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Member since: Sun Jul 11, 2004, 07:58 PM
Number of posts: 34,569

Journal Archives

GLENN FORD: How to Pay for a Free, Non-Racist Higher Education

Cut off the federal financial aid for for-profit colleges, which amount to welfare for Wall Street and hedge fund managers, and we could use the money we save to make real colleges (public and non-profit private) cheaper or even free.

As a college instructor myself who teaches at community colleges, I tell my students an ironic truth about higher education: since most instructors are forced to string together multiple part time jobs, some of my colleagues teach at private for-profit colleges as well as community college and others at prestigious, nationally recognized non-profits.

They deliver the same content at every school.

The only thing that changes is the price tag.

The premium price you pay at a non-profit gets you smaller classes and networking with wealthier classmates. At a for profit, it gets you life-crushing debt.

Democrats need to get off the Wall Street teat on this one, put more daylight between themselves and Republicans, and put the future of kids trying to better themselves ahead of for profit scammers.

The dominos are falling in the for-profit college racket, a cauldron of corruption that has crushed the dreams of millions of African Americans in desperate search for tools to navigate their way through a racist, cut-throat capitalist society. Corinthian College’s stock fell from a peak of $33 a share, ten years ago, to 33 cents last month, when it became clear that the federal government intended to pull the plug on the $1.6 billion a year rip-off. Corinthian – known to victims by the brand names Heald College, Everest, and WyoTech – will soon file for bankruptcy protection, shielding its bankster and hedge fund profiteers from liability for wanton theft and massive life-wrecking. More than 70,000 students at 107 campuses, half of whom were statistically certain to drop out before completely their courses, will struggle to find another route to mobility and dignity.

Corinthian is only the third or fourth-worst offender in the pantheon of for-profit colleges created for the sole purpose of diverting public money to the coffers of hedge funds and mega-banks. Although the titans of this fraudulent industry have committed crimes far larger than Bernard Madoff, none of them will join him in prison, since their victims are largely Black people whose usefulness to Wall Street is limited to availability for super-exploitation, demonization and incarceration.

Corinthian’s collapse – and the panic that reigns in the rest of the for-profit education pack – was triggered by the Obama administration’s decision to shut off the criminal enterprise’s federal funding faucet, which accounted for at least 83 percent of the company’s revenue stream. Since Corinthian, like its sister shysters, was created as a pass-through of federal dollars, it could not withstand the slightest pause in payments from various federal agencies. So, it folded. Other corporate educational fraudsters will soon follow Corinthian into bankruptcy, causing a shakeup in the industry that will probably result in a leaner and more vertically integrated structure of dream-sploitation. Billions of educational dollars will continue flowing straight from federal programs to Wall Street, but with little improvement to the life-chances of the supposed beneficiaries: the educationally deprived.

“For-profit colleges educate only 12 percent of all college students in America. Yet, a disproportionate 25 percent of all federal aid to education goes to for-profit colleges. And a staggering 47 percent of all student loan defaults are among for-profit school students.


Sen. Durbin points out that $32 billion dollars a year is the spending equivalent of “the ninth-largest agency in our government.” If that is the case, then why not create such an agency? With Wall Street no longer skimming profits, $32 billion would go a lot farther in providing free public education and training to the huge population that has already been defined and reached by the predatory for-profit outfits.


Story of the Day: Education Entrepreneurs Set to Disrupt Our Schools for Their Profit

How many times do the dots have to get connected before at least Democrats in Congress and the White House give up these destructive, corrupt policies?

They might consider the case of LBJ: He did great things on the domestic front, Civil Rights, Medicare, financial aid for higher ed, but is only remembered for the quagmire of Vietnam.

On going after financial criminals and education, Obama won't even have a domestic fig leaf.

This is the most important article you will read this week, this month, maybe this year. Lee Fang, a brilliant investigative reporter at the Nation Institute, documents the rise and growth of the new for-profit education industry. They seek out ways to make money by selling products to the schools, developing new technologies for the Common Core, writing lucrative leasing deals for charter school properties, mining students' personal data and selling it, and investing in lucrative charter schools.

Their basic strategy: disrupt public education by selling a propaganda narrative of failure, which then generates consumer demand for new, privately managed forms of schooling (charters and vouchers), for new products (a laptop for every child), and for new standards (the Common Core) that require the expenditure of tens of billions of dollars for new technology, consultants, and other new teaching products. The Common Core has the subsidiary effect of reducing test scores dramatically, thus reinforcing the failure narrative and the need for new schools and new products. Meanwhile, absent any evidence, the boosters of the Common Core promise dramatic results ("bigger better cleaner than clean, the best ever, everything you ever dreamed of, success for all, no more achievement gap, everyone a winner"), while reaping the rewards.

The end goal is the reaping of billions in profits for entrepreneurs and investors.

The crucial enabler of the entrepreneurial takeover of American public education has been the Obama administration. From the beginning, its Race to the Top was intended to close schools with low scores, require more charter schools, all to create a larger market for charter organizations. Its requirement to adopt "college-and-career-ready standards" established the Common Core standards in 45 states, thus creating a national market for products. Its funding of two national tests guaranteed that all future testing would be done online, thus generating a multi-billion dollar market for technology companies that produce software and hardware. At the same time, the Obama administration was curiously silent as state after state eliminated collective bargaining and silenced the one force that might impede its plans. Neither President Obama nor Arne Duncan made an appearance in Wisconsin when tens of thousands of working people protested Scott Walker's anti-union program.

Lee Fang has connected the dots that show the connection between entrepreneurs, the Obama administration, ALEC, and Wall Street. We now know that their promises and their profit-driven schemes do not benefit students or teachers or education. Students will be taught by computers in large classes. Experienced and respected teachers do not like the new paradigm; they will leave and be replaced by young teachers willing to follow a script, work with few or no benefits, then leave for another career choice. Turnover of teachers will become the norm, as it is in charter schools. "Success" will be defined as test scores, which will be generated by computer drills.

This is the future the entrepreneurs are planning. Their own children will be in private schools not subject to the Common Core, or large computer-based classes, or inexperienced teachers. The public's children will be victims of policies promoted by Arne Duncan to benefit the entrepreneurs.

We see the future unfolding in communities across the nation. It can be stopped by vigilant and informed citizens. If we organize and act, we can push back and defeat this terrible plan to monetize our children and our public schools.

URL: http://wp.me/p2odLa-8Jn

New sports for the century of climate change

Since we are seeing more and more of the dark side of favorite American sports like the brain injuries, domestic violence, and worse that result from football, maybe it's time to invent some new ones that will actually help us make it through the century of climate change.

One area might be clean energy.

You could divide it up into wind, solar thermal, and non-dam hydro. To make it competitive between rich and poor schools, have them make wind turbines and solar thermal units from stuff they pull from a dump, so they're recycling too.

An obvious start would be to make their own schools entirely energy self-sufficient, and then to start making money from power generation through net metering.

Another area could be potable water.

Which school can use low tech recycled materials and clean energy to reclaim the most dirty water, extract moisture from the air, or desalinate sea water?

For the less clever, more brute strength types, sandbagging.

Can you protect your community from flooding by building up the levee?

Which school can make the most earthbag housing for people displaced by flooding, fires, and drought?

You could add more hoops for them to jump through to add some "strategy," but this would also appeal to desire to contribute and be a "superhero" innate in most kids.

Instead of saving the game, they could save the world.

NEW YORKER: The Meaning of Andrew Cuomo’s Embarrassment (hint: it smells like Lieberman)

Zephyr Teachout didn't beat sitting New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for the Democratic nomination, but her strong showing without the benefits of any ads and against a rising star of the corrupt, corporate-owned wing of the Democratic Party may mean Cuomo will retire to K Street a lot sooner than he planned.

Hopefully, this is a sign that the entire corporate wing of the party's days are numbered.

We don't have a democracy if our only choices are a corporate party that sells itself with hate, ignorance, and fear or a corporate party that sells itself with bland platitudes and coasts on the goodwill generated by New Deal and Great Society Democrats.

On Election Day, when Zephyr Teachout, his largely unknown and unfunded opponent—an opponent he refused even to acknowledge—got more than a third of the vote in the Democratic primary for November’s gubernatorial election, Cuomo was barely seen. After voting in the morning near his home in Westchester, he disappeared. As the results came in, his whereabouts were still unknown. Was he in his midtown office? Was he in Albany? NY1, which was staking out his home in Mount Kisco, said that there was no sign of him there....


The strong showing by Teachout and Wu was a victory for progressive voters who warmed to their message about tackling rising inequality, political corruption, and corporate abuses. It was also a rejection of Cuomo’s economic philosophy, which led him to introduce a series of tax cuts for the rich, at the same time that he cut the state budgets for education and social services. I’d be willing to wager that most Democrats who voted against Cuomo objected more to his policies than to his personality.

Teachout and Wu’s insurgent campaigns gave voice to this sentiment. Eschewing the etiquette of internal party discourse, Teachout accused Cuomo of governing as a Republican, acting as a shill for the big banks and other campaign contributors, and being part of a “corrupt old boys’ club” in Albany. Making full use of social media and appearances in more traditional media, she demonstrated that, even in this day and age, a candidate with a real message doesn’t necessarily need the support of the party apparatus, or the financial backing of big donors, to have an impact.

Cuomo wasn’t the only one to whom the rise of Teachout and Wu came as a surprise. Their insurgent campaigns also shocked what might be called the official progressive wing of the New York Democratic Party. The Working Families Party, an important player in liberal politics, had endorsed Cuomo. So had Mayor Bill de Blasio and Melissa Mark-Viverito, the City Council Speaker. Six days before the election, when it looked like Wu, a Columbia law professor (who has contributed articles to this site), had a chance of winning the race for lieutenant governor, de Blasio and Mark-Viverito both declared their backing for his opponent, Hochul.

How can Saudi help fight ISIS when they are their biggest backers?

Our government has an odd way of fighting terrorists.

Saudi Arabia funded, through their agents, the 9/11 hijackers. They also funded al Qaeda to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year before 9/11

Rather than at a minimum, freeze their financial assets here and use any means necessary to stop the flow of money from them, two days after 9/11, President Bush smoked cigars on the back porch of the White House with Saudi Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, whose wife wrote checks to the handler of the hijackers.

Instead of clearing up the role of the Saudi government in the attacks, Bush classified that portion of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 report.

Likewise, Saudi sent more foreign fighters into Iraq to stir up sectarian divisions than any other country did.

And when a corruption investigation in Britain got too close to Prince Bandar, he threatened the UK with acts of terrorism. Tony Blair took the threat seriously enough to back off.

Saudi is also the major funder of ISIS.

Even Hillary Clinton was forced to admit the Saudi role in terrorism:

The then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in December 2009 in a cable released by Wikileaks that "Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups." She said that, in so far as Saudi Arabia did act against al-Qa'ida, it was as a domestic threat and not because of its activities abroad.


The usual excuse made is that it's some "rogue" elements of the Saudi royal family or the Saudi equivalent of the Koch brothers making foreign policy on their own, but if they truly were loose cannons and their government did nothing to stop them, that government owns their actions.

Our own government has backed Sunni extremists when it was helpful to chase the Soviets out of Afghanistan in the 80's, to help break up Yugoslavia in the 90's, and even after 9/11, Bush quietly backed Sunni extremists trying to destabilize Iran.

I do not oppose all military actions.

But if the president is going to start bombing other countries, I'd like to know if any other countries that are a far greater threat to us are being ignored, or worse, allowed or encouraged to stir up trouble to give our government an excuse to attack Syria and go back into Iraq.

At a minimum, Obama should declassify those pages on foreign governments' involvement in the 9/11 attacks, and if he doesn't, someone else either in Congress or intelligence agencies should figure out how to get that information to the public.

Will Obama talk about how we'll pay for military action? or GOP balk at cost?

After all the budget poor talk and sequestration, that should be front and center since ISIS is not a credible threat to the US, and our bombing of Syria is more likely about getting rid of Assad in any case.

I think I finally understand why Papa Bush and Bill Clinton had troops in Somalia...

They wanted to get an up close look at chaos, so we could reproduce it over and over and over again in all the countries we "liberate."

Is the military-industrial crowd throwing all kinds of shit at the wall to see what sticks?

Seriously, demonizing Russia and to a lesser extent China, destabilizing a different Middle East country every week, going back to Iraq, trying to use our destabilization effort in Syria as an excuse to bomb that country...

I kind of expect to hear that Germany has made a secret anti-US pact with Mexico and Great Britain is pressing American sailors into the Royal Navy at sea any day now.

Or possibly a civil war at home or alien invasion.

They will keep going until some shit sticks.

Or are we just the innocent victims of a world coming apart and coming after us?

RAVITCH: Florida Charter Schools Reap huge profits from Real Estate Scam

Even when charter schools are set up as non-profits or with a modest profit margin, the companies running them rake in the big bucks by having other divisions of their companies buy the land for the schools then RENT it to the district.

Something similar is going on with school closures: the land is coveted by developers, who might buy it for a song from corrupt public officials then rent it back to the district for a charter school or simply use it for other purposes.

And which do you think is cheaper, running a school on land that was bought decades ago and probably owned free and clear, or paying RENT on something you used to own free and clear?

Should our tax dollars being going to these Wall Street grifters to run Enron-like scams with our kids education?

Should politicians who set up deals like this be allowed anywhere near public office?

When will Democratic Party voters get rid of Democratic politicians who are bribed to set up these scams and replace them with true progressives?

If Democrats don't clean house soon, they will so soil their brand with this sociopathic corporate behavior that even if they do so later, the public still wouldn't be able to trust them.

And saying that the Republicans would do the same or worse is no defense.

That's like a wife beater telling his wife she should be grateful he only uses his fist since the guy she didn't marry would beat her with a belt.

Eventually, she will find a way to live without any beating at all.

Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that are authorized by – but not operated by – each school district. For each student who "chooses" a charter, his or her school gets state dollars that would have otherwise gone to the school district.

"Charter Schools USA (CUSA) has been operating charter schools in Florida for 20 years, including recently-opened schools in Hillsborough County: Woodmont Charter, Winthrop Charter, and Henderson Hammock Charter. Although charter schools sometimes struggle financially at first, CUSA eventually collects a 5% management fee from each to provide administration and guidance.

"But 10 Investigates found a much bigger pot of money CUSA has been able to tap into: rent. When the company helps open a new school, its development arm, Red Apple Development, acquires land and constructs a school. Then, CUSA charges the school high rent.

"For example, Winthrop Charter in Riverview may struggle to balance its budget this year thanks to a $2 million rent payment to CUSA/Red Apple Development. The payment will equate to approximately 23% of its budget, even though CUSA CEO Jon Hage has been quoted as saying charter school rent should not exceed 20%.


New York Times refuses to endorse Wall Street tool Cuomo for governor

Maybe the New York Times is realizing they won't have many readers left if they keep carrying water for Wall Street and the corrupt politicians they own.

Besides the ethics issue mentioned here, Cuomo has carried water for the corporate education reformers who are devastating K-12 education, so they can take over and charge taxpayers a profit for doing so.

Maybe the Democratic Party, should realize their "lesser of two evils" scam is reaching it's expiration date, and clean house of the corporate trash, before people decide the party can't be saved.

Members of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s team are “ stunned” by latest endorsements of his opponent, Fordham University Associate Law Professor and Top Wonk Zephyr Teachout. The New York Times declined to make an endorsement in the race, attributing the unusual decision to the Governor’s “failure on ethics reform” … meanwhile, Teachout has garnered endorsements from the National Organization for Women’s New York chapter, Sierra Club,the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, the New York State Public Employees Federation, and The Nation, who called her “ a savvy, trust-busting progressive.”

The Working Families Party (WFP) had initially tapped Teachout to run against Cuomo in response to the Governor’s interference with an ethics commission and overall lack of adherence to progressive principles. Cuomo might have thought he was in the clear when he eventually secured the WFP endorsement in a backdoor deal in early June; however, a WFP member recently told the Daily Beast: “ There is definitely a sense right now of buyer’s remorse” … perhaps that is why Cuomo is refusing to debate his up and coming progressive opponent?

Is the TEACHOUT challenge a teachable moment for ethically-agnostic politicians? Should Mug Shot Perry and Gov. Bridgegate read the tea leaves and pack in their presidential ambitions? Or is this just a bump in the road for Cuomo? Time will tell…

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