Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dave...we could say the same thing for Ohio!

From John Curry, February 16, 2012
Need a primer on ALEC, what they have done and what they are doing? it is ...... as written from an Iowan's perspective. Just substitute Ohio for Iowa .....something that many people already do!
Cedar Valley Voices: ALEC pushes pro-big-business agenda on legislators
by Dave Bradley · Op-Ed · February 10, 2012
Most of us have a preconceived idea that we took away from grade school civics that our local elected representatives act with local concerns at the top of their lists.
But as with many other things, money has corrupted our governmental processes, even at this level. Where once the major concern was crafting legislation that would address problems that arose while having the least negative effects on citizens, now the concern for at least one group is to enact legislation in states(including Iowa) that promotes a national agenda.
Working behind the scenes, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) pushes “pro-big business” legislation in state legislatures throughout the country. ALEC has been around for a long time, but only recently has the climate been ripe for them to flex their muscle. They have semi-annual meetings where state legislators and corporate big-wigs work on what they call model legislation for states. This “model legislation” is usually set up to change current public policy so that big business can have a much friendlier climate in which to operate.
States that have a Republican governor and a Republican majority in both houses have pushed hard to pass ALEC model legislation. These states are in the news quite a bit lately because the legislation has been so extreme. Wisconsin is the prime example with the passage of union busting legislation, public school fund strangling legislation, and of course the crown jewel- legislation to restrict the right to vote targeted at traditional Democratic constituencies. Other states that have passed similar laws include Ohio and Michigan while Indiana is considering more ALEC legislation. ALEC’s model legislation includes privately run prisons, privatizing libraries and privatizing municipal utilities.
Iowa has always been regarded as a sane and forward looking state in its legislation. Yet the scourge of ALEC policies has a firm toe hold in Iowa as all the Republican House, including Jeff Kaufmann R, Wilton, are members, a fact confirmed by Charles Smithson, chief clerk of the Iowa House. Just as huge corporate money is totally corrupting our national politics, we have a similar problem at the state level. ALEC is the vehicle being used to bring corporations and legislators together, behind closed doors in unannounced meetings to decide what is in their best interest.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Our new Ohio Retirement Study Council director with an open mind or........ an old ALEC acquaintance?

From John Curry, February 15, 2012
You be the judge! When you finish with this Dispatch article check out the 2 pages of attachments requested by the use of the Freedom of Information act from the office of Ohio's ALEC go-to legislator, John Adams from pages 47 and 48. John's been a busy boy for ALEC and looks like Bethany has been right there by his side, doesn't it? Keith Faber also enters the picture, doesn't he? The other pages in this document also make for some interesting reading, don't they?
Ohio Retirement Study Council gets new director
The Columbus Dispatch
Wednesday February 8, 2012
ShareThisVeteran GOP legislative staffer Bethany Rhodes was named this morning as director of the Ohio Retirement Study Council.
Rhodes, deputy legal counsel for the state House Republican caucus, is a former aid to Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, R-Napolean, a member of the council. Wachtmann declined to participate in interviews and discussions about the finalists this morning, said Sen. Keith Faber, R-Celina, chairman of the council.
Rhodes will succeed Aristotle Hutras as the next director of Ohio's retirement oversight panel. She will make $85,000, less than the $113,000 paid to Hutras, Faber said.
Other finalists for the post included Jada Brady, former executive director of the Ohio Liquor Control Commission; Mark Gibson, vice chairman of the Unemployment Compensation Review Commission and former Franklin County administrator; Phillip Kapler, former executive director of the St. Paul, Minn., Teachers' Retirement Fund Association; Bethany; and Michael Troper, controller at Marion Technical College.
Hutras retired in December after spending nearly 22 years as director of the council, whose voting members include six lawmakers and three gubernatorial appointees.

What is ALEC, anyway? And why should I be concerned?

Do a little digging and you will find out. For starters, below is a link to ALEC's website (American Legislative Exchange Council -- a lofty cover name for who and what this group is), as well as one for a group that exposes them. [I have been adding others as more information becomes available on this "secret" group.] You can find plenty more on Google and other search engines.
Kathie Bracy, Steubenville, OH 2/7/12

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Charter schools and.....Diane, you say it so well!

From John Curry, February 14, 2012
"Transferring control of public dollars to private hands is not reform. It is privatization."
February 13, 2012
Ravitch: Why states should say 'no thanks' to charter schools
This was written by education historian Diane Ravitch, a research professor at New York University and author of the bestselling “The Death and Life of the Great American School System,” a critique of the flaws in the modern school reform movement. Ravitch was an assistant secretary of education in the administration of former president George H.W. Bush. This first appeared in the Montgomery Advertiser.
By Diane Ravitch

Former D.C. school chancellor Michelle Rhee has sent her followers to Alabama to promote charter schools, but Alabama should say “no, thanks.” The District of Columbia is no model for school reform.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, which is the gold standard of education testing, shows that Washington D.C. has the biggest achievement gap between black and white students in the nation, double the size of Alabama’s. Alabama should not take lessons from one of the nation’s lowest performing districts.

Charter schools haven’t helped other states and they won’t help Alabama. Here are the reasons why:

* Numerous national and state studies have shown that charters on average don’t get better results than regular public schools. A small percentage get high scores, more get very low scores, most are about average in terms of test scores. Why kill off a community’s public school to replace it with a privately managed school that is no better and possibly worse?

* Charter schools weaken the regular public schools. They take money away from neighborhood public schools and from the district budget. As charter schools open, regular public schools must cut teachers and close down programs to pay for them.

* Many of the “high-performing” charter schools succeed by skimming off the best students, even in poor districts. The more they draw away the best students, the worse it is for the regular public schools, who are left with the weakest students.

* Many charter schools succeed by excluding or limiting the number of students they accept who have disabilities or who are English language learners. They are also free to push out low-scoring students and send them back to the local public school. This improves their results, but it leaves the regular public schools with disproportionate numbers of the most challenging students.

* Many charter operators are for-profit, and the district winds up paying them tax revenue that should be invested in students. Many of the nonprofits pay exorbitant executive compensation that wouldn’t be acceptable in a regular public school district.

* Charters fragment communities. Instead of everyone working together to support the children and schools of their communities, charters and regular public schools fight over resources and space. This is not good for education or for children.

* Charters cannot help the large numbers of children who live in rural and semi-rural communities in Alabama. These communities barely manage to support their own local public school. Replacing a community institution with one that is managed by private operators with no local ties would do harm to the community.

Transferring control of public dollars to private hands is not reform. It is privatization. This strikes at the very heart of public education. It is a mirage. Alabama needs to do the right thing and support a sound public education system that benefits the children of the rising generation.

I just love those "Top 10" lists, don't you?

From John Curry, February 14, 2012
Based on comparisons from the Stanford CREDO study of 2009, only 17 percent of charter schools nationwide are performing better than matched public schools. Of that 17 percent of higher-scoring charters, the intensely-segregated urban charters use forms of total compliance lockdown teaching, corporate positivity, and cultural sterilization that white teachers in these schools would never allow to be used on their own children.
There must be, then, more important social and economic reasons that some folks, who would otherwise not leave children behind in these hellholes if they were public schools, see charters schools as the only other choice for children in crumbling public schools whose poverty and lack of privilege are predictably reflected in their very low test scores.
These are a few of the reasons that charter schools garner so much corporate support, venture philanthropy, and unending public relations boosting from the corporate media:
1. Urban charter schools require minimal public investment in physical plants, library programs, the arts, science labs, athletics, personnel, and transportation infrastructure.
2. Urban charter schools are cheaper because they depend upon an endless stream of young beginning teachers with few benefits, no retirement payouts, and no collective bargaining.
3. Urban charter schools make it easy to segregate based on race, economics, gender, and disability.
4. Urban charter schools allow for the exclusion or dumping of problem students whose abilities, behaviors, or test performance that could damage to the charter brand.
5. Urban charter schools make it easier to hide the problems of the poor by pointing to testing success by those who survive the charter gauntlet.
6. Urban charter schools allow for the imposition of cultural and psychological control techniques in urban areas that are not subject to public scrutiny.
7. Urban charter schools put decision-making and control into the hands of unelected executives with no oversight beyond hand-picked board members.
8. Urban charter schools (not for profit CMOs) allow corporations and wealthy donors to reap huge tax benefits for their generosity to corporate charter schools.
9. Urban charter schools (for profit EMOs) expand business opportunities for the education industry & testing-industrial complex.
10. Urban charter schools make it possible to take the state tax dollars saved from the forced choice of urban charters and use that money to enrich suburban public schools without raising taxes.

Monday, February 13, 2012 to display on your Teachers Lounge bulletin board!

From John Curry, February 13, 2012
Simple Math
Common Core Standards adopted
Silence from teachers, professional organizations, parents
New tests, more tests, pre-tests, post-tests
Silence from teachers, professional organizations, parents
test-prep textbooks/ test-prep software aligned with CCS
Silence from teachers, professional organizations, parents
VAM teacher accountability, teacher merit pay
Silence from teachers, professional organizations, parents
Hiring TFA recruits, expanding corporate charter schools
Silence from teachers, professional organizations, parents
The end of universal public education*

*Hint: 1% wins again
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
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