Elections, Tolbert and Brown, Vouchers, Pope Francis, and Stone/Spitzer

1949_poll_tax_receipt1. Who would have thought that striking down a key portion of the Voting Rights Act would result in certain conservative, mostly Southern, states moving immediately to placing restrictions on people’s right and ability to vote?

2. Has the Bernie Tolbert campaign explained why he’s running to anyone’s satisfaction? Compare Brown’s ad, which is positive and sets a tone and theme right away, to Tolbert’s. Brown’s ad has people setting forth a specific alleged Brown accomplishment. Tolbert’s just has random people saying that they “believe in Bernie”. Believe in what, precisely?

3. Republicans and the tea party don’t believe in public education – most of them just don’t have the balls to come right out and say it in so many words. They want to incrementally abolish what they will inevitably call socialized education, using Frank Luntz-style weasel words. You don’t say you want to abolish public education and throw every kid into a private or parochial setting; you don’t say you’re going to allow big business to set up mediocre for-profit schools that will accept whatever cheap, underfunded voucher program the conservative dystopia will offer to worker-drones with few rights or privileges of citizenship (remember – the system has made it costly and difficult for them to vote – see supra). But when they set up a system to judge the quality of these private education “choices”, the right people will be able to change their scores because they’re big political donors. This is the future that Americans for Progress and Donn Esmonde foresee for America, and it can best be described as a rapid descent into Central American plutocratic despotism. The third world is the conservative model.

4. It’s news that the leader of the largest Christian denomination in the world decided not to heap fire and brimstone hatred and eternal damnation on gay people. Well, gay priests, to be specific, but there’s hope that the new Pope may hold a more conciliatory view towards gay people in general. The last Pope thought that being gay was an inherent evil and a mental disorder. So, progress, I guess.

5. If you thought Anthony Weiner sending post-resignation dick pics wasn’t odd enough, Republican political dirty trickster Roger Stone Tweeted this yesterday:


  • If you had any idea who was behind the school choice movement in Western New York, you’d be a lot less likely to just snark it off as all conservatives and Republicans.

    And really… worker-drones? That’s precisely what your preferred method of public schooling is designed to create! (yeah yeah, Clarence is “different”… uh huh…)

  • “The third world is the conservative model.”
    Sad and true. ‘Murica.

  • I believe your characterization of the school choice movement – and the families served – belies the experience of places like Washington DC. If anyone is interested enough to read more – and not so reflexively opposed that your mind is closed – take a look at Pennsylvania’s Education Improvement Tax Credit. It is remarkably popular among families, across party lines. It is not school choice, but it’s still a unique opportunity for families. I’d be interested to read what this comment cabal thinks of PA-EITC.


    • School choice makes sense when the only public option is a failing school or district (see, e.g., East or Lafayette). In my local experience in Clarence, people are deliberately doing harm to the schools and I see it as a set-up to completely do away with the public system altogether. Clarence’s schools were fantastic – it took deliberate malice and harm to create a completely manufactured crisis.

      • I don’t disagree. I know plenty of toxic people in the public school system, too. They are everywhere. Parents have to stand up for their children, especially when the problem is created by twisted antagonists. But I’m curious about what you think of EITC.

    • As long as it doesn’t take money, teachers, or resources out of the public system, I don’t have a problem with private funding of choice options.

        • I think there’s no “one size fits all” solution to every community’s education issue/s. If charters work in Norfolk, great. If tax credits work in PA, great. My issue is that people should not deliberately do harm to a public school in order to manufacture failure, and then use that as a pretext to introduce vouchers, which is what is being attempted in my town. School choice is fine, as long as it doesn’t defund the public education system or divert resources from it. Public schools should not become poorly funded repositories for special education and problem kids.

          • My point: there are bipartisan solutions out there. Tax Credits for businesses who donate to educate; charters that work within the school district. It doesn’t have to be a zero sum game for either side and the kids can win. Of course, there are people aplenty who enjoy being impediments and troublemakers, on both sides. But there are also many solutions if there is mood for compromise.

          • Parents who send their children to private schools should have the same funding opportunities that public school students receive.

          • Neo-libertarianism: From each according to his abilities, to each according to his need.

  • Michael Raleigh

    Private for profit school is probably not the answer, but public schools? Is there any justification to keep those running?

    I went to East Aurora Schools for 12 years and even there school was just training for prison. Students ASK PERMISSION to use the bathroom.

    Public school does not create citizens but cattle.

    • robrobrobislike

      Private for profit schools (like prisons) is absolutely not the answer to any education question. The issues you’re raising though are not problems with public education necessarily, but problems with how policymakers view the purpose of education.

      Federal- and state-mandated curricula and outcome priorities have gutted all education from education and made public (and private) education (pre-K through college) about training the next generation of worker drones rather than actually educating people (that’s where the bathroom passes for teenagers comes in). The result is people who somehow have college (and post-graduate) degrees, but still can’t manage to put a sentence together, do long division, or find Afghanistan on a map.

      We need to do away with curriculum mandates and standardized tests, train teachers who are smart enough to set their own curricula and teach people the skills they need to not be dolts in the world, and to separate college from vocational training.

    • I’d say public literacy is a decent justification. And is there a school anywhere, public or private, where students aren’t expected to ask permission to use the bathroom? What the hell are you on about?

      • robrobrobislike

        The point isn’t that it is out of the ordinary, the point is that as totally unreasonable as it is to expect high schoolers to ask permission to use the bathroom, even “good” schools expect that.

        As designed, the American system of education doesn’t seek to educate, but to crush individuality, break will, and condition people to a life of subservience to arbitrary authority in wage slavery.

        • Funny, your writing skills seem to be pretty decent. Who taught you to do that?

          • robrobrobislike

            The grown man whose job it was to make sure the students weren’t using the bathroom without permission certainly wasn’t the one who taught me to “do that.”

            I learned to write well by reading and writing a lot, which has only the tiniest bit to do with school.

            Public literacy (which is a noble goal) has NOTHING to do with asking permission to use the bathroom, which is insulting and demeaning to anyone over the age of maybe eight.

          • I guess it’s been a while since I was in grade school, but I’m kind of over the bathroom thing. Children are not adults and frankly cannot be treated as if they were. I know damn well that at least half of the time I “went to the bathroom,” I didn’t actually go to the bathroom, and were I allowed to roam free, well, I would have.

            I get that public schools are often impersonal institutions and not ideal learning environments, but that’s not an argument against public education; it’s an argument for making it better. I read a lot too, but in order to do that, someone had to teach me to read in the first place.

          • robrobrobislike

            You mean to tell me that every time you “went to the bathroom,” you didn’t actually go, yet somehow you managed to learn to read and write? It’s almost as if your education had nothing to do with your bathroom habits.

            The point I’m trying to make isn’t that public education is bad, it’s that our educational priorities are. As someone who was in grade school recently enough not to be “over” the bathroom thing, I’ll say that our educational priorities are way out of whack. Like I said in my comments above and below, our educational system has been engineered to crush people’s individuality and acclimate them to arbitrary obedience to authority (in order to produce efficient workers) more than to educate people (which may produce less efficient workers, but promotes things such as public literacy).

  • Government has had its shot and ruined education. How much longer are people going to defend the monopolistic public education system, replete with abysmal results, before putting the power back where it belongs, in the hands of the parents. Parents, who through the free exercise of choice, will shape a competitive environment which leads to innovation, efficiency and excellence. Competition raises the bar, monopolies beat you with the bar.

    • You think poor kids surrounded by other poor kids are going to succeed because of all a sudden they’re in a private school in a poor neighborhood?

      The logic is just a flimsy far right strategy of trying to privatize every aspect of our society.

      • The simplistic view you portray would most likely not do well. I do think poor kids attending a school chosen by their parents have a much better chance for success. Parental involvement is heightened through the act of choice. Neighborhood schools foster a sense of community and pride. Schools that are doing poorly will lose students to schools doing a better job. There is no constraint that says poor students will have to attend schools in poor neighborhoods, instead, they will be able to choose the school that best meets their needs. Schools specializing in many different curriculums can develop, including vocational, technical, college-oriented, etc.

        • No constraints besides money and consistent transportation out of poorer neighborhoods to these hypothetical suburban magnets. These charter schools going to send buses all over the city?

          Thinking that pure competition is the cure all and that public schools are THE problem and not a symptom of much greater societal ills is why I look at charter schools as an inadequate band aid fix at the very best.

          • These charter schools going to send buses all over the city?

            Why shouldn’t that be the same as done for non-charter students?

            Just like is done for school lunches and breakfasts, public funding of bus transportation should be made equitable by NY state for students of both non-charter public schools and charter public schools. Same for non-wealthly attendees of private schools too.

          • Charter Schools only provide choice to a very limited few. All of the roadblocks to school choice that you spout are red herrings which are easily addressable by a free market.

    • “Ruined education”? Seriously? Because what you define as “ruined” involves the highest literacy rate ever recorded, the highest rate of scientific literacy, the greatest proficiency with technology, etcetera. And yet we’re supposed to believe that there was some kind of golden age of education back during the days when most people didn’t get any. It’s one thing to rewrite history to justify your opinions, it’s a completely different thing to invent a history that never was.

    • The trouble with this argument is that parents willing to shape a competitive environment are already doing so. It is the uninvolved parent who drags the system down. Whatever form education takes if parents don’t stand up it will likely fail.

      And I’m with Smoochie on this one, privatization is a money suck along with a backdoor way of getting religion into school.

  • All arguments for privatizing education rely on specious premises. Private schools do a better job for less money because their students have well-to-do, educated parents. What is being set up is an exclusionary system based on a child’s parental involvement, with the public system left to serve as an underfunded warehouse for kids whose parents don’t care.

    Ultimately, the goal is just another boondoggle for private enterprise to suck away more tax money. Contracts for cash, same as always.

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