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Profile Information

Gender: Female
Hometown: Florida
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 82,236

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

A reminder of Third Way policies..words of their leader through the years.

I notice discussion of this group lately and their influence on the party. In my mind the words of its present leader make it clear that their Third Way ideals are not for regular people. They are geared to benefit the corporate world.

Jonathan Cowan's attacks on Social Security started way back in 1995. From an editorial by him:

Op ed from Third Way prez Cowan calling to privatize Social Security.

The time has come to reinvent Social Security based on a "cut and privatize" approach that will be fair to all age groups. This reinvention should be based on three principles:

Start immediately to lower boomers' expectations of the returns they will get and encourage them to increase private savings.

Separate out the welfare portion of Social Security and pay out poverty benefits to today's--and tomorrow's--needy seniors from general government revenues.

Idea #3 is to lower the Social Security payroll to 10% (where the heck was it in 1995...isn't it 6.2 now?) and "give workers the option of putting their money into private pension programs that offer far higher returns and sounder prospects than today's Social Security system."

Cowan even had the nerve to appeal to "grandpa and grandma" to stop being so greedy.

Past words of "wisdom" by Third Way prez, Jon Cowan. Too much influence on Democrats.

From 1993:

Dear Grandma and Grandpa:

We write to ask for your help. We're in a financial mess, and unless everyone in our family gets together to fix the problem, we're heading for "economic and fiscal catastrophe." That's not a phrase we picked up on MTV-it's from a recent U.S. government report on the budget deficit.

This year alone America's budget deficit will be nearly $300 billion, which means we're spending $300 billion more than we take in. That's $300 billion on top of the $4.2 trillion debt we've already built up, enough to pay basketball star Michael Jordan's salary for almost a million and a half years.

We are not ungrateful. We respect and value the sacrifices you've made for our country and have no desire to take money away from those in need. But our generation is in trouble. We were educated in a collapsing school system. Our incomes and skill levels are lower than any previous generation-by the year 2000 over one-third of younger Americans will be living in poverty. And we will be the first Americans to inherit a lower standard of living than our parents.

We're not asking that your generation solve all our problems. And there certainly are many other programs that also must be cut to get the deficit under control. But Social Security must be considered, just like everything else in the budget.

Cowan is not fond of "the left", which is a main characteristic of Democratic think tanks. He writes about our fantasies.

Third Way's Jon Cowan. "The left's four fiscal fantasies"

Fantasy No. 1 is that taxing the rich solves our problems

Fantasy No. 2 is that "we can have it all" — a bigger safety net and more investments that spur growth and opportunity. Events of the past 50 years say the opposite.
(Wrong. We certainly can have both. They just don't want to have it.)

Fantasy No. 3 is that a delay on entitlement fixes is benign for the middle class. As evidence, some liberals point to this year's Medicare trustee report, in which the program's fiscal outlook — mercifully — improved. In truth, it improved from horrid to awful.

Fantasy No. 4 is that the politics to fix entitlements will get better. In fact, the politics will get worse every election cycle. In 2012, one out of six voters was a senior citizen. By 2024, one in four will be, based on the Census Bureau's Statistical Abstract. How will we possibly fix safety-net programs for the elderly then? The answer: on the backs of the working-age middle class.

He's right about part of it....seniors tend to vote against their own best interests. Only now there are two parties wanting to cut their benefits.

I think 2010 would have been different if the Democrats had taken strong stands for the needs of the people instead of corporations. I think 2014 should not be a toss up. We should be coasting to a win. Get teachers on board instead of alienating them. Never again talk of cutting the safety nets for seniors and the needy.

The DLC is now defunct, the Third Way took its place. The goal of both was to have enough money from the rich that they did not need the rest of us.

I think it may be coming back to bite them. Or us.

Ah, memories. Ran across this video tonight, late hubby's favorite by Johnny Cash....

I did not realize someone actually built one, and Cash drove it. Got lots of attention.


Johnny Cash loyalists will notice some differences between Patch’s Caddy and the Caddy described and built in the song. Bill Patch’s, quite honestly, fit together better, but when you look closer you’ll see one side has 2 doors and headlights, one side has just one of each. Patch’s final masterpiece is something of a Coupe and Sedan DeVille combination sporting parts from four decades.

The fact some country boy would build this car isn’t the story. The story is what he did after. You see, the sleepy little town of Welch needed money for the new Lions Club Civic Center under construction, and after driving the car all the way to the House of Cash Museum to donate it to Cash, Patch had hit gold.

Johnny Cash not only loved the car but showed his appreciation by performing a benefit concert in Welch. Their friendship would also lead to a follow up show in the now-completed Lions Club Civic Center for the Boy Scouts and Oklahoma Eye Bank for the Blind.

Loss of individuality, the submissiveness demanded of students by No Excuses, Zero Tolerance.

These seem to me to be consequences of the unchecked race to reform education. These are the opposite goals to what I remember from my years of teaching.

We were expected to respect the individual personalities and learning styles of our students. Now the one-size-fits-all tests do not allow for that.

Individuality disappearing from classrooms, NY teacher argues

In an environment where quality of education is based heavily on standardized test scores and continual assessments, individuality has gone missing from our classrooms, New York City educator Diana Senechal argues.

We cannot accomplish anything of beauty unless we are willing to spend countless hours on it alone, she told an audience of about 60 people on Wednesday at the Hippodrome State Theatre.

She explained her thinking: Education has gone to a place where reform has superseded, rather than encouraged, individual judgment. Such an emphasis is placed on the formulas used to evaluate teachers and students that higher standards have begun to quash independent thought.

She makes an important statement about the way every bit of learning must be judged. She says now "there's a fear that allowing students to soak in information without having anything concrete to show for it at the end of a lesson will result in no learning at all."

That's a real danger, she said, “But to demand concrete outcomes from every lesson is to shortchange the literature.” Senechal said that's what she means by solitude in education.

One thing that is not often mentioned is the way some charter schools with mostly minority students use rigid zero tolerance, no excuses discipline.

Edushyster recently posted an interview with Joan Goodman.

Professor Joan Goodman, the director of the Teach for America program at the University of Pennsylvania, talks about the philosophy behind *no excuses* charter schools, and the price paid by students who attend them.

Article is very long, but a couple of quotes stand out.

ES: Minority children in urban areas are increasingly being educated at schools run by the types of charter management organizations you study, yet I find that people know little if anything about the way these schools view the world.

Goodman: These schools start with the belief that there’s no reason for the large academic gaps that exist between poor minority students and more privileged children. They argue that if we just used better methods, demanded more, had higher expectations, enforced these higher expectations through very rigorous and uniform teaching methods and a very uniform and scripted curriculum geared to being successful on high-stakes tests, we can minimize or even eradicate these large gaps, high rates of drop outs and the academic failures of these children. To reach these objectives, these schools have developed very elaborate behavioral regimes that they insist all children follow, starting in kindergarten. Submission, obedience, and self-control are very large values. They want kids to submit. You can’t really do this kind of instruction if you don’t have very submissive children who are capable of high levels of inhibition and do whatever they’re told.

And one more:

ES: One of the questions you ask is whether there are legitimate limits to the power exercised by schools over children.

Goodman: That’s a big question. What rights do children have that are similar to the rights of adults? Can you search them? Can you control what they say and don’t say at all times? Do they have any freedom of speech rights? Do they have any freedom to bring something to school if they want to? More than that, do they have any rights at all against oppressive punishment?

There appear to already be levels or tiers of education and policy.

Obama 2011 "One thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just teaching to the test."

If George Orwell were still alive, what would he make of the following quote from President Obama? (Thanks to Valerie Strauss for pointing to a piece written by Anthony Cody for his Education Week Teacher blog, Living in Dialogue.)

"Malia and Sasha, my two daughters, they just recently took a standardized test . But it wasn't a high-stakes test. It wasn't a test where they had to panic. I mean, they didn't even really know that they were going to take it ahead of time. They didn't study for it, they just went ahead and took it. ... It was a tool. ... Too often, what we've been doing is using these tests to punish students or to, in some cases, punish schools. And so what we've said is, let's find a test that everybody agrees makes sense; let's apply it in a less pressure-packed atmosphere; let's figure out whether we have to do it every year, or whether we can do it maybe every several years; and let's make sure that that's not the only way we're judging whether a school is doing well. Because there are other criteria: What's the attendance rate? How are young people performing in terms of basic competency on projects? There are other ways of us measuring whether students are doing well or not."

And, as Cody writes, "Then he said something really radical."

"So...one thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just teaching to the test. Because then you're not learning about the world; you're not learning about different cultures, you're not learning about science. ... All you're learning about is ... the little tricks that you need to do in order to take a test."

I agree 100& with everything the president said.

But I worry that his goals spoken above are not being carried out in our nation's public schools right now, and that taxpayer money is going to charter schools with such rigid discipline policies.

Cecile Richards: Mom never led in the polls. People just showed up and voted.

Encouraging tweet from Cecile Richards about her mom, Ann.

Mom never led in the polls - she was elected #TX gov b/c people showed up & voted. Ready to make history again? #tbt

I mailed my ballot this last week. I am trying not to let the polls and pundits discourage me here in Florida. According to both, Rick Scott and Charlie Crist are the same....they say there were no clear winners during the debates. Well, I say there is a clear winner when the nation and world are laughing at our present governor try to speak coherently.

I voted for Charlie Crist, and I voted a hearty YES on the medical marijuana amendment. We were feeling really good about that amendment for a while. But now the religious folks have gotten into the fray, our sheriff the loyal Southern Baptist is doing a good job of convincing people it would open the door to terrible things if sick people got to use what would really help them.

Now it's down close to 60% approval (it needs 60% in order to pass), down from a high of close to 80% not long ago.

The media is the worst. Most major papers have endorsed Crist...but you really have to dig to find that information.

So thanks, Cecile Richards, for reminding us that your mother never led in the polls.

They announced the new chair when Dean was in Samoa, unaware of what was happening.

He was there on the last leg of his promise to visit every state and territory during his time as chair.

Naming names. The ones who went behind Dean's back when he was in Samoa.

On January 7, White House political director Patrick Gaspard, a former top labor organizer from New York, called DNC executive director Tom McMahon. Gaspard told McMahon that Obama planned to name Virginia governor Tim Kaine as his new DNC chair and wanted to make the announcement at the DNC the following day. Gaspard asked if Dean would be around. Dean's planning to be in American Samoa, the last U.S. territory he'd yet to visit as DNC chair, McMahon responded. (He'd logged 741,000 miles on the job.) Should he postpone his trip?

If he's already planning the trip, don't tell him to cancel, Gaspard replied. It would be better, in other words, if Dean wasn't there. Administration officials didn't want Obama to face any questions at the press conference about why Dean hadn't received a plum position in the White House. One snub led to another.

Gaspard, ironically, worked on Dean's campaign in 2004, but now served a higher office. "The decision was made by Rahm and Plouffe and (deputy chief of staff) Jim Messina", said the senior transition member. "I was specifically told by a senior administration official, 'It comes from those three guys. They specifically want to do this to Dean.'"

Even the new Camelot wasn't above a little revenge.

It was an ugly rude thing to do.

Al Ruechel, BayNews9, Tampa: "Pundits agree there was no clear winner" in Crist/Scott debate.

He said it so casually. He really said pundits agree there was no clear winner. I haven't listened to any pundits since the debate last night, but I don't see how anyone could have watched it and thought there was no clear winner. I notice Al Ruechel sounds more and more like that lately. More spin from his mouth.

I did see some national polls in which more than 90% declared Crist the winner.

But that's the kind of press Rick Scott gets here in Florida. The worst they say is that there is no clear winner. Some "pundits" basically said the same thing after the last debate when Scott could not even speak in clear sentences to explain why he didn't come on stage on time.

Here is more from BayNews9 on last night's debate. Again pointing it out to be a tie. And check out the poll on the page....Crist and Scott neck and neck.

Scott, Crist get personal during final Florida governor debate

Did either candidate gain or lose ground in this last debate?

"I don't think so," said Bay News 9 political analyst Ana Cruz, (D). "I think both of these candidates, what they wanted to come in and do on this debate is to not really stumble ... and really make a reason for people not to like them, not vote for them and to not have any kind of a real gaff. And I think they both pretty much avoided that."

"I would call it a draw. They both really stayed on their message. And they didn't stray too far on any of the issues or the answers. I think it was a wash," said Bay News 9 political analyst Chris Ingram (R).

A recent exclusive Bay News 9/Tampa Bay Times/UF Graham Center poll has the two candidates locked in a virtual dead heat. The poll, which was published last week, found Scott and Crist each drawing support from 40 percent of those polled.

So just in case you were thinking people here in Florida had seen the light about what Rick Scott really is...then stop thinking that.

Luckily the national scene gave opinions to the contrary last time, and even Fox 13 in Tampa blasted Rick Scott.

Debate tonight: Crist says Rick Scott got his money in unsavory ways.

Florida debate turns bitter

Videos are at the link.

Scott blamed Crist for the loss of more than 800,000 jobs while he was governor from 2007-2011, saying Crist is out of touch with average Florida voters because he grew up with wealth.

"I grew up with families that struggled. I don't know my natural father. I lived in public housing. I have an adopted dad," Scott said. "I didn't grow up with money. You did. You grew up with plenty of money. Charlie, you lost more jobs than any state but one."

Hammering back, Crist argued he was not responsible for the "economic meltdown" that occurred nationally during his tenure. He returned the attack against wealth, blasting Scott for being the one who's out of touch.

"You don't know me and you can't tell my story," Crist said. "But I know you are worth about $100 million or $200 million today and God bless you for that wealth, but the way you got it was pretty unsavory."

That is true. Scott's company was fined 1.7 billion for fraud. He was so arrogant at his deposition that this needs to be posted often as a reminder.

More than 1000 pages about a charter school's failures in Florida. Mavericks has problems.

School was started five years ago, troubles still happening. Investigations still going on. They have received 70 million dollars in money from taxpayers, have repeated failed to meet standards.

This means money and resources taken from public school systems throughout the state.

Mavericks in Education: Failing to make the grade

Here are some of the problems listed:

• Overcharging taxpayers $2 million by overstating attendance and hours taught. The involved schools have appealed the findings.

• Submitting questionable low-income school meal applications to improperly collect $350,000 in state dollars at two now-closed Pinellas County schools.

• Frequent academic errors that include skipping state tests for special-needs students, failing to provide textbooks and using outdated materials.

Those are serious problems, some bordering on fraud.

When in doubt blame the management companies, over which Florida seems to have no control.

Pegg, who oversees charter schools for the Palm Beach County school district, said problems with Mavericks in Education have frustrated district officials. State charter-school laws do not address the performance of management companies.

"The statute doesn't give any kind of authority to hold those management companies accountable; we can only hold the schools accountable," Pegg said. "We need to be able to have some authority with (management companies). They are the ones taking the tax dollars."

If the management companies are to blame, then I heartily suggest the state get some kind of control over them.

The lack of regulation and control over public money and resources is appalling and dangerous.

And guess what? There's a rule in Florida that if a charter school applies to open.....the district are not allowed to consider their past history. They have to rely on the present application only.

Florida: Charter Operators with “Troubled” Histories Request Another Chance

The story in the Sun-Sentinel by Karen Yi and Amy Shipley says:

“At least seven groups of applicants with ties to failed or floundering charter schools are seeking second chances and public money to open 18 more.

“Odds are, most will prevail.”

“School districts say that they can’t deny applicants solely because of past problems running charter schools. State laws tell them to evaluate what they see on paper — academic plans, budget proposals, student services — not previous school collapses or controversial professional histories.”

Incidentally this school included Frank Biden when it was founded. The article mentions him only as a lobbyist for the school now.

Special Ed teacher's alarm at amount of testing. How Testing is Destroying My School

This is from Ms Katie's Ramblings by Katie Osgood. She writes of returning to public schools after six years teaching in a hospital setting.

Testing is Destroying My School

She also writes at Twitter

In just the first six weeks of school, I have administered more pointless, random, unnecessarily difficult tests to my students than I can count. We have barely had more than two consecutive days to simply teach where we were not interrupted by some ridiculous mandated assessment. There’s the REACH (for teacher evaluation purposes only), On-Demand Writing Tasks, tests that go to our network, tests for the district, tests because our school in on probation, and placement tests to use the TWO online test prep programs our school is forced to use weekly. These tests are not aligned to the curriculum, they don’t measure what we are actually learning in class, they are not tied to a broader unit of study. These are tests just to feed the data monsters.

..... And it’s not just the tests, it’s also the test prep. We have not one, but two online test prep programs our school is mandated to use weekly. 45 mins per week, per subject, plus an assessment in one program and completion of 2-3 “lessons” in another used directly for math. These expensive programs are basically test prep questions presented in a video game format. Get the “right” answer and earn coins to play games. In some classes, these programs take up as much as 40% of instructional time each week. Even our little kindergartners are forced to get on iPads and practice taking tests. Our Early Childhood teachers know this is wrong. In fact, all our teachers know this is wrong. But the answer to every question we ask is…”because this is what they need to know for PARCC (the Common Core aligned test.)”

.... And what’s worse, I am a special education teacher, so my students are the most fragile of all. And these tests are killing any possibility to motivate my kids. There are only so many times I can repeat the mantra that “These don’t matter, guys!” “Just do your best!” These tests are breaking the trust between me and my students. It feels so unethical to day after day administer tests that are so far beyond their current abilities. It’s like we’re giving these kids tests in Chinese, just to prove they don’t know any Chinese. And they leave feeling just…dumb…because they couldn’t answer any of the questions. I don’t even need the data these tests generate-they are so inappropriately hard, they tell me nothing of use. Besides, I have a whole Individual Education Plan that tells me exactly what my kids need to work on.

But still, every single week, here I am giving yet another absolutely disgusting test. My kids bang their heads on desks, they cry, they whine, they give up and say “I’m done” in front of a blank answer sheet. They fidget, they act out, they get in trouble just to get out of going to yet another class where they feel stupid.

I feel dirty when I come home. I wonder, “Should I start to boycott administering these tests?” But I don’t have tenure. Everyone tells me to lay low, to take the bold moves in three years when I've earned tenure.

I really had teachers on my mind today. I was thinking how thankful I am that I don't have to face what they are facing. Just imagine having to demand of students what they may be mentally incapable of doing, imagine breaking their spirits day in and day out.

Just imagine facing a school system being put in place by both parties which no longer recognizes students as individuals with varied abilities. The Secretary of Education of this United States feels that all students must be ready for college, all students will be able to pass all tests if teachers and parents are tough enough and demanding enough.

The powers that be are now applying the policies of "no excuses ever" and "zero tolerance" to academics.

Paul Begala on the debate: "When the Rick hits the fan". LOL

When the Rick hits the fan

To begin with, Scott has all the telegenic appeal of a garden slug: lean and hairless and slick and creepy. But then again, I've been a friend and business partner of James Carville for 30 years, so who am I to judge?

...I have seen and done a lot of crazy stuff in political debates. In 1992, my compadres and I stole the stools Bill Clinton rehearsed on from a Williamsburg, Virginia, hotel and put them on the stage of the Bush-Perot-Clinton town hall debate in Richmond, so Gov. Clinton would have the home-butt advantage. I made one client so angry before a debate that he rhetorically bludgeoned his opponent until the poor man wept onstage.

...No matter. Crist will become governor again, and Rick Scott will slink back under the rock from whence he emerged. But even there, in the gritty grime of the fetid Florida sand, he will be recognized and remembered as the guy who blew it because of a fan.

When Dr. Thompson removed himself from this Earth he had his ashes shot out of a cannon. A spectacular explosion of fireworks scattered Hunter's earthly remains over Colorado. Rick Scott's political demise was considerably less spectacular; the remains of his career as a politician were blown all across Florida by a one-foot-wide electric fan.

Incidentally for the next debate CNN has made it clear there will be no fan at all. Even the DNC allowed Crist to have his fan onstage...and he wasn't even a Democrat yet.
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