They take away your overtime, your 40-hour week, your regulatory protection against corporate marauders, your right to courtroom justice, your protection against unfair trade, even the ...more
For the Occupied Chicago Tribune
This is a true story.
CHICAGO. In a school with some of the poorest kids in Chicago, one English teacher – I won’t use her name – who’d been cemented into the school system for over a decade, wouldn’t do a damn thing to lift test scores, yet had an annual salary level of close to $70,000 a year. Under Chicago’s new rules holding teachers accountable and allowing charter schools to compete, this seniority-bloated teacher was finally fired by the principal.
In a nearby neighborhood, a charter school, part of the city system, had complete freedom to hire. No teachers’ union interference. The charter school was able to bring in an innovative English teacher with advanced degrees and a national reputation in her field – for $29,000 a year less than was paid to the fired teacher.
You’ve guessed it by now: It’s the same teacher.
It’s Back to School Time! Time for the editorialists and the Tea Party, the GOP and Barack Obama’s Education Secretary Arne Duncan to rip into the people who dare teach in public schools.
And in Arne’s old stomping grounds, Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is stomping on the teachers, pushing them into the street.
Let’s stop kidding ourselves. This is what Mitt Romney and Obama and Arne Duncan and Paul Ryan have in mind when they promote charter schools and the right to fire teachers with tenure: slash teachers salaries and bust their unions.
Greg Palast is the author of the new Book Billionalres and Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps. For two decades, Palast was an investigator for Chicago-area unions, including the Chicago Teachers Union.
They’ve almost stopped pretending, too. Both the Right Wing-nuts and the Obama Administration laud the “progress” of New Orleans’ schools – a deeply sick joke. The poorest students, that struggle most with standardized tests, were drowned or washed away.
One thing Democrat Emanuel and Republican Romney both demand of Chicago teachers is that their pay, their jobs, depend on “standardized tests.” Yes, but whose standard?
Here are an actual questions from the standardized test that were given third graders here in NYC by the nation’s biggest test-for-profit company:
“…Most young tennis stars learn the game from coaches at private clubs. In this sentence a private club is….” Then you have some choices in which the right answer is “Country Club – place where people meet.”
Now not many of the “people [who] meet” at country clubs are from the South Side of Chicago–unless their parents are caddies. A teacher on the South Side whose students are puzzled by the question will lose their pay or job. Students on the lakefront Gold Coast all know that mommy plays tennis at the Country Club with Raul on Wednesdays. So their teacher gets a raise and their school has high marks.
And while Mayor Rahm promises kids in “bad” schools new teachers (the same ones at lower pay) at high-score schools, in fact, they are never actually allowed in.
But Rahm, after all, is just imposing Bush education law which should be called, No Child’s Behind Left.
You want to know what’s wrong with our schools? Benno Schmidt, CEO of the big Edison Schools teach-for-profit business is a creepy, greedy privateer. But he told me straight: that before Hurricane Katrina, his company would never go into New Orleans because Louisiana spent peanuts per child on education. He made it clear: You get what you pay for. Not what you test for.
So the charter carpetbaggers slither in, cherry-pick the easy students, declare success. The tough cases and special ed kids are left in the public system so they can claim the public system fails.
Here’s what the teacher who was terrible at $70,000 but brilliant at $41,000 told me:
“They’re not doing this in white neighborhoods. And they want to get rid of the older, experienced teachers with seniority who cost more. Get rid of the teachers and, ultimately get rid of the kids. And the charter school gets to pick the kids who get in.”
It’s simple. When you look at the drop-out rates in New York (41%) and Chicago (44%), the solution offered is to pay teachers less. They punish those who dare to work in poor schools where kids struggle and you can bet that “washing away” half the kids in our schools is, in fact, exactly what they’ve planned.
It’s notable that, when he lived in Chicago, Barack Obama played basketball with city school chief Arne Duncan, but Obama sure as hell didn’t send his kids to Arne’s crap public schools. Those are for po’ folk.
His kids went to the tony “Lab” School in Hyde Park. Obama knows what Duncan knows and what Romney knows: there’s no money and no need for universal education. Yes, they like to say that “children are our future.” But they mean the children of China are our future, the Chinese kids who will make the stuff we want and the children of India who will program it all for us.
After all, how much education does some obese kid from Texas need to stack boxes from China in a Wal-Mart warehouse?
Education is no longer about information and learning skills. It’s now about “triage.” A few selected by standardized tests or privileged birth will be anointed and permitted into better and “gifted” schools.
The chosen elite are still very much needed: to invest in India and Vietnam, to design new derivatives to circumvent the laughable new banking laws, and to maintain order among the restless hundred-million drop-outs squeezed out of the colon of our educational system.
Democrats’ Bantustans, Republicans’ Value-less Vouchers.
The Obama/Duncan/Emanuel plan is to create Bantustans of un-chartered, cheaply-run dumpster schools within a government system. But Romney and the GOP would give every child a “choice” even outside government schools with “vouchers.”
Of course, the “vouchers” don’t vouch for much. Romney’s old alma mater, Cranbrook Academy, runs at $34,025 a year, not counting the polo sticks and horse. The most generous voucher program is Washington DC’s, beloved of the GOP, which pays about $7,500, or if the student’s “choice” is Cranbrook, about 2 months of school. Hyde Park Day School Chicago is $35,900. To give each kid a real choice, not just a coupon, means a massive increase in spending per pupil. I didn’t see that in the Republican platform, did you?
The experienced teacher in Chicago who took the pay cut was offered one consolation. She was told she could make up some of the pay loss by quitting the union and saving on union dues.
So that’s the program. An educational Katrina: squeeze the teachers until they strike, demolish their unions and drown the students.
Chicago’s classroom war is class war by another name.
* * * * * * *
Greg Palast is the Author of the recently published, acclaimed book Vultures’ Picnic and the New York Times Bestsellers Armed Madhouse and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.
Palast’s brand new book Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, will be out on September 18.
You can pre-order Billionaires & Ballot Bandits from Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Indie Bound. Author’s proceeds from the book go to the not-for-profit Palast Investigative Fund for reporting on voter protection issues.
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This month marks the 10th anniversary of the passage of No Child Left Behind.
Before George W. Bush invaded Iraq he knew he would have to invade our classrooms first.
While the occupation of Iraq has ended the brutal occupation of our classrooms by the Forces of Stupid remains.
Herewith is a reprise of our original warning:
NO CHILD’S BEHIND LEFT
They take away your overtime, your 40-hour week, your regulatory protection against corporate marauders, your right to courtroom justice, your protection against unfair trade, even the right to get your ballot counted. But there’s always hope. Hope is the last thing to go. And your hope is your kids, that they’ll have an opportunity you didn’t have. On January 21, 2004, the President told you they’d have to take that away too. On that night, deep into his State of the Union sermon to Congress, when sensible adults had turned off the tube or kicked in the screen, our President opened a new front in the class war. And like the one in Iraq, it began with a lie. “By passing the No Child Left Behind Act,” our President told us, “We are regularly testing every child…and making sure they have better options when schools are not performing.” …more
Exclusive to Buzzflash.com
Damn that Abe Lincoln. When Louisiana and Mississippi seceded from the Union, a sensible president would have sent them a box of chocolates with a note, “Goodbye and good riddance.”
Tonight, following Barack Obama’s budget presentation to Congress, effectively the president’s first State of the Union Address, the Republicans chose to give their party’s response, the governor of the state that wanted to leave the Union, Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal.
Jindal told us that Barack Obama is a terrible President who passed a stimulus bill “larded with wasteful spending.” Where’s the lard? All week, Jindal has been screeching that Obama wants to require states like Louisiana to extend unemployment insurance to – get this – the unemployed! (Technically, the federal government would pay 100% of the cost of reforming Louisiana’s and Mississippi’s Scrooge-sized benefit requirements.)
Jindal, and some other Republican governors, notably Haley Barbour of Mississippi, are actually turning down millions in federal funds for their own state’s unemployed out of fear that, four years from now, they may have to maintain full unemployment insurance like the rest of America.
Barbour’s excuse, parroted by Jindal, is that the Obama payments to the unemployed of their states would mean, when the economy returns to expansion, that their state would have to increase unemployment insurance taxes and payments to the US average, scaring away new employers. “I mean, we want more jobs,” says Barbour. Um, this is the Governor of MISSISSIPPI talking. Exactly what new “jobs” is he talking about? Is Microsoft is based in Gulfport? Is Genentech opening its new headquarters in Moss Point?
As an economist, I can tell you that the only industry Mississippi leads in is deep-fried chicken-dog manufacturing. I will admit that Louisiana and Mississippi can boast of growing employment at several …more
Hey, you Liberal Democrats. You may have won the election, but you’re getting CREAMED in the transition. …more
By Greg Palast
Excerpt from Armed Madhouse
They take away your overtime, your 40-hour week, your regulatory protection against corporate marauders, your right to courtroom justice, your protection against unfair trade, even the right to get your ballot counted. But there’s always hope. Hope is the last thing to go. And your hope is your kids, that they’ll have an opportunity you didn’t have. On January 21, 2004, the President told you they’d have to take that away too. On that night, deep into his State of the Union sermon to Congress, when sensible adults had turned off the tube or kicked in the screen, our President opened a new front in the class war. And like the one in Iraq, it began with a lie. “By passing the No Child Left Behind Act,” our President told us, “We are regularly testing every child…and making sure they have better options when schools are not performing.”
“And at Daddy’s Polo Club, the Waiter Is Called A…” …more
The daring escape of three very expensive headmasters from the schools to which they were confined, prompted a flummoxed Education Secretary David Blunkett to do what he does best at times of crisis: issue a press release announcing a new programme to expand the privatisation of state schools ...more