Friday, July 31, 2015

On the Road to Receivership

A recent $8.5 million donation to Evil Moskowitz’s torture chambers charter schools by billionaire hedge funder John Paulson is a mere bubble amid the tsunami of Big Money careening toward public education in New York State. It’s doubtless Paulson would have donated at least twice that amount had Andrew “I am the Government” Cuomo not failed to enrich Paulson and other Wall St. wankers via another one of his tax-cuts-for-billionaires bills.  

Alas, the Lobbyist for the Student’s dubiously-dubbed “Parental Choice in Education Act” did not even come to a vote, though Cuomo did manage to slip a few more charter schools for his slimy associates into Albany’s putrid package of legislation. Cuomo continues to “get things done” by ramming through ludicrous laws before most legislators even have a chance to put their reading glasses on.   

Contrary to what The New York Times says, Paulson’s donation will not cause New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio additional angst in accommodating Moskowitz’s schools—Cuomo already carved out space for them in the state budget through seemingly unrelated legislation.

Under a new “school receivership” law encased in the budget, Moskowitz and other public school predators are now clear to subsume “failing” schools within one year, kicking union contracts and our most vulnerable kids to the curb. After all, neither Moskowitz nor Paulson’s money will tolerate low Cuomo Core test scores. Kids who happen to struggle because their parents are destitute, disabled or dead will be out of luck; rather than fitted for a charter school uniform, they will be promised all the knowledge in the world via asinine online classes on a refurbished iPad. 

The good news is that many intelligent people understand that test scores do not define children, or teachers for that matter. Paulson and other education misanthropists should remember this the next time they agonize over the worthlessness of their worth and attempt to live vicariously through other people's kids. It’s not our fault that Paulson decided to become a billionaire and now needs another reason to exist besides money. Perhaps his fortune would be better spent saving lions in Africa. 

Billionaire John Paulson is now in the market for a soul

Awash in ignorant hubris, Paulson’s beneficence also helps destroy those precious middle-class jobs politicians like to tout, as the faculty and staff in charter schools have less job security than a drunken babysitter. Yes, public schools are similar to corporations in that they also provide jobs to the community, jobs politicians from both parties are desperate to downgrade.

Fortunately, more people are paying attention. One of the largest acts of civil disobedience took place this year in New York when over 200,000 ordinary citizens decided they would refuse to allow their kids to participate in Andrew Cuomo’s greedy and vindictive quest to destroy their schools with standardized tests. This number will only increase next year as more people start to realize that the road to receivership is paved with low test scores. If Moskowitz and others continue to get their way, this road will soon crisscross the state, with hundreds of schools labelled as “failing” and in need of a Paulson donation.

Besides an attempt at fumigating college readiness standards that are more toxic than Chernobyl on a windy day, the state’s only answer for the Refuse movement will be to intimidate and punish any teacher suspected of supporting the uprising. Cuomo’s Orwellian “moral character” law contained in the budget is clearly meant for this purpose, as our sociopathic leader’s definition of immorality pertains to anyone who challenges his ego. How many teachers, for example, will the state try to railroad out of the profession because they "like" a status on Facebook?

History shows, however, that people don't digest force-fed injustices very well, especially ones that include children and hard-working teachers as their ingredients.

Paradoxically, injustice also breeds solidarity, and it is now the job of everyone who cares about public education—from bus drivers to board members—to coalesce around the Refuse movement. Refuse the road to receivership by refusing the tests.

It is the only way to save our schools from the clutches of strife.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Calling the Hillary Clinton Question

Pay attention, teachers. 

To the exasperation of workers everywhere, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) suddenly voted to endorse former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for U.S. president. Though the union made a similarly timed endorsement of her in 2008, this year's bow to Clinton has a growing number of members questioning its motivation. After all, there are enough people currently running for president to fill a school bus, and the destruction of public education has so far received less Big Media scrutiny than Donald Trump's hairline.

Much of the vitriol for the Clinton endorsement is justifiably directed at AFT president and Hillary backslapper Randi Weingarten. Rather than use the election to galvanize 1.6 million educators around issues that matter to lives and livelihoods, Weingarten prematurely called the question, strong-arming teachers into campaigning for a woman whose biggest donors expect her to attack labor unions and public education.

Clinton is a former U.S. senator from New York and big fan of Governor Andrew Cuomo, a neoliberal ass clown who has eviscerated due process rights for teachers in his state while simultaneously underfunding and overtesting students and their schools.

Clinton condones Cuomo

Weingarten is also close to Clinton, and this hasty endorsement appears as nothing more than nepotism run amok. Though she would follow Clinton to the Hamptons and back, the same cannot be said of many of her members. 

Weingarten claims this endorsement was pushed by union leaders in swing states, but Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has drawn bigger crowds than anyone in those states, and don't think that a teacher or twenty in the crowd does not nod whenever Sanders speaks of removing the influence of Big Money from politics, for example. 

The conviction that Clinton will easily win the democratic nomination so we might as well support her plays on our most superficial and cynical political paradigms; inevitability builds tyrants, not leaders. Similar to Barack Obama in 2008, Hillary clearly views Sanders as a threat to her inevitability, and has reached out to her friend Randi to dam his progressive tide. 

Clinton has no credibility in the fight against Big Money in politics, however, unless and until she decides to offer Eli Broad and Bill Gates a refund. As a result, should Clinton receive the nomination, campaign finance will merely graze the stratosphere of the presidential debates, with both the moderators and candidates obsessing over psychos on the other side of the world instead of the corporate sociopaths along our shores.

Education will likely also receive its usual brusque treatment in 2016, since it will be in the best interests of both major parties to disregard the plutocrats behind the curtain. If Clinton wins the nomination, vital debate about issues such as Common Core and high-stakes tests will be tempered by phrases like "Education reform is a bipartisan issue" and "Let's agree to disagree on that one." In the meantime, public education will sink further into oblivion, ignored in favor of nonsensical arguments about deleted emails and the constitutionality of health care and marriage. 

Randi Weingarten has a lot of work to do if she expects the AFT to work for Hillary Clinton.

Bernie Sanders is a successful and seasoned senator, former congressman and mayor. He is not going away soon.  

If anything, the AFT 's endorsement of Clinton will only stoke the fires of Bernie's campaign, with working teachers everywhere poking its embers.

It will be up to Weingarten and others to tamp down the flames of dissent and disgust engulfing corporate Clinton.