Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Thursday, September 10th, 2015.


What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

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Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Y’all predicted this

The Oath Keepers, the anti-government “Patriot” group that mounted an armed standoff with the Bureau of Land Management at the Bundy Ranch, stationed armed guards outside of military recruitment centers after the Chattanooga shooting, and unsettled Ferguson protestors when they showed up carrying assault rifles, is now offering anti-gay Kentucky clerk Kim Davis a “security detail” to protect her from further arrest if she continues to defy the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes announced yesterday that he had reached out to Davis’ lawyers at Liberty Counsel to offer the protection of his group, which he says is already forming a presence in Rowan County, Kentucky, where Davis was recently released from jail after prohibiting her office from issuing marriage licenses. Rhodes said in a statement that his position has nothing to do with gay marriage, but rather his conviction that Davis had been illegally detained by the federal judge who held her in contempt for violating multiple court orders. …

… Rhodes said that the Rowan County sheriff should have blocked U.S. Marshals from detaining Davis, but since neither the sheriff nor the state’s governor will do their “job” and “intercede” on behalf of Davis, the Oath Keepers will have to do it instead. “As far as we’re concerned, this is not over,” he said, “and this judge needs to be put on notice that his behavior is not going to be accepted and we’ll be there to stop it and intercede ourselves if we have to. If the sheriff, who should be interceding, is not going to do his job and the governor is not going to do the governor’s job of interceding, then we’ll do it.”

Would nonsense like this be tolerated in any other allegedly functioning nation in the world? Steve M writes,
A shootout between these self-important bastards and the authorities might be the what finally makes clear to America that conservatism has gone stark raving mad, but there won’t be any bloodshed — at worst, these guys will show up armed and the authorities will back down, sensibly seeking to keep the peace. The crazies will get a win, it’ll be a one-day story at best, and we’ll just shrug and forget all about it as a nation, because nobody died.

In all seriousness, do we get to use the term “domestic terrorist” and actually have it mean something if armed goobers like this are going to butt heads with U.S. Marshals after Davis inevitably violates her court order?

Bonus question:  Do these guys show up at the Rowan County Clerk’s Office to “protect” Davis from same-sex couples wanting to get married?

Double bonus question: if you’re publicly announcing your intent to “interfere” with county sheriffs and U.S. Marshals, why are you not having a nice conversation with law enforcement in a little room with no windows?

Because as long as they are politically useful to the Right, they’ll be protected.

Meanwhile, the Nooz says that Mike Huckabee thinks Dred Scott is still the “law of the land.”

Huckabee appeared on conservative radio host Michael Medved’s show to defend Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, who went to jail for contempt of court after refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses. The former governor compared the Supreme Court’s recent decision to legalize same sex marriage to the Dred Scott decision, which upheld slavery.

“Michael, the Dred Scott decision of 1857 still remains to this day the law of the land which says that black people aren’t fully human,” he told the radio host. “Does anybody still follow the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision?”

Huckabee needs a long rest and lots of drugs, methinks.

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A Setback for the School Reform Grifters

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Obama Administration

For one reason or another the U.S. public school system has been under constant attack since Brown v. Board of Education (1954), and the American people have been well primed to believe that public schools are cesspools of ignorance and depravity. Except for the schools their own kids go to, of course. It’s all those other schools that are rotten.

The first taxpayer-supported charter schools were set up after Brown so that taxpayer dollars could follow white children into what amounted to private all-white academies. But what started out as a reaction to desegregation soon turned into Opportunity! in the form of the charter school scam.

As conservatives continued to gripe about those awful public schools, charter schools were marketed as a way to empower parents to make better public schools. And on paper, it sounds like a grand idea. However, it’s also turned into a way to siphon taxpayer dollars into a for-profit education industry. Even officially non-profit charter schools turn to for-profit companies to manage them sometimes. See “Education for Profit: The Darker Side of Charter Schools.”

And what’s happening out in Real World Land is that many of these charters have become less accountable to parents and the communities than traditional public schools used to be. The charter school activists saw Hurricane Katrina as an opportunity to force New Orleans to accept a mostly charter school system. And today residents complain the New Orleans system is more like colonialism than reform. With no elected school board, schools are answerable only to the state chartering bureaucracy, not to communities and parents.

Having an elected school board created ways for the public to participate. When Katrina hit, I was serving on the search committee for a new superintendent. For years I served on the disciplinary review committee. It was much different from the dictatorial charter school environment.

The charters purport to give parents and teachers greater power, right? But you have little real voice. In the charter school world they say, “We don’t even want a PTA in our school, but we’ll survey our parents about satisfaction.” Well, goddamn it, we’re not consumers!

Now the grifters have hit a glitch. Last week, the Washington state Supreme Court decided that privately operated charter schools do not qualify as public institutions and do not qualify to receive tax support.

In the lead opinion, Chief Justice Barbara Madsen said the case wasn’t about the merits of charter schools, simply whether they were eligible for public funds. Citing state Supreme Court precedent from 1909, she said they are not eligible because they are not under the control of local voters. Washington charters are run by private nonprofit organizations that appoint their own boards. Most, including Tacoma’s charters, are also under the oversight of the appointed Washington State Charter School Commission.

(On Diane Ravitch’s invaluable blog, Peter Greene has a simple solution for the charter-school panjandrums – submit to the authority of an elected local school board. Yeah, that’ll happen.)

Because it happened on Friday of a holiday weekend in which Donald Trump is still running for president, this was a huge story that got buried in the news cycle, but it remains a signifying decision in the fight against the school “reformers.” This latest attempt was the result of the fourth statewide referendum on charter schools. This latest one squeaked through in 2012 because the pro-charter side brought in all the pros from Dover – Gates, the inexcusable Jeff Bezos, Ms. Rhee and her consort, Kevin Johnson. There is now great scrambling among the masters of the universe because public accountability and democratic institutions can be so damned…inconvenient. (Not that they’re done. There are higher courts.) Public education should be conducted in public schools. Period. Good on the Washington Supremes for reinforcing this simple truth.

Regarding quality of education, if you google for information you can find articles extolling the virtues of charter schools, and others complaining they’re teaching kids that cave men rode dinosaurs. (Forbes magazine loves them, which ought to make us suspicious right there.) The rules and regulations governing charters as well as how performances are measured vary from state to state, so it’s hard to make any general claims. But there are news stories telling us that in some states and school systems — Ohio, Chicago, and Arizona, for example — the charter schools are lagging behind public schools. See also Separating fact from fiction in 21 claims about charter schools.

Weirdly, both supporters and detractors of charter schools pull data from the same study to support their positions, so here is the study. It takes a while to load, and I haven’t had time to look at it in detail, but it appears to say that charter school performance can be better than public schools in some ways but are worse in others.

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