Thursday, December 22, 2016

Last Call For Chartering Out A Course For NOLA

The great Post-Katrina Scam Factory is almost complete: the last of New Orleans's public schools will soon become for-profit charter operations run on taxpayer dollars.

New Orleans may soon be the first city to have an all-charter school system -- a landmark in U.S. history. 
Orleans Parish Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. announced Friday (Dec. 9) he had "received informal expressions of interest from current school and charter leaders to convert some or all of our remaining five network elementary and high schools to charter schools authorized by OPSB." 
The five schools currently under school board control this would affect: Ben Franklin Elementary, Eleanor McMain Secondary, Mahalia Jackson Elementary, Mary Bethune Elementary, and McDonogh No. 35, comprising a middle and high school. 
Charters are publicly funded but run by independent boards, held to benchmarks set by an authorizing party -- in this case, the Orleans Parish School Board. 
Lewis offered no further details, saying only, "We are beginning the process of informing school board members, staff, principals, teachers and families. When that process is completed early next week, we will be in a better position to provide more details."
The School Board is scheduled to meet Tuesday.

If the decision proceeds, it will have been a long time coming. In 2014, the Louisiana Recovery School District finished converting to charters all the New Orleans public schools it took over after Hurricane Katrina.

The Louisiana Legislature made the victory of the charter model obvious this spring when they passed a law returning the Recovery schools to Orleans Parish School Board control -- but as charters.

By any reasonable metric, the conversion to charter schools has been a disaster for the city and its people.

Last year, 63 percent of children in local elementary and middle schools were proficient on state tests, up from 37 percent in 2005. New research by Tulane University’s Education Research Alliance shows that the gains were largely because of the charter-school reforms, according to Douglas N. Harris, the alliance’s director. Graduation and college entry rates also increased over pre-Katrina levels.

But the New Orleans miracle is not all it seems. Louisiana state standards are among the lowest in the nation. The new research also says little about high school performance. And the average composite ACT score for the Recovery School District was just 16.4 in 2014, well below the minimum score required for admission to a four-year public university in Louisiana. 
There is also growing evidence that the reforms have come at the expense of the city’s most disadvantaged children, who often disappear from school entirely and, thus, are no longer included in the data.

That's the whole point of the charter operation: to drive out the "undesirable" kids and say "look at us, we've improved test scores!"  And now the entire district will most likely be charter. The reality of the existing charter schools has been ten years of neglect and shame.

Test scores have improved, according to two major reports that examine academic achievement over the past nine years. On Katrina’s 10th anniversary, RSD is being held up as a national model. The graduation rate has risen from 56 percent to 73 percent. Last year, 63 percent of students in grades 3-8 scored basic or above on state standardized tests, up from 33 percent.

But by other measures, the RSD suffers. In These Times received an advance copy of research conducted for the Network for Public Education (NPE) by University of Arizona researchers Francesca L√≥pez and Amy Olson. The study compared charters in Louisiana, the majority of which are in New Orleans, to Louisiana public schools, controlling for factors like race, ethnicity, poverty and whether students qualified for special education. On eighth-grade reading and math tests, charter-school students performed worse than their public-school counterparts by enormous margins—2 to 3 standard deviations.

The researchers found that the gap between charter and public school performance in Louisiana was the largest of any state in the country. And Louisiana’s overall scores were the fourth-lowest in the nation
“You can say until you’re blue in the face that this should be a national model, but this is one of the worst-performing districts in one of the worst-performing states,” says NPE board member Julian Vasquez Heilig, an education professor at California State Sacramento.

Arguably New Orleans and its charter schools are among the worst in the country.  And our incoming Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wants to do to America's public schools what charter schools have done to New Orleans, and she's already spent millions to make charter schools in the city to buy off politicians so that she can do so.

Trump's chosen Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her organizations have spent a lot of money in Louisiana. How much? Try $1.6 million in campaign contributions alone, according to Louisiana ethics filings. 
DeVos heads the Alliance for School Choice and the American Federation for Children, which in turn runs the Louisiana Federation for Children. Trump announced her as his nominee Wednesday (Nov. 23). 
Louisiana Education Superintendent John White commended the selection. He spoke at an AFC policy summit in 2015. 
"Betsy DeVos has long advocated for the rights of families and children to a quality education," he said. "We congratulate her on being nominated for Secretary of Education, and we look forward to working with her."

Eliminating public schools has long been a crusade of the far right, and New Orleans is the prime example of what will happen to the rest of the nation should people like DeVos get their way.

Invasion Of The Orangemen, Con't

Public dissent will not be tolerated in the Trump regime, and he hasn't even taken office yet.  The first to be made to fall in line by Trump's goons or face the consequences will be congressional Republicans, particularly in the House.

In early December, Rep. Bill Flores made what seemed like an obvious observation to a roomful of conservatives at a conference in Washington. Some of Donald Trump’s proposals, the Texas Republican cautioned, “are not going to line up very well with our conservative policies," though he quickly added that there was plenty the incoming president and GOP Congress could accomplish together. 
Little did Flores realize the hell that would soon rain down from Trump's throng of enforcers.

Breitbart seized on Flores' remarks a few days later, calling them proof that House Republicans planned to “isolate and block President Donald Trump’s populist campaign promises.” A conservative populist blogger for the site TruthFeed then warned Flores on Twitter to "get ready for a shit storm," and posted a headline that read: “BREAKING: Rep. Bill Flores Has CRAFTED a PLAN to BLOCK Trump’s Immigration Reform.”
Sean Hannity jumped in, too, featuring the Breitbart post on his syndicated radio show. That only further riled the impromptu anti-Flores mob. 
"@RepBillFlores get in @realDonaldTrump way & we will burn your career down until you are reduced to selling life insurance,” tweeted one person. "@RepBillFlores you can go hang yourself!!" another wrote. 
It’s little wonder that Capitol Hill Republicans have papered over their not-insignificant policy differences with Trump, shying away from any statement about the president-elect that might possibly be construed as critical. They’re terrified of arousing the ire of their tempestuous new leader — or being labeled a turncoat by his army of followers.

Again, this is Authoritarian Dictator 101 stuff here: get an official press organ, in this case Breitbart, and use it to brutally punish any politician who remotely looks like they might dissent by drumming up threats and abuse, all made that more effective by the celerity of the digital age.

"Nobody wants to go first," said Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), who received nasty phone calls, letters and tweets after he penned an August op-ed in The New York Times, calling on Trump to release his tax returns. "People are naturally reticent to be the first out of the block for fear of Sean Hannity, for fear of Breitbart, for fear of local folks." 
An editor at Breitbart, formerly run by senior Trump adviser Steve Bannon, said that fear is well-founded. 
If any politician in either party veers from what the voters clearly voted for in a landslide election … we stand at the ready to call them out on it and hold them accountable,” the person said.

Again, basic tyrant stuff here.  Those who speak out will be made an example of.  It will be exponentially worse starting January 21.

Republican Hill staffers have wrestled in recent months with how to respond to inquiries from Breitbart or other pro-Trump bloggers. Engage them or ignore them? One GOP aide told POLITICO members are “damned if you do, damned if you don't." Another said it's having a "chilling effect" on GOP lawmakers. 
The Republican officeholders see Trump’s unabashed use of his Twitter account to shame critics as the most foreboding threat. During campaign season, he regularly took shots at adversaries, including Marco Rubio (“Little Marco”), Ted Cruz (“Lyin’ Ted,”) and Speaker Paul Ryan (a “very weak and ineffective leader”). 
Trump hasn't gone after any lawmakers on Twitter since the election, but some worry it's just a matter of time. Eventually, some Republican will feel compelled to challenge his trillion-dollar infrastructure plan, or slap companies that move jobs overseas with massive tariffs. And that’s when things will get ugly, insiders predict.

The 2018 election will be as much of a purge of Trump's GOP enemies list as it will be a test for the Democrats to see if they can muster any resistance to the Trump regime.  I fully expect a number of Republicans to be primaried right out of office, only to be replaced with even more dangerous rabid Trumpian partisans.

It's possible that Trump's regime could collapse under its own incompetence, but in the words of Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars, "Fear will keep the local systems in line." Things will move very quickly once Trump has sufficiently consolidated enough power.

History tells that it will not take long to do so once events reach that tipping point.

The Bathroom Bill Blowback Bomb Blast

I have no idea why incoming Democratic NC Gov. Roy Cooper and Charlotte's City Council decided to trust the NC GOP, but it completely blew up in their faces as Republicans in the state legislature laughed and refused to repeal HB2.

The North Carolina Senate voted down a repeal of House Bill 2 Wednesday after a day of increasingly partisan rancor that pitted conservative Republicans against the Charlotte they so distrust. 
The state House adjourned without voting on repeal of the bill that has cost North Carolina millions of dollars in lost jobs, sports events and boycotts. With that, the hope of compromise between legislators and Charlotte, which enacted the ordinance that gave rise to HB2, dissolved. 
Protesters massed outside the Senate chamber rained down shouts of “Shame!”
After a long and frustrating day, the Senate’s top Republican Wednesday lashed out at Gov.-elect Roy Cooper, blaming the Democrat for the legislature’s failure to repeal the bill. 
“I think Roy Cooper tried to do everything he could to sabotage a reasonable compromise,” Senate leader Phil Berger told reporters after a more than nine-hour session. 
Berger said Cooper called Democratic senators and urged them not to support Berger’s bill, which would have coupled HB2’s repeal with a months-long moratorium on city ordinances like the one Charlotte passed and repealed. The Charlotte ordinance allowed transgender people to use the public restrooms of the gender with which they identify. 
Cooper had lobbied Charlotte council members for repeal, which they had twice before rejected, saying that in return Republican leaders had promised to “repeal HB2 in full.”
Charlotte repealed the ordinance that led to HB2 on Monday. It voted again Wednesday morning, wiping away all action taken in February, after legislative Republicans said they hadn’t rescinded it all.
The bottom line is that the NC GOP refused to vote on a repeal of HB2 until Charlotte eliminated the city's protections for LGBTQ community because no Republican considers a gay person to be human anyway, just a bundle of ambulatory oozing sin.  Repealing HB2 without getting rid of the protections would actually consider people with sexual orientations other than "1950's sitcom" to be actual human beings, and Republicans were not going to stand for that nonsense. The Charlotte City Council then happily sold out the LGBTQ community completely in order to get the NC GOP to the table.

Then the NC GOP tacked on an amendment that would prevent Charlotte from reenacting those protections long enough for Republicans to force through a new measure over a Cooper veto that would make the moratorium on local ordinances like that permanent.  The deal disintegrated after that, and the Bathroom Bill remains law into next year.

The reality is that Republicans in my home state are such gay-hating assholes that they're fine with the state continuing to take tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars in financial boycotts and tourism damage just to stay true to their barbaric beliefs that they can "cure sexual deviancy" with the power of an invisible sky dude.  It's clinical mass insanity.

Not as insane as Democrats like Charlotte's knuckleheads in city council and Roy Cooper, who really should have known better, to trust the NC GOP for a picosecond however.  That is stupidity bordering on dereliction of duty and gross negligence on their part.

So off we go into 2017 with HB2 still doing the Damocles thing over the state, and Kentucky still being a slightly better place to live than North Carolina.  Who'd have seen that one coming?


Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article122145494.html#storylink=cpy




Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article122145494.html#storylink=cpy

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