Category Archives: Public Schools

The Dangers of Going Back to School After a Year of COVID-19 Lockdowns

Every day in communities across the United States, children and adolescents spend the majority of their waking hours in schools that have increasingly come to resemble places of detention more than places of learning.

— investigative journalist Annette Fuentes

Once upon a time in America, parents breathed a sigh of relief when their kids went back to school after a summer’s hiatus, content in the knowledge that for a good portion of the day their kids would be gainfully occupied, out of harm’s way and out of trouble.

Those were the good old days, before the COVID-19 pandemic introduced a whole new level of Nanny State authoritarianism to our daily lives, locking down communities, forcing kids out of the schoolroom and into virtual classrooms, leaving vast swaths of the work force dependent on government welfare, while pushing other segments into a work-from-home model, and generally subjecting us to an increasingly obnoxious level of intrusion by the government into our private lives.

Now, after almost 18 months away from a physical classroom, students are heading back to school.

Here’s what they can expect.

From the moment a child enters one of the nation’s 98,000 public schools to the moment he or she graduates, they will be exposed to a steady diet of:

  • draconian zero tolerance policies that criminalize childish behavior,
  • overreaching anti-bullying statutes that criminalize speech,
  • school resource officers (police) tasked with disciplining and/or arresting so-called “disorderly” students,
  • standardized testing that emphasizes rote answers over critical thinking,
  • politically correct mindsets that teach young people to censor themselves and those around them,
  • and extensive biometric and surveillance systems that, coupled with the rest, acclimate young people to a world in which they have no freedom of thought, speech or movement.

Young people in America are now first in line to be searched, surveilled, spied on, threatened, tied up, locked down, treated like criminals for non-criminal behavior, tasered and in some cases shot.

Nowadays, students are not only punished for minor transgressions such as playing cops and robbers on the playground, bringing LEGOs to school, or having a food fight, but the punishments have become far more severe, shifting from detention and visits to the principal’s office into misdemeanor tickets, juvenile court, handcuffs, tasers and even prison terms.

Students have been suspended under school zero tolerance policies for bringing to school “look alike substances” such as oregano, breath mints, birth control pills and powdered sugar.

Look-alike weapons (toy guns—even Lego-sized ones, hand-drawn pictures of guns, pencils twirled in a “threatening” manner, imaginary bows and arrows, fingers positioned like guns) can also land a student in hot water, in some cases getting them expelled from school or charged with a crime.

Not even good deeds go unpunished.

One 13-year-old was given detention for exposing the school to “liability” by sharing his lunch with a hungry friend. A third grader was suspended for shaving her head in sympathy for a friend who had lost her hair to chemotherapy. And then there was the high school senior who was suspended for saying “bless you” after a fellow classmate sneezed.

In South Carolina, where it’s against the law to “disturb” a school, more than a thousand students a year—some as young as 7 years old—“face criminal charges for not following directions, loitering, cursing, or the vague allegation of acting ‘obnoxiously.’ If charged as adults, they can be held in jail for up to 90 days.”

These outrageous incidents are exactly what you’ll see more of now that in-person school is back in session, especially once you add COVID-19 mandates to the mix.

Having police in the schools only adds to the danger.

Thanks to a combination of media hype, political pandering and financial incentives, the use of armed police officers (a.k.a. school resource officers) to patrol school hallways has risen dramatically in the years since the Columbine school shooting.

Indeed, the growing presence of police in the nation’s schools is resulting in greater police “involvement in routine discipline matters that principals and parents used to address without involvement from law enforcement officers.”

Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, these school resource officers (SRO) have become de facto wardens in elementary, middle and high schools, doling out their own brand of justice to the so-called “criminals” in their midst with the help of tasers, pepper spray, batons and brute force.

In the absence of school-appropriate guidelines, police are more and more “stepping in to deal with minor rulebreaking: sagging pants, disrespectful comments, brief physical skirmishes. What previously might have resulted in a detention or a visit to the principal’s office was replaced with excruciating pain and temporary blindness, often followed by a trip to the courthouse.”

The horror stories are legion.

One SRO was accused of punching a 13-year-old student in the face for cutting the cafeteria line.

That same cop put another student in a chokehold a week later, allegedly knocking the student unconscious and causing a brain injury.

In Pennsylvania, a student was tasered after ignoring an order to put his cell phone away.

When 13-year-old Kevens Jean Baptiste failed to follow a school bus driver’s direction to keep the bus windows closed (Kevens, who suffers from asthma, opened the window after a fellow student sprayed perfume, causing him to cough and wheeze), he was handcuffed by police, removed from the bus, and while still handcuffed, had his legs swept out from under him by an officer, causing him to crash to the ground.

Young Alex Stone didn’t even make it past the first week of school before he became a victim of the police state. Directed by his teacher to do a creative writing assignment involving a series of fictional Facebook statuses, Stone wrote, “I killed my neighbor’s pet dinosaur. I bought the gun to take care of the business.” Despite the fact that dinosaurs are extinct, the status fabricated, and the South Carolina student was merely following orders, his teacher reported him to school administrators, who in turn called the police.

What followed is par for the course in schools today: students were locked down in their classrooms while armed police searched the 16-year-old’s locker and bookbag, handcuffed him, charged him with disorderly conduct disturbing the school, arrested him, detained him, and then he was suspended from school.

Not even the younger, elementary school-aged kids are being spared these “hardening” tactics.

On any given day when school is in session, kids who “act up” in class are pinned facedown on the floor, locked in dark closets, tied up with straps, bungee cords and duct tape, handcuffed, leg shackled, tasered or otherwise restrained, immobilized or placed in solitary confinement in order to bring them under “control.”

In almost every case, these undeniably harsh methods are used to punish kids—some as young as 4 and 5 years old—for simply failing to follow directions or throwing tantrums.

Very rarely do the kids pose any credible danger to themselves or others.

Unbelievably, these tactics are all legal, at least when employed by school officials or school resource officers in the nation’s public schools.

This is what happens when you introduce police and police tactics into the schools.

Paradoxically, by the time you add in the lockdowns and active shooter drills, instead of making the schools safer, school officials have succeeded in creating an environment in which children are so traumatized that they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, nightmares, anxiety, mistrust of adults in authority, as well as feelings of anger, depression, humiliation, despair and delusion.

For example, a middle school in Washington State went on lockdown after a student brought a toy gun to class. A Boston high school went into lockdown for four hours after a bullet was discovered in a classroom. A North Carolina elementary school locked down and called in police after a fifth grader reported seeing an unfamiliar man in the school (it turned out to be a parent).

Police officers at a Florida middle school carried out an active shooter drill in an effort to educate students about how to respond in the event of an actual shooting crisis. Two armed officers, guns loaded and drawn, burst into classrooms, terrorizing the students and placing the school into lockdown mode.

These police state tactics have not made the schools any safer.

The fallout has been what you’d expect, with the nation’s young people treated like hardened criminals: handcuffed, arrested, tasered, tackled and taught the painful lesson that the Constitution (especially the Fourth Amendment) doesn’t mean much in the American police state.

Unfortunately, advocates for such harsh police tactics and weaponry like to trot out the line that school safety should be our first priority lest we find ourselves with another school shooting. What they will not tell you is that such shootings are rare.

As one congressional report found, the schools are, generally speaking, safe places for children.

There can be no avoiding the hands-on lessons being taught in the schools about the role of police in our lives, ranging from active shooter drills and school-wide lockdowns to incidents in which children engaging in typically childlike behavior are suspended (for shooting an imaginary “arrow” at a fellow classmate), handcuffed (for being disruptive at school), arrested (for throwing water balloons as part of a school prank), and even tasered (for not obeying instructions).

Instead of raising up a generation of freedom fighters—which one would hope would be the objective of the schools—government officials seem determined to churn out newly minted citizens of the American police state who are being taught the hard way what it means to comply, fear and march in lockstep with the government’s dictates.

So what’s the answer, not only for the here-and-now—the children growing up in these quasi-prisons—but for the future of this country?

How do you convince a child who has been routinely handcuffed, shackled, tied down, locked up, and immobilized by government officials—all before he reaches the age of adulthood—that he has any rights at all, let alone the right to challenge wrongdoing, resist oppression and defend himself against injustice?

Most of all, how do you persuade a fellow American that the government works for him when, for most of his young life, he has been incarcerated in an institution that teaches young people to be obedient and compliant citizens who don’t talk back, don’t question and don’t challenge authority?

As we’ve seen with other issues, any significant reforms will have to start locally and trickle upwards.

For starters, parents need to be vocal, visible and organized and demand that school officials 1) adopt a policy of positive reinforcement in dealing with behavior issues; 2) minimize the presence in the schools of police officers and cease involving them in student discipline; and 3) insist that all behavioral issues be addressed first and foremost with a child’s parents, before any other disciplinary tactics are attempted.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, if you want a nation of criminals, treat the citizenry like criminals.

If you want young people who grow up seeing themselves as prisoners, run the schools like prisons.

If, on the other hand, you want to raise up a generation of freedom fighters, who will actually operate with justice, fairness, accountability and equality towards each other and their government, then run the schools like freedom forums.

Remove the metal detectors and surveillance cameras, re-assign the cops elsewhere, and start treating our nation’s young people like citizens of a republic and not inmates in a police state penitentiary.

The post The Dangers of Going Back to School After a Year of COVID-19 Lockdowns first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Charter Schools: Oversight and Accountability Versus Validity and Legitimacy

One view of change when it comes to charter schools is that charter schools are awful for various reasons, especially when it comes to funding arrangements, and that what is needed is better oversight, regulation, and accountability of privately-operated charter schools so that they stop “bilking the system” and stop harming public schools that educate the majority of students.

More accountability and oversight are certainly better than no accountability and oversight, but the charter school sector has operated with neither for 30 years.

The key question is: do charter schools have any valid or legitimate claim to public funds, resources, and facilities in the first place? With or without oversight, should charter schools be receiving a single public penny at all? What right do charter schools have to public wealth produced by workers?

The only way to settle these questions is to deeply appreciate the critical difference between public and private and then ascertain whether charter schools are public schools or not. It is well-known, for example, that simply declaring something is public 50 times a day does not automatically and spontaneously make it public.

The public/private question has been answered by a long list of charter school investigators: charter schools are not public schools, they are not even run by elected individuals and cannot levy taxes like public schools. Charter schools differ from public schools in many critical ways and function like privatized, marketized, corporatized entities. Unlike public schools, charter schools are not political subdivisions of the state; many operate openly as for-profit schools and many more are “managed” by for-profit corporations. Charter schools and public schools differ on organizational, legal, philosophical, and operational grounds. They are simply not the same. Thus, for example, charter schools are heavily driven by “free market” ideology. Charter school promoters see education as a commodity, not a social responsibility, and they treat parents and students as consumers and shoppers, not humans and citizens with rights that must be guaranteed in practice by government. A fend-for-yourself ethos pervades the crisis-prone charter school sector. It is no surprise that more than 3,000 charter schools have closed in just three decades. Chaos, anarchy, instability, and corruption are rampant in the highly segregated charter school sector.

If deregulated charter schools wish to exist, they can exist, but they must not have access to any public funds, resources, and facilities that legitimately belong to public schools. They have no valid claim to public wealth. At no time should a private entity be able to seize public resources that belong to the public sector. Such a setup distorts the economy and undermines education. Accountability and oversight will not fix that.

The millionaires and billionaires behind charter schools are not interested in accountability, transparency, or oversight; they are determined to engage in more neoliberal restructuring of the state so as to maximize profit as fast as possible in the context of a continually failing economy. Charter schools are pay-the-rich schemes that have nothing to do with improving schools or achievement. They are promoted under the veneer of high ideals but cannot be prettified. Charter schools are a form of state-organized corruption to pay the rich. If the tens of billions of public dollars and public facilities seized annually from public schools by charter schools were returned to public schools then students, teachers, and society would be much better off.

The post Charter Schools: Oversight and Accountability Versus Validity and Legitimacy first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Neoliberal State Restructuring: Charter School Promoters Bypass Elected Governance and Impose Rule By Decree

While democracy has always been limited and restricted in societies based on the “free market” and private ownership, one of the main things detested by the pro-privatization fanatics behind segregated charter schools operated by unelected individuals are the long-standing duly-elected school boards that govern America’s 100,000 public schools. Publicly-elected school boards are a huge thorn in the side of the millionaires and billionaires behind deregulated charter schools.

Currently, many public school boards in America can exercise a certain degree of power and authority when it comes to approving or terminating a charter school’s contract. Indeed, many public school boards are increasingly saying no to more charter school applications and renewals given the big problems plaguing the charter school sector and the harmful effects charter schools have on public schools, the economy, society, and the national interest. It is clear that 30 years after they appeared in America, many are not on board with privately-operated charter schools that siphon enormous sums of money from public schools and generate poor results at many levels.

In Texas, Iowa, and elsewhere charter school promoters are working tirelessly with neoliberal state officials and legislators to bypass the elected boards that run public schools in order to replace them with entities that are answerable only to them. These entities are designed to circumvent the public authority enshrined in public school boards and typically consist of appointed individuals not accountable to the public. They usually take the form of “commissions,” “control boards,” “emergency financial managers,” “outside monitors,” or some reconfiguration of an existing government agency that significantly changes who decides what. In practice, these new entities give charter school corporations and non-educators more authority than the public, which makes it much easier to impose more charter schools on everyone.

To be sure, these supra-public entities more directly represent capital-centered interests and exclude public authority. Their power is set up to supersede the power of any public official or entity. The rich do not want individuals accountable to the public blocking the creation of new charter schools. This neoliberal strategy is not new but there is an escalation in efforts by the rich to reconfigure state power so as to impose privatization faster and with fewer “democratic obstacles.” To be clear, these top-down heavy-handed neoliberal entities are favored by charter school promoters because they (1) override public opinion, elected bodies, and democratic deliberations, (2) further concentrate power in the hands of charter school promoters, and (3) impose antisocial decisions on the polity with impunity. Objectively, they are a form of tyranny.

Charter school promoters know that there is stiff non-stop opposition to privately-operated non-profit and for-profit charter schools. For this reason, they see rule by decree carried out by executive bodies unaccountable to the public as a pragmatic neoliberal mechanism to override persistent democratic objections to dismantling public education and privatizing schools. Decades of disinformation from charter school promoters has not succeeded in eliminating human social consciousness. From coast to coast, the problems with charter schools are being exposed more rapidly and thoroughly. Major owners of capital know that they cannot impose their narrow private interests on the public without some sort of coercive mechanism to do so.

More privatization necessarily requires less democracy. This applies to every sector of society and all levels of government. Privatization is wreaking havoc at home and abroad. And the antisocial “Great Reset” agenda of the international financial oligarchy promises even more privatization worldwide. Capital-centered interests and human-centered interests are antagonistic and cannot be harmonized. No one should believe that working people and owners of capital have the same interests. Objectively, major owners of capital and the public have opposing interests that cannot be reconciled. This point cannot be overstated.

In this context, human-centered interests must figure out how to oppose and overcome these and other neoliberal assaults on the public interest and public power. It is not acceptable for a handful of historically superfluous millionaires and billionaires to eliminate public right and impose their narrow will on everyone. Who thinks this is a good idea in the 21st century? The public has no interest in funding pay-the-rich schemes like privately-operated non-profit and for-profit charter schools. A modern nation based on mass industrial production needs a large, organized, universal, public, free, world-class, integrated, fully-funded school system that serves everyone and is free of all private influences. There is no legitimate reason for any private actor, organization, or entity to have any access to public funds, resources, programs, and facilities that rightly belong to the public. The distinction between public and private should never be blurred.

The post Neoliberal State Restructuring: Charter School Promoters Bypass Elected Governance and Impose Rule By Decree first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Neoliberal State Restructuring: Charter School Promoters Bypass Elected Governance and Impose Rule By Decree

While democracy has always been limited and restricted in societies based on the “free market” and private ownership, one of the main things detested by the pro-privatization fanatics behind segregated charter schools operated by unelected individuals are the long-standing duly-elected school boards that govern America’s 100,000 public schools. Publicly-elected school boards are a huge thorn in the side of the millionaires and billionaires behind deregulated charter schools.

Currently, many public school boards in America can exercise a certain degree of power and authority when it comes to approving or terminating a charter school’s contract. Indeed, many public school boards are increasingly saying no to more charter school applications and renewals given the big problems plaguing the charter school sector and the harmful effects charter schools have on public schools, the economy, society, and the national interest. It is clear that 30 years after they appeared in America, many are not on board with privately-operated charter schools that siphon enormous sums of money from public schools and generate poor results at many levels.

In Texas, Iowa, and elsewhere charter school promoters are working tirelessly with neoliberal state officials and legislators to bypass the elected boards that run public schools in order to replace them with entities that are answerable only to them. These entities are designed to circumvent the public authority enshrined in public school boards and typically consist of appointed individuals not accountable to the public. They usually take the form of “commissions,” “control boards,” “emergency financial managers,” “outside monitors,” or some reconfiguration of an existing government agency that significantly changes who decides what. In practice, these new entities give charter school corporations and non-educators more authority than the public, which makes it much easier to impose more charter schools on everyone.

To be sure, these supra-public entities more directly represent capital-centered interests and exclude public authority. Their power is set up to supersede the power of any public official or entity. The rich do not want individuals accountable to the public blocking the creation of new charter schools. This neoliberal strategy is not new but there is an escalation in efforts by the rich to reconfigure state power so as to impose privatization faster and with fewer “democratic obstacles.” To be clear, these top-down heavy-handed neoliberal entities are favored by charter school promoters because they (1) override public opinion, elected bodies, and democratic deliberations, (2) further concentrate power in the hands of charter school promoters, and (3) impose antisocial decisions on the polity with impunity. Objectively, they are a form of tyranny.

Charter school promoters know that there is stiff non-stop opposition to privately-operated non-profit and for-profit charter schools. For this reason, they see rule by decree carried out by executive bodies unaccountable to the public as a pragmatic neoliberal mechanism to override persistent democratic objections to dismantling public education and privatizing schools. Decades of disinformation from charter school promoters has not succeeded in eliminating human social consciousness. From coast to coast, the problems with charter schools are being exposed more rapidly and thoroughly. Major owners of capital know that they cannot impose their narrow private interests on the public without some sort of coercive mechanism to do so.

More privatization necessarily requires less democracy. This applies to every sector of society and all levels of government. Privatization is wreaking havoc at home and abroad. And the antisocial “Great Reset” agenda of the international financial oligarchy promises even more privatization worldwide. Capital-centered interests and human-centered interests are antagonistic and cannot be harmonized. No one should believe that working people and owners of capital have the same interests. Objectively, major owners of capital and the public have opposing interests that cannot be reconciled. This point cannot be overstated.

In this context, human-centered interests must figure out how to oppose and overcome these and other neoliberal assaults on the public interest and public power. It is not acceptable for a handful of historically superfluous millionaires and billionaires to eliminate public right and impose their narrow will on everyone. Who thinks this is a good idea in the 21st century? The public has no interest in funding pay-the-rich schemes like privately-operated non-profit and for-profit charter schools. A modern nation based on mass industrial production needs a large, organized, universal, public, free, world-class, integrated, fully-funded school system that serves everyone and is free of all private influences. There is no legitimate reason for any private actor, organization, or entity to have any access to public funds, resources, programs, and facilities that rightly belong to the public. The distinction between public and private should never be blurred.

The post Neoliberal State Restructuring: Charter School Promoters Bypass Elected Governance and Impose Rule By Decree first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Too Many Years Teaching at Multiple Locations in Multiple Situations with Diverse Students: Need Not Apply!

Duties — Teacher, US Forest Service, Yachats, OR

Pledge · Restore the balance: more schools, less prisons! · Change.org

Summary

This position is located on the Angell Forest Service Job Corps Civilian Center in Yachats, OR.

The incumbent is responsible for providing classroom instruction to students in a variety of academic subjects.

For more information about the duties of this position, please contact BBF at: @usda.govor 541-547-

Responsibilities

  • Through classroom instruction and guidance.
  • Establishes a learning environment in which students can develop their ability to make rational and informed decisions relevant to their needs, as well as promote opportunities for students.
  • Instructs students in the following areas: reading, language, writing, mathematics, life skills, computer literacy, general educational development program, human development, and social studies.
  • Responsible for planning courses of instruction and lesson plans based on the developmental program and general curriculum guidelines in effect.
  • Implements plan using teaching methods and techniques appropriate for the skill level being taught, allowing for adaptations to permit individual differences in interests and ability and improve the quality of instruction.
  • Evaluates individual academic progress through the use of criterion-references, tests and/or other relevant evaluative methods/instruments.
  • Maintains required records in accordance with applicable regulations, which includes progress reports and accountability reports.

+—-+

This is it for America, for Government, for the entire shooting match. So, I have four decades teaching, man, or more, if you count the scuba diving classes I used to teach frequently in my late teens (18-20).

The entire thing is this job, with the Job Corps, necessitates an Oregon K12 teaching certificate? Amazing. I have been a certified substitute, emergency status, and that was in three states, and alas, I have taught taught taught. However, I have taught: in gang prevention programs for 10th graders; gifted and talented summer program at UT-Austin for juniors in high school; subbing K12, all subjects; running start classes at several community colleges — these are 11th and 12th graders getting to go to community college for their last two years of K12 with extra credit toward college credits; college courses for prisoners, enlisted military, Air Force-Army-Navy-Coast Guard-Marines in an academy in Texas; special education classes; alternative schools; classes in adult basic education; college classes all the way up to graduate writing classes; scuba classes; nature classes; outdoor experiential classes; kayaking classes; photo classes; camping classes; continuing education classes; Life Long Learning classes for older adults. Hell, the list goes on and on, yet I am not qualified to apply to this fucking US Forest Service job just advertised.

You know where I stand if you have read my stuff over the years at Dissident Voice.

Dumb ideas rise to the surface when professional managerial classes determine x and y and z for the masses, for those intersecting with anything tied to government or bureaucracy or top down idiocy thinking.

My application today is null and void because I do not have this piece of you know what “paper.” Teaching certificate, you know, a piece of paper that tells EVERYTHING about the character, life, experience, passion, vision, etc. of the person (NOT). I called the number, and the woman said it wasn’t her job description to write or determine, but the Department of Labor’s requirement. You can’t have much of a discussion with people on the other end of the bureaucratic line, even an HR at a Job Corps.

It is a conversation with a toad. Though a toad is so much more interesting than some person with their $70 K a year job, just holding on, just hanging on, just holding out.

I told her that I was living (in stable housing) 8 miles away from this Jobs Corps site, that I am seasoned beyond seasoned, and that the entire joke of education and these government jobs destroy people, youth that is. Can you imagine which “Oregon/Other State Teaching Certificate” holder might apply? This is the Oregon Coast, and housing is shit beyond shit. Feeling the strain of Don Quixote. Willy Lohman. Walter Middy. Raging against the system, the machine of idiocy.

Here my letter, attached to the application:

RE: Instructor at Angell Forest Service,  US Forest Service

To Whom It May Concern:

I am applying for this position with great enthusiasm and interest. I have been teaching youth and adults since 1983, as a graduate teaching assistant working on a masters, in El Paso. I have taught in high school programs, at community colleges, at universities, in outdoor education programs, for youth in trouble, in gang prevention programs, in prisons, and more.

I have designed courses for youth, for refugees, for adults. I also have been a substitute teacher in Washington, Vancouver, Ridgefield and Bush Prairie, as well as in Spokane. I also substituted here in Lincoln County, and for the alternative school in Lincoln City.

I have two master’s degrees, I am a dive master (recreational scuba), a cetacean naturalist (whales), photographer, and communications/English/journalism teacher.

I have taught students in Texas, Spokane, Seattle, and Portland who were going into education for undergraduate degrees. I do not have a state K12 teaching certificate.

What a waste of a job interview, a potential candidate for this vital position. I live in Waldport, have deep ties to environmental communities, and I know youth in Job Corps programs. I had two youth clients in my role as independent living program case manager in Clackamas County with Lifeworks. I went to that Job Corps many times, and even facilitated several presentations with myself as moderator and a professional football player guest.

I have the passion, the training for trauma informed case managing, I have worked with adults with learning disabilities, and I have taught every manner of audience and in many venues in many states, and in two countries (Mexico and Guatemala). I am sure the Department of Labor can be creative here and look deeper at my background, my educational experience and my vision for working with sometimes troubled youth.

I am student and client centered, and understand many aspects of mental health, have a deep knowledge of ACES, and have worked with homeless youth and adults.

Sincerely, Paul Haeder

 

Why Many Inner City Schools Function Like Prisons | Think Research Expose

 

It is the defining lack of intelligence moment after moment in this bloody country. It is the reason why students have no interest in schooling, unless daddy and mommy have a cool $200,000 a year (at least) income, and all the toys, all the trips to this or that country, to this or that museum. Tutors, and private schools. The people who end up in government, in administrations, and in private business. These people are driven by stupidity and their own cobbled thinking. But they end up controlling the masses with their backward and mean as cuss thinking. They set the rules, and there is no deviation from those stupid rules and guidelines.

No interview with me to see what I might offer youth at the job corps. No deep analysis of what I am as a teacher, mentor, facilitator, inspiration, man, world traveler, thinker, and, well, the list is long. But these outfits do not want innovators and passion and smarts and outside the box thinkers, systems thinkers, deeply cultured and intersectional leftwing men.

Time and time again, the absurdity of this society, that is, western society, plays out in millions of examples DAILY. For me, who is trying to find some home for a few years, some place to do good, to help youth, to learn how young people navigate the world, I get this shit.

Has anyone seen how quickly education is going toward Zoom Doom? How many teachers are dropping out? How charter theft schools are colonizing the “education” field? How the next and the next bioweapon variant, Delta, what have you, will knee-jerk CDC and Biden and Blue Governors for more lockdowns?

These Department of Labor folk call this a GS-09 position. Recall, that retired colonels from the US Army, ending up in civil service, land at least on the GS-14 to start, and I’ve been a writing teacher in El Paso for the US Army, and worked with some numb nuts and numb ovaries at the GS-17 level. Double dipping (retirement from the welfare state military), pieces of human stain. Some of them did real estate calls from their government offices, at taxpayer expense.

No getting to first base here for me, no place to plead my case, no place to enter into a sound argument why a teacher with decades teaching doesn’t need that fucking teaching certificate.

This GS-09 job pay? $53,433 a year!

Not rolling in money, but imagine giving me that shot, for a few years, and, then, imagine the changes that these young people’s lives might experience. This is psycho, insane, breaking of the human spirit, killing of youthful genius. Look below:

An Unschooling Manifesto: Why Do Many Schools Resemble Prisons?

Traditional education can be seen as sculptural in nature, individual destiny is written somewhere within the human being, awaiting dross to be removed before a true image shines forth. Schooling, on the other hand, seeks a way to make mind and character blank, so others may chisel the destiny thereon.

The net effect of holding children in confinement for twelve years without honor paid to the spirit is a compelling demonstration that the State considers the Western spiritual tradition dangerous, subversive. And of course it is. School is about creating loyalty to certain goals and habits, a vision of life, support for a class structure, an intricate system of human relationships cleverly designed to manufacture the continuous low level of discontent upon which mass production and finance rely. — John Taylor —Gatto, The Underground History of American Education

What's the difference between school and prison? | Millard Fillmore's Bathtub

This all falls on deaf ears. I have friend after friend who just know I should get a few million bucks from some philanthropy to do what I can do and know what should be done —

  • Micro-housing for houseless and those disabled and aging in place.
  • Thirty acres or more with community buildings/kitchens/workshops.
  • Real community gardens/greenhouses.
  • College students in nursing, social work, other fields interning.
  • School youth (K12) coming to these communities for weekend intensive outdoor education encampments: catching salmon; smoking salmon; building teepees; constructing one tiny home on wheels in one three-day encampment; streaming live to other youth in other countries; building fires, making musical instruments, learning basket weaving; elders and others on site discussing the realities of the world from indigenous knowledge; discussing the failures of capitalism, and bringing youth to understand that creating their tribes (friends, elders, others) is the only way to survive the climate disaster, the coming of AI and robotics, and more.
  • Photo spread for the weekend; filmmaking; learning how to write to politicians, talk before city councils, and how to run for dog catcher or school board and WHY.
  • Canning and preserving.
  • So much more.

The reality is this sort of model (I have a much more detailed model or models, that is) is rubber meeting the road. Real learning, real deep thinking, real critique thinking skills, real debate skills, real ways to fight city hall, lobby and form community networks and organizing. In a natural setting. No rows of desks, prison bells, redneck vice principals and yawning PE instructors.

Instead, we get Dollar Tree education and drive-through shit for schools, which are indoctrination camps, macho camps, personality bashing camps, peer pressure dungeons, schools where the turnkeys are not the sharpest pencils in the box!

Forest Schools: Education in the great outdoors

Outdoor School | OSU Extension Service

Outdoor Environmental Education Program - Western Suffolk Boces
Pandemic could decimate environmental, outdoor science education programs | Berkeley News

Why Outdoor Experiences Are Necessary for Early Childhood Education | Resilient Educator

The post Too Many Years Teaching at Multiple Locations in Multiple Situations with Diverse Students: Need Not Apply! first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Public Money Used to Increase Segregated Charter Schools

It is well-documented that charter schools intensify segregation on the basis of ability, language, race, and socioeconomic status. Charter school demographics frequently do not reflect the demographics of public schools in their communities. This is because privately-operated non-profit and for-profit charter schools routinely engage in selective enrollment practices even though they are “schools of choice” ostensibly “open to all.” Families may “choose” a charter school but the charter school ultimately decides who is admitted, who stays, and who doesn’t. Public schools, on the other hand, accept all students at all times. They are also more accountable and transparent than privately-operated non-profit and for-profit charter schools.

The latest report on federally-funded segregation in the charter school sector comes from the award-winning veteran educator Carol Burris of the Network for Public Education (NPE). Carol has produced several well-researched reports in the past couple of years on extensive fraud, waste, and abuse in the crisis-prone charter school sector. She has focused mainly on the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) which annually funnels hundreds of millions of public dollars to charter schools operated by unelected individuals. The program is authorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Despite many attempts, the federal government has largely ignored multiple public demands to end this state-organized corruption to pay the rich. This is despite the fact that president Joe Biden promised to ban for-profit charter schools and support efforts to bring more accountability to charters. Instead, the Biden administration has stuck to spending $440 million on the Charter Schools Program this year, which is a default win for privately-operated charter schools. Since 1994 the federal government has funneled about $4 billion in public funds to these segregated contract schools through the Charter School Program. Through her previous work, Carol showed that millions of dollars were sent to many charter schools that either never opened or operated only for a few years and then closed, leaving many families high and dry.

In her latest investigation, Carol shows how public money from the federal Charter Schools Program is being used in North Carolina to strengthen segregation through the mechanism of charter schools. These are alternatively known as “white-flight academies.” Among other things, Carol notes that the justification for the use of many grant monies from the federal Charter Schools Program is often weak and makes no sense. Many disturbing details and cases can be found here. For example, 11 charter schools in North Carolina that received CSP funds “have significant overrepresentation of White students or a significant underrepresentation of Black students compared with the population of the public school district in which they are located.” So much for the worn-out assertion by charter school advocates that charter schools are about the civil rights of minority students.

Sadly, there is no shortage of such examples in many cities across the country. It is not easy to find charter schools that are diverse and integrated. In Rochester, New York, for example, the Genesee Community Charter School is not only known for being predominantly white and wealthy, but also for resisting any attempts to diversify and integrate. The New York State Board of Regents has repeatedly criticized the privately-operated charter school for maintaining a student body that is much wealthier and whiter than the Rochester City School District. The same can be said about the notorious Success Academies charter school chain in New York City. Many of these charter schools, it should also be noted, rely heavily on anachronistic Skinnerian behaviorist practices to enforce student obedience.

Another troubling twist in the evolution of privately-operated charter schools is the growing use by religious organizations, churches, Catholic schools, and private schools of the charter school mechanism to further segregate communities. This is another expression of the accelerated neoliberal restructuring of state arrangements by powerful private interests to seize public funds in the context of a continually failing economy. In the neoliberal period, public authority is increasingly being usurped to serve privileged private interests in the sphere of education. Private entities of various kinds are eager to fund their operations through the seizure of public funds that belong to the public sector. This parasitic appropriation of public funds by non-transparent and non-diverse private or religious entities usually goes hand in hand with offering fewer services and programs as well (e.g., transportation services and food programs). And more often than not, to make-up for “cost reductions,” parents are pressured or required to donate time and/or money to these private entities.

Privatized education arrangements are rarely about serving all students, let alone equally. More than anything else, such arrangements reflect and fortify the stratification found in society. They reinforce various inequalities. They do not reduce exclusion and segregation. They are the opposite of unitary public school systems that have emerged around the world to educate all students as part of a modern nation-building project.

Modern societies based on mass industrial production cannot survive without large, public, free, universal, school systems. Modern societies should not reduce a social necessity and public good like education to a commodity or treat parents and students as consumers who fend-for-themselves in an increasingly chaotic and anarchic education marketplace. A system of winners and losers ensures inequality and belongs in the past.

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30th Anniversary of Charter Schools: Three Decades of Neoliberal Wrecking

June 4, 2021 marked the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the first charter school law in the United States. Privately-operated charter schools are now legal in 45 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont have no laws enabling the creation of charter schools.

About 3.3 million youth are currently enrolled in roughly 7,400 charter schools across the country. By comparison, about 50 million students are enrolled in 100,000 public schools in the U.S. The U.S. public education system has been around for more than 150 years and educates 90% of the nation’s youth.

While charter schools, also known as contract schools, have grown rapidly over the last three decades, so have the endless serious problems associated with them, including the closure of more than 3,000 charter schools, usually for reasons such as financial malfeasance, mismanagement, or poor academic performance. Scandal, corruption, and controversy have been the main fellow-travelers of these segregated and outsourced schools operated by unelected individuals.

From the perspective of major owners of capital and their representatives, there is much to celebrate about the 30th anniversary of charter schools, namely the neoliberal restructuring of the state to undermine the American public education system in order to funnel tens of billions of public dollars from public schools into their private hands. Not surprisingly, the rise of privately-operated non-profit and for-profit charter schools has been a disaster for public schools, the public interest, society, the economy, and the national interest. The only thing “innovative” about charter schools is their ability to develop new forms of transferring public funds to narrow private interests under the banner of high ideals. Charter schools have always been pay-the-rich schemes that take socially-produced wealth out of the economy and leave the public worse off. As “private-public-partnerships” they represent another form of state-organized corruption to pay the rich. This has been the norm since 1991. Charter schools never started out as a humble, virtuous, organic, pro-social, benign, grass-roots “experiment.” Charter schools are a textbook example of neoliberal arrangements in the sphere of education. Their different forms, shapes, profiles, locations, and sizes do not change their neoliberal essence.

The public should not forget that charter schools are not public schools and that many, if not most, are not really “tuition-free” or “open to all kids.” It is well-known that charter schools choose parents and students, not the other way around. Charter schools routinely cherry-pick students and engage in discriminatory enrollment practices. It is also the case that many charter school authorizers are not really public in the proper sense of the word either. It is also worth noting that deregulated charter schools are created by private citizens.

Charter schools have not closed the “opportunity gap” or the “achievement gap.” Thousands have a poor academic track record. Their “autonomy” and “flexibility” to deliver “results” in the name of “accountability,” “choice,” and “competition” is another way of saying that they do not follow the same public standards that apply to public schools and that they operate with impunity. Coast to coast, the gap between charter school hype and charter school realities remains as wide today as it was 30 years ago. Charter schools are notorious for over-promising and under-delivering.

Charter schools are segregated, deunionized, unaccountable, non-transparent, deregulated schools that spend lots of money on advertising—just like a private business. They usually over-pay administrators, are run by unelected individuals, and cannot levy taxes. They hire more inexperienced and more uncertified teachers than public schools, generally pay teachers less than their public school counterparts, and also tend to have fewer nurses than public schools. Many charter school teachers are not even part of an employee retirement system.

Charter schools also tend to offer fewer full-fledged services and programs than public schools. Many do not provide transportation or proper food services and sports programs. On top of all this, hundreds of charter schools open and close every year, ensuring chaos, instability, and anarchy in the sphere of education, which is terrible for teaching, learning, and community.

Importantly, charter school promoters openly and publicly embrace “free market” ideology even though recurring economic crises have thoroughly discredited such an antisocial ideology. It is generally recognized that there is little that is “free” about the “free market” in a highly monopolized economy with a fine-tuned revolving door between government and rich individuals. With no sense of irony, charter school promoters casually talk about students and parents as consumers and shoppers instead of humans and citizens with basic rights that a modern government is duty-bound to guarantee in practice. Charter school promoters believe that a social Darwinist outlook based on winners and losers—competition—is wonderful for education. They think this is a good healthy thing. They endorse the idea and strategy that “edupreneurs” should use public dollars to run segregated schools governed by unelected individuals. They loathe the American public education system which has produced millions of educated individuals who have built the nation. They have no conception of education as a social responsibility and a human right that must be guaranteed. In the context of a modern socialized economy, charter schools increase social irresponsibility and anarchy in the sphere of education.

Charter school advocates are also averse to grasping the critical difference between public and private. They prefer to blur this distinction for private financial gain. Charter school advocates believe that if they assert 50 times a day that a charter school is a public school, then this will cause people to not recognize their privatized, marketized, corporatized character. They think that no one can see charter schools for the pay-the-rich schemes that they are.

There is nothing to celebrate about neoliberal education arrangements called charter schools. They have not solved any problems, just created more. Charter schools cannot be prettified no matter how hard their supporters and promoters try. They are terribly inequitable and do not meet the nation’s needs. Thirty years later all we have is even more controversy and scandal surrounding charter schools. Cyber charter schools and so-called “no-excuses” charter schools are especially scandalous. Is this what a successful “education experiment” looks like? What evidence is there that the next 30 years will be any better?

Charter schools have changed the American education landscape for the worse, which is why opposition to them is steadily-growing, not diminishing. This is bound to happen as the many problems with charter schools become more exposed and analyzed. The public gains nothing from funneling socially-produced wealth into the hands of narrow private interests concerned with cashing in on kids. Neoliberal arrangements in education are a big step backward, not something to rejoice.

One of the ironies in this entire saga is that one of the oldest charter schools in Minnesota, home to the first charter school law in the U.S., was recently shut down for the usual litany of serious problems affecting most charter schools. Many charter schools have a short shelf life. Hundreds close every year, leaving many minority families feeling angry and abandoned. Not surprisingly, charter school promoters rarely highlight, let alone openly and honestly discuss, the many grave problems plaguing the crisis-prone charter school sector. They prefer instead to present a Disney-esque portrait of charter schools, something akin to a fairy tale.

The next 30 years can be much better and much different. We can have a public school system free of the influence of privileged private interests. We can and must have a public school system controlled by a public authority worthy of the name.

Moving forward, it is critical for defenders of public education and the public interest to keep developing and strengthening the movement against privatization in general and school privatization in particular. This is an exciting time to keep galvanizing more people from all walks of life to keep public funds, resources, and facilities in public hands. History and justice are on our side.

Capital-centered interests will always oppose human-centered interests. Fortunately, there is a growing recognition that privatizers and neoliberals are historically superfluous and a big burden on society.

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Exposing the Motive for the Sudden Wave of Attacks on Schools That Teach Critical Race Theory

When North Carolina public school teacher Justin Parmenter penned an opinion piece for the Charlotte Observer about the difficulties of teaching in hybrid mode during the pandemic, with students both in-person in the classroom and remote online, he didn’t expect to get called out by a legislator on the floor of the state House of Representatives.

The main point of his editorial, Parmenter told me in a phone call, was that teaching his seventh-grade class in the hybrid model isn’t sustainable because it forces teachers to make compromises that limit the learning opportunities of their students.

But that point was not what Iredell County Republican Representative Jeff McNeely was compelled to comment on. Instead, he attacked Parmenter, who was named a finalist for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Teacher of the Year in 2016, for attempting to “indoctrinate” his students about “environmental pollution.”

As Parmenter explains on his personal blog, McNeely’s remarks referred to a piece of writing Parmenter asked his students to respond to that happened to be about pollution, and McNeely made his comment in the context of a discussion in the House about a new bill, HB 755, that “would require schools to post online a comprehensive list of all teaching, classroom, and assignment materials used by every teacher in every class session,” according to WRAL. McNeely spoke out in support of the bill in the House Education Committee meeting because he felt it would “help the parents going to the next grade be able to look and see what that teacher taught the year before” and, apparently, avoid having their children exposed to teachers who would “teach ’em in a certain way to make ’em believe something other than the facts.”

Aside from pollution being, indeed, a fact, what HB 755 proposes is impractical, to say the least, Parmenter told me. “Teaching is an art form,” he said, with multiple opportunities for “teachable moments” to arise spontaneously during every lesson. Having to document that would not only be tedious busywork, but it could also discourage teachers from tailoring instruction to students.

Parmenter suspects that McNeely’s comment, rather than being an honest discourse on pedagogy, is more likely a ham-handed attempt at making a “cheap political point.”

“It’s not surprising,” Parmenter said, “given the current national context.”

The national context he was referring to is the wave of agitation drummed up by right-wing political organizations and Republican politicians over the perceived “indoctrination” of students that occurs in public schools.

‘None of This Is Really About Critical Race Theory’

A prominent flashpoint in this upheaval is the supposed infiltration of the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) in public school curricula. The controversy “exploded in the public arena this spring,” reports Education Week, “especially in K-12, where numerous state legislatures are debating bills seeking to ban… [CRT’s] use in the classroom.”

The bills have surfaced in at least 15 states, according to Education Week. That includes North Carolina’s version, which debuted in May, NC Policy Watch reported.

The bills repeat a nearly identical set of prohibitions on “how teachers can discuss racism, sexism, and other social issues,” according to Education Week, using language similar to that of an “executive order former President Donald Trump put in place to ban diversity training for federal workers.” President Biden has rescinded that order, but efforts to ban diversity training are continuing in universities and school districts, according to the Washington Post, where the focus of legislation has extended beyond employee training to include school curricula and teaching practices.

The specifics in these bills ban teachers from addressing concepts related to race and gender, for instance, prohibiting teachers from making anyone “feel discomfort or guilt” because of their race or gender. But the list of transgressions seems purposefully vague and general, almost as if to invite a lawsuit, explains Adam Harris in the Atlantic. And proponents of the bills have adopted critical race theory, an academic idea dating back to the 1970s, as a “shorthand” for their concerns.

“But none of this is really about CRT,” James Ford told me in a phone call. Ford is a former North Carolina Teacher of the Year who currently represents the Southwest Education Region on the North Carolina State Board of Education and serves as the executive director of the Center for Racial Equity in Education.

“First, in these calls to stop the teaching of CRT,” he said, “there is no clarification of what CRT really is. There’s no argumentative critique of the actual concept.” Indeed, many of the bills don’t even mention the term.

The real target, Ford explained, is “divisiveness.” For the people who criticize teachers and promote these bills, Ford believes, there can be “no nuance at all” in discussing “matters of religion and customs and the values of rugged individualism and free-market ideology.” There can be no challenges of assumptions and no revising of long-standing mythologies about America and American society.

According to Ford, these people see education as a process about “making kids assimilate,” and “simply talking about a subject like pollution takes on a heightened sense of alarm about society being undermined.”

Outlawing ‘Divisiveness’ in Schools

Many of the bills specifically target the banning of teaching “divisive concepts,” according to Politico, with one bill, in West Virginia, going so far as to call for teachers to be “dismissed or not reemployed for teaching… divisive concepts.”

Proposed laws against “divisiveness” in schools prompt Ford to question, “Divisive for who?” and he notes that the people behind all these bills are overwhelmingly white, wealthier folks who have generally benefited most from the nation’s education system. Ford suggests they may be provoking white resentment against public schools because schools are now more populated with Black and Brown children who may express doubts about a prevailing narrative about the country that may not include people who look like them.

Ford also finds it ironic that people who are intent on outlawing school “indoctrination” have chosen to impose their own agenda by attacking critical thinking and questioning of cultural norms, which, to him, is what truly sounds like indoctrination.

From a practical standpoint, it would be nearly impossible to police what goes on inside hundreds of thousands of classrooms. And it’s hard to imagine how teachers of American history would steer clear of violating these laws while teaching about the Trail of Tears, slavery, the Civil War, and the suffragette and Civil Rights movements, or how English teachers could engage students in writing while avoiding current events and topics that are apt to elicit meaningful responses from students.

Because these concerted attacks on public schools and teachers make little sense academically, they have prompted many observers to consider whether there is more of a political intent behind the effort.

Parmenter suggested that attacks on schools and teachers are an attempt to change political momentum at a time when national leadership under a Democratic presidential administration enjoys high approval ratings.

New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg seems to agree, writing, “Part of the reason the right is putting so much energy into this crusade [against the teaching of CRT] is because it can’t whip up much opposition to the bulk of Joe Biden’s agenda.” She concludes, “Telling parents that liberals want to make their kids hate their country and feel guilty for being white might be absurd and cynical. It also looks like it might be effective.”

But that argument makes sense only if you ignore the other education agenda right-wing politicians have rolled out at the very same time they are whipping up white resentment over diversity in schools.

School Choice’s ‘Best Year Ever’

It’s certainly no coincidence that in many states where there are bills attacking the teaching of divisive topics—including Georgia, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, South Dakota, and West Virginia—state lawmakers are also considering or enacting new “school choice” laws to create or expand programs that give parents vouchers so they can remove their children from public schools and send them to private schools at taxpayer expense. Other school choice acts create or expand programs that give parents taxpayer dollars to spend on homeschooling and other educational expenses they incur for their children.

The 2020-2021 school year has been the “best year ever” for school choice advocates, says Alan Greenblatt on Governing: The Future of States and Localities. Greenblatt notes the proliferation of new laws has created education savings accounts that give parents public funds to pay for “a wide range of education-related services.” Other laws create or expand state tax-credit programs that funnel donations from businesses and wealthy people into school vouchers for parents.

Many of these new provisions have been passed in states that had previously resisted school choice programs—such as Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and West Virginia—or that—like Georgia, Maryland, Montana, and South Dakota—had very small programs that are now ballooning into massive redistributions of public funds for education.

“States that were long resistant [to school choice] have now opened up,” Greenblatt observes, and once the programs start up, regardless of how small, “they tend to expand, not contract.”

Greenblatt credits the pandemic for creating a lot of the momentum for this expansion of school laws. But he also quotes education historian Jack Schneider who notes that the drive for more school choice was accelerating long before COVID-19, during the expansions of charter schools under former President Barack Obama and through the fiery denunciations of “government schools” by former President Donald Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Indeed, school choice proponents like the conservative Manhattan Institute have long contended that a public school system funded by government, but with private entities providing the education services, should be “the democratic norm” for the nation. They call privatization of the school system “educational pluralism,” as opposed to the apparent divisiveness of publicly operated institutions.

“Public schooling forces zero-sum conflict such as we are seeing over CRT,” writes Neal McCluskey, the director of the libertarian Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, in RealClearPolicy. Of course, this “conflict” is “zero-sum,” as James Ford points out, only if you insist it is.

But school choice proponents like McCluskey argue that having a public system that allows people from different backgrounds to come together and share varying points of view is not “diverse” at all because it might open a window to a critique of America that potentially “demonizes” the country.

Instead, in this up-is-down and down-is-up view of the world, the only way to solve divisiveness, according to McCluskey, is by “letting millions of families and educators choose for themselves” by funding a system of privately operated schools that cater only to those parents who already share the same ideologies.

McCluskey might be correct that such a system could “end heated disagreement over ideas like CRT” in schools, but it certainly would guarantee these conflicts spill over into other arenas for these students later in life, when they become adults whose views have hardened and become more resistant to change because they never experienced real diversity of thought during their formative years.

“[A] new era of school choice vouchers may be parents’ best defense against public school curricula,” warned former Attorney General William Barr, according to Just the News, in his first public speech since leaving office under the Trump administration in December.

“Barr suggested,” Just the News reports, that “some of the new woke curricula pushed by the left might infringe religious and speech freedoms and impose a secular theology that violates the Constitution’s Establishment Clause prohibiting government from imposing religious beliefs.”

No doubt, as the effects of the pandemic wane in many places due to vaccinations, fearmongering over supposed divisiveness in public schools will only grow. It is likely that there will be a ratcheting up of the rhetoric for greater school choice to enable parents to escape the supposed adverse consequences of being exposed to anything other than long-accepted narratives about subjects, regardless of a changing world.

A new nonprofit launched in March, Parents Defending Education (PDE), has targeted “woke indoctrination” in schools, Fox News reports. PDE “is just the latest” organization to take up the cause, according to the article, which also lists Discovery Institute, Oregonians for Liberty in Education, and Parents Against Critical Race Theory.

According to Education Week, PDE has already targeted school districts around the country with federal civil rights complaints against schools that address systemic racism. The article notes that “[PDE] staffers work or previously worked at organizations such as the Cato Institute,”—where McCluskey works—the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and Coalition for TJ. The Cato and Fordham institutes are ardent proponents of school choice, and Coalition for TJ has filed a lawsuit to stop changes to admission standards that would allow more enrollment diversity at a Virginia high school.

Ford agrees that these attacks on “woke” indoctrination in schools are “unequivocally related to efforts to privatize education,” and he points out that many of the same people orchestrating these new laws targeting public education are strong proponents of school choice. “Historically, there is a pattern connecting race issues and privatization,” he says.

Numerous studies have found evidence supporting Ford’s argument, but it’s not at all hard to imagine that an effective strategy for pushing white families out of public schools is to raise fears that their children are being indoctrinated with values and beliefs that could divide them ideologically or emotionally and draw a wedge between them and their families and neighbors.

Nor is it a stretch to believe that families of color, seeing white families become enraged about the teaching of structural racism, would consider fleeing a public school to find a privately operated alternative that would be more culturally affirming for their children.

‘I Don’t Think That’s Funny at All’

In the meantime, public school teachers will be increasingly scapegoated by conservative advocates who are stigmatizing the idea of addressing controversial topics in schools. Proponents of these laws seem to not know teachers “have to leave our politics at the door,” Parmenter told me, and these conservative advocates seem to believe teachers “don’t have the integrity and professionalism to understand that [they] know there are lines you simply don’t cross.”

Parmenter senses that the negative impact these laws will have on the teaching corps, already reeling from the stress caused by the pandemic, may discourage future teachers from entering a profession where they’re constantly under the watchful eye of people who may not respect them and understand how they do their job.

“Less mysterious” to him are the negative impacts these attacks on public schools and teaching will have on students.

“For children to learn how to read and write, they need to engage with a variety of different texts,” he says, and while he found Representative McNeely’s accusations of “indoctrination” somewhat comedic—“like because I just happened to mention that the piece of writing my class focused on was about pollution, that made him think, ‘I just caught one of these Commies admitting what they are up to’”—Parmenter fears any new law that is so “invasive of teachers” will ultimately be harmful to their students. “And I don’t think that’s funny at all.”

The post Exposing the Motive for the Sudden Wave of Attacks on Schools That Teach Critical Race Theory first appeared on Dissident Voice.

New York: Oppose Charter School Cap Increase

Currently, New York State limits the number of charter schools allowed in the state to 460. In 1998, when the state passed its charter school law, the numerical limit was 100. The law has been amended three times since 1998 to not only increase the number of charter schools allowed in the state but to also further lower the standards of accountability and transparency required of privately-operated charter schools.

Putting aside the issues of inflated charter school waiting lists, widespread corruption, discriminatory enrollment practices, high teacher turnover rates, and the fact that 50 charter schools have closed in New York State over the past 20 years, this dramatic neoliberal expansion in the number of charter schools allowed in the state has produced serious problems for public schools and charter schools themselves. The biggest problem has been charter schools depriving public schools of billions of dollars in public funds, resources, and facilities while delivering unimpressive results on several levels. It is also worth noting that with black and Hispanic students making up more than 90 percent of the students enrolled in New York City’s charter schools, these schools are some of the most segregated in the country. Such a setup not only undermines public education but also harms the economy, society, and the national interest.

While nearly 400 charter schools have been authorized to date, about 325 were open in 2020-2021. New York City alone is home to about 265 charter schools. The City reached its charter school limit in March 2019. About 92 open/unused charter school slots remain available outside New York City. There are other statistics pertaining to charter schools in New York State that account for why these numbers don’t always round up evenly (e.g., the number of “conversion” charter schools established in the state over the years), but these are reliable numbers to go by. The main issue is the statewide cap on charter schools and how this is currently affecting New York City in particular.

Not surprisingly, major owners of capital are once again deploying a pitch fork mentality to bully legislators, leaders, and state and city officials to override the public interest and increase the cap on charter schools allowed in New York City. For neoliberals and privatizers there are few pay-the-rich schemes more profitable than deregulated charter schools run by unelected individuals. Owning and operating more segregated charter schools is critical for owners of capital desperately trying to counteract the law of the falling rate of profit. The neoliberal restructuring of state laws is critical to maximizing profit as fast as possible, regardless of how damaging this is to the natural and social environment. Neoliberals and privatizers want laws changed in order to advance their narrow private interests at the expense of the common good—and all of this ruinous activity is carried out under the veneer of high ideals (e.g., “empowering parents” and offering “choices”).

While preventing a rise in the number of charter schools allowed in New York State is a good thing, it would be immensely better if no public funds, resources, and buildings found their way into the hands of charter school owners and operators. These public resources are produced by working people and belong to the public, not narrow private interests. Capitalist firms like Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) and Education Management Organizations (EMOs) should not have access to public funds and resources that belong to the public. Ending the flow of public funds, resources, and facilities to the private interests that operate non-profit and for-profit charter schools would greatly benefit public schools, society, the economy, and the national interest.

The public should remain vigilant about the non-stop effort by pro-privatization fanatics to push for an increase in the number of charter schools allowed in the state and city. No one should be fooled by their grandstanding and twisted logic. Now is the time to declare a moratorium on all new charter schools and to ensure that public funds, resources, and facilities remain in public hands only.

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School Privatizers Restructure State of Iowa to Seize Public Funds

School privatizers and their political representatives are relentless in their efforts to restructure the state along neoliberal lines so as to restrict democracy and funnel more public funds into private hands. Privatization is a main mechanism for enriching major owners of capital, eliminating democratic arrangements, and degrading the public interest in the context of a continually failing economy. Privatization allows neoliberals to temporarily avert the law of the falling rate of profit under capitalism.

Recently, the Governor of Iowa, Kim Reynolds, signed a law that significantly increases the ability of major owners of capital to siphon public funds from public schools by creating more charter schools while also eliminating long-standing democratic arrangements, namely local school control over what happens in local school districts.

Under the new law, neoliberals seeking to privately appropriate public money can circumvent local public school boards and apply directly to the State Board of Education to start a charter school operated by unelected individuals.

The public has no say over this or what happens to the taxes they pay.

The new law no longer requires the approval of privately-operated charter schools by local school districts and sets the stage for even less accountability and transparency from charter school operators. The new law will further deprive Iowa’s public schools of much-needed funds produced by working people.

Through such top-down actions, the governor and other representatives of the rich refuse to take action to fully-fund and support Iowa’s public schools and have instead decided to make families and students fend-for-themselves when it comes to getting an education. This chaos and anarchy will be unleashed in the name of “choice” and “empowering parents.”

Currently, there are only two charter schools in Iowa. This number will increase rapidly now that the door has been opened to more effortlessly establishing neoliberal school arrangements. It is much easier for privatizers to get approval from one high-level state authority (e.g., the State Board of Education) than it is from trying to get approval from one of dozens or hundreds of local state authorities like public schools.

There are 100,000 public schools in the U.S. and they are governed by school boards comprised of publicly elected individuals. School boards are a main form of elected governance that neoliberals and privatizers are desperate to eliminate because “too much democracy” hinders privatization and the elimination of the public interest. Neoliberals and privatizers want the public to believe that the triumph of their capital-centered will over the public will is in the best interest of humanity.

Far from solving any problems though, privatization intensifies inequality, reduces efficiency, lessens transparency, increases corruption, raises costs, diminishes workers’ voices, lowers the quality of services, takes money out of the economy, and undermines the general interests of society. It is through these antisocial arrangements and methods that owners of capital are able to seize large sums of public wealth to temporarily counteract the law of the falling rate of profit under capitalism.

It won’t be long before the public begins to hear of the scandals, poor performance, segregation, arrests, fraud, and corruption that invariably accompany charter schools. Speaking up now and planning new forms of action with analysis to advance the public interest are critical. Privatizers and neoliberals are not invincible, they can be defeated. But even when they are defeated people must be vigilant to ensure that privatizers and neoliberals do not succeed in any future attempts to violate the public interest.

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