They are doing it all over the US. Why? Because uneducated people are more willing to work for WalMart without complaining than well educated.
Posts Tagged 'public education'
Tags: ALEC, dangerous consequences, Hanna Skandera, Karl Rove, Koch Brothers, Politics, public education, Susana Martinez
Yes, there seems to be a run from ALEC and while not wanting to rain on anyone’s parade the question I’m asking here is: So what? This is not the time for high-fives and victory laps. Karl Rove, the Koch Boys, the other corporate donors to ALEC, and the dozens of their front organizations will not loosen their grip on the political narrative. According to the April 21, 2012 Rolling Stone, the Koch Boys alone have invested over $100 million over the past 30 years building an empire of foundations, think tanks, advocacy groups and the like. They aren’t going to walk away from this class war. What they will do, however, is become ever more clever in hiding their agenda. They aren’t going to retreat because there is too much at stake; there is still enough money left in the public till to be sucked into their bank accounts. The billionaire warriors against American social democracy and vital public interests like education and health care will continue to polarize the country using even more surreptitious means. These people have unlimited amounts of money and their own media networks to further their agenda and will do whatever it takes to shove that agenda down the public’s throat. They are relentless and that is exactly how they got to where they are today. We too must be relentless in uncovering their fronts, exposing their agendas and their sycophants, and educating the public about the dangerous consequences to a democratic society that this kind of sociopathic destruction represents.
The most important question to ask right now, as we enter the 2012 election season nationally and in the races for the New Mexico legislature, is how do we elect better, more honorable people whose allegiance is to the electorate first? One place we can start is by naming names and telling voters the truth. Ask the public if they voted for ALEC or for their Senator or Representative. Ask if they are aware that their legislators have been acting on behalf of ALEC to pass laws that originated in a Washington DC conservative think tank sponsored by the largest corporations in the world – corporations which have nothing to do with New Mexico. It needs to be pointed out how some legislators were bought with campaign contributions, a free meal, or a trip to a “seminar” at a fancy resort that just happened to have a great golf course. Voters need to understand what motivates politicians to pass laws and make policies that are antithetical to their constituents – money. Money in the form of campaign contributions from innocuous sounding foundations – that’s the grease.
In a pointed example of the ALEC agenda at work here in New Mexico, the Governor and her Secretary-designate of Education, after having been turned down by the Legislature, continue to relentlessly pursue their discredited education reform agenda to privatize public education, humiliate teachers with Gestapo-like classroom raids, grade schools, teachers, and children, and enable out-of-state corporate for-profit charter schools. In other words, the Legislature and the voice of the public be damned – these agents of big political money have a debt to pay back. In spite of the governor’s campaign shuck and jive about ensuring New Mexico tax dollars are spent in New Mexico, her NMPED outsourced nearly $6.5 million of taxpayer money for services that could have been easily sourced here. Did the PED really need to hire a Texan to advise them on hiring what they call “key people” to assist in formulating policies on Hispanic and Native American education? We don’t have that expertise in-state? Really? Next there is SB 9, which would have put out-of-state businesses on an equal tax footing with in-state businesses – the Governor vetoed that one. When you get to the bottom line, the best interests of New Mexico and New Mexicans are being vetoed as well.
The public information/education campaign must reach out to voters and engage them in dialog before they cast their ballots. Wren Abbot’s excellent reporting in SFR this past week exposing the PED spending mentioned above is exactly what is needed and more of it. We need much more good and accurate information put out there if the public is going to grasp what is being done to their schools specifically and the public trust in general. The public needs to know how differential tax policies hurt them, their neighbors, and local businesses. Patent disregard and disrespect for public opinion and legislative intent must be countered with good reporting, good facts, good dialog, and a good statement of consequences. There’s a lot of work to be done in the weeks and months ahead. We can have our high-fives when better and more honorable people are elected to public office.
This article first appeared in: The Light of New Mexico
Tags: ALEC, Arne Duncan, education reform, Hanna Skandera, Koch Brothers, Politics, privatize public education, privatizing schools, public education, Santa Fe Reporter, school reform, schools, Scott Walker, SFR, Sussana Martinez, teacher unions, teachers
Joe Teacher’s editorial in the May 5-15 Santa Fe Reporter, “Evaluating The Evaluating” was a plea for reasonableness on the part of those who will be evaluating teachers in the coming school year. The evaluations will be in accordance with the requirements of Arne Duncan, President Obama’s hoops buddy cum Secretary of Education, and the New Mexico Secretary Designate of Education. Mr. Teacher, a non de plume one must imagine, makes an excellent and logically irrefutable case on behalf of teachers, teaching, and learning. But, sad to say, logic and reasonableness have nothing to do with logical irrefutability and the impending collision of private interests and public education.
In his essay Teacher gamely holds Governor Martinez harmless for the plans now about to unfold for New Mexico’s teachers. This, like much of his essay, is based on a false premise. In the first case this is not at all about Susana Martinez, who knows nothing about the process of teaching and learning and wouldn’t give a fig, except her political future is harnessed to it. What the Governor knows is how to get ahead in today’s Republican political milieu, how to toe the party line, and climb the ladder of success. What Mr. Teacher seems not to understand is that the Secretary Designate of Education is not really subordinate to the Governor but only to those who pushed her into that office by way of significant campaign donations with the ultimate mission of privatizing public education.
What Mr. Teacher seems not to grasp is that his personal experience with and caring about students is not part of the privatization big picture. Eventually, Mr. Teacher, all classroom teachers will be deemed ineffective as they have been and are so deemed in states across the country where Republican governors are paying off their campaign debts by putting working-class labor unions out of business, and putting private school operators like Rupert Murdoch into business. Mr. Teacher is correct, however, in saying “New Mexico teachers are in for some big changes. ” You bet they are, my friend, and so are parents when they discover they have been locked out of the schooling process, and so too are students who will be treated like Skinnerian pigeons and pawns in a game of education Monopoly.
In Wisconsin the proletariat are pushing back against the Koch boys’ puppet, Gov. Scott Walker. A recall election is being held to dump Mr. Walker and a few Republican legislators by gathering several times the required number of signatures needed to call for the new election. Democracy in action, folks! Wisconsin Democrats have just settled, via a primary, on their candidate, and the Koch brothers are sparing nothing to fund their boy Walker. Walker has been on the road for weeks recently, speaking around the country to Republican loyalists about his short career as Wisconsin governor, no doubt pocketing hefty speaking fees to help pay for his re-election efforts. I suppose this could be construed as a contemporary version of American Democracy, the People vs. the Money.
In his essay, Mr. Teacher points out the unreasonableness of the pending teacher evaluations, and all of his points are well taken. No evaluation will take into account kids from homes with one or no parents, kids from homes where parents don’t give a damn about learning and schooling, except as a place to hold kids for part of the day. No account is taken in the teacher evaluations of kids from homes where three square meals a day are not the norm, where parents have drug habits, and the evaluation approach thus punishes teachers for these realities over which they have no control. As I have pointed out earlier, Mr. Teacher, this is not about you, pal. This is not about kids. This is not about teaching and learning. This is about profit and political ambition on both sides of the political aisle. This is the ALEC assault on public education and what’s left of American democracy.
This post first appeared at: Light of New Mexico
Tags: ABCD-F Act, Arne Duncan, Connecticut, curricula, education reform, Florida, Hanna Skandera, Koch Brothers, Legislatures, model legislation, NCLB, New Mexico, on Schools, Politics, President Obama, privatize public education, privatizing schools, public education, retention, Santa Fe, Scott Walker, Sussana Martinez, teachers, Wisconsin
A Momentary Lapse of Character
In a moment of uncharacteristic candor and persona, Hanna Skandera, the twice passed over candidate for New Mexico Secretary of Education, had this bit of truth to say about her mission: “I came to New Mexico to do a job, and I plan to do that job.” With the tacit approval of legislators on both sides of the aisle, what a job it is she is doing to schools, teachers and students.
By not taking up Skandera’s confirmation and rejecting her Legislators obtained by default their personal “don’t blame me” licenses. Clearly the “job” she refers to is bringing New Mexico into line with the educational policies of ALEC including their spawn of phony “foundations”, “institutes” and her other corporate sponsors. Nearly verbatim copies of ALEC promulgated educational policies, the ABCD-F Act among them, have been presented and passed into law. This is happening without critical analysis, proper public discussion or truthful disclosure of sources nor an understanding of the strategy, purpose and ultimate consequences imbedded in those new laws.
The same underhanded conspiracy is taking place across the United States and besides New Mexico, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Florida are good examples. State legislators elected by their constituencies in the belief that they would write and pass legislation particular to their constituencies are carrying water for a private organization, ALEC, introducing bills written by ideological trolls in Washington DC. Of course to prepare them for this mission legislators are wined and dined at exclusive resorts sequestered by armed guards to keep out the prying eyes of the public and the press. If a resort isn’t handy ALEC will happily pick up the tab at an expensive local restaurant as it did recently in Santa Fe. Either way ALEC picks up the tab and asks only that you introduce the bills they have written as though they were your own. It sounds a lot like a conspiracy scam doesn’t it? Personally I want my elected representatives to write their own legislation based on what we in New Mexico need and not what some corporate sponsored bill mill in Washington DC is cranking out.
In Wisconsin, Connecticut and Florida state legislatures already have been and are uncritically passing new laws governing schools to enable take-over by private charter schools, the devaluing of teachers, and the mechanized stupidizing of the educative process. What is the motive? Among other things like destroying organized representation for working class people, the end result ALEC and it sponsors want is to take over public education for profit. In some places people are waking up. In Wisconsin for instance they are recalling their recently elected Governor, Scott Walker, who, like Susana Martinez in New Mexico, was sponsored by the Koch boys and the ALEC. This recall business can happen anywhere when people realize they are being sold out by their elected officials. Throw the bums out of office and start over; that’s how it done unless of course you are happy with the idea of uniform laws promulgated across the country written by ALEC and passed by corporate toadies in state legislatures.
What’s at stake here? Well, how about your democratic form of government for starters? How about schools accountable to their communities as opposed to schools accountable to their stockholders and corporate managers. How about honesty and above the board legislative dealings. How about doing your job as a legislator and doing the dirty work that job sometimes requires? If all you think about is being re-elected and not wanting to affront some of your constituency or potential fat cat donors then you are not doing your job and don’t deserve to hold office. In the final analysis it isn’t whether Skandera was approved or not, what matters is that you had the courage to take up the matter and deal with it. We are now into the 2012 legislative election cycle and November will be the reckoning. I’ll bet education is going to be on the agenda.
It was announced this afternoon, Wednesday February 15th, that New Mexico had been granted exemption from the NCLB business. President Obama’s hoops buddy came through for Skandera on this matter which is by definition, is no more than a straw issue. In fact what has been achieved is exactly no more than this: New Mexico, you no longer have to walk backwards but you will have to walk on your hands and knees. Keep going. Boy whoopee! Such a deal…..
This essay first appeared at:
Tags: ABCD-F Act, ALEC, Arne Duncan, curricula, education reform, Hanna Skandera, NCLB, on Schools, privatize public education, privatizing schools, public education, Susana Martinez, teachers, testing
Listen and Show Some Respeto
Listen, Listen. Listen. That was the watchword, the first principle I was taught when working for the University of Wisconsin Extension Services which I did throughout my graduate studies. I traveled that state conducting extension service programs all of which were developed by listening to the communities we served. When I was first elected majordomo of my acequia here in the northern mountains I spent most of my time asking questions about what was needed to make the ditch function more fairly and efficiently and listening carefully to the answers. I sat for hours listening to viejos tell me the history of this very old acequia dug by hand from the mountain to the meadows. Respeto. I spent my time getting to know the families served by the ditch and walked the land the acequia passed through from the mountain presa to the last gate at the farthest end of our llano’s irrigated fields. This was my experience in Wisconsin coming into service in New Mexico and tempered by Governor Lew Wallace’s dicho – “Every calculation based on experience elsewhere fails in New Mexico.” I had no “calculations” but knew that listening to people tell you about themselves, their needs and their experiences will not fail you and a plan will make itself evident in proper time. Listen.
Our Secretary-designate of Education has not distinguished herself with a willingness to listen and this is not without consequences. New Mexico failed to receive a waiver of the NCLB requirements because the Secretary-designate of Education and her allies were eager to push their imported, ALEC-inspired ABCD-F Act through the legislature. In passing this piece of retrograde legislation the State failed to meet the Federal requirements for exemption from the NCLB. Interviewed on the KOB-TV web site, APS Superintendent of Schools, Winston Brook, voiced his opinion that the ABCD-F grading system didn’t meet federal requirements. Winston went on to say that Skandera was made aware of those concerns before she released the grades. Brooks was also aware that the U.S. Secretary of Education had written a letter to Skandera telling her she needed to address the issues. Obviously the federal concerns were not dealt with in a timely manner hence no exemption.
Carrying water for ALEC has its price and in this case the price will paid by New Mexico’s schools, teachers and children who have been saddled with the ABCD-F Act and will now struggle to be released from the NCLB requirements. There is no denying Ms. Skandera came to New Mexico on a mission and she has been notably single-minded about carrying out her assignment. Her ideological blinders have kept her from grasping the cultural realities of the state including our diverse languages a tradition for which she has demonstrated a profound lack of respete.
Skandera has placed herself within an ideological cocoon comprised of her own imported staff and well paid out-of-state consultants, which has resulted in a tragic lack of critical understanding and ham-handed policy execution. Her reform process has been a self-affirming and thus a self-defeating feed-back loop. She and her advisors have all been on the same page but the book they are using is about somewhere other than New Mexico.
What we have received is a lot of fancy doubletalk such as this recent example from the Secretary-designate: “New Mexico consistently has been ranked 48th, 49th or 50th in most of our achievement rankings, etc.. And for the first time we will be in the top 11 states championing reform, and I believe we are headed in the right direction…”. This statement would be held up for ridicule in any logic class. The speaker equates “achievement rankings” and “championing reform” as though they are equivalents. Reform and achievement are not even remotely the same thing and cannot honestly be used in a comparative sense; they are totally unrelated ideas being force fit into being equivalent to make it sound as though something profound is happening. This is the definition of propaganda - false ideas spread deliberately to further one’s cause. It’s time for the current Governor and her administration to show some respeto for the people of New Mexico. Escuche, Escuche, Escuche.
This was first published at: