January 25, 2012

News summaries
OH: Delays renew turnpike debate

The delay of big-ticket construction projects in Ohio has stoked the debate over privatizing the state turnpike…State Rep. Ronald V. Gerberry of Austintown, D-59th, said the governor will use news of the delay to tout privatization of the turnpike, something Gerberry says he and many residents in his district oppose. “I really do fear that the governor will use any and every excuse, and this could be an excuse,” Gerberry said. “I am just totally opposed to leasing or selling the turnpike. I believe you don’t sell assets like that.” Last week, the Ohio Department of Transportation said planned work on new construction projects could be postponed a decade or more because of dwindling funds. ODOT outlined its project recommendations to the Transportation Review Advisory Council, a bipartisan group that approves funding for the largest transportation projects in Ohio. Vindy.com

FL: Fla. prison privatization plan clears House panel
A House panel cleared its chamber’s version of a South Florida prison privatization plan on Tuesday with a party line vote. The Justice Appropriations Subcommittee passed the bill (PCB 12-05) by a vote of 10-5.A Senate committee approved its version on Monday…Democratic lawmakers and correctional workers still oppose the idea, saying the plan will put state employees out of work and reduce public and prisoner safety…Last year, the Legislature passed a South Florida prison-privatization plan. But the state was sued by the Florida Police Benevolent Association, the union that formerly represented corrections officers. A judge ruled the plan was unconstitutional because it was approved as part of the annual budget and not as a separate law. Attorney General Pam Bondi is appealing the judge’s decision. Miami Herald

IN: Ind. lawmakers seeking looser school voucher rules
Thousands of students could pour into the country’s broadest private school voucher program if Indiana legislators drop a requirement that children spend at least one year in public schools before becoming eligible. Northwest Indiana Times

The ugly truth about “school choice”
The Koch brothers want you to think the movement’s about racial justice and empowering parents. They’re lying. National School Choice Week, a pet project of big corporations and conservative billionaires like the Koch brothers, kicked off Monday with celebratory forums throughout the country. Billing itself as a social justice movement committed to “ensuring effective education options for every child,” “school choice” has actually become a deeply divisive wedge issue for the right. But the folks at School Choice Week would prefer that you didn’t know that…But there are a few serious problems with the school choice movement. Though it attracts mainstream conservatives like Cosby, as well as Democrats like President Barack Obama, it is not, at its core, a bipartisan endeavor. Its most important backers are rightwing organizations like the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity and other groups supported by billionaire rightwing ideologues like the Koch brothers. They want to dismantle public education altogether and run schools as businesses, judged as “successes” or “failures” based on abstract data taken from high-stakes standardized test scores. Access to opportunity is replaced with demands for universal “excellence” and “achievement,” in which teachers are punished for student “failure.” This pits parents against teachers, and it ultimately sidelines already marginalized children of immigrant families, poor children and/or children of color. Salon