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1994: Project Censorship The Sandia Report On Education. Showed schools improving. Not published.

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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 12:26 AM
Original message
1994: Project Censorship The Sandia Report On Education. Showed schools improving. Not published.
The report that showed that schools were improving across the board never saw the light of day. We are paying for that censorship today with the loss of our public education which is being turned over to private companies.

The Sandia Report On Education: A Perfect Lesson In Censorship

Sources: PHI DELTA KAPPAN; Date: May 1993, Title: "Perspective on Education In America,"* Author: Robert M. Huelskamp; THE EDUCATION DIGEST, Date: September 1993, Title: "The Second Coming of the Sandia Report," reprinted from Phi Delta Kappan; U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT, Date: 10/18/93, Title: "School choice: Its time has come," Author: Michael Barone

SYNOPSIS: One of the most thorough investigations into public education did not produce the expected results and instead, ended up being censored.
When state governors and President George Bush set national education goals after the 1989 education summit, the administration charged Sandia National Laboratories, a scientific research organization, with investigating the state of public education.

In 1991, Sandia presented its first findings to the U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation. While the response from these government agencies should have been one of some celebration, instead it was one of silence -- a silence compounded by the national media. The results did not reveal a seriously deficient educational system in dire need of profound changes such as a nationwide voucher program. And the report was suppressed.

What the report found:

Briefly, the Sandia Report did find the following: on nearly every measure employed in the survey, a steady or slightly improving trend was identified in public education. Overall, the high school completion rate in the U.S. at 85 percent ranks as one of the highest in the world. The dropout rate is inflated by a growing immigrant school population. SAT results often reported as falling do so not because of decreasing student performance but because of increased participation from students in the lower percentiles, a factor not always found when comparing results to other countries. One quarter of young people will achieve a bachelor's degree. Spending on education, often characterized as out of control, has risen by 30 percent but this has gone into special education programs, not the "regular" classroom.

More on the findings:

Given the range and insights that the Sandia Report produced, it was remarkable this information did not form the basis for the 1992 education debate. The lack of coverage of the report, and the rancor with which the report was met from government departments and, more importantly, from the "Education President," George Bush, was astounding. Clearly, the findings of the report contradicted the political philosophy of "deregulating" public education and would have seriously weakened the "choice movement." The fact that eight of the 10 Nobel winners announced this year in economics, medicine, physics, chemistry, and literature were Americans similarly failed to give the anti-public school group much ammunition.

The Sandia Report is so threatening to the anti-public-school lobby that those supporting school choice initiatives still refuse to acknowledge its existence. In an impassioned plea for "school choice," published in US News & World Report, writer Michael Barone cites the 1983 "Nation at Risk" Report while ignoring the more recent Sandia Report.

Ah yes, Ronald Reagan's Nation at Risk got all the hype and attention. It started us on the path of distrust for public education. It was actually the beginning of the end for public schools.

In California Mr. Reagan had made political hay by heaping scorn on college students and their professors. As President his administration's repeatedly issued or encouraged uncommonly bitter denunciations of public education. William Bennett, the President's demagogic Secretary of Education, took the lead in this. He toured the nation making unprecedented and unprincipled attacks on most aspects of public education including teacher certification, teacher's unions and the "multi-layered, self-perpetuating, bureaucracy of administrators that weighs down most school systems." "The Blob" was what Bennett dismissively called them.

Three years into his first term Mr. Reagan's criticism of public education reached a crescendo when he hand picked a "blue ribbon" commission that wrote a remarkably critical and far-reaching denunciation of public education. Called "A Nation At Risk," this document charged that the US risked losing the economic competition among nations due to a "... rising tide of (educational) mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people." (The commissioners did not consider the possibility that US firms were uncompetitive because of corporate mismanagement, greed and short sightedness.)After "A Nation At Risk" the nation's public schools were fair game for every ambitious politician or self-important business boss in the country. Its publication prompted a flood of follow-up criticism of public education as "blue ribbon" and "high level" national commissions plus literally hundreds of state panels wrote a flood of reform reports. Most presupposed that the charges made by Mr. Reagan's handpicked panel were true. Oddly though, throughout this entire clamor, parental confidence in the school's their children attended remained remarkably high. Meanwhile Mr. Reagan was quietly halving federal aid to education.

The late great educator, Gerald Bracey, wrote of this report at Huffington Post in 2007. He pointed out that many suspected it would be suppressed. He was right.

Righting Wrongs

I think it is inherent among engineers to practice understatement. What had actually happened was that the Sandia group had gone to Washington and presented the report to department of energy and department of education staff and some Congressmen. At the end, David Kearns, former CEO of Xerox and then Deputy Secretary of Education said, "You bury this or I'll bury you." Ravitch has denied Kearns said this. Huelskamp has affirmed it. An article in Education Week said only that "administration officials, particularly Mr. Kearns, reacted angrily at the meeting." The article also contained allegations of suppression and denials of such ("Report Questioning 'Crisis' in Education Triggers an Uproar," October 9, 1991).

Diane Ravitch has done an about face and is fighting hard against the new school reform.

The engineers did get buried, being forbidden at one point to leave New Mexico to talk about their findings. "Dead wrong" was how Secretary of Energy James Watkins (Energy funds Sandia) described the report in the September 30, 1991 issue of the Albuquerque Journal. "It is a call for complacency when just the opposite is required," he said. (It amazes me that each time someone points out that the educational sky is not actually falling, those who say it is lose all capacity for logic and accuse that the non-Chicken Littles of being messengers of complacency. In a badly argued, extremely simplistic Washington Post op-ed, Ravitch pinned that label on me and the Sandia engineers, along with Iris Rotberg, then of the National Science Foundation ("U. S. Schools: The Bad News Is Right," November 17, 1991); typical distorting sentence: " say it is not fair to compare ourselves to countries like Japan and Korea because they value education and we do not").

Ravitch denied at an AERA meeting that the report was being suppressed. The official story was that it was undergoing peer review by the U. S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation and that it was not ready for publication. It is to NCES' Emerson Elliott's and NSF's Peter House' everlasting shame that they agreed to have their agencies collude in this political charade and signed dishonest letters to Ravitch about what the reviews had shown. It was, of course, insulting and unprecedented that a report from one agency be peer-reviewed by other agencies.

Five years after Lee Bray retired, I called him. He was not enthusiastic about reopening old wounds, but when I asked him directly if the report had been suppressed he said, "Yes, it was definitely suppressed."

The Education Week article on The Sandia Report closed with the prediction that "Administration officials will use a lengthy review process to bury the report." Indeed, it was never published.
It appeared in print only when Jim Raths of the University of Delaware and then an editor at the Journal of Educational Research made it the entirety of the May/June 1993 issue of that small journal. Because nearly 20 years have passed, most people don't know either of the report or the suppression that followed. But that act of suppression sits like Banquo's ghost at the banquet table, seen, in this case, not only by Macbeth, but by to those of us who witnessed the murder.

Bracey was right. I wish he had lived to see the report brought to light.

The blogger called The Perimeter Primate shows summaries of Reagan's Nation at Risk report which got all the attention and the Sandia report.

"A Nation at Risk" (1983)

What the report claimed:

American students are never first and frequently last academically compared to students in other industrialized nations.
American student achievement declined dramatically after Russia launched Sputnik, and hit bottom in the early 1980s.
SAT scores fell markedly between 1960 and 1980.
Student achievement levels in science were declining steadily.
Business and the military were spending millions on remedial education for new hires and recruits.
The Sandia Report (1990)

What was actually happening:

Between 1975 and 1988, average SAT scores went up or held steady for every student subgroup.
Between 1977 and 1988, math proficiency among seventeen-year-olds improved slightly for whites, notably for minorities.
Between 1971 and 1988, reading skills among all student subgroups held steady or improved.
Between 1977 and 1988, in science, the number of seventeen-year-olds at or above basic competency levels stayed the same or improved slightly.
Between 1970 and 1988, the number of twenty-two-year-old Americans with bachelor degrees increased every year; the United States led all developed nations in 1988.

And another must read from 2007 called Education at Risk, Fall Out from a Flawed Report.

Edutopia on a flawed Report

Reporters fell on the report like a pack of hungry dogs. The next day, "A Nation at Risk" made the front pages.

Once launched, the report, which warned of "a rising level of mediocrity," took off like wildfire. During the next month, the Washington Post alone ran some two dozen stories about it, and the buzz kept spreading. Although Reagan counselor (and, later, attorney general) Edwin Meese III urged him to reject the report because it undermined the president's basic education agenda -- to get government out of education -- White House advisers Jim Baker and Michael Deaver argued that "A Nation at Risk" provided good campaign fodder.

Reagan agreed, and, in his second run for the presidency, he gave fifty-one speeches calling for tough school reform. The "high political payoff," Bell wrote in his memoir, "stole the education issue from Walter Mondale -- and it cost us nothing."

What made "A Nation at Risk" so useful to Reagan? For one thing, its language echoed the get-tough rhetoric of the growing conservative movement. For another, its diagnosis lent color to the charge that, under liberals, American education had dissolved into a mush of self-esteem classes.

In truth, "A Nation at Risk" could have been read as almost any sort of document. Basically, it just called for "More!" -- more science, more math, more art, more humanities, more social studies, more school days, more hours, more homework, more basics, more higher-order thinking, more lower-order thinking, more creativity, more everything.

More of everything, less depth, and the beginning of "zero tolerance".

Now the clamor is still happening for more "lower-order" thinking, more hours, more fact many more.

The media now is refusing to truly cover the private takeover of public education under a Democratic administration. Oh, maybe an article now and then, but not very much.

What is being done now can not be undone in the future. Deregulating schools, privatizing them...we can't unring that bell.

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ananda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 12:38 AM
Response to Original message
1. We have zero tolerance for success in this country.

Government motto: If it aint broke, fix it till it is.
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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 12:41 AM
Response to Original message
2. "Michael Barone" of the AEI?
So this 1991 report is supposed to prove that everything is OK with the schools?

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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 12:44 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. I don't think you read it. Barone was not mentioned favorably.
The report was not done by him. Check it out again.
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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 12:48 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. I read it.
The point is the report is nearly 20 years old, and I still don't get the relevance to the current situation.

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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 12:51 AM
Response to Reply #4
7. no, you wouldn't. would you?
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 01:19 AM
Response to Reply #4
8. I am so so sorry you don't get the relevance.
I really don't know what to do about that.
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Jakes Progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 01:56 PM
Response to Reply #8
16. Maybe if she gets clearance
from the head office, she can "get it".
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tonysam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 12:34 PM
Response to Reply #4
14. The report isn't easy to get--you have to have college access
Edited on Fri Mar-05-10 12:38 PM by tonysam
to read the Sandia Report.

The point is our government LIES about public education when it suits their ideology.

The Bush I administration SQUELCHED it--Berliner and Biddle in their book The Manufactured Crisis discusses at length what happened.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 12:51 AM
Response to Original message
5. ...the long-standing campaign to persuade the American people that public education has failed.
This has been a disinformation campaign based on fraudulent claims, distortions, and outright lies.

Since the publication of A Nation at Risk in 1983, there have been numerous reports issued, each declaring U.S. public education a disaster, and each proposing "solutions" to our problems. The sponsors of the many reports are a little like the con-man in "The Music Man," who declares, "We've got trouble, right here in River City..." and the chorus repeats, "trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble..."

He just happens to be selling the solution to all their troubles. How do you sell radical changes that would have been completely unacceptable to the public a decade or two ago? You tell people over and over that their institutions have failed, and that only the solutions you are peddling offer any way out of their "troubles..."

But let's look just briefly at a couple of the key pieces of disinformation to which the American public has been subjected.

The supposed dramatic decline of Scholastic Aptitude Test scores was a fraud. These scores did decline somewhat over the period 1963 to 1977. But the SAT is a voluntary test. It is not representative of anything, and it is useless as a measure of student performance or of the quality of the schools. The scores began to fall modestly when the range of young people going into college dramatically expanded in the mid-sixties.

Did this mean that there was a lowering of student achievement during this period? Absolutely not. The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, or PSAT, is a representative exam, given each year to sample student populations across the country. During the period in question, PSAT scores held absolutely steady.

Even more notable is the fact that scores on the College Board Achievement Tests--which test students not on some vaguely-defined "aptitude," but on what they know of specific subjects-did not fall but ROSE SLIGHTELY BUT CONSISTENTLY OVER THE SAME PERIOD IN WHICH FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES OR ANY OTHER COUNTRY, THE SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF BLACK AND WHITE WORKING FAMILIES WERE ENTERING COLLEGE IN MASSIVE NUMBERS.

Berliner and Biddle comment in their book, The Manufactured Crisis, "the real evidence indicates that the myth of achievement decline is not only false-it is a hysterical fraud."

How different would have been the public's understanding of what was happening in the schools if the media and the politicians had told the truth! How different if they had announced that, during the period of the greatest turmoil in American society since the Civil War, in which a higher proportion of young people were graduating high school and going on to college than ever before, at a rate unparalleled in any other country in the world, representative tests showed that overall aptitude and achievement were holding steady or increasing? How different would have been the history of these last decades for educators and parents and students-and for public education?

What about the claim that U.S. business has lost its competitive edge because of the alleged failure of public education? Anyone who has been watching the triumphal progress of American corporations in the world market in the last two decades or has watched the unprecedented returns on the stock market knows that these claims are preposterous. Let me cite a few specific facts here:

-U.S. workers are the most productive in the world. Workers in Japan and Germany are only 80% as productive; in France, 76% as productive; in the United Kingdom, 61% as productive.

-America leads the world in the percentage of its college graduates who obtain degrees in science or engineering, and this percentage has been steadily rising since 1971.

-Far from having a shortage of trained personnel, there is now in fact a glut of scientists and engineers in the U.S. The Boston Globe reported on 3/17/97 that , "At a time when overall unemployment has fallen to around 5%, high-level scientists have been experiencing double-digit unemployment." The government estimates that America will have a surplus of over 1 million scientists and engineers by 2010, even if the present rate of production does not increase.

What explains the aggressive effort by corporate and government leaders to discredit public education?

To understand this, I believe we have to look beyond education to developments in the economy and the wider society. In the past decades, millions of jobs have been shipped overseas. Millions more have been lost to "restructuring" and "downsizing." This trend is not likely to abate. The U. S. is presently enjoying its lowest official unemployment rate in decades-4.9%, or about 6.2 million unemployed at the peak of a long period of sustained growth. But even this large figure is deceptive, because it does not include the millions of people who have been reduced to temporary or part-time work, without benefits, without job security, and without hope of advancement. The number of "contingent" workers in 1993 was over 34 million.

The future for employment is even more grim. Computerization will eliminate millions of jobs and deskill millions more. This is, after all, the attraction of automation for corporations: it downgrades the skills required of most jobs, and thereby makes employees cheaper and more easily expendable...

Now, what does all this have to do with education?

"....Ask yourself, What would happen if the public schools really succeeded?" What if our high schools and universities were graduating millions of young people, all of whom had done well?

In an economy with over 6 million unemployed by official count, in which millions more are underemployed or working part-time or in temporary jobs, in which many millions of jobs are being deskilled by computerization and many millions eliminated, and in which wages have fallen to 1958 levels, where would these successful graduates go? What would they do?

If they had all graduated with As and Bs, they would have high expectations-expectations for satisfying jobs which would use their talents. Expectations for further education. Expectations about their right to participate in society and to have a real voice in its direction.

I think you can see that, for the people at the very top of this society, who have been instrumental in shipping jobs overseas and restructuring the workforce and downsizing the corporations and shifting the tax burden from the rich onto middle-class and working Americans-the class of people, in short, who have been planning and reaping the benefits of the restructuring of American society-for this class of people at the top, for the schools to succeed would be very dangerous indeed.

How much better that the schools not succeed, so that, when young people end up with a boring or low-paying or insecure job or no job at all, they say, "I have only myself to blame." How much better that they blame themselves instead of the economic system.



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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 02:10 PM
Response to Reply #5
17. That campaign has worked well, even among Democrats.
Even among those at forums who are not inclined to fall for such stuff as that.

I think it may be too late.
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gulfcoastliberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 02:20 PM
Response to Reply #17
18. Seems like nobody understands manipulation via the hegelian dialectic.
Reality-based reports like the Sandia conclusions had to be buried. Didn't fit with their "solution" to the "problem" with public education.
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MrScorpio Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 12:51 AM
Response to Original message
6. I've got a copy of the book
It's on page 55
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 10:32 AM
Response to Original message
9. Interesting post from Bracey in the Huffpo comment a response.
" bracey I'm a Fan of bracey I'm a fan of this user permalink

For Susannunes: Berliner knew about the report by 1991. I attended the American Psychological Association in August and traded statistics from it with him at a seminar. By then, my report citing it was only a couple of months away. Don't know why it took so much more time to get the Manufactured Crisis into press. It might have been Biddle. Bruce is a quintessential academic--a person with no interest in deadlines.

I give speeches all over the nation and when I ask who knows about it, few hands go up. Most of the circulation I know about was in the research community and I don't think it reached many teachers and administrators.


From another poster:

" susannunes I'm a Fan of susannunes I'm a fan of this user permalink

Berliner and Biddle in their book The Manufactured Crisis (1995) wrote about the Sandia Report at length. Yours truly got hold of the complete report, photocopied it, and posted excerpts on the Salon Table Talk board back when it was free of charge.

The suppression isn't news at all; people who know have known about it for over a decade.
Posted 12:40 AM on 12/05/2007"
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Starry Messenger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 10:37 AM
Response to Original message
10. k & r
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 11:48 AM
Response to Original message
11. The Inconvenient Sandia Report
"From the start, however, some doubts must have risen about the crisis rhetoric, because in 1990, Admiral James Watkins, the secretary of energy (yes, energy), commissioned the Sandia Laboratories in New Mexico to document the decline with some actual data.

Systems scientists there produced a study consisting almost entirely of charts, tables, and graphs, plus brief analyses of what the numbers signified, which amounted to a major "Oops!" As their puzzled preface put it, "To our surprise, on nearly every measure, we found steady or slightly improving trends."

One section, for example, analyzed SAT scores between the late 1970s and 1990, a period when those scores slipped markedly. ("A Nation at Risk" spotlighted the decline of scores from 1963 to 1980 as dead-bang evidence of failing schools.) The Sandia report, however, broke the scores down by various subgroups, and something astonishing emerged. Nearly every subgroup -- ethnic minorities, rich kids, poor kids, middle class kids, top students, average students, low-ranked students -- held steady or improved during those years. Yet overall scores dropped. How could that be?

Simple -- statisticians call it Simpson's paradox: The average can change in one direction while all the subgroups change in the opposite direction if proportions among the subgroups are changing. Early in the period studied, only top students took the test. But during those twenty years, the pool of test takers expanded to include many lower-ranked students. Because the proportion of top students to all students was shrinking, the scores inevitably dropped. That decline signified not failure but rather progress toward what had been a national goal: extending educational opportunities to a broader range of the population.

By then, however, catastrophically failing schools had become a political necessity. George H.W. Bush campaigned to replace Reagan as president on a promise to confront the crisis. He had just called an education summit to tackle it, so there simply had to be a crisis.

The government never released the Sandia report. It went into peer review and there died a quiet death. Hardly anyone else knew it even existed until, in 1993, the Journal of Educational Research, read by only a small group of specialists, printed the report."
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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 11:51 AM
Response to Original message
12. It didn't serve the agenda. nt
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 06:31 PM
Response to Reply #12
22. Exactly right..
It was not what they wanted.
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tonysam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 12:33 PM
Response to Original message
13. Actually it WAS published, but AFTER Bush I left office
Edited on Fri Mar-05-10 12:40 PM by tonysam
The report was published in the Journal of Educational Research, in 1993. I am assuming the only way people can get the report itself is to either photocopy it from their university library or else be a college student and be able to access the article online.

I copied the issue several years ago, and I have it somewhere in my place. It is full of graphs and the like. I used the report a lot when "debating" public education "reform" on Salon's Table Talk board of which I was a member 1999-2001.
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 12:42 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. I posted that in the edutopia link just above your post.
Not published by the government, but in a journal few can access.

You are right.
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tonysam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 06:33 PM
Response to Reply #15
23. If I were in Nevada right now, I'd try to find the issue
in a folder which is somewhere in my apartment. I quoted at length from it when I used to post at Salon's Table Talk.
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emsimon33 Donating Member (904 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 04:07 PM
Response to Original message
19. Wasn't Clinton president in 1994?
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 06:06 PM
Response to Reply #19
21. Yes, 1993 to 2001. But report was presented in 1991....
Still it never saw the light of day.
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tonysam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 06:33 PM
Response to Reply #21
24. Bush I squelched it. n/t
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 10:36 PM
Response to Reply #24
25. Yep
He did.
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Jakes Progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-05-10 05:09 PM
Response to Original message
20. Bracey, Berliner, Biddle.
If the DUers who trash schools spent as much time reading people like this who are actually qualified to write on the subject instead of parroting bill bennet talking points, we would all be better off.

I have probably given a dozen copies of Berliner's book to various people. Most of those never opened it. But I did do a book study with a group of business people using "Manufactured Crisis". When they had to read the book in order to discuss it, they were blown away by how poorly the media an corporate Washington has served them. One became a crusading school board member. Of course, she was defeated by a chest thumping moron who promised to make test scores the most important issue in any principal's mind.

(Bless Gerald Bracey and his memory. No one worked harder to overcome the greed of corporate education and the ignorance of politicians.)
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-06-10 01:32 PM
Response to Reply #20
26. You are so right. Trouble is our party has no talking points to counter theirs.
Why? Because our party leaders want the same thing.

That is why people have fallen for the propaganda. There has been no one telling the other side of the story.

There are a lot of "chest thumping morons" on this topic.

There is no party standing for public education.
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Jakes Progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-06-10 03:19 PM
Response to Reply #26
27. They don't counter because
most come from the same entitled, wealthy class as the neocons. Those that don't, aspire to that status.
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