March 19, 2014


Objection to USDA Plan Allowing Poultry Producer Self-Inspection Spreads to Congress. When the Obama administration unveiled a plan last year to privatize food inspections at poultry plants, a host of consumer and environmental organizations objected to the idea. Now, nearly 70 members of Congress have joined the opposition and called for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to scrap the idea before it is implemented. AllGov

The Defunding of Public Education and the Creation of a Permanent Underclass. People have supported the voucher program, as it is named ‘school choice,’ and this discourse allows parents to feel empowered, through giving them a neoliberalized model of choice: have your child attend a failing public school or an unregulated charter school or a parochial private school. These are not in fact real ‘choices,’ since attending a successful public school is often no longer even a possibility for many students. I argue that the goal of NCLB is not to close the achievement gap, but instead is aimed at widening that gap and destroying public education at the same time. . .Will we no longer provide a guaranteed education to every citizen? This is why I argue that we are creating a permanent underclass with the defunding and destruction of public education. And once again, this permanent underclass is often composed of African American and Latino male youth. Since NCLB’s passing, schools have officially become more segregated than they were forty years ago. Huffington Post

FL: Florida moves toward school voucher expansion — but with no accountability. Florida’s legislators appear to be on their way to passing legislation that will greatly expand the state’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program — a voucher-like scheme that allows public money to be used for private school tuition. A Miami Herald editorial said the plan  will “please the few” but  undercut “the many,” while Frank Cerabino, a writer for The Palm Beach Post, went further, describing the legislation as an opening gambit in what “promises to be a banner year for the dismantling of public education in Florida.”  Washington Post (blog)

IL: Aldermen create independent budget office, then let it languish. Three months ago, Chicago aldermen created a $485,000-a-year independent budget office to provide them with expert advice on mayoral spending, programs and privatization. Sponsors hailed the move as a step toward making the City Council the separate and co-equal branch of government it’s supposed to be. Three months later, nothing has happened. Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th), chief sponsor of the new office backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, acknowledged that he’s frustrated by the delay and chomping at the bit to get started. Chicago Sun-Times

LA: Former DHH leader heading to LSU health care job. A long-time state health department official who helped arrange Gov. Bobby Jindal’s privatization of LSU’s public hospitals is heading to work for the LSU System. Jerry Phillips retired this month as undersecretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals, after 25 years with the agency. He’ll start working for the LSU Health Care Services Division on March 24, according to LSU System spokesman Jason Droddy. The Jindal administration has struck privatization deals for nine of LSU’s 10 hospitals that cared for the poor and trained medical students. Phillips worked on the financial pieces of those deals.   WHLT22

GA: House approves plan to test privatization of adoption, foster care. A bill calling for a two-year pilot program to test the privatization of child welfare services passed the House on Tuesday. . . The bill was altered significantly from the original version approved by the Senate, which called for the statewide privatization of child welfare services by 2017. Senate leaders are unhappy with the changes and still hope to get privatization passed this session. Atlanta Journal Constitution

GA: Final passage for bill extending college tax exemption to private developers. The state Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would extend a property tax exemption to private companies when they take over operations of University System of Georgia dorms and parking areas. The tax exemption is a key part of the University System’s privatization plan that could help wipe almost $4 billion in debt off its books. Under the plan, the system would retain ownership of the buildings and land, but the selected companies would operate and maintain the facilities according to leases that could run as long as 65 years. Atlanta Journal Constitution

IN: Airport privatization deal slammed by critics. Indiana University Northwest Professor Emerita Ruth Needleman said while the airport deal reserves 20 percent of contracts for disadvantaged and minority-owned firms, it does not mean those firms have to put disadvantaged workers on the job. “It means all the money will fly out of here, just like it did with the baseball stadium,” Needleman said in reference to building the U.S. Steel Yard in Gary. The Rev. Dwight Gardner, president of the Northwest Indiana Federation of Interfaith Organizations, took aim at the $166 million Gary airport expansion as the prime example of an RDA-funded project that employs few from the local community.