in questions of best practices and educational philosophy.

For others, it revolves more around access to knowledge and questions of representation. Consequently, our conceptual interaction with education is not free of bias or ideological  calculation. For whom and for what purpose(s) does education serve? What does education actually look like? Will we recognize it when we see it? Or, might we mistake it for something else? As the influential theorist of critical pedagogy Paulo Freire explained:

Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.

Famed New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman recently wrote about the expansion of free online courses by institutions such as Stanford and MIT, as well as companies such as Coursera and Udacity. While Friedman hails this phenomenon as a “revolution” he states that “(n)othing has more potential to lift more people out of poverty — by providing them an affordable education to get a job or improve in the job they have. Nothing has more potential to unlock a billion more brains to solve the world’s biggest problems.” He goes on to sprinkle his column with anecdotes from individuals who have benefited from open online university courses.

Friedman views this technological and educational innovation as one that will allow foreign workers to have the formal training required to compete with First-World workers. The thought process is that this will ultimately be to the benefit multinational corporations, who will have a larger pool of technically skilled workers from which to employ. These private actors, equipped with a greater number of skilled (and relatively cheap) workers, will offer more gainful employment and generate more revenue, ultimately alleviating poverty in the Third World.

Along the same lines was a recent editorial written by Pauline Rose, Director of the Global Monitoring Report on Education published by UNESCO. In her piece, Rose calls for a Bill Gates-like figure to emerge to spark global education funding among private companies and foundations. Corporate philanthropy is deemed the solution to improving global access to education. Following Friedman’s logic, Rose states:

On the face of it, there should be little need to make the business case for education. It is intrinsically tied to all positive development outcomes. Economic growth, health, nutrition and democracy are all boosted by quality schooling. If all children in low-income countries left school with basic reading skills, poverty would fall by 12 percent – and that’s good for business. The private sector benefits directly from an educated, skilled workforce.

Friedman and Rose are essentially calling for the accelerated privatization of global education. This is a trend that has already begun in the US, as we have witnessed the growth of schools run by private corporations, an unflinching emphasis on test scores, and the decimation of teachers unions coupled with the flawed notion that teachers alone are responsible for educational underachievement.

What this privatization enables, and what is furthered by both Friedman and Rose’s pieces, is the disavowal of considering the larger socioeconomic issues related to global capitalism and neoliberalism, issues that are intrinsically conjoined to education. The danger is not the technological advancement enabling greater access to education for the Third World, but rather its implications that we continually fail to critically scrutinize.

Instead of hailing the introduction of free online courses as a revolution in global education that will alleviate poverty and suffering, why do we not question the global system which allowed, if not actively encouraged, the formation of the existing desolate situation to begin with? Pieces like Friedman’s and Rose’s actively assist in paralyzing us from thinking about how we have arrived in a situation where, as Rose states, “(t)here are 61 million children out of school.”

They seem to conveniently forget the fact that IMF structural adjustment programs have severely reduced public education spending by governments, and that the privatization of education has led to an increase in societal segregation, asseen in Chile. When relying on the framework used by Friedman and Rose, we effectively hinder ourselves from asking what kind global economic system exists to allow the situation where the privatization and corporate philanthropy becomes the solutions to address already existing radical inequalities.

In the end, it all comes back to the original question of the purpose of education. For Friedman and Rose, its purpose is to produce worker who will further entrench an unjust economic order that created the problem in the first place. The overarching goal is to convince us that the remedy for our current problems is actually the very pill which caused the sickness to begin with. For Freire, education’s purpose is to enable students to flourish in a manner that critically analyzes how we arrived to this bleak situation and how we can begin to transform it.

Freire or Friedman? The choice is ours to make.

Spaniards protest cutbacks in education

Thousands of students demonstrate in Madrid to protest against Spain’s spending cuts in the education system, February 6, 2013.

Thousands of teachers, and students with parents, have taken to the streets of the Spanish capital, Madrid, to protest against the government’s planned budget cuts in the education sector.

The Thursday demonstration marked the third day of strikes in public schools. The demonstrators said the Spanish government’s cost-cutting measures were weakening an already unstable education system.

The protesters also said that the harsh cutbacks in the education sector were forcing students to learn in overcrowded and cold classrooms.

“I have classes of 37 pupils with only three and half hours of teaching a week,” said an English teacher participating in the protest.

In 2012, Madrid unveiled a plan that sought to make three billion euros (about four billion dollars) of savings in schools and universities to stabilize public finances.

On Wednesday, students in nearly one hundred cities held a demonstration on the second day of the strikes that the Students’ Union (SE) had called to protest against the cutbacks.

Protesters have called for the resignation of Education Minister Jose Ignacio Wert, saying his policies are ruining the public education system.

“In my university we have spent the winter months without heating,” said another demonstrator who took part in the Wednesday march.

The Spanish government has been sharply criticized over austerity policies that are hitting the middle and working classes the hardest.


However, the government has remained adamant, saying the austerity measures are needed to carry it through the crisis.

According to the Students’ Union, almost 1.6 million students joined the Wednesday demonstration from institutes across the country, including the major cities of Madrid and Valencia, and the autonomous communities of Andalusia, Extremadura, Aragon and Asturias.

Spain’s economy collapsed into recession in the second half of 2008. Millions of jobs have been lost ever since.

MR/HSN

Wednesday Humor: German Education Minister Stripped Of PhD For Plagiarism

Some thought the irony of a Treasury Secretary who cheated on his taxes was extreme but Germany has gone one better as the nation's Education Minister has just been stripped of her PhD due to plagiarism. As Spiegel Online reports, the University of Düsseldorf has revoked German Education Minister Annette Schavan's degree because "she systematically and deliberately presented intellectual efforts throughout her entire dissertation that were not her own." As such, she was guilty of "intentional deception through plagiarism." Allegations that parts of her dissertation were not consistent with academic standards were first raised last spring and were hardened in October when a blogger released detailed findings of citation shortcomings he had found in the education minister's dissertation. Of course, she has taken the political route to this problem - denial -  admitting merely to "oversights," and adding that "There was no cheating involved." The university voted 12 to 2 to revoke her degree and invalidate her academic title. Schavan is yet to resign from Merkel's Cabinet. What next? A skeet-shooting gun tzar, a job tzar responsible for thousands of jobs losses while in the private sector, or a Nobel Peace Prize winner building a drone army.

Via Spiegel Online,

Merkel's Education Minister Has Ph.D. Title Revoked

German Education Minister Annette Schavan has long been dogged by accusations that she had plagiarized parts of her Ph.D. thesis. Now, the University of Düsseldorf has revoked her degree. She may be forced to resign from Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet.

It was shortly after 8:15 p.m. on Tuesday evening when Bruno Bleckmann, a professor of ancient history at the University of Düsseldorf, stepped in front of the waiting journalists. He quickly strode up to the microphone to deliver his statement. A faculty board, Bleckmann said, had arrived at the decision to declare German Education Minister Annette Schavan's Ph.D. thesis "invalid and to revoke her doctor title."

Based on an internal university analysis of Schavan's doctoral thesis, which she submitted in 1980, and on her own statement regarding her work, the committee voted 12 to 2 to invalidate her academic title, Bleckmann said. There was one abstention. "As a doctoral candidate, she systematically and deliberately presented intellectual efforts throughout her entire dissertation that were not her own," Bleckmann said. Large sections of the work, he continued, had been taken from elsewhere without adequate attribution. As such, she was guilty of "intentional deception through plagiarism."

The announcement is the worst possible outcome for Schavan. The very suspicion that she had plagiarized parts of her dissertation had "hit her hard," as she said last year. Allegations that parts of her dissertation were not consistent with academic standards were first raised last spring and were hardened in October when a blogger released detailed findings of citation shortcomings he had found in the education minister's dissertation. She has consistently denied the charges, admitting merely to "oversights." Immediately after Bleckmann finished delivering his statement, Schavan's lawyer released a statement indicating that the minister planned to file a legal challenge to the revocation of her dissertation at a Düsseldorf court. "There was no cheating involved," the statement read.

...

'Accepted Guidelines'

Bleckmann also rejected Schavan's argument that conventions regarding citations were different at the time when she wrote her dissertation. He said that the board's decision was not a "projection of today's standards back in time." He pointed out that even at the time there were "accepted guidelines" that explained how to correctly cite passages taken from secondary sources. One version of those guidelines had even been published by her Ph.D. advisor, it was recently revealed.

...

Schavan is now faced with the prospect of losing her position on Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet. It wouldn't be the first time that a German cabinet minister was forced to resign after losing a doctor title. Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg stepped down in the spring of 2011 after it was determined that he had plagiarized large sections of his Ph.D. thesis. Already, demands have been made for Schavan to resign from her party by the Greens, the Left Party and the Pirate Party.

...

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Michael Gove Advisers Accused Of Twitter Smears Via @toryeducation

Education secretary Michael Gove could be facing an investigation over allegations that his advisers sent abuse to journalists on Twitter.

The row, which was investigated by the Observer, was sparked after an anonymous twitter account @toryeducation attacked the paper's political editor Toby Helm.

gove

Michael Gove has come under fire for the alleged conduct of two of his special advisers

Labour's Shadow Education Secretary, Stephen Twigg has written to Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood requesting an investigation be launched into the conduct of two of Gove's Special Advisers following the smear allegations contained in the Observer.

The account also apparently attacked the Financial Times' education correspondent, Chris Cook, suggesting he is a "stalker" and accused Helm of being "a Labour stooge" and promoting Britain's entry to the Euro while he worked at the Daily Telegraph, calling him "an activist, not a professional hack".

The Observer alleged that two of Gove's special advisers Dominic Cummings and Henry de Zoete contibuted to the Twitter feed, and had been asked to tone down the feed's output in 2011 by Henry Macrory, then Tory party head of press.

Both advisers, whose salaries are paid by the taxpayer, have denied contributing to the feed.

After Twitter speculation about the Observer story, Ladbrokes reported a rush of money on Gove to be next Cabinet exit, slashing odds from 25/1 to 8/1.


James Chapman (Mail)
. save your money. It appears to be prompted by a spad/hack Twitter row. If it leads to Gove quitting I'll eat my hat

After the story's publication, the Twitter account @toryeducation, retweeted an attack on the Observer's Helm, written a year ago by fellow journalist Sarah Vine, Gove's wife.


Sarah Vine
when does stop pretending to objectivity and admit he's a political activist not a neutral reoprter

Sarah Vine
ah, thank you. Toby helm seems to be quite angry about a lot if things. One fears for his blood pressure.


Ministers are held responsible for the conduct of their advisers, under new rules devised following the Labour party scandal where a spin doctor, Damian McBride was found to be planning to spread flase rumours about high-profile Tories.

According to the code, advisers "should avoid anything which might reasonably lead to the criticism that people paid from public funds are being used for party political purposes… the preparation or dissemination of inappropriate material or personal attacks has no part to play in the job of being a special adviser as it has no part to play in the conduct of public life.

"Any special adviser ever found to be disseminating inappropriate material will automatically be dismissed by their appointing minister."

Challenging evolution: 4 US states consider controversial educational bills

Consequences of evolution

Consequences of evolution

Four US states have put forward bills encouraging the teaching of theories of the origins of life other than evolution. Montana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Colorado are advancing curricula that have been dubbed a creationist plot by many scientists.

Six so-called ‘anti-evolution’ bills have been introduced in the four states since the beginning of the year, reported the National Center for Science Education, a group monitoring the teaching of science in the US.

One of the bills presented to the Missouri House of Representatives suggested that evolution and Intelligent Design should be treated equally in Missouri's public elementary and secondary schools, as well as in introductory science courses in public institutions of higher education.

The theory of Intelligent Design is a form of creationism that implies that certain features of the universe are best explained by a creator or higher power. The term was adopted as a replacement for ‘creation science,’ which was ruled by the Supreme Court in 1987 to represent a particular religious belief after it outlawed creationism.

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) asserts that “creationism isn't science,” and strongly defends the teaching of evolution as the only theory of the origins of life. Although the so-called ‘Academic Freedom’ bills do not emphasize religion, NCSE scientists believe that it is a disguised attempt by creationists to insert their beliefs into school curricula.

The Missouri bill features a glossary defining the legislation’s main terms, such as ‘analogous naturalistic processes,’ ‘biological evolution’ and ‘biological intelligent design.’ This part of the bill closely resembles a bill authored in 2004 that also called for the equal treatment of evolution and Intelligent Design in public schools. The 2004 legislation was widely criticized by scientists, and did not pass.

Another bill written in Missouri has dubbed biological and chemical evolution ‘controversial,’ stating that no education administrative staff should prohibit public school instructors from teaching students objectively about the supposed scientific strengths and weaknesses of the competing theories.

Oklahoma legislators have also authored two bills challenging the teaching of evolution in schools. One bill, pre-filed with the state senate, encourages teachers to "find more effective ways to represent the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies." Another, pre-filed with the state house, specifically cites “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning” as being scientifically controversial.

A Colorado bill mentions “biological and chemical evolution, global warming, and human cloning” as alleged controversies, which need to be approached “intelligently and respectfully.”

Montana, the last state of those considering so-called ‘Academic Freedom Acts,’ is drafting a bill which will require the teaching of ‘Biological Intelligent Design’ alongside evolution in public schools.

The battle between creationists and those who support Darwinian evolution has a long history in the US. Private schools have no restrictions in how they teach science, while public schools must follow state-defined curriculum.

A June 2012 Gallup poll asked some 1,000 Americans nationwide about their thoughts on the origin of human life. The survey revealed that 46 percent of Americans believe God created human beings. Numerous creation science advocates continue to hope that the Intelligent Design theory will make its way into US public schools, though they have not been very successful so far.

Controversy erupted in 2011 when the state of Texas said it would discourage the teaching of evolution in classrooms, following the 2009 approval of new education standards ordering schools to consider ‘all sides’ of the debate. However, the state’s Board of Education approved school material favoring Darwinian evolution.

In 2004, Intelligent Design was taught alongside Darwinian evolution in one school in Pennsylvania, but the district court ruled the ‘ID policy’ unconstitutional, and ordered the school not to teach it in science classes.

Parents, Teachers Slam Department of Education Over Mass School Closures

Over 200 activists, community organizers, parents and students from cities across the U.S. gathered in Washington Tuesday to tell U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that Obama's signature 'Race to the Top' education policy—which has lead to widespread public school closures—is wreaking havoc on public education.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (AP Photo) "The voices of the people directly impacted can no longer be ignored," said Jitu Brown, an organizer from the South Side of Chicago at the meeting that included both Duncan and Obama education adviser Roberto Rodriguez. The groups urged that the the Education Department's School Improvement Grant, among other programs, increases unnecessary school closures. The grant program awards school districts with grant money, but only to those who enforce cut-backs and "shake-ups" including mass school closures—leaving many communities without neighborhood schools.

Brown called the policies "a violation of our human rights."

The activists, who belong to the group Journey for Justice Movement, argued that such policies specifically hurt minority students. The group has filed multiple Title VI civil rights complaints with the Education Department Office of Civil Rights, the Huffington Post reports.

Duncan left the meeting after only 45 minutes, reportedly due to his schedule. The activists promptly responded by chanting: "Where is Duncan? Where is Duncan?"

On the widespread school closures proposed in Philadelphia, Helen Gym, co-founder of Parents United for Public Education, recently stated:

Whatever your opinion may be of [charter schools], there’s no question that the District has failed to explain its inconsistent approach of allowing charter expansion without regard to expense or academic quality while insisting on draconian and widespread sacrifice among District schools. This despite the fact that many of the District schools targeted for closure outperform some of the charters that the SRC renewed and expanded last spring.

Among the cities most affected by such policies, Philadelphia is slated to close 37 schools by June.

Meanwhile, at a Public Schools hearing in Chicago Monday parents and teachers expressed outrage over recent steps towards mass closings within the city. Shouts and chants from the nearly 200 attendees drowned out school officials who attempted to pitch "under-used" school closures.

The Education Department is currently probing complaints that school closings in six cities — D.C., Newark, Philadelphia, Detroit, New York City and Chicago — violate the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The National Schools Board Association criticized the Obama administration’s education policies, in a statement released Tuesday, saying Duncan has pushed “unnecessary and counter-productive federal intrusion” onto local school districts, and urged members of Congress to co-sponsor legislation, developed by NSBA, to protect local school district governance from over-reaching federal policies.

AIG and Ethics: The Corporatization of Public Higher Education

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The new Center for Ethics, Law, and Society at Sonoma State University in Northern California caused quite a stir among colleagues, students and community members during the first week of classes in 2013. Of central concern was its funding, and the further corporatization of public higher education.

The notorious insurance monolith AIG gave two-thirds of the Ethics Center’s $16,000 first year budget. What might AIG’s intentions have been for funding the Center? AIG has not been known for its ethics. In fact, the insurer’s risky bets on derivatives were central to the 2008 economic crash. They received a $182 billion bailout. Yes, billion.

Retired SSU Professor Robert Plantz reminded the university community on the faculty email list that AIG is “talking about suing our government for what they think is a lousy deal in the bailout.” So much for gratitude and ethics. AIG is one more mega-corporation jumping on the bandwagon to further privatize SSU and influence the education it offers students.

“If we allow economic entities to control our culture, to create the assumptions that underlie our lives, there can be no possibility of individual human freedom,” according to Abraham Entin of Move to Amend Sonoma County. “Economic entities need orderly access to resources and markets. They need docile workers and striving consumers. The last thing they desire are free human individuals. When they ‘support’ education it is for these ends and no others. We are fools when we allow them access to our children and our schools.”

Corporations are pumping an increasing amount of their ill-earned big money into public education throughout the United States, trying to bend it to meet their corporate goals. This threatens academic freedom and free speech.

It is bad enough when one is censored. But self-censorship can be even worse: when one holds back communicating what one really believes out of fear of repercussions. Humanities faculty are supposed to teach critical thinking. Instead, when corporations and millionaires buy their way into universities, receive unearned honorary doctorates, and fund research, their biases prevail and dissent is diminished. Students tend to fear challenging corporate power and policies and become obedient, partly so they can get jobs in an employment-scarce climate.

Former Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill -- who was instrumental in helping to dismantle the Glass-Steagall Act that separated commercial from investment banking -- gave $12 million to SSU’s controversial Green Music Center last year, for which he was rewarded with an honorary doctorate. Time magazine describes Weill as one of the “25 people to blame for the financial crisis.”

MasterCard then gave a few more million dollars to the GMC, in exchange for special access to students to sell its products. One wonders which other millionaires and corporations might already, or will soon, be knocking on SSU’s door to help direct education at the public university.

“The funding of SSU's Ethics Center is one more example of the privatization of education,” said SSU alumnus Susan Lamont of the Peace and Justice Center, and a key organizer of the ShameOnSSU protest against Weill’s honorary doctorate at last year’s graduation.

“The wealthy and corporations make sure they pay little or no taxes, public institutions become financially stressed, bonds are sold and the wealthy profit at both ends of the deal,” said Lamont. “‘Philanthropists’ or corporations come in as saviors with wads of cash, the public is grateful, and academic freedoms are chipped away slowly, but surely.”

The public first heard about the Ethics Center in an article headlined “Some Topics Too Close to Home for SSU Ethics Center.” The sub-head of the Jan. 17 article in the daily Press Democrat was “Director of new venture opts not to weigh in on donor AIG’s role in economic crisis.”

When asked by PD reporter Jeremy Hay if the Center would deal with the controversy of financier Sandy Weill receiving an honorary doctorate for his gift to the Green Music Center, the Center’s director, philosophy lecturer Joshua Glasgow, responded, “I don’t think I can comment.” What happened to free speech and academic freedom at SSU?

“I’ve learned to zip it here,” a long-time SSU staff member commented, drawing her fingers across her lips, when asked about the Ethics Center. Such fear of reprisal for having an opinion is not conducive to educating students to be good citizens, which is allegedly part of SSU’s mission.

Many have expressed ethical reservations about the AIG funding, but Glasgow apparently has no qualms about it. “That’s just the way it flows,” he said.

This contention “has no standing as a moral argument; witness slavery, smoking, nuclear arms, human trafficking, etc,” writes retired Professor Philip Beard. He asserts that such a “shoulder shrug should itself be the target of an ethical investigation.”

“The Ethics Center has a basic challenge to speak to the ethics of taking money from AIG,” noted retired Political Science Professor John Kramer. “The goal of conservatives is to so starve the public-caring institutions of funding that they are overwhelmingly beholden to private and corporate interests. Now they are often intimidated about speaking their truth.”

“Any entity designated an ‘Ethics Center’ has a special responsibility to scrutinize the moral and ethical correlates of its own supporting foundation, structure, and functioning, especially its filtering of acceptable and unacceptable issues,” noted Sociology Professor Noel Byrne. “Such filtering merits close scrutiny. Hay's [newspaper] story suggests that this issue is lost in the fog of myopic oversight.”

Tim Nonn, who has a doctorate in ethics, wrote in an unpublished letter to the same newspaper:

“The implications of sacrificing academic freedom in the name of ethics are mindboggling. What if a corporation based in the South had provided a grant to a university’s history department, but forbade teaching the history of slavery in America? Would the grant make the surrender of academic freedom acceptable?

“I had always assumed that a university existed to free, not enslave, minds. In this case, I was wrong. The popular motto on the walls of many universities throughout the world, veritas vos liberabit (the truth shall set you free), will never adorn the walls of SSU,” Nonn added.

“What good is an Ethics Center that won't discuss it's own ethics?” asked Thomas Morabito of Occupy Sebastopol. “They want to discuss your ethics, but not their own. They preach ‘do as I say, not as I do.’”

The Ethics Center plans to deal with issues such as immigration, water use, food ethics, clean technology, and income inequality, according to director Glasgow. “I look forward to many years of hard-nosed, sometimes gut-wrenching discussion of thorny issues,” Prof. Beard writes. We shall see.

The Center’s first event will be held on Feb. 6. While the talk is free, SSU has doubled its parking fees this semester to $5 - an increase that sends a clear message to the public that it is less welcome, although the university is funded primarily by taxpayer dollars.

What corporation or millionaire might be next at SSU? Wal-Mart? Monsanto, which funds the University of California at Irvine’s agriculture department?

May the the Center for Ethics, Law, and Society provide forums to discuss controversial issues and encourage critical thinking. Because right now, the take-over of public higher education by corporations is a serious threat.

AIG and Ethics: The Corporatization of Public Higher Education

We need your help to sustain grassroots, groundbreaking journalism. Make a tax-deductible contribution to Truthout now by clicking here.

The new Center for Ethics, Law, and Society at Sonoma State University in Northern California caused quite a stir among colleagues, students and community members during the first week of classes in 2013. Of central concern was its funding, and the further corporatization of public higher education.

The notorious insurance monolith AIG gave two-thirds of the Ethics Center’s $16,000 first year budget. What might AIG’s intentions have been for funding the Center? AIG has not been known for its ethics. In fact, the insurer’s risky bets on derivatives were central to the 2008 economic crash. They received a $182 billion bailout. Yes, billion.

Retired SSU Professor Robert Plantz reminded the university community on the faculty email list that AIG is “talking about suing our government for what they think is a lousy deal in the bailout.” So much for gratitude and ethics. AIG is one more mega-corporation jumping on the bandwagon to further privatize SSU and influence the education it offers students.

“If we allow economic entities to control our culture, to create the assumptions that underlie our lives, there can be no possibility of individual human freedom,” according to Abraham Entin of Move to Amend Sonoma County. “Economic entities need orderly access to resources and markets. They need docile workers and striving consumers. The last thing they desire are free human individuals. When they ‘support’ education it is for these ends and no others. We are fools when we allow them access to our children and our schools.”

Corporations are pumping an increasing amount of their ill-earned big money into public education throughout the United States, trying to bend it to meet their corporate goals. This threatens academic freedom and free speech.

It is bad enough when one is censored. But self-censorship can be even worse: when one holds back communicating what one really believes out of fear of repercussions. Humanities faculty are supposed to teach critical thinking. Instead, when corporations and millionaires buy their way into universities, receive unearned honorary doctorates, and fund research, their biases prevail and dissent is diminished. Students tend to fear challenging corporate power and policies and become obedient, partly so they can get jobs in an employment-scarce climate.

Former Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill -- who was instrumental in helping to dismantle the Glass-Steagall Act that separated commercial from investment banking -- gave $12 million to SSU’s controversial Green Music Center last year, for which he was rewarded with an honorary doctorate. Time magazine describes Weill as one of the “25 people to blame for the financial crisis.”

MasterCard then gave a few more million dollars to the GMC, in exchange for special access to students to sell its products. One wonders which other millionaires and corporations might already, or will soon, be knocking on SSU’s door to help direct education at the public university.

“The funding of SSU's Ethics Center is one more example of the privatization of education,” said SSU alumnus Susan Lamont of the Peace and Justice Center, and a key organizer of the ShameOnSSU protest against Weill’s honorary doctorate at last year’s graduation.

“The wealthy and corporations make sure they pay little or no taxes, public institutions become financially stressed, bonds are sold and the wealthy profit at both ends of the deal,” said Lamont. “‘Philanthropists’ or corporations come in as saviors with wads of cash, the public is grateful, and academic freedoms are chipped away slowly, but surely.”

The public first heard about the Ethics Center in an article headlined “Some Topics Too Close to Home for SSU Ethics Center.” The sub-head of the Jan. 17 article in the daily Press Democrat was “Director of new venture opts not to weigh in on donor AIG’s role in economic crisis.”

When asked by PD reporter Jeremy Hay if the Center would deal with the controversy of financier Sandy Weill receiving an honorary doctorate for his gift to the Green Music Center, the Center’s director, philosophy lecturer Joshua Glasgow, responded, “I don’t think I can comment.” What happened to free speech and academic freedom at SSU?

“I’ve learned to zip it here,” a long-time SSU staff member commented, drawing her fingers across her lips, when asked about the Ethics Center. Such fear of reprisal for having an opinion is not conducive to educating students to be good citizens, which is allegedly part of SSU’s mission.

Many have expressed ethical reservations about the AIG funding, but Glasgow apparently has no qualms about it. “That’s just the way it flows,” he said.

This contention “has no standing as a moral argument; witness slavery, smoking, nuclear arms, human trafficking, etc,” writes retired Professor Philip Beard. He asserts that such a “shoulder shrug should itself be the target of an ethical investigation.”

“The Ethics Center has a basic challenge to speak to the ethics of taking money from AIG,” noted retired Political Science Professor John Kramer. “The goal of conservatives is to so starve the public-caring institutions of funding that they are overwhelmingly beholden to private and corporate interests. Now they are often intimidated about speaking their truth.”

“Any entity designated an ‘Ethics Center’ has a special responsibility to scrutinize the moral and ethical correlates of its own supporting foundation, structure, and functioning, especially its filtering of acceptable and unacceptable issues,” noted Sociology Professor Noel Byrne. “Such filtering merits close scrutiny. Hay's [newspaper] story suggests that this issue is lost in the fog of myopic oversight.”

Tim Nonn, who has a doctorate in ethics, wrote in an unpublished letter to the same newspaper:

“The implications of sacrificing academic freedom in the name of ethics are mindboggling. What if a corporation based in the South had provided a grant to a university’s history department, but forbade teaching the history of slavery in America? Would the grant make the surrender of academic freedom acceptable?

“I had always assumed that a university existed to free, not enslave, minds. In this case, I was wrong. The popular motto on the walls of many universities throughout the world, veritas vos liberabit (the truth shall set you free), will never adorn the walls of SSU,” Nonn added.

“What good is an Ethics Center that won't discuss it's own ethics?” asked Thomas Morabito of Occupy Sebastopol. “They want to discuss your ethics, but not their own. They preach ‘do as I say, not as I do.’”

The Ethics Center plans to deal with issues such as immigration, water use, food ethics, clean technology, and income inequality, according to director Glasgow. “I look forward to many years of hard-nosed, sometimes gut-wrenching discussion of thorny issues,” Prof. Beard writes. We shall see.

The Center’s first event will be held on Feb. 6. While the talk is free, SSU has doubled its parking fees this semester to $5 - an increase that sends a clear message to the public that it is less welcome, although the university is funded primarily by taxpayer dollars.

What corporation or millionaire might be next at SSU? Wal-Mart? Monsanto, which funds the University of California at Irvine’s agriculture department?

May the the Center for Ethics, Law, and Society provide forums to discuss controversial issues and encourage critical thinking. Because right now, the take-over of public higher education by corporations is a serious threat.

23 Films You Have To Watch For A Political Education

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Teachers strike for education reforms

A primary school in France holds an art class. (File photo)

Teachers in France have walked out, resulting in the closure of most primary schools across the country, over plans for a five-day working week.

Children in primary schools had a day off on Tuesday as their teachers decided to protest against the government’s proposal to make children attend a half-day class on Wednesdays, which would go into effect in September.

Hundreds of teachers in Paris on Tuesday staged a rally that will end at Paris City Hall.

Teachers complain of the excessive working hours and that the addition of the extra day to their four-day working week, would have no financial gain.

Jerome Lambert of the National Union of Primary and Secondary School Teachers (SNUipp-FSU) said the teachers, most of whom supported President Francois Hollande’s election, have expressed disappointment in the Socialist government’s approach to improving education.

“What the Socialist government is offering has nothing to do with the big promises that were made. Nothing they’re offering is good,” said a teacher in Paris taking part in the strike.

Teachers said the education reform “neglects the real problems” of overcrowded classrooms with “not enough teachers with specialized training to deal with the kids with learning difficulties.”


Hollande’s scheme aims to improve education in the country by increasing one of the shortest school years in Europe and decreasing the amount of hours spent at school per day.

Teachers overwhelmingly voted in favor of Hollande in the May 6, 2012 presidential election, as the president had promised to improve the school system across the nation and to provide additional spending on education.

GVN/PKH

Billionaires, Ballots and a State Budget Crisis Drive Education Reform in Washington State: A...

Up until November 6th, Washington was one of eight states that did not have a charter school within its borders, and by all accounts it didn't seem like that was going to change anytime soon. Voters had rejected charter initiatives three times - in 1996, 2000 and 2004.

But that was before millionaire donors like Bill Gates, Paul Allen and Alice Walton of Walmart fame poured millions of dollars into Ballot Initiative 1240, opening the state up to charter schools for the first time.

In the case of Washington State, a coalition that included well-known education reform groups like Stand for Children and Democrats for Education Reform hired people to gather enough signatures to get the initiative on the ballot, bought TV air time and sent canvassers door-to-door urging residents to vote yes on 1240.

When 1240 passed, despite opposition from the governor, many lawmakers and the teachers union, it was the closest vote among state initiatives in the 2012 election.

Big Money, Big Plans

The story of Washington is symbolic of where the fight for public education is playing out - with shrinking funds at the local level and big money coming in from the outside.

After the third failure to pass legislation on an initiative that would allow charter schools into Washington,  the well-funded education reform groups decided to take matters into their own hands.

The group behind the initiative called itself Yes on 1240 - now The Washington Coalition for Public Charter Schools. The initiative will bring as many as 40 new charter schools into Washington over the next five years.

It took only 18 days from the time the group got the go-ahead from a judge to collect signatures for a ballot initiative, to when they had exceeded the minimum 250,000 signatures.

DC Charter School.(Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr)Washington is one of few states that allows paid signature-collectors, and by July 2012 the group had signed up 350,000 people in favor of the ballot.

"We really looked at what are the different ways in which we can bring charter schools to Washington," said Jana Carlisle, executive director of Partnership for Learning, a Washington-based education nonprofit that worked with Yes on 1240. "There was a general consensus that doing it during a general election made a lot of sense. That is kind of the genesis of the initiative - it was an outgrowth of prior legislative attempts to provide innovative schools for struggling kids in particular."

As in many school districts around the country, Washington's low-income population is disproportionately minority. According to data from the American Community Survey, 28 percent of the state's white children under the age of18 were living in poverty, while 60 percent of African-American children were living at or below the poverty line. A majority of American Indian and Hispanic children were also in poverty.

The statewide high school drop-out rate was 4.4 percent, according to Washington's Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, while for American Indians it was 10.7 percent; 6.9 percent for African-American students and 5.9 percent for Hispanic students in the 2010-2011 school year.

By the time Yes on 1240 had turned in their signatures to get the initiative on the ballot, they also had amassed a large portion of their donations. According to a Truthout analysis of financial disclosure records, between June 5, 2012, and July 6, 2012, Yes on 1240 had raised more than $2 million.

In total, the group raised more than $10.8 million in just under five months, from 181 donors. Donors included Bill Gates, who gave $3 million; Walmart heiress Alice Walton gave $1.7 million; Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft, gave $1.6 million and Connie Ballmer, wife of the CEO of Microsoft, gave $500,000.

The money from the No on 1240 campaign, collected over four months, totaled a little more than $15,000, from 86 donors.

"It was a very clear picture of education reform and business versus parents and community," said Melissa Westbrook, a public education activist and chair of the No on 1240 campaign. "Because of the amount of money they have, they get to dominate the conversation. There might be other things that have to get done, but people follow the money."

Glenn Anderson, a Washington State representative listed on the Yes on 1240 web site as in favor the measure, did not respond to a request for comment.

As the donations rushed in for the Yes on 1240 campaign, Washington was embroiled in a state supreme court case about school funding. In January 2012, the court ruled that Washington was failing to do its duty in funding K-12 education. Nearly a year later, in December, the court said too little progress had been made in putting more funding toward education.

"Steady progress requires forward movement. Slowing the pace of funding cuts is necessary, but it does not equate to forward progress," said Chief Justice Barbara Madsen in the court's December opinion.

In the past ten years, according to the Associated Press, education spending has gone from nearly 50 percent, to just above 40 percent of the state budget. In the 2009-2011 state budget, investments in early learning were cut by $12 million (8.8 percent) and the budget for K-12 was cut by $1.6 billion (10.3 percent).

Lawmakers need an estimated $1 billion to $1.5 billion to fulfill their obligations in the court case.

Opponents of 1240 have said the new initiative will drain public schools of even more resources, which they argue could better be used for arts, music and new technology.

This also was a concern that Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire had expressed.

“The governor's main concern was that we don't have the funding right now to support charter schools,” said Karina Shagren, a spokeswoman for the governor's office. “We have a proven record with other alternative schools here that have had success, so the governor didn't see the need right now to encourage new charter schools, especially when there is no record to prove that they are highly successful.”

Shannon Campion, spokesperson for Yes on 1240 and the executive director of Stand for Children in Washington, told The Nation that funding will not be an issue, because funding follows a student when they move from one public school to another.

“Public charter schools are cracking the code in how to serve at-risk and struggling students,” she said.

The Washington Charter School Commission has been created as an independent state agency to oversee the initiative.

The state teachers union also has filed a lawsuit against the charter measure, and speculation continues in Washington as to whether the state schools superintendent also will sue.

Conservative Donor Made Department Of Education Minister

Conservative donor and venture capitalist John Nash has been appointed a minister in the Department for Education.

Mr Nash, who will be made a life peer in order to take up his post, was appointed a non-executive director of the Department by Education Secretary Michael Gove in 2010.

Mr Gove said today that his "vast knowledge of the education sector" made him the best person to be junior minister for schools, replacing Lord Hill of Oareford, who was appointed Conservative Leader in the Lords earlier this week.

The new Lord Nash and his wife Caroline have donated a total of £182,000 to the Conservatives since 2006.

Lord Nash is the founder of the education charity Future, which sponsors academy schools, including Pimlico Academy and Millbank Academy in London.

Downing Street said that, in his new role, he will not take any decisions on Government policies with an impact on the charity.

He will also step away from all relevant business interests while serving as a minister and will not take a ministerial salary.
David Cameron's official spokesman said: "What qualifies him for the job is his extensive knowledge of the education sector.

"He has had a role in an educational charity, but as part of his appointment, the (Education Department) permanent secretary and the Cabinet Office have agreed how to handle any areas in which there might be a perceived conflict or a conflict of interest, and of course he will not be taking any decisions where that might be the case.

"He will not take any general policy decisions in which Future the charity are referred to, may be involved or are perceived to be involved."

Mr Gove said: "I'm delighted that John has joined the education team. He has vast knowledge of the education sector and is the best person to drive through reform started by Lord Hill and continue to raise standards.

"Jonathan Hill has been a fantastic minister whose energy and passion has ensured that the academies and free schools policy has been a great success. I am hugely in his debt for the work he has done since the coalition was formed."

And Lord Nash said: "I have greatly enjoyed working in my capacity as a non-executive director with ministers and officials in the Department over the past two years.

"The Department is full of highly talented people and I greatly look forward to working even more closely with them.

"I believe that every child and young person should have the right to a really good education and that education is the key to the future success of our country."

Labour vice-chair Michael Dugher said: "David Cameron is much better at creating jobs for his big-money donors than he is at providing jobs for the millions of young and long-term unemployed.

"This looks like jobs for the boys from an out-of-touch Prime Minister.

"With yesterday's promotion of Lord Popat and now John Nash handed a peerage and a new post, two major Tory donors have been given ministerial jobs in just two days.

"Nice work if you can get it."

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While there is a rising number of job openings for good-paying blue-collar work across the US,...

Team Trump's Bible Study: Weekly Worship Meeting at the White House

The founder of a group dedicated to making "disciples of Jesus Christ in the political arena" has been leading a Bible study with top...

A Manual for a New Era of Direct Action

Movement manuals can be useful. Marty Oppenheimer and I found that out in 1964 when civil rights leaders were too busy to write a...

To Deport or Not to Deport

Photo by Fibonacci Blue | CC BY 2.0 Twenty-four years ago, in order to escape poverty and violence, Nury Chavarria left Guatemala and crossed the...

The Hidden Extra Costs of Living With a Disability

Disability is often incorrectly assumed to be rare. However, global estimates suggest than one in seven adults has some form of disability. The term "disability"...

We Need a Broad-Based Movement to Stop Killing at Home and Across the Globe

Excerpted from Welcome to the Revolution: Universalizing Resistance for Social Justice and Democracy in Perilous Times (Routledge, August 2017, paperback). The $600 billion annual cost of the...

'Weaponizing viruses'? US Air Force places ad for bio samples from Russians

The US Air Force is looking to acquire samples of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and synovial fluid...

Conference Teaches K-12 Educators how to Combat ‘Whiteness in Schools’

A recent conference hosted by an Ivy League university focused on integration and inclusion in K-12 education and included workshops on how...

There is Still Time to Prevent Civil War in Venezuela

Photo by Andreas Lehner | CC BY 2.0 As Latin America celebrates the end of the region’s longest violent conflict in Colombia, I have watched...

Migrants “Convert” to Christianity to Avoid Deportation from Finland

When in Finland, do like the Finns do. This must be the logic of Muslim asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq...

GOP's Vague New Tax Plan Can't Hide True Aim: Massive Tax Cuts for Wealthy

With the nation's attention fixed on the Senate GOP's attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), several congressional Republicans,...

Gaza, this “poor desperate place”: Waiting for the end?

Every Palestinian I met on my visits to the Holy Land urged me to tell their story when I got home. Some have written...

Rotten to the Common Core

APPIP ERROR:nodata[ (0) NO DATA APPIP ERROR:nodata[ (0) NO DATA Literacy failures continue to compound with each generation as mis-educators focus on everything except...

Billionaire Donors Plot a ‘Renaissance of Freedom’ — for the Privileged

Charles and David Koch — the billionaire oil men who’ve financed a vast network of right-wing advocacy groups — have stayed out of the national...

It's (Loan) Shark Week: Families Are Biting Back

(Photo: Ismagilov / Getty Images) It's Shark Week, but the most dangerous predators this year aren't on TV or at the beaches -- they are...

Trump and the Christian Fascists

Donald Trump's ideological vacuum, the more he is isolated and attacked, is being filled by the Christian right. This Christianized fascism, with its network...

Switching gender to become easier as “intrusive” medical tests to be scrapped

Brits will be able to change their gender without a doctor’s report under government proposals...

‘Generation of Al Capones’: Prison reform attracts strange bedfellows

Senators Kamala Harris (D-California) and Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) are reaching across the aisle in a bid...

On Fighting Inequality, Which Nations Do More Than Pay Lip Service?

Two years ago, in 2015, just about all the nations in the world came together and agreed to make reducing inequality -- the gap...

Is the Flint Water Crisis a Crime Against Humanity?

Four years into the Flint Water Crisis, the legal system continues to grapple with how best to provide residents with a measure of accountability,...

Too Cool For School

Implicit in the banking concept is the assumption of a dichotomy between human beings and the world: a person is merely in the world,...
video

Video: Putin holds Q&A with school children in Sochi (streamed live)

Putin is taking part in a Q&A meeting with children at the Sirius education center in Sochi. Sirius was established on the Russian president's...

How Budget Austerity Puts Public School Parents On Par With Criminals

In researching an upcoming article I’m writing about the St. Louis school system, and the district’s ongoing funding crisis, I came across an astonishing...

Trump’s nominee for USDA chief scientist ‘illegal’, advocacy group charges

Published time: 21 Jul, 2017 04:02 Edited time: 21 Jul, 2017 08:08 President Donald Trump’s choice...

Defending Public Schools, Demonstrators Greet Betsy DeVos at ALEC Annual Meeting

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was met by hundreds of protesters in Denver on Thursday, where she spoke at the annual meeting of the American...

British expats could lose right to move around EU post-Brexit

British citizens living abroad could lose their right to move to a different EU country...

‘How Can the Arsonists Be the Firefighters Today?’

Janine Jackson interviewed Maurice Carney about the crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo for the July 14, 2017, episode of CounterSpin. This is...

NAACP Statement on President's Refusal to Attend Annual Convention

BALTIMORE - The NAACP issued the following statement after President Trump announced that he will not attend the NAACP’s 108th Annual Convention in Baltimore,...

College student avoids suspension after grading, posting ex-girlfriend’s apology note

A college student who faced suspension after tweeting an apology letter from his ex-girlfriend, which he...

Republicans are Right: Going to College Hurts

Going to college is a good thing, right? That’s at least what I was told as a kid, and what led me to get...

In OtherWords: July 19, 2017

Thanks to unified Democratic opposition and a few defections from key Republican senators, the congressional effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act...