Category Archives: Public Schools

Joe Biden Supports Privately-Operated Charter Schools

Joe Biden is one of about two dozen 2020 democratic candidates running for President of the United States. This is not his first presidential campaign.

Biden served under President Barack Obama as Vice President for eight years. Obama became well-known for many antisocial policies in many spheres, especially education, including the aggressive promotion of privately-operated charter schools that siphon enormous sums of money from over-tested, under-funded, and constantly-demonized public schools. Obama also supported the widely-rejected Race to the Top law, the much-hated Common Core, and the heavily-loathed No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). In 2015, Obama replaced NCLB with a worse law: the Every Student Succeeds Act. The education record of Obama and Biden is terrible.

During a recent two-day swing through Texas, Biden said the following at an event with teachers: “I do not support any federal money … for for-profit charter schools — period. The bottom line is it siphons off money from public schools, which are already in enough trouble.”1

But with the exception of millionaires, billionaires, and their retinue, who isn’t opposed to for-profit K-12 schools? Such “schools” have always been poor quality, corrupt, and immoral; they were established mainly to further enrich the wealthy few at the expense of young people.

It should be noted that for-profit charter schools actually make up a larger portion of the unstable and unaccountable charter school sector than many are reporting.

It is also important to appreciate that Biden, like Presidential democratic candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, is not addressing the fact that nonprofit charter schools are just as destructive, if not more harmful, than for-profit charter schools. The “for-profit/nonprofit” dichotomy is largely a distinction without a difference. It does not mean that much. In various ways nonprofit charter schools often get away with more than for-profit schools. Nonprofit charter schools are engaged in many ways with for-profit entities and organizations. Wealthy private interests have had no trouble using the nonprofit status to enrich themselves.

Biden’s conscious refusal to oppose charter schools is most evident in his simple statement that, “There are some charter schools that work.”2

Clearly, Biden thinks there is a place in society for privately-operated charter schools.

This is all charter school promoters need to hear. This is music to the ears of charter school boosters. Charter school advocates can now rest easy knowing that Biden, like Obama and the vast majority of 2020 democratic presidential hopefuls, is no threat to charter schools.

Biden’s assertion that “There are some charter schools that work” is nothing more than another expression of the erroneous and confused idea that, somehow, charter schools really are, or can be, valid, legitimate, responsible, productive, and much-needed arrangements in society.

In reality, pay-the-rich schemes like privately-operated contract schools that parasitically drain socially-produced wealth from schools and society are the opposite of what society needs. Pay-the-rich schemes undermine the economy and the national interest as well.

Interestingly, Biden conveniently fails to mention charter schools on his official campaign website; he sidesteps the issue, thereby revealing again his implicit support for such deunionized and segregated schools rife with fraud and racketeering. At least Bernie Sanders’ official education platform mentions charter schools openly and frequently.

It is also worth pointing out that Joe Biden’s brother, Frank Biden, has been heavily involved in the charter school sector for years.3

At the end of the day, it does not matter that much if charter schools are for-profit or nonprofit: they are still privately-operated, deregulated, segregated, poorly-supervised, deunionized, low-transparency, scandal-ridden contract schools that drain much-needed funds from demonized public schools. Nonprofit and for-profit charter schools also engage in extensive fraud, have high employee turnover rates, frequently perform poorly, and typically over-pay administrators.

Society can do well without charter schools.

  1. Svitek, P. Biden makes first Texas trip as a 2020 presidential candidate, pitching new education plan, 2019, May 28, The Texas Tribune.
  2. Klein, R.  Joe Biden criticizes charter schools for taking money from other public schools, May 29, 2019,  HuffPost.
  3. Mercedes Schneider’s Blog, “Frank Biden, his for-profit charter chain, Mavericks in education, and more“, April 28, 2019.

Finding Space Between Despair and Validation

There is nothing very remarkable about being immortal; with the exception of mankind, all creatures are immortal, for they know nothing of death. What is divine, terrible, and incomprehensible is to know oneself immortal.
— Borges, “The Immortal”, IV, in The Aleph (1949)

All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.
— Jorge Luis Borges

I knew it would come at me sooner or later, that feeling of dread that I had steeled myself against . . . staving off that realization that the books are so cooked that every level of societal organization in the USA (elsewhere, too, as in the UK, take, for example, the excellent movie, I, Daniel Blake) is rotting from the inside-out, outside-in. I’ve kept that juggling inside my mental space for a long time, but the blood-brain barrier has been pretty much intact, cloistering away intellectual realization from emotional acceptance; i.e., vulnerability.  It’s this inoculation many of us in the middle of the muck — radical journalism, even more radical social services, and, for this article, beyond radical education —  have to succumb to and for which we have to continue to ramify our emotional ‘scapes with boosters to make it through a day or week or month of travails.

I have to insert a full disclaimer: I know I am not living in Guatemala, San Salvador, Bangladesh, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia or Palestine. Things — basic living conditions — are so-so grotesque in other countries where capitalism and despotic fascism have ensconced those places with the plague of Little Eichmann’s and narcissistic racists who do the bidding of the moneyed classes (sic). Millions of babies are dying of gut diseases a year because of shitty water systems or none at all . . . because of Capitalism; the plague of misogyny is destroying the futures of women and girls in places like Saudi Arabia or a thousand other nations . . .  because of religion; resources are continually being polluted, tainted or collapsing  . . . because of Western Culture’s rapacious appetites, all flowing out of the sewage drain that defines Capitalism. All of that to the 10th power in so-called “third world” societies compared to “our” dragging lives, and, mine, sure (since I maybe enlightened, but too I am pressed into the strata of the death system . . .  USA capitalism), so, sure, how can I complain. Anything the rest of the non-Western world has to go through daily overshadows even the hard times many of “our” people in “our” country face with this old time religion of corporate-government fascism.

Good stuff daily at Dissident Voice, as in:

It is strange to watch the sleepy drama of airports, in which a bourgeoisie and a working class effortlessly intermingle, both seemingly inured to the routines of capitalist life. Something soulless inhabits the pace of capitalist life. One observes it here in the deadened gaze of the wage workers, watching their lives tick away in [airport] terminal jobs; but also in the ceaseless arrivals and departures of businessmen charging off to another sales conference; and in the harried rush of families to make it on their annual holiday junket. One wonders if any of these classes, more the workers than the professional caste, might ever revolt against the system that keeps them ensnared in their drudgery.

— Jason Hirthler, “The Curious Malaise of the Middle Class

We’ll be getting to that soulless rendering of Capitalist lives soon. For now, I’m not talking about a complete blow-out of my emotions here, but I knew that through teaching, yet again, in a PK12 system out here on the Oregon Coast, as a hired gun substitute teacher, I’d open myself up to that sinking feeling not so much of despair, but validation that the entire country has been sold down the river with a super majority of its people colonized by the thinking, or lack thereof, created by the taker class, the destroyer species, so more victims by the thousands in their cribs are created for the elite to chew up every so much and completely every day.

Then millions daily in our public schools, chewed up and spit out. But still marks for a society of Mafiosi-PayPal-PayDay loan sharks that profit in pain, dissolution, human toil, poverty, struggle, economic hell, emotional insanity, and ethical dissuasion.

I knew going into this research project — to discover out how to wrap up my concept for a short book on The Good, Bad and Ugly of American Ed — it would be rough sailing on the edges of this strange continent since I am working in a rural county with high poverty rates, high parental drug use,  homelessness and consistent precarity in the economic realm, with parents working 12-hour gigs or four jobs to a family, and a class of people who have shuttered themselves with beach-combing, Pinot Gris-loving, tourist junkets to Mexico, la Provence in France and ski resorts and mud cleansing camps in Montana. Plus, it’s Oregon, on the coast, a very racist place/history of sundown laws (not to say New York City or Chicago or LA aren’t racist super max militarized black man/woman/Latinix hating police mafia), where the rare sane and giver tribes person is a diamond yet to be found.

Inoculation for me is that I might find personal fortitude from all my many years geriatrically speaking and many more experiences living on the planet dredging up all the detritus deposited in the process of bearing witness to the failure that is America —  the Prison Complex, America — the Warring Complex, America — the Enemy of All Good People Complex, America — the Vapidity Complex, America — the All Polluting Complex. One can still hold out hope for some semblance of solidarity from cohorts and like-minded individuals within my geographical region.

The truth is that while the national media, and the national news and national academics blather on and on about, sure, important issues such as USA Democrats and Republicans parsing out why locking up whistle blowers or jailing journalists like Assange is good/bad, or how the USA ended up bombing thousands of civilians in Raqqa, or, say, the story about Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez’s family suing the Border Patrol for $100 million after the Guatemalan was murdered by an agent last year on the Texas border, the work to be done at the local level, even within a fifth grade classroom, is monumental, almost impossible in this murderous carnival of capitalism gone rogue. Wave after wave of spasms after viewing or hearing any number of stories pumped out on the ticker-tape voyeurism that is Bing or Yahoo or Fox or CNN “news” (sic) feeds is interesting in an ironic way — as a student of journalism-media-public opinion trends.

But the toll on communities, on individual children, is so-so deep and grave and beyond the abilities of a Melinda Gates or Michelle Obama or Elon Musk to even begin to comprehend, let alone beyond their capabilities to just sit down and honorably and truthfully engage in healing, or dialogue.

Witnessing the absurdity that is American and Capitalistic exceptionalism, in real time, during work, while trying to accomplish  something worthy, like teaching youth six years to 18 years old, puts a heavy toll on some of us when we many times confront the injustice and insanity of it all, head on. It’s a toll tied to our personal activities of daily living in a colonized world, where, no kidding, someone like me (and I have very few friends or acquaintances who would agree with me on the following spot on quote half a century old, and counting) can’t remove what has become a default fine print disclaimer that should be plastered on anything coming out of America, and American-drenched marketing campaigns of the murderers who run Corporations, large and small:

If America is the culmination of Western white civilization, as everyone from the Left to the Right declares, then there must be something terribly wrong with Western white civilization. This is a painful truth; few of us want to go that far…. The truth is that Mozart, Pascal, Boolean algebra, Shakespeare, parliamentary government, baroque churches, Newton, the emancipation of women, Kant, Marx, Balanchine ballets, et al, don’t redeem what this particular civilization has wrought upon the world. The white race is the cancer of human history; it is the white race and it alone—its ideologies and inventions—which eradicates autonomous civilizations wherever it spreads, which has upset the ecological balance of the planet, which now threatens the very existence of life itself.

— Susan Sontag, Partisan Review, Vol. 34 No. 1 1967.

This is no flippant thing I’m expressing here, yet so many people have attacked this critique, Sontag’s, that is, and my ascribing it, so deeply, and they rebuff even considering it with so much contrarianism filled with paranoia, or that disease of white guilt, or exceptionalism, or something more, something really nefarious.

The bottom line, a fourth grade thinker like Trump and his coterie of asinine, ignorant, rich, degraded, full-on psychopathic followers, in and out of his administration, hate my students. These students who are 30 to a class. Students who have four or five bullies in each class. Students who have driveling principals who are afraid of their own shadows. Students who are 576 to one counselor on hand. Students who have Chromebooks and giant caterpillar math games in seventh grade. Students who are fed the entrails of fast food and the most dangerous food for lunch that it just makes a grown person cry. Students who are forced in classrooms with bachelor degreed teachers, mostly all with their hearts in the right place, but floundering under the weight of shitty wages and economies that take up more than half our income to just make rent.

Students with local beaches that have Memorial Day warnings of fecal matter in the tides. Students with clear cuts peppered all around them and the follow up aerial spraying of Agent Orange like derivatives to keep the invasives down. Students who have no parks to speak of, no museums, no trolley services to help them get from one beach to the next. Students who are forced to listen to military recruiters, and students bred in the faux patriotism that calls all boys and girls to seriously consider the all-volunteer military (economic draft, that is)  as a gateway to college, when the majority of youth see no end in sight in school.

We hate these kids, if one were to look at our education policies run by an Amway sales person, Betsy DeVos, and if we look at all the other cabinet level people, all those heads of our supposed government agencies for, by and because of the people, and listen to what they want in terms of tearing down every economic, environmental, educational, retirement, housing, health, energy, conservation, community development safety net, how in god’s name (sic) can any thinking adult believe that this administration or any of them really cares about the 80 percent of the country, the majority, our youth, our babies, our teens, our future?

Therein lies the catalyzing moment Friday that spurred me to write this angst-leveling piece — I again, after dozens of gigs, got from the horse’s mouth — the students — that the schools are bullying enterprises, where many in these classes call young girls and boys “fat jelly rolls, fatsos, stupid, sissies, retards, fags,” and alas, nothing is being done to rectify this. Nothing at the administration level, at the classroom level, at the parental level, at the assembly level, nothing.

And so one of these counselors, one in the school, just displayed so many levels of malpractice, stupidity, telling me, a substitute, that unless I heard the boys yelling these things, and even if the girls and boys that are the victims say that happened, are crying, are withdrawn, there is nothing he can do.

Then this ignoramous spewed some platitude about, “I told Mary to not let those boys take her power away . . . to not give them her power.” This is the state of retarded adult thinking, pure reckless operating procedures.

Then, students tell me to not be so worried that the class is going bonkers or is disruptive, or that student x and y are being not only idiots, but disrespectful of me, an elder, in some sense. That this goes on with the regular teacher, and that the students have complained about x and y bully, but to no avail.

I ask them how they even learn with all the disruptions, all the students x and y getting pulled from the classroom, or all the bells and breaks and idiotic things that supposedly have been built into the curriculum because the powers that be believe young minds can’t stick to a problem or a topic for more than 10 minutes, and anything beyond 10 minutes has to be programmed into some Chromebook moving cartoon or video game.

Teachers in middle schools who tell students, “go figure it out yourself,” when confronted with a math problem. Teachers who look like they just spent a day in Yemen under Saudi-USA bombardment after a day’s teaching.

This system for the most part is ruinous of human celebration, ruinous of honoring and stewarding young minds and bodies.

Alas, yes, fixing education is easy, but not under capitalism, not under the weight of the core curriculum or shackled by No Child Left Behind or through all the degrading junk that is shoveled down young people’s throats. Nothing in the classroom is mattering, and fixing the education system again, is what the book I am about to launch is all about.

I guess what triggered me was all the bullying, all the poor ass kids who must have demons for parents, because the amount of disrespect for teachers and peers and visitors is deafening. I am not saying all the youth are like that, or even half like those bullies, but if you get six out of 30 in a class who control the message, control the chemistry of the group dynamics, who are always vying for warped levels of attention and disruptive shenanigans, then the learning experiment begins to wither on the vine.

Add to that significant numbers of youth with behavioral plans and learning plans, youth with reading issues, with intellectual disabilities, or psychological disabilities. Youth with chronic illness. Youth from broken families. Youth with some family member in jail and with an addiction. Youth with no sense of community. Entire elementary schools, middle schools and high schools that hardly ever have anyone from the community come in to facilitate learning, let alone cadres of visiting local and regional experts in biology or other fields, or artists or just plain wise elders from tribes.

This in and of itself shows that Trump and all the suits and skirts backing him HATE America, and the way they are making America great again with untold numbers of more and more victims, beaten down by the forces of oppression and repression and suppression at earlier and earlier ages, that’s his MAGA, Trump’s army of deplorables.

Again, though, “the principal never does anything to these bullies . . . he just tells them that he will give them something if they stop bullying us . . . but they don’t stop . . . there are no consequences . . . and we just have to take it.”

Now, take that to the heart of your soul dear reading and really begin to think how we are going to get out of all the colluding and colliding messes we face in this destructive warring society when we are creating more and more causalities at younger and younger ages who will never ever be able to be part of the solution.

Truly, when the school administration knows/does diddle squat, and when some goofy counselor tells students that “getting upset about a bully is like your kryptonite . . .  letting the bullies bother you is handing them your power,” a grown man not only wants to cry, but he wants to smack that puke of a person from here to kingdom come.

Seriously.

I finish off after talking today to several people about the state of youth, the state of our schools, the state of our young people’s lack of critical thinking skills. So many civilians, or citizens, think they know what’s wrong with education, or what’s up with parents, or why millennials or those in this generation are broken. Yet, adults, so many of them, have zero tolerance for creativity, outside the box thinking, and investing in REAL education, REAL outdoor schools, REAL schools where youth are building solar panels, living in tepees, growing vegetables, planting permaculture gardens, raising chickens, collecting eggs, doing art, making instruments from which to make music, doing community film projects on the old timers, going to old folks homes and reading and performing, or bringing in homeless people to feed and clothe.

Real work, real learning, real systems thinking teaching.

Imagine hundreds or thousands of students working on drive-by photography shoots, telling neighborhood history projects, building wheelchair ramps for the handicapped, getting into real businesses and learning how to be entrepreneurs,  having bio-diesel bus trips to the state capitals weekly.

We know how to lead and follow, teach and learn, share and provide. But the systems of oppression in Capitalism make it virtually impossible to do any good with not only our young but our old, or those with disabilities, or those just out of prison, or those who are traumatized by the most brutal parents and neighborhoods.

Take the following to the bank. Yes, John wrote this decades ago, and, yes, he believed we could do wonders with schooling at home and within the communities. He did not anticipate the powers of Capitalism to generate more and more finely grained sacrifice zones at the census track level, regionally wide, entire states succumbing to an un-United States. He did not anticipate the dog-eat-dog nature of capitalism, nor did he really delve into the murderous powers that have harnessed all economic models and all business plans that the USA produces. Trillions spent on war, billions spent on propagandizing this rotten economic system, billions spent on policing and jailing, billions spent on entrapping more and more people into the madness of screens and phones and idle self-aggrandizement and narcissism.

Community schools, and schools inside the companies, and forcing bosses to give time off for workers to tend to the schools. Of course, we need to own our schools, and we need Pearson Publishing and the thousands of other leeches and bottom feeders in educational publishing and curriculum design and management and testing and computerization of learning and on-line madness to be sent to the dung heap.

I’ve noticed a fascinating phenomenon in my thirty years of teaching: schools and schooling are increasingly irrelevant to the great enterprises of the planet. No one believes anymore that scientists are trained in science classes or politicians in civics classes or poets in English classes. The truth is that schools don’t really teach anything except how to obey orders. This is a great mystery to me because thousands of humane, caring people work in schools as teachers and aides and administrators, but the abstract logic of the institution overwhelms their individual contributions. Although teachers to care and do work very, very hard, the institution is psychopathic — it has no conscience. It rings a bell and the young man in the middle of writing a poem must close his notebook and move to a different cell where he must memorize that humans and monkeys derive from a common ancestor.

Children learn what they live. Put kids in a class and they will live out their lives in an invisible cage, isolated from their chance at community; interrupt kids with bells and horns all the time and they will learn that nothing is important or worth finishing; ridicule them and they will retreat from human association; shame them and they will find a hundred ways to get even. The habits taught in large-scale organizations are deadly.

Whatever an education is, it should make you a unique individual, not a conformist; it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle the big challenges; it should allow you to find values which will be your road map through life; it should make you spiritually rich, a person who loves whatever you are doing, wherever you are, whomever you are with; it should teach you what is important, how to live and how to die.”

What’s gotten in the way of education in the United States is a theory of social engineering that says there is ONE RIGHT WAY to proceed with growing up.

― John Taylor Gattoo, Dumbing us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, February 1, 2002

“High-Quality” Charter Schools Versus “Low-Quality” Charter Schools

Charter school promoters want the public, especially poor, low-income, and vulnerable minority families who have long been exploited by the rich and their state, to believe that when it comes to nonprofit and for-profit charter schools the issue is really “high-quality” charter schools versus “low-quality” charter schools. We are told that we need more of the former and fewer of the latter.

Charter school advocates do not want anyone to believe that both the concept and the practice of charter schools are flawed and harm education, society, the economy, and the national interest. They do not want anyone asking why we have charter schools in the first place. Nor do they want people defending public schools. That bothers them. Charter schools are simply “here to stay.” Presumably, we are stuck with them and there is little we can do about them. We are to largely remain hapless victims of charter schools that increase each year.

Charter boosters want people to think that even though charter schools are plagued by endless problems and scandals, somehow their existence is legitimate, valid, and positive, and all that we have to do is make sure we are replicating “high-quality” charter schools while letting the so-called “free market” eliminate thousands of “low quality” charter schools. This will supposedly give rise to the “best of all worlds” for everyone. The fact that there are so many “low-quality” charter schools year after year is often casually glossed over or conveniently trivialized.

Both the rate and amount of failure in the charter school sector have been high for decades. There are thousands of low-quality charter schools out there. News reports on a broad range of unscrupulous and shocking activities in the charter school sector, which is tiny compared to the American public school system serving most youth, appear every few hours. A surreal atmosphere prevails in the charter school sector. The absence of a politics of social responsibility can be sharply felt.

All of this has necessarily left a bad taste in the mouths of many and tarnished the reputation of privately-operated schools that siphon billions of dollars each year from over-tested and under-funded public schools that are scapegoated, shamed, and demonized by the monopoly-controlled media every day.

Charter Schools take school funding from the bedrock of US public education.

Charter school promoters are very sensitive to criticism of charter schools and know that there are thousands of rotten charter schools across the nation, which is why they think they can fool the gullible by stressing the disinformation that what is really important and decisive is promoting “high-quality” charter schools and getting rid of “low-quality” charter schools.

The deliberate and concerted focus on the descriptor “high-quality” before the phrase “charter schools” is a sideshow designed to divert people’s attention away from the fact that there is no justification for the existence, let alone expansion, of any charter schools in the United States (or anywhere else for that matter). Just because the rich have been able to impose thousands of these segregated and deunionized “schools” on society since the early 1990s does not mean they are legitimate, socially responsible, have to be tolerated, or cannot be phased out over time. Charter schools are mainly pay-the-rich schemes that parasitically drain socially-produced wealth from the economy, society, and education.

There is no compelling reason for society to support privately-operated contract schools that choose parents and students (not the other way around), drain public coffers, perpetuate high employee turnover rates, under-enroll students with disabilities, are mired in fraud and corruption, and regularly deliver poor results.

Other false or misleading dichotomies in the “Great Charter School Debate” include:

  1. regulated verses unregulated charter schools
  2. for-profit verses nonprofit charter schools
  3. independent verses CMO/EMO charter schools
  4. online verses face-to-face/in-person charter schools

Such dichotomies are dangerous and detrimental because they distort reality and undermine the ability of people to see charter schools for what they are. They produce a debased and counterfeit consciousness by focusing on form while covering up the internal content and essence of charter schools as privately-operated contract schools. These and other dichotomies prevent people from analyzing and discussing charter schools in a serious way and reaching warranted conclusions. More often than not, the pressure is to just resort to shooting from the hip, talking off the cuff, or casually spouting off one-liners and knee-jerk assertions about charter schools—all of which are anti-analysis and do nothing to advance social consciousness and the public interest.

The main issue is the “publicness/privateness” of charter schools. There is no such thing as a public charter school. Charter schools are nonprofit and for-profit organizations that differ in fundamental ways from public schools as we know them. Among other things, nonprofit and for-profit charter schools are exempt from hundreds of public laws, rules, and regulations governing public schools. Moreover, unlike public schools, charter schools cannot levy taxes, usually lack unions, and are not governed by publicly elected and publicly accountable individuals. Many other profound differences could be listed.

Charter schools came into being nearly 30 years ago on the basis of usurping and pillaging public school systems that have been around for more than 150 years. They have always lacked most of the features of public schools and are mired in deeper controversy with each passing day.

Just as nonprofit and for-profit charter schools hurt education, society, the economy, and the national interest, so too do “high-quality” charter schools and “low-quality” charter schools.

The necessity today is for the development of a fully-funded, world-class, locally-governed system of public education available for free to anyone, at all times, in every neighborhood and every zip code. No one should be reduced to a consumer who fends-for-themselves like an animal and “shops” for a school that they may or may not get into and that may or may not be high quality. A society based on large-scale industrial production that has to meet the diverse needs of millions of people cannot leave a modern social responsibility like education to chance or the private choices of “rugged individuals” fending for themselves in a dog-eat-dog world.

No More Charter Schools in New York State

With a straight face, many millionaires, some media outlets, and Governor Andrew Cuomo are once again righteously demanding an increase in the number of privately-run but publicly-funded charter schools permitted in the State, specifically in New York City where these deregulated schools have run amuck. And again, instead of holding the neoliberal State accountable for over-testing students and not fully funding public schools, the media and charter school promoters are exploiting vulnerable low-income minority parents to “make a case” for their self-serving agenda to increase charter schools that close frequently.

The current State limit on these poorly-supervised schools is 460. New York City has reached its limit with 235 charter schools which collectively enroll 123,000 students. The rest of the State (“Upstate”) still has 99 charter school slots open. Some extra greedy charter school operators want a few of these “slots” shifted “Downstate” to New York City. Against the public will, the State raised the statewide charter school cap in 2007 and again in 2010.

This most recent big push by egocentric millionaires and their State for more non-transparent charter schools that siphon billions of dollars from under-funded, over-tested, over-surveilled, and constantly demonized public schools comes at a time when rejection and criticism of charter schools nationwide is becoming more mainstream and widespread. Today, few people exhibit a knee-jerk embrace of charter schools. People no longer blindly accept charter schools. Most instinctively do not trust them. And more than 95% of teacher education candidates want to teach in public schools, not charter schools. More people, especially public school boards and teachers and their unions, are beginning to really see and appreciate more deeply the many long-standing profound problems with charter schools. Naturally, they are joining with others to say no to charter schools and are calling on all to vigorously defend public schools which have served 90% of the nation’s youth for more than a century.

While charter schools have always made rich people even richer, they are plagued by racketeering and have high student, teacher, and principal turnover rates; they are notoriously unstable. Nonprofit and for-profit charter schools are also largely deunionized, increase segregation, avoid transparency, often perform poorly, and abuse words like “choice” to mislead vulnerable minority families. Hundreds of nonprofit and for-profit charter schools close each year—sometimes with no warning—leaving thousands of families out in the cold and feeling violated and betrayed. Virtual charter schools, in particular, have an even more appalling track record in every area.

It is time for everyone to join the growing tide of opposition to the privatization of education and defend public education and the right of the people, not owners of capital and their media, to make all major decisions in education and society.

Chaos, Anarchy, and Violence in the Charter School Sector

Chaos, anarchy, and violence are inherent features of the free market.1 Instability, uncertainty, disequilibrium, unevenness, imbalance, volatility, turmoil, impulsiveness, alienation, greed, anxiety, jealousy, risk, irrational behavior, and “animal spirits” are fellow-travelers of advanced commodity production and exchange, especially in the final and highest stage of capitalism.

The free market abhors security, predictability, certainty, stability, and harmony—the very things modern humans need in today’s complex and evolving society. Hourly fluctuations and dislocations in the economy and society are considered good, desirable, and normal by free market fundamentalists. Such disruptions are not seen as a problem or something that belongs to a bygone era.

The “invisible leviathan” also guarantees winners and losers, hierarchies and inequalities, rewards and punishments. In addition, it constantly “innovates” more exotic and toxic forms of financial parasitism and decay that further enrich the top one percent while wreaking havoc in the productive sector and broader society.

The free market has been revealed time and again to be an anachronistic and damaging way of organizing society and the economy. It has failed millions for generations and simply does not meet the needs of the present or the future.

It is comical and tragic to hear and read the views of free market ideologues like former long-time chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, regarding how their free market worldview was shattered by the Wall Street-engineered economic collapse of 2008 that no one went to jail for—a fiasco that continues to stunt growth, degrade economies worldwide, and confuse economists and “leaders.” All major free market ideologues have long been members of the know-nothing club, which is why they have never been able to find a way to extricate the outmoded economic system from recurring crises that always leave millions unemployed, underemployed, impoverished, indebted, miserable, and insecure. No “policy,” “regulation,” or “reform” has stopped the tendency for the rich to get richer and the poor poorer. Few laws, if any, have actually empowered those who produce society’s wealth.

Free market ideology and categories have long distorted social consciousness, and now, once again, both stand discredited and lack any explanatory power. The main role of free market ideology is to apologize for the status quo which privileges a tiny elite and marginalizes the majority. People are supposed to believe that the free market is supernatural and stands above society, the human factor, and social consciousness. The free market is allegedly a mystery that does not lend itself to comprehension and control.

Charter school supporters and promoters have long gone out of their way to parade their free market loyalties, commitments, and credentials. Their perception and cognition are objectively conditioned by a capital-centered outlook, not a human-centered perspective. Consequently, they are unable and unwilling to cognize and understand that the free market is precisely what is wreaking havoc in education, society, and the economy.

Charter school supporters and promoters come undone every time someone exposes the basic truth that charter schools exist mainly to enrich a handful of individuals who self-servingly claim to “value choice” and “care about the kids.” Charter school boosters would rather have people believe that the free market magically (invisibly) gives rise to the best of all worlds for “the kids” and that nothing sinister or nefarious is ever going on.

It is worth noting here that none of the highest-performing nations in the world have charter schools. And in late 2017, the government of New Zealand launched an organized effort to rollback its relatively new charter school program because it is harmful and ineffective. Many in New Zealand oppose school privatization and do not want schools treated as commodities that enrich a handful of wealthy individuals at the expense of “the kids.” In the U.S., six states still have no laws enabling the creation of charter schools. Charter schools remain largely a U.S. phenomenon. No other nation comes close.

The idea of “here-one-day-gone-the-next” is one of many that appears natural and normal—even healthy—to those influenced by free market ideology. Charter school supporters and promoters claim that under-performing charter schools (and there are many of them) should not only be closed (in the name of “accountability”), but that they should be “closed ruthlessly” so as to quickly enable another “entrepreneur” to scramble in and launch a new, more “innovate” and more “successful” charter school to serve “consumers”—the same way one shoe store quickly replaces another out-of-business shoe store at the mall. Schools, in this antisocial view, are nothing more than commodities; they are a business, just like any other business preoccupied with maximizing profit as fast as possible.

For privatizers, neoliberals, and corporate school “reformers,” education as an organized collective social responsibility and basic right free of the corrosive effects of competition is an alien idea.

It is no accident that more than 1,000 charter schools have closed over the last five years. The free market, as noted earlier, is inherently unstable and destructive—the opposite of what modern humans need. Well over 3,500 charter schools have closed in 28 years. Currently, about 200-250 nonprofit and for-profit charter schools close each year, leaving thousands of families feeling stressed, angry, and violated. This is stunning in its own right, but it is extra striking given that there are currently only 7,000 charter schools across the country. Charter schools have always had a high rate of failure and closure; they have never been the panacea that its advocates have regularly claimed they are. Closely related problems like endless scandals, low transparency, persistently high student turnover rates, and underpaid, overworked, deunionized teachers across the charter school sector are topics for another article.

This relentless normalized churn, wrecking, and upheaval in the deregulated, non-transparent, deunionized, poorly supervised, segregated charter school sector is deemed acceptable, even a virtue, because this is how the free market “works”—through chaos, anarchy, and violence. It is “natural,” in other words, that schools, which are meant to be a large-scale socially-organized human responsibility, should close and open like any store at the mall.

And the free market is great because it supposedly works so well in other spheres of life. Regular economic booms and busts, many recessions and depressions, and the endless failures and crimes of thousands of corporations are apparently not part of the normal daily functioning of the free market and should be ignored.

The wrecking activity and callousness in the charter school sector are so severe that it is not uncommon for nonprofit and for-profit charter schools, even ones that have been around for years, to close abruptly and with little or no advance notice to parents, leaving them shocked, appalled, and betrayed. So much for “empowering parents” and giving them “better alternatives.” Besides being rife with fraud, racketeering, and waste, charter schools have been disempowering parents every year of their existence. And they have kept thousands of others on a never-ending roller-coaster of hope and despair in other ways. In New Orleans, parents do not even have the option of sending their child to a public school because all schools in that city of 400,000 residents are now charter schools. “Choice” becomes a form of coercion in this context.

It is no surprise that unprecedented public school and charter school teacher strikes that have been sweeping the nation for many months have consciously and deliberately targeted charter schools. People are openly rejecting privatized education arrangements that annually siphon billions of public dollars from public schools that serve 90% of the nation’s youth. Equally unsurprising is the large number of parents, students, women, activists, and workers from other sectors who have stood shoulder to shoulder with striking teachers to affirm their rights and to oppose the fleecing of public schools by wealthy private interests. People are increasingly combatting loud and incessant charter school disinformation. They do not want millionaires, billionaires, and their retinue to decide and control educational affairs. People want to control their own institutions without the influence of extremely wealthy cartels and monopolies who act in the narrowest, most retrogressive, and most self-serving fashion.

A modern society based on mass industrial production must provide its members with world-class, fully-funded, locally-controlled public schools open to all, at all times. No one should have to worry about receiving a great education in a society drowning in an overabundance of wealth and resources.

Education is a right and should never be based on geography, competition, consumerism, performance, the ability to pay, or the narrow aims of major owners of capital. As a basic human social responsibility, education cannot be left to the chaos, anarchy, and violence of the free market. It can and must be organized in a collective responsible manner to meet the needs of individuals, the economy, society, and life.

If charter schools wish to exist, so be it. But they must never receive any kind or any amount of public property, wealth, funds, resources, facilities, assets, or authority. They have no legitimate claim to public property.

By definition, public property belongs only to the public and no one else.

Public and private are antonyms. They do not mean the same thing and should not be mixed up. Charter schools are not public schools, no matter how often privatizers, neoliberals, and corporate school “reformers” ignorantly, belligerently, and self-servingly claim they are. Something does not become public just because someone calls it public over and over again. Nor does something become public just because it receives public funds or is allegedly “tuition-free.” Being public requires much more.

Legally, politically, economically, and educationally charter schools differ fundamentally from public schools that have been around for more than 150 years. Deliberately misequating antonyms like “public” and “private” is itself a long-standing feature of the irrationalism, chaos, and wrecking within the Wild West charter school sector.

The very idea of public schools and charter schools competing for funds and students is one that people 50 years from now will find obscene, backward, and bizarre. Many already recognize how irrational and detrimental this is. They reject the commodification of education and the view that parents and students are mainly consumers and shoppers who may or may not “get into” a “good school.”

There is a pro-social alternative to this outmoded irrational state of affairs. It begins with consciously and repeatedly rejecting the current antisocial direction and working with others to reorganize society on a human-centered pro-social basis, free of the influence of owners of capital.

This means intentionally discarding a capital-centered outlook and taking responsibility for investigating society, the economy, and education. It means engaging in a conscious act of finding out so that one does not end up being a hapless victim of disinformation all the time. Such inquiry has to be serious, disciplined, deep, and uninterrupted. It cannot end.

Patient and focused study and analysis are needed to cut through the thick fog created by an anachronistic capital-centered outlook. Skim reading and digitally-induced literacy styles are useless here. They will not contribute to coherence and enlightenment. Shooting from the hip or talking off the cuff also fail to develop consciousness. Quick and clever one-liners or blind repetition of isolated facts are also unhelpful. None of these approaches will shed light on what is going on. None of these approaches help people to reject the false solutions put forward by the rich, their politicians, their cheerleaders, and their media.

With the massive never-ending onslaught of disinformation coming from those with class privilege and power, a conscious life-long commitment to questioning and investigating phenomena so as to avoid confusion and serve human-centered interests is an urgent necessity. The natural instinct to reject anything that comes from the rich needs to evolve into a full-fledged well-fortified social consciousness that further unleashes the human factor to usher in changes that favor the general interests of society.

  1. The “free market” has long been monopolized by large corporations, monopolies,  and oligopolies; it has been far from “free” for more than 150 years. Markets are rigged in endless ways. “Pure competition” has largely been a fantasy. Furthermore, college economics courses routinely present the capitalist “free market” in its most abstract and prettified form, divorced from its harsh realities.

Charter Schools Just Bad Policy?

It is no secret that charter schools coast to coast are rife with fraud, waste, corruption, and racketeering. This is closely related to the fact that charter schools annually siphon billions of public dollars from public schools that serve 90% of the nation’s youth, thereby undermining the ability of public schools to educate millions of poor and low-income minority students.

Thousands of investigative reports, news articles,  blogs, and scholarly books and articles have over-documented this relentless assault on public education, the economy, society, and the national interest by charter schools. No other sector or institution comes close to the financial malfeasance plaguing nonprofit and for-profit charter schools.

Charter schools are also riddled with many other well-documented problems, including very high teacher, student, and principal turnover rates; poor academic performance on a broad scale; union-busting; limited transparency; a tendency to increase segregation; and a long-running propensity to cherry-pick students, to name just a few other problems.

Oftentimes, however, it is argued that “bad charter schools” are essentially the result of “bad policy.” And since “bad policy” is what allows so many charter schools to be so rotten, the implication is that if policy were just better, more intelligent, more thoughtful, more humane, more technically sound, more enlightened, more rational, better crafted, and less bad, then charter schools would be great and all would be well. Such a view also uncritically presumes that the existence of charter schools is legitimate to begin with and that there is nothing inherently problematic about charter schools: we just need “good charter schools” that are the result of “good policy” made by “good people.”

The core problem with this ahistorical view that renders “good” as a meaningless universal abstraction, is that it does not recognize that “bad policy” is conscious and deliberate class policy—class war, to be precise.

Policy is never neutral or apolitical. Policy-making never takes place outside class relations. Policy is seldom produced by people without political and economic interests.

“Bad policies” represent, embody, and promote the narrow political and economic interests of major owners of capital. The rich are constantly crafting and imposing policies that serve them well but violate the public interest. The rich are not going to establish policies that undermine their narrow interests. Policy today is not human-centered and pro-social because the working class and people remain politically marginalized and disempowered in society; they do not decide the affairs of society or control the economy.

Charter schools, also known as contract schools, were conceived by the rich and their representatives before 1980 and were brought into being by the rich in the early 1990s. There has never been anything grass-roots or progressive about charter schools. Charter schools did not start out as humble, benign, accountable, transparent, empowering, teacher-centered, ethical “laboratories of innovation” that somehow unpredictably went bad years later—as many writers on the left, right, and center would have us believe. Charter schools had a problematic start from the very beginning. From the public’s perspective, charter schools were “bad policy” from the get-go.

The main undiscussed idea behind charter schools was to seize as much public funds and property from public schools in order to avert the inescapable law of the falling rate of profit under capitalism. In the context of a continually failing economy and discredited political system, charter schools would become pay-the-rich schemes by legally and politically depriving existing public schools of the “exclusive” right and authority to operate schools, specifically by making it possible to outsource education to private operators. This is how public education became deregulated, privatized, and marketized in the neoliberal period—and all under the banner of high ideals (e.g., “serving the kids,” “valuing choice,” “closing the achievement gap,” “empowering parents”).

For the rich, charter schools have always been “good policy” because they have successfully funneled tens of billions of public dollars to wealthy private interests determined to counter the inevitable law of the falling rate of profit.

But since policies that preserve and strengthen the dominance of wealthy private interests and their outdated system will never solve any problems or benefit the public, the working class and people have to collectively find creative ways to negate capital-centered thinking and assert their interests, demands, and needs. A good expression of this has been numerous teacher strikes that target charter schools and defend public education. It is not an accident that the last 12 months have seen an unprecedented number of public school teachers and charter school teachers go on strike to defend the right to education. People are fed up with the wrecking activity of charter schools and do not want a wild west scenario in an institution meant to consciously and thoughtfully plan for the education of the youth.

The fight to defend public education and oppose school privatization led by the rich is more than a matter of policy: it is a major front of class war.

Professor Pablo and Fourth Grade Enlightenment in Lincoln City

The shape of learning comes in all sizes, all forms. We know what not learning is — texting, emailing, You Tube videos, a world of Teletubbies, from birth to death.

I know what education planners are not — hedge fund billionaires, charter school profiteers, down home religious bigotry and stupidity ignoramuses, the lady from McDonald’s funding all these looped back and forth non-profits and shell NGOs and their two-year-in-the-making white papers after reports after white papers.

The fourth graders I taught Friday have a sponge for a brain, and they want something better than what they get — bells and announcements blaring throughout the day, rote memory assignments, the same old tired little book stories, little math problems, red-orange-yellow drills, lock-downs, health warnings, and on and on and on. They know that’s not real life, though — in compliant and nanny-state and rule-making America, hmm, maybe school is the launching pad.

They need mentors in the school, not just the poor flagging teachers who have taken these silly classes in college taught by even more silly professors who actually know squat about children struggling, and less about the roots of the struggle: mass culture which is mass incarceration set loose by the Capitalists, the very people who should be denigrated and egged daily (as in chicken ovum in their faces), everywhere and anywhere they pollute the world. They need schools that are of the world — beaches to clean up and learn from; corporations that spend more time nurturing humanity than maximizing profits; government officials that love them as opposed to hating them; parents who aren’t afraid of their own shadows; and revolutionary teachers.

This can only be done with the death of Capitalism. Only done with revolutionary acts daily, collectively. Only with calling a spade a spade.

You know, America and Western White Civilization stink to high heaven. I’ll get to what it is that allows me to survive without going Ted Kaczynski or Going Postal on the closest thing that deserves RIP justice.

Poetry.

But first, here, a comment from Joe from Merced, commenting on my previous post:

Yup! Source.

May I add that education should be something available to all age groups wishing to learn when they are ready to learn, whether that be at six years of age or thirty six years of age. Also the idea that the only place one can learn is in a designated school during designated hours is preposterous and itself a form of unexamined conformity and subservience to power. The fact that knowledge is only knowledge if it comes from, or is acknowledged by academia, is narcissistic and pathological in itself. For many education comes from tagging along and being exposed to some old timer with tons of experience and watching and doing as advised.

Maybe most importantly the quest for more knowledge and technological advancement itself is a progress trap that leads civilization into a box canyon to nowhere. Just because man can think it, doesn’t mean he should act on it. An example of that being the development of damned near every modern advancement in the fields of chemistry which has unleashed incredible pollution onto the environment. Nuclear energy development that has contaminated the whole world and is yet poised to complete the job of annihilation of the planet. The development of plastics that are killing the ocean sea life.

If education leads to life destructive products or customs, then maybe education ought to be about humility and self examination of outcomes rather than our current model of economic self fulfillment which never questions outcomes in its quest for profits. Maybe the best most simple idea for learning came from Gandhi and needs no tweaking, only adoption into modern curricula as the foundation of our educational system.

Wealth Without Work
Pleasure Without Conscience
Knowledge Without Character
Commerce (Business) Without Morality (Ethics)
Science Without Humanity
Religion Without Sacrifice
Politics Without Principle

He’s so right, and alas, the problem of weaker and more intellectually- challenged and physically- imperiled generation after generation produced by this perverted society is solved with real mettle, real individual change, family collective change, community change, national change.

Calling the spade a spade.

Yesterday, we looked at plastics in their lives, in their blood, in their hormone-disrupting growth cycles, inside a turtle’s nose, and wrapped around the necks of birds and sea lions.

We looked at Chris Jordan’s work on consumption — how many plastic straws are consumed each second on planet earth or the number of disposable cups thrown away just on airlines per hour.

They had just come back from lunch, and those without responsible parents and charges who made decent lunches had to eat in the cafeteria — deep fried potatoes, fatty meat, ketchup and ranch dressing on EVERYTHING, doughy pretzels, sugared canned peaches, chocolate milk, stringy cheese.

This is not even prison food, and the place I taught, on the outside, could have used a good coat of community (yes, Mayor and Council and Chamber) paint, a mural project for the outside, new playground equipment, and more more more to engender learning — goats, fish, yurts, greenhouses, apple trees, flowers, a hedge maze, and more more more.

I stay sane by recognizing the insanity and drill down into it. Here’s the real ugliness of capitalism. Below, this person, all white and female, all middle/upper middle class, all just right in her captured make-over photo, gives squat about the children of Oregon and Coos Bay. Yet, her life is to dispose of liquid natural (sic) gas through the black snake of Canadian extractive fossil fuel industries. Her life is about injecting as much CO2 into the atmosphere as her white female-loving excetionalist life can tolerate.

These people are evil, more evil than Pence or Trump or Pelosi or Hillary. Look at the woman’s white-white face, that death twinkle in her eyes. PR wizard (grim reaper for us) for a Canadian company ready to push a pipeline through Oregon to peddle more climate-warming LNG crap for China. Through Oregon:

Tasha Cadotte

Tasha Cadotte — Jordan Cove Guest Opinion/ Mar 15, 2019

Her job is to lie-lie-lie, like all PR flacks for corporations, governments and non-profits. The opinion piece shows her education, her k12 upbringing, her college cred. She is part of the devil’s brigade.

This woman probably has a degree in communications, in psychological management, institutional leadership, or some such. Her goal in life is to be The Sarah Huckabee Sanders of Pembina. Or Enbridge. Killers of ecosystems, people, cultures. She might have even gotten herself a college degree in un-Journalism.

Corp Watch Always do the corporation watch, every single one that comes into your community to spill death words and Orwellian cancer onto the land.

This Tasha has blood on her hands. Whale blood, bird blood, and the blood of future generations on her hands. Children’s blood. However, the sane people fight the insanity with one group at a time, up against multiple millions in bribe money from the companies this Tasha loves to represent.

But the fight is far from over. In 2017, not long after FERC denied the project a permit the year prior, Don Althoff, then-CEO of the parent company Veresen (now Pembina), met with President Donald Trump and the founding director of Trump’s National Economic Council, Gary Cohn, of Goldman Sachs.

Shortly thereafter, Cohn announced: “The first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to permit an LNG export facility in the Northwest.”

Support from the fossil fuel industry spans the length of the pipeline, from Colorado to Oregon. Pac/West, a major pro-fracking lobbying and communications firm active in Colorado has also been operating in Oregon. The firm has gone so far as to have Oregon state legislation proposed officially on its behalf, which would have blocked local governments from interfering with fossil fuel infrastructure projects, such as Jordan Cove.

This legislation was in response to a 2017 county “Community Bill of Rights” ballot initiative in Coos County, Oregon, the site of the proposed Jordan Cove LNG terminal. If passed, the local law would have outlawed industrial fossil fuel projects and established legally enforceable rights for local ecosystems. Jordan Cove LNG spent an unprecedented $596,155 in cash and in-kind contributions to help defeat measure, according to the Oregon Secretary of State website.

Murals opposing the Jordan Cove LNG terminal and Pacific Connector pipeline hang near the site of the Jackson County Department of State Lands hearing.

Murals opposing the Jordan Cove LNG terminal and Pacific Connector pipeline hang near the site of the Jackson County Department of State Lands hearing.

This woman makes how much for her Faustian Bargain, her Josef Goebbels lies?

She could be working for the plastics industry:

ourstory 1.jpg
She could move on and work for the pharmaceutical genocide leaders:

Image result for oxycontin side effects
OXYCONTIN MAKER QUIETLY WORKED TO WEAKEN LEGAL DOCTRINE THAT COULD LEAD TO JAIL TIME FOR EXECUTIVES

These Little-to-Big Eichmanns get big bucks for their lousy BA in communications degree: Around $95,494 to $136,893 . . . $150K a year? $164,000 annual base salary? Plus perks, plus stocks, plus travel. What’re the sins Gandhi stated which she is smack at the center of living and abiding by? In bold:

Wealth Without Work
Pleasure Without Conscience
Knowledge Without Character
Commerce (Business) Without Morality (Ethics)
Science Without Humanity
Religion Without Sacrifice
Politics Without Principle

Well, well, this is the result of a powerful un-education system, rigged for sinners, rigged by Little Eichmanns working for the rich as we all have had to read about the past week with the so-called scandal of the rich paying bribes for their little Johnny and Sally to get into Harvard or Yale or Stanford!


More of the white-white rich American, wanting a triple-rigged system. I bet this untalented millionaire actress has her own little stable of Little Eichmann’s like Ms. Tasha working to pollute Oregon! College scandals, or fossil fuel felons? Which is worse?

From Democracy Now: Journalist Anand Giridharadas, author of Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World. His book examines how the so-called elite class of America have worked the system to maintain and consolidate power and wealth, even while claiming to help people and “change the world” through charity. On Wednesday, Giridharadas tweeted: “The college bribery scam is not a college bribery scam. It is a master class in how America—governed by a cheater, ruled by rule breakers, managed by a class that confuses its privilege for merit—functions.”

And what we learned is, as you cover on this show, America is, in many ways, rigged for the wealthy and powerful. And we know that. We have a tax code that is rigged for the wealthy and powerful. We have anti-trust enforcement that’s rigged for the wealthy and powerful. We fund public education according to property taxes, so the nicer mommy or daddy’s house, the better the school you get. America is already rigged for rich people.

The problem is, for some rich people, all that rigging that I just described is shared equally among rich people. Right? You have the same first-class seat on the commercial jet that everybody—all the other rich people have. And what we found in this case was, some rich people are not satisfied with the generalized rigging that they have to share with everybody else. They want special, private, bespoke, bottle-service rigging over and above the standard rigging that rich people receive.

And I read the indictment. This Rick Singer guy is a great character, and he really understood the psychology of these rich people. People like him in that kind role, who are service providers, often do. And he says, “You know, the people I work for, they don’t want to do a million-dollar check and then hope their kid gets a second look. The people I work for, the wealthiest families in America, they want a guarantee. They want this thing done,” he said.

And so, I think this is a phenomenal glimpse, because what—as someone who’s been writing about this plutocracy for a few years, what these folks say when they hear critics like me is, “Don’t be negative. Don’t be zero-sum. We can empower the least among us. We can fight for the poor. And we can benefit and get rich. Right? It’s not zero-sum.” And you know what really is actually zero-sum? When there is one college seat, and a hard-working kid from a poor neighborhood, whose family has never sent anybody to college, but now they have a shot at that seat—they’ve worked hard, their parents took many buses to many jobs, they might be eligible for that seat—and they don’t get that seat, because someone like Bill McGlashan, private equity baron, impact investing impresario, who had a $2 billion impact fund with Bono, has locked up that seat for his son.

So, daily, I try to instill into youth — aged 6 to 18 — to begin loving the fight, and to learn how to be IN the fight, with self-sacrifice as the underpinning of their lives; to instill in them they are the answer, that they themselves hold the key to happiness, and, contrary to capitalist thinking, happiness cannot be gained on the backs of hundreds of millions, or several billion, toiling for the rich countries; that happiness is not what they should be seeking but rather social justice/economic justice/environmental justice. Which is not all fun and games to undertake, and could be a life of poverty and recriminations from every corner, especially from family members. To the contrary as we all looked at Jordan’s film Albatross there are no happy endings if that’s all one seeks — pleasure, wealth, superficiality, pop culture, consumerism, exceptionalism in the way of America’s mythology.

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The kids want something more. They just can’t get it, because America is about feeding the rich and powerful. America is about shining the spotlight on the rich and powerful. America is about hating the poor and future generations and loving the rich and powerful.

I hope not one child I teach comes out the educational grinder even with a sliver of the propaganda plague the Tasha’s of the world possess.

Poetry, man, poetry, we also talked about. How the 62 year old substitute, who they called “Professor Pablo” is really about embracing that child, that youth, that young man. Inner child and those around me.

So, at the same age, more or less, 7th grade, here I was in Tucson, running through the desert barefooted, wrestling, tripping to Mexico and diving. Cutting down billboards and burning down development model homes.

And, taking in the spirit cells of poets, the voices deep outside the human capacity to kill, maim, incarcerate, exploit. Maybe that’s the answer to insanity of Western Culture. Poetry!

In any case, my tribute to W.S Merwin, age 91, gone, supreme anti-Vietnam War activist, and activist against the continual desecration of Hawaii by consumerism and pollution.

Just getting young people to think like a poet, draw like a scientist, believe like a sage, and work in the world like a water protector or Thoreau, we as keepers of a new and back-to-the-simple civilization, this is our course in life. Mine at least.

Now that’s the work no PR flak could ever understand in her or his colonized mind! PR firms spin America into war, spin coups, spin Americans to feed toxins to their children, and PR firms are the Faustian Bargain of the rich-rich wanting total control of all humanity, from cradle to grave, from brain to stem cell.

Scrawled Lightness of Remembrance

upon the death of W.S. Merwin (9/30/1927—3/15/2019)

those bucket bearers
word carriers bees lifting barrels
he sent benediction into boy’s
blood Sonora riot recounting
Bob Dylan Stafford Peter Gabriel
WS Merwin busted knees from
blasting Suzuki into
desert realms dogeared
Carrier of Ladders old US
Army rucksack — Neruda, Borges,
Marquez, Octovio Paz
“for the anniversary of my death”

his poem I prophesied
nineteen with sister
slain on road from Kamloops
to Tucson sideswiped
Harley skidded-over
now his death silent “tireless
traveler”

juxtapositions made
his words boy to man
reckless wrestling burning
billboards boy’s own music
treble cleft of poet Merwin
until my 20th birthday
tall man there Tucson
reading to whispering
crowd turtle neck dashing
really nothing like my dread-locks
hard sun skin at 20
yet he sang to me treble and bass
no tribal Yusef Komunyakaa drum

Merwin’s vines stilled anger
touched thin bone near heart
my rage bullets into Mexican night
turned to free-tail bats
famous poet sickened with
full force of Vietnam War
tucked inside my rucksack
next to .44 magnum

WS Merwin me with tumbler
of whiskey 1977
he said something like
“stay concealed in
your hate
of wars in our name
stay hard with sinew
for love of desert
ecosystems”

poet refused laurels
Pulitzer Vietnam war like acid
on his tongue

Now this —
We are the shadow of Sirius
There is the other side of
as we talk to each other we see the light
and we see these faces
but we know that behind that
there’s the other side
which we never know

those falling embers
once rockets to Sirius
coal black ash to soil
I touch living poet
“tireless traveler
like beam of a lightless star”
Merwin’s shape whale spray
I now seize in Oregon

death is no glowing dove
nothing bright moving as shapes
above WS Merwin like
all tribes from each book
travel with me
Merwin me that is for
sure even whiskey tequila
the shape of his eyes
setting upon me thirty
years his junior
but my brother
his words coffin bearers over
and over starting with a dead sister:

Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what

Note: “For the Anniversary of My Death,” by Merwin.

Psychopathology of Not Teaching, Not Feeding, Not Embracing Our Youth

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.

We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.

Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.

Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.

We only think when confronted with a problem.

John Dewey, 1938, Experience and Education (Vol. no. 10). New York: The Macmillan Company &  1933, How We Think. Boston, MA: D. C. Heath and Co

Image result for outdoor education

There’s a lot of magical thinking going on in the world, largely laid at the feet of the marketers, arbiters of propaganda, the flim-flam of Capitalism and Consumerism.

Finding solace in the next President’s Day sale or Black Friday.

Except every day in America is a Black Friday. Fire sale for the social services, for all the safety nets, for the bedrock of a democracy – education, power of the people to hold the commons and to control the benefits of the community’s needs over some punk like Musk or Sir Richard or Zuckerberg or Trump-Clinton-Obama, all same sides of the one-sided coin.

More and more people I engage with are lost, really, pushing their little broom and lifting their little dustbin to attempt to clean up the smashed walls and halls and schoolhouses and hallowed things of the people.

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Feudalism is back in style, and for each community – city block or city border or urban growth boundary – the endless brooming and dust-binning will never make a dent in what must be done: the cancer must be removed.

Oh, I know, the pacifists want the arc of social justice to come catapulting back and somehow laying bare and rendering impotent the millions of bad hombres who control the purse strings, who control the black ditches of polluting industries, who control the daily trillion loads of toxins and carcinogens and structural violence bombs put upon the majority.

The chaos and fluency of their penetration of pain on all levels of society and in all societies is amazing those rotten-to-the-core billionaires and multinational thugs who have the sociopath’s luxury of being extremely effective, especially in predatory-parasitic-extractive-casino Capitalism, where the burdens of externalities and the millions upon millions of negative and costly outgrowths of Capitalism are the burden of the masses while the extreme comforts/power bases/economic controls are privatized to a very small swath of humankind.

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These traits are the characterizations of the typical CEO, typical of the boardroom winners, so typical of the so-called powerful:

  • Contemptuous of those who seek to understand them
  • Does not perceive that anything is wrong with them
  • Authoritarian
  • Secretive
  • Paranoid
  • Only rarely in difficulty with the law, but seeks out situations where their tyrannical behavior will be tolerated, condoned, or admired
  • Conventional appearance
  • Goal of enslavement of their victim (s)
  • Exercises despotic control over every aspect of the victim’s life
  • Has an emotional need to justify their crimes and therefore needs their victim’s affirmation (respect, gratitude and love)
  • Ultimate goal is the creation of a willing victim
  • Incapable of real human attachment to another
  • Unable to feel remorse or guilt
  • Extreme narcissism and grandiose
  • May state readily that their goal is to rule the world

Variations on a theme. Just put in a powerful and famous/infamous person’s name, and the fifteen traits above get checked off pretty easily and readily.

Erik Prince or Betsy Devos, or the Democratic Party honchos or the boot-licking Republican reprobates. Now, we are in a world where the sociopath and psychopath and self-aggrandizing are foisted upon the stage and klieg lights pointed at them so all of us in this barbarous spectacle have to be exposed to not only their felonious and pathological deeds and beliefs daily, but we now have to subvert our own humanness and life by their rules . . . all the while paying to follow their rules.

Unfortunately, most people are not crippled with a malignant personality disorder, yet the young and the disposed/dispossessed and the struggling and the downtrodden in a capitalist society have very few shields or antibodies to avert from these pathological souls who have infected all levels of the corporation, the legal system, the education system, the military industrial complex, government, national politics, religion:

These people are mentally ill and extremely dangerous! We can take many precautions to protect us from the destructive acts of which they are capable.

First, to recognize them, keep the following guidelines in mind.

(1) They are habitual liars. They seem incapable of either knowing or telling the truth about anything.
(2) They are egotistical to the point of narcissism. They really believe they are set apart from the rest of humanity by some special grace.
(3) They scapegoat; they are incapable of either having the insight or willingness to accept responsibility for anything they do. Whatever the problem, it is always someone else’s fault.
(4) They are remorselessly vindictive when thwarted or exposed.
(5) Genuine religious, moral, or other values play no part in their lives.

They have no empathy for others and are capable of violence. Under older psychological terminology, they fall into the category of psychopath or sociopath, but unlike the typical psychopath, their behavior is masked by a superficial social facade.

The psychopath’s world is one where the communal and cooperative laws of human interaction and also the more lofty laws of human emotion and interaction do not apply. It’s been said that psychopathy serves as a “reality” for a good portion of humanity. The hypothesis that one man in every 100 and one woman in every 300 are born a clinical psychopath is troubling, to be sure.

Some of the literature states that psychopathy is so common that each person reading this article knows one and then a significant proportion of readers are most likely psychopaths themselves.

Interesting, the age old battle of nature versus nurture, and vice versa!

I know this is beating a dead horse, but feminist and writer Susan Sontag, in a fit of lucidity, stated the obvious:

If America is the culmination of Western white civilization, as everyone from the Left to the Right declares, then there must be something terribly wrong with Western white civilization. This is a painful truth; few of us want to go that far…. The truth is that Mozart, Pascal, Boolean algebra, Shakespeare, parliamentary government, baroque churches, Newton, the emancipation of women, Kant, Marx, Balanchine ballets, et al, don’t redeem what this particular civilization has wrought upon the world. The white race is the cancer of human history; it is the white race and it alone—its ideologies and inventions—which eradicates autonomous civilizations wherever it spreads, which has upset the ecological balance of the planet, which now threatens the very existence of life itself.

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So, who the hell knows about that 1 in 100/300 psychopathy in any given population. I might say, sure, for the white race, seems correct. Africa Source:

The pineal gland is responsible for the production of melatonin, a hormone that is secreted in response to darkness, and is also the site in the brain where the highest levels of Serotonin can be found (Sun et al, 2001). In the pineal, 5-HT (Serotonin) concentration displays a remarkable diurnal pattern, with day levels much higher than night levels. Serotonin plays an important role in sleep, perception, memory, cardiovascular activity, respiratory activity, motor output, sensory and neuroendocrine function.

Racial differences have been noted in the rate of pineal calcification as seen in plain skull radiographs. In Caucasians, calcified pineal is visualized in about 50% of adult skull radiographs after the age of 40 years (Wurtman et al, 1964); other scholars argue that Caucasians, in general, may have rates of pineal gland calcification as high as ­60-80% (King, 2001). Murphy (1968) reported a radiological pineal calcification rate of 2% from Uganda, while Daramola and Olowu (1972) in Lagos, Nigeria found a rate of 5%. Adeloye and Felson (1974) found that calcified pineal was twice as common in White Americans as in Blacks in the same city, strengthening a suspicion that there may be a true racial difference with respect to this apparatus. In India a frequency of 13.6% was found (Pande et al, 1984). Calcified pineal gland is a common finding in plain skull radiographs and its value in identifying the midline is still complementary to modern neuroradiological imaging.

Scholars believe the reduction in melatonin with age may be contributory to aging and the onset of age-related diseases. This theory is based on the observation that melatonin is the most potent hydroxyl radical scavenger thus far discovered (Reiter, 1995). Prominent theories of aging attributes the rate of aging to accumulated free radical damage (Proctor, 1989; Reiter, 1995), and as Caucasians have higher rates of pineal calcification, which produces melatonin which is a vital free radical scavenger, some suspect that people of European descent may actually age faster than those from other continents.

Pineal gland calcification has also been implicated in the onset of Multiple sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS consists of the brain, spinal cord, and the optic nerves. Neuroradiological research has shown the pineal gland to be involved in the pathophysiology of Multiple Sclerosis. In a 1991 study by Sandyk R, and Awerbuch G.I published in the “International Journal of Neuroscience”, it was shown that Pineal Calcification was found in 100 % of MS patients. The strikingly high prevalence of pineal calcification in Multiple sclerosis provides indirect support for an association between MS and abnormalities of the pineal gland (Sandyk and Awerbuch, 1991). Multiple Sclerosis tends to affect Caucasians disproportionately, and is nearly unheard of in Africa and is rare among African Americans. A high prevalence of pineal calcification has also been linked to bipolar disorder.

Now my article will boomerang back to my world directly – writing and teaching, this go-round inside the K12 arena; alas, the world of a teacher is a road strewn with broken-down trucks and scattered tailpipe assemblies and transmissions and oil slicks and sheared-off wheels.

The height of America now is the constant chatter and recriminations against the education system, against teachers, against students, against the entire project of working with the young to assist them in developing critical thinking skills.

Believe you me, I should be where Betsy DeVos is, but billionaires have no expertise, no 10,000 hours of practice to give them some level of mastery, whether it’s tennis, general scholarship, educating youth, doing anything worthy of a worthwhile society. Hence, the ones leading the so-called education debate, Gates or DeVos, have zilch experience in the classroom, zero experience working. You’ll never see a fellow like me at any table.

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The idea of my time on earth has always been being on the ground, and some people liken it to ground truthing, the realities of intellectual thought sewn in the fields of those areas where we as a people consider disciplines. What better way to understand what needs to be done to fix (sic) the US education than being in it, albeit like a hired gun going from school to school grade as a substitute teacher.

Hands down, after doing this educational ground truthing a large part of my life, since 1983 when I first started a teaching assistanceship at the University of Texas-El Paso, through to today, this society will never put me at the table, so to speak, of the policy wonks and political operatives. Do they want the real minds there, those of us who just might be able to inject reality and true systems thinking in how to solve the so-called “education problem.”

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I know it’s easy to see that anything associated with neoliberalism, libertarianism, the assault of communities large and small by the elite, the super-super minority, is part of the failings of education, and all parts of society, the so-called intellectual, spiritual, built environment, natural, community commons.

The reality is capitalism IS the failure, and CAPITALISM is the education PROBLEM, and my years parachuting into schools and into school districts have shown me there are many deficits, many shortcomings and many hurdles around our public schools.

A raft of problems can be rattled off and highlighted in white paper after special NPR report. The brain trust is the children, however, not Mark Cuban and his ilk. Certainly, the systems of oppression and structural violence and mob rule of the late stage consumer culture and forced acquiescence as a pound of flesh carved out for the elites, the marketers, the flimflam artists who have wrested control of all branches of government, the Fourth estate, the Shadow Government, the corporate heads with their sycophants and armies for hire HAVE done their deep-deep damage.

As if the cultural DNA has been stripped of any normalcy, these citizens — elementary, junior and high schoolers — they already have three strikes against them, yet somehow in the chaos and poorly delivered education there are standouts.

The problem is we need education for the children and for the adults, cooperative education and co-ops of learning, for all generations. How stupid is it to continue feeding mush to children? How stupid is it to have them penned up in classrooms? How ridiculous is it to have a few disruptive youth and inattentive students run wild in a classroom? How is it that the major industries and the business roundtable folk and the movers and shakers and the parents aren’t held to task for not getting truly involved in their futures? These young people’s futures?

Experiential learning, outside the box, far-far away from standardized teaching, common core, rote memorization.

Even in this onslaught of crass, creepy psychologically-damaging crap youth have to step through daily – a land mine field every day – we can still get back the narrative, and flip the script, so to speak.

I have been in 1st grade classes, and been teaching music to elementary aged students and science and math to high school students, and everything in between. The vast majority of youth feel and know and sense they have been sold a bill of goods, and lies, and they want leaders and mentors, people who can bring to them a sense of destiny, a sense of rebellion for the good of humankind, and a real set of educational tools to help them educate themselves for life.

It is not some hippie or alternative new age spasm to say that students need hands on reality – how to grow food, how to paint murals, how to build tables, how to construct solar panels for their homes, how to chart the stars, how to speak several languages, how to wire a short wave radio, how to set up and nurture a catfish pond, how to cut flowers and how to talk to old people and the disabled in situ.

We could be using our smarts and collective action and solving our rural communities’ issues and those of our cities; problem solved by having youth brigades with their mentors and their parents working daily to make the changes necessary for resiliency. The youth want to know why they can’t give me hugs or display hugs in the school yard, so we talk about the newer research on the skin and on touching people, daily, as a way of healing, of pushing melatonin in the body, as a way to heal inflamed arteries.

On the surface or to a passerby, the children might be lost causes, already colonized by Big Mac, Disneyland, Marvel Comics, glittery inept millionaire performers and fancy falling pixels in their next orgasmic video game.

They may already be too far gone to weather climate disruption, economic wars, the battlefields coming soon, because of their multiple issues tied to chronic diseases and mental disturbances.

Ah-ha, so wrong, so wrong!

I guarantee if a school house and school grounds were set up like great rendezvous points for artists, acrobats, farmers, trades people, international visitors, under the direction of First Nations elders; I guarantee if students were there with their parents part of the week learning about history, untold stories, about how to tell a story and film a documentary; I guarantee if we shifted ground by enforcing the philosophy that we are what we eat, what we read, what we do, what we think, what we believe, what we hope for, what we want, what we imagine, and that there are direct repercussions (negative) to the individual’s mental, intellectual and physical well being with the wrong stuff in, which leads to the wrong stuff out. . . . I guarantee the conversations will change, the enlightenments will spark, the involvement on every level of the community will increase, and the individual and collective narratives will move toward that arc of not only social justice, but humanity living within our means, and understanding the value of simplicity, small ecological footprints and smelling the roses and watching the stars through the flight patterns of owls, fireflies and moths.

What a silly set of idealistic ideas on how to re-form the education system.

The fact is that students are hungry for honesty, and hungry to see how it all connects, how one piece of the puzzle is actually the link to the whole, and how all things are related. They get it, and many times there are 10-year-old skeptics, grizzled in their thinking, scabbed over in their imaginations.

Everything in school, now, under the current models of suppression, then, is to learn 9 to 5, Monday through Friday enslavement.

Children and juveniles and late age teens want nothing of that enslavement, but they have no choice in a hobbling system of people like the Gates duo or the Betsy-Donald duo, coming up with insane and self-fulfilling concepts to keep kids so down that they will abide by anything the levelers and capitalists demand of them – demands (pistols to the heads, rather) in their communities, in their purchases, in their indebtedness, in their reading and eating material, in their subservience to the company or corporation or organization.

We need legions of nurses, social workers, teachers, solutions-driven people with their heads screwed on tight and their hearts alight in the shine of innocence lost and new innocence gained. We need a world of STEAM – daftly blended Sciences Technology Engineering Arts Math for more than capitalist survival, but rather for the impending systems of collapse we have wreaked havoc on the planet, on our own souls, and now on young souls not even given a chance to push out of chrysalis.

We know what must be done: rework all public schools. Add greenhouse, ponds, rows of corn, second and third floor ropes courses, commercial kitchens, husbandry stalls, more. Rip up the pavement, get the kids to use rickshaws, learn how to be entrepreneurial geniuses with coffee stands and juice stands run by parents and students. Outdoor education on our beaches, in our city parks, inside empty warehouses.

We know what to do! And we can do it. Again, cut away the cancer — destroy capitalism!

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Musings on a Monday After Teaching High School Get You Down? Nope!

Hold those things that tell your history and protect them… The ability to have somebody to tell your story is so important. It says: ‘I was here’.

— Maya Angelou

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One of those splattering days — called to teach special education at one of the high schools in Lincoln City. Wonderful students, wonderful para-educators, wonderful teachers.

But not according to the powers that be in the world! How many students are thrown to the floor/ground and handcuffed by armed cops? How many schools are like prisons, with armed school personnel and local cops there to intimidate?

We are priming youth with these strip searches and forced drug tests and grillings about their allegiances outside the capitalist frame to be compliant adults, scared of their own shadows, frightened to death to take too many breathes of air.

No one can dispute a federal appellate court’s characterization of a strip-search as “demeaning, dehumanizing, undignified, humiliating, terrifying, unpleasant, embarrassing, [and] repulsive, signifying degradation and submission.” Even the Supreme Court has said that a search that intrusive “demand[s] its own specific suspicions.” The shock and humiliation suffered by persons subjected to such arrests and searches is aggravated by the fact that they are almost always ordinary citizens who have never been in jail before. In one case a Chicago woman doctor who had been strip searched afterward suffered paranoia, suicidal feelings and depression and would not undress anywhere but in a closet.

The Fourth Amendment was designed to stand between us and arbitrary governmental authority. For all practical purposes, that shield has been shattered, leaving our liberty and personal integrity subject to the whim of every cop on the beat, trooper on the highway and jail official. The Framers would be appalled.

Source: “How the Supreme Court Came to embrace Strip Searches for Trivial Offenses.”

So, how many students are put through this fascist ringer, forced into this series of illegal, unethical, inhumane, insane demands that speak to deeply dehumanizing actions by the so-called powers?

Teaching students in public schools is like pulling the blinders and the blindfolds off of captives who have been shuttered away in some dark and cold cave in Pakistan. They think they sort of have these freedoms outlined in the Constitution, or Bill of Rights, but in reality, they know the jig is up. They know you can’t cross the street while being black without a police confrontation. They know that if they skip rope the wrong way or if they wrestle with their buddies in the cafeteria, then they are subject to the resources officer (thug, wannabe cop) coming in and escalating the situation.

You can’t wear caps, and you can’t hug in public. If you raise your voice in school as a Latino or some teen who is Asian and expressively dressed, well, we have the entire thug force of America come at you full-force.

The Fourth Amendment is dead, and the new government bureaucrats and Gestapo chieftains have taken away unlawful and overreaching search and seizure laws and have normalized their complete “right” to search, seize, strip, scan, spy on, probe, pat down, taser, and arrest any individual at any time and for the slightest provocation.

In any given day, thousands of Americans undergo forced cavity searches, forced colonoscopies, forced blood draws, forced breath-alcohol tests, forced DNA extractions, forced eye scans, forced inclusion in biometric databases.

I have worked for the Starvation Army, through the auspices of the VA, and that corrupt religious outfit — brown shirts one and all — not only forces veterans to pee in a cup for an illegal UA test, but twice daily everyone in a transition housing center has to blow in a straw and prove sobriety with an alcohol monitor.

It’s not for the benefit of the individual, mind you. Getting caught with a hot pee or positive for booze blow, for the homeless vet, the powers that be come down like orchestrated hammers to remind you that you are broken, that you need fixing, that your three hots and a cot are jeopardized and that you might be on the streets, with your four bags of belongings, your emotional support dog, your wife and three kids in tow.

The same treatment is in store for our first through 12th graders.

Typical of the public schools is a North Carolina case of administrators strip-searching a 10-year-old boy in hopes of finding a $20 bill lost by another student, even though the accused boy protested twice that he did not have the missing money. Get this — these little and big brown-shirts, like this ass. principal, ordered the fifth grader to disrobe down to his underwear and subjected him “to an aggressive strip-search that included rimming the edge of his underwear.”

The so-deemed ripped-off $20 bill was later found in the school cafeteria. Did the parents come in with bats and get retribution? Was anything done?

The children of the world want real answers, real stories, real heroes and real tools to navigate a world of fascists, climate change, huge class divides, no economic futures for at least 40 percent of the students as they matriculate out and meander in the wasteland of the 21st century’s second decade in. We have talking sessions and the youth want to ask why people my age and younger have allowed the corporations and government to seize the most intimate details of who we are. Why this is a police state, and a policed school system.

They get it and don’t think all of this talk is some movie script for a Minority Report Two. They already know all their testing scores and performance reports are held captive somewhere. They also know that their vaccination and health records are easily accessed by school officials.

I try and tamp down the urge to tell it like it is early in a class: in the United States we are now guilty until proven innocent.

Students want to know why there are so many fellow classmates with Epipens, why so many are on Individualized Employment Plans, why so many have para-educators assigned to them, what so many are pulled out of classes for special ed or special diets.

We can’t share snacks at breaks because so many are allergic to gluten or sugar or corn or coconut or peanuts of eggs or soy. They are these nervous assist objects and gizmos for many youth on the spectrum to handle, and some are allowed to bring in their own beanbags or to stand up away from the class or pace the room.

We talk about the consequences of unintended fallout from all the junk and plastic products and chemicals laced in the foods and emanating from every corner of a community.

Background checks, parents’ credit checks, health records, records on what they eat and purchase and what their parents plop down on credit cards. What we think, believe, hope for, covet, adhere to spiritually, all of it is recorded, put out in the cloud, held by the IRS, Medical-Pharma-Finance-Debt Complex.

On one hand, we talk about climate change, plastics in their feces, why they get sick with cheese or white bread or with peanut butter. These are smart kids, probing, wanting to know more and more.

They want people in their lives that take them over to the edge of the cliff, and strap them into the hang-glider and take off. They want teachers and mentors taking them to the edge of the boat and plopping backwards to the great blue sea in their snorkel and scuba gear.

They want to go into the forest, not the edge of it. They want to spend time with beavers and watch the process of dam building and the amazing species of aquatic animals thriving.

These children are tired of the Tupperware brand of education and the countless coloring projects and poster projects. They want teachers to help them build catfish ponds, to build gardens, to learn in tepees, to learn how to make children’s puzzles out of wood to sell to the public. They want zip lines around their school, and they want more and more hands-on work. They want to know how to make clay pots, and they want to learn how to arrange flowers, and grow them. They want to learn how to grow food and prep it and cook it. They want to build solar powered pedicabs, and they want to go to all the nursing homes and care facilities with their homemade drums and pianos and accordions and voices and sing and dance and perform for their elders.

It all can be done, and they ask why not, and we talk about every dollar put into a system like decent and real life education getting many dollars matched in return for each dollar invested in children and youth.

Then, we talk about what it means to give up everything for the job, that getting a low paid service job means not having health insurance and being forced to not take vacations, ever, if the job is below a certain amount of hours. They know they won’t be high paid $2000-an-hour lawyers, and they know that very few of the graduates from all the schools in this county will get to be brain surgeons.

We talk about the power in numbers, like bee hives, or ants, and then relate it to people — how many people would it take to get some land, build gardens, do some home-cottage industry work, and sustain a healthy lifestyle. I name this as intentional communities and cooperative living.

Unfortunately, these children are going to be the products of parents who are downtrodden, negative about their own futures, and denigrating against any or all new ideas to get out of this hamster wheel America.

Most of the ideals the youth I teach possess come from Hollywood or thereabouts. They have not met real farmers who are also experts in cheese making and cooking and preserving. They are not meeting the people who are the survivors and the ones who can help us get through this climate and economic chaos.

We talk about the very concept of making sure not to degrade or toxify one self of any of the vital keys to self and community preservation — you are what you eat, you are what you read, you are what you dream, you are what you hope, you are what you think, you are what you say, you are what you believe, you are what you imagine, you are what you do.

There is a lot of pressure on youth, but mainly because the education system as such and the economic horizon we have gifted them are imperiled and off the rails. They want to know what Genetic Engineering is, why all the food items in grocery stores that are not in the green grocery section are contaminated with Roundup, or glyphosate.

They want to know what a Franken-fish is. We talk about that, the mighty salmon, since they reside in Salmon Nation.

Twenty million people share our home in this place we call Salmon Nation.

It spans 100 million acres between San Francisco and Anchorage and generates over $500 billion in economic activity each year, yet is only a sliver of the range that Pacific salmon once ran.

The historic salmon runs remind us of our heritage—what is, was, and, maybe, could be again. Salmon Nation offers a framework for our thinking—a nature state, not a nation state—based on interconnection and the broad distribution of wealth between marine and terrestrial, freshwater and saltwater, urban and rural. Our work is to figure out how to organize our communities and economies to sustain, or even restore, that wealth into the future. Salmon Nation is about the connection between people and place—loving where you live and leaving it better than you found it.

I talk about the power of young people occupying buildings, occupying parks, occupying grocery stores, and occupying the world. They want to know how to protest, how to sing, how to develop the tools that will one day be used by them collectively to do more in the world than to work for the man and bleed their souls for the debts incurred in this capitalist nation.

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We parse the following press release just pushed out by environmental groups:

FDA Lifts Import Ban on Genetically Engineered Salmon

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Center for Food Safety, Friends of the Earth and Quinault Indian Nation, and Feed Seven Generations today decried the FDA’s decision to lift the 2016 import alert that banned genetically engineered salmon from entering the U.S.

“USDA’s new guidelines don’t require adequate mandatory labeling, don’t require calling the fish “genetically engineered” and don’t help consumers know what kind of fish they are buying,” said George Kimbrell, Legal Director at the Center for Food Safety. “These guidelines don’t require mandatory labeling of GE salmon, and instead allow producers to use QR codes or 1-800 numbers for more information. That clearly is not what the Murkowski amendment requires.”

Dana Perls, Senior food policy campaigner with Friends of the Earth, warned, “The FDA’s decision to allow GMO salmon onto the U. S. market runs counter to sound science and market demand. More than 80 retailers have said they won’t sell this risky, unlabeled GMO fish and polls show consumers don’t want it.”

“The FDA’s unilateral decision, without tribal consultation, is an alarming signal that our sacred and prized wild salmon is now even more vulnerable to external markets and ecological threats,” said Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation. “It’s unconscionable and arrogant to think man can improve upon our Creator’s perfection in wild salmon as a justification and excuse to satisfy corporate ambition and greed.”

“By lifting the ban on genetically engineered salmon, the FDA has put American consumers at serious risk and has directly attacked the life ways of Pacific Northwest Tribal communities,” said Valerie Segrest, Muckleshoot Tribal Member and Executive Director of Feed Seven Generations. “They have done this without a single tribal consultation, which violates their legal responsibility, mandating that they consult with tribes. Clearly this is an appropriation of our culture and this action will lead to inevitable contamination and irreversible damage to our food system.”

In every year since 2015, Senator Murkowski (R-AK) has inserted a requirement into FDA appropriations language that requires the FDA to issue mandatory labeling guidelines for GE salmon, using clear, on-package labeling stating that these fish are genetically engineered. FDA claims that the USDA new “bioengineered food” labeling guidelines are adequate, but the USDA “bioengineered” guidelines do not require explicitly labeling GE salmon as “genetically engineered.” Moreover, companies could choose to hide the label using a QR code, rather than on-package labeling.

George Kimbrell, Legal Director at the Center for Food Safety, announced that CFS is examining possible legal actions to force the FDA to comply with the Murkowski amendment. Moreover, the Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice are leading the legal challenge to whether the FDA even has the legal authority to approve this genetically engineered fish as a “new animal drug”.

More information on health and environmental risks of genetically engineered salmon and a full list of stores that have made commitments to not sell genetically engineered seafood and salmon, letters sent to companies by Friends of the Earth U.S., Center for Food Safety and allies, and a list of coalition partners are available at www.gefreeseafood.org.

We talk about how youth, how students, even how their own parents have no say in this insanity of releasing Frankenstein fish into their diets. They are already concerned about other grand experiments by the sociopaths — nanoparticles in all processed foods; more and more chemicals on their bodies, inside their bodies, inside their lungs, unregulated created by these sociopaths in the sciences and technologies hired as hired-guns to make profits for the elite at the expense of global health, and each child’s health. We talk about the native American way, that we need sanity back, sane ideas, sustainability that is real.

Tribal fishermen scramble to contain a spill of farmed Atlantic salmon in north Puget Sound before they tarnish local waters, shedding light on a global struggle between farmed and wild fish. Annie Crawley worked with the Lummi Tribe, Wild Fish Conservancy, Lummi Island Wild, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife and many others to tell the story of the farmed Atlantic salmon spill into the Salish Sea in August 2017. The event sparked a movement of people to speak out against Atlantic salmon net pens in the Puget Sound. Although our state government has taken action to remove the net pens, they are still in other parts of our world ocean. We hope this film will ignite others to choose wild salmon over farmed salmon and create awareness around the impact farmed salmon can have to wild populations.

— Annie Crawley 

The young people of today are our only hope. It’s not the aging politicians that will work to solve the global problems. It’s not the rich and the famous and the celebrity who give a shit about us, the 80 percenters. It’s not the athletes or the CEOs or the bankers who will put the blood sweat and tears into the problems to solve them.

Young people are the lost generations, the lost people, the lost souls, as we adults have abandoned their futures by eating up their futures with this continual continent-sized pile of lies and magical thinking.

They are ready for action and for actors to help them lead themselves. Young people are open to radicals and revolutionaries. Young people need leaders and shaman people to help them crawl out of the dungeons their parents have constructed in not only their own lives, but the future lives of their children.

The students.

Each day I learn more and more about the value of listening and being with and being one with the people of the world, the new people, the arising ones, the people who have not felt gravity enough to weigh down their hope and outlook and creativity. Unfortunately, the systems set up in Capitalism are all about colonizing people at younger and younger ages so they too can be ready for the hamster wheel of Capitalism.

Image result for hamster wheel for humanity

Threading the Eye of the Needle: A Few Greenies Ain’t Gonna Cut Climate Change

Needle in a haystack. Little Dutch Boy putting fingers in leaking dike.

The beach clean-up along the Central Oregon Coast, near Devils Punch Bowl, down south to Beverly Beach, is an exercise in patience, Sisyphus, maybe, as many beach and marine life lovers are volunteering with tweezers in hand harvesting the global micro-plastic harvest.

Might as well have a fork to bring in all the world’s wheat crops.

Piece by piece. Or, scoops of sand, with organic matter like shells pieces and driftwood and these microplastic and plastic nurdles plopped on a gurney-sized fine mesh, is akin to — what? Using one household colander to strain the daily pasta and noodle intake in Oregon?

Scott Rosin is tall, grizzled, and head of Surfriders Central Oregon Coast. He’s chair of the Newport Chapter. Another chapter is called Siuslaw Surfriders, taken from the Newport-Yachats area where we live in, specifically the Siuslaw National Forest, also named after the river that runs through it to the Pacific.

Ahh, Rosin – former arborist, former surfer (his shoulder was blasted out in forestry work – he uses a paddle board to ride five-foot waves or less), poet and local activist – has been heading up this plastic clean-up on six consecutive Sundays, noon to 4 pm, on an incredible beach made to order for picnickers and surfers, even in March.

Helping hands included a few women, Mike Harrington, a 72-year-old member of the Siuslaw Chapter of Surfrider, and a black lab whose owner was down on her knees pulling out plastics of every color and shape.

This is what Scott told the Newport News recently about his efforts:

It would be great if we could get more locals involved. The beaches here are, or were, as beautiful as anywhere in the world. I’ve surfed and played on these beaches since 1973. I can tell you that the problem of visible plastic pollution here has grown exponentially.

Nobody knows what the full effects of plastic pollution may be. This isn’t a disaster that you can see coming, like a forest fire or a hurricane. I anticipate a long road to educating ourselves about the dangers involved.

It’s the local newspaper, and a message of doom and gloom and setting the doomsday clock to 11th hour (actually, 11:58) before the apocalyptic midnight hour hits doesn’t sit well for a local rag that sells ads for real estate, B&B’s, summer cottages, whale watching tours, crab fests, and buy-buy-eat-eat-consume-consume visitors.

Scott and I talked the real stuff tied to not just the amount of plastics in the ocean, and not just the bad-bad-bad hypotheticals of animals eating plastic and then humans eating them up, through the food chain. Anyone with a brain knows that whales and albatrosses and Homo Sapiens should be engorged with fossil fuel polymers.

We talked about these ideas of Americans thinking infinite population growth rates, infinite GDP rates, infinite investment profits, or infinite timber harvesting and infinite consumption and pollution are natural born rights.

The local rag will not allow such real and systems thinking discourse in the newspaper’s news or features sections.

One irony is that Scott and Surfriders and members of SOLV (Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism) and the few volunteers from the American Cetacean Society might not realize that the Siuslaw people (nation) lived in villages along the river until 1860.

Siuslaw Nation living understanding the land, the estuaries, the ecosystems, the whales and avian world, the fish and fauna. The Siuslaw like all First Nations knew the limits of growth, the carrying capacities of their tribes, the allowable safe limit or killing animals or harvesting food.

So, these natural and long-studied indigenous people who could be here teaching in Oregon’s schools and advising all sectors of government and business, well, they no longer have a practiced language. We may romanticize that Oregon Trail story (even Woodie Guthrie has his song, Oregon Trail), but in 1860 the Siuslaw Nation was forcibly removed to an Indian reservation in Yachats. And, then, quickly those homes, farms, gardens and villages were destroyed and occupied by U.S. settler-colonists.

Now California transplants are on the beach trying in herculean effort to stop the infinite plastics tide from fouling everything they came to the Oregon Coast for in the first place.

From the evidence of locals who are blind to the plastic issue and looking out at these Surfriders and others, young and grizzled, the volunteers seem like a blast from the past. Environmentalists, who stick out like anachronous wandering souls, are the minority, as more and more business-as-usual and business-as-usual-to-the-tenth-power proponents have colonized the beach resorts, the city councils, school boards, county commissioner courts.

This Central Oregon Coast is magnificent, but even along the largest ocean covering 42 percent of the earth’s surface (62 million square miles), the Pacific (and the deepest of all oceans at that), microplastics from fish totes originating in Alaska come to the beach in small and colorful forms for a few volunteers to pick at.

Tumbling ghost fishing gear, equipment, supplies – all polymers – tumbling along the ocean currents and ocean floor, ending up floating at the surface, or just below. Colorful bits sea life take for sea nutrients.

Birds eat the plastics. Mammalian marine life eats the plastic. Fish eat it. The extra big yearly tides – the King Tides – push the plastic way up on the tide line. Now Homo Sapiens Plastica are out in small numbers trying to battle the plastic snow storm with a leaf blower.

Scott has never seen this amount of plastic in his 46 years fishing, playing and making a living in this part of the Oregon Coast.

We talked about plastic in every human being’s feces (recent scientific paper on that tidbit). We talked about how by 2050 plastic floating around the ocean and on the bottom will outweigh the total mass of all the organic-living matter in the ocean (another series of scientific papers). I talked about the Mariana Trench, in the Pacific, the deepest canyon in the world — 1,580 miles long and 43 miles wide and maxing out at 36,070 feet deep from the surface.

In yet another scientific series of papers, researchers have ROV’s – remotely operated vehicles – filming plastic bags floating in the trench. Worse yet, the foundation of the food chain – amphipods – in each collection over many months resulted in every single crustacean-like animal containing plastic remnants in their guts.

We can read white paper after detailed scientific paper, but the bottom line is if humanity were to use even one-thousandth of our collective common sense, we’d all be ranting and raving about stopping plastic production and use of straws, wraps, single use bags, containers, noodles.

Forget the fact that plastics are oil based, and the process of polymerizing them involves a lot of electricity, toxins, off gassing and communities around the world exposed to the industrial toxins and waste products part and parcel tied to the entire harvesting, transportation (by a factor of 3 or 4) and production process.

Lucky for me, I can be a member of various touchy feely groups and do some volunteer work with them, but I am not longer hobbled by my scientific credentials or teaching certificates or so-called neutral journalistic standards. I can see through the hubris, magical thinking, delusional belief systems, the false hope and the elephants in the room as people in this society – good folks like Scott Rosin and others I met at a naturalist certification program I went through with the American Cetacean Society have their hearts in the right place, and many times their minds, but their guts are missing the fact that revolutionary change has to happen.

Not a future of greenie Jetsons, but rather a future like the Flintstones is only going to answer the call now.

I also ran into another old timer, like Mike Harrington, a member of Surfrider who ended up in Oregon in 1976, originally from Central California. He packed up the VW van and got his 20 acres near Eddyville.

He said he came here with two children and a wife, because he wanted his kids to be raised where nature and wildlife both counted and were part of their daily lives.

He made his livelihood as a farrier, and we joked about just who his customers are – well-off, bourgeoise, and those with big bucks and the largest ecological footprints.

It’s super tedious, this sieving the wet sand and separating the plastic from the organic matter. Harrington knows it’s a drop in the proverbial bucket (now it’s the drops in the ocean tub). “You have to start somewhere. I want to make this world a better world for my kids and grandkids. I guess it makes me feel better doing this.”

Amanda Zimmerman and Joanna Davis are sisters doing the bit by bit plastic treasure hunt. The sun is out, more than two dozen surfers are seeking curls, families are making sand castles, and the warmer winter Pacific shore waters are enticing some to go in up to their knees.

Joanna says she has to do something. She too is from California, and now is a 28-year-old living in Portland, wanting that Portlandia lifestyle. She has no children, wants none to bring in the world, and she tells me she’s shocked at how few shells and sand dollars she has seen seeing at Pismo Beach, the closest beach to her when she lived in Bakersfield.

The March 4 City Council meeting in Newport will discuss whether to go forward on proposing a single use plastic shopping bag ordinance. There will be many citizens there speaking on behalf of the proposed ban. Scott will be there, after having sent in written testimony.

I’ve looked at the no-to-the-ban citizens, and from the plastics lobby and grocery store lobby. Imagine, 2019, and a small city with 11,000 residents, and swelling to three times that in the summer months, can’t even wrestle with a plastic bag ban.

Even Forbes Magazine, rag of the uber rich, the uber capitalists, lists the coming age of plastic bag bans. But, again, if we can’t get Puerto Rico’s lights back on, and if we can’t even fund our PP12 schools, and if we throw money at Military Industrial Complex thieves and let them laugh to the bank, are we going to deal with climate change?

Ahh, more coming soon, on Peter Ward’s talk, Under a Green Sky (great book I reviewed).

You have Wallace Smith Broecker, the ‘grandfather’ of climate science, leaving a final warning for Earth at an ASU climate change conference via web right before he succumbed to Chronic Heart Failure. I’ll talk about him in a future blog-article.

We’ll talk about the humanity in all of this new fangled (not really) New Green Deal, which is again just another way to let Musk, Bezos, Silicon Valley, Gates, Dell and other techies play libertarian green game of thrones.

Plastics, man. And get this: Oregon’s State Parks will not let Scott and his cronies bring a solar-power pump to get ocean water to their sieving station. Imagine that, they have to haul all this water in 5 gallon buckets hundreds of feet to wash out the sand. Solar powered.

The state’s reasoning: “Well, goddamned goldminers might see this four hour operation and think, hell, I can bring in my gold mining dredges and pumps and arsenic and such. Damn fine idea.”

Are we going to really mitigate the worse and even least of the worse outfalls from climate change when we can’t even issue a special issue permit for greenies to clean plastics from the beach?

We love to believe that high-tech innovations will fix everything. To produce all of our fanciful technology, many of the raw materials are derived from exploiting other people’s land (Africa, South America, Asia), and the manufacturing comes at the expense of other people’s health and livelihood. Let’s hope eliminating this sort of environmental racism figures into the GND platform. Beyond that, thus far in the course of humanity, our technology has only further amplified all of our detrimental ecological issues. It involves over-consuming natural resources and over-producing more of what we don’t need, while leaving us with less of what we do – organisms and ecological systems.

People are saying the Green New Deal is impossible. What is impossible is saving our planetary ecosystem while preserving our current way of life. For any GND legislation to be successful, it must work to conserve more rather than produce more. Moreover, it must facilitate collective radical personal changes to our way of life that fundamentally change the underlying paradigms of our existence. Otherwise, it will be as fleeting as the original New Deal, and ultimately much more deadly.

When it comes to a Green Deal, the only sustainable policies are radical ones. And when it comes to a sustainable global environmental paradigm, unless you are talking about the natural world, less is always more.

Kristine Mattis received her PhD in Environmental Studies. As an interdisciplinary environmental scholar with a background in biology, earth system science, and policy, her research focuses on environmental risk information and science communication. Before returning to graduate school, Kristine worked as a medical researcher, as a science reporter for the U.S. Congressional Record, and as a science and health teacher.

Forbes Magazine list for Oregon and Washington. See all the places for which a ban is in effect — HERE.

KENMORE WA City-wide ban on plastic bags, 5-cent fee on paper bags

LA CONNER WA Town-wide ban on plastic bags

PORT ANGELES WA City-wide ban on plastic bags less than 225 mm, 5-cent tax on all bags

TACOMA WA City-wide ban on plastic bags less than 225 mils thick

FRIDAY HARBOR WA Town-wide ban on plastic bags

SAN JUAN COUNTY WA County-wide ban on plastic bags

TUMWATER WA City-wide ban on plastic bags and 5-cent fee on paper bags

THURSTON COUNTY WA County-wide ban on plastic bags and 5-cent fee on paper bags

OLYMPIA WA City-wide ban on plastic bags and 5-cent fee on paper bags

LACEY WA City-wide ban on plastic bags and 5-cent fee on paper bags

MERCER ISLAND WA City-wide ban on plastic bags

SHORELINE WA City-wide ban on plastic bags and 5-cent fee on paper bags

ISSAQUAH WA City-wide ban on plastic bags and 5-cent fee on paper bags

MUKILTEO WA City-wide ban on plastic bags

PORT TOWNSEND WA City-wide ban on plastic bags and 5-cent fee on paper bags

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND WA City-wide ban on plastic bags and 5-cent fee on paper bags

BELLINGHAM WA City-wide ban on plastic bags and 5-cent fee on paper bags

SEATTLE WA City-wide ban on plastic bags and 5-cent fee on paper bags

EDMONDS WA City-wide ban on plastic bags

MILWAUKIE OR City-wide ban on plastic bags

MANZANITA OR City-wide ban on plastic bags

MCMINNVILLE OR City-wide ban on plastic bags

HOOD RIVER OR City-wide ban on plastic bags

FOREST GROVE OR City-wide ban on plastic bags

ASHLAND OR City-wide ban on plastic bags and 10-cent fee on paper bags

EUGENE OR City-wide ban on plastic bags and 5-cent fee on paper bags

CORVALLIS OR City-wide ban on plastic bags and 5-cent fee on paper bags

PORTLAND OR City-wide ban on plastic bags