Tuesday, January 17, 2023

In Case You Missed It – January 17, 2023

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention on NEIFPE's social media accounts. Keep up with what's going on, what's being discussed, and what's happening with public education.

Be sure to enter your email address in the Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.


Public School Threat Assessment

This item is left over from December 2022. Peter Greene, in his blog Curmudgucation, lists current threats to public education nationwide. He gives each threat a number of "bombs" (💣) to indicate their danger level. Don't be fooled, the one and two bomb threats, such as Learning Loss and Charter Schools are bad enough. Below we give you a taste of his piece with one of his five bomb items.

From Curmudgucation
It's been a while since we looked over the general landscape to see what threats to public education, so let's do that. Of all the various forces arrayed against public education in this country, which pose the greatest threats? Which are more noise and distraction? Which should we most worry about in the coming year? If we could wave a magic wand and get rid of just one, which one could do the most good by disappearing?

We'll take these in no particular order, and rate each with up to five bombs (the more bombs, the bigger the threat).

...The Don't Trust Schools Movement 💣💣💣💣💣

Chris Rufo and Jay Greene and some other folks had an idea--what if we just took every possible opportunity to convince that this building is a louse-ridden, evil-soaked den of iniquity. What if we just kept yelling "Fire!' or "Flood!" or "Satan attack!!" in every room of the building? We could do two things--we could get people to leave the building, and we could get them to put us in charge of the building. It would be awesome.

This is MAGA writ school-sized, and like the MAGA "Trust nobody but me" principle, it is being deployed with zero attention or concern about what sort of damage is being done to critical institutions or society as a whole. "I'm sure there's gold in this house somewhere," says this nihilistic opportunism. "Let's burn the place down and then we can sift through the ashes for the gold nuggets."

The Billionaire Kingmaker (Still) Dividing the Nation

The Koch brothers have been doing their best to privatize the USA for years...generations if you count their father. The attack against the public didn't end when the elder brother, David, died in 2019. His brother Charles has continued the family plan. You can read more about the Koch family at the Center for Media and Democracy: Sourcewatch.

From The Progressive
In November 2020, just two weeks after the most divisive U.S. election of our lifetimes, billionaire Charles Koch published a book called Believe in People: Bottom-Up Solutions for a Top-Down World. A few days before that, on November 13, The Wall Street Journal published a story with the headline “Charles Koch Says His Partisanship Was a Mistake.” Koch, the article noted, wanted a “final act building bridges across political divides.”

The same day, The Washington Post headlined a puff piece about the book: “Charles Koch congratulates Biden and says he wants to work together on ‘as many issues as possible.’ ” The writer, political columnist James Hohmann, informed his readers that the chief executive officer of Koch Industries said “there is too much hate in the country and lamented how emboldened extremists have become” (Hohmann’s words)...

Heaving a collective sigh of relief that the donor and strategist most responsible for the radicalization of the Republican Party had now committed to a mellow “final act,” news outlets told their audiences, in effect, that they no longer needed to worry about the Koch network. It had been tamed by the shock and horror of Donald Trump. But what mainstream news editors seemed to forget was that they were covering a specialist in strategic disinformation, who had perfected the practice of deceiving the public during his network’s three decades of climate change denial.

Koch, the single most influential billionaire shaping American political life, never changed course. And the head fake he pulled off in 2020 succeeded in securing for his vast donor network—and the hundreds of organizations they underwrite—the freedom to operate, virtually without scrutiny, over the two years since. In that time, far from ceasing their efforts to divide the country, they have ramped them up...


Michelle Goldberg: DeSantis Begins Hostile Takeover of Progressive Public College

Florida Governor DeSantis, not content with damaging public education (see here and here, for example) is now setting his sights on post-secondary education by going after the New College of Florida.

From Diane Ravitch
New College of Florida has a reputation for being the most progressive public college in the state. X González — a survivor of the Parkland school shooting who, as Emma González, became a prominent gun control activist — recently wrote of their alma mater, “In the queer space of New College, changing your pronouns, name or presentation is a nonevent.” In The Princeton Review’s ranking of the best public colleges and universities for “making an impact” — measured by things like student engagement, community service and sustainability efforts — New College comes in third.

Naturally, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida wants to demolish it, at least as it currently exists. On Friday, he announced six new appointments to New College’s 13-member board of trustees, including Chris Rufo, who orchestrated the right’s attack on critical race theory, and Matthew Spalding, a professor and dean at Hillsdale College, a conservative Christian school in Michigan with close ties to Donald Trump.

DeVos-funded campaign for school voucher-like plan withdraws petitions in a sign of defeat

Elections have consequences. The people of Michigan have fought off an attack on public education by the former Secretary of Education by electing a majority of public school supporters to their state legislature.

Voters in Indiana, take note...

From Chalkbeat: Detroit*
A Betsy DeVos-backed proposal to help Michigan families use taxpayer funds to cover private school tuition and other education-related expenses appears finished after organizers withdrew petitions they’d submitted to the Secretary of State.

The proposal — which critics have likened to private school vouchers — doesn’t have a clear political path after Democrats won full control of the state Legislature in November.

“This is an acknowledgement that it failed,” said Joshua Cowen, a professor of education policy at Michigan State University who has been critical of the proposal and of vouchers.


Peter Greene: Charter Schools Are Not Public Schools

The post by Peter Greene that Diane Ravitch discusses in this blog entry was originally published on February 9, 2019. Diane Ravitch reprised it last week because, she said, "The topic remains pertinent."

From Diane Ravitch
When COVID began spreading, Congress passed a program for small businesses and nonprofits called the Paycheck Protection Program. The Small Business Administration gave out almost $800 billion to save jobs. Many private and religious schools applied for and received PPP grants, as did churches, synagogues, mosques, and businesses. Public schools were not allowed to apply for PPP money because there was another program specifically for public schools. Some charter schools applied for and received over a billion dollars of PPP money, while also collecting money from the public school fund. The average charter school received far more than the average public school because many of the charters double-dipped from both funds. If charter schools were public schools, they would not have been eligible for PPP money.


No, Public School Teachers are Not Turning Their Students into Communists

Steven Singer, who blogs at Gadfly on the Wall, is a strong voice for public education and public school teachers.

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
Have you heard the latest Republican lie?

There are so many it’s hard to keep track, but here’s the newest one.

Public school teachers are turning their students into communists.

I’m not kidding.

That’s what they’re saying on far right blogs, podcasts and TV shows.

Everyone from Betsy DeVos to Ron DeSantis and the sober fellows of the Heritage Foundation are up in arms.

All because Mr. Singer wore a red sweater vest one day to class.

Not really, but that might have been a better provocation than the reality – which is all in far right pundits’ heads.

So for the GOP, it’s all about fear – what can you scare voters to believe that will shepherd them to support your agenda?

So to start with, Republicans want you to be terrified of public schools.

The reason?

They want you to have to pay to get your kids educated – but public schools give learning away for free to everyone – just for paying taxes.

A More Solid Foundation

The new legislative session has begun in Indiana which always brings danger to our public schools.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
An Indiana Chamber of Commerce study released Dec. 23 has found a high demand among Hoosier employers for "life skills," such as collaboration and critical thinking.

Results of the survey couldn't have come at a more influential time. The Indiana General Assembly convenes Monday, and - this being an odd-numbered year - its top priority will be hammering out a new, two-year state budget.

Last year, K-12 education spending accounted for about half of the budget.

A survey of 1,000 Hoosiers by Bellwether Research & Consulting found boosting education funding to be the third-highest priority of state residents, and elected officials appear to be listening ahead of the new session.

Gov. Eric Holcomb wants a record increase in K-12 funding as part of a $43 billion, two-year budget plan. House Speaker Todd Huston, R-Fishers, said in November he wants to "reinvent" high school in 2023, though his proposal lacks specifics.

*Note: Financial sponsors of Chalkbeat include pro-privatization foundations and individuals such as Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, EdChoice, Gates Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and others.

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette is behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both are available with a subscription. Staying informed is important, and one way to do that is to support your local newspaper. For subscription information, go to fortwayne.com/subscriptions/ [NOTE: NEIFPE has no financial ties to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette]

Note: NEIFPE's In Case You Missed It is posted by the end of the day every Monday except after holiday weekends or as otherwise noted.

No comments: