What Iraq’s descent into the inferno of “failed state” status has meant for women

I have often read that Iraq and Afghanistan have some of the most corrupt governments on earth.

(Most people – except those who are the biggest thieves – don’t like corrupt governments, so it’s not surprising that ISIS/Daesh/ISIL and the Taliban, as nutty as they are, are still growing and gaining territory — despite all the billions or trillions of dollars in US taxpayer cash spent to try to bribe “friends”.)

In the October 5 New Yorker is an article written by an Arabic-speaking reporter who was able to delve into the rotten underworld hell where many Iraqi women have been dragged — where they can only survive by being prostitutes or pimps/madams, and both the corrupt police and sectarian thuggish militias get a piece of the action — both in money and in sexual favors.

It’s a dystopia that is much nastier than anything I’ve seen in even the most pessimistic science fiction about a bleak future. The article can be reached here.

And to think that my tax dollarshelped the US military, several US presidents and congresses, and untold numbers of thuggish Mesopotamians, create all this.

Published in: on October 22, 2015 at 12:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Harm Done by TFA – According to its own Alumni

Here is an article which points out the negative impact of Teach for America, as described by two of its own former members. It’s in a magazine called Jacobin. I recommend it highly.

Here are a few quotes:

In stark contrast to the harsh and constant criticism that TFA doles out to its corps members and staff members, much of what the organization has been doing in recent years — creating its own public relations machine — suggests a desire to be above criticism itself. During my tenure on staff, the organization created a national communications team whose job was to get positive press out about TFA and to swiftly address any negative press. My sense was, and still is, that TFA cares more about the public perception of what it is doing than about what it is actually doing to improve educational outcomes and opportunities for low-income students throughout the United States.

For an organization that describes itself as “data-driven,” it is interesting that TFA does not collect data on how their corps members are impacted by their TFA commitments. While working in racially segregated and under-resourced schools, 35 percent of the corps members in this study began professional counseling; 27 percent began taking prescription medications to address depression, anxiety, and trauma; 38 percent experienced increased alcohol consumption and dependency; 42 percent experienced major weight changes; 46 percent experienced strained relationships; and 73 percent experienced physical fatigue, some to the point of requiring medical attention.

After years of uncritical praise, TFA has started receiving less favorable media coverage and more public discontent from alumni. One corps member in your book, Jameson, writes about viewing her time in TFA as “almost a guilty secret.” Why has there been this sort of shift in how TFA is viewed by corps members and the broader public, and how has TFA as an organization handled this uptick in public criticism?


TFA controlled the rhetoric about TFA for the first twenty-three of its twenty-five years. Critique has always been there but only in the last two years has that critique started to come together and find outlets. That was a fundamental aim of our book: providing an outlet for discussion where it was historically absent.

TFA has been forced to include defensive measures to combat negative press. And while any company would likely engage in a public relations campaign, TFA is determined to undermine any and all dissent ranging from nationally syndicated columns to obscure blogs.

A couple of education-related cartoons

Commentary not required. 

Published in: on October 16, 2015 at 9:52 am  Comments (1)  

Peter Greene of Curmudgucation takes on the Social Justice Argument about Education Reform

Peter Greene may be the best blogger in America. Please read his latest post on how education reform deals with social justice. It’s long but, as always, excellent.

Arne Duncan is Leaving

I am pleased to report that Arne Duncan is stepping down as the US Secretary of Education. I wish he was being fired and disgraced, because he has done more to destroy and resegregate public education than any other individual. Except Barack Obama, who appointed him.

Good riddance. But his replacement is not likely to be better: John King, who was utterly indifferent to parent complaints about over-testing.

(PS – sorry for the original typos. Trying to write a post via my iPhone is asking for errors galore.)

I’ve just passed 392,390 visits to this blog!

I know it’s not a nice round number, but it is a number, and I’ve never actually added up the total quantity of visits before.

I hope that over the past six or so years of researching and writing this blog, I’ve been helpful to the general argument that the rich and powerful are perverting education as we used to know it. I hope that my research has helped people realize that my former Chancellor, Michelle Rhee, has been nothing but a lying self-promoter and charlatan. Fortunately, there are now more and more other folks making much the same points that I am, and if I don’t have the time to take on issues, there are generally quite a few other writers doing a bang-up job.

Likewise, my wish is for my readers likewise keep up the work in trying to make American public education once again democratic and actually somewhat equal for a change.

As usual, there is an itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny ‘comment’ button hidden way down in the bottom of the fine print at the end of this column.

Published in: on September 28, 2015 at 8:07 pm  Comments (6)  

The Matthew Effect in College Tuition Costs

The Matthew Effect is where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer,

For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken even that which he hath— Matthew 25:29, King James Version.

An interesting article in the NYT Magazine points out that In the United States, students at the top tier of universities and colleges collectively get enormous subsidies on the cost of their enormous tuition bills — even those who pay the entire bill themselves. From the article:
Published in: on September 28, 2015 at 7:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Corrected List of Closed or Failed DC Charter Schools

A couple of days ago I posted a list, put out by CMD, of over 40 charter schools in Washington, DC that have closed over the past few years. Apparently the list had a few errors; Mary Levy sent me a corrected list, from the DC Public Charter School Board itself, which I attach here. You will have to click on the link to see the whole thing.

Charter school closure table – Last Updated 3 11 2013

Or, if you prefer, here it is in images:

failed and closed charter schools redux

failed and closed 2

failed and closed 3

See Jersey Jazzman use the Gaussian Distribution to Show that Arne Duncan and Mike Petrilli are full of it

Excellent lesson from Jersey Jazzman showing that the old tests produce pretty much the same distribution of scores as the new tests.

old and new tests

He has superimposed the green scores from 2008 on top of the 2014 scores for New York state in 8th grade reading, and basically they have almost the same distribution. Furthermore, a scatter plot shows nearly the same thing, and that there is a nearly perfect correlation between the old scores and the new scores, by school.

old and new tests again

Read his article, which is clear and concise. I don’t have time to go into this in depth.


Failed Charter Schools in DC

I learned from the indefatigable Peter Greene just now that a group called CMD has done some serious data crunching and has come up with a list of about 2500 charter schools across the nation that have failed and closed. Some took millions of federal and state dollars and never served a single student.

Here is a map of just the ones in Washington, DC. Looking at the map, I count about forty failed charter schools in my fair city; however the spreadsheet has 49. If you are a veteran Washingtonian, how many of them can you name just by looking at the map? If you go to the actual web page you can get names and so on. I see that the state of Arizona alone has over 340 such failed ventures into edupreneurship; Florida 305, and Michigan has 120, and Ohio may be the leader with 425 failed and closed charter scams schools.

failed charter schools in dc

(BTW, the teachers in those failed charter schools were generally very hard-working, passionate people who are not trying to make a million bucks. Charter school operators? That’s a different story.)

Here is the DC list:

Name / Year founded / Year failed / Enrollment during last year / Address

failed charter schools dc list


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 467 other followers

%d bloggers like this: