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Maurice Cunningham: Dark Money Combines to Privatize Public Schools: PLEASE READ THIS!

Dark money comes from the dark side of the soul and is a malignant stage-four cancer for a democracy.

Diane Ravitch's blog

This may be the most important post you read today.

Maurice Cunningham, a professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, began investigating the millions of dollars pouring into the state during the referendum on charter schools last fall. He wondered why so many billionaires from other states wanted to expand the number of charter schools in Massachusetts. He continued his investigation after the election and has lifted the curtain on groups like Families for Excellent Schools, Stand for Children, and Educators4Excellence, and Leadership for Educational Excellence (a group connected to TFA).

He began researching the intersection between philanthropy and dark money.

My descent into darkness led me to decipher the hidden funding of Families for Excellent Schools, a New York based organization that poured over $17 million in dark money into the Great Schools Massachusetts ballot committee for 2016’s Question 2 on charter schools. That brought me to…

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Posted by on June 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

In Her Element: US Ed Sec Betsy DeVos to be ALEC Guest Speaker

ALEC wants to be America’s autocratic shadow government. ALEC does not respect democracy.

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On June 06, 2017, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) announced that US secretary of education Betsy DeVos will an ALEC featured speaker at its Denver conference in July 2017:

  Betsy DeVos

ALEC is pleased to announce that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will be joining us for our 44th Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado.

“Secretary DeVos has been a stalwart champion of educational choice in the states, elevating the outcry over the status quo to the highest levels of government,” said Inez Stepman, Education and Workforce Development Task Force Director.

DeVos is serving as the 11th United States Secretary of Education. She was confirmed by the Senate on February 7, 2017. Secretary DeVos has been involved in education policy for nearly three decades as an advocate for children and a voice for parents.

DeVos served as an in-school mentor for at-risk children in the Grand Rapids, Michigan Public Schools for…

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Posted by on June 16, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Troubling Trends for California’s State Teachers Retirement Fund (CalSTRS)

Guest Post by Neil Murphy

Recently, I reviewed the STRS Connections On-Line Newsletter and discerned some troubling trends.

Trend Number One (Contributions vs. Benefits Paid):

Contributions from STRS members (teachers), the State and school districts equaled $8,288.519 for 2016.  Benefits paid to retirees equaled $13,148.558 for 2016.  Contributions are not keeping up with benefits paid to retirees.

Trend Number Two (investment assumption):

STRS used to project a 7.5% rate of return on its investments; in the recent past it downgraded its rate of return to 7.25%; now it is 7.00%.  Because of the recent downgrade, the State just increased its contribution rate by 0.5%; this will not make taxpayers happy.  Also, new teachers, hired after January 1st, 2013, will see a 1% increase in their contribution rate probably beginning in the year 2018.

Trend Number Three (Global Equity):

The investment portfolio of STRS is diverse.  STRS invests in real estate, private equity, global equity, etc.  However, 54.8% of its investment portfolio is tied up in global equity.  This probably explains why STRS just downgraded its rate of investment to 7.0%.  Here are some issues that I have with Global Equity Stocks:

BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) were hailed as the new super economic engines.  Newspaper article after article promoted the idea that these four countries would change the global economy so that it would move in an upward trend.  This was true for a while.  Unfortunately, Brazil’s economy has become anemic due to its vast political troubles (government scandal after scandal).  China’s growth has slowed dramatically.  Russia’s economy has been underperforming somewhat in part due to the economic sanctions placed on it; plus, its economy is too reliant on oil.

The European Union is still struggling.  Spain, Italy, Greece and other European countries are seeing debt choking the breath right out of their economies.  Germany is still performing extremely well, but France’s economy is sputtering.

Japan’s economy has not been strong since the early 1990s.  Moreover, Japan is going to have some serious economic issues in the near future.  Japan’s population is aging and Japan has negative population growth.  There won’t be enough workers to pay for the retirees.  Plus, the Japanese have the longest life span of any other group of people.  Overall, Japan’s economy is headed for disaster.

Based on the economies of other countries, it is my prediction that STRS won’t even reach its 7.0% forecast.  I wouldn’t be surprised if STRS reduces its rate of return from 7.0% to 6.75% within the next ten years.

Trend Number Four (U.S. Economy):

The $20 trillion debt and growing cannot be ignored. The U.S. cannot keep increasing the debt ceiling every year.  Once the U.S. stops increasing the debt ceiling, then the pain of the $20 trillion debt will settle in.  Taxes will increase and government services will be cut.  Trump promised he would increase the GDP like we have not seen for some time, but Trump’s rosy economic picture is full of thorns.  Unfortunately, he falsely raised the expectations of Americans; there is no way that he can deliver on4%, 5% or even 6% GDP growth.  His whole economic plan is based on unbelievable growth in the GDP.  This cannot occur because most foreign countries are not doing well if one digs below their economic facades (cannot buy enormous amounts of American goods).  Also, the $20 trillion debt is pounding on our door.  There are no more IOUs.

What does all of this mean? It means that STRS will have to reduce its pension obligations.  Sometime in the future, retirees won’t see any more automatic 2% COLA increases.  In fact, retirees might even seen their pensions reduced.  Teachers, who will be retiring within the next five to twenty years, will see their promised retirement reduced.  Teachers who just entered the profession, I feel sorry for them.

 Teachers must plan for a reduced pension.  They need to pad their own retirements!!!

Note from this blog’s host: I worked as a classroom teacher in one of California’s many public school districts from 1975 – 2005. During those 30-years, I contributed 8-percent of my gross pay into CalSTRS and the district where I worked contributed another 8.25 percent. I have been retired for 12 years. When I retired, I took a 40-percent pay cut and left with no medical coverage from that district or the state. If you want to know what that job was like, read my memoir “Crazy is Normal, a classroom expose” (link below).

The state of California made promises to its public school teachers.

  • What happens to retired teachers like me if the state breaks that promise?
  • How will those teachers pay their rent/mortgage, keep the water running, the electricity on, buy food?
  • Do billionaires and corporations expect retired teachers to go back to work at 75, 80, 90, or even 100, if we live that long, so those greedy autocrats with more money than God can pay little or no tax?
  • What happens to the hundreds of thousands of teachers still teaching if the state can’t pay for its promises to them?

I want to leave the readers of this Blog with one thought from Thomas Jefferson, who said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”


Most if not all corporate charter schools do not have retirement plans for their teachers, those teachers have no Constitutional due process rights, those teachers are paid less and must work longer hours, and they do not pay into the retirement plans for traditional public schools.

__________________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and disabled Vietnam Veteran, with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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The 96 Billionaires Who Decided to Buy Local School Board Elections

Diane Ravitch's blog

In this latest episode of the “Have You Heard” podcast, Jennifer Berkshire and education historian Jack Schneider interview Michigan professor Rebecca Jacobsen about the role of big money in school board elections. Jacobsen has studied this relatively new phenomenon and identified 96 super-rich individuals who have decided that buying local school boards is fun. Others would call it the corruption of democracy.

Here is an excerpt:

For Big Money Donors, School Boards Are the New ‘Must Buy’ Accessory

“Billionaires now buying local influence to push controversial school “reforms.”

“The recent school board election in Los Angeles drew close to $17 million in donations, much of it in the form of untraceable “dark money” from a familiar cast of enormously wealthy donors. In the latest episode of the Have You Heard podcast, co-hosts Jennifer Berkshire and Jack Schneider talk to researcher Rebecca Jacobsen about what—and who—is behind this trend, and…

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Posted by on June 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

National Education Association Seems to Endorse Replacing Teachers With Computers

National Education Association Seems to Endorse Replacing Teachers With Computers

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robots-replace-humans-840x420

 

When all the teachers are gone, will America’s iPads pay union dues?

It’s a question educators across the country are beginning to ask after yet another move by our national unions that seems to undercut the profession they’re supposed to be supporting.

The National Education Association (NEA), the largest labor union in the U.S., published a shortsighted puff piece on its Website that seemingly applauds doing away with human beings working as teachers.

In their place would be computers, iPads, Web applications and a host of “devices” that at best would need human beings to serve as merely lightly trained facilitators while children are placed in front of endless screens.

The article is called, “As More Schools Look to Personalized Learning, Teaching May Be About to Change,” by Tim Walker.

Teacher-blogger Emily Talmage lead the charge with a counter article on her site called “Anatomy of…

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Posted by on June 12, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

The New York Times sent me a long e-mail asking me to subscribe

The NYT’s email follows my reply

If the New York Times is such a great newspaper, why does it support Corporate Charter Schools as better than community-based, democratic, transparent, non-profit, traditional public schools in its pages?

Test scores do NOT make a good or great school.

Honest studies based on all the facts that go beyond the hype and lies pumped out repeatedly by the billionaire supported autocratic, opaque and secretive, for-profit, often fraudulent and child abusing corporate charter school industry repeatedly prove that these for-profit (not public) schools that take public money are no better, are often worse and are riddled with fraud and corruption.

While traditional public schools are ridiculed and often closed for allegedly failing to educate ALL the students according to flawed laws and legislation, the corporate charter schools are often ignored when they fail worse than any public school has ever been accused of.

Until the New York Times reports accurately and honestly without bias about what is really happening in the United States about the county’s arguably great community-based, democratic, transparent, non-profit, traditional public schools, I will not subscribe to your newspaper even to support you financially.

I earned my BA in journalism from Fresno State Universty in California in 1973, and the New York Times inadequate and often biased coverage of the greed based autocratic war against the highly successful community based, democratic, transparent, non-profit, traditional public schools. I taught both English and journalism in California public schools for thirty years so I know what I am talking about. If you have the time; if you have an open mind, read my memoir “Crazy is Normal”. This memoir was not written with best-seller status in mind. It was written to reveal what goes on in an American classroom and it was based on a daily journal that I kept for one full school year.

I know what I am talking about when I allege that America’s traditional public schools are a great success. Test scores do not measure success. The college graduation rate does (The U.S. of ranked annually as one of the most educated countries on the planet). The high school graduation rate by age 25 does. The fact that America’s publishing industry is the largest and most profitable in the world does, because, without readers, that publishing industry would be insignificant.

And without the life-long learners, critical thinkers and problem solvers who are educated in America’s traditional, community base, democratic, transparent, non-profit (REAL) public schools, there would be no democracy.  High test scores from flawed and secretive tests that profit corporations like Pearson do not educate life-long learners, critical thinkers and problem solvers that this country needs to survive as a Constitutional Republic.

Let America’s highly educated teachers that belong to labor unions teach and get corporations, state capitals, and Washington DC out of the nation’s classrooms. Those teachers’ unions are necessary to protect teachers from frauds and bullies like Donald Trump.

Leave the teaching to the teachers and remember, the teachers do not learn for the students. Children must come to school ready and willing to learn.


It’s All About the Money!

 

A note from Cliff Levy, Deputy Managing Editor
Greetings,

I’m writing from the newsroom of The New York Times, where I’m a deputy managing editor, helping to oversee more than 1,200 journalists across the globe. I’m reaching out because you’ve shown an interest in Times journalism, and I thought that you’d like to hear how we view our mission.

Our journalists pursue stories around the clock because we believe in the power of information, ideas and debate to shape the world and inspire change. Just a few examples from our coverage in recent days:

When Syria insisted that it did not carry out a horrific chemical attack on civilians, Times reporters did groundbreaking work with forensic mapping to dispute the government’s claims.
Our Washington investigative team produced a special report on the F.B.I. director’s role in shaping the 2016 presidential election. After the director was dismissed by President Trump, the investigative team then came up with a series of scoops that revealed what had really happened behind the scenes.
With deep experience in Silicon Valley, our technology reporter exposed how Uber’s founder engaged in reckless corporate practices, touching off a federal investigation.

Real reporting is vital in a media landscape full of deceptive or outright false news. And we can do it because we have the support of our subscribers.

Of course, you can also look to The Times for compelling coverage on how to live a more fulfilling life. Our Cooking section offers thousands of recipes and how-to guides. Our experts offer advice on everything from how to avoid addiction to technology to how to exercise more effectively.

We also believe in elevating our readers’ voices in order to highlight a diversity of views. In a landmark partnership with Google, we’re going to open up most of our articles to comments, creating an engaging and respectful forum for you to discuss the issues of the day.

A little about me: I’ve spent 27 years at The Times, winning two Pulitzer Prizes, one for my work in Russia and one for exposing the abuse of mentally ill people.

Like so many in our newsroom, I’ve devoted my career to The Times because I believe in the role that independent and original journalism can play in society.

I hope that you’ll consider subscribing to The Times. Here’s how.

Regards,

Cliff Levy
This email was sent to lflwriter@sbcglobal.net
©2017 The New York Times Company | 620 Eighth Ave., New York, NY 10018

__________________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and disabled Vietnam Veteran, with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

 

 

 

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What Could Be More Democratic Than Pushing Vouchers for a Billionaire US Ed Sec?

To Besty DeVos, democracy is when she is the only one who gets what she wants all the time.

deutsch29

US ed sec Betsy DeVos has one principal goal for American public education: Slice up its public funding and dispense it in the form of vouchers that can (and will) take that funding out of the public purview and into private school coffers.

DeVos’ voucher push has created a dynamic in which many pro-charter advocates feel that their slice of public money is threatened as it would enable their *choice* students to exit in favor of private schools.

Charter schools often refer to themselves as “public schools”; however, charter schools are often not held accountable to the public for the spending of that public money. Thus, charter schools are schools that receive public money, not public schools (i.e., operated by publicly-elected school boards).

Charter schools further enjoy the reality of not having to educate all students in a country in which states have compulsory education laws. The public schools are…

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Posted by on June 3, 2017 in Uncategorized