Killing Upward MobilityPosted: February 13, 2011
There continues to be a total disconnect between the role of high unemployment and a slow growing economy in deficits. It appears now to be an excuse to cut programs and experiment on children. I’ve grown up expecting Republicans to lie. They lie about science. They lie about economics. They lie about people who they’ve assigned ‘enemy’ status. They lie about climate change. They lie about history. They lie about evolution. They lie about their sex lives. They lie about being crooks and starting secret wars. They just lie whenever they feel like it.
What I never thought I’d see is a continued Democratic party led onslaught against programs that have clearly kept people out of poverty and helped them to achieve and stay in the middle class. They either believe these same lies spun by Republicans or they are acting willfully against the good of the nation in ways that perpetrate those lies. Either way, this hurts our country.
Recently, we’ve experienced massive privatization of clearly public goods. This has especially been true in the military since DDay Rumsfeld took over the pentagon. It is becoming equally true for education. Private companies that feed off government contracts are the worst of the worst. They messed up Iraq and Afghanistan. They messed up the Gulf Coast after Katrina, Rita and BP. They’ve messed up our schools, our infrastructure and our recovery down here. The only thing that was done right was the Superdome and that’s only because it’s part of the bread and circuses pogrom and the big bucks of the plutocrats were involved. It was also symbolic. Symbolic was supposed to convince you all that we’re hunky dory down here. We are not. Now they want to extend that model to you. Please, don’t let them. Save your children. Save them now.
Hyping cherry picking charter schools while ignoring the vast majority of underachieving charter schools is only one way this pogrom works. I’ll get to that in a minute. I want to focus on the latest design to stop your children from being upwardly mobile first. We have more clear indications that Obama/Geithner are still willing to bailout any oligopoly that’s a potential political donor while chipping away at policy designed to move working and middle class children to professional salaries. We’ll still be paying for atrocious foreign and defense policy in Afghanistan and Iraq now while de-funding Pell Grants and ending interest rate subsidies for all graduate students that need loans for education.
President Barack Obama‘s budget plan would cut $100 billion from Pell Grants and other higher education programs over a decade through belt-tightening and use the savings to keep the maximum college financial aid award at $5,550, an administration official said.
Nearly $90 billion of the projected savings would be achieved through two changes, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of Monday’s release of Obama’s 2012 budget. The spending plan applies to the budget year that begins Oct. 1.
The first edict–if passed by congress–basically means spring semester grants must be used for summer school. Separate summer school loans will not be available. The second proposal means that interest will accrue on graduate students taking loans while they are in graduate school. This would especially impact medical school students who frequently require huge loans to go to school then come out saddled with unbelievable amounts of debt that they must begin to pay while doing low paying, high intensity residency jobs. Yes, pile more debt on us all individually. Bankrupt us with individual debt while scaring us that the government’s the one that could (NOT!!) go bankrupt.
We’re continuing to see the Obama administration pit the poor, the working class, and the middle class against each other. They’re already noticeably doing that via an education policy called Race to the Top. Rather than direct per pupil subsidies for needy students, schools must now compete for federal funds based on some pretty arbitrary and questionable standards. Poor districts must fight for scraps on the floor and it’s expensive and potentially damaging to fight for those scraps. They must fight via increases in test scores that have so much statistical variation and resultant margin of error, that you could literally place in a high or low performing school district depending on which side of the error margin you randomly land.
Same deal applies if you’re a teacher. Frequently the difference between teacher evaluations is decimal places where there is no statistical difference. But, this competitive game says you have to use those numbers any way. You have to be willing to evaluate schools and students on test scores to earn race to the top funds. You also have to use test scores to evaluate teachers when most of the education literature shows the majority of factors indicating student success are factors that exist outside of the school itself. That would be the student’s family and the degree of motivation within the students themselves. That’s even if you accept the validity of these tests. That’s even in question. What we have is just more shots in the warfare on public workers. We unjustifiably make more than any one. (Not true) We have evil unions that grab unreasonable benefits for us. (Less true than ever before.) We have no work ethnic or else we’d be in the private sector. (Some of us just don’t like the private sector for some pretty obvious reasons.)
Why aren’t we seeing removal of funds for items that clearly aren’t working for students or any one? I can come up with a few off the top of my head. Say, why don’t we dump abstinence ‘education’ or funds for religion based programs like the ones that pay Michelle Bachman’s husband who claims to be able to ‘ungay’ gays? Instead, we see a Democratic President pass ‘reforms’ that don’t even fall under the category of triangulation. Clintonian triangulation would be a giant leap forward compared to what’s happening now in funding our kids’ education. (And don’t tell me Hillary Clinton would be doing this if she were president. Hillary Clinton worked on education in Arkansas. She didn’t pull this type of sorry ass policy out once.)
Exactly why do schools with many, many children in poverty have to compete for federal funds? Why support school in the fall but not in the summer? Why start tacking on additional interest to students seeking graduate and professional degrees? Why not put the taxes back to the Clinton years, end two unnecessary wars, and start a jobs program to end the devastating unemployment that is causing the reduced revenues and need for more government services?
Why do we live in this world were not only Republicans, but Democrats now deny history, data, and theory coming out of decades of study using the scientific method? Why are they making decisions based on differences within the margin of error and wishful thinking? Didn’t they learn statistics or take math? Why is a Democratic president enacting failed policies that have only worked in the minds of a few Reagan worshiping right wingers? Do you notice that the worst policy appears to come when Geithner is standing next to Obama?
There has been this horrible experiment forced on children in the name of education reform. This is stealing their future much more than any deficit could. Test scores indicate that charter schools are not performing better than public schools overall. In fact, the worst schools in places with charter schools are two times more likely to be a charter school. They are also not creating a ‘competitive’ environment that’s making public schools perform any better. All you have to do is look at Wisconsin for a pretty good indication of that.
Well-known education researcher, professor and critic Diane Ravitch plans to tell a crowd at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee tonight that their city’s system for offering poor children publicy funded vouchers to attend private schools has been a failure.
“Everyone has sort of given up on Milwaukee and Cleveland,” she said, referring to the only other Midwestern city that has a similar voucher program. “The studies of vouchers here have proven they don’t make a difference. The researchers used to have a huge debate … and now there seems to be a consensus on both sides: no bigger gains in voucher schools than in public schools.”
And about those reforms that the state’s largest teachers’ union just embraced? Performance pay and student-assessment driven teacher evaluation systems, which are also being championed by reformers around the country?
Ravitch, 72, thinks those efforts are pretty futile, too.
There’s no extra money to fund extra pay for teachers, she said. And test scores used as accountability for teachers rather than diagnostic tools to help kids improve only make educators teach to the test.
Ravitch’s Milwaukee stop is part of a nation-wide tour she’s been on for the past year to promote her 2010 book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education. In it, she denounces her previous support for school choice, accountability and the No Child Left Behind law. She spoke to School Zone during an afternoon interview at Hotel Metro, before heading over to UWM Thursday.
In a highly publicized flip-flop, Ravitch’s now advocates for a national curriculum and a holistic education program that includes more arts and less standardized testing. She also now supports children attending their neighborhood schools.
“Public services shouldn’t have to compete for customers,” she said. “You should be able to have available for you high-quality schools. That’s the obligation of government.”
Ravitch spoke to a group of New Orleans educators recently. Her speech is being broadcast here on our ETV. I wish I could send it to you. You may know that they’ve basically used New Orleans as an incubator for privatization schemes. She supported the charter school movement until she did research on it. This is similar to what economists who were the earlier buyers of Reaganomics–like Bruce Bartlett–have done. They supported it until the data proved it wrong.
So, why are we running our school systems with the same policies that failed in Iraq and Afghanistan? Why are funding Halliburton and KBR and their university and public school counterparts while defunding university students and public schools?
I understand why Republicans are still clinging to lies because that appears to be what the new brand of Republicans do. They lie about climate change. They lie about evolution. They lie about deficits both ways, depending on who is president. What I want to know is why is a Democratic administration buying and selling these kinds of lies using the futures of our children? Some where there must be a way to do a naked short sell on this so that a group of hedge fund masters will make a bundle when the bubble bursts on these privatization schemes. In the interim, a bunch of fee sucking no bid contractors are eating up the proceeds from offering no succeed services.
Why is the Obama Administration leading a war on students and education?