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madfloridian

Profile Information

Gender: Female
Hometown: Florida
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 83,064

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

The Hill: "Warren Wing hits back". The old "liberals need to tone it down" meme. Deja Vu.

This is so reminiscent of the attacks on those of us who were Dean supporters in 2003. Deja vu.

I went the route then of being called fringe anti-war activists, noisy liberals, and more.

Not going peacefully down that road again. I am not going to be used and put aside that way again.

Warren wing hits back

TOMORROW STARTS TONIGHT: WARREN-WING V. PRAGMATIC PROGRESSIVES. You already know because this morning your hometown newspaper reported that moderate Democrats are pushing back against Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-Mass.) populist political rhetoric, fearing it'll be disastrous in the 2016 cycle. Even Howard Dean, founder of the liberal Democracy For America, told me that Warren is "right on policy, but the rhetoric needs to be toned down... The rhetoric about wealth creation needs to be scaled back because Americans like wealth creation... Our program cannot be soak the rich. That's a mistake and alienates middle class people."
It's Dean -- who is backing Hillary Clinton for president while DFA tries to draft Warren into the race -- whose comments particularly fired-up Warren-wingers:

-- Robert Borosage, co-director of the progressive Campaign For America's Future: "They're trying to re-write what happened in the last election... That's hilarious and pathetic... The notion that there's a tension between talking about how the rules are rigged and economic growth and that you have to choose between them is wrong both intellectually and politically... Howard Dean is wrong on the facts... People feel like the rich are getting away with murder and the rich aren't paying their fair share. That's the first thing people want to hear from politicians."

Meanwhile...

-- BILLIONAIRE INVESTOR WARREN BUFFETT on CNBC's "Squawk Box" this morning: "She would do better if she was less angry and demonized less... I believe in hate the sin but love the sinner. I also believe in praising by name and criticizing by category and I'm not sure that I've totally convinced Elizabeth Warren that's the way to go... It's a mistake to get angry with people that disagree with you. In the end, we do have to work together." My recap on Buffett: http://bit.ly/1wM5kVV

THIS IS OVERNIGHT FINANCE, and you can expect the centrists versus Warren fight to intensify as President Obama pushes Democrats to help him secure new trade deals.


Sure the media is picking on these disagreements. I can not blame them. If our party wants to stop this sensationalist media approach, then let them embrace their left, their liberals, their anti-war.

Of course the media does this. It works. Dean and Buffett are playing right into their hands.

Not going to be called silly names again by anyone in our party.

The saddest part is that there is ample proof that the marginalization of liberals was done deliberately and coldly in a planned way.

In their own words. An "intellectual buyout" of the Democratic Party.

Rob Shapiro, the DLC VP at the time, and a Clinton advisor, spoke clearly about their purpose.

What we've done in the Democratic Party," explains institute Vice President Rob Shapiro, a Clinton economic adviser, "is an intellectual leveraged buyout." The DLC, presumably, is acting as arbitrageur, selling off unprofitable mind-sets to produce a lean and efficient philosophy for the "New Democrat," as DLCers call their slick bimonthly magazine.


Can't blame the media for exploiting that.



How to opt-out of FL tests..VERY carefully. How some plan to do so.

These are some tips from the Orlando Opt Out group, which is now up to 2000 members and growing.

It has to be carefully done as the state education leader says it's not possible. She warns of consequences if students try to opt out.

But opting out might still come with some consequences. A parent forwarded us a letter sent home from school about an upcoming field trip:
A letter sent home warning parents their student may not be able to attend a field trip if they miss the FCAT.



From the Orlando Sentinel this week.

Some students will opt out as new Florida tests debut

When Jenn Ashby's three children take Florida's new standardized tests next week, they plan to break the seal on a test booklet or log into a computer-based exam and then refuse, politely, to answer any questions.

The two youngest, ages 9 and 10, likely will carry notes they can share with a teacher. "I'm opting out," the notes will read. "Do not push me to take the test. Here's my mother's number."

The east Orange County family is part of a growing "opt-out" movement in Florida, fueled by parents upset by the high stakes attached to the state's standardized tests.

But leaders of the Orlando Opt Out group, which has grown to 2,000 members from 300 a year ago, said students who do what Ashby's children plan — starting tests but not answering any questions — are participating in the state testing system. They are just not providing enough information to earn a score.


These new tests are of particular concern as they were field-tested in Utah, a state that could not be more different than Florida. Utah has taken the test, did not like it, and is planning to do away with it.

Testing critics dislike that the FSA, like the FCAT before it, will be used to help make student-promotion and graduation decisions, evaluate teachers and grade schools A to F. They're also upset that Florida this year leased exam questions from Utah, noting that the failure rate there was high, with only 42 percent of Utah students scoring proficient in language arts.


I believe Florida paid Utah 5 million to use the test.

Found the info, FL paid Utah 5.4 million. Only 42% of students in Utah were able to pass it.

About Those Tests Florida Kids Take Next Week: Utah Republicans Want to Suspend and Replace Them

The exam has been controversial because fewer than half of Utah students cleared the test’s new standard of proficiency in last year’s assessment. SAGE is aligned with the Common Core Standards, which raised the bar for the state’s student performance.

According to this February update from Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, Florida’s commitment is more than most people realize:

In information found on the Utah legislative website, it turns out that Florida will not just be renting questions for the American Institute for Research (AIR) Common Core test from that state for one year for $5.4 million, but that it will be for three years. This will be at a cost of $16.2 million dollars on top of the $220 million over six years that Florida will spend on that test with AIR.

....With Floridians only two springs removed from an epic FCAT meltdown, kids are about to take another test which is being rejected by the state they bought the dang things from. Guys like Crisafulli can never admit that teachers were right and that the problem might just be that such tests – no matter who creates them – were never intended to be used like this.


NC says ok to K12 online charter school in spite of its terrible problems in other states.

Whenever I write about education reform problems now I realize it's a losing battle. The large Democratic forums like DU and Daily Kos could have potentially been so influential in fighting the wave of destruction heading toward public schools.

However I think it is still important to point out such ridiculous situations as this...a state voting to accept a charter school with such a dismal record.

From Buzzfeed:

Thanks to a mysterious legislative mandate tacked onto the state budget, North Carolina will now be home to two new experiments in online schooling.

The Board of Education approved today the opening of North Carolina Virtual Academy, an online charter school that will be managed and operated by K12 Inc. After years of resistance from the state school board, the approval was essentially mandated by a last-minute legislative rider slipped into the state’s budget. Another virtual charter school, which will be operated by a subsidiary of education giant Pearson, was also approved.

....K12, currently valued at around $615 million, saw its stock rose almost 3% on Thursday, the day the company won the right to operate the North Carolina school. To increase revenue and satisfy shareholders, Ellinwood said, the company needs to replace its lost contracts with new ones, opening new schools in as many states as it can.


Yes, it is all about profit to them.

This is a pathetic description of the School Board vote. Courage lacking.

When it came time to approve the K12-backed application and send it to the state board for final approval this past December, the school board’s special committee appeared to be hesitant, according to transcripts of the meeting. They had grilled a K12 representative — who spoke more frequently than the nonprofit’s president — about the company’s reputation and proposals, receiving answers that at times skirted the reality of K12’s troubles in other states with technicalities.

“I don’t want to be next,” one committee member, Helen Nance, said when she was called on.

“I didn’t want to be first,” another replied.

“I didn’t want to go at all,” said a third.

“I know,” Nance said. “It’s hard.”


Not hard, just say no.


There's more.

K12 was trying to open in Maine while under investigation in Florida.

K12 online charter school trying to open in Maine, being investigated in Florida.

A company seeking to operate a full-time virtual charter school in Maine is under investigation in Florida because of allegations it used uncertified teachers and tried to get employees to assist in concealing that fact from school district officials.

....Internal K12 Inc. emails obtained last winter by Seminole County Public Schools and forwarded to investigators suggest the company was using uncertified teachers in violation of Florida law, even after being warned by officials not to do so. K12 operates the Seminole Virtual Instruction Program for the district. Seminole County school officials confirmed the emails' content.


Many of their schools are failing and have gotten unlawful access to public funds.

K12 Inc online charter school being investigated for potential securities fraud

On December 12, 2011, after several months of research, the New York Times published an article entitled “Profits and Questions at Online Charter Schools.” The article raised serious concerns about K12’s business practices, alleging that Company schools inflate their student rosters, are underperforming academically, have detrimental student-to-teacher ratios and gain wrongful access to public funds. On this devastating news, K12 shares collapsed almost 24%, closing at $22 per share on December 13.

....By almost every educational measure, the Agora Cyber Charter School is failing. Nearly 60 percent of its students are behind grade level in math. Nearly 50 percent trail in reading. A third do not graduate on time. And hundreds of children, from kindergartners to seniors, withdraw within months after they enroll.

By Wall Street standards, though, Agora is a remarkable success that has helped enrich K12 Inc., the publicly traded company that manages the school. And the entire enterprise is paid for by taxpayers.


This teacher spoke out truthfully and eloquently about the very serious problems there.

Online charter school, K12, got 730.8 million from taxpayers in 2013. Teacher speaks out.

I was an English teacher, so my students would write. They wrote of pain and fear and of not fitting in. They were the kinds of young people who desperately needed to have the protective circle of a community watching over them. They needed one healthy person to smile at them and recognize them by name every day, to say "I'm glad you're here!" Many of my former students do not have that.

The last thing these young people needed, I came to realize during my time with K12 Inc., was to be isolated in front of a computer screen. A week or two or three would often go by without my getting a word from a student. They didn't answer their email, they didn't answer their phones. Often their phones were disconnected. Their families were disconnected. My students also moved a lot. During my first year at the school I spent days on the phone trying to track students down. This year I struggled to not simply give up under the weight of it all.

She said as she wrote this in early December "nearly 80 percent of our students were failing their classes."

That's a huge percentage.

She further said that 303 students were enrolled in special education, and "259 of them were failing while 17 had no grade at all."

She pointed out that that 92% of the ninth graders were failing.
I wonder how much public taxpayer money this K12 virtual school will get in 2014.


The school has been investigated for fraudulent practices like miscounting students.

Online Educator K12 Being Investigated By Florida Department of Education

The Florida Department of Education has launched an investigation of K12, the nation's largest online educator, over allegations the company uses uncertified teachers and has asked employees to help cover up the practice.

K12 officials asked state-certified teachers to sign class rosters that included students they hadn't taught, according to documents that are part of the investigation.

In one case, a K12 manager instructed a certified teacher to sign a class roster of more than 100 students. She only recognized seven names on that list.

"I cannot sign off on students who are not my actual students," K12 teacher Amy Capelle wrote to her supervisor
.


It's really a shame that North Carolina students will be given a choice like this.


Update about elderly man tasered by FHP. He was Baker-Acted for signs of mental illness.

This is a more thorough update on the event from WPLG TV Miami Ft. Lauderdale. There is a news video at the link. The reporter says they are not revealing the man's name, but that he was Baker-Acted. Now at least he will most likely get a medical exam to check for harm from the tasering and the fall on the concrete.

I think I would act a little strange if that happened to me.

Man holding hands up shot with Taser by trooper

No real transcript yet.

Here's the original video in which an obviously off balanced man with his hands up was tasered by the FHP.



I don't have much hope that the internal investigation going on will find much wrong.

FL Highway Patrol investigating tasering of elderly man with hands up.

This man was clearly off balance when he got out of the car with his hands in the air. He hit the concrete hard when they tasered him. I am glad the FHP is investigating. I would like to know the condition of this man after being tasered with his hands up and falling to the concrete.

From the Miami Herald:

FHP investigating video showing troopers stun-gunning elderly man on 18-Mile Stretch

The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating an incident captured on video and posted online that shows troopers use a stun gun an elderly man with his arms raised on the 18-Mile Stretch.

FHP spokeswoman Capt. Nancy Rasmussen said in a statement: "This incident is currently under investigation.”

She said “once the investigation is closed,” FHP will release more details.

The incident happened around 4:45 p.m. Feb. 14 at mile marker 112.5 of U.S. 1, said FHP spokeswoman Lt. Kathleen McKinney. That's right around the Miami-Dade/Monroe County line.


Liberals have been right on so many things. We have not deserved to be marginalized.

I know what one response will be. Something along the line of "what's right is relative."

No, not always.

We spoke up before the Iraq invasion. We said it was based on lies. We often made the point that invading a country that had not harmed us, hanging it's leader, killing his sons and parading their bodies on TV was a dangerous thing to do. We said it would destabilize the middle east.

Guess what?

We pointed out that cutting taxes during an invasion/war would be harmful to our country.

We have said it is wrong to balance our budget on the backs of seniors, the needy, the disabled. We forgot to beg them to take care of our returning veterans...we just assumed they would. Cuts have been made, more are coming. Democrats mostly went along with the right wing thinking they would win elections that way.

They didn't.

It is wrong to use the rights of women as a political football. We have yelled and screamed about their trying to restrict access to birth control and abortion. Too many Democrats allowed the right to use that issue, and some even went along with the draconian restrictions.

I won't include the free and equal public school issue. Even I realize that the damage is done. I just never believed that our party would join the GOP in making public school teachers the enemy.

In 1998 the head of one of the centrist think tanks said:

I've got bad news for the President's opponents in both parties: New Democrats are winning the battle for their party's soul. New Democrats, not liberals, will be the party's dominant force in the 21st century.


I say to remember 2010 and 2014. Didn't look so dominant.

Another centrist Democrat, Evan Bayh, said in 2003:

“The Democratic Party is at risk of being taken over by the far left,” he told DLC members in 2003. “We have an important choice to make: Do we want to vent, or do we want to govern?”


Well, Evan Bayh, you can't govern if you don't win. We have vented, no one listened because liberals are the lesser.

These same folks began to use the word "elitist" to refer to the left. My long ago comments on that:

A concerted effort to put down those in the party who are educated, informed, and financially okay....is showing me that something is wrong our party's health.

Observe one thing...the ones using this derogatory term are themselves the wealthiest, the most powerful financially.

The "elite" are calling the ones who want to start bringing the people back into the party's decisions and structure....elitist.


When I go to the Google News page I can see the drums beating for a Middle East war. I don't watch TV news stations because the drums beat louder there. Seems the media is leading us into a new war, shock and awe all over again.

This time I hear some Democratic voices talking back about it. I believe they are doing it because in spite of the scorn they have had for liberals, they are hearing our voices a little louder now.

Robert Reich said it well in 2001. "We Are All Third Wayers Now" 4 common ideas at the core.

I wonder if he is surprised how hard these Third Way politics have been pushed in this country.

He said in 2001:
And in the two years since I left the administration I've also spoken with left-of-center political leaders around Europe and elsewhere, seeking to understand where they're heading. My verdict: There is a Third Way. But it's going to be extremely difficult to implement. Third Way politics are perilous.


We are all Third Wayers now.

Read the four common ideas of Third Way here and in Europe. I would say they have come a long way and done a lot of harm to ordinary people.

First: The Third Way rejects state ownership of the economy. This was never much of an issue in postwar America. Here, the closest analogy has been government regulation, where Bill Clinton's Third Way has largely followed the same path as his Republican predecessors' agenda, recently culminating in deregulation of telecommunications, electricity, and banking. In Britain, where state ownership had remained a glint in the eye of Old Labour, Tony Blair renounced the ambition early on. German Social Democrats used to talk about slowing down the privatization of former East German industries. No longer.

Second: Global trade and investment are inevitable, even desirable. Bill Clinton endorsed the North American Free Trade Agreement when he was running for president in 1992, got it enacted (to the severe discomfort of organized labor), went on to sign a new General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade which yielded a new World Trade Organization, and ran into trouble only when he tried to get congressional authority to move trade treaties quickly through Congress without amendment. But he's still trying. And Tony Blair is an outspoken trade enthusiast. While other center-left governments in Europe are hardly euphoric over free trade, none resist it. Schroeder and Jospin have talked vaguely about slowing down speculative flows of global capital and perhaps conditioning global commerce on some minimal social standards, but they have no interest in blocking trade and investment outright.


Now we have the TPP looming.

More:

Third: Labor markets should be reasonably "flexible"—that is, wages should be allowed to move up and down in response to changes in demand, and employers should have wide latitude in hiring and firing employees. Apart from some general talk about "corporate responsibility," Clinton has refrained from criticizing profitable companies that sharply downsize. Nor has Blair opted to constrain management. Jospin's French Socialists recognize the need for more flexibility, although Jospin is sticking to his plan to impose a 35-hour workweek. Germany's Schroeder talks openly about the need for Germany to become more competitive by cutting labor costs, although there's still quite a bit of confusion about what he intends to do.


Fourth, and the one that is so painful. Third Wayers are pretty obvious in letting the blame on deficits lie on our most vulnerable citizens.

Fourth: Social safety nets must be trimmed, and able-bodied people put to work. Bill Clinton campaigned to "end welfare as we know it," and ended up signing a law giving people a maximum of five years of welfare during their lifetimes. Tony Blair wants to move away from a guaranteed minimum family allowance. Here, too, Third Wayers in continental Europe and elsewhere are following behind, although more tentatively. They want to make the welfare state more flexible, not necessarily smaller.

Finally: Budget deficits must be slashed.


Balancing the budget on the backs of the vulnerable.

Tucked at the bottom of this very long article, I found his words about a nation.

A nation is more than a flag and an anthem; it is a collection of people who, because they are linked by culture and belief, are willing to pool certain of their resources so that all of their members have a fair chance of succeeding.


In spite of the very noisy voices from the libertarian-leaning teaparty right.....I think most people would describe their nation as Reich did.

ON EDIT Someone needs to remind me when I forget the link. That's twice in one week. Sorry about that.



Worthy of an Oscar nomination. Glen Campbell's I'm Not Gonna Miss You. Video

"Glen Campbell's final song is about his Alzheimer's. It's nominated for an Oscar since it debuted in the documentary about his and his family's journey through the diagnosis and treatments.

He's under 24 hour care in Nashville now so they're not sure he'd be able to accept the award in person or even remember the words, even though he wrote the song and it's so personal.
Beautiful song. Beautiful man."




Third Way says NCLB testing must go on. Calls us "anti-testing-and-accountability Democrats"

That Jon Cowan....he just has to use labels. He also uses the term "test-phobia", a little trite.

It is not surprising this think tank has entered the fray to lecture those of us who want an end such overtesting and practice testing which keeps teachers from teaching and students from learning. It's their job to stand up for corporate needs, and their greatest need right now is to take over public schools.

No Child Left Behind test requirements deserve support from both parties

He doesn't seem to even be aware that the testing IS the policy of Obama and his education secretary Arne Duncan. The picture he is painting is misleading by its omission of the other side of the story.

It's interesting that Republicans are working to control the amount of testing and Democratic strategists are calling for the "status quo".

The stance of anti-testing-and-accountability Democrats is even more puzzling. After decades of stagnant school test scores and yawning achievement gaps, No Child Left Behind spurred tremendous academic gains, especially among low-income and minority kids. Just a few of the many examples: According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the largest ongoing nationwide assessment, 57 percent of low-income students were “below basic” level in fourth-grade math the year before No Child Left Behind was enacted. Today that rate is 27 percent. For African-American students, the rate went to 34 percent from 65 percent. For Latinos, it went to 27 percent from 59 percent. Today, the average 9-year-old African-American student scores at the math level an African-American 13-year-old did in 1973. The same is true for Latino students. Students with disabilities are making educational progress as well — and for the first time, those gains are being tracked systematically.

How can Democrats, who built two winning presidential coalitions by arguing they are the only ones who will stand up for African Americans and Latinos, be willing to throw out the policies that incited such progress?

Of course there are things not to like about No Child Left Behind, and pieces of it could use tweaks and improvement. And some thoughtful lawmakers are already suggesting ways to directly address those concerns, like asking states and districts to review the tests their students are taking and toss out those that are duplicative or low quality. But after watching American students fall behind our global competitors, we now see an upward trajectory. The average 9-year-old American student’s scores are going up in reading seven times faster than they ever did in the 30 years before No Child Left Behind. In math, the scores are going up five times faster.

Yet, the gravitational pull of anti-testing-and-accountability forces is so strong that it’s causing many in Congress to become “repeal-and-replacers,” even if that means jettisoning deep values cherished by their own party. This is the legislative equivalent of repealing the entire Affordable Care Act because of opposition to its medical-device tax.

We cannot let test phobia undercut the significant progress the United States has made toward giving all children an education that prepares them to succeed.


They keep throwing out statistics with little background.

Charter school owner has $95,000 in unpaid water bills, over 5 million in IRS tax liens.

I find myself wondering how things can get that far out of hand in a school which is getting taxpayer money. As of this story the students can finish the year, but Sojourner Douglas will close after that.

Where did the money go?

From the Baltimore Brew.

Charter school operator had $95,000 in unpaid water bills

Inner Harbor East Academy for Young Scholars, a charter school in East Baltimore, had to relocate over this frigid February weekend because its longtime operator, Sojourner Douglass College, couldn’t pay the utilities.

City records show over $95,000 in overdue water bills for the college’s 200 North Central Avenue address alone.


Public Works says their policy is not to off water in the winter. But the school is in danger of losing its heat.

By the time City Schools reviewed Inner Harbor East Academy for renewal in 2014, its feelings about the college’s ability to run a charter school had begun to shift.

In January of 2014, the IRS filed almost $5 million in tax liens against Sojourner Douglass. Last fall, another $750,000 in liens followed. The most recent judgement entered on November 26, 2014, was in the amount of $390,802.

None has yet been satisfied, according to online records.


And an article from today:

Sojourner-Douglass College Will Lose Its Accreditation

Sojourner-Douglass College will lose its accreditation because of its shaky finances, The Baltimore Sun reports. The Baltimore institution’s appeal was rejected last week by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

State officials told the Sun they would help students at the college transfer to other institutions. The loss of accreditation is effective June 30.

The accreditor first expressed concern about the college’s finances in 2011. It ordered the college in March of last year to demonstrate why its accreditation should be reaffirmed.


The school is called a college but has students of all ages.

Charter school to move because of unpaid bills

Baltimore schools CEO Gregory Thornton said in a letter to parents this week that officials learned of financial troubles at the charter school in January but were "hopeful that the financial challenges would be resolved."

Conditions have not improved, however, and the heat will soon be turned off at the school's building on Central Avenue in East Baltimore, Thornton wrote.

The school has 326 students in prekindergarten through the eighth grade, according to December enrollment figures.

....Parents at Inner Harbor East said they were notified of the change only this week, and as of Wednesday were unsure how they would get their children to the new building or how the move would affect student performance and preparation for standardized testing in March.

At a meeting at the school Wednesday morning, school officials told parents that they can't transfer children to another school to finish the year.


The first link mentions that the school's operators had an "ambitious plan to build with partners a $22 million hotel in Oldtown, about a mile from its Central Avenue headquarters. The hotel would be run as a for-profit business as part of the college’s future hotel management school, local media reported."

Build a multi-million dollar hotel with all those unpaid bills and tax liens? Good thing the district finally noticed.





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