New Superintendent in Palm Beach County Wants to Turn District All-Charter

The new superintendent in Palm Beach County was hired from the Fulton County School District in Georgia; Georgia has a law permitting “charter districts.” Superintendent Robert Avossa now wants to try it in Palm Beach County, where parents have been fighting for years to keep the hands of the charter industry out of their county. In his application for the job of Superintendent in PBC (which he assumed in June), he spoke of his passion for public education; there was no indication that he would immediately bring in the privateers, entrepreneurs, and fly-by-night operators whose charters overpopulate the lowest-performing schools in the state.

The Palm Beach Post reported:


Palm Beach County’s schools chief wants permission from state lawmakers to convert the county’s public school system into a “charter school district,” a designation that could let him end-run state rules and drastically reorganize schools’ schedules, class sizes and instruction time.

Superintendent Robert Avossa’s proposal would require approval from state lawmakers and the support of the county’s school board. If granted, he said the extra freedom would allow the county’s traditional public schools to better compete with charter schools, which have more flexibility under state law and are attracting thousands of new students each year.

In light of the fact that the charter industry has already bought control of the state legislature, he is not likely to have much opposition there. The question is whether the local school board is as happy to privatize public schools as Superintendent Avossa is.

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Day’s End and Night Watch

Fair warning: Greg Sargent and I are going to keep harping on the “How ya gonna deport 11 million people without creating a police state?” theme until we get some answers. But I’m not holding my breath or anything.

Here are some remains of the day:

* Nate Cohn looks at the massive turnout for Bernie Sanders’ house parties around the country yesterday, but found they were heavily concentrated in white liberal enclaves.

* Eleanor Clift previews the very nasty Democratic Senate primary shaping up in Florida.

* Trump’s new national political director is very, very tight with Sarah Palin.

* At College Guide, Robert Kelchen explains the drop in Pell Grant recipients mainly as function of students expelled from the work force by the recession now leaving school to return to it.

* At The Grade, Alexander Russo wonders if all the obsessions of education journalism are perhaps missing important factors for educational success or failure.

And in non-political news:

* South Florida dubbed “fraud capital of America.” Elmore Leonard wouldn’t be surprised.

That’s it for Thursday. We’ll close with a Buddy Guy cover of Junior Kimbrough I don’t think we’ve posted before: “Done Got Old.” Happens to the best of us, Buddy.

Selah.

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The Voters That Really Matter

There’s invariably a big debate every four years in political circles about which indicators really matter in the Invisible Primary that occurs before the presidential nominating process begins (and is usually quickly ended). You’ve got your game-change fans who follow every detail and trend and poll as critical. You’ve got your “party insiders” who invariably think they’re pulling the wires, and who are often echoed by political scientists who genuflect towards The Party Decides and place enormous faith in things like elected official endorsements. And of course, you have your secret advocates and open spinners who will seize on any interpretive device that is good for their candidate.

At Ten Miles Square today, the great journalist and historian Rick Perlstein notes a lot of these explanations with little respect, and suggests most of the commentariat are missing the factor that’s quietly taken over much of the whole process: the walking moneybags liberated by Citizens United:

The bottom line is that the penumbras and emanations of Citizens United are changing the campaign game in ways that throw all previous understandings of how Republicans nominate presidents into a cocked hat…..

[A]ll this, admittedly, gets reported, in bits and pieces. But all this noise doesn’t amount to an ongoing story by which citizens can understand what is actually going on. Not just concerning who might be our next president, but what it all means for the republic. And not just concerning the candidates, but the behind-the-scenes string-pullers whose names, really, should be almost as familiar to us as Mr. Bush, Mr. Rubio, and, God forbid, Dr. Carson.

Instead, we get the same old hackneyed horse race—like, did you know that Rick Santorum is in trouble? Only one voter showed up at his June 8 event in Hamlin, Iowa. The Des Moines Register reported that. Politico made sure that tout Washington knew it. Though neither mentioned that Santorum is still doing just fine with the one voter the matters: Foster Friess, the Wyoming financier who gave his super-PAC $6.7 million in 2012, and promises something similar this year. “He has the best chance of winning,” Friess said. “I can’t imagine why anybody would not vote for him.’’ Which, considering only 2 percent of New Hampshirites and Iowans agree with him, is kind of crazy. And you’d think having people like that picking the people who govern us would all be rather newsworthy.

You’d be right.

Just don’t expect to read anything about it in Politico.

Yeah, we may be in uncharted territory this cycle. It pays to watch closely instead of tossing out iron rules that often turn into putty, or conventional wisdom that’s anything but.

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New Superintendent in Palm Beach County Wants to Turn District All-Charter

The new superintendent in Palm Beach County was hired from the Fulton County School District in Georgia; Georgia has a law permitting “charter districts.” Superintendent Robert Avossa now wants to try it in Palm Beach County, where parents have been fighting for years to keep the hands of the charter industry out of their county. In his application for the job of Superintendent in PBC (which he assumed in June), he spoke of his passion for public education; there was no indication that he would immediately bring in the privateers, entrepreneurs, and fly-by-night operators whose charters overpopulate the lowest-performing schools in the state.

The Palm Beach Post reported:


Palm Beach County’s schools chief wants permission from state lawmakers to convert the county’s public school system into a “charter school district,” a designation that could let him end-run state rules and drastically reorganize schools’ schedules, class sizes and instruction time.

Superintendent Robert Avossa’s proposal would require approval from state lawmakers and the support of the county’s school board. If granted, he said the extra freedom would allow the county’s traditional public schools to better compete with charter schools, which have more flexibility under state law and are attracting thousands of new students each year.

In light of the fact that the charter industry has already bought control of the state legislature, he is not likely to have much opposition there. The question is whether the local school board is as happy to privatize public schools as Superintendent Avossa is.

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Day’s End and Night Watch

Fair warning: Greg Sargent and I are going to keep harping on the “How ya gonna deport 11 million people without creating a police state?” theme until we get some answers. But I’m not holding my breath or anything.

Here are some remains of the day:

* Nate Cohn looks at the massive turnout for Bernie Sanders’ house parties around the country yesterday, but found they were heavily concentrated in white liberal enclaves.

* Eleanor Clift previews the very nasty Democratic Senate primary shaping up in Florida.

* Trump’s new national political director is very, very tight with Sarah Palin.

* At College Guide, Robert Kelchen explains the drop in Pell Grant recipients mainly as function of students expelled from the work force by the recession now leaving school to return to it.

* At The Grade, Alexander Russo wonders if all the obsessions of education journalism are perhaps missing important factors for educational success or failure.

And in non-political news:

* South Florida dubbed “fraud capital of America.” Elmore Leonard wouldn’t be surprised.

That’s it for Thursday. We’ll close with a Buddy Guy cover of Junior Kimbrough I don’t think we’ve posted before: “Done Got Old.” Happens to the best of us, Buddy.

Selah.

from novemoore http://ift.tt/1M1evxp

The Voters That Really Matter

There’s invariably a big debate every four years in political circles about which indicators really matter in the Invisible Primary that occurs before the presidential nominating process begins (and is usually quickly ended). You’ve got your game-change fans who follow every detail and trend and poll as critical. You’ve got your “party insiders” who invariably think they’re pulling the wires, and who are often echoed by political scientists who genuflect towards The Party Decides and place enormous faith in things like elected official endorsements. And of course, you have your secret advocates and open spinners who will seize on any interpretive device that is good for their candidate.

At Ten Miles Square today, the great journalist and historian Rick Perlstein notes a lot of these explanations with little respect, and suggests most of the commentariat are missing the factor that’s quietly taken over much of the whole process: the walking moneybags liberated by Citizens United:

The bottom line is that the penumbras and emanations of Citizens United are changing the campaign game in ways that throw all previous understandings of how Republicans nominate presidents into a cocked hat…..

[A]ll this, admittedly, gets reported, in bits and pieces. But all this noise doesn’t amount to an ongoing story by which citizens can understand what is actually going on. Not just concerning who might be our next president, but what it all means for the republic. And not just concerning the candidates, but the behind-the-scenes string-pullers whose names, really, should be almost as familiar to us as Mr. Bush, Mr. Rubio, and, God forbid, Dr. Carson.

Instead, we get the same old hackneyed horse race—like, did you know that Rick Santorum is in trouble? Only one voter showed up at his June 8 event in Hamlin, Iowa. The Des Moines Register reported that. Politico made sure that tout Washington knew it. Though neither mentioned that Santorum is still doing just fine with the one voter the matters: Foster Friess, the Wyoming financier who gave his super-PAC $6.7 million in 2012, and promises something similar this year. “He has the best chance of winning,” Friess said. “I can’t imagine why anybody would not vote for him.’’ Which, considering only 2 percent of New Hampshirites and Iowans agree with him, is kind of crazy. And you’d think having people like that picking the people who govern us would all be rather newsworthy.

You’d be right.

Just don’t expect to read anything about it in Politico.

Yeah, we may be in uncharted territory this cycle. It pays to watch closely instead of tossing out iron rules that often turn into putty, or conventional wisdom that’s anything but.

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Saving That “Worthless” Medicaid

As noted earlier today, it’s the 50th anniversary of the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid.

I strongly suspect the former will get more attention, because it’s a non-means tested program with an extremely powerful bipartisan constituency (despite constant GOP efforts to screw over future beneficiaries via a phased-in voucherization or some other way to shift costs to old folks). Everybody’s either on it or going to go on it if they live long enough.

Medicaid’s another matter, of course. It’s means-tested with the states having significant control over eligibility and benefits, which means it involves different sets of people (particularly now that half the states have accepted the ACA’s Medicaid expansion while half haven’t) and significantly different benefits and service delivery models in different states. With the exception of a little-understood long-term care component that pays for nursing home care for people who have disposed of most of their assets, Medicaid is a poor folks program–you know, for those people–which because it is state (and to some extent locally) operated means these poor folks are not necessarily dealing with the friendliest policy-makers, administrators or providers, particularly given Medicaid’s relatively low reimbursement rates.

But to the Republicans who have all pretty much agreed upon a policy of “block-granting” Medicaid, which means dumping the Medicaid population on the states with a fixed (and ultimately declining) sum of money and letting them do whatever they want to do with them, the question about Medicaid isn’t whether its structure and financing are giving the poor the kind of health care the rest of us would want, but instead whether it’s worth anything at all. That’s largely the function of prejudice plus a 2013 study in Oregon of people receiving and not receiving Medicaid benefits which provided some startling-sounding data on how little real benefit Medicaid created. It’s hard to read any conservative discussion of Medicaid and not hear the Oregon study “proved” Medicaid’s worthless.

So that’s why with Medicaid’s fate perhaps hanging in the balance after the upcoming election, three excellent policy writers, Harold Pollack, Bill Gardner and Timothy Just, have written an explanation of the Oregon study that rebuts its invidious use.

[P]erhaps the most important limitation of the study stems from an assumption that many readers would be unlikely to notice. [The Oregon researchers] placed a very low value—$25,000—on a year of additional life for Medicaid beneficiaries. The typical threshold used in health services research is much larger, in recent studies far above $100,000 per additional year of (healthy) life. Yet because the median income of the Oregon study participants was about one-fourth of the median income in the United States, the researchers chose to value an additional life-year at about one-fourth of the usual threshold. This assumption powerfully frames everything that follows in this analysis. After all, if you start out by assuming that Medicaid beneficiaries’ lives are worth very little, you will find that it is not worth spending much money to prolong them.

So the idea of Medicaid being “worthless” is closely correlated with the idea of the life of poor folks being relatively “worthless” (there are defensible reasons for this valuation in the study itself, but not for the way it’s being used by anti-Medicaid ax-grinders) as well. If you don’t share that premise, you shouldn’t share the related conclusion, either.

In any event, progressives should gird up their loins for a fight to save Medicaid in the near future. I’ve thought of myself as a warrior for the continuation of Medicaid ever since I was drawn into the 1981 Reagan Budget fight, wherein the administration suffered a rare defeat in its efforts to “cap” federal Medicaid spending, thus gradually making it a state-financed program. The fight just ahead could be even tougher.

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