Alexander Haig: R.I.P

Alexander Haig, Secretary of State under Reagan, died today.  I guess he will never be president.

And after Reagan was shot, Haig said this:
Constitutionally, gentlemen, you have the President, the Vice President and the Secretary of State in that order, and should the President decide he wants to transfer the helm to the Vice President, he will do so. He has not done that. As of now, I am in control here, in the White House, pending return of the Vice President and in close touch with him. If something came up, I would check with him, of course.

Saturday Cartoon Fun: Will Hope Edition


Mike Rose On Education: It's More Than Jobs

Race to the Top of What? Education Is About More Than Jobs

The race is on. Forty-one states have just finished the mad dash to submit proposals for the Obama education initiative, Race to the Top. Now that the first round of competition is over we should be asking the basic questions that got lost in the flurry: What is the true purpose of all this reform? What should it be? Why do we send our kids to school?

The answer given for decades, from the national to the local level, from Democrats and Republicans, is that education prepares the young for the world of work and enables the nation to maintain global economic pre-eminence. There is an occasional nod to the civic purpose of schooling in No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, but that goal pales next to the economic justification.

To be sure, economic prosperity has long provided a potent incentive to fund and improve schools in the United States, but it is only one of multiple goals of education in a democracy. The architects of public education knew this. In a landmark report to the Massachusetts Board of Education in 1848, state Secretary of Education Horace Mann did make the economic argument—original at the time—that education is the great equalizer, fostering social mobility and national prosperity. But this economic goal was embedded in a celebration of the physical, intellectual, civic and moral goals of schooling.

We need to reclaim that broader vision, for we have terribly narrowed our thinking about school. Our tunnel vision is dangerous because the reasons we give for education affect what we teach and how we teach it. Vocational education provides a cautionary tale of what a strictly economic focus can yield.

More at Truthdig

Friday Cartoon Fun: Less Than Thrilled Edition


Public Option Please

h/t Strange Maps

Texas: The Modern Stone Age

Meet the Flintstones

Nearly a third of Texans believe humans and dinosaurs roamed the earth at the same time, and more than half disagree with the theory that humans developed from earlier species of animals, according to the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

The differences in beliefs about evolution and the length of time that living things have existed on earth are reflected in the political and religious preference of our respondents, who were asked four questions about biological history and God:

• 38 percent said human beings developed over millions of years with God guiding the process and another 12 percent said that development happened without God having any part of the process. Another 38 percent agreed with the statement "God created human beings pretty much in their present form about 10,000 years ago." ...
h/t swimming freestyle

Visited Too

Like Doug Noon at Borderland, Education Sector has been staking out my blog as well.

Marc Dean Millot Part IV: Updated

Millot: Sound Decision or Censorship at TWIE (IV)
By Marc Dean Millot

I've posted three essays. So What?

I am not the first person to see his column ("Three Data Points. Unconnected Dots or a Warning?") pulled for arbitrary and capricious reasons. Alexander Russo is not the first editor forced to choose between a rock and a hard place. Andrew Rotherham is hardly the first bully to pull some strings. There’s no news there.

Like the "series of series" I wrote in This Week In Education about Education Sector's fraudulent Charter School Management Organization report, the gross abuse of charter and nonprofit law perpetrated by CMO Imagine Schools, and the incredible disregard for chartering law by Massachusetts Education Secretary Paul Reville, Commissioner Mitchell Chester, and several State Board members, this story is important because it offers readers a rare opportunity to confirm something many suspect, that there’s something very wrong happening here. Inevitably, those opposed to charter schools or introducing public education to market mechanism will use these stories to condemn both concepts.

That’s regrettable, but inevitable, and no moral basis for remaining silent. I hope these stories are wake up call to the vast army of good people in the market, the centrist legislators who support it, and the moderate foundations that ceded this arena to a small clique that this part of school reform could use some itself. Silence has allowed a kind of "anti-blob" to gain far too much influence, on far too little evidence.

There would be no story if I had gone along with Russo decision’s to keep the post off. Just another of the blogosphere’s one-day mysteries. Most people in my situation would have remained silent - and I wouldn’t blame them. I’ve noted comments in the blogosphere noting my “bravery” or “courage” in taking matters this far, but there was no courage involved. Were I a young analyst, tied into the social keiretsu I’ve described (and its damn hard for anyone with a market-orientation to be independent of it) then I’d be brave – and almost certainly foolhardy.

The keiretsu parted company with me years ago. In 2003, the handful of foundations supporting the emerging charter movement – at least the West Coast part of the "new philanthropy," cut long-time charter leaders out of the loop and off from funding. This included Eric Premack in California, John Ayers in Chicago, and Shirley Monestra in DC – people who played important roles passing and implementing their states charter laws’ These were experienced pro-market reformers, but preferred to harness business discipline to mission, rather than nonprofit tax advantages to corporate style; doubted the financial, educational and social viability of the Charter Management Organization model; and pressed their points with vigor. Above all they constituted the grassroots independent community-based charter movement’s “policy wonk connection” to federal and state government, the national education conversation, and the local media.

The remaining “leaders” of organizations in and around the charter movement saw the massacre, and decided discretion was the better part of valor. Consistent with the golden rule, many fell into line, most remained silent. The National Charter School Alliance, the bottom-up “membership” organization representing charter school associations that I led was strangled at birth. I was fired for using my own money to explore legal questions related to the withdrawal of a promised grant, and then cut off from education think tank publishing channels I had enjoyed for years. After the situation settled, the keiretsu formed a top-down “leadership” organization, the National Alliance of Charter Schools. (I think I have the emails to and from the key figures documenting this period on one of my old computers.)

Like many victims of the massacre, I found another way to make a living. Mine kept me involved in the emerging market, built a teeny-tiny business, and found various outlets for my writing. During that period I got some (important) crumbs from colleagues who sympathized with me but relied on keiretsu funding. Eventually I found the blogosphere offering the independent writer access to the market for ideas.

So I was throwing nothing away when I did not accept Russo’s decision as the last word. No one tossed from that club is going to be let back in. Russo might have been brave inviting me to write my column for TWIE – I know he regrets the decision. But the keirtsu had already pulled my financial and publishing plugs. Indeed, Rotherham’s move has only increased my readership - and even added to my client base. So I’m not brave.

What’s at issue here? At one level the social outlets for two groups of people:

The first, mostly young, idealists who believe in a market where local community-based organizations can operate public schools, where nonprofits apply concepts and techniques of operation developed by business, and where they purchase support services from the private sector.

The second, business entrepreneurs who took state and federal interest in “what works” seriously, built research and development into their classroom products and services, understand that their programs cannot work without educator support, and hope to sell their offerings to public schools to improve teaching and learning.

The behavior of the keiretsu gives both these groups a bad name, and makes it that much harder for them to play a constructive role in public education

What the keiretsu does not represent is “k-12 business.” The large multinational publishers have a very profitable business selling content to a school districts, and are very happy leaving superintendents with the impossible job of managing the large systems. The last thing they want is to operate public schools and see their profits disappear. The next to last thing they want to see is their manageable market of 15,000 odd sales channels (i.e. school districts) atomized into 100,000-plus schools. The experiment with EMOs discouraged investors from that business anyway, and only philanthropy – with its capacity to subsidize its ideas for a better world - could consider it viable.

So the future of some market concepts and the people who favor them are at stake. Important to me and them, but not likely to invigorate the many people who have supported me in this series even as they oppose any introduction of public education to the market place.

What should energize all well-meaning citizens is the keiretsu's abuse of power, how they’ve operated over the years, how they operate now, and the great potential for doing it with billions of dollars of federal education spending. Do we really want federal education policy to be whip-sawed with every new President or Secretary of Education? Whatever your philosophy, don't we need some stability, and shouldn't change at least be based on some kind of objective evidence?

This is why I wrote my column. I know what this group has done. I still believe that implementing complete transparency in the RTTT and I3, keeping officials with clear conflicts of interest completely out of the decision processes, and having the Secretary address the issues I laid out publicly, will lead to a competition based on the merits. Absent these features, I have my doubts.

Next: Finally, what to say about the reactions?

Update: See my last post on this fiasco on Borderland (http://borderland.northernattitude.org//) next week.


Wednesday Bonus Cartoon Fun: More Dick Edition

How The Right Perceives The Census

The militant right hate the census and see it as some communist intrusion. BoBo, who I happen to think is an honest guy, is also insane:
The 2010 Census Begins Next Month – Know your rights!

Just a quick reminder – for any of you who haven’t seen that stupid-assed Ed Begley commercial – the census begins next month. According to Article 1, Section 2 of the United States Constitution:
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.) (The previous sentence in parentheses was modified by the 14th Amendment, section 2.) The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct…
They are NOT allowed to ask you any other question(s) other than – How Many People Live Here? They don’t need to know your name, your age, your sex, your race, your income, etc etc. The ONLY purpose of the Census according to the U.S. Constitution is for the apportionment of Congress. All this other crap they use in order to grow the size of the government is entirely unconstitutional and not allowed.

Educate your neighbors as well. I was a census taker in 2000 before I really understood the Constitution and our Founding Fathers. If you only fill out the section that is required by law and the constitution – they send out Census takers to your house. If you aren’t home, the instructions are for you to knock on the neighbor’s doors and ask the neighbors if they can fill in the blanks you didn’t. Tell your neighbors not to offer up any information to the census takers – they aren’t obligated to answer any questions on your behalf.

If it’s not bad enough they are spending over $15 Billion of our tax dollars to do this – an audit has found there has already been a waste and abuse of HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of our tax dollars – well before the census even actually begins. Gotta love our big government – can’t get anything right at all – and we really think they’ll be able to accurately count all 300+ million people in this country without wasting more of our money?

They are trying to make the claim that the patriotic thing to do is to completely fill out the census – when – the reality is – the actual and true patriotic thing to do is follow the constitution and ONLY provide them the total number of people living in your household – and nothing else.
Go read it at his site. It's a visual challenge!

I Get Emails

I got this unsolicited email from Allison who works for Pepsi, I guess.

The problem with her contest to come up with world-changing ideas to fix education is that it perpetuates the notion that there is a fix we can put into schools to rescue "education." Well, that is simply misguided nonsense.

This contest, like RTTT (Race To The Top), pits schools against schools, districts against districts, states against states, and ultimately children against monied interests.

Advertising, branding, marketing and hype are not what America needs. We need clear, concise, precise conversations about some difficult realities that are creating such intractable problems.

Save your contests for the sports bar. Schools and children (not to mention teachers) deserve better.
Hi there,

I’m stopping by to let you know about a program that Pepsi recently launched called the Pepsi Refresh Project, where the company will be giving up to $1.3 million in grants monthly to fresh and new ideas. One category is solely dedicated to education, so I thought this would be something you'd be interested in learning about!

The Pepsi Refresh project is a crowd-sourced granting program where the public submits and votes on ideas, in various categories, that can change the world. Pepsi is investing more than $20 million this year to fund great ideas, big and small, that moves the community forward and allows ideas to turn into reality! They’re looking for people, businesses, and non-profits with ideas that will have a positive impact. Ideas can be submitted monthly. The ideas with the most votes will receive grant funding. Look around your community and think about how you want to change it.

Even more exciting is that Demi Moore and Kevin Bacon are part of the Pepsi Refresh Launch Grant Challenge. They’ve released videos with their ideas to refresh the world and are asking Americans to decide which idea they’d like to see implemented. Take a look at their thoughts on the Pepsi Refresh Facebook page and vote for your favorite: http://bit.ly/bPpqyK

Thanks so much! If you prefer that I not contact you for promotions like this, please let me know and I'll remove you from my outreach list!


Wednesday Cartoon Fun: Myriad Edition

The Duncan/Obama Eduagenda Starting To Falter?

Louisiana Board Member Quits Over Growing Federal Imprint

One of Gov. Bobby Jindal's appointees to Louisiana's board of education abruptly resigned yesterday in protest over what she says is a troubling federal influence on the state's K-12 policies.

In her resignation letter to the Republican governor, Tammie McDaniel wrote that by serving on the board she was "complicit in supporting federal policies that I genuinely oppose," according to the Associated Press.

Her resignation signals a growing chorus of state officials who are publicly expressing their disenchantment with the K-12 initiatives of the Obama administration.

Louisiana's public schools, led by state Superintendent Paul G. Pastorek, are widely viewed as one of the strongest contenders in the $4 billion federal Race to the Top competition. But McDaniel, a former principal and teacher, fundamentally disagrees with the state's efforts to shape its K-12 policies according to guidelines laid out by the Obama administration in RTTT and other federal initiatives.


Tuesday Bonus Cartoon Fun: Mortgage Modification Edition

Marc Dean Millot Part III: Updated

You can follow the whole saga on the Marc Dean Millot page here at TFT. Here are the links to the original posts:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Millot: Sound Decision or Censorship at TWIE?

I am at turns, flattered, amused, confused and annoyed at Andrew Rotherham’s decision to call on a colleague at Scholastic and force This Week in Education's editor, Alexander Russo, to pull “Three Data Points. Unconnected Dots or a Warning?" within hours of its posting. I’m flattered that Education Sector’s departing founding would give the effort that kind of priority. I’m amused that he would be sufficiently sensitive on behalf of his colleagues at the Department of Education to leap to their defense within moments of the slightest provocation, but remain completely silent when confronted with my direct accusation that he was complicit in academic fraud three months ago. I am confused by this articulate and well-read University of Virginia Ph.d candidate’s failure to distinguish between the plain meaning of my sentences and his own inferences. I am annoyed that someone who I know personally wouldn’t just contact me, or even my editor, before taking action, when he’s had satisfaction before.

I know what I did and have explained as best I can. I know what Russo did, what he told me, and I have provided a complete record of our communications.

Enough time has passed for Rotherham to deny what Russo told me, so don’t doubt that I know what he did. What I don’t know is why. All I can do is lay out all the circumstantial evidence at my disposal, and offer my best assessment. Readers can decide for themselves.

Rotherham might be just another disgruntled reader – who happens to know the publisher.

There are lots of readers of lots of publications who read something and get very upset. Most don’t know the author - let alone the editor or publisher, and most media don’t make pulling the story practicable. They write a letter to the editor and maybe cancel their subscription. In the blogosphere. they write a comment under the offensive post and/or write something in their own blog.

Rotherham knows me and Russo. In November, 2007 he contacted me to say I was wrong about some post. He was right. I corrected the post and credited him with the change. No big deal. Had he called me in this instance, I would have clarified my point - admittedly out of an abundance of caution. Even more likely, had he contacted Russo, Russo would have asked for the same, and I’d have done it. There is simply nothing in my past relationship with either to suggest otherwise. It happens that Rotherham is the only person with his interpretation, but there would be no skin off my nose for humoring him.

So why he didn’t call? I see two plausible reasons:

The first, what lawyers call a “sudden impulse.” On reading my post, Rotherham was “provoked” or “overcome with emotion” and without “opportunity to reflect” picked up the phone or blasted off an email to his contact at Scholastic. A “crime of passion.”

The second theory is deliberate decision. For some reason Rotherham did not want to communicate with me or Russo. He did not want to give either of us a chance to respond or clarify. He wanted, or had to, talk with his publisher colleague.

The first theory needs a reason for Rotherham to get so upset. The column was not about him. He was not named. It’s possible, but odd, that he might be a die-hard fan of senior department officials, imagines “attacks” on them as attacks on himself and acts like someone under attack.
The second theory needs a reason for Rotherham not to call. Maybe he “forgot.” But that leads to the first theory. Maybe he lost our email addresses and/or phone numbers. Maybe he figured we’d tell him to take a hike. Or maybe he had reason NOT to communicate directly.

Some facts relevant to either theory: Both Russo and I have been engaged in debates with Rotherham for some years. There’s plenty of what Russo’s called “snark” directed at Rotherham on this This Week in Education. Rotherham and I have had several extended debates on and between his blog eduwonk and my edbizbuzz. My remarks were more formal and intellectual, but the tension of a contest is evident.

More important, in late November I started a series on This Week in Education accusing EdSector with academic fraud (starting here) - and Rotherham with complicity - regarding a report on CMOs drafted by Thomas Toch, but appropriated, edited and released by the think tank with vastly different findings and conclusions. To my direct charges the normally voluble Rotherham has remained silent – no reply, no explanation, no comment. Nada.

If Rotherham had contacted me or Russo, we would have asked why he had not responded to my TWIE series. Rotherham would be forced to give an explanation or be on the record of refusing to answer a direct question from his accusers. If he really wanted to get my post pulled, he had to call his colleague at Scholastic. Alternatively, given this history, Rotherham flew into rage and/or thought he “had us” and called his contact to deny us the opportunity to respond or edit the post.

Either way, it seems pausible that he wrote his post on Eduwonk to note his “victory” - at least to Russo and me, and “lock in” Scholastic’s decision. Unfortunately, the post was already circulating the web. Once again, amid the modest hubbub Rotherham is uncharacteristically silent on his role, and I expect no response to this.

Update: I should also refer back to the "man with the eggshell thin temperament" in my first post on this topic. Rotherham has a particular loathing of arguments from anonymous sources, that falls somewhere between pet peeve and obsession. His response pattern tends to focus more energy questioning the source than addressing the substantive issues - the eduwonkette saga offers readers a start on that inquiry. Readers might consider the ironic juxtaposition of Rotherham's hostility towards anonymity on questions of substance with his willingness to go behind closed doors to squelch debate. Editors might as well.

Now, my view is that “every bully is a coward in disguise”. But that’s for readers to decide. [layout edited]

Tuesday Cartoon Fun: Waiting Edition


Charter Schools: The Racist Truth

                                                                                                   Angel Franco/NYT

Fred Klonsky:
...In an email report to his supporters Tilson praises the efforts of one of LA’s charter schools, Larchmont, and its founder Lindsay Sturman.

Says Tilson in his email:
Let’s be honest: we need a lot more well-off, well-educated white folks with a personal stake in both charter schools and education reform in general if we’re going to take reform to the next level, both politically and operationally.
Paternalistic? Yep. Racist? To be sure. And really, what Tilson is saying is that what the world needs is more him.

Thanks. But no thanks.

A Rant From williamyard

Some old friends are having an email exchange. As usual, williamyard makes his presence known:
I have two reasons for optimism: SCOTUS' Citizens United ruling coupled with the release of "Avatar."

I believe that SCOTUS will use Citizens United to give "personhood" to artificial constructs--i.e., avatars. This way, flaws can be intentionally Photoshopped from (or, in a populist nod, added to), holograms of future candidates. Clones are another way to go; why limit ourselves to only one Scott Brown when you can spin off a dozen or more to ensure that like-minded "individuals" control not just a Senate seat but a Governor's mansion, a mayor's office--even a school board presidency? If Scalia survives long enough, look for "Brown vs. Board of Education--the Sequel" to be a big decision in Palin's second term.

Yesterday while shaving I listened to a Vegas bookie being interviewed about the Super Bowl. He did okay, although his traffic was a little lighter than expected, considering two high-powered offenses had at it. I wondered if he's making bookon dystopia and its discontents--who's the favorite to send us sliding back to the Dark Ages? I'm reading the planet's Racing Form: you got your nukes, your biologics (man-made and free-range), you got your expanding class division, your obesity, your infototalitarians (Google, China, et al.), your fundies of various persuasions, your grid collapse, your rising sea levels etc. etc. Each has its assorted twists and turns; as a guy from UCSF noted recently, the U.S. basically exports four things: weapons, entertainment, blue jeans, and food. In the food category, we use fructose to keep the consumers addicted. Downside: we're becoming a planet of fat pigs. Cut the fructose and you've just butt-fucked the U.S. economy. Good luck with that: the Farm Bill enjoys rare bi-partisan support. We are
killing more people with corn than the Taliban are with opium.

Speaking of which I just carbed up the bird feeder and a riot of chicadees, wrens, rock doves, and assorted other human-supplied-seed-addicted hangers-on are swarming all over the deck, jostling for one of the four feeding perches like basketball forwards elbowing for turf under the hoop. The red-winged blackbirds are back--a large cloud of them just rose from the grasses in my neighbor's cattle ranch and banked overhead. Ken, I hear it's foggy in your 'hood but here in Contra Costa it's clear as a moonrise in Democracy's cemetery.

The Beltway punditry and the government it feeds is so obviously out of touch with and purely reactive to the greater society that criticizing it is like shooting fibs in a barrister. Scott Brown was such a delicious Black Swan I wish someone would remake "Groundhog Day" with Bill Murray as a liberal blogger so we could see him squirm again and again and again as the results came in. If anyone deserves anything, the voters of the Great Uncommon Wealth of Massachusetts deserve a vacuous Playgirl model carpetbagging on hip nihilism after they took Teddy Kennedy for granted forever. John Murtha's district, as Zengerle recently noted, is in the toaster as we speak. Evan Bayh: turn off the lights when you leave, and don't try pocketing any pens or Post-it notes. The critical difference is that the punditry is watching but the rest of us are seeing.

Oops: I said "Palin's second term." There will be no second term for whoever ousts Obama after his first term. We are in for a succession of one-termers, because the spoiled, entitled, fat, stupid, lazy, and increasingly broke American people think the President, not them, is responsible for the mess we're in, and they'll keep shitting their diapers, waiting for someone to wipe their asses, rather than touch the fucking Monolith and learn to squat over the damn potty.

Dick Cheney Waiting To Be Arrested

Sully says what we all know, but apparently refuse to deal with, at our peril:
In fact, the attorney general of the United States is legally obliged to prosecute someone who has openly admitted such a war crime [torture] or be in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention on Torture. For Eric Holder to ignore this duty subjects him too to prosecution. If the US government fails to enforce the provision against torture, the UN or a foreign court can initiate an investigation and prosecution.

These are not my opinions and they are not hyperbole. They are legal facts. Either this country is governed by the rule of law or it isn't. Cheney's clear admission of his central role in authorizing waterboarding and the clear evidence that such waterboarding did indeed take place means that prosecution must proceed.

Cheney himself just set in motion a chain of events that the civilized world must see to its conclusion or cease to be the civilized world. For such a high official to escape the clear letter of these treaties and conventions, and to openly brag of it, renders such treaties and conventions meaningless.

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