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Member since: Sun Jul 11, 2004, 07:58 PM
Number of posts: 35,990

Journal Archives

RAVITCH: Public School Principal Decides to Homeschool His Youngest Child

My wife is a public school teacher and I teach at public community colleges, and we are facing a similar dilemma: we know that the corporate reform agenda has creating new and worse problems rather than solving any that actually existed before they took over, so we are trying to figure out what kind of private school we can afford for our child and how we can afford to have more than one if public schools continue to put the avarice of the wealthy ahead of the education of our children.

It's ironic: the people who can afford to send their kids to private schools are fucking up public schools so badly that parents who can't afford private school have to figure out how to pay for it anyway.

Why don't Gates, the Waltons, Eli Broad and the like set up a chain of private schools to try out their pet ideas, or better yet, "reform" the elite prep schools they send their children to and see how many of their wealthy friends keep sending their kids there? And leave our public schools alone.

That they don't tells you they don't know or particularly care if their reforms work--they just see a half trillion dollar pool of money spent on public education each year and want to divert as much of it as possible into their own pockets.

Some people here don't like litmus tests for candidates, but any democrat who treats public education like a luau pig for the wealthy should not get our money or campaigning efforts, and should be primaried by anyone who will try to stop this.

Tim Farley has had it. He knows what the state and federal government is mandating is wrong. He knows it hurts children. He will do his best to protect the children from these harmful and spirit-deadening demands. But he will home-school his youngest child. He explains why here:

Tim Farley writes:

My wife and I have finally hit the breaking point. We can no longer sit by and watch the educational system that has been co opted by Bill Gates and his corporate cronies in the name of "education reform", harm our youngest child. Jessica and I are the parents of four wonderful children (7th, 5th, 3rd grade, and kindergarten). Although we would like to homeschool all of our children, due to several factors, we will only be homeschooling our youngest, John Paul.

John Paul is a bright and energetic boy. He was born with a heart defect, and at two years old had open heart surgery. As traumatic as that experience was for my wife and me, it didn't seem to have any long lasting impact on him. He is a little spitfire. At least he was. He no longer likes going to school. In fact he hates going to school. It is not his teacher, as one of our older children had the same teacher and had a fantastic experience. It is the developmentally inappropriate standards and the "rigorous" demands placed on 5 year old children that has changed. Kindergarten is supposed to be a time of exploratory learning and developing social skills. Unfortunately, it has become an assembly line environment of "drill and kill". The inane assignments that lack any sort of creativity have crushed his love of school.

Recently I stumbled upon this video which illustrates what many thousands of children and parents are experiencing on a daily basis due to the Common Core. My child could easily be one of those in the video.

At first, I felt that by choosing to homeschool, we were giving in to the "reformers". It was our hope that the state legislators would have taken real steps to slow down the rushed implementation that has been widely described as an "unmitigated disaster", a "train wreck", and as "institutionalized educational abuse". The legislators have failed. The Commissioner has failed. The Board of Regents has failed. The Governor has failed. We will not allow our children to be "collateral damage" while the politicians figure out how to fix the mess that they created.

My son will be provided individualized instruction by a loving mom and a former educator. He won't be reduced to a number. We are truly blessed that this is even an option for us, as many parents lack the resources to make this choice. We only get one chance to get this right. There are no do-overs.

I will keep you posted as we embark on this new journey.

Tim Farley
(Elementary and Middle School Principal of a school in the Hudson Valley)


Judge: Probation for du Pont heir in 3 year old daughter's rape

You would think that there would be some crimes so heinous the wealthy couldn't buy their way out of prison time, but this proves that wrong.

Since this judge doesn't think this guy belongs in prison, maybe she should take his place. Seriously, she should be investigated and removed from the bench.

A Superior Court judge who sentenced an heir to the du Pont fortune to probation for raping his 3-year-old daughter wrote in her order that he “will not fare well” in prison and suggested that he needed treatment instead of time behind bars, according to Delaware Online.

Court records show that in Judge Jan Jurden’s sentencing order for Robert H. Richards IV she considered unique circumstances when deciding his punishment for fourth-degree rape. Her observation that prison life would adversely affect Richards confused several criminal justice authorities in Delaware, who said that her view that treatment was a better idea than prison is typically used when sentencing drug addicts, not child rapists.


Defender Brendan J. O’Neill, whose office represents defendants who normally cannot afford a lawyer. “Prison is to punish, to segregate the offender from society, and the notion that prison serves people well hasn’t proven to be true in most circumstances.”

O’Neill explained that he has previously argued that case if a defendant was too ill or frail for prison, but he had never seen a judge cite it as a “reason not to send someone to jail.”


RAVITCH: NY Legislature: Billionaire-funded Charter Schools WON'T PAY RENT for Public Space

Did you ever notice that legislature never seem to talk about a budget crisis when it comes to the pet projects of the wealthy like turning public schools over to for-profit charter companies?

Too many Democrats support this profoundly corrupt, corporate-driven K-12 education "reform" business, and they should be primaried out of office.

At the very least, support for these policies should kill the chance of pols like Cuomo reaching higher office. When you sleep with dogs, you've got too fucking many fleas to be in the White House.

The following just in as the New York State Legislature responds to the pressure of a $5 million advertising campaign demanding free space for privately-managed charters. Also, the billionaires behind this ad campaign have given handsome sums to Governor Cuomo and other key politicians. Cuomo has received at least $800,000 from the charter advocates. Under the legislation below, the charters are given the right to expand as much as they want, without paying rent, pushing out the public school that once was sited in the building. The charters can afford to pay their "CEO" half a million dollars, but they can't pay the rent. They can pay millions for attack ads on television, but they can't pay the rent. They can hire the politically-hot public relations firm SDK Knickerbocker more than $500,000 a year, but they can't pay the rent. Their biggest boosters are billionaires, like Paul Tudor Jones, whose Robin Hood Foundation raises $80 million in a single night, but the charters can't pay the rent. The charters are proving to be public parasites in New York City, invading the host and doing harm to the 94% of children who are not in charters.


One more point: When the Common Core tests were given a year ago, students in charter schools got the same average scores as students in public schools, even though the charters have few if any students with severe disabilities (and the public schools in poor neighborhoods have nearly 15%), and the charters typically have half as many English language learners. There were a few high-flying charter schools, but even more high-flying public schools. On average, there was no difference between the public schools and the charter schools.

Looks like the City is forced to offer either space or rent to new or expanding charter schools.


U.S. Keeps Saudi Arabia’s Worst Secret (actually distant second worst)

Their worst secret is their government's involvement in 9/11, which was outlined in the 28 pages of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 that the Bush administration classified.

Here's some of what might be in there:


On the other hand, this article is a good reminder of how the Saudis prime their people fight abroad as the did in Afghanistan in the 80's with bin Laden and in Iraq in the last decade.

There was some good reporting on this right after 9/11 even by the networks, but once they got their talking points on Iraq, it was forgotten.

Maybe this article represents a shift in Washington to open that door a crack since we don't need Saudi oil quite that much.

As President Obama prepares for his first visit of his second term to Saudi Arabia, pressure is mounting on the State Department to publish the most comprehensive U.S. government study of the Kingdom’s textbooks.

While the study has been finished since the end of 2012, it has nonetheless been kept from the public, according to a new report by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a center-right think tank in Washington.

The report, shared with The Daily Beast ahead of publication Tuesday, says, “The State Department is in possession of a uniquely exhaustive set of recent findings about incitement in Saudi Arabia's education system, findings that it has declined to release for public consumption.”


Often these textbooks promote the kind of religious chauvinism embraced by Sunni terror groups like al Qaeda. A June 12, 2006 cable from the U.S. embassy in Riyadh disclosed by WikiLeaks highlights this kind of bigotry. It says an eighth grade textbook for example says, “God will punish any Muslim who does not literally obey God just as God punished some Jews by turning them into pigs and monkeys.”


Radical UN Report Promotes Democratic Control of Food and an End to Corporate Domination

A crucial read and worth spreading around.

Do we really want food subject to monopolies and cartels that can manipulate prices to create artificial scarcity or kill competition by dumping their product so cheaply local farmers can't make a profit?

We don't need a Agriculture Commissar dictating five year plans for grain--but we do need some genuine trustbusters and watchdogs that keep them from rising up again.

This also argues for laws against economic terrorism, which does far more damage than any guys with a political or religious agenda could ever dream of doing.

A new report submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council on the “Right to Food” took aim at the entire basis on which food is produced and distributed on a global scale. Reflecting the type of progressive analysis of our food system from experts like Vandana Shiva and Michael Pollan, report author Olivier De Schutter called for an undermining of large agribusinesses and an infusion of democratic control.

Although the report’s recommendations are revolutionary, news of its release went largely unreported in the major U.S. media.

De Schutter, the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, spent six years visiting more than a dozen countries and concluded that the world’s entire food system should be rebuilt, starting with the promotion of local, sustainable farming so that ordinary people have control over what they can grow and eat. This certainly does not sound radical to those of us in U.S. cities where there has been a rapid expansion of farmers markets and an explosion in backyard farming. But in poor American communities and in poor countries as a whole, it is a radical notion for food to be grown locally, sustainably and democratically.

The world’s food system is controlled by a handful of giant corporations, the majority of which are based in the U.S., such as ConAgra, Cargill and PepsiCo. These companies are a bottleneck through which most of the world’s food is forced, in order to feed most of the world’s people. Not only is this method environmentally unsustainable given its overreliance on chemical fertilizers, pesticides and fossil fuels, but it is also inefficient at actually feeding people. The World Food Programme estimates that there are 842 million hungry people worldwide.


The differences Between Two Ferns interview and O'Reilly interviews with Obama?

A) Zack Galafinakis was more respectful than O'Reilly

B) Obama was more honest and forceful

Oh, I forgot the similarity:

A) The questions were exactly the same.

hedge fund manager wants to short Herbalife, gets FTC to probe whether they're a pyramid scheme

I hate pyramid schemes, and for all I know, Herbalife could well be one.

But when I heard a version of this story on NPR and that the hedge fund manager pushing the FTC investigation bet over $1 billion on Herbalife stock going down to zero, it seemed like another indication of the cancer in our financial sector and our government, because:

A) this asshole is trying to make a buck by breaking a business not making one

B) regulatory agencies and even Congress seem to only act when such an asshole wants them to.

Can someone explain to me why shorting like this is legal?

Herbalife hit by US ‘pyramid scheme’ probe
By Dan McCrum
The US Federal Trade Commission has opened a formal investigation into Herbalife, the multi-level marketing company that hedge fund manager Bill Ackman has called a pyramid scheme.

Close government scrutiny of the Los Angeles-based group is the latest turn in a vicious public battle where rival billionaires have bet fortunes on the question of Herbalife’s legitimacy since Mr Ackman’s hedge fund, Pershing Square, unveiled a campaign to put the company out of business in December 2012.


Democratic primary: Hillary vs Bernie Sanders, who would you vote for?

obviously, we don't know if that will be the case.

selfish reasons to worry about what happens to Russia

It seems that since the end of the Cold War, the financial elite have become more brazen in screwing the middle and working class (and even a lot of the rich) and buying politicians more openly to help them do so.

They may have been more circumspect in the past because for all its flaws, communism would look more attractive to Europeans and Americans if we were still treated the way we were in the robber baron era, and while the Soviet Union was a going concern, it would look like a realistic rather than hypothetical option.

So we got the original "Third Way" between capitalism and socialism, smoothing the corners and rough edges off capitalism enough that people didn't think too much about alternatives.

Once the Soviet Union was gone, the financial elite seem to believe Francis Fukuyama's pronouncement that it was the end of history and they had won. Without an alternative for people to look to, the Third Way became three-quarters of the way to fascism and back to the era of Charles Dickens--smoothing the edges off capitalism was too expensive when the rich could just keep the tax money that costs in their pocket, and then privatize any surviving government services, so the tax dollars that are collected end up back in their hands.

If that is how they treat us now, regardless of whether you think Putin is a nice guy, do you think the financial elite are going to treat us any better once they don't even have Russia as a major REGIONAL obstacle?

If they replace every government that doesn't do business on terms the IMF, World Bank, Wall St, oil companies and the like dictate, is that going to make life any better for the rest of us?

When the sun never set on the British Empire, far from helping the folks back in England, those were the darkest days of the Industrial Revolution, when men, women, and children worked 16 hours a day, seven days a week.

Have our lives gotten any better since we've gone from one of two superpowers to the SOLE superpower in the world?

If not why should we expect to get any better if the continue to isolate Russia and take away their oil and gas business until they become a super-sized Somalia?

Obama takes back promise on student loan forgiveness for public service

Obama has proposed a cap of $57K on the amount of student loans that can be forgiven after ten years of payments for public employees.

The administration claims they're worried about schools and grad students "gaming" the system by piling on debt they know will be forgiven after ten years of payments.

Since I teach at public community colleges and didn't have health insurance or make enough to make regular payments on my student loans (that were more than my rent) for the first ten years I taught, so my original debt doubled through interest, from $50K to over $100K. I have probably paid more in interest than my original debt.

If that's gaming the system, student loan borrowers are the stupidest con men in history.

Please take a minute to sign this petition,
telling him he got it right the first time.

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