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Profile Information

Gender: Female
Hometown: Florida
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 79,882

About Me

Retired teacher who sees much harm to public education from the "reforms" being pushed by corporations. Privatizing education is the wrong way to go. Children can not be treated as products, thought of in terms of profit and loss.

Journal Archives

White Hat Charter schools got about 1 billion from Ohio, claimed public property as theirs, refused

to testify in 2010 at a hearing of the legislature about whether Ohio gives too much power to charter schools.

One billion dollars from public school coffers to such a company is a sure-fire way to break the back of public schools. Charter schools are the policy of both parties, though only the Republicans as a rule push vouchers.

So both sides need to take responsibility for cases like this.

White Hat was sued by 10 charter schools to gain back control from the management company. That was in 2010. Now the case is being heard by the Ohio Supreme Court.

The question is how much control can and should be ceded to White Hat

The Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from the boards of 10 charter schools against the for-profit company that used to run them.

The boards have been fighting White Hat Management for 3 years over control of the schools.

Here is more about that fight.

Akron's White Hat Charter School being sued by 10 of its schools for lack of accountability.

Picture from Ohio.com. White Hat was established in 1998 by Akron businessman David L. Brennan, who was a key advocate for introducing charter schools in Ohio. Like most charter schools, White Hat’s Hope Academies and Life Skills Centers are primarily funded by the state based on the number of pupils they enroll. The contracts between White Hat and the schools now suing allow the company to collect virtually all the funds and use them to run the schools.

Since 2008, Akron-based White Hat Management, has collected around $230 million to run charter schools in Ohio. The company has grown into a national chain and reports that it has about 20,000 students across the country.

But now 10 of its own schools and the state of Ohio are suing, complaining that many White Hat students are failing, and that the company has refused to account for how it has spent the money.

The dispute between White Hat and Ohio, which is unfolding in court in Franklin County, provides a glimpse of a larger trend: the growing role of private management companies in publicly funded charter schools.

White House charter operators refused to testify before a legislative hearing and claimed that they owned public property.

The suit charges that White Hat lobbied the state legislature for changes to the charter school law in 2006 that made it possible for White Hat to fire any school board that tries to sever ties with the management company.

Nor is it financially feasible for a charter school to switch operators because White Hat's contracts state that it owns the school's property, furniture and equipment — even though they were all paid for with tax dollars, according to the complaint.

''Essentially, White Hat created an educational model where tax dollars flow to the private corporation with little room for oversight or control by the schools' governing bodies,'' said a news release accompanying the filing of the lawsuit.

"Further, the law makes White Hat's receipt of tax dollars hard to stop.

In 2012 it was learned that White Hat Charters had gotten nearly a billion dollars in revenue from the State of Ohio.

Ohio's For-Profit White Hat Charter Schools nearing one billion in revenue from state.

Congratulations are in order to Kasich pal David Brennan and his White Hat Management company for being awarded two more charter schools by the Ohio Department of Education despite the worst list of accomplishments we may have ever seen. And with these additional schools, it is likely that White Hat schools will top $1 billion in revenue in Ohio.

L.A Times education reporter lets 16 yr old daughter opt out of Common Core testing.

Why my family is opting out of the Common Core testing

That's the daughter who is now finishing off her dissertation for a doctorate in literature. (And yes, I know the chances are slim that she will be supporting me in my old age in the manner to which I would like to become accustomed.)

As a journalist, reviewing an early state test that had been leaked to the paper by a teacher, I saw how thin and fault-riddled it could be. One question asked students to mark what they thought would be the best title for a certain reading passage. The answer the test sought was obvious; the title was direct and on topic, though flat and uninteresting. There was another choice, a better one, it seemed to me. It wasn't as obvious an answer; it struck me as the one that a director would pick for a movie rather than the one a test creator would pick. The difference, if you will, between “Star Wars” and “Luke Travels in Space and Shoots Down a Big Weapon.”

.....The schools in Laguna Beach, where I live, don't go into testing high-alert each spring, for which I'm grateful. A couple of math classes gave a retroactive grade bonus to students who scored proficient or advanced. There are teachers who prep heavily for the spring test and those who don't. One year, my younger daughter's history teacher gave the class three weeks of straight practice tests. Later, my daughter noted with surprise how many of the questions in those practice tests had appeared on the official one, quite possibly because the state, to save money, repeated so many questions on the tests from year to year. Her English teacher that year -- the inspiring, engaging one -- surprised the students just as much by announcing she would do no test prep. She had given them her best all year, she said, and it was time for them to go forth and do their best. Her students got three more weeks of learning that year. I could tell you how my daughter fared on the tests, but an experimental universe of one doesn't yield meaningful results.

....My guilty sense was that I had gone along with the mind-numbing academic program for far too long; done too much to prep her for a life of tests and not enough to prep her for the pursuit of great and original adventures.

I don't remember a time in the many years in which I taught that we did not have standardized testing. Sometimes in the fall, sometimes in the spring. Sometimes in both.

The difference then was that we used them as a very important tool to see where we needed to go, what we needed to cover more extensively. They were not used as tools to fire or lay off teachers. They were never ever the only way that students were judged.

Our grade books with weekly, daily, teacher-made, or pre-ordered tests on subject matter...they still mattered. We never put honor students in remedial classes based on one single test or held students back a grade based on one test only.

Posted by madfloridian | Tue Apr 8, 2014, 11:02 PM (4 replies)

Democrats left K-12 education out of their new "Fair Shot" agenda. Should be aware of protests.

It's a good thing that Democrats came up with a plan for the fall. They call it their "Fair-Shot" agenda.

A ‘Fair Shot’ Agenda For Education

President Obama has warned Democrats they’d better worry about upcoming elections, saying, according to a report in The Hill, “poor turnout could lead the party’s candidates to get ‘walloped.’”

Rushing to the rescue recently was a national plan from Senate Democrats called “A Fair Shot for Everyone,” that “focuses on ensuring that every American who works hard has a fair shot to succeed.”

In rolling out their agenda, Democratic Senate leaders loaded their messaging with pledges of support for “the middle class” and “one set of rules that will help create middle-class security, fairness, and opportunity.”

But they left something out.

But there’s an issue rife with populist discontent that Democrats have left out of the Fair Shot agenda: K-12 education.

It stands to reason that if you want to see what would turn people out to vote, you might want to look at what turns people out for street protests.

Here is the Fair Shot plan from the DPCC website.

It's quite a good plan. However it fails to take into account the fact that teachers, parents, and students are rising up around the country against the Democratic/Republican plan for privatizing education.

In fact the only mention of education is that it be free (public education has always been free). Then it is tied to creating the type of manufacturing jobs that will help our country grow.

..giving everyone a fair shot at an affordable education and creating the types of 21st century manufacturing jobs that will help our economy grow, we can create an America that's ready to compete and lead.

That's a good thing, but a real in-depth education is about so much more than that. It's like the Democratic agenda has changed the meaning of education and learning.

I believe our party needs to pay attention to rallies and protests around the country that speak out against the current education agenda.

One of the largest was in Oklahoma.

Monday 25 to 30,000 in Oklahoma protested school funding at state capitol.

An estimated 25,000 teachers and others from across the state, many wearing red shirts and waving signs and banners, swarmed the state Capitol on Monday to demand more money for public education.

“We are being asked to do more and more in education every year with less money,” said Debra Robins, one of about 140 teachers from Newcastle Public Schools who rode buses to the midmorning rally. “We need the help. We love what we do. We love teaching, but we want to be able to do it right.”

Chicago teachers have protested for years. Rahm is closing neighborhood schools at a fast rate, and often opening charter schools to take their place.

Protesting school closings

Picture courtesy of Fight Back News

Still in shock over a proposal to shutter 54 public schools, hundreds of teachers and their supporters gathered in Chicago's Loop on Wednesday in a massive, hours-long protest that included more than 100 citations being issued but no physical arrests.

Teachers, support staff and custodians -- many grouped with the schools they represent -- descended upon Daley Plaza at 4 p.m. for a rally. From there, the sonorous crowd -- with chants of "save our schools," with drums banging and with signs criticizing the mayor and his administration -- snaked its way south on LaSalle Street toward Chicago Public Schools headquarters, at 125 S. Clark St.

"People are very upset about this as if their voices are never heard," said Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis. "This is another reason why we need an elected, representative school board. We need to wrest mayoral control. It is a mess. It has caused this."

There was a strike by Portland teachers in February.

Protests are planned Friday in Brooklyn over new rounds of testing for Common Core

A search on the terms teachers, protest, brings more hits.

Unfortunately the new fall agenda for the Democrats addresses none of these issues.

"In Finland the question of 'evaluating' teachers is irrelevant." Instead we ask....

"Instead we discuss how we can help them"

Found on Twitter

From what I have read that country trains and hires good teachers and then gives them the tools they need to teach the children.

More from Sahlberg:

More about schools in Finland

The aim (of Finnish education policy) is a coherent policy geared to educational equity and a high level of education among the population as a whole. The principle of lifelong learning entails that everyone has sufficient learning skills and opportunities to develop their knowledge and skills in different learning environments throughout their lifespan.

— Government of Finland, Ministry of Education

...."Strategies for Reform

Because of these trends, many people have turned to Finland for clues to educational transformation. As one analyst notes: Most visitors to Finland discover elegant school buildings filled with calm children and highly educated teachers. They also recognize the large autonomy that schools enjoy; little interference by the central education administration in schools’ everyday lives, systematic methods to address problems in the lives of students, and targeted professional help for those in need. (Sahlberg 2009, p. 7)

For the last few years our country has employed the policy of blaming teachers for everything while at the same time taking away resources and money from public schools.

No surprises for DU about the report on the CIA and torture. Discussed it for years.

The earliest article I remember that clearly spelled things out for us was at the New England Journal of Medicine website in 2003.

Doctors and Torture

There is increasing evidence that U.S. doctors, nurses, and medics have been complicit in torture and other illegal procedures in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay. Such medical complicity suggests still another disturbing dimension of this broadening scandal.

We know that medical personnel have failed to report to higher authorities wounds that were clearly caused by torture and that they have neglected to take steps to interrupt this torture. In addition, they have turned over prisoners' medical records to interrogators who could use them to exploit the prisoners' weaknesses or vulnerabilities. We have not yet learned the extent of medical involvement in delaying and possibly falsifying the death certificates of prisoners who have been killed by torturers.

...Other reports, though sketchier, suggest that the death certificates of prisoners who might have been killed by various forms of mistreatment have not only been delayed but may have camouflaged the fatal abuse by attributing deaths to conditions such as cardiovascular disease.

....American doctors at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere have undoubtedly been aware of their medical responsibility to document injuries and raise questions about their possible source in abuse. But those doctors and other medical personnel were part of a command structure that permitted, encouraged, and sometimes orchestrated torture to a degree that it became the norm — with which they were expected to comply — in the immediate prison environment.

In the New York Times in 2004 Susan Sontag had an article called Regarding the Torture of Others

For a long time -- at least six decades -- photographs have laid down the tracks of how important conflicts are judged and remembered. The Western memory museum is now mostly a visual one. Photographs have an insuperable power to determine what we recall of events, and it now seems probable that the defining association of people everywhere with the war that the United States launched pre-emptively in Iraq last year will be photographs of the torture of Iraqi prisoners by Americans in the most infamous of Saddam Hussein's prisons, Abu Ghraib.

The Bush administration and its defenders have chiefly sought to limit a public-relations disaster -- the dissemination of the photographs -- rather than deal with the complex crimes of leadership and of policy revealed by the pictures. There was, first of all, the displacement of the reality onto the photographs themselves. The administration's initial response was to say that the president was shocked and disgusted by the photographs -- as if the fault or horror lay in the images, not in what they depict. There was also the avoidance of the word ''torture.'' The prisoners had possibly been the objects of ''abuse,'' eventually of ''humiliation'' -- that was the most to be admitted. ''My impression is that what has been charged thus far is abuse, which I believe technically is different from torture,'' Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said at a press conference. ''And therefore I'm not going to address the 'torture' word.''

....So, then, is the real issue not the photographs themselves but what the photographs reveal to have happened to ''suspects'' in American custody? No: the horror of what is shown in the photographs cannot be separated from the horror that the photographs were taken -- with the perpetrators posing, gloating, over their helpless captives. German soldiers in the Second World War took photographs of the atrocities they were committing in Poland and Russia, but snapshots in which the executioners placed themselves among their victims are exceedingly rare, as may be seen in a book just published, ''Photographing the Holocaust,'' by Janina Struk. If there is something comparable to what these pictures show it would be some of the photographs of black victims of lynching taken between the 1880's and 1930's, which show Americans grinning beneath the naked mutilated body of a black man or woman hanging behind them from a tree. The lynching photographs were souvenirs of a collective action whose participants felt perfectly justified in what they had done. So are the pictures from Abu Ghraib.

The lynching pictures were in the nature of photographs as trophies -- taken by a photographer in order to be collected, stored in albums, displayed. The pictures taken by American soldiers in Abu Ghraib, however, reflect a shift in the use made of pictures -- less objects to be saved than messages to be disseminated, circulated. A digital camera is a common possession among soldiers. Where once photographing war was the province of photojournalists, now the soldiers themselves are all photographers -- recording their war, their fun, their observations of what they find picturesque, their atrocities -- and swapping images among themselves and e-mailing them around the globe.

Andrew Sullivan had an article in Time Magazine in 2006.

How Doctors Got Into the Torture Business

Soldiers are trained to kill and doctors to heal. At least that's how we usually understand those two professions. But wars can often distort reality, and the war on terrorism has turned into a test case. An inspiring example is that of Colonel Kelly Faucette, M.D. He recently wrote about caring for a new patient at the intensive-care unit of the 47th Combat Support Hospital in Mosul, Iraq. The patient was a terrorist insurgent, a man who planted hidden roadside bombs to murder civilians and Faucette's fellow soldiers. Faucette wrote in his local paper: "Something inside me wants to walk up to this guy ... and just clobber him." But Faucette didn't. Instead he healed him before sending him to a jail, and by that act of healing he helped heal Iraq.

That's the America I know and love. But it is not, alas, the only face of America in this war. One of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's first instructions for military interrogations outside the Geneva Conventions was that military doctors should be involved in monitoring torture. It was a fateful decision — and we learn much more about its consequences in a new book based on 35,000 pages of government documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. The book is called Oath Betrayed (to be published June 27) by medical ethicist Dr. Stephen Miles, and it is a harrowing documentation of how the military medical profession has been corrupted by the Bush-Rumsfeld interrogation rules.

One of those rules was that a prisoner's medical information could be provided to interrogators to help guide them to the prisoner's "emotional and physical strengths and weaknesses" (in Rumsfeld's own words) in the torture process. At an interrogation center called Camp Na'ma, where the unofficial motto was "No blood, no foul," one intelligence officer testified that "every harsh interrogation was approved by the and the Medical prior to its execution." Doctors, in other words, essentially signed off on torture in advance. And they often didn't inspect the victims afterward. At Abu Ghraib, according to the Army's surgeon general, only 15% of inmates were examined for injuries after interrogation.

In 2007 at DU Hissyspit posted some words by George Bush when confronted about the torture.

Bush On Red Cross Torture Report: "Haven't Seen It, We Don't Torture"

During President Bush’s press conference this morning, The Washington Post’s Peter Baker asked him if he “had read” a highly confidential report by the International Committee of the Red Cross that “has found an interrogation program in CIA detention facilities, used interrogation techniques that were ‘tantamount to torture.’” Details of the Red Cross report were revealed recently by the New Yorker.

“Haven’t seen it; we don’t torture,” Bush bluntly responded before moving on to another question.

I was totally alarmed when an article showed up online from a Danish newspaper. I can not read the words, but the pictures speak for themselves. It might not reach the level of torture, but it is for sure public humiliation.

Danish paper shows picture of US treatment of Iraqis.

There was an article at NBC News last year. They seemed to be surprised at all of it.

'Big, striking horror:' US military doctors allowed torture of detainees, new study claims

U.S. military doctors designed, enabled and engaged in the torture of suspected terrorists held at American detention centers during the past decade, violating globally recognized ethics and medical principles that bar physicians from inflicting harm, according to a study released Monday.

The medical personnel involved — physicians, psychiatrists and psychologists who work in military branches or for U.S. intelligence agencies — allowed “cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment” of prisoners while acting at the direction of military leaders under both the Bush and Obama administrations, reports a 19-member independent task force of doctors, lawyers and ethics experts.

“This is a big, big striking horror,” said Dr. Gerald Thomson, professor of medicine emeritus at Columbia University and a member of the task force. The panel is supported by the Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP), a health care policy think tank based at Columbia that identifies itself as nonprofit and nonpartisan.

“This covenant between society and medicine has been around for a long, long time — patient first, community first, society first, not national security, necessarily,” Thomson said. “If we just ignore this and satisfy ourselves with the (thought that), ‘Well, they were trying to protect us,’ when it does happen again we’ll all be complicit in that.”

Others here wrote about the torture, so we did know. Each time something new came out, it was discussed and soon forgotten...until the next time someone wrote about it.

Amazing to me that anyone in power can pretend they did not know.

Needs rereading. 2010 article. "Liberal criticism of Obama is out of tough-love"

This was written by Robert Kuttner in August 2010...looking ahead to the November midterm elections. It is basically like he could have written it today. It behind a firewall at the Boston Globe now, but I found it at Clelsea Green.

I think it goes beyond saying that President Obama is a brilliant man. He is a caring person. He has a blind spot where public school teachers are concerned, but that is a post for another time.

However I think Kuttner's words about his conciliatory manner are still as true now. He does appear to fight back more than he did in 2010, so that's a good thing. In my mind there are still too many policies in which he and other Democrats should be taking stronger stands

Robert Kuttner refers to the time that Robert Gibbs used the words "the professional left" and offended just about all of us.

Liberal criticism of Obama is out of tough-love

Gibbs said the "professional left" will "be satisfied when we have Canadian health care and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon

As co-editor of a liberal magazine whose stance has ranged from polite pleading to occasional exasperation, I have to say that Gibbs misses the point entirely. Few liberals are critical of this president out of ideological purity. Even fewer want to eliminate the Pentagon.
Most progressives fervently supported Obama. Many of us imagined a rendezvous between a brilliant outsider politician and a practical crisis rooted in failed conservative ideology — a Roosevelt moment.

....The George W. Bush view that the private sector can do nothing wrong and government nothing right crashed the economy. In repairing the damage, Obama had an opportunity to restore a more balanced form of capitalism and to make it a governing philosophy shared by a majority of Americans, just as FDR did.

....Politics is the art of the possible, but also the art of leadership. President Roosevelt’s Democratic Party gained seats in Congress in 1934, the first mid-term election after Roosevelt took office, despite unemployment exceeding 15 percent. Ordinary Americans knew Roosevelt was on their side.

....With his temporizing, Obama has left independent voters perplexed and the Democratic base dispirited. Democrats are now at risk of an epic legislative defeat this November, leaving Obama with even less running room to provide the recovery program that the country needs.

Kuttner's most vital words were tucked down near the end of the article.

So for the most part, liberals are criticizing our president out of tough love. We dearly want him to succeed. For if he fails, we fail.

Monday 25 to 30,000 in Oklahoma protested school funding at state capitol. Proud of them.

Estimated 25,000 converge on Oklahoma state Capitol for education rally

An estimated 25,000 teachers and others from across the state, many wearing red shirts and waving signs and banners, swarmed the state Capitol on Monday to demand more money for public education.

“We are being asked to do more and more in education every year with less money,” said Debra Robins, one of about 140 teachers from Newcastle Public Schools who rode buses to the midmorning rally. “We need the help. We love what we do. We love teaching, but we want to be able to do it right.”

Appropriations to public schools are about $200 million less than in 2009, although there are about 40,000 more public school students than there were five years ago, according to statistics from the Oklahoma Education Coalition.

Many of those at the rally — the likes of which had not been seen since thousands attended a demonstration 24 years ago in support of an education reform bill known as House Bill 1017 — had signs stating: “678,000 Reasons to Fund Education.” That’s the number of students enrolled in Oklahoma’s public schools.

More about this. One estimate has 30,000.

Coalition: Oklahoma schools have 35,000 more students, $200 million less in the budget

OKLAHOMA CITY - Waving homemade signs and dancing to music, thousands of teachers across Oklahoma descended on the Oklahoma State Capitol Monday morning for a massive “rally for education” to support an increase to education funding.

The rally, which was sponsored by the Oklahoma Education Coalition, was ready to welcome up to 25,000 educators and parents at the Capitol.

According to OHP, they estimate more than 30,000 people attended today’s rally at the State Capitol.

This should get attention. There are many protests and rallies like this going on around the country, and national media seems to ignore it. This is one of the largest numbers I have seen.

They are rallying in support of public education. Did you ever think there would come a time in this country of ours when we would have to defend public education? I did not.

As the year progresses, we will be expected to watch what we say. A repost of JK Galbraith....

with some very important words for Democrats of all shapes and sizes before that time comes. There are some important things in the article that still will have a bearing on the elections in the fall.

Galbraith has words for the Democrats.

Yes, he is critical of President Obama, but he is fair and intelligent about it. He is not one whose words are to be taken lightly.

In economic policy it was said earlier we have a lack of narrative. Recently, Gregory King asked why the people didn't know that the Republican Party is uniformly and massively opposed to job programs, to state and local assistance, and to every legislative measure that might aid and promote economic recovery from the worst crisis and recession in modern times. Why is that that they didn't know? Could it have anything to do with the fact that the White House didn't tell them?

....The president deprived himself of any chance to develop a narrative from the beginning by surrounding himself with holdover appointments from the Bush and even the Clinton administrations: Secretary Geithner, Chairman Bernanke, and, since we're here at Harvard, I'll call him by his highest title, President Summers. These men have no commitment to the base, no commitment to the Democratic Party as a whole, no particular commitment to Barack Obama, and none to the broad objective of national economic recovery that can be detected from their actions.

With this team the President also chose to cover up economic crime. Not only has the greatest wave of financial fraud in our history gone largely uninvestigated and unpunished, the government and this administration with its stress tests (which were fakes), its relaxation of accounting standards which permitted banks to hold toxic assets on their books at far higher prices than any investor would pay, with its failure to make criminal referrals where these were clearly warranted, with its continuation in office -- sometimes in acting capacities -- of some of the leading non-regulators of the earlier era, has continued an ongoing active complicity in financial fraud. And the perpetrators, of course, prospered as never before: reporting profits that they would not have been able to report under honest accounting standards and converting tax payer support into bonuses; while at the same time cutting back savagely on loans to businesses and individuals, and ramping up foreclosures, much of that accomplished with forged documents and perjured affidavits.

Could the President and his administration have done something? Yes, they could have. Where was the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation? Why did they choose not to implement the law -- the Prompt Corrective Action law -- which requires the federal government to take into receivership financial institutions when there is a significant risk of large taxpayer losses to the insurance fund? Where were the FBI and the Department of Justice? Did the President do anything? No. Is he doing anything now? No. Why not? The most likely answer is that he did not want to. My understanding, in fact, is that there was one meeting where this issue was raised, and the President stated that his economic team had assured him they had the situation under control.

For several years now we have been judged not by what we say but by loyalty to party leaders.

And we lost in 2010 to a group of uninformed people who actually stood up and spoke out loudly for their beliefs, confused and wrongheaded though those beliefs might be.

....The changes to the social safety nets for seniors, the sneaky ways to turn public schools over to management companies who get taxpayer money, the denigration of public school teachers....these things that the right wing and conservative Democrats have wanted for ages are finally coming to pass right now.

I am not supposed to be upset, and if I do speak out I am considered disloyal to the party.

What is going on now is going to tear our party apart like nothing else has ever before. You say you don't see that in the media? Of course you don't. But the discontent is there lurking, and it is growing.

I have paid a price here in my reputation for being critical of the education policies of this administration. Several others have as well. Some don't bother to post about it any more. I think I will continue, but cautiously as the elections near. That's a shame because teachers are being stripped of union rights, dignity, and their careers.....because of bipartisan policy.

Galbraith added one more paragraph that really struck a chord with me.

This isn't a parlor game. The outcome isn't destined to be alright. It will not necessarily end in progress whatever happens. What we do, how we proceed, and how we effectively resist what is plainly about to happen, matters very greatly for the future of our country, of our children, and of another generation to come. We need to lose our fear, our hesitation, and our unwillingness to face the facts. If we thereby lose some of our hopes, let's remember the dictum of William of Orange that "it is not necessary to hope in order to persevere."

This administration has done some good things. I never post about the ACA because I think it's a beginning of what could get better. To even compare President Obama to what is now available in the extremist GOP is laughable.

But this is about more than just Obama. As a retired teacher I notice mostly things that affect teachers, seniors, the needy, and add to that women's rights. Firm stands should have been taken from the start, not thrown in at the last minute to make liberals feel better.

Mel Sembler's back. Big Rick Scott donor. Remember his abusive camps to scare kids "Straight"?

From Mother Jones:

GOP Gov. Rick Scott Raising Big Bucks With Founder of Abusive Teen Boot Camps

This Thursday, a who's who of Florida big shots will hold a private, $1,000-a-head fundraiser for the Republican Party of Florida and Gov. Rick Scott's reelection effort, led by a host committee that includes Mel Sembler, the founder of a notorious substance abuse rehab program that folded after allegations of extreme abuse were lodged against several of its facilities.

The program, Straight Inc., was founded in 1976 by Sembler, a developer, and his wife, Betty. In the 17 years that it operated drug treatment centers, Straight Inc. was plagued by news reports and at least one civil suit claiming that its staff kidnapped its adult patients and mentally, physically, and sexually abused their underage charges. Two state investigations substantiated reports of abuse.

Straight Inc. officials consistently denied these allegations. Sembler's biography on the Sembler Company website hails Straight Inc. as having "successfully graduated more than 12,000 young people nationwide from its remarkable program." Sembler, it adds, "is nationally recognized as an activist in the anti-drug campaign." Sembler could not be reached for comment.

Critics paints a much darker picture. "Children had to flap their arms like chickens or else face shaming as 'sluts' and homosexuals," John Gorenfeld reported in the May 2006 issue of Mother Jones. "Hundreds of Straight alums now claim they were scarred for life, among them Samantha Monroe, who was enrolled in 1980…and claims she was starved, raped, and confined in a closet."

More from Gorenfeld, who formerly wrote for Salon and Alternet and published a book called Bad Moon Rising: How Reverend Moon Created the Washington Times, Seduced the Religious Right, and Built an American Kingdom

This is an article from 2005.

His Own Private Abu Ghraib

He created a system to reprogram bad kids. Delete the bad code in their personalities. Break the will of sullen stoner boys, make bad girls confess to whorish secrets and reverse-engineer the minds of heavy metal kids. And rebuild all of them into an anti-drug army. Such were the works of Melvin Sembler and the feats that STRAIGHT, the ultimate in teen drug rehab programs, attempted during the Totally Awesome Eighties.

Melvin Sembler's clinics might have seemed like a good idea at the time, when teen drug use was high and New Age thinking seemed to offer new and hopeful therapies for pressing the RESET button on human beings.

There were major problems, though. He modeled STRAIGHT after another program, creepily named "The Seed," shut down after the U.S. Congress literally issued a report in 1974 comparing it to "the highly refined 'brainwashing' techniques employed by the North Koreans." Sembler's imitation wasn't shut down until 1993 for illegal child abuse: beatings and sexual humiliation. Kids were thrown against walls. Or forced to sit in their own menstrual blood. Unless, of course, they were ready to cooperate, confess, and chant "I'm at STRAIGHT, feeling great" with the others. In that case they got to be the enforcers. Dozens of lawsuits exposed a similar picture in 12 clinics across America.

And there was an article in Florida Trend May 1997 called Money Man Mel Sembler.

Money Man (Mel Sembler)

Welcome to the front lines of big-money political fund raising. Here, in a spacious second-floor office overlooking Central Avenue on the outskirts of St. Petersburg, Mel Sembler is shaping the future of Republican Party politics. As the newly appointed finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, Sembler is the point man for the party's $50 million fund-raising campaign this year. Next year that figure will be much larger, he says. But don't expect to hear about the $25 checks from the Ma and Pa America.

Sembler targets the really big bucks - the money, as he says, that really makes a difference. At a time when political fund raising by both parties is under a growing cloud, Sembler sees the problem as a Democratic one and presses on with business as usual. "You gotta have money," Sembler insists without a hint of apology. "Without money you can't get your message out to the people. And that's what this is really all about."

A self-made millionaire, anti-drug crusader, community benefactor and self-avowed family man, Sembler personifies the conservative, successful image that Republicans hold dear. He earned a fortune building suburban shopping centers and rode those riches to the highest levels of party politics. He raised millions to support conservative candidates and causes and was duly rewarded by President Bush with the ultimate in political spoils: a key ambassadorship posting to Australia.

.....Responding to years of complaints from former patients, auditors cited evidence of excessive use of force, sleep deprivation, and the withholding of food and medication. Sembler denies any wrongdoing and continues to defend the program's methods, particularly against the criticisms of the St. Petersburg Times editorial board. "People thought we were taking away children's rights. But we saw it just the opposite - giving them back their rights by helping them get off drugs." In 1993, with the allegations surfacing and the program losing about $500,000 a year, Sembler closed Straight.

And now he's still around helping to get Rick Scott re-elected. From the first link:

After Straight Inc. closed, the education arm of Sembler's organization lived on as a new program named the Drug Free American Foundation, which still exists today. Sembler, after serving as ambassador, continued to fundraise for prominent Republicans, including Mitt Romney. He also hosted an event to raise money for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's legal defense fund when the former Bush White House aide was on trial for perjury.

Posted by madfloridian | Tue Apr 1, 2014, 04:20 PM (1 replies)

Long ‘waiting list’ for Florida vouchers doesn’t actually exist. Another ed reformer lie.

The legislature is trying to pass some bills to expand vouchers to private schools. Right now only the physically or learning handicapped qualify for McKay vouchers, and the poor and needy qualify for others. Both take money from public schools and deplete their resources.

Teachers are constantly held accountable. It's past time that the "reformers" are held responsible as well.

Long ‘waiting list’ for Florida vouchers doesn’t actually exist

Florida’s lawmakers are considering expanding a voucher-like tax credit program because, legislators keep saying, there is a huge waiting list of families who want to participate. It turns out that there is no waiting list.

...The Florida legislature has been considering legislation that would expand the state’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program, a voucher-like scheme that allows public money to be used for private school tuition but wouldn’t require much if anything in the way of accountability from schools that accept vouchers. (For example, the students wouldn’t have to take the high-stakes standardized tests required of public school students.)

....But the larger point is that the expansion of the program has been pushed by Step Up For Students based on what it and supportive legislators have said is a very, very long waiting list of families who want to participate. Rep. Erik Fresen, a Republican from Miami who was one of the legislators who figured out how to keep the expansion idea alive, said at a hearing in Tallahassee about the bill that there is a waiting list of families seeking the tax credits that now stands “at 100,00 students.” During the debate about the legislation, a figure of 34,000 families on a waiting list has been thrown about, as have other figures.

Specifically citing such numbers suggests there is an actual waiting list. But, it turns out, there isn’t. After school activists and reporters asked for details about the waiting list, Step Up For Students acknowledged that, alas, it doesn’t really keep one. There aren’t any people on the waiting list because there isn’t a waiting list. Why?

Here's why:

The people who process applications at Step Up, which publishes this blog, have become so overwhelmed in recent years that they no longer wanted to give low-income families false hope. They concluded that the main reason for the waiting list was mostly for show, and they wanted no part of that.

Last year charter school advocates were doing the very same thing...lying about the huge waiting list which turned out to be non-existent. They just make it up as they go.

FL charter schools claim 80,000 on waiting list. Not true.

Miami Demorat Representative Kionne L. McGhee didn’t let Florida charter school lobbyist Jim Horne off the hook during this week’s public testimony on the Florida House’s latest charter school bill. Horne, whom sources say wrote the bill, made the claim that there are 80,000 children on charter school’s waiting lists.

..."When McGhee inquired about the numbers, Horne quickly began back-pedaling with vague responses. Sensing Horne’s evasions, he asked two more questions about the numbers forcing FLDOE’s Michael Kooi to the podium to sheepishly admit the numbers were coming from the charter schools. Miami Dade official Iraida Mendez-Cartaya followed Kooi with testimony pointing out that in her district, students are likely to appear on more than one waiting list – an obvious reason for such inflated numbers.

The moment had to be an embarrassing one for Horne, a former state commissioner of education. It was clear he knew the numbers wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny. But the brief exchange again showed charter school’s high paid mouthpieces will say anything.
Posted by madfloridian | Tue Apr 1, 2014, 01:08 AM (5 replies)
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