A new attack on the very idea of Public Education

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page has always been very right-wing, pro-billionaire, anti-labor, and so on. It appears to be helping build an attack on the very idea of a common, public education.

Peter Greene of Curmudgucation analyzes a recent article by an ideologue of Koch-type, Ayn Rand-style ideas.

CURMUDGUCATION

What The WSJ Anti-Public Ed Op-Ed Gets Wrong
Posted: 25 Oct 2021 09:08 AM PDT

Last Friday, the Wall Street Journal (Fix News’ upscale sibling) published an op-ed from Philip Hamburger, a Columbia law professor and head of the New Civil Liberties Alliance, a Koch-funded pro bono firm that takes cases primarily to defend against the “administrative state.”

It’s a hit job on public education with some pretty bold arguments, some of which are pretty insulting. But he sure says a lot of the quiet part out loud, and that makes this worth a look. Let me walk you through this. (Warning–it’s a little rambly, and you can skip to the last section if you want to get the basic layout)

Hamburger signals where he’s headed with the very first paragraph:

The public school system weighs on parents. It burdens them not simply with poor teaching and discipline, but with political bias, hostility toward religion, and now even sexual and racial indoctrination. Schools often seek openly to shape the very identity of children. What can parents do about it?

Hamburger offers no particular evidence for any of this catalog of arguable points. Various surveys repeatedly show that the majority of parents approve of their child’s public school. The rest is a litany of conservative complaints with no particular evidence, but Hamburger needs the premise to power the rest of his argument.

So here comes Hamburger’s bold assertion:

Education is mostly speech, and parents have a constitutional right to choose the speech with which their children will be educated. They therefore cannot constitutionally be compelled, or even pressured, to make their children a captive audience for government indoctrination

Conservative talking points about public education routinely assert and assume that public education is a service provided to parents, rather than to the students or society at large. It’s case I’ve never seen them successfully make. At the same time, society’s stake in educated members is clear and the entire rationale behind having non-parent taxpayers help pay the cost of public education. In any other instance where the taxpayers subsidize a private individual’s purchase of goods or service (e.g. food stamps, housing), some conservatives say the social safety net is a Bad Thing, so it’s uncharacteristic for them to champion public education as, basically, a welfare program for parents when they want to dramatically reduce all other such programs to bathtub-drowning size (spoiler alert: they’d like to do that with public education, too). 

But Hamburger has taken another step here, arguing that speech to children somehow belongs to their parents. It’s a bold notion–do parents somehow have a First Amendment right to control every sound that enters their children’s ears? Where are the children’s rights in this? Or does Hamburger’s argument (as some angry Twitter respondents claim) reduce children to chattel?
Hamburger follows his assertion with some arguments that don’t help. He argues that public education has always attempted to “homogenize and mold the identity of children,” which is a huge claim and, like much of his argument, assumes that schools somehow have the power to overwrite or erase everything that parents have inculcated at home. But then, for the whole argument currently raging, it’s necessary to paint public schools as huge threat in order to justify taking dramatic major action against them. 

The great Protestant scam

Hamburger also notes that public education has “been valued for corralling most of the poor and middle class into institutions where their religious and ethnic differences could be ironed out” which would be a more powerful point if most of the poor hadn’t generally avoided public education entirely. But he’s going to go further by claiming that “well into the 20th century, much of the political support for public schooling was driven by fear of Catholicism and an ambition to Protestantize Catholic children.” There’s no doubt that some of this was going on, but the primary goal of public education? 

The court case he leans on first is Pierce v Society of Sister, a 1925 Oregon case that established a parental right to substitute private religious school for public schooling. Hamburger argues that the underlying idea of the case is that Freedom of Speech = educational liberty, which gets him back to his central idea:  education is speech and therefor public education impinges on parents’ First Amendment rights.

Further, Hamburger imagines an America in which some sort of pressure is exerted on people (mostly Catholics) to accept public education mind control, thereby violating–well, here’s the shortest form of the argument he offers.
When government makes education compulsory and offers it free of charge, it crowds out parental freedom in educational speech. The poorer the parents, the more profound the pressure—and that is by design. Nativists intended to pressure poor and middle-class parents into substituting government educational speech for their own, and their unconstitutional project largely succeeded.

Most parents can’t afford to turn down public schooling. They therefore can’t adopt speech expressive of their own views in educating their children, whether by paying for a private school or dropping out of work to home school. So they are constrained to adopt government educational speech in place of their own, in violation of the First Amendment.
Hamburger doesn’t offer any kind of smoking gun to underline or expose the “nativists” dire intent. Nor does he explain why the public school system in some locales had to be forced to accept some students (I assume that he does not intend to argue that Southern schools blocked Black students out of deep respect for their parents’ First Amendment rights). 

Public education squashes parents, apparently.

Hamburger returns to a funhouse mirror of public education. Rather than an attempt to improve society as a whole and extend equal opportunity to all children, his view is that public education exists strictly to indoctrinate, to overrule parents, and is so lacking in any desirable virtue that government must conspire to force families to submit.

His language posits a bizarre world. Parents somehow “can’t adopt speech expressive of their own views” and must adopt government “educational speech in place of their own.” All of this as if once parents send their children to school, they must never again express their own values or ideas in their own home. He hits this “in place of their own” idea a lot, as if the beginning of public education is the end of any sort of childrearing at home. 

He next does a neat ju-jitsu trick where he observes that if fears of coercion and indoctrination are enough to keep religious elements out of public school, they should be enough to keep Other Secular Stuff out of school.
Next, he works his way around to the objection I raised earlier–society’s “compelling interest in public education.” He would like to dismantle this claim. I’m unconvinced. 

The U.S. was founded in an era when almost all schooling was private and religious, and that already suggests that any government interest in public education is neither necessary nor compelling.

This elicited my first “Oh, come on.” When the US was founded, some students went to private school. Some did not. Most enslaved children were specifically forbidden to. When the US founded, the body of knowledge one needed to grasp to make one’s way through the world was considerably smaller, and there were fewer citizens in the whole US than there are right now in New York City. So, no.

Also, he argues again that public schools caught on basically as a plot by anti-Catholic nativists. This is a bold argument, made all the bolder because many, many paragraphs in, he has not offered even a cherry-picked out-of-context quote to back this up. But he is going to try to reinterpret a quote with a wild stretch:

In their vision, public schools were essential for inculcating American principles so that children could become independent-minded citizens and thinking voters. The education reformer and politician Horace Mann said that without public schools, American politics would bend toward “those whom ignorance and imbecility have prepared to become slaves.” That sounds wholesome in the abstract. In practice, it meant that Catholics were mentally enslaved to their priests, and public education was necessary to get to the next generation, imbuing them with Protestant-style ideas so that when they reached adulthood, they would vote more like Protestant.

Has any giant conspiracy ever failed so spectacularly? Horace Mann and his ilk were out to wipe out Catholicism and make everyone think Protestanty ideas and get everyone to vote the right way, and yet, none of that actually happened. And again, Hamburger talks about education as if it has no value or purpose beyond indoctrinating children. 

Is this one more plan to replace white folks with Democrat voters?

This goal of shaping future voters gave urgency to the government’s interest in public education. As today, the hope was to liberate children from their parents’ supposedly benighted views and thereby create a different sort of polity. Now as then, this sort of project reeks of prejudice and indoctrination. There is no lawful government interest in displacing the educational speech of parents who don’t hold government-approved views, let alone in altering their children’s identity or creating a government-approved electorate

So, again, Hamburger reduces public education to a vast conspiracy to shout down parents and not, say, a means of creating educated citizens who are empowered to understand themselves and the world well enough to forge a productive and rewarding place in it. 

Hamburger wraps up by again harkening back to those great days of the 18th century:

The shared civic culture of 18th-century America was highly civilized, and it developed entirely in private schools. The schools, like the parents who supported them, were diverse in curriculum and their religious outlook, including every shade of Protestantism, plus Judaism, Catholicism, deism and religious indifference. In their freedom, the 18th-century schools established a common culture. In contrast, public-school coercion has always stimulated division.


I have some serious doubts about the diversity he lists, but I will note that it does not include a diversity of wealth and race. Or, for that matter, gender. Divisions is always less of a problem when Some People know their place and avoid interrupting their betters with complaints. But he needs this to be true because he’s headed back around to the assertion that public schools are “coercive” and “the focal point for all that is tearing the nation apart.” His solution, favored by Libertarians these days, is to get public schools to stop tearing people apart by letting people tear themselves apart and silo with other folks of the same ideological stripe, because that has always worked out well.

So what is actually new here? Or is this the same old anti-public ed stuff? What is he actually saying? Let me boil this down.

Hamburger’s argument breaks down into a few simple parts.


One is that the country (aka “government”) has no legitimate stake in public education. Just let everyone get their own education for their own kids; it worked great back in the 1700s. This is a silly argument. 

Also, the government has no legitimate stake in public education  because it’s all just a nativist plot to grind down Catholics and other dissenters. This part of the argument is important because it sets up the notion that only parents should have a say in education, which is an old favorite assertion of the anti-public ed crowd. If you don’t know why we all benefit from being surrounded by well-educated people, I don’t know how to explain it to you.

Education is speech. This part of the argument is important because it allows him to rope in the First Amendment so that he can declare public education unconstitutional. But it feels like a stretch–does he mean formal education? Is it still speech if it’s not in a classroom? Is reading a book speech if you learn from it? Does this mean teachers have more First Amendment rights than previously rules, or fewer?  If it’s on a computer? Is anything a person learns from speech? 

But “education is speech” is not the really bold part of his argument. That really bold part is where he goes on to say “therefor, parents should have total control over it.” I have so many questions. Should parents have total control over all speech directed at or in the vicinity of their children, including books, and so would I be violating a parent’s First Amendment rights if I gave their child an book for Christmas? And where are the child’s rights in this? Would this mean that a parent is allowed to lock their child in the basement in order to protect that parent’s First Amendment right to control what the child is exposed to? 

Hamburger’s argument has implications that he doesn’t get into in his rush to get to “do away with them and give everyone vouchers.” The biggest perhaps is that he has made an argument that non-parent taxpayers should not have to subsidize an education system. I’m betting he’s not unaware of that. 

Democrats Need to Get a Clue About Education!

Peter Greene at Curmudgucation gets it right again, even more when we realize that big business has always been lying about not having enough skilled workers. (see)

Democrats Need A New Theory Of Action
Posted: 28 Dec 2020 07:24 AM PST
For four years, Democrats have had a fairly simple theory of action when it came to education.

Something along the lines of “Good lord, a crazy lady just came into our china shop riding a bull, waving around a flamethrower, and dragging a shark with a head-mounted laser beam; we have to stop her from destroying the place (while pretending that we have a bull and a shark in the back just like hers).” 

Now, of course, that will, thank heavens, no longer fit the circumstances. The Democrats will need a new plan.

Trouble is, the old plan, the one spanning both the Clinton and Obama years, is not a winner. It went, roughly, like this:

The way to fix poverty, racism, injustice, inequity and economic strife is to get a bunch of children to make higher scores on a single narrow standardized test; the best shot at getting this done is to give education amateurs the opportunity to make money doing it.

This was never, ever a good plan.
Ever.
Let me count the ways.
For one thing, education’s ability to fix social injustice is limited. Having a better education will not raise the minimum wage. It will not eradicate poverty. And as we’ve just spent four years having hammered into us, it will not even be sure to make people better thinkers or cleanse them of racism. It will help some people escape the tar pit, but it will not cleanse the pit itself.

And that, of course, is simply talking about education, and that’s not what the Dems theory was about anyway–it was about a mediocre computer-scorable once-a-year test of math and reading. And that was never going to fix a thing. Nobody was going to get a better job because she got a high score on the PARCC. Nobody was ever going to achieve a happier, healthier life just because they’d raised their Big Standardized Test scores by fifty points. Any such score bump was always going to be the result of test prep and test-taker training, and that sort of preparation was always going to come at the expense of real education.

Now, a couple of decades on, all the evidence says that test-centric education didn’t improve society, schools, or the lives of the young humans who passed through the system.

Democrats must also wrestle with the fact that many of the ideas attached to this theory of action were always conservative ideas, always ideas that didn’t belong to traditional Democratic Party stuff at all. 

Jack Schneider and Jennifer Berkshire talk about a “treaty” between Dems and the GOP, and that’s a way to look at how the ed reform movement brought people into each side who weren’t natural fits. The conservative market reform side teamed up with folks who believed choice was a matter of social justice, and that truce held until about four years ago, actually before Trump was elected.

Meanwhile, in Schneider and Berkshire’s telling, Democrats gave up supporting teachers (or at least their unions) while embracing the Thought Leadership of groups like Democrats for Education Reform, a group launched by hedge fund guys who adopted “Democrat” because it seemed like a good way to get the support they needed. Plus (and this seems like it was a thousand years ago) embracing “heroes” like Michelle Rhee, nominally listed as a Democrat, but certainly not acting like one. 

All of this made a perfect soup for feeding neo-liberals. It had the additional effect of seriously muddying the water about what, exactly, Democrats stand for when it comes to public education. The laundry list of ideas now has two problems. One is that they have all been given a long, hard trial, and they’ve failed. The other, which is perhaps worse from a political gamesmanship standpoint, is that they have Trump/DeVos stink all over them. 

But while Dems and the GOP share the problems with the first half of that statement, it’s the Democrats who have to own the second part. The amateur part.

I often complain that the roots of almost all our education woes for the modern reform period come from the empowerment of clueless amateurs, and while it may appear at first glance that both parties are responsible, on closer examination, I’m not so sure.

The GOP position hasn’t been that we need more amateurs and fewer professionals–their stance is that education is being run by the wrong profession. Eli Broad has built his whole edu-brand on the assertion that education doesn’t have education problems, it has business management problems, and that they will best be solved by management professionals.

In some regions, education has been reinterpreted by conservatives as a real estate problem, best solved by real estate professionals. The conservative model calls for education to be properly understood as a business, and as such, run not by elected bozos on a board or by a bunch of teachers, but by visionary CEOs with the power to hire and fire and set the rules and not be tied down by regulations and unions. 

Democrats of the neo-liberal persuasion kind of agree with that last part. And they have taken it a step further by embracing the notion that all it takes to run a school is a vision, with no professional expertise of any sort at all.

I blame Democrats for the whole business of putting un-trained Best and Brightest Ivy Leaguers in classrooms, and the letting them turn around and use their brief classroom visit to establish themselves as “experts” capable of running entire district or even state systems. It takes Democrats to decide that a clueless amateur like David Coleman should be given a chance to impose his vision on the entire nation (and it takes right-tilted folks to see that this is a perfect chance to cash in big time). 

Am I over-simplifying? Sure.

But you get the idea.

Democrats turned their backs on public education and the teaching profession. They decided that virtually every ill in society is caused by teachers with low expectations and lousy standards, and then they jumped on the bandwagon that insisted that somehow all of that could be fixed by making students take a Big Standardized Test and generating a pile of data that could be massaged for any and all purposes (never forget–No Child Left Behind was hailed as a great bi-partisan achievement). I would be far more excited about Biden if at any point in the campaign he had said something along the lines of, “Boy, did we get education policy wrong.”

And I suppose that’s a lot to ask.

But if Democrats are going to launch a new day in education, they have a lot to turn their backs on, along with a pressing need for a new theory of action.
They need to reject the concept of an entire system built on the flawed foundation of a single standardized test. Operating with flawed data is, in fact, worse than no data at all, and for decades ed policy has been driven by folks looking for their car keys under a lamppost hundreds of feet away from where the keys were dropped because “the light’s better over here.”

They need to embrace the notion that teachers are, in fact, the pre-eminent experts in the field of education.

They need to accept that while education can be a powerful engine for pulling against the forces of inequity and injustice, but those forces also shape the environment within which schools must work.

 They need to stop listening to amateurs. Success in other fields does not qualify someone to set education policy. Cruising through a classroom for two years does not make someone an education expert. Everyone who ever went to the doctor is not a medical expert, everyone who ever had their car worked on is not a mechanic, and everyone who ever went to school is not an education expert. Doesn’t mean they can’t add something to the conversation, but they shouldn’t be leading it.

They need to grasp that schools are not businesses. And not only are schools not businesses, but their primary function is not to supply businesses with useful worker bees. If they want to run multiple parallel education systems with charters and vouchers and all the rest, they need to face up to properly funding it. If they won’t do that, then they need to shut up about choicey policies.

“We can run three or four school systems for the cost of one” was always a lie, and it’s time to stop pretending otherwise. Otherwise school choice is just one more unfunded mandate.
They need to accept that privatized school systems have not come up with anything new, revolutionary, or previously undiscovered about education. But they have come up with some clever new ways to waste and make off with taxpayer money.

Listen to teachers. Listen to parents in the community served by the school. Commit to a search for long term solutions instead of quick fixy silver bullets. And maybe become a force for public education slightly more useful than simply fending off a crazy lady with a flamethrower. 



Warnings from Erich Martel

I am reposting the entirety of a sobering and warning letter from my former DCPS colleague, Erich Martel, about the current political situation, which he posted on the Concerned4DCPS list-serve. I am positive he wants it disseminated. — GFB

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ehmartel@starpower.net [concerned4DCPS] <concerned4dcps@yahoogroups.com>UnsubscribeTo:ehmartel@starpower.netSat, Oct 31 at 7:33 PM

FYI – There are links to a number of articles.  Be sure to recommend to friends in Pennsylvania and North Carolina – and other states – to vote in person, if possible. 

Republicans have launched over 300 lawsuits to challenge mail ballots arriving after November 3rd.

The anti-democratic forces that have periodically threatened to tear this country apart. What Pres. Trump is threatening has happened before.  I don’t mean slavery.  I mean the unleashing of white nationalist terror to purge the South of biracial state governments after Reconstruction and the evisceration of the 14th and 15th Amendments by the Supreme Court. 

In 1896, 126,000 Black men were registered to vote in North Carolina; six years later, in 1902, only 6,100 remained registered: https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2020/11/19/wilmington-american-pogrom/  

I hope everyone agrees that every legitimate vote should be counted. I have linked a number of articles, all very unsettling. 

Erich

By now, I hope everyone is aware of and understands the seriousness of President Trump’s threats that, if he loses his re-election bid, he will not accept the results. 

On the other hand, if he wins, he will remove all restraints on autocratic power (think: Orban, Putin, Xi, Kim, Bolsinaro)

I assume everyone shares these concerns:

Trump’s Threats to the Election (as is his pattern, he signals his intentions, in part to test the loyalty of his base):

  1. The potential turmoil threatened by Trump bears some resemblance to the violence during the Election of 1876 and the consequences of the Compromise of 1877:  

Contested election results in 3 states (FL, LA, SC) + a replaced elector from Oregon led to The Compromise of 1877: https://www.270towin.com/1876_Election/ that gave the election to Republican Hayes (Democrat Tilden won the popular vote) in return for ending federal military supervision of those states to protect the biracial Reconstruction governments from White nationalist terror. This led to so-called “Redeemer” (White supremacists Democratic) takeovers and passage of “Jim Crow” laws disenfranchising and segregating Black citizens that lasted until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed.  The spate of voter suppression laws passed after the Supreme Court’s Shelby decision makes clear that voting rights are threatened.

  1. The Barrett nomination:

If Trump loses, he and his allies will attempt to create confusion in order to find a technicality that will open a path to the Supreme Court. Barrett will be the third SC justice (in addition to CJ Roberts & Justice Kavanaugh) who was on the 2000 legal team that oppose a recount of the Florida votes in question:  https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/17/politics/bush-v-gore-barrett-kavanaugh-roberts-supreme-court/index.html .  With all the qualified judges available for SC nomination, even among those who are conservative, how is it possible to have put three veterans of the 2000 election on the SC?  Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI) explains the role of the Federalist Society.

10/13/20 (Senate Judiciary Comm.): Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse explains how Trump and his Senate allies used judicial candidate lists prepared by the Federalist Society, funded by anonymous money, to pack the Supreme Court with reliable right wing allies: https://twitter.com/i/status/1316126029522575363 and 10/14/20: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5-Snk_thAs&feature=emb_rel_end  

https://www.startribune.com/barrett-ads-tied-to-interest-groups-funded-by-unnamed-donors/572873311/

  1. Two Trump comments:
  2. July 30th, Trump tweeted:

“With Universal mail-in voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history.  It will be a great embarrassment to the USA.  Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

On August 1st, Brian Williams asked Yale historian Timothy Snyder, specialist on the Holocaust, authoritarianism & fascism, to analyze that tweet (https://twitter.com/TimothyDSnyder):

It is troubling to see the term “fascist” used to describe the behavior, words and actions of an American president.  It shouldn’t; fascism takes many authoritarian forms, all anti-democratic; the Holocaust was the most extreme.  In fact, German Na zi lawyers saw American race laws as a model: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/11/what-america-taught-the-nazis/540630/ and James Q. Whitman, “Hilter’s American Model” (2017).

  1. On Sept 23rd, Trump said,“We’ll want to have — get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very — we’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation.”

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2020-election/trump-peaceful-transition-if-he-loses-get-rid-ballots-there-n1240896

  1. “The Election That Could Break America” by Barton Gellman

The most thorough and dire account of the many ways that Trump and his allies could throw the election into confusion is in The Atlantic:

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/what-if-trump-refuses-concede/616424/

If the vote is close, Donald Trump could easily throw the election into chaos and subvert the result. Who will stop him?    Excerpt:

Let us not hedge about one thing.

Donald Trump may win or lose,

but he will never concede.

Interview with Gellman: https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2020/10/15/the-elections-threat-of-political-violence

https://www.salon.com/2020/10/18/historian-timothy-snyder-warns-that-america-is-already-in-its-own-slow-motion-reichstag-fire/

Wash Post columnist E.J. Dionne explains the role of Roe v. Wade in judicial nominations (excerpts):

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/capitulating-to-the-right-wont-end-the-judicial-wars/2020/09/23/5402f378-fdd5-11ea-9ceb-061d646d9c67_story.html

[[Why do President Trump and the Republican majority in the Senate feel empowered to launch a right-wing judicial coup? They can do so because the mainstream media have largely accepted the false terms of the Supreme Court debate set by conservatives — and because progressives and moderates have utterly failed to overturn them.

As a result, we face a crisis moment. The Supreme Court could fall into the hands of activist reactionaries for a generation or more. Preventing a political minority from enjoying indefinite veto power over our democratically elected branches of government requires getting the facts and the history right.

This polarization is the conservatives’ doing. And it did not start with Robert Bork. The current incarnation of Supreme Court warfare began in the early 1960s when the far right launched its “Impeach Earl Warren” campaign against the chief justice who presided over the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation decision and other liberal victories. /…/

Yes, liberals were very tough on Bork when President Ronald Reagan nominated him. But … Bork got a hearing and a floor vote. In the end, 58 senators, including six Republicans, voted against him. /…/

Conservatives use Roe v. Wade as a decoy. Of course Roe will continue to matter. But conservatives have brilliantly used the abortion question to distract attention from the core of their activist agenda: dismantling regulation, gutting civil rights laws, narrowing voting rights enforcement giving moneyed interests free rein in our politics, strengthening corporate power, weakening unions, undercutting antitrust laws — and, now, tearing apart the Affordable Care Act.

Conservatives would much rather talk about abortion than any of these other questions. Why? Because they don’t want the public to hear about issues related to democracy and economic justice on which the right takes the unpopular side. What they can’t win in Congress, they want to win through the courts. That is the dirty secret of conservative judicial activism that McConnell and his friends would love to keep under wraps.]]

Erich   ehmartel@starpower.net

Further reading:

Before I took leave from Kto16, there was a discussion about the president’s comments on the teaching of American History.  In response, the American Historical Association (AHA) released a statement (46 organizations have signed on as of mid-October):  https://www.historians.org/news-and-advocacy/aha-advocacy/aha-statement-on-the-recent-white-house-conference-on-american-history-(september-2020) 

Fauci  60 minutes  He describes death threats against him.  10-18-20

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S PATTERN OF POLITICAL INTERFERENCE IN THE NATION’S CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE:

“USPS documents link changes behind mail slowdowns to top executives”: 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/09/24/usps-delays-dejoy-documents/

Nancy MacLean, “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America” (2017)

https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/03/08/democracy-chains-interview-author-nancy-maclean

Timothy Snyder, “Not a Normal Election: The ethical meaning of a vote for Donald Trump”:

https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/not-normal-election (Commonweal is a Catholic magazine)

Timothy Snyder, “On Tyranny:  20 Lessons from the 20th Century”:

Below are a few of the 20 chapter titles and his commentaries on Trump. Some are relevant right now:

1.       Do not obey in advance

2.       Defend institutions (notice how Trump wants to reduce the federal civil service to personal loyalists)

6.       Be wary of paramilitaries (Where was Trump’s condemnation of “militia” threats in Michigan?)

8.       Stand out

10.     Believe in truth

“To abandon facts is to abandon freedom.  If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.”

11.     Investigate – “Figure things out for yourself. … Subsidize investigative journalism …”

16.      Learn from peers in other countries

17.      Listen for dangerous words__._,_.___


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Suggestions on what to do about the Supreme Court nominee, redux

Remember the list of suggestions by Bill Svelmoe for what to do about Amy Coney Barrett’s illegitimate nomination to the US Supreme Court?

The list went viral, as you may be able to read below.

I hope that Harris and other senators are taking those suggestions seriously.

DC Charter Schools that took PPP money

As you know, Congress set up a Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses to use during the COVID shutdown, so that they could continue to pay their workers. Public and Charter schools are still paying their employees, and their funding has not (yet) been cut.

However, the national charter school lobbying group recommended that charter schools should take out these loans anyway, because, uh, they want more good government dollars. And many, many did just that.

How many charter schools in DC took the money, we don’t know, because only those who “borrowed” over $150,000 are listed, plus, the list doesn’t say exactly how much they got, but just a range (eg from $1 million to $2 million).

Will they have to pay it back? That depends on the citizens.

However, here are the charter schools that ‘borrowed’ a large amount of $$ here in Washington, DC.

Thanks to Mercedes Schneider and the Network for Public Education for making this data easily findable.

DC Public Charter Schools that took over $150,000 in PPP ‘loans’minmax
ACADEMY OF HOPE ADULT PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $350,000$1,000,000
ACHIEVEMENT PREPARATORY ACADEMY$1,000,000$2,000,000
APPLETREE EARLY LEARNING PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL$1,000,000$2,000,000
BREAKTHROUGH MONTESSORI PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $150,000$350,000
BRIDGES PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $350,000$1,000,000
CENTER CITY PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOLS $2,000,000$5,000,000
CREATIVE MINDS INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC CHAR $1,000,000$2,000,000
D.C. HEBREW LANGUAGE CHARTER SCHOOL $350,000$1,000,000
DC SCHOLARS PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL INC $1,000,000$2,000,000
 DIGITAL PIONEERS ACADEMY PUBLIC CHARTER $350,000$1,000,000
EAGLE ACADEMY PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $2,000,000$5,000,000
EARLY CHILDHOOD ACADEMY $350,000$1,000,000
ELSIE WHITLOW STOKES COMMUNITY FREEDOM PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $1,000,000$2,000,000
HARMONY DC PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOLS $150,000$350,000
 HOWARD UNIVERSITY PUBLIC CHARTER MIDDLE SCHOOL OF MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE $350,000$1,000,000
INTEGRATED DESIGN AND ELECTRONICS ACADEMY PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $350,000$1,000,000
KINGSMAN ACADEMY PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $350,000$1,000,000
LATIN AMERICAN MONTESSORI BILINGUAL PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $1,000,000$2,000,000
LAYC CAREER ACADEMY $150,000$350,000
 LEE MONTESSORI PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL$350,000$1,000,000
MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE DAY ACADEMY PCS$1,000,000$2,000,000
MAYA ANGELOU PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $1,000,000$2,000,000
MONUMENT ACADEMY PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $350,000$1,000,000
MUNDO VERDE PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $1,000,000$2,000,000
NATIONAL COLLEGIATE PREPARATORY PUBLIC CHARTER HIGH SCHOOL $350,000$1,000,000
 PAUL PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL INC $2,000,000$5,000,000
PERRY STREET PREPARATORY PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $150,000$350,000
RICHARD WRIGHT PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $350,000$1,000,000
ROOTS PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL, INC $150,000$350,000
SEE FOREVER FOUNDATION $350,000$1,000,000
SEED PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL OF WASHINGTON DC $1,000,000$2,000,000
STATEMENS COLLEGE PREPATORY ACADEMY FOR BOYS PCS $150,000$350,000
THE MERIDIAN PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $1,000,000$2,000,000
THE SEED FOUNDATION INC $350,000$1,000,000
THURGOOD MARSHALL ACADEMY $1,000,000$2,000,000
WASHINGTON GLOBAL PUBIC CHARTER SCHOOL $350,000$1,000,000
WASHINGTON LEADERSHIP ACADEMY PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $350,000$1,000,000
RANGE TOTALS $24,500,000$57,100,000

How to decide if anybody should listen to your ideas on how and whether to re-open schools, or maybe you should just hush.

Peter Greene has provided a nice flow chart to let you decide whether you should open your mouth with your ideas on how and whether to re-open the public schools, or whether you should just be quiet and listen.

So, should you just hush, or do you have something valuable to contribute to this subject?

My wife and I each taught for 30 years or so, and so we would be in the ‘speak right up’ category, but I don’t really know how the USA can get public education to work next year, especially since the danger is not going away, but apparently once more growing at an exponential clip.

Nobody should be listening to billionaires or their bought-and-paid-for policy wonks who once spent a whole two years in a classroom.

A few quotes from Greene’s column. (He is a much better writer than me, and much more original as well.)

==================================

To everyone who was never a classroom teacher but who has some ideas about how school should be reopened in the fall:

Hush.

Just hush.

There are some special categories of life experiences. Divorce. Parenthood. Deafness. Living as a Black person in the US. Classroom teacher. They are very different experiences, but they all have on thing in common.

You can read about these things. But if you haven’t lived it, you don’t know. You can study up, read up, talk to people. And in some rare cases that brings you close enough to knowing that your insights might actually be useful.

But mostly, you are a Dunning-Krueger case study just waiting to be written up.

The last thirty-seven-ish years of education have been marked by one major feature– a whole lot of people who just don’t know, throwing their weight around and trying to set the conditions under which the people who actually do the work will have to try to actually do the work. Policy wonks, privateers, Teach for America pass-throughs, guys who wanted to run for President, folks walking by on the street who happen to be filthy rich, amateurs who believe their ignorance is a qualification– everyone has stuck their oar in to try to reshape US education. And in ordinary times, as much as I argue against these folks, I would not wave my magic wand to silence them, because 1) educators are just as susceptible as anyone to becoming too insular and entrenched and convinced of their own eternal rightness and 2) it is a teacher’s job to serve all those amateurs, so it behooves the education world to listen, even if what they hear is 98% bosh.

But that’s in ordinary times, and these are not ordinary times.

There’s a whole lot of discussion about the issues involved in starting up school this fall. The discussion is made difficult by the fact that all options stink. It is further complicated by the loud voices of people who literally do not know what they are talking about.

100 Reasons to Conclude DJT is Unfit to be President

This is from something called Bulwark. But they left out a lot! Here is the article:

Part of the mad genius of Donald J. Trump is that he never runs from scandals. He just creates more of them. So many more that anyone attempting to track them all risks becoming numb as a survival mechanism.

A collective amnesia sets in. We ask ourselves, “Do you remember that time when Trump got impeached, said that super-racist thing, cozied up to dictators, threatened our elections, or oh, whatever that was?”

Well, we at The Bulwark do. Yes, it can be hard to keep up. We all need reminders. So, lest anyone forget or require convincing, here’s a non-exhaustive list of 100 reasons Donald Trump is unfit to be president.

1  1985-1994

Reported $1.17 billion in business losses over the decade. Trump “appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer,” according to the New York Times.

2  May 1, 1989

Took out $85,000-worth of full-page ads in New York newspapers calling for the death penalty for the Central Park Five—whose convictions were later vacated after DNA evidence proved their innocence. Trump never apologized.

3  1990s

Contrary to his story of being a self-made billionaire, Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real-estate empire, much of it transferred through suspect tax-dodging schemes.

4  1991-2009

Declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy for his various businesses six times.

5  2005

Bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy” in a conversation with Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush picked up on a hot mic.

6  2011-2016

Promoted birtherism against President Barack Obama—the false claim that Obama was not born in the United States, that his birth certificate was fraudulent, and that therefore he was constitutionally ineligible for the presidency.

7  2015-2016

Attacked in sexist and demeaning ways women who raised critical questions about his character. See: Megyn Kelly, Carly Fiorina, Hillary Clinton.

8  2015-present

Denies accusations of sexual misconduct, ranging from unwanted kissing to rape, by calling the women “liars” and not “his type.”

9  June 16, 2015

Announced his presidential campaign by describing America as “a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems.” Mexicans coming to America, he said, were “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

10  July 18, 2015

Said Vietnam POW John McCain is “not a war hero” and “I like people who weren’t captured.”

11  November 22, 2015

Claimed that “thousands and thousands” of people in New Jersey’s Arab communities cheered on 9/11.

12  2016 campaign season

Encouraged violence. Said that he’d like to punch a protester “in the face”; that his supporters should “knock the hell” out of protesters—“I promise you, I’ll pay the legal bills”; and that the police should not protect suspects’ heads when loading them into squad cars.

13  May 11, 2016

Refused to release his tax returns for public inspection after having previously promised to do so. On other occasions, he falsely claimed he could not release them because he was under audit. When, in 2019, Congress subpoenaed Trump’s tax returns, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin refused to comply—kicking off cases that went to the Supreme Court.

14  May-June 2016

Said Judge Gonzalo Curiel is unfit to rule on a lawsuit filed by Trump University students because “he’s a Mexican” (in fact, the judge is an American citizen born in Indiana). Trump would later settle the lawsuit for $25 million.

15  July 27, 2016

Called on Russia to hack and release Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails.

16  July 30, 2016

Denigrated the family of U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in 2004 while serving in Iraq, after Khan’s father delivered remarks at the Democratic National Convention.

17  July 30, 2016

Broke with U.S. policy of supporting Ukraine over Russia’s invasion of Crimea, saying: “The people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were.”

18  Fall 2016

Before Election Day, repeatedly hyped unfounded fears of a “rigged” election. Then, after Election Day, he stated, without any evidence, “I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

January 20, 2017

Trump inaugurated, becomes the 45th president of the United States.

19  January 21, 2017

As one of his first official acts as president, deployed White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer to lie about the size of his inauguration crowds.

20  January 21, 2017

Blasted the news media and bragged about the size of his inauguration crowds—as well as his intellect—in front of the CIA’s wall of stars memorializing agents who died in service to the country.

21  January 27, 2017

Enacted the “Muslim ban” that, through executive order, prevented foreign nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days; the order was quickly contested in the courts, and its enforcement was blocked.

22  April 29, 2017

Told Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who had sanctioned the extrajudicial killing of drug suspects, that he was doing an “unbelievable job” of cracking down on his country’s drug problem.

23  May 9, 2017

Fired FBI Director James Comey. Comey later said that Trump had told him during a private January 2017 dinner that “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.”

24  May 11, 2017

Created a federal commission to investigate voter fraud that failed to find any examples of voter fraud.

25  May 16, 2017

Remained silent when security forces working for Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, attacked protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C.

26  July 9, 2017

Considered creating a joint cyber security task force with Russia, despite the fact that Russia has been responsible for a host of cyber attacks against the United States. He tweeted, “[Russian President Vladimir] Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded.” Putin confirmed in a 2018 event that he had discussed the idea with Trump.

27  August 15, 2017

Said there were “very fine people on both sides” of the alt-right protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

28  August 25, 2017

Pardoned Joe Arapaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, who had been convicted of criminal contempt for disregarding a court order in a racial-profiling case.

29  October 11, 2017

Tweeted a suggestion that “fake news” networks, such as NBC, should have their broadcast licenses “challenge[d].”

30  October 24, 2017

Asked then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo to meet with a conspiracy theorist who believes that Russia didn’t hack emails from the Democratic National Committee computers during the 2016 campaign, but that the DNC itself leaked them.

31  November 26, 2017

Stood by Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore amid credible accusations that Moore had committed acts of sexual misconduct.

32  January 2, 2018

Escalated nuclear tensions with North Korea by tweeting, “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

33  January 11, 2018

During an Oval Office meeting about immigration, asked lawmakers “Why do we want all these people from shithole countries coming here?”

34  February 5, 2018

Said Democrats who declined to applaud his State of the Union speech were “treasonous,” a charge that he would go on to level at other political opponents as well.

35  February 21, 2018

Required a handwritten reminder to appear empathetic when he met with students and parents affected by school shootings.

36  March 3, 2018

Congratulated Chinese President Xi Jinping on eliminating term limits. “I think it’s great,” Trump said. “Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.”

37  April 5, 2018

Denied any knowledge of the $130,000 hush-money payment his lawyer Michael Cohen made to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels to keep her silent during the 2016 election. A book by Daniels laying out the details of her alleged 2006 affair with the married Trump was published later in 2018.

38  April 6, 2018

Instituted a “zero tolerance” policy at the border requiring the forced separation of families; it was rescinded weeks later, after more than 2,300 children had been separated from their parents.

39  May 2018

Overruled objections from national security officials to give son-in-law Jared Kushner a security clearance.

40  May 2018

Accepted a memo from President Erdoğan of Turkey that claimed innocence for a Turkish firm under investigation by the Southern District of New York. According to John Bolton’s 2020 memoir of his time as Trump’s national security advisor, Trump “told Erdogan he would take care of things, explaining that the Southern District prosecutors were not his people, but were Obama people, a problem that would be fixed when they were replaced by his people.” (On June 20, 2020, he did fire the U.S. Attorney for the SDNY, Geoffrey Berman, who not only had indicted the Turkish-owned firm but had reportedly opened an inquiry into Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.)

41  June 2018-present

Makes a habit of questioning the intelligence and mental stability of his black critics—such as Rep. Maxine Waters, CNN host Don Lemon, and NBA star LeBron James.

42  July 12, 2018

Threatened that the United States might “go our own way”—interpreted as a signal that he wanted to pull out of NATO—throwing a summit with world leaders into turmoil. He had repeatedly called NATO “obsolete” during the 2016 campaign, then “not so obsolete” once he was in office.

43  July 13, 2018

Lifted a ban preventing the Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE from doing business with U.S. companies. ZTE was widely considered to be a threat to U.S. national security; without Trump’s intervention, it likely would have gone bankrupt.

44  July 16, 2018

Sided with Russian president Vladimir Putin in rejecting the findings of the U.S. intelligence community about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election during a joint news conference with Putin in Helsinki, Finland.

45  July 22, 2018

Used Twitter to issue an all-caps threat to Iran.

46  August 15, 2018

Revoked former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance in retaliation for his criticism of the president.

47  September 13, 2018

Denied that 3,000 Puerto Ricans died in hurricane Maria and Irma and blamed Democrats for manipulating the numbers to make him look bad.

48  September 25, 2018

Claimed at the U.N. General Assembly that his administration had accomplished more in two years than “almost any administration in the history of our country”—a boast that immediately elicited the laughter of world leaders.

49  September 29, 2018

Talked affectionately of his relationship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un: “We fell in love, okay?”

50  October 29, 2018

Just days after Trump fanatic Cesar Sayoc was arrested for sending pipe bombs to CNN offices and to prominent Trump critics, Trump tweeted, “The Fake News Media the true Enemy of the People.”

51  November 7, 2018

Fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The president’s chief grudge against Sessions? The fact that Sessions recused himself from the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. (Sessions was legally obligated to do so as a participant of Trump’s campaign.)

52  December 6, 2018

The New York Times reported that the Trump Organization employed undocumented workers at his New Jersey golf course.

53  December 12, 2018

Trump’s former lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen is sentenced to three years in prison.

54  December 19, 2018

Ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, abandoning America’s Kurdish allies, which led to the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

55  December 22, 2018-January 25, 2019

Caused the longest government shutdown in American history, because he could not persuade Congress to fund the border wall he wanted to build.

56  February 15, 2019

Declared a “national emergency concerning the southern border of the United States”—a move that allowed him to shift funding from the Pentagon budget to help pay for the border wall. (As of 2020, the sections of the wall that have been built have cost U.S. taxpayers nearly $30 million per mile. Mexico has not paid for the wall as Trump promised it would.)

57  February 25, 2019

Falsely credited his daughter Ivanka with creating “millions of jobs.” (In 2016, he had said that his children would have no role in the White House; instead, Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner were given large advisory portfolios.)

58  March 13, 2019

Paul Manafort, Trump’s 2016 campaign manager, was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison after being convicted of tax fraud, bank fraud, and failure to disclose a foreign bank account.

59  March 24, 2019

Attorney General William Barr released a misleading four-page summary of the long-anticipated Mueller Report. Three days later, Mueller wrote that Barr’s summary “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions.”

60  April 24, 2019

Recalled U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch after Trump’s lawyer Rudy Guiliani and his associates led a smear campaign against her. (Seven months later, he would attack her while she testified before Congress.)

61  May 20, 2019

Blocked former White House counsel and Mueller Report key witness Don McGahn from testifying before Congress—one of numerous witnesses the White House refused to let testify.

62  May 24, 2019

Circumvented Congress by declaring an “emergency” over Iran so he could sell arms to Saudia Arabia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates.

63  June 19, 2019

Began pushing aides to block military aid to Ukraine, an action that was carried out later and that the Government Accountability Office said broke the law. This same day, he also falsely implied in a TV interview that Ukraine, not Russia, was somehow linked to the hacking of the DNC emails during the 2016 campaign.

64  June 28-29, 2019

Lauded Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and declined questions about the brutal killing of Washington Post writer and legal U.S resident Jamal Khashoggi, whom the CIA concluded the prince had ordered dead.

65  June 28-29, 2019

Asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him get re-elected, according to then-National Security Advisor John Bolton’s later account: During the G-20 meeting, Trump “stunningly . . . turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win. . . . He stressed the importance of farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome.” Bolton also reports that Trump told Xi he supports his building of concentration camps that hold an estimated one million Uighurs.

66  July 14, 2019

Said of a trio of freshman minority Democratic congresswomen, “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

67  July 23, 2019

Attacked Special Counsel Robert Mueller on the eve of his testimony before Congress.

68  July 25, 2019

Asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden—the action that led to President Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives in December 2019 and trial in the Senate in January and February 2020.

69  August 20, 2019

Said that Jewish Americans who vote for Democrats are guilty of “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

70  August-September 2019

Invited the Taliban to Camp David.

71  September 2019

Canceled GOP presidential caucuses and primaries in four states.

72  September 4, 2019

Displayed an official National Weather Service map in the Oval Office that was falsified with a Sharpie to make it seem as if government forecasters had during the previous week projected that Hurricane Dorian might strike Alabama, as he had erroneously claimed.

73  October 1, 2019

Reports surfaced that Trump had suggested soldiers shoot migrants illegally crossing into the United States. He reportedly also inquired about putting a “water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators” at the border, “prompting aides to seek a cost estimate.”

74  October 23, 2019

Described NeverTrump Republicans as “human scum.”

75  October 27, 2019

Claimed that he had predicted Osama bin Laden’s 9/11 attack.

76  November 2019

Intervened in the case of Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher, following his trial for war crimes. Upon Trump’s order, Gallagher’s demotion was undone and he was allowed to keep his Navy SEAL Trident insignia, which he was about to be stripped of. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer was fired for opposing the president’s intervention.

77  November 7, 2019

Ordered to pay $2 million in damages to settle claims brought by the New York state government that the Trump Foundation had misused funds. (The foundation was already being dissolved because of what New York officials called a “shocking pattern of illegality . . . including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more.” Much of this story was first unearthed by Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold.)

78  November 19, 2019

Smeared Alexander Vindman, a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel detailed to the National Security Council, after Vindman testified in the House impeachment investigation.

79  February 7, 2020

Fired impeachment witnesses Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. (Also fired Alex Vindman’s brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, also a National Security Council staffer.)

80 February 20, 2020

Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone was sentenced to more than three years in prison after his conviction on seven felony charges, including lying under oath to Congress and obstructing the investigation into the 2016 election.

81  February 26, 2020

Said that “within a couple days” the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States—there were then 15 confirmed cases—was “going to be down to close to zero.” (See also the Bulwark timeline “The Ten Weeks That Lost the War.”)

82  February 28, 2020

Said that Democrats “are politicizing the coronavirus” and that “this is their new hoax.”

83  March-May 2020

Repeatedly touted the antimalarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as treatments for COVID-19, despite the lack of high-quality evidence regarding either their effectiveness or their potential harmful side effects. On April 20, the administration demoted a top government virologist who questioned the scientific merits of these drugs for treating COVID-19. On May 18, Trump claimed that he had been taking hydroxychloroquine pills himself, although a note released that evening by the White House physician did not confirm the claim. By June, with the president’s attention elsewhere, both the NIH and the FDA cautioned against the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for treating COVID-19.

84  March 11, 2020

Botched European travel ban forced thousands of Americans to scramble to get home, taking unnecessary coronavirus flight risks along the way.

85  April 3, 2020

Fired the intelligence community inspector general in retaliation for delivering the whistleblower complaint that triggered impeachment.

86  April 4, 2020

Blasted Navy Capt. Brett Crozier for writing a letter informing Navy leaders about the outbreak of coronavirus among sailors aboard the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.

87  April 7, 2020

Said that “mail ballots are a very dangerous thing for this country because they’re cheaters.” But President Trump had himself voted absentee by mail the previous month, and the vice president, the attorney general, several cabinet members, and numerous White House staffers had voted by mail as well.

88  April 23, 2020

Suggested that light or disinfectants could be applied to the human body to treat coronavirus: “Supposing we hit the body with a tremendous—whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light. . . . supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way, and I think you said you’re going to test that too. It sounds interesting. . . . And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs.”

89  May 12, 2020

Promoted a conspiracy theory accusing MSNBC Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough of murder.

90  May 2020

Pushed a new conspiracy theory, “OBAMAGATE,” that alleges that his predecessor used the final days of his presidency to lead a coup against the incoming Trump presidency—a scandal that would, in Trump’s words, be “the biggest political crime in American history, by far!” Trump later said, without evidence, that Obama had committed “treason.”

91  May 15, 2020

Fired the inspector general of the Department of State at the request of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, whom the IG was investigating.

92  May 20, 2020

Threatened to withhold federal funding from Michigan and Nevada if officials go forward with plans to mail absentee ballots or applications to voters.

93  May 26, 2020

Tweeted misinformation about mail-in ballots, forcing Twitter to label Trump’s tweet with a fact-check.

94  May 29, 2020

As of this date, according to a database compiled by the Washington Post, President Trump had told over 19,000 lies since he assumed office.

95  May 29, 2020

Called Minneapolis protesters “THUGS” and said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter flagged the tweet as violating the platform’s rules against glorifying violence.

96  June 1, 2020

Ordered the dispersal of peaceful protesters—by law-enforcement officers who attacked them with flash grenades, smoke grenades, rubber-ball grenades, pepper spray (a kind of tear gas), and pepper balls—so that he could walk from the White House across Lafayette Square for a photo op in front of St. John’s Church. In the days that followed, representatives from the White House, the Trump campaign, and various law-enforcement agencies denied that tear gas was used during the incident, although they later walked back their denials. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff later apologized for his presence at the scene. The incident also led former secretary of defense James Mattis to condemn the president: “We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square.”

97  June 9, 2020

Speculated that a 75-year-old Black Lives Matter protester who was hospitalized after being shoved on June 4 by Buffalo police is an “ANTIFA provocateur.”

98  June 20, 2020

Held an indoor campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma—without requiring the masks and social distancing recommended by government health authorities. Told the crowd that he believed too many cases of coronavirus were being logged and that he had instructed “my people” to “slow the testing down.” (After initial speculation that this was a joke, he later said that it was not, and that he really had ordered a slowdown in testing.) Two Secret Service agents present at the Tulsa rally later tested positive for COVID-19, a fact that then resulted in dozens of Secret Service personnel having to quarantine themselves. Eight staffers from Trump’s campaign staff also tested positive, so all campaign staffers who attended the rally reportedly had to quarantine themselves.

99  June 21, 2020

Said that he delayed sanctions against Chinese officials involved in running concentration camps because he thought it would hurt his trade deal with the country.

100  June 26, 2020

As of this date:

The national debt stands at more than $26 trillion, having increased by at least $5.2 trillion since President Trump assumed office.

The most recent estimate for the monthly unemployment rate was 13.3 percent.

More than 124,000 Americans have died from COVID-19.

“Slaying Goliath” by Diane Ravitch

I wish I could write half as well as, or as much as, Diane Ravitch manages to do, every single day. I also admire her dedication to fighting the billionaires who have been dictating education policy in the USA for quite some time.

If you are reading this post, you are no doubt aware that only ten years ago, Ravitch did a 180-degree turn on major education issues, admitted she had been wrong on a number of points, and became one of the major forces fighting against the disruptive education-privatization agenda of the billionaires.

Since that time, she has been documenting on her blog, several times a day, nearly every day, the utter failures of the extremely wealthy amateurs who have been claiming to ‘reform’ education, but who have instead merely been disrupting it and failing to achieve any of the goals that they confidently predicted would be won, even using their own yard-sticks.

IMG_6217

I found DR’s most recent book (pictured above) to be an excellent history of the past 37 years wherein certain billionaires, and their well-paid acolytes, have claimed that the American public school system is a total failure and needed to be torn down and rebuilt through these steps:

  1. Pretending that American students were at one point the highest-scoring ones on the planet (which has NEVER been true) and that the fact that they currently score at middling levels on international tests like PISA is a cause for national alarm;
  2. Claiming that student family poverty does not cause lower student achievement (however measured), but the reverse: that the schools that have students from poor and non-white populations are the CAUSE of that poverty and low achievement;
  3. Fraudulently assuming that huge fractions of teachers are not only incompetent but actively oppress their students (particularly the poor, the brown, and the black) and need to be fired en masse (as they were in New Orleans, Rhode Island, and Washington, DC);
  4. Micromanaging teachers in various ways, including by forcing all states to adopt a never-tested and largely incomprehensible ‘Common Core’ curriculum and demanding that all teachers follow scripted lessons in lockstep;
  5. ‘Measuring’ the productivity of teachers through arcane and impenetrable ‘Value-Added’ schemes that were devised for dairy cows;
  6. Mass firings of certified teachers, particularly African-American ones (see #2) and replacing them either with untrained, mostly-white newbies from Teach for America or with computers;
  7. Requiring public and charter schools (but not vouchers) to spend ever-larger fractions of their classroom time on test prep instead of real learning;
  8. Turning billions of public funds over to wealthy amateurs (and con artists) with no educational experience to set up charter schools and voucher schools with no real accountability — the very worst ones being the online charter schools.

One great aspect of this book is that Ravitch points out how

  1. All of those claims and ‘solutions’ have failed (for example, a study in Texas showed charter schools had no impact on test scores and a negative impact on earnings (p. 82);
  2. Teachers, parents, students, and ordinary community members have had a good deal of success in fighting back.

I will conclude with a number of quotes from the book in random colors.

“How many more billions will be required to lift charter school enrollment to 10 percent? [It’s now about 5 percent] And why is it worth the investment, given that charter schools, unless they cherry-pick their students, are no more successful than public schools are and often far worse? Why should the federal government spend nearly half a billion dollars on charter schools that may never open when there are so many desperately underfunded public schools?” (p. 276-277)

“Any movement controlled by billionaires is guaranteed […] to preserve the status quo while offering nothing more than the illusion of change.” (p. 281)

“There is no “Reform movement.” The Disrupters never tried to reform public schools. They wanted to disrupt and privatize the public schools that Americans have relied on for generations. They wanted to put public school funding in private hands. They wanted to short-circuit democracy. They wanted to cripple, not improve, the public schools. They wanted to replace a public service with a free market.” (p. 277)

“Our current education policy is madness. It is madness to destroy public education in pursuit of zany libertarian goals. It is madness to use public funds to put young children into religious schools where they will learn religious doctrine instead of science. It is madness to hand public money over to unaccountable entrepreneurs who want to open a school but refuse to be held to high ethical standards or to be held accountable for its finances and its performance. It is madness to ignore nepotism, self-dealing, and conflicts of interest. We sacrifice our future as a nation if we continue on this path of de-professionalizing our schools and turning them over to businessmen, corporate chains, grifters, and well-meaning amateurs. We sacrifice our children and our grandchildren if we continue to allow them to be guinea pigs in experiments whose negative results are clear.” (p. 281)

Ravitch proposes a number of things that billionaires could do that would be more helpful than what they are currently doing. She suggests [I’m quoting but shortening her list, found on page 280] that the billionaires could …

  • pay their share of taxes to support well-resourced public schools.
  • open health clinics to serve needy communities and make sure that all families and children have regular medical checkups.
  • underwrite programs to ensure that all pregnant women have medical care and that all children have nutritious meals each day.
  • subsidize after-school programs where children get exercise, play, dramatics, and tutoring.
  • rebuild the dramatics programs and performance spaces in every school.
  • lobby their state legislatures to fund schools fairly, to reduce class sizes, and to enable every school to have the teachers, teaching assistants, social services, librarians, nurses, counselors, books, and supplies it needs.
  • create mental health clinics and treatment centers for those addicted to drugs.
  • underwrite programs based on “the Kalamazoo Promise.”
  • They could emulate the innovative public school that basketball star leBron James subsidized in Akron, Ohio.

She also quotes Paymon Rouhanifard, who was a “prominent member of the Disruption establishment [who] denounced standardized testing when he stepped down as superintendent of the Camden, New Jersey, public schools […]. He had served as a high-level official on Joel Klein’s team in New York City […] Upon his arrival of the impoverished Camden district [….] he developed school report cards to rank every school mainly by test scores. But before he left, he abolished the school report cards.” She quotes him directly: “[…] most everybody in this room wouldn’t tolerate what I described for their own children’s school. Mostly affluent, mostly white schools shy away from heavy testing, and as a result, they are literally receiving an extra month of instruction […] The basic rule, what we would want for our own children, should apply to all kids.” (p.271)

“Disrupters have used standardized testing to identify and take over or close schools with low scores, but they disregard standardized testing when it reveals the failure of charters and vouchers. Disrupters no longer claim that charter schools and inexperienced recruits from Teach for America will miraculously raise test scores. After three decades of trying, they have not been successful.

“Nothing that the Disrupters have championed has succeeded unless one counts as ‘success’ closing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of community public schools in low-income neighborhoods. Ths Disrupters have succeeded in demoralizing teachers and reducing the number of people entering the teaching profession. They have enriched entrepreneurs who have opened charter schools or developed shoddy new products and services to sell to schools. They have enhanced the bottom line of large testing corporations. Their fling with the Common Core cost states billions of dollars to implement but had no effect on national or international test scores and outraged many parents, child advocates, lovers of literature, and teachers. “

Fortunately, the resistance to this has been having a fair amount of success, including the massive teacher strikes in state after state. As Ravitch writes (p. 266):

“The teachers taught the nation a lesson.

“But more than that, they taught themselves a lesson. They united, they demanded to be heard, and they got respect. That was something that the Disrupters had denied them for almost twenty years. Teachers learned that in unity there is strength.”

 

 

DC Women’s March – 2020 (Today!)

I am glad that my wife and I took part in today’s march. It was inspiring to us to talk with so many fine young folks (some men, too) along the march route; some of them told us that we veteran activists from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s inspired them, which was nice to hear. It was fun swapped some ideas and stories with new folks and veterans of, say, marches and demonstrations in Los Angeles and the Bay Area of California…

Some of the signs were brilliant!

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It was quite cold, and sometimes sleeting and raining; my wife and I both found our cell phone batteries dying because of the low temperatures, so I don’t have nearly as many photos as I would have liked. Fortunately w both had dressed properly – long acrylic thermal underwear, woolen sweater and socks, monk’s hood, parka hood, and umbrella for me; my wife looked a bit like an Inuit.

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A couple of comments:

  • It didn’t look like organizers had really agreed on a common platform for chants, songs, or whatever. I persuaded someone with a bullhorn to lead a chant concerning immigration (see my last post).
  • We probably represented hundreds, if not thousands, of different organizations, but most of us only had the most tenuous links to said organizations — we had signed something online somewhere, or donated something, or maybe been to a meeting or two.
  • Definitely mostly white and middle-class, though latinxes, african-americans, and asians were definitely represented.
  • It was great that mostly young women had organized this, and I was just along an ally.
  • I didn’t hear people talking about the impeachment process, probably because we all know that there is between zip and nada percent chance that the Senate will actually convict and remove lying sack of shit #45 from office.
  • We need to acknowledge that the attacks by Arne Duncan and the Obama Administration on teachers during the 8 years they were in office — despite all their flowery, progressive rhetoric — were worse even than what Trump and Betsy Devos have been capable of doing, and were also worse than what we suffered under GWBush 2. That’s saying a lot. I think the demoralization of teachers definitely led to the election of Mango Mussolini, because so many Democratic party activists all across the country were teachers. In fact, during those 8 years, the local precinct, county, and state Democratic organizations were shredded to pieces or collapsed. The Tea Party and future Trumpsters were extremely energized and got their people out to vote at every election, and caused thousands of seats to turn Fascist Red.
  • We need to be much, much better organized. The Nazi Party in Germany before 1932 (Ie before Hitler was appointed Chancellor)had uniformed, armed, militias (Brownshirts and Blackshirts) that were equipped, trained, and funded by the German (especially Prussian) military General Staff. We don’t have that here, yet, in the USA, but we do know that neo-Nazis, Kluxers, and the like do send their young aficionados to enlist in the military, to get weapons training, and to try to incite and recruit other violent racists. Knowing that the racists are in fact emboldened, and have been in fact arming themselves and organizing, we need to be better organized and to take them seriously. When Trump and his acolytes are [I hope] thrown out in a landslide on November 3, the neo-Nazis he has emboldened may cause serious trouble. We can’t predict the future.
  • All the people I talked to agreed with me that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of the smartest politicians we had ever seen, and the most inspiring and honest. We were uniformly in awe of her ability to run a House hearing and to skewer the bad guys with their own words and with facts. I hope nothing bad happens to her and that she can run for higher office and help organize a good, progressive movement.
  • I have no faith in any organization that I am aware of. I furthermore am going to state that what the Soviet Union did to its own citizens under Stalin’s watch (in particular) was absolutely inexcusable, betraying just about every single humanitarian principle that socialists, progressives, anarchists, or communists of any stripe have fought for — except for the principle of killing (mostly) imagined enemies of the people, working class, or proletariat. Think about it: though we will never know the final toll, I estimate that on the average several hundreds of people were executed or died of mistreatment or starvation every single day in the USSR during the roughly 30-year period 1923-1953. Long story.
  • IMG_6111

    My estimate of the crowd at this march is probably pretty low, since I could never see the entire march at once and don’t own a helicopter. Neither am I privy to overhead photos of the event. However, when I was at the south end of the Ellipse, I stood up on a park bench and could see a lot of it; perhaps the panorama picture I took, above, will make some sense. (As I said, my phone did NOT like the cold; in the future I’m going to need to take chemical hand-warmers to put around it)

  • That location was a fine one for giving Mr Maralago a single=fingered salute. A number of people joined me.
  • It seemed to me that in every seven-foot (or 2-meter) longitudinal section of the march, there were somewhere between 20 and 60 people (so 3 to 9 people per longitudinal foot) – we filled the streets including the sidewalks as well. (My wife and I bailed out at the intersection of 16th and H, at the north side of Lafayette Park and went to warm up with a delicious late brunch at Fiola da Mare, which was quite a nice little luxury we’d never experienced.)
  • At one point, I could see people still marching on Constitution Avenue all the way to the corner of 15th and Constitution, on the latter heading west, and then all the way up 17th street up to Lafayette Square. How many marchers there were further towards either the head or tail of the march, I could not see. It was definitely smaller than a couple of the other women’s marches I attended, if I remember correctly.
  • Using the scale on the map I’m showing you below,  I think that I myself could see about 4,000 feet worth of people marching, which would mean somewhere between 11,000 to 35,000 people. There were clearly many more, but how many, I have no idea. (I’m making this estimate because Park Service no longer provides estimates.)

women's march 2020

Anybody have a better estimate? As I said, I’m sure mine is low. The comment button below is really hard to find.

I sure hope Betsy DeVos goes to jail!

Read why at Curmudgucation:

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/ORjvzd/~3/KwKCooM3p8c/devos-and-department-may-face-increased.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email

But I bet she gets off with merely a fine, which she could pay out of change in her sofa. But one would wish that she would actually be imprisoned for helping to defraud thousands of students who ended up owing enormous sums to fraudulent, for-profit universities and trade schools; and for refusing to stop doing so, repeatedly. If she is fined, I bet that #45 finds a way to overturn it or pay for it out of the general treasury — that is, making it so that WE the taxpayers have to pay DeVos’ fine.

 

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