Trump’s Puerto Rico Response Is Rich White Male Arrogant Privilege Defined

There will never be a clearer illustration the delusions of rich white male conservative privilege–and the depth of Donald Trump’s depravity–than the events of  this weekend.

Puerto Rico has already long been the victim of predators and scoundrels, mostly white men in finance, feeding off the misery and degradation of poor, working class people of color. Hedge fund managers and other Wall Street crooks manipulated laws and markets to keep Puerto Rico in a form of indentured servitude, pretending that they themselves were the productive aggrieved class being stiffed by a bunch of island freeloaders. These heroic job creators squeezed the people of Puerto Rico for every last dime, crippling the islanders’ economic development and infrastructure maintenance as they worked their fingers to the bone on golf courses, over high-priced cocktails at trendy Manhattan bars and juicy steaks at the hottest spots just off K Street.

Fast forward to today. Two hurricanes in sequence have devastated Puerto Rico and many other islands, their impact exacerbated by decaying infrastructure. It’s almost certain the hurricanes themselves were strengthened in their power by the increased effects of climate change, efforts to curb which have been stymied by those very same supposed John Galts.

How did Donald Trump react to the crisis? He went golfing–and not in the way that most presidents golf for a few hours to relieve stress and have background conversations before returning to a long workday. No, President Donald Trump spent four long days ensconced at his private New Jersey golf resort, during which time he and his advisers went mostly silent while the situation in Puerto Rico worsened due to lack of attention, troops and supplies. It wasn’t until Monday when the television-obsessed commander-in-chief saw the photos of the devastation and (more importantly) the negative news coverage he was getting, that he began to mobilize into further action. But the multiple days’ delay from Trump and his acolytes–whom we are assured are “the best people” and “the best brains” who are “working so hard” for the American people–was costly.

Predictably, the indefatigable Puerto Rican public officials actually managing the crisis were not happy with the Administration’s tardy efforts and didn’t hesitate to say so publicly. Particularly prominent was San Juan’s Carmen Yulín Cruz, who went on cable news to plead for more resources and to highlight the severity of the unfolding disaster.

The public humiliation by a woman of color actually helping her people was more than Donald Trump could bear, so he lashed out in a series of tweets that may end up in the history books as his most offensive and reeking of racism and privilege yet. He accused the San Juan mayor of only criticizing him because Democrats said she had to, before accusing the aid workers there of laziness and of wanting “everything to be done for them.” In doing so, he echoed every generationally worn line from lazy rich white men who exploit and disenfranchise people of color, extracting every last farthing and stripping their dignity while accusing them of inadequate personal work ethic. He then topped it off by wrapping himself in the flag and the troops, as so many similar jingoistic con artists have done before him, while blaming the media for his troubles.

When this chapter of American history mercifully closes on Donald Trump and his Administration, this vignette in Puerto Rico will be illustrative of not only the president’s own moral failings, but the stink of spoiled, wealthy white male privilege that steals from harder-working, more deserving people of color, devastating their lives and destroying their communities, while lecturing on their work ethic and personal sense of responsibility. It’s not a good look.

 

 

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Victory in Alabama Encourages GOP Extremists Who Hope to Capture the Party, Destroy the Leadership

Emboldened by the victory of extremist Bible-thumper Roy Moore in Alabama, followers of Bannon and Breitbart are preparing to challenge Republicans they don’t like in the 2018 elections. They want to find Roy Moore types in other states to knock off Senators who have supported Mitch McConnell or Paul Ryan. Steve Bannon is now on the loose as the titular leader of this rebellion. He and Breitbard are funded by multibillionaire Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah. Bannon spoke to Moore supporters on election night:

“You are going to see, in state after state after state, people that follow the model of Judge Moore, that do not have to raise money from the elites, the crony capitalists, from the fat cats in Washington, D.C., New York City and Silicon Valley,” Bannon told Moore’s supporters on Tuesday.

What is the “model” of Judge Moore? Racist, homophobic, literal interpretation of the Bible, nationalist, xenophobic, gun-toting.

Who are the “crony capitalists” that Bannon abhors? Well, he might start with his own sponsor, Robert Mercer, who is a capitalist who lives in a mansion on the Gold Coast of Long Island. And where are Breitbart headquarters? D.C.

It is all so crazy.

Bannon said previously that he is a Leninist; that he wants to destroy the administrative state. He is all for getting rid of government health care and letting poor people die. This is not populism. It is anti-populism.

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Nancy Bailey on the DeVos Watch: Prepare to Fight for Special Education!

When Betsy DeVos was interviewed by the Senate Committee that was about to confirm her as Secretary of Education, she seemed never to have heard of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or anything connected to special education. Now that she has been Secretary for several months, Nancy Bailey is worried that she thinks IDEA is a burden and must be cut.

Watch her like a hawk watches his or her prey, she advises, because DeVos seems to want to deregulate special education and defund it.

Her conversation centers around “piled on regulations” in special education. Instead of paying for services, she wants to deregulate, thereby allowing for funding cuts.

This would also destroy IDEA and leave children with disabilities to fend for themselves. It’s stepping backwards to the time when children with disabilities had no rights.

What DeVos Deregulations Mean to Special Education

Policymakers should look at regulations, especially having to do with the enormous amount of paperwork and high-stakes test administration facing general and special education teachers.

But this is not what Betsy is talking about.

Her deregulations will open the door to privatization.

Currently, parents lose their child’s protections under IDEA if they accept voucher money. This makes parents pause when considering a voucher. Betsy DeVos wants to lessen requirements of those protections to push her loosey goosey choice plan.

By killing regulations, Nancy fears, DeVos is setting up special education to be killed.

Be alert. Compassion and responsibility for others are not her strong suits.

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ACLU: If Schools Force Students not to #TakeAKnee, See You in Court

One of our readers called Threatened Out West told us that schools cannot force students to participate in patriotic exercises, based on a court case from the 1940s. He/she was right.

TOW wrote:

“I know that it’s not quite the same situation, but is this even legal?

“Legally, schools CANNOT force students to stand or pledge. See West Virginia v. Barnette: http://ift.tt/2bGbBEt

“So would this be the same for the National Anthem?”

This item appeared in Politico.

“KNEELING UNDER FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: As President Donald Trump has escalated a war with the NFL during the past week, student athletes may be tempted to also take a knee in protest on the football field tonight – and they have a constitutionally protected right to do so. Despite that, at least one school district has attempted to curb protests by threatening punishments ranging from extra running during practice to being kicked off the team, drawing the attention of the ACLU (and many people on Twitter and Facebook).

“- All high school principals in Bossier Parish in Louisiana are sending letters to student athletes and their families “making their expectations known as it pertains to proper decorum when the National Anthem is played at sporting events,” Sonja Bailes, a district spokeswoman, told Morning Education. Superintendent Scott Smith said in a statement: “In Bossier Parish, we believe when a student chooses to join and participate on a team, the players and coaches should stand when our National Anthem is played in a show of respect.” He added, “It is a choice for students to participate in extracurricular activities, not a right, and we at Bossier Schools feel strongly that our teams and organizations should stand in unity to honor our nation’s military and veterans.”

“- The directive was sent “in light of the national conversation currently taking place,” Smith said. Trump has been at war with the NFL, where players have chosen to kneel during the anthem – first to protest police brutality and racial injustice, and increasingly as a response to the president’s calls for them to be fired. Trump has said team owners should force players to stand for the anthem, and fire them if they don’t. We have the full story here.

“- The Supreme Court, however, has ruled that students “do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate” – and that extends to the football field, Frank LoMonte told Morning Education. LoMonte is the director of the University of Florida’s Brechner Center for Freedom of Information and the former director of the Student Press Law Center. School officials can only limit speech if it’s impeding the school’s ability to conduct business by causing a substantial disruption – something that would be very difficult to prove at a sporting event, he said.

“- “In a classroom, we expect everyone to stay silently in a seat, but in the stadium, there are people turning cartwheels and doing backflips on the sidelines, there are people waving banners and painting their faces, there are people getting up to buy hot dogs and talking on their cellphones,” LoMonte said. “In that atmosphere, it would be exceptionally challenging to say that a silent display of dissent is a substantial disruption.”

“- The principal of Parkway High School in Bossier Parish wrote in a letter that the school “requires student athletes to stand in a respectful manner” during the anthem, and that those who don’t comply could be kicked off the team. A picture of the letter was posted to Twitter by Shaun King of the Intercept and was retweeted thousands of times. Another district official told the Shreveport Times that potential punishments range from “extra running to a one-game suspension.” The school’s Facebook page was flooded with angry comments, as well.

“- The ACLU of Louisiana issued a statement calling the Bossier Parish school officials’ threats to punish students who protest “antithetical to our values as Americans and a threat to students’ constitutional rights.” Marjorie Esman, the executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana, told Morning Education in an interview that “the Supreme Court has been very clear that schools, government officials, cannot suppress a student’s right to protest – even on a team, even during a game. To refuse to salute the flag, say the pledge, all of those thing – they are protected by the United States Constitution.”

Question: do students in schools have rights that athletes in pre-game ceremonies do not have?

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The Religious Rationale for Betsy DeVos’ Plan to Destroy Public Schools

In this article, journalist Kathi Valeii interviews author Katherine Stewart about the Evangelical attack on public schools. Stewart is the author of a powerful book, “The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children.”

Stewart has shown how Evangelicals insert the “Good News Clubs” into public schools to proselytize.

Here is a quote from the interview:

“KV: In your book, you use the word “Christian Nationalist” to describe the people working to infiltrate the public school system with conversion-style programs. In the current political climate, this language feels particularly relevant. Why do you think this language choice is important?

“KS: Christian nationalism has been around for a couple centuries. But starting in the 1970s it took on a new and much more virulent form. Many people saw it coming. I think of Michelle Goldberg’s 2006, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, a prescient look at the development of politicized evangelical religion. Other writers before her, such as Frederick Clarkson, who wrote Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy, have been on the case even longer.

“But many others have until recently downplayed the rise of Christian Nationalism as merely a “cultural” phenomenon, or a manifestation of certain social attitudes. I believe that this is in part because the discussion of religion and politics is, frankly, awkward. It would be a much nicer world if we could simply allow one another to carry on in our personal beliefs and approach policy questions without regard to that private world.

“Today, however, a certain variety of politicized religion in America wants to rewrite our history, upend our constitutional principles, and take us “back” to a time that never actually existed. We can no longer afford to ignore it. With the rise of Trump, I think we can say definitively that Christian Nationalism is first and foremost a political ideology. It is deeply authoritarian, it is determined, and it has put the future of democracy in peril.

“When Christian Nationalists say they wish to “take our country back,” they are not being hyperbolic; they are being honest. They have told us that they abhor our public schools, and that they pray for the day such schools cease to exist. Leaders of Christian Nationalists’ judicial strategy have told us that they want to eradicate the “so-called’ wall of separation between church and state, and that the time has come to return our schools to the Lord. They are telling us what they really think, and we should listen to them now, before it is too late.

“KV: The last chapter of your book is titled, “If you can’t own it break it.” You explain the paradox of of the Christian Right’s desires to be actively involved in the public schools and simultaneously dismantle them, which basically also sums up the position of Education Secretary Betsy Devos. How do you see her leadership role affecting the further erosion of the practical separation of church and state in our public schools?

“KS: Betsy DeVos has historically funded two things with equal generosity: the religious right on the one hand, and the privatization efforts of public education on the other. The reason for that is straightforward: she, like many members of the extreme end of the conservative movement, believes in both economic libertarianism and religious fundamentalism, and she sees them as being grounded in each other and mutually reinforcing. The idea is that if you turn schools over to to the genuinely “free market,” they will inculcate the “correct” religious values in students. And there won’t be a need to worry about the separation of church and state, because they will be the same thing.

“The astonishing thing about DeVos is just how much contempt she exudes for the public schools that she is charged with overseeing. When Trump insulted “our failing government schools,” you can be sure that the sentiment chimed with her own beliefs. She rarely loses an opportunity to say that the system isn’t working, that the schools are failing, that they are losing ground, and so on. She seems to make a point of minimizing contact with the people most closely connected with traditional public schools. On a recent visit to Florida, she was criticized for visiting a private school, a charter school, and a voucher school, but no traditional public schools. This attitude is a clear prelude to destructive policy moves.”

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Tom Ultican: The Profit-Driven Motive Behind Some of the Greatest Frauds of Our Times

Tom Ultican left a career in Silicon Valley to become a high school teacher of physics and mathematics. He is one of our most perceptive critics of the role of technology in schools, having lived in both worlds: high-tech and high-school.

In this important post, he lays waste some of the most pernicious frauds of our times.

There is a great deal of optimism about the tech market in schools, but none of it is about making schools better. It is about making money for investors.

He begins:

Last year, IBIS Capital produced a report for EdTechXGlobal stating, “Education technology is becoming a global phenomenon, … the market is projected to grow at 17.0% per annum, to $252bn by 2020.” Governments in Europe and Asia have joined the US in promoting what Dr. Nicholas Kardaras called a “$60 billion hoax.” He was referring specifically to the one to one initiatives.

An amazing paper from New Zealand, “Sell, sell, sell or learn, learn, learn? The EdTech market in New Zealand’s education system – privatisation by stealth?” exposes the promoters of EdTech there as being even more bullish on EdTech. “The New Zealand business organisation (they spell funny) EDTechNZ, indicates on its website that educational technology is the fastest growing sector of a global smart education market worth US$100 billion, forecast to grow to US$394 by 2019.”

These initiatives are fraud based agendas because they focus on advancing an industry but are sold as improving schools. Unfortunately, good education is not the driver; money is.

He writes:

The trumpeting of a “STEM shortage crisis in America” is and always was a hoax. This same con is deforming public education. The new Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards were motivated respectively by Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Louis Gerstner (IBM). As a result they devalue humanities and glorify science and engineering based on this same fraudulent STEM claim. There must be a thousand charter schools that advertise themselves as STEM academies.

Here in California this same lie is being used to promote yet another attack on local control of public schools. In July, Raul Bocanegra (D-San Fernando) announced new legislation that would create a State authorized STEM school for 800 students. It would be privately managed and sited in Los Angeles county.

The news organization Capital and Main stated, “For a district that is already the largest charter school authorizer in the nation and is still gun-shy after recently fending off a takeover attempt by billionaire school choice philanthropist Eli Broad, any scheme that promises further stratification is an existential threat.”

Eli Broad wanted a STEM school to call his own but paid for with public money, and the state’s two major newspapers thought it was a grand idea to let a billionaire get a school just because…he is a billionaire:

It seems the fourth estate no longer ferrets out fraud and corruption but is instead complicit in these nefarious plots.

In the age of Trump, investigative reporting doesn’t matter. Nor does principle. Money matters.

Of course, technology can be well used, but what is happening today is that technology is being used to replace human contact. That is a mistake and a fraud.

Hi-Tech and digital initiatives are careening down a dark road. Because of the extreme power of hi-tech corporations like Apple, Google, Microsoft, IBM, and many others, the development of education technology is being driven by their needs and not the needs of students. Students have become their guinea pigs as they release one untested technology after another into America’s classrooms.

Technology has a potential to enhance education but it also has the potential to cause great damage.

A century ago, there were people taking correspondence courses and getting great value from them. Today, the modern equivalent of the correspondence course is the online class.

However, students at screens like correspondence students will never achieve equal benefit to students with a teacher, because the teacher-student relationship is the most important aspect in education.

Teacher-student relationships are different than those with friends, parents or siblings. My personal experience was that I felt a genuine selfless lover for my students and we communicated about many things; often personal but mostly academic. I also felt a need to protect them. In America’s public schools, a student might have that kind of close relationship with more than 40 adults during their 12 years in school. This is where the great spark of creativity and learning leaps from teacher to student.

I have put students at screens in my career, but I never found great benefit in the exercise. On the hand, I have found technologies like graphing utilities to be highly beneficial, but it was the interaction with my students that was of most value for deep learning, enhancing creativity and developing a love for learning. If technologies destroy these relationships then they become a net evil.

Here is his ominous conclusion. We ignore it at our peril, and the peril of our youth:

A faculty colleague of mine said, “the last thing 21st century students need is more screen time.” I believe Jean M. Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University and the author of Generation Me and iGen would enthusiastically agree. She recently wrote an article for Atlantic magazine describing the dangers of screen time to the current teen generation she calls the iGen. Based on her research she said,

“Teens who spend three hours a day or more on electronic devices are 35 percent more likely to have a risk factor for suicide, such as making a suicide plan. (That’s much more than the risk related to, say, watching TV.)”

“The results could not be clearer: Teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on nonscreen activities are more likely to be happy.”

“There’s not a single exception. All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness.”

“In 2011, for the first time in 24 years, the teen suicide rate was higher than the teen homicide rate.”

Obviously, many of our institutions have been corrupted by the immense power of concentrated wealth and especially by hi-tech industries. The money being chased is enormous, but there are more of us. If we educate ourselves, our families and our neighbors we can reform these greed driven forces into forces for good, but we need to pay attention.

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Peter Greene to Betsy DeVos: Schools Are Not Like Food Trucks

Betsy DeVos keeps searching for an analogy that will convert non-believers to her love of school choice.

Choosing a school is like choosing Uber. Or a cellphone. Or anything.

At her Harvard address, she compared schools to making a choice between a restaurant and a food truck. Do you think Billionaire Betsy buys lunch from a food truck? I will donate $300 to the campaign of Mark Weber’s (blogger-teacher Jersey Jazzman) wife, Linda, who is running for Congress in New Jersey, to the first person who can produce a photo of Betsy DeVos buying lunch from a food truck in front of the ED in D.C. Linda is trying to flip a Republican seat to Democratic. She will be a friend and ally to public education.

Peter Greene explains that schools are NOT food trucks.

“Note that DeVos continues to drift further and further away from any interest in accountability for quality– in this analogy we pick the choice that tastes good, and if it happens to be unhealthy or toxic or laced with fried dog meat, none of that matters. Taste is not a bad guide for matters of food, but with schools, what “tastes good” today is not necessarily what will best serve the student, the family, the community and the nation over the coming decades. “Tastes good this moment” and “provides a solid education for a lifetime” are two entirely different metrics

“Like every other commercial enterprise, the food trucks of DC are not geared to handle all customers. There are many reasons that comparing schools to businesses is a huge fail, but this is one of the hugest– there is no business sector in this country built on the idea of serving every single person in the country. Each food truck operates on the idea that some people will eat there and other people won’t, and as long as enough people eat there, the food truck is good. But if there are people who don’t eat at any of the food trucks, some people who don’t eat at all– well, that is not the food truck operators problem.

“And as a customer, you can’t get whatever you want– you can only get what the trucks are serving.

“The modern charter industry is a business model, and just like any other business model, it is built on serving some customers. Making sure that every student in America gets a good education is not the goal, the purpose or even the concern of the charter industry. But it has to be the concern of a public school system.

“Schools are not businesses. Students are not customers. And education is not a side of fries.”

Find another analogy, Betsy.

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