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Profile Information

Gender: Female
Hometown: Florida
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 84,085

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

New York, meet your new state education commissioner. Ties to Rick Scott, Michelle Rhee.

She was recently voted out as the school superintendent of Hillsborough County, Florida, which is the Tampa district.

She's apparently an ed reformer's reformer. But I gather she does listen and try to work with those who disagree.

From the Buffalo News:

Testing, teachers and failing schools will challenge Elia

Elia, however, is no stranger to divided boards or the politics that surround education. Earlier this year she became the subject of national attention when the Hillsborough County school board in Tampa voted 4-3 to terminate her contract.

Some of her supporters – including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan – and her work in Florida will likely draw criticism from those opposed to what is characterized as the school reform movement. She served as a transition advisor to Florida Gov. Rick Scott alongside former Washington, D.C., education Chancellor Michelle Rhee. She also designed and implemented a merit pay system for teachers.

At the same time, she acknowledged flaws with Florida’s implementation of the Common Core, including inadequate training for teachers, and worked to close several for-profit charter schools.

There is some concern about her strong support for charter schools, but she did attempt to close some which were run from out of town.

The debate around charter schools in Florida is very different than in New York, and the Sunshine State is considered very charter-friendly with one of the highest concentrations of such schools in the country. With more than 600 of them, the state has close to 10 percent of the nation’s charters.

Hillsborough County has 47 of them, and for the most part Elia said she supports their effort. But she also said they should be held accountable and to the same standards as traditional schools.

Last year, Elia received public criticism when she wanted to close three for-profit charter schools that served about 2,700 children in her district. In Florida, superintendents and local school boards have the authority to authorize and revoke charters. She argued that the schools were being run by an out-of-town management company, a violation of a district requirement they be locally operated.

Here is more about Elia and ties to Bill Gates and Michelle Rhee. Hillsborough County got over 100 million from Gates to put his policies into play.

From 2010:

Rhee in Tampa boasts about unpopularity. Head of schools there threatens tenured teachers.

Michelle Rhee, the outgoing chancellor of Washington, D.C., public schools, speaks to urban school administrators during a panel on teacher evaluations at the Council of Great City Schools conference in Tampa on Thursday. (SKIP O’ROURKE | TIMES)

Rhee seems proud of her unpopularity.

"Be prepared to be Ms. or Mr. Unpopular," the outgoing chancellor of Washington, D.C., public schools told an audience of urban school administrators here Thursday. "I am really good at this one right now."

Elia tells how many teachers she must fire.

On another panel in the adjoining room, Hillsborough County superintendent MaryEllen Elia was describing a kinder, gentler strategy to reach what is rapidly becoming a national goal: boosting teacher quality and winnowing out those who can't make the grade.

This does not sound kinder and gentler to me.

The district has told the Gates Foundation it might need to fire up to 5 percent or 425 of its 8,500 tenured teachers annually in the first years of the reforms, though officials say they hope intensive support for teachers will reduce that number substantially.

And that kinder, gentler approach? These are the words of the school superintendent to Arne Duncan who was also there.

"They're either going to leave or we're going to say, 'Let us help you leave,' " she said.

General Wes Clark reminded us of PNAC plan to destabilize the Middle East. Video.

We have done a heck of a job, haven't we?

He actually told us about this plan during the 2003/2004 campaign. This video is dated 2007, but he spoke of it much earlier.

He told of a plan to attack 7 countries in 5 years.


Yes, we know this already. But I think as the 2016 campaign gets started, it's time to remember.

There are some words spoken in the past by candidates that are going to be hard to forget, hard for the candidates to back away from.

She seems to really believe we gave Iraqis "the gift of freedom."

I am supporting Bernie Sanders in the primary, but in spite of reservations I will vote for the Democrat rather than this bunch of Republicans in the clown car.

However I won't be able to forget these words about Iraq. From 2008

"In the last five years, our soldiers have done everything we asked of them and more. They were asked to remove Saddam Hussein from power and bring him to justice and they did. They were asked to give the Iraqi people the opportunity for free and fair elections and they did. They were asked to give the Iraqi government the space and time for political reconciliation, and they did. So for every American soldier who has made the ultimate sacrifice for this mission, we should imagine carved in stone: 'They gave their life for the greatest gift one can give to a fellow human being, the gift of freedom.'


In Pittsburgh.

"And I believe that at the same time that we have to make clear to the Iraqis that they have been given the greatest gift that a human being can give another human being – the gift of freedom. And it is up to them to decide how they will use that precious gift that has been paid for with the blood and sacrifice and treasure of the United States of America."

Andrew Gumbel spoke out when Hillary used these words again in Austin, Texas.

In Austin, Texas.

There was nothing accidental about this line. She delivered it in response to two Iraq veterans introduced at a town hall meeting at the Austin Convention Center by her friend and campaign surrogate Ted Danson. She liked the line enough that she delivered it again a couple of hours later, at a campaign-closing rally at a basketball arena in south Austin. "The gift of freedom" is, of course, a curious way to describe an unprovoked invasion and occupation causing hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths and leaving just about every aspect of life chaotic and fraught with daily dangers. To then lay responsibility for the mess on the Iraqis -- we did our bit, now you do yours -- is the worst kind of dishonesty, a complete abdication of moral principles.

Andrew Gumbel at Huffington Post

Thanks to General Clark for speaking up about these plans that quietly and behind the scenes hijacked our foreign policy.

How TLC Went From The Learning Channel To Home Of Honey Boo Boo

Interesting article from the Business Insider in 2012. It actually tells nothing of the ownership changes and presents nothing really substantive. There are some interesting pictures interspersed with the short comments.

The 40-Year Transformation Of How TLC Went From The Learning Channel To Home Of Honey Boo Boo

The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare along with NASA founded what was meant to be an informative and instructional network in 1972. The channel was to be distributed for free via a NASA satellite.

But, the network started branching out its content for a more mainstream audience in the mid-'90s with reality shows including "Medical Detectives" and "Trauma: Life in the ER" ..

Soon after, in 1998, the channel rebranded itself as TLC and the programming began to drastically change.

.....In an attempt to get back to its roots, the network changed its tagline again to "Live and learn." It strayed from home improvement shows with "Little People Big World" in 2006 and tattoo show "L.A. Ink" the following year.

Family centered shows "Jon & Kate Plus 8" and "17 And Counting" (now "19 and Counting) came front and center in 2008.

Today's shows, while they may be informative (who knew you could get $2000 worth of groceries for nearly $100 with enough coupons) consist of shock value.

I found more about the ownership and the family with major holdings.

Discovery Communications

Discovery Communications, Inc. is an American global mass media and entertainment company based in Silver Spring, Maryland. The company started as a single channel in 1985, The Discovery Channel.

Discovery also is a provider of educational products and services to schools, including a series of K-12 digital textbooks, through Discovery Education, and Discovery Digital Networks.

DCI both produces original television programming and acquires content from producers worldwide. This non-fiction programming is offered through DCI's 54 network entertainment brands, including Discovery Channel, American Heroes Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery, Velocity, Discovery Life and a family of digital channels.

Despite being publicly traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange, the Newhouse family exercise the largest stake in the company, 31%, through privately held Advance Publications.

More about Advance Publications.

Advance Publications

Advance Publications, Inc., is an American media company owned by the descendants of S.I. Newhouse Sr., Donald Newhouse and S.I. Newhouse, Jr. It is named after the Staten Island Advance, the first newspaper owned by the Newhouse family, and where the mailing address for Advance Publications is listed on paper (although Advance does not have an official headquarters). As of October 2014, it was ranked as the 44th largest private company in the United States according to Forbes. Crain's ranked Advance Publications the 4th largest private company in the NY area in 2012. In addition to holding publishing and communication assets, Advance serves as the holding company for the family's 31% stake in cable entertainment company Discovery Communications.

More about the Newhouse family.

#11 America's Richest Families (2014)

Brothers Samuel ("Si") (pictured) and Donald Newhouse inherited media group Advance Publications from their father, Sam Newhouse (d.1979), who started with the Bayonne Times newspaper in New Jersey and expanded it into the nation's largest privately-held newspaper chain. Donald oversees the newspaper division and Si runs Conde Nast, publisher of magazines including Vogue, The New Yorker, and Vanity Fair. The brothers also own cable TV and Internet service provider Bright House Networks and a stake in Discovery Communications, the operator of cable and satellite TV networks such as Discovery Channel and TLC.

All of which actually tells me nothing about why in the world a network would want to put on shows that are so outrageous and contribute so much to the dumbing down of this country.

I am not familiar with the Discovery network's foray into educational materials, but I hope they are more substantive than Honey Boo Boo and Little People.

Corporations and legislators vote on bills together behind closed doors at ALEC. Unbelievable.

Thanks to @11AliveNews in Atlanta for this courageous investigative piece. More of this please.

So what if Jinger Duggar wants to move out...Patriarchal movement would squelch that.

From a Patheos blog...

Carefully scripted lives: My concerns about the Duggars

The family has been hugely influenced by Bill Gothard's andthe Christian Patriarchal movement.

In a family influenced by Quiverfull beliefs, children who embrace different beliefs or ways of life from their parents are seen as failures. The idea is to raise ideological clones. The amount of expectations this places on children is immense. I really don’t know what those older Duggar kids want out of life, but I do know that if they want something different from what their parents want for them they are in for a lot of trouble, a lot of emotional manipulation, and a lot of guilt.

7. A patriarchal family order

The main emphasis in the Christian Patriarchy movement, as I pointed out in my introduction to it, is on a hierarchical family order where each member plays his or her role and everyone stays in their place. As an example, click here and here to see what the teachings the Duggars follow regarding the proper role of the husband and of the wife. The gist is, of course, that the husband is to lead and the wife is to submit.

The main way this plays out for the children is threefold. First, the children are required to obey their parents without exception. Second, the children are being raised for their future roles – the boys are to be providers and protectors and the girls are to be homemakers. They’re taught this from day one. Third, daughters are taught that they must obey their father even after they become adults.

Those older Duggar girls have been taught that they are under their father’s authority, and that they must follow his will for them. His commands are absolute, just as their obedience is to be absolute. By obeying their father, they are preparing for the time when they will similarly obey their future husbands. Furthermore, by staying at home rather than leaving the home to attend college or get a job, they are preparing to spend their lives as homemakers, as mandated by their gender.

Jinger Duggar expressed her desire to move to the city, somewhere. Seems Momma Michelle does all the talking for her.

Jinger Duggar had high hopes of getting out of her one horse town

Jinger Duggar had high hopes of getting out of her one horse town, but RadarOnline.com has exclusively learned that she won’t be moving any time soon.

Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar’s daughter had said that she wants to live in a big city — in fact, any city — but her parents claim that the teenager’s intentions were misunderstood, that she doesn’t REALLY want to live in a big city, and if she did, it would definitely NOT be the Big Apple!

“Jinger didn’t mean she wanted to move to New York City,” her mom Michelle explains to RadarOnline.com. “She meant that she wants to live closer to a city. We’re talking right near a city, but not New York City.

“Jinger meant she wanted to live 15 minutes from a Wal-mart. We live so far out of town on 20 acres, but Jinger wants to live closer to town, so she doesn’t have to drive so far to go shopping.”

Her older brother Josh, his wife Anna and their children are moving to Washington, DC for his new job, and Michelle suggests maybe Jinger could spend the summer with them in that city.

“Jinger would love to spend time with her brother and all their children in Washington,” she says — explaining that that’s about as far as she is allowed to go!

“New York City is way above what we would ever consider a city where she should move!” The devoutly Christian mom of nineteen vows.

See? The parents have all the answers for this.

There is by the way a Twitter page called Free Jinger

Outstanding interview, Bernie Sanders. Video from CNN Reliable Sources.

Babylonsister has posted the transcript.

Outstanding interview.

Sex abuse scandals rock far-right fundamentalism. The Duggars, Bill Gothard, Doug Phillips.

From Slate today:

Duggar Revelations Are Just the Latest Sex Abuse Scandal to Rock Far-Right Fundamentalism

The family's fame guarantees this story will stay in the public memory for a while, but it's far from the first sex abuse scandal in the tight-knit world of far-right fundamentalism. As I wrote last year for Slate, Doug Phillips of the far-right group Vision Forum was forced to step down after admitting to "a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman." The woman in question, Lourdes Torres-Manteufel, claims it was more than "inappropriate," noting that they met when she was 15 and that he "methodically groomed" by moving her into the house as a nanny and becoming "the pastor of her church, her boss, her landlord, and the controller of all aspects of her life" before pushing for sex. The Duggars were tight with Phillips and Vision Forum, which promoted a lot of Duggar-related material.

Remember Bill Gothard?

Another hardcore fundamentalist leader who had a mentorship relationship with the Duggars, Bill Gothard, was also caught up in a sex abuse scandal last year. Gothard was the leader of Institute in Basic Life Principles, an organization that promotes the "quiverfull" philosophy—particularly its emphasis on forsaking contraception and having as many children as possible. Gothard resigned after more than 30 women accused him of sexual harassment and abuse. Prior to this, Wire reports, the Duggars were "devotees of Gothard's Advanced Training Institute seminars. Until recently, the Duggars' official website called Gothard's Embassy Institute (which he also founded) their '#1 recommended resource' for families (that page now displays as blank)."

Vision Forum, the Institute in Basic Life Principles, and the Duggar family are arguably the three most influential groups promoting the "Christian patriarchy" movement, which promotes homeschooling, wifely submission, extreme pre-martial chastity (no hand-hugging or kissing), no contraception, and the idea that women's only real role in life is as wives and mothers. Having all your major leadership eaten up by sex abuse scandals is no small thing. Even before the Duggar revelations, the head of Patrick Henry College, itself an extreme religious-right organization, was distancing himself from the Christian patriarchy movement. When even big-time fundamentalists are jumping ship, maybe it's time for TLC to consider cutting the Duggars loose.

Updated to add: TLC has pulled 19 Kids and Counting.

More about the Gothard influence. From 2012

Carefully scripted lives: My concerns about the Duggars

4. Bill Gothard and IBLP

The Duggars are big fans of Bill Gothard and are enrolled in his Institutes for Basic Life Principles. Outside of the circle of his followers, Bill Gothard is frequently regarded as a cult leader. He teaches, for instance, that troll dolls delay labor, that cabbage patch dolls are possessed by demons, and that Christians today must follow Old Testament sexual purity codes, including abstaining from sex the evening before weekly worship. Oh, and he teaches that tampons take girls’ virginity.

Until 2002 Gothard ran a group home for delinquent children in Indianapolis, Indiana. Children were sent there by the juvenile justice system for years until the place was closed down under allegations of abuse, including Gothard’s notorious “prayer closets.” There has been a growing movement among young people raised on Gothard’s teachings to expose the abuse, physical, emotional, and spiritual, they suffered at the hand of Gothard and his multiple ministries, including orphanages in places like Russia.

What bothers me most about the Duggars’ involvement with Gothard and IBLP is their use of his “re-education” camps (my term). When Josh Duggar was showing some signs of being “rebellious” years ago, they sent him to Gothard’s military boot camp for young men, the ALERT Academy. He returned much subdued. They’ve done the same with some of the girls, sending them to Gothard’s Journey to the Heart programs, where they are reminded of how wicked and sinful they are and told again and again that following God means obeying their earthly parents.

It bothered me to read at that link that the Duggars use "blanket training."

The Duggars have stated that they use blanket training. What they do is place a baby on a blanket and tell the baby not to get off. If the baby crawls off, he or she is spanked on the leg, told “no,” and placed back on the blanket. If you do this for long enough, the baby will learn to stay on the blanket, and then you can safely leave the baby there while you cook lunch or school the older ones. This all seems counter to the nature of a naturally curious baby.

Authoritarian discipline shuts off questions and leaves little room for children to explore. The emphasis on obedience overrides anything else, and as I’ve written before, this can be highly problematic.

More details about the "mistakes" made by Josh Duggar. From Sarah Posner, Religion Dispatches.

Josh Duggar and the Purity Lie

Such hypocrites they are.

According to the police report, Jim Bob and Michelle, paragons of parenting, hid Josh’s crimes from the police and the public. In Touch reports, based on the police report it obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, that:

"Josh Duggar was investigated for multiple sex offenses — including forcible fondling — against five minors. Some of the alleged offenses investigated were felonies. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar were interview by the Springdale Police department on Dec. 12, 2006. The report says that James told police he was alerted in March, 2002 by a female minor that Josh — who turned 14-years-old that month — had been touching her breasts and genitals while she slept. This allegedly happened on multiple occasions. In 2006, Jim Bob told police that in July, 2002 Josh admitted to fondling a minor’s breasts while she slept. “James said that they disciplined (redacted, Josh) after this incident.” The family did not alert authorities."

And more:

In their own statement to People, Jim Bob and Michelle say that “when Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes, and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong,” that “each one of our family members drew closer to God,” and that they “pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family.”

But the Duggars and their supporters have very deliberately marketed them as a perfect family—or if not perfect, at least pure, and in particular, sexually pure.

The first episode of their “reality” television show aired in 2008, two years after the police interviewed family members about the sexual assaults that had taken place in 2002 and 2003; the statute of limitations had already run and the police could not pursue charges.

Now we know the reality is a very ugly thing.

The Duggars are no ordinary spokespeople for the religious right; they are super-spokespeople. For years, they have been held up as exemplars of biblical living, of devotion to Christ, and of, especially, homespun honest living and sexual purity. It’s long been obvious to many that this is a product of marketing and packaging, not reality. But now no one can pretend anymore.

The purity lie:

Jim Hightower tells us how he really feels about Obama's pushing the TPP.

The Hightower Report: Obama's Bizarre Sales Pitch for TPP

For some bizarre reason, Obama is staking his presidential legacy on a trade scam called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It's a corporate wet dream that would let profiteering giants in Japan, Vietnam, Brunei, and eight other Pacific nations sue to overturn our national, state, and even local laws that they claim might pinch their profits. These challenges would not be filed in our courts of law, but in private, corporate-run tribunals set up by the U.N. and the World Bank.

Unsurprisingly, the great majority of House and Senate Democrats are saying "hell, no" to such a power grab. So the president, who is famously disinclined to do the sweaty work of rounding up votes for progressive legislation, invited 30 wary-but-wavering Democratic lawmakers to the White House to make a two-hour personal plea for support of this honker. Vote with me on this highly unpopular giveaway of the people's sovereignty, he told them, and I will personally come campaign for you if your vote prompts a real Democrat to oppose you in the 2016 primary election.

Wow – that's a double dose of political hemlock! First, he asks them to vote against the people by increasing corporate power. Then, the very president who led this highly unpopular effort will come tell your constituents what a fine public servant you are for voting to impose foreign corporate power over them. Good grief – why not just have the corporate chieftains themselves come thank you for selling out to them?

Utter stupidity of scripts testgivers are forced to use. Word for word, no deviation.

I so much appreciate this post by Peter Greene at his blog Curmudgucation. We teachers used to gag on the words we were forced to use when giving a test.

Welcome Aboard Big Test Airlines

BS Test instructions are a unique piece of tone-setting, the classroom equivalent of pre-flight safety instructions on any airline that is not Southwest. These instructions accomplish many goals, none of which are desirable in a classroom.

... I say turn to page two and read the paragraph (the one threatening you with vague, ominous punishment if you dare to violate test security), and you of course do not. Certainly not the fourth time you've been told to read it in two days. Again, we are establishing a tone, delivering a message.

In six modules of testing, you will be told to sign a Code of Test Taker Ethics Pledge (don't cheat or violate security) three times. You will be told to read the section about test security six times. Test security gets a paragraph, all on its own page. Encouragement ("do your best") gets eighteen words over six modules. How many times will we tell you something encouraging, affirming, reminding you of your value as a student and a human being. None times. The allocation of space in the script makes it clear what is most important here, and it's not the students.

I will read the directions out loud as you read them silently just about as much as air travelers read the card in the seat-back pocket. I will ask you repeatedly if you have any questions, but of course by the time we get to those, it's clear that none of us is supposed to say or do anything that's not in the script.

I am supposed to tell you one bald-faced lie-- when looking at the scoring guides, the script makes reference to "professional scorers." That is a lie. There are no such people.

He's right.

The direction script is just one more indicator that there are many priorities in play here, and finding out what our students really know is far from the top of the list.

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