"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Republicans Would Lock Up the Children, Rather than the AR-15s

Thom Hartmann's piece yesterday caught my eye:  "Guns Don't Kill America: Republicans Do." Indeed, Republicans are intent to keep America's mass murderers the most well-armed mass murderers in the world, of both children and adults (WE'RE # 1).  There is no close second, even though the American prison solution for offenses committed by the poor continues to maintain our world ranking for total prison population and incarceration rates (WE'RE #1).

Oh yeah, the U.S. is #1, too, in gun suicide rates for both children and adults.

So what is the Republican "pro-life" solution to the child murder problem that they created with their fraudulent Second Amendment bullshit (see retired SCOTUS Chief Justice remarks here in 1991)?  Rather than banning weapons of war or requiring gun owners be licensed or even registered, asshats like Lindsey Graham would prefer to lock up the children, rather than the guns.  These hypocritical fools would put schools on a war footing, with more armed guards, bristling weaponry, more surveillance, more mass murder drills, more fear and anxiety.

Meanwhile, here's the dope, Andy Ogles (the tall stupid-looking one on the left), who now misrepresents, in the U.S. House of Representative, the people of Nashville where three adults and three 9-year old babies were murdered this week:


Andy's good at owning the libs--and killing the kids.

Friday, March 24, 2023

The DeSantitizing Agenda of the "Joke Mob"

In his masterpiece, The Authoritarian Personality, Theodore Adorno overlooked one unlikely possibility that has, indeed, emerged in our current political theater.  And that is, of course, that at least one current authoritarian aspirant to the White House demonstrates that one can display all the characteristics of authoritarianism without having any personality at all. Enter Ron DeSantis, stage right.  

What occupies Ron's psychic space where personality resides in real people is a closed circuit of  uncontrolled neuronal firings that consistently manifest as rage, hate, and socially-detached megalomania. Even the simple act of eating apparently does not escape the pattern.  As a DeSantis staffer told The Daily Beast, “He would sit in meetings and eat in front of people, always like a starving animal who has never eaten before… getting shit everywhere.”

But before this thin-crusted authoritarian bully gains his rightful place in history's permanent dustbin of American fascist fascinations, he is sure to do lots of damage, particularly in his home state of Florida. For even though the declared enemies of the "woke agenda" can't tell you what "woke" means, there remains, nonetheless, actionable connotations that allows and encourages terminally-ignorant followers of the corporate media hate channels to keep their torches lit and their pitchforks sharpened.  And vague connotations for a word that can't be defined leaves the field open for every fascist wannabe to choose his own favorite bigotry to advance by attacking any effort to reduce bigotry.

DeSantis knows that Fox and its spawn can be counted on to maintain a 24-hour IV drip of hate--enough to keep white economically-oppressed viewers focused on protecting, at all costs, the ideological cryptocurrency of white male protestant capitalist plutocracy (WMPCP). 

Rupert Murdoch and his oligarch pals have arrived at a foolproof formula to rake in billions of dollars for making the ignorant more ignorant, the angry angrier, and the hateful homicidal.  In short, Murdoch is responsible for creating and maintaining the basest of the Republican base, which gives cover for humorless despots like DeSantis to busy themselves dismantling democratic institutions and snuffing out democratic aspirations in order to undergird social and economic control by the WMPCP.

To create the dystopian fascist future that had remained only a John Bircher wet dream prior to the coming of T---- in 2016, DeSantis as T---- 2.0, along with his army of social DeSantitizers, e. g., Moms for Liberty, have chosen a censorial and abusive strategy to bulldoze democratic principles and practices, equality and equity goals and initiatives, institutional power sharing, and free thought and expression. 

Exhibiting the charm of a Florida gator and the subtlety of a bull shark, DeSantis's utterances ooze the rank musk of toxic masculine politics mixed with the smarmy chronic whining of a pampered bully brat. Repulsive, yes, but also effective. 

Witness the latest "joke mob" success in Tallahassee, FL, where a tiny band of vigilante parents on the hunt for any potential threat to theocratic fascism have succeeded in having a charter school principal fired for allowing Michelangelo's David to be viewed in a middle school classroom.  

From the NY Post:

While Tallahassee Classical is reportedly required to teach about Renaissance art in the 6th grade, three parents spoke up about the lesson’s contents and claimed it upset their children.

Two parents said they wanted to be notified about the lesson before it took place and another parent slammed it as pornographic, [Principal] Carrasquilla said.

She told HuffPost one parent was “point-blank upset” and “felt her child should not be viewing those pieces.”

So now with the DeSantitizers in charge of school curriculums across Florida, even the Hillsdale College curriculum, permission must be granted by every parent, apparently, for any element of curriculum to be offered.  This episode exposes the ramifications of this kind of anarchistic upside down form of authoritarianism now made operative at the institutional level.  

The clip below is from a Slate interview with Tallahassee Classical Board Chair, Barney Bishop, which quickly went off the rails when Alice in Wonderland logic of this approach was made clear by the interviewer:

Just to be clear, last year you sent a notice to parents warning them that students were going to see Michelangelo’s David?

Yes. This year, we made an egregious mistake. We didn’t send that notice. Look, we’re not a public school. We’re a public charter. Parents, after they saw all the crap that’s being taught in public schools during COVID, decided of their own that they didn’t want their children to be taught that. Here we teach the Hillsdale Curriculum, focusing on civic and moral values. We teach a traditional, Western civilization, liberal classical education. And if there’s controversial topics or subjects, we tell parents in advance. We’re going to be sensitive to everybody at the school.

I tend to think of a classical education as being the mode in the 17th, 18th century, where you study the Greeks and Romans, and Western civilization is central. A tutor or teacher is the expert, and that teacher drives the curriculum. You’re describing something where it seems the parents drive the curriculum. How does your classical education differ from the classical education as I think of it?

What kind of question is that, Dan? I don’t know how they taught in the 17th, 18th century, and neither do you. You live in New York?


You’ve got a 212 number. That’s New York.

I lived in New York when I got the cellphone, many years ago. Now I live in Virginia.

Well, we’re Florida, OK? Parents will decide. Parents are the ones who are going to drive the education system here in Florida. The governor said that, and we’re with the governor. Parents don’t decide what is taught. But parents know what that curriculum is. And parents are entitled to know anytime their child is being taught a controversial topic and picture.

Parents choose this school because they want a certain kind of education. We’re not gonna have courses from the College Board. We’re not gonna teach 1619 or CRT crap. I know they do all that up in Virginia. The rights of parents, that trumps the rights of kids. Teachers are the experts? Teachers have all the knowledge? Are you kidding me? I know lots of teachers that are very good, but to suggest they are the authorities, you’re on better drugs than me. . . .

Saturday, March 04, 2023

Guns Kill More Children Each Year than Cancer or Car Accidents, But . . .

Take 9 minutes to see up close how Jon Stewart exposes the oozing hypocrisy espoused by the callous tools (Nathan Dahm (R-OK) of the gun industry to protect profit over people. 

Facts: gun deaths, car accidents, and cancer.


Thursday, March 02, 2023

Teachers: Pay the Rent or Bring Home the Bacon?

Across the country teachers struggle to manage many challenges, from rabid christian nationalists out to supplant education with fascistic propaganda to the more mundane, yet urgent, challenges to afford living while teaching.  

The Guardian has a very informative piece on the housing crisis teachers face in California and beyond.  A clip:

In California and across the country, teachers are navigating a difficult terrain: making enough money to afford living in the districts where they serve. Research by the Economic Policy Institute’s Sylvia Allegretto found that public school teachers nationally make nearly 24% less in weekly earnings than similarly credentialed college graduates in other fields. When benefits such as healthcare were taken into account, the total compensation penalty was 14%, the widest gap since 1979.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

DeSantis Holds Children's Education Hostage to Score Political Points with FL Fascists

The videos below provide a thumbnail sketch of the dire situation in Florida schools, where the fascist DeSanti-tizers, under the direction of their thin-skinned bully governor, have taken it upon themselves the ban library and classroom book collections that includes millions of titles until they are reviewed by a small group of school librarians, whose numbers have been repeatedly diminished by continuing funding cuts across the state.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

David Coleman is the Face of College Board's Dishonesty and Cowardice

With more and more colleges and universities no longer requiring the racist and classist SAT for admissions decisions, the billion dollar non-profit that owns the SAT is desperate to maintain the College Board's test-based empire.

And so its CEO, David Coleman, has turned to further promotion of the College Board's subject area AP courses and the tests that go with them to maintain its revenue stream.  The creation of an AP course in African-American history promised to bring renewed attention to the College Board's portfolio of AP courses and tests.  (It is my deeply-held belief that any student who passes an AP exam and who subsequently is granted college credit for doing so has been cheated out of a real learning experience that can only be gained by successfully completing college courses). 

Coleman's desperation to get Florida's approval of its new AP course is evidenced by ongoing, secret negotiations with the racist history whitewashers who DeSantis has hired in Florida to cancel any efforts in Florida to preserve or expand diversity, inclusion, integration, or social justice in any public institution of learning.  Coleman's claim that his decision to modify, i.e., water down the course had nothing to do with efforts to mollify the DeSanti-tizers can easily be refuted.  Some examples from a February 13 article in the NY Times:

. . . the College Board also hurt its own cause among supporters, by whittling away material during the months it was engaged in discussions with the DeSantis administration, according to interviews with scholars, teachers and College Board officials, as well as a review of several drafts of the curriculum.

The organization also did not tell some of its academic colleagues of those frustrating discussions — or about the significant omissions.

Now, the College Board is defending the A.P. course it has spent years developing. The nonprofit has infuriated many African American studies scholars for what they view as a stealth betrayal. And its once-heralded course is mired in dissension.

. . . .

As the College Board prepared to unveil the final curriculum, leading Black studies scholars heard rumors that politics had influenced the revision process.

“We all suspected that the changes to the curriculum were prompted by political pressure,” wrote Robin D.G. Kelley, a historian at the University of California, Los Angeles, in an email.

On Jan. 31, one day before the final course was unveiled, Dr. Kelley and several scholars — including Professor Crenshaw and the legal theorist Cheryl Harris — met by Zoom with College Board executives, to ask if they had engaged in negotiations with the DeSantis administration.

“We were told by Trevor Packer that there was absolutely no communication with them,” Dr. Kelley said, referring to the head of the A.P. program.

. . . .

When the final course was released, a new set of concepts was now mentioned only in passing, as optional topics for a final project: reparations, incarceration and Black Lives Matter.

The term “police brutality” disappeared. But Black Republicans, such as Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, were added.

And there was a preamble that the College Board said will now accompany other A.P. courses as well: “A.P. opposes indoctrination. A.P. students are expected to analyze different perspectives from their own, and no points on an A.P. exam are awarded for agreement with any specific viewpoint. A.P. students are not required to feel certain ways about themselves or the course content.”

Professor Harris, the U.C.L.A. legal scholar, said the course’s legitimacy had been called into question.

“There is no way you can properly teach this material under the rubric of what DeSantis et al. are demanding,” she said. “This is a train wreck.”



Sunday, February 12, 2023

The Solar Powered Megalopolis that Big Oil Built

Once capitalism becomes world government without borders, all kinds of "disruptive innovations" will be loosed upon a melting world, sort of like this one in the Middle Eastern desert, where dystopian sci-fi, unrestrained greed, and 10th Century social codes get mixed into a toxic brew and served up by Prince Bone Saw as a futuristic past captured in a trillion-dollar bubble, and where both irony and hypocrisy have been permanently banished or summarily beheaded.

This “civilizational revolution” now underway will form the backbone of NEOM, a futuristic city-state roughly the size of Belgium near the border of Jordan and Egypt that will, at an estimated cost of $500 billion, include a floating, semi-automated port and innovation hub; a year-round ski resort (in the desert); and a man-made freshwater lake (also in the desert). The Guardian reported in 2020 that an artificial moon, glow-in-the dark beaches, robotic butlers, holographic teachers, and something akin to Jurassic Park were also being considered. In any case, it promises to be surveilled by a corps of drones and facial recognition software held accountable only to the Saudi security state and its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. If this sounds like some kind of dystopian nightmare-cum-PR-project, that’s because NEOM is both of those things.

Monday, February 06, 2023

Will Schools Become Training Grounds for Fascist Politics?

As I read Trip Gabriel's New York Times article, Education Issues Vault to Top of the G.O.P.’s Presidential Race, it became obvious to me that as American right-wing agendas get sidetracked, one by one, by their own public unpopularity, the education DeSanti-tizers are moving to the political forefront in hopes of creating an election issue and societal problem for which their censorious, anti-intellectual solutions can be applied.  With an American citizenry turned off by anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-democracy, anti-diversity, anti-immigrant, and anti-black/brown hate politics, the squalid remnants of conservatism-gone-berserk are in need of a different kind of American, one that can be trained up and miseducated from childhood to embrace all of their Christian fascist failed priorities.  

And so the battle to preserve democracy and human decency moves to the schoolhouse.

KIPP's Illegal and Unethical Union Busting Tactics Lead to Filing of Federal Complaint

KIPP, Inc. has received billions of state and federal dollars to fund KIPP's chain gang schools where children undergo behavioral and cultural sterilization.

Now the corporate schooling nightmare in Columbus has taken off the gloves to fight an effort by over 70 percent of its teachers to conduct a vote on whether or not to establish a union.

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

College Board Allows Florida Nazis to DeSanti-tize African-American History Course

We have known for a long time that David Coleman is a tool of corporate education reform, but now we find out that he is a traitor to intellectual inquiry and democratic principles. Never has such a small ring of scum been allowed to control the intellectual development of such a huge swath of America's youth.

From the New York Times:

After heavy criticism from Gov. Ron DeSantis, the College Board released on Wednesday an official curriculum for its new Advanced Placement course in African American Studies — stripped of much of the subject matter that had angered the governor and other conservatives.

The College Board purged the names of many Black writers and scholars associated with critical race theory, the queer experience and Black feminism. It ushered out some politically fraught topics, like Black Lives Matter, from the formal curriculum. . . .