The A$$hole Lawyer who doesn’t like it when folks talk in Spanish

When his ancestors* sailed here from Europe some generations ago, (*at least some of them Jewish with a name like Schlossberg) — chances are very good that they were regarded as inferior, ignorant, and unskilled by the anti-Semitic, racist, and pro-eugenics elite of the US at the time. The Army Alpha Test “proved” that Jewish immigrants were almost as stupid as Mexicans and Negroes (look it up).

Chances are, those of his ancestors who were born in the Pale of Settlement (look it up) spoke Yiddish, Russian, Polish, and/regular German, but hardly any English.

If he has Italian or Irish ancestors, most of those statements would still apply to them as well … that man

Emigrating to America from the shithole that was Eastern or Southern Europe was for many such folks the dream of a lifetime. Those who made it had to through a lot of grief — often renting themselves out for so many years, and finding themselves severely exploited and looked down upon.

It’s so sad that a portion of the current generation of American Jews have gone so far over to the far right, won over primarily by anti-Muslim racism.

Their grand- or Great-grandparents, many of whom were very far left wing and militant, would be spinning in their figurative graves — if such a thing were physically possible.

That applies to every single one of those groups: Jews, Irish, Italians; and even now to workers from Latin America and Africa.

Published in: on May 17, 2018 at 2:02 pm  Comments (1)  

Mayoral Control of Schools in Washington DC Appears to have Benefitted Children of College Grads, But Nobody Else

The reason given for having the office of the Mayor (originally Adrian Fenty) take over the school system in Washington DC, and abolishing all the powers of the elected school board, was to help the poorest kids.

But that’s not how it worked out, according to official test results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Using those stats, harvested for me by the parent of a former student of mine from the NAEP database, we see that children in DC whose parents did NOT finish college made lower gains after 2007 (the date of the changeover) than they did before that date. However, children of college graduates in DC made higher gains after 2007.


And yet another sign that the education ‘reform’ movement is a complete failure.

Here are my graphs and raw data. (Right-click to see them enlarged, if you have a PC – not sure what to do if you have an Apple product.)

annualized gains pre and post mayoral control, DC, 8th grade math, by parental education

The vertical orange line shows the date (June of 2007) when Michelle Rhee was appointed as the first Chancellor of DC Public Schools. The black, dashed line represents average scale scores on the 8th grade math NAEP for students who reported that their parent(s) graduated from college, and the other lines shows scores for kids whose parent(s) did or did not graduate high school, had some college courses. The thin, double blue line represents those students who were unsure of their parental education.

I asked Excel to calculate the annual rate of change pre- and post-mayoral control, and you can see the results in the last two columns. The boxes filled in with yellow are the ‘winners’, so to speak. Note that for the period 2000-2007, the annualized change in NAEP scale scores on the 8th grade NAEP math test in DC is 2.63, which means that on the average, that group of students (yeah, it’s a different group of students for each testing event) saw their scores rise by 2.63 points per year, or 5.26 points every two years. However, for the period 2007-2017, after mayoral control, that same group of students saw their gains cut nearly in half – it tumbled to 1.41 points per year. Kids whose parents did graduate from high school (but went no further) and those whose parents had some education after high school, also saw their rates of increase tumble drastically. Kids who were unsure of their parental education levels or who didn’t report it also saw a drop, but not so large: dropping from 2.08 down to 1.88 points per year.

The only group which saw their annualized scores increase after mayoral control were the children of college graduates: their rate went from 1.16 points/year to 2.60 points per year, which to me looks rather significant.

Ironic, huh?

And here are the results for reading:

annualized gains pre and post mayoral control, dc, 8th grade reading, by parental education

Once again, the results for students whose parents did NOT graduate from college (the first three lines of the table) tumbled dramatically after mayoral control. However, students whose parents did graduate from college (the fourth line) saw a dramatic increase. The last line, representing kids who didn’t know or didn’t report their parental education, saw a little uptick after mayoral control.

Remind me again why  we got rid of the elected school board and put the mayor in charge? Was it really to make sure that the ‘haves’ would get more and that the ‘have-nots’ would have less?

Let me point out the obvious: white parents in DC are overwhelmingly college-educated. Those in DC who did not graduate from high school, or who graduated from 12th grade and went no further, are overwhelmingly African-American or Hispanic. So our ‘reforms’ have had a disproportionately negative impact on black and hispanic students, and a positive one on white kids.

Was that really the intent all along?

Pruitt at EPA Demanded Armed Guard 24/7 from his very first day in office

Evidently Scott Pruitt knew that he would piss off a whole lot of people as he set out to dismantle the EPA and all of the good things that it has done in protecting and improving our environment.

So he demanded, and got, a 24-hour-per-day, -day-a-week armed guard, starting on his very first day in office. Because anybody who is going to let the wealthy capitalists destroy the environment for private profit needs protection from ordinary people.

I’m not making this up. Read the details here.

More Scandals Define DCPS ‘Reform’ Leadership

Not in my wildest dreams could I make this stuff up about how completely incompetent and criminal is the leadership of DC Public Schools. But these incidents are all reported in today’s Washington Post.

1. The flagship DC high school for the performing arts, Duke Ellington, was found to have fraudulently given about 30% of its highly-coveted student slots to kids whose families neither lived in DC nor paid out-of-state tuition. Those fraudulent slots of course meant that hundreds of talented DC students were rejected. (Part of the reason for Ellington leaders getting away with this is the overlapping public and private leadership of the school, allowing them to report much less detail to any central authority. Similar to the situation in charter schools here and elsewhere.)

2. Somebody has fraudulently erased the records of unexcused first-semester absences for a bunch of students at Roosevelt SHS so they would be eligible to graduate. These students had been absent so much that they had received Fs. However, their records now indicate that they had ZERO absences in the first quarter. Teachers reported the erasures but are afraid of reprisals.

3. Same article: Only 29% of Roosevelt’s seniors are on track to graduate *next month*; and “Nearly 38% of students who started at Roosevelt as freshmen in 2014 and were considered part of the Class of 2018 have withdrawn from the school.” So that means about 62% remain. And 29% of 62% is not much: my calculator says that’s about 18% [EIGHTEEN PERCENT!!!] of the Roosevelt Rough Rider class of 2018 is on track to graduate from that school with their peers.

Such “success” defines the leadership of DCPS for the past 11 years: made-up numbers, erasing data that makes them look bad (anybody remember Wayne Ryan and Noyes ES?), and sheer incompetence at educating the hard-to-reach.

Published in: on May 12, 2018 at 7:31 pm  Comments (4)  

American Soldiers in Afghanistan vis-Avis the Soviets …

Recently I read a very interesting article in Quora that compared the American war effort in Afghanistan with that of the former Soviet Union. Unfortunately, I can’t find the article, but I hope I remember some of the salient points:

1. The Soviets fought the Afghan Islamic jihadis whom the Americans were indirectly funding by way of enormous sums of money and weapons given to the corrupt military regime of Pakistan.

2. Those same Islamic jihadis, that the Americans supported and funded for so long, ended up forming the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The Taliban was definitely supported by the Pakistani military – and hence, was supported by the US. Eventually, Al-Qaeda planned and carried out the attacks of September 11, 2001, turning on their former sponsor. Afghans know this. Most Americans don’t.

3. The Soviets actually entered Afghanistan as a result of a legal request from the then-existing Afghan communist government — which was divided into two factions that hated each other and at times murdered each other. The Americans most definitely received no such legal, official invitation. Sure, wanting revenge is normal, but the American government makes a big deal about legality — when it suits their interests. Again, Afghans are quite aware of this hypocrisy.

4. Much or most of the educated folks in Afghanistan at that time were very much in favor of one or the other communist groups. Next time you ride in a taxi or whatever with an Afghan refugee driver, ask him or her about this. [There are, in fact, a lot of highly-educated from all over the Middle East who have taken refuge from the endless wars over there. The US does not use their skills wisely. – my addition]

5. Before the Soviet intervention and later all-out wars, Afghanistan was a fairly peaceful and not totally undeveloped place. The Soviets gave a lot of actual aid for improving transportation, education, health care, the position of women, dams, electricity, etc. current American aid does zilch for the people but lots goes into the pockets of corrupt officials — which is ALL of them. Afghans know this. Americans think that Afghans are all Crazy jihadis. (Yes, I am quite familiar with how the USSR ended up being one of the most repressive and f***ed up nations around.)

6. The same religious reactionaries  (or their descendants) who used to fight the Soviets are now fighting the Americans. The Afghans know this. Americans, in general,  don’t.

7. The Soviet army had much a more hands-on methodology or ‘doctrine’ than the American one does today. Soviet soldiers actually went out on patrols, regularly [and had members who were fluent in the various Afghan languages. They didn’t really need interpreters. – my addition] If they suspected that somebody in village X had given intel to the Jihadis, then they tended to kill everybody in Village C. Face to face. Not with a drone or far-off and invisible artillery 10-20 minutes after a small arms attack from some jihadis.

8. The Soviets controlled the cities, not the countryside; whenever the Soviets left a region, the jihadis came back. The Americans now control the cities, and the skies, but not the countryside. Whenever the Americans or their allies leave a region, the jihadis come back.

8. Consequently the Afghan jihadis had and have lot more respect for Soviet soldiers than American ones, who they see as seldom going out on patrol, never knowing the local languages, and being totally reliant on superior electronic warfare: really, not warriors.

9. The writer noted that the American-installed governments in Afghanistan are among the most corrupt ones on the planet. Afghans know this. Americans don’t.

10. Afghanistan is more like a continent of warring tribes than a nation. The tribes don’t speak the same languages- literally – and have bad blood going back hundreds or thousands of years. Betrayal (of people whom they have smiled to, shaken hands with, eaten with, received cash payments from, etc) is the norm, not the exception.

11. The writer also predicted that as soon as the Americans withdraw, the “elected” regime will fall very, very fast, and that the jihadis are just biding their time until the Americans get sick of the war. They are very confident that they will win.

Published in: on May 3, 2018 at 8:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

What Good Does Standardized Testing Do?

Perhaps it has no real positive use at all, argue two writers. I used to score really high on these this sort of test. But I eventually learned some of the inhuman uses to which they have been put (eg eugenics, “scientific” racism, mass murder, racial segregation and imperialism. I am also grimly aware that there are many personal traits* that I am really bad at. Those traits are ones which no standardized test can possibly hope to measure — Briggs-Meyers be damned. In fact B-M is pseudoscience, just like Freudian psychoanalysis, rohrschach tests, horoscopes, auras, or Dianetics.

These are the links here and here.


If You Could Make ONE change….

* my personal failings and weaknesses are my own and I don’t feel like sharing them with you, dear reader.

Published in: on May 1, 2018 at 5:57 pm  Comments (2)  

Why are the oligarchs attacking public education?

Steve Ruis has been explaining why: it is a direct attack by the oligarchs on the lower 80% of the US population to make them accept a world where they have no power, no stable life, no decent healthcare, no good schools for their kids* nor anything else that folks OUGHT to enjoy in the most powerful and wealthiest nation in the history of the entire planet.

In order that the Walton family (and a few others – the top 1%) can have a life style more opulent than any king, rajah, or emperor at any time in the history of the world, with mansions, yachts, private jets and so on.

*these inferior schools are ones where the kids don’t learn to question authority, don’t go on field trips, don’t have well-trained and experienced teachers, and at all times have their eyes trained on the teacher, respond in unison, and so on. In other words KIPP: Kids In Prison Program, some of the kids and teachers there call it.

Exactly the kind of totalitarian education for serfdom that Americans used to rail against.

Here are some of Steven’s recent posts:


Published in: on April 30, 2018 at 8:33 am  Comments (2)  

Why Did NAEP Scores Fall in 2017 in DC and Elsewhere?

Live by the sword, die in the same manner.

‘Reform’ leaders (bankrolled by billionaires like Bill Gates, the Koch Brothers, and the Walton family and a handful of hedge-fund managers) have justified their mission to destroy public education because of ‘low test scores’ under elected leadership; teachers must not be given the right to have an official, collective voice in working and teaching conditions; and any school with low test scores (i.e. those with poor, black, immigrant, and/or brown students and families) needs to be turned over to the tender mercies of the free market — charter schools and vouchers, making it easier for corporations and well-connected individuals to vacuum up billions of taxpayer funds.

Pretty much all of the school systems in the country have now succumbed to the rule of the education ‘reformers’. So let’s see how well that’s working out in test scores, namely, the National Assessment of Educational Progress. If the scores go up at all under the hegemony of the ‘reformers’, then the billionaires and privatizers tend to shout it from the rooftops and to get editorial boards of friendly newspapers (like the Washington Post) to cheer about it.

When the dismal results were announced at the National Press Club last week, I didn’t hear or read so much crowing. Let’s see why by looking at this graph of Average NAEP Scale Scores for all 4th grade students in a number of locations. If you look at the right-hand end of the graph, or at the last few columns of the table, these trends are now not looking so good. They are either flat or trending slowly downward.

4th grade math, all students, dc + national + city, 1990-2017

Not such great news if you are a supporter of the billionaires and privatizers: even by their own yardstick, their scheme isn’t really working. At the national level (which includes public and private schools of all types), the scores in 2017 were exactly the same as they were TEN YEARS EARLIER (2007). Same thing happened in the public schools, too!

Imagine! Ten years of zero progress under the privatizers!

In Washington, DC, the leveling-out has happened a bit more recently, but we must note that in the entire city (public, charter, private, and parochial), scores lm 2017 were the same as they were two years earlier, and in the regular DC public schools, the scores are LOWER than they were two years ago.

Maybe this is why these reformsters can’t keep a job and keep bouncing from city to city.


Newfound Teacher Militancy in ‘Red’ States and in a DC Charter School!

It is great to see so many of my former teacher colleagues in red states, as well as at a charter school here in DC, engaging in militant action against the corruption and privatization and defunding of public education. Walkouts in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona and Colorado are very inspirational not only to parents, teachers and students in those states, but also to the entire, beleaguered working class and union movement in this country.

I am also pleased to see the teachers at Chavez Prep Middle Charter School here in DC also doing their bit in exposing the hypocrisy of their own management in wasting millions on hiring consultants instead of actual classroom teachers for science or English as a second language. (Most of the teachers I’ve known who worked at charter schools told me they took the job with very high expectations and commitment, but found out after a while that the high-sounding ideals of the school weren’t carried out in practice.) Here is the Washington Post article on the Chavez demonstration:




Teachers from only D.C. charter school with a union take to the streets to protest

Teachers and staff from the District’s Chavez Prep Middle march to the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Library on Tuesday as they protest what they say is the school’s excessive spending on a consultant. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

By Perry Stein April 25 at 6:43 PM

A rare battle between teachers and administrators at a charter school has broken into public view, with educators taking to the streets of a D.C. neighborhood to press their case that the school is spending millions of dollars on consultants while cutting core classroom positions.

The teachers at Chavez Prep Middle — the first D.C. charter school to unionize — say the administration’s spending is hurting students, who predominantly come from low-income, Hispanic families.

The teachers voted in June to unionize and are represented by the American Federation of Teachers. The three other campuses in the D.C. Cesar Chavez charter network are not unionized. The protest unfolded as teachers at Chavez Prep Middle are negotiating their first contract with school leaders.

“We want to make sure our students are as best served as possible,” said Do Lee, an eighth-grade math teacher. “But a lot of our money is going to the [consulting firm], and we don’t see the trickle-down effect.”

The leaders of the Cesar Chavez charter schools say the consulting firm is needed to boost the lagging performance of students and that the schools risk closure if their academic standing does not improve.

Charter schools are publicly funded and privately run, and unlike the traditional public school system, their teachers are not typically unionized. Massive teacher protests have been organized by unions in states such as Oklahoma and West Virginia this year, but they have emerged from the states’ traditional public school systems, with thousands of teachers represented by a single union. At Chavez Prep Middle, 30 teachers are in the union.

Nearly 7,000 charter schools serve 3 million students in the country, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. The American Federation of Teachers says that in the past year, teachers at more than a dozen charter schools nationwide have voted to unionize.

School leaders at Chavez said the union is misrepresenting the staffing cuts and the role of the consulting firm — and argue that it is a necessary investment for the school.


The Cesar Chavez network has a four-year, $5.3 million contract with TenSquare, a consulting firm that supports charter schools, according to school leaders. The annual budget at the four schools combined is more than $26 million.

[Teachers walk out, cancel classes for an hour at D.C.’s Anacostia High]

Enrollment and standardized test scores have declined in recent years in the Chavez network, and the D.C. Public Charter School Board said in December it would close the schools if they don’t improve their academic performance, according to the board’s 2017 review. The board ordered the Chavez network’s Parkside Middle to be shut down over the next three years. The charter network schools have experienced high turnover in their administrations.

Network administrators say they brought in TenSquare to help turn around the schools.

“The goals for TenSquare’s efforts within the Chavez network require a sustained effort,” Rick Torres, the network’s board chairman, wrote in a statement. “The good news is that we are already seeing encouraging signs of improvement thanks to the dedication of our teachers and staff and the support of TenSquare’s specialists in the areas where Chavez needs additional help to support our students and families.”

TenSquare founder Josh Kern said his consulting firm has 12 employees working across the four campuses. He said the firm trains school leaders, coaches and teachers and works with struggling students. TenSquare is working with three other D.C. charter schools, and Kern said client schools see dramatic improvements in their charter board evaluations. The firm also works with schools in New Orleans and Las Vegas.

“The work we are doing is essential to the school,” Kern said, “and absolutely necessary to improving the school.”

The unionized teachers at Chavez Prep Middle have already scored a small victory: The National Labor Relations Board found merit in March to allegations that Chavez school administrators are making changes to the workplace without negotiating with the teachers. An administrative trial is set for this summer.

Chavez Prep Middle teachers who protested Tuesday said they are angry that the administration is not filling vacant positions for a social studies teacher and a teacher of English as a second language. The Columbia Heights middle school campus has a large population of Hispanic students, and teachers said the English-language position is critical. The loss of these positions, they argued, leaves the staff stretched thin.

But school leaders said they had to make those cuts because of declining enrollment. The schools receive city funding for each student enrolled, and the four campuses went from 1,420 students in the 2015-2016 school year to 1,172 students this year, according to data from the D.C. charter board.

The protesting teachers marched from the middle school campus in Columbia Heights to the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Library, where some of the teachers met with school leaders to continue contract negotiations. Representatives from TenSquare were present at the negotiations.

The educators carried signs invoking the philosophies of the school’s namesake, Cesar Chavez, a Mexican American farmworker who became a national labor leader.

“What would Cesar do?” one sign read. Protesters chanted “TenSquare, escucha, estamos en la lucha,” which translates from Spanish to, “TenSquare, listen, we are in the fight.”

“It seems to us that TenSquare is coming in and exploiting a broken evaluation system to fill their pockets,” said Christian Herr, a science teacher at the school and one of the union leaders.

Published in: on April 27, 2018 at 9:32 am  Comments (2)  

And how about in 8th grade reading? Surely DC is in the leading NAEP TUDA pack there, too?


data table, 8th grade, all reading, all naep tuda cities

DC is number 22 out of 27 cities as of last testing, a year ago. And we were only #3 out of 6 back in 2002, so I am not sure that’s an improvement.

If you prefer an extremely hard-to-read line graph, here you go:

8th grade reading, all cities in NAEP tuda, 2002-2017

Published in: on April 26, 2018 at 4:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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