Kleptocratic, Kakistocratic President Proposes to Enrich Himself and His Class With Targeted Tax Cuts

Supposedly, ‘everybody’ would get tax relief. Today’s NYT article says,

But the vast majority of benefits would accrue to the highest earners and largest holders of wealth, according to economists and analysts, accounting for a lopsided portion of the proposal’s costs.

“The only Americans who are very clear winners under the new system are the wealthiest,” said Edward D. Kleinbard, a law professor at the University of Southern California and former chief of staff of Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation, which estimates the revenue effects of tax proposals.

Repealing the estate tax, for example, would affect just 5,300 or so fortunes a year. For 2017, couples can shield up to $11 million of their estates from any taxation, leaving only the largest inheritances subject to taxation. Repealing the estate tax alone would cost an estimated $174.2 billion over a decade, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center said.

Reducing the rate on capital gains, noncorporate business taxes and those in the highest bracket, as well as repealing the alternative minimum tax, would also ease the burden on wealthier Americans. So would the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s 3.8 percent surtax on the investment income of high earners, put in place to subsidize health coverage for low-income Americans.

“These are all afflictions of the affluent,” Mr. Kleinbard said.

There is no way to know how the mathematics of the proposal would work, since the White House offered no cost estimates, no detail about which incomes would be taxed at what levels and no information about tax deductions or other breaks that might be eliminated to make up for the lost revenue.

You may recall that without the Alternative Minimum Tax, Trump would have paid no taxes at all during the one year for which his IRS Form 1099 was leaked.

By the way, a Kleptocracy is ‘government by the thieves’ and Kakistocracy is ‘government by the very worst elements’ or ‘government by the shitheads’.

Different City, Same Results: Students in DC who use vouchers to go to private schools do WORSE than their peers who don’t 

First paragraph from today’s WAPO article:

“Students in the nation’s only federally funded school voucher initiative performed worse on standardized tests within a year after entering D.C. private schools than peers who did not participate, according to a new federal analysis that comes as President Trump is seeking to pour billions of dollars into expanding the private school scholarships nationwide.”

“D.C. students who used vouchers had significantly lower math scores a year after joining the program, on average, than students who applied for a voucher through a citywide lottery but did not receive one. For voucher students in kindergarten through fifth grade, reading scores were also significantly lower. For older voucher students, there was no significant difference in reading scores.

“For voucher recipients coming from a low-performing public school — the population that the voucher program primarily aims to reach — attending a private school had no effect on achievement. But for voucher recipients coming from higher-performing public schools, the negative effect was particularly large.”

You can find the actual report at this link:

https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20104018/pdf/20104018.pdf

Published in: on April 27, 2017 at 4:44 pm  Comments (1)  

What New Orleans Charter Schools are like 12 years After Katrina

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/04/25/everything-wrong-charter-schools-display-new-orleans

Published in: on April 25, 2017 at 5:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Education “Reformers” have no idea what they are doing…

Here is Steve Ruis pointing out what I’ve been saying for years:

https://stephenpruis.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/international-test-scores-and-other-meaningless-drivers-of-policy/

Published in: on April 25, 2017 at 12:36 pm  Comments (1)  

CG on Vouchers

From Caroline Grannan via Facebook:

School vouchers (public money for private school tuition) are one of the many things that sound really good until you look a little more closely. To paraphrase President Trump, nobody knew it could be so complicated. Here are some things.1. The fantasy that poor kids are going to Town or Hamlin or you-name-it Elite Private Acres Academy is delusion. Vouchers would no way cover the tuition, and those schools don’t want and couldn’t handle challenging low-income students. That’s why the private-school sector doesn’t really support vouchers — they’re afraid they might be pressured to accept students they don’t want and aren’t equipped to serve.

2. In places where vouchers have existed for a long time, educational achievement and the fortunes of impoverished kids have not budged. (Milwaukee has been voucher mecca, since the ’90s. There’s been no benefit for kids or the community whatsoever.)

3. What has happened is lots of theft, corruption and waste as people open phony private schools just to rake in the public funds. Plus presumably plenty of well-meaning incompetents who didn’t intend to steal, but find that it’s not that simple to run a school.

4. If not means-tested (given only to low-income families), vouchers are welfare for the privileged who are already using private schools.

5. Vouchers just given to low-income families will mostly send them to bare-bones private schools or the frauds, crooks and incompetents mentioned above, since they won’t cover tuition at elite private schools and elite private schools only want the very most carefully selected high-functioning low-income kids. 

6. Private schools are not magic. Their benefit is that they select their students and don’t accept challenging, troubled, hard-to-teach or high-need students. Obviously, they’re not going to solve the real challenges of education since they won’t touch them. Also, people who think private-school teachers are better, that’s BS. They are teaching handpicked students. If you plunked a class full of high-need, impoverished students into their school, they would face the same challenges all teachers do. 

7. So, vouchers for private schools aren’t going to help any kids whom private schools don’t want to accept, and those are the ones who most need help. And that means a privatized school system isn’t going to solve any problems. All it will do is harm public schools and the kids they serve, and ultimately eliminate public education, which is the real intent.

Published in: on April 21, 2017 at 3:26 pm  Comments (2)  

Comparing Texas Charter and Public Schools

I am copying the entirety of this article. No comments needed from me. How about you? — GFB

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Game, Set, and Match—Texas SBOE Member Looks at the Numbers Comparing Charter and Traditional Schools

State Board of Education member Thomas Ratliff, a Republican from Mount Pleasant, has taken a look at the performance data of Texas charter schools and traditional public schools operated by independent school districts, and his findings give cold comfort to charter proponents. Here’s Ratliff’s report on those findings and his conclusions published July 13:

Every year the Texas Education Agency releases the “snapshot” of the prior school year’s academic and financial performance for ISD’s and charter schools. These are the facts from the 2012-13 school year (the most recently released report – released last week). Check them for yourself here: http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/snapshot.

Thomas Ratliff

I offer the following key comparisons between ISDs and charter schools:

Dropout and Graduation Rates:

  • ISDs had a dropout rate of 1.5%, charters had a 5.5% dropout rate
  • ISDs had a 4-year graduation rate of 91%, charters had a 60.6% rate
  • ISDs had a 5-year graduation rate of 92.9%, charters had a 70% rate

Academic Performance:

  • ISDs outperformed charters on 3 out of 5 STAAR tests (Math, Science, Social Studies)
  • ISDs matched charters on the other 2 out of 5 STAAR tests(Reading and Writing)
  • ISDs tested 64.5% for college admissions, charters tested 44.2%
  • ISDs average SAT score was 1422, charters average was 1412
  • ISDs average ACT score was 20.6, charters average was 19.7

Staff expenditures & allocation:

  • ISDs spent 57.4% on instructional expenses, charters spent 50.9%
  • ISDs spent 6% [on] central administrative expenses, charters spent 13%
  • ISDs had 3.8% of employees in central or campus administrative roles
  • Charters had 7.6% of employees in central or campus administrative roles

Teacher salary/experience/turnover and class size

  • ISDs average teacher salary was $49,917, charters average was $43,669
  • ISDs had 15.3 students per teacher, charters had 16.8
  • ISDs had 32.1% of teachers with less than 5 years experience
  • Charters had 75.2% of teachers with less than 5 years experience
  • 24% of ISD teachers had advanced degrees, charters had 17.4%
  • ISDs had a teacher turnover rate of 15.6%, charters had 36.7%

Conclusions

Keep in mind these are statewide numbers and admittedly, there are good and bad ISDs and there are good and bad charter schools. But, at the end of the day, we are talking about the state of Texas as a whole and over 5 million kids and their families.

Here are the conclusions I reach after studying the data and talking to experts, educators and people in my district and across Texas.

1) For at least the second year in a row, ISDs outperformed charter schools on dropout rates, state tests, graduation rates, and college entrance exams. If charters are supposed to be competing with ISDs, they are getting beaten in straight sets (to use a tennis analogy).

2) Charter schools spend more on central administrative expenses and less in the classroom, which leads to larger classes being taught by less experienced teachers.

3) Charter schools pay their teachers $6,248 less per year than ISDs. Many refer to competition from charter schools as a key factor to improving education. I do not see this “competition” helping teachers as some try to claim. The fact is, charters hire teachers with less experience and education to save money. This results in a high turnover rate. Over a third of teachers at charter schools leave when they get more experience or more education. Many times, they go work for a nearby ISD.

In conclusion, when you hear the unending and unsubstantiated rhetoric about “failing public schools” from those that support vouchers or other “competitive” school models, it is important to have the facts. ISDs aren’t perfect, but they graduate more kids, keep more kids from dropping out and get more kids career and college ready than their politically connected competitors. Any claims to the contrary just simply are not supported by the facts and at the end of the day facts matter because these lives matter.

Learning Arabic!

Yesterday, for the very first time, I succeeded in typing a word in Arabic on my smartphone and then got the phone to translate it into English. Instead of the other way around. The word is

مبسوط

  • which is written from right to left, and pronounced “mabsout” or “map-soot” in English.
  • The meaning is appropriate: “happy”, because I’m finally making a little progress, and the translation confirms what I learned 40+ years so living and working and studying Hebrew on a left-wing kibbutz in Israel. At one point I could actually read technical manuals in Hebrew and carry on many conversations, but I didn’t learn much Russian, Arabic, or Yiddish, which I heard a lot of at the time.
  • Not even the Arabic alphabet…
  • As a result I always felt a little stupid because even tho Hebrew and Arabic are pretty closely related, I never had ANY IDEA what words written in Arabic meant– not even obvious place names on trilingual road signs.
  • Yiddish is basically a dialect of German written in Hebrew characters with a good bit of Slavic and Hebrew vocabulary, so I could at least sound that out and if you know any older American or Israeli Jews you know a lot of Yiddish phrases
  • I had already taught myself the Russian (Cyrillic) alphabet
  • But I had no clue whatsoever as to how Arabic was written.
  • Now I can sort of sound them out… progress!)👶🏼👅🌞🌟

So this says the same thing in all three languages though Arabic doesn’t have a “v” sound so it’s more like “Tel Abeeb”.

Image may contain: cloud, sky and text
I think that Arabic is one of the hardest languages I’ve tried to learn (up there with Japanese or Chinese) especially since those dots that you see make enormous differences.  For examples, these four letters mean different things:

ذ د ز ر

(R, Z, D, Zh) and similar shapes could also be “B”, “T”, “Th”, “N”, or “Y” depending on dots. Plus colloquial spoken Arabic is different in every Arab country, really different – much more different than British and American or South African English, say. Almost like the differences between Catalan and Castilian.
What’s more, “correct” “modern standard Arabic” is essentially the same language as the Q’ran (Koran) with some modern additions – and which nobody speaks except for announcers and writers of newspapers and books. Can you even imagine reading and writing and having to speak the forms of English, Latin, German, or French that were spoken in the year 800 (when Charlemagne was crowned)? The Koran was recorded over 100 years earlier!

 

Published in: on April 17, 2017 at 4:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Number-crunching charter and public schools in New York City

School Finance 101 is a blog those writer does a much better job than I have ever done of looking into, uh, school finances and so on. In this post, which you should definitely read, the analysis is of charter and public schools in New York City from 2008-10, since it was written back in 2012. 

The bottom line is that the NYC charter schools are NOT achieving the miracles that the public is led to believe, even though the charters have smaller classes, fewer learning-disabled or poor students, and more money per pupil and longer school day and year.

Here is the link:

https://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/what-do-the-available-data-tell-us-about-nyc-charter-school-teachers-their-jobs/

Published in: on April 16, 2017 at 2:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Attacks on Teacher Tenure are Nonsensical

Jersey Jazzman does a good job here in explaining that there is no connection between teacher tenure rules (aka LIFO) and student achievement.

http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2017/04/teacher-tenure-and-seniority-lawsuits.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+blogspot/CqnJA+(Jersey+Jazzman)&m=1

Published in: on April 11, 2017 at 1:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

US Cruise Missiles Hit Syrian Air Base

Conclusion of a NYT information article on last night’s strikes: “The decision to launch an attack was a major reversal for Mr. Trump, who criticized former President Barack Obama in 2013 for considering strikes against Syria after a previous chemical attack.” 
There is no side with clean hands there that I know of – not even the far-left Kurdish groups. (I understand that the latter groups are quite happy with the American support that they receive. Who knows how long that will last?)
An engineer I know from Lebanon said that she didn’t really understand why groups were fighting to overthrow Assad in the first place — after all, education and medical care in Syria (up to the start of the civil war) were free and quite good.
No American newspaper or media agency of any sort that I know of has reporters on all sides of the various front lines; most don’t have a single reporter anywhere inside Iraq. We know from the first and second Gulf wars against Iraq that embedding reporters with any one side necessarily means that the information that comes out from those reporters will be slanted towards that side — or else the reporter is declared persona non grata or worse (arrested, tortured, deported, or even murdered). Let us remember that being an honest reporter can be very, very dangerous. If correspondent tells the truth and it hurts somebody, repercussions can be quite severe. To be called an ‘enemy of the people’ and ‘the most dishonest people ever’ by the politician who has told more bald-faced lies than any other figure I can think of in American history, is threatening.
One thing I like about this map – from IS Janes  via the NYT – is that the colors are much better than usual, so you can see who controls what territory.
syria
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