Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

More cautionary tales about privatization of what should be public responsibilities are coming out of Sweden, Chile and Michigan.  Sweden spent the last two decades experimenting in “free market education” and it’s a complete disaster.  Chilean students have fared no better in their experiment.  Chile’s primary schools rank of 119 out of 144 countries but have the highest cost in the world.  And Americans are starting to notice similar outcomes here.  Michigan has a quarter of the entire nations for-profit schools (Florida and Arizona are not far behind) and the least number of non-profits.  And it shows.  75% of the for-profit schools failed to show adequate yearly progress in 2010-2011 as required by Federal Standards.  Arizona appears to be closing five charter schools for poor performance and there’s indications that there will be even more next year.  In all cases, they are paying for more and getting less.  Why would any sane person do this?

The reason is because we were told for years that our public school system was failing.  The for-profit companies and their GOP lackeys have been telling us outright lies and we believed them because we did see some failures in our individual lives and because there were just so many voices saying it, repeatedly.  We made the mistake of believing that individual, anecdotal evidence could be generalized to the entire system and we believed that the number of people saying something mattered.  The actual data tells us something different entirely.  So they sold us all a bill of goods to create a new market in which to pillage and help control the education of future worker bees.  We need to stop educational privatization tout suite before we end up like Sweden or Chile.

Our cash strapped schools are spending more money but not on books or improving facilities or paying teachers properly. No they are spending it on security because after the Newton shooting parents and administrators are worried.  Security companies and the gun industry, always happy to increase their profit margin, are thrilled.

Unfortunately, this is like putting a band-aid on arterial bleeding.  It will only stem the flow for a millisecond before the deluge continues and the patients dies.  So instead of dealing with the REAL societal, albeit difficult, issues of improving our mental health services, improving gun safety through rational and effective regulation, and targeted training programs we are just going to give a ton of money to the band-aid of more supposed “security” and more guns.

No wonder this country is in trouble.  We can only focus on any issue for about five minutes and we are a chicken shits when it comes to dealing with difficult societal issues.  We only make necessary changes when forced (e.g., Civil War and Emancipation Proclamation, Civil Rights movement, Suffragette Movement, etc, etc, etc).

As I said last week, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is forcing his 3,000 volunteer “posse” members on school grounds at a variety of locations to provide “armed protection” to our children from possible mass murderers. I say forcing because he is on record as saying he will force the schools to accept his help.

It doesn’t matter whether they like it or don’t like it,” Arpaio said, regarding whether schools want armed guards. “I’m still going to do it. I can’t imagine criticism coming when they’re given free protection.

He can’t imagine criticism? Of course he can’t. He’s a narcissistic asshole who thinks even his bowel movements shine with the light of divine inspiration. Since he can’t imagine a criticism, let me point out a few REALLY obvious problems with this little scheme.

  1. Posse members wear uniforms that look very much like official deputy uniforms so it is difficult to distinguish them from actual law enforcement officers.
  2. Our kids don’t need that kind of protection, thank you very much. The odds of a mass murder happening are still very, very low (1 in 1 Million). They catch our attention, sure, and it hurts us all psychologically, and yes, something needs to be done about gun control. Particularly when you combine these rare but very public mass murders with the much more common gun deaths the U.S. experiences every year, all 30,000 of them. However, scientifically speaking, the odds that your child will be a victim of a mass murder are much lower than the odds of your child getting killed in a car crash (1 in 67) or getting cancer (1 in 330) or drowning (1 in 7,683).
  3. By allowing the posse thugs to patrol our schools the odds that something bad could happen just got worse. Apparently posse members are poorly vetted.

Example A: Jake Cutler. This man tried to sexually assault his girlfriend while choking her. She fought back and he threatened to call the police himself. He said he “had a badge” and that the police would believe him and not her. Parents love violent sexual offenders being around their children while armed, don’t they?
Example B: Kevin Ray Campos. This guy got into a fight with bouncers outside a nightclub and verbally assaulted Scottsdale police officers. Parents love men who have little impulse control and a disrespect for authority hanging around their kids with loaded weapons, don’t they?
Example C: Doug Clark. This fellow is a real gem and he’s a constable too. Imagine our luck! He had rolled a county vehicle, driven over 90 mph in a 45 mph zone, used his siren when he was not on duty (this is a big NO-NO in law enforcement folks), and using red/blue emergency lights to slow traffic so he could find something in the road that his wife lost (again, an officer should NEVER do this). Oh, did I mention that he is accused of ramming his car into another driver and holding them at gunpoint while he was off duty? What was the other driver’s crime? The other driver had earlier backed into Clark’s car and left the scene. Now we’ve all experienced this at one time or another. But Clark’s response is way, way over the top. So a fender bender deserves a ramming and being threatened with a gun and being in fear of one’s life? Sounds like Mr. Clark needs a lessen in humility, not to mention proper law enforcement procedure AND impulse control therapy. Parent’s love men who think they are above the law patrolling elementary schools with deadly force, don’t they?

And this is only a tiny sample. The list of offenses is long–Drug possession, violent behavior in public, impersonating an officer, and even sex crimes against children….yes, even pedophiles, apparently can join Arpaio’s posse. That’s EXACTLY who we need watching our kids pretending to be gods with death on their hips. When confronted with the results of this investigation by CBS5, Arpaio’s response is that he trusts his posse and he needs them because of budgetary shortfalls.

What’s that, Joe? You say you’re short on manpower? Why is that? Could it be because you and the entire Republican party in Arizona refuse to tax the population properly and instead give massive tax breaks to businesses who in no way, shape or form need them and you pay yourself far too much money and line the pockets of your cronies with money and spend money on frivolous unnecessary things? I would gladly pay more in taxes to have vetted, trained deputies performing their duties than to allow violent, sexual predators performing a deputy’s job. And I sure as hell don’t want these freaks at my kid’s school with guns.  How about we reduce your salary and every yahoo in State Government, up to and including the Governor, and hire some more deputies?

So tell me again, how these posse members increase my child’s safety. We have rules and standards for the police for very good reason–so we don’t end up with a fascist government! You can’t just let anyone be a cop because it’s a tremendous amount of power. So, why the hell are we allowing crazy, irresponsible and criminal people to become “posse” members and giving them the power of life or death over our children?!

Furthermore, why, for the love of all that’s holy, is Sheriff Joe Arpaio still in office? What the hell is wrong with you Maricopa County voters? Seriously. What could possibly be worth putting up with this corrupt jerk and his dangerous foot soldiers  If something happens to one of the kids because of these volunteers, because apparently people like me can do nothing to stop this asshole and his fascist agenda, then I want to see Arpaio go to prison where some very large ugly man uses him in very bad, painful ways for the rest of his unnatural life.

If you live outside of Maricopa County just be thankful–oh, and maybe call the Department of Justice and ask them why the hell they dropped the ball on prosecuting Arpaio? Too bad they don’t allow booze at work because a shot of whiskey might help me forget that I still live in The Fourth Reich.

  • Ann Coulter is a disgusting human being–she thinks the government should make a list of all women who have had abortions. I honestly don’t think she believes a single thing that comes out of her mouth. She’s a grifter making a ton of money off ignorant, conservative American voters just like Beck, Limbaugh, etc. But the irresponsibility of such talk, all for the sake of making money, takes my breath away. What’s next? Scarlet A’s for the women on the list? I have a suggestion. How about a big “C” brand for Coulter’s forehead?*
  • It’s official. Sheriff Joe Arpaio now has members of his all volunteer posse patrolling carrying weapons at approximately 50 schools in Maricopa County today. Congratulations Arizona! You’ve joined the ranks of third world countries with authoritarian governments. Woohoo! So proud, I could weep. Fortunately they’re not patrolling in Peoria where my daughter goes to school or I would be there following their ass around with a protest sign and videotaping their dumbasses. I wonder how they would feel if I came with my Ruger Speed 6 loaded with jacketed hollow point 38 Special rounds with two speed loaders full? If they can carry on campus, why can’t I? I have security clearances or at least, I used to. I’m more qualified than many in his damn posse, some of whom have a criminal past.   Ht to Bob Cesca

  • Here’s a question for you to ponder. Why are private for profit charter schools not held to the same standards as public schools? They receive our tax dollars. Here’s another. How come no one ever talks about the profit being made by these private corporations and how they’re in bed with the standardized test makers? Why are we allowing corporations who only care about the bottom line take over public functions like schools, prisons, health care, etc? What is most important in those particular types of services? The profit or the people? Whenever a profit motive is introduced corruption and a lack of oversight gets introduced. At least with government we have oversight, legal recourse, etc–we have built in mechanisms for controlling them. Charter schools are a new and growing business and it’s a particular problem in Ari-loony-zona. Unfortunately, there is no proof that they actually educate our kids any better or educate them on the right things. They also play favorites. They take the cream of the crop and leave the rest, the harder to teach to the underfunded public schools. The entire set up is a national recipe for failure. If you care to read more, Kay over at Balloon Juice follows educational issues and she’s got a ton of information on this topic.
  • They were fer em before they were agin em! The President has nominated former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) to replace Panetta as the Secretary of the Department of Defense. Of course, if you hop into the “way back” machine and go to the mid-2000’s you’ll see that McCain and other GOP leaders thought Hagel was the bees knees. Now that the Brown Muslim Manchurian Socialist Usurper has chosen him, they don’t think he’s qualified.  They must think we’re stupid….oh, that’s right….
  • Here’s some background information you need to remember when you start hearing about the “fight over the debt ceiling” in the coming months. Raising the debt ceiling does NOT authorize the President to spend more. It authorizes the President, specifically through the Treasury Department, to pay the bills on debt that CONGRESS PREVIOUSLY AND CONSCIOUSLY decided to incur. Here’s a simple metaphor. You work for a company with a board of directors. The company needs to buy some new property and buildings. The Board itself sets the limits on how much they can spend. The Board then proceeds to spend more than they were authorized. The Board now has to raise the limit on what they can spend to pay for the extra amount. But the Board is trying to blame the office secretary that pays the bills and accusing him/her of asking for unlimited spending power. If the Board refuses to raise the limit, does not pay those bills, the company’s credit will be destroyed. This company is crucial to their industry and if it collapses so will those related companies. Similarly, the President is trying to pay the bills. The US is the largest issuer of currency–money and credit. So the entire world economy depends on us and our good credit status. If we default on paying our debts, our credit goes bad. If our credit goes bad a serious of dominoes will fall and affect the world economy, very, very badly. Do you see how crazy it is to play politics with such a serious issue? Do you see how the Republicans are jeopardizing us and even the entire world by doing so? It’s madness.
  • A Republican Lobbying group in Washington, D.C. is taking the term “Republican” out of their name. However, they are saying that they still “represent the governing wing of the Republican Party”. Is you or is you not a Republican? This is like naming a law that allows the federal government to spy on citizens without a warrant the “Patriot Act”. Doublespeak bullshit.
  • You know how conservatives and even some moderates have been saying we need to “cut spending” and “tighten our government belt” like they did in Europe in response to the recent Recession? Well they were and are wrong. According to the International Monetary Fund:

    On Friday, in its first working paper of the year, it revealed the full horror of what did happen. Personally authored by the fund’s chief economist, Olivier Blanchard, the paper said for every dollar those nations cut their budgets their economies crumpled something more like $1.50.

    [snip]

    His defence [sic] is that in normal times they would have got it right. In normal times a budget cut of $1 would have cut economic growth by 50¢. But the times weren’t normal. European interest rates had been cut to nearly zero, meaning there wasn’t the normal room for authorities to cut further, and households were more heavily indebted than normal, so cuts to their income flowed through more quickly than normal to cuts in their spending. And the starting point was different. The European economies had been in recession, which was far from normal.

    The U.S. was one of the few nations, other than China, to actually do some Stimulus and the U.S. is in much better shape than most of Europe as a result. And the situation in the U.S. remains similar to what the conditions were in Europe at the time they decided to trod down the austerity path–low interest rates and households still heavily indebted. We have a consumer driven society. If consumers don’t have liquidity to spend on stuff the economy cannot and will not grow.  We don’t need austerity–we need investment in our national infrastructure and new, sustainable energy.

  • Remember Lt. Bradley Manning, the young man who leaked classified material to WikiLeaks who then plastered it all over the Internet? Well I’ve been saying all along that his treatment during pre-trial detention was excessive and illegal. I KNOW what is acceptable and what is not, even in a military prison, and the way they treated him was unacceptable. Innocent until proven guilty, folks. Anyway, seems a judge actually agrees with me. Regardless of whether you think Manning did the right thing or not (I don’t think he did, actually) you should stand up for his rights in this particular regard. This is America dammit–we shouldn’t allow this kind of thing.
  • And finally, have you heard about SHART? They are the Society of Heavily Armed Resistance Troopers….and they want a “Gun Appreciation Day”!**

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Notes:   

*The C stands for a word that rhymes with “bunt”

**Hehe, the “article” purports to be from Smallwood, TX….small wood indeed

Some parents in California are freaking out over free yoga classes because the instructors were supposedly trying to teach their kids some kind of “furrin relijun”.  The goal of the classes was to provide a way for the children to exercise and relieve stress.  If my parents were as stupid as those parents are, I think I would be stressed out too.    Who knew that yoga was the next great threat to the American way of life?!  /Facepalm