Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Last Call For Hoosier School Grades

Just in case you still thought Republicans gave a damn about fixing schools rather than destroying them and privatizing the ashes or something, meet current Florida state school superintendent Tony Bennett, who recently joined Gov. Skeletor McBatBoy from Indiana, where Mr. Bennett still has a few pieces of embarrassing business to deal with back Indianapolis way.

Former Indiana and current Florida schools chief Tony Bennett built his national star by promising to hold "failing" schools accountable. But when it appeared an Indianapolis charter school run by a prominent Republican donor might receive a poor grade, Bennett's education team frantically overhauled his signature "A-F" school grading system to improve the school's marks.

Emails obtained by The Associated Press show Bennett and his staff scrambled last fall to ensure influential donor Christel DeHaan's school received an "A," despite poor test scores in algebra that initially earned it a "C."

If you're shocked an appalled by this, you really haven't been paying attention to what Republicans are doing to public schools at the state level, have you?  GOP fat cat donor with a shiny charter school wasn't going to get a C grade from the state, no sir.  You buy those politicians, they stay bought.

Though Indiana had had a school ranking system since 1999, Bennett switched to the A-F system and made it a signature item of his education agenda, raising the stakes for schools statewide.

Bennett consistently cited Christel House as a top-performing school as he secured support for the measure from business groups and lawmakers, including House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long.

But trouble loomed when Indiana's then-grading director, Jon Gubera, first alerted Bennett on Sept. 12 that the Christel House Academy had scored less than an A.

"This will be a HUGE problem for us," Bennett wrote in a Sept. 12, 2012 email to Neal.
Neal fired back a few minutes later, "Oh, crap. We cannot release until this is resolved."

By Sept. 13, Gubera unveiled it was a 2.9, or a "C."

So Bennett and his GOP buddies retooled the entire state school grading scale just to give a multimillionaire donor's school an A.  Because that, ladies and gentlemen, is how "accountability" works when you're a Republican.  You buy it, then you tell everyone how awesome charter schools are, and how miserable public schools are, and then you have justification to take money from public schools and give it to charter ones, and all the right people make fat stacks of cash.

Meanwhile, let's keep telling ourselves the problem with schools are teachers and poor minority kids and not for-profit raiders like Tony Bennett.

Stuck In The Past, Romney-Style

It's nice to know that if America had elected Mitt Romney, he'd still be arguing over whether or not he made that famous 47 percent quote.  You know, the one on tape.  Apparently, he thinks we forget or something (or that Google disintegrates after 200 days.)  David Corn:

Poor Mitt Romney. He seems unable to come to terms with one of the most significant episodes in his public life: the 47 percent video that undercut his chance of becoming president of the United States.

Sunday's Washington Post featured an article adapted from reporter Dan Balz's new 2012 campaign book, Collision 2012, and the excerpt focused on Romney's take on why he entered the race and why he lost. Toward the end of the article, which was based on a series of interviews Balz conducted with Romney, the twice-failed Republican presidential candidate was forced to confront his 47-percent remarks, and he just couldn't do so forthrightly.

There's a shocker.

[Romney] was in California and said at first he couldn’t get a look at the video. His advisers were pushing him to respond as quickly as he could. "As I understood it, and as they described it to me, not having heard it, it was saying, 'Look, the Democrats have 47 percent, we’ve got 45 percent, my job is to get the people in the middle, and I’ve got to get the people in the middle,'" he said. "And I thought, 'Well, that’s a reasonable thing.'... It's not a topic I talk about in public, but there's nothing wrong with it. They've got a bloc of voters, we've got a bloc of voters, I've got to get the ones in the middle. And I thought that that would be how it would be perceived—as a candidate talking about the process of focusing on the people in the middle who can either vote Republican or Democrat. As it turned out, down the road, it became perceived as being something very different."

In other words, he tried to pull one over on Dan Balz.  What Romney actually said of course, was:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what… These are people who pay no income tax..."[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

David Corn should know, he was the guy that got the tape and broke the story...and most likely ended Mitt Romney's 2012 run cold.  But he's outright lying to the DC press, because they figure they still won't hold him accountable for his own actions.  They figured we forgot.  We did...we just didn't forget why he lost.

Pope Francis Hits A Home Run

It's things like this that make reading news so rewarding.  With absolutely no warning (it was never on my radar whatsoever) Pope Francis has not only broadly opened up the door to acceptance for gay people, but demonstrates a genuine respect for people in general.  In other words, he just showed something we haven't seen from the religious front in a while.

ABOARD THE PAPAL AIRCRAFT (AP) -- Pope Francis reached out to gays on Monday, saying he wouldn't judge priests for their sexual orientation in a remarkably open and wide-ranging news conference as he returned from his first foreign trip.
"If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" Francis asked.

Even a jaded old broad like me can appreciate the Pope taking such a stance, and not forcing a cat and mouse game where the answers are carefully extricated, pulled through layers of political spin and carefully placed vagueness.  A question was asked, and he answered it.  Directly, openly, completely and awesomely.  

We may have a Pope who is full of surprises, and some of the compassion and humility that a true leader needs to show for those who look to him for answers.  If nothing else, we can know from this that he is not a puppet, repeating the tried and true responses that deflect nosy reporters.  And for that reason, I have a newfound respect for Pope Francis.  He blasted this one out of the park.

[Zandar's note:  It's good to see Bon back and hopefully you'll be seeing more of her soon.  On the other hand, I trust Pope Francis about as far as he can throw me.]


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