October 7, 2014


Bob Herbert: The Plot Against Public Education . . . Charter schools were supposed to prove beyond a doubt that poverty didn’t matter, that all you had to do was free up schools from the rigidities of the traditional public system and the kids would flourish, no matter how poor they were or how chaotic their home environments. Corporate leaders, hedge fund managers and foundations with fabulous sums of money at their disposal lined up in support of charter schools, and politicians were quick to follow. They argued that charters would not only boost test scores and close achievement gaps but also make headway on the vexing problem of racial isolation in schools. None of it was true. Charters never came close to living up to the hype. After several years of experimentation and the expenditure of billions of dollars, charter schools and their teachers proved, on the whole, to be no more effective than traditional schools. In many cases, the charters produced worse outcomes. And the levels of racial segregation and isolation in charter schools were often scandalous. While originally conceived a way for teachers to seek new ways to reach the kids who were having the most difficult time, the charter school system instead ended up leaving behind the most disadvantaged youngsters. POLITICO Magazine

ALEC is coming to a city block near you. . . . “Local politics in America is the purest form of democracy,” Pittsburgh city council member Natalia Rudiak said to The Guardian about the ACCE. “There is no buffer between me and the public. So why would I want the involvement of a third party acting on behalf of a few corporate interests?” Rudiak’s comment cuts to the core of the matter: ALEC wants to take the same sort of highly ideological agenda that has stunted progress in Washington and state capitals and impose it at the metro level. If Americans let them succeed, we will lose the most promising frontier in democratic policymaking today — local government — along with our communities. Al Jazeera America

OH: Ohio prison employees stage protest for more guards, less privatization. Dozens of prison workers and union members picketed Ohio’s prison agency Monday, demanding that more guards be hired and that the state’s food-service contract be scrapped. The demands by the Ohio Civil Service Employee Association are not new. But as hundreds of guard positions have been cut while Ohio’s inmate population nears record levels, the union says changes are now needed more than ever to prevent incidents like last month’s escape of Chardon school shooter T. J. Lane. The Plain Dealer

TX: The trouble with toll roads in Texas. Texans aren’t so fond of toll roads. A Texas Transportation Institute study released last month found that from a list of 15 potential ways to improve transportation in the state, building more toll roads was by far the least popular option. Over 1,000 citizens reportedly filled a public meeting last month in Rockwall to show opposition to a private tollway. TribTalk