March 5, 2015


Where Have All The Teachers Gone?. . . Why have the numbers fallen so far, so fast? McDiarmid points to the strengthening U.S. economy and the erosion of teaching’s image as a stable career. There’s a growing sense, he says, that K-12 teachers simply have less control over their professional lives in an increasingly bitter, politicized environment. The list of potential headaches for new teachers is long, starting with the ongoing, ideological fisticuffs over the Common Core State Standards, high-stakes testing and efforts to link test results to teacher evaluations. Throw in the erosion of tenure protections and a variety of recession-induced budget cuts, and you’ve got the makings of a crisis. The job also has a PR problem, McDiarmid says, with teachers too often turned into scapegoats by politicians, policymakers, foundations and the media. “It tears me up sometimes to see the way in which people talk about teachers because they are giving blood, sweat and tears for their students every day in this country. There is a sense now that, ‘If I went into this job and it doesn’t pay a lot and it’s a lot of hard work, it may be that I’d lose it.’ And students are hearing this. And it deters them from entering the profession. NPR

CCA & The case against privatization of our public marine resources. . . This is the last opportunity to make the case against privatization of our public marine resources, this time to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. Amendment 40 proposes to take almost half of the recreational quota of red snapper and reserve it solely for the charter/for-hire industry for its own use. It is the first step to enacting a catch share program for charter/for-hire operators, modeled on the ownership program for the commercial red snapper sector in which less than 400 individuals own 51 percent of the entire fishery. The Eagle

The Demolition of Workers’ Comp. . . Until recently, America’s workers could rely on a compact struck at the dawn of the Industrial Age: They would give up their right to sue. In exchange, if they were injured on the job, their employers would pay their medical bills and enough of their wages to help them get by while they recovered. No longer. Over the past decade, state after state has been dismantling America’s workers’ comp system with disastrous consequences for many of the hundreds of thousands of people who suffer serious injuries at work each year, a ProPublica and NPR investigation has found. The cutbacks have been so drastic in some places that they virtually guarantee injured workers will plummet into poverty. ProPublica

NY: Affordable Housing Needs a Reset. . . The mayor’s plan tracks the pattern New York City has religiously followed for quite some time of trying to “incentivize” private development. The city effectively pays a fortune to private developers to build this kind of stuff. Here is a frightening statistic from the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development: in 2013, New York City gave private developers a pass on $1.2 billion in taxes in order to stimulate the building of 153,000 units of housing ― just 12,000 of which met the messed-up definition of affordability. Hard to believe we couldn’t have done a lot better by simply collecting those taxes. . .We desperately need to press a reset button on all of this. Far from doing that, the mayor’s plan just doubles-down on the same game of “leveraging of private capital with public dollars” to create the appearance of a huge initiative. There may have been a time in the 1970s when it made sense to respond to urban decay by offering substantially unconditional subsidies and tax abatements to stimulate economic activity. But in an environment of virtually unchecked gentrification and social stratification, such tools and their underlying philosophy are totally misplaced. They don’t ameliorate the problem, they fuel it.   Huffington Post

FL: Opinion: Privatizing prisons prioritizes profits over humans. . . I voted for Rick Scott, not that I liked him, but because I was actually voting against the other guy. In many aspects, I think the governor has done a decent job. But not when it comes to private prisons. If anyone chooses to investigate, a journey through Google offers eye-opening horrors on what has gone on inside American private prisons. Warehousing human beings cannot be treated as a low-value commodity. Slavery ended 150 years ago. Yes, many inmates are criminals who committed dastardly deeds. But not all are murderers and robbers. Thousands are in for nonviolent offenses, particularly drug possession. When inmates are treated inhumane and invisible, without a voice, we citizens will reap the results when they are back among us. After giving it a trial, Canada discontinued private prisons. So did Israel. So should we. Florida Today

TX: Texas: Judge Rejects Traffic Camera Company Attempt To Block Public Vote. A Tarrant County, Texas judge on Tuesday did not buy the argument of a red light camera company that the public had no right to vote on whether cameras should be used in their community. American Traffic Solutions (ATS) filed for an emergency injunction last week in an attempt to keep the residents of Arlington from casting a ballot in the upcoming May election on the subject of automated ticketing. The Arizona-based firm found someone local who claimed he would suffer injury if fellow residents were allowed to vote.

CO: Boulder Drivers Should Be Raising Cain Over US 36 Proposed Tolls. . .US 36 is one of the only decent ways to travel from Boulder to Denver. And seemingly knowing that drivers have little to no choice in the matter, the private company who will run and maintain the road is taking full advantage of the situation. If drivers do not have a pre-purchased pass and have the temerity to want to use the express toll lanes during peak hours, they will likely pay nearly $14. If you are in the same position on I-25, you will pay $7. That’s right, getting out of Boulder is twice as valuable than getting through Denver. . . I’m surprised that Boulderites are not up in arms over the obvious way they are being abused by this system. I understand that a private firm can do essentially what they want and if people will pay it, why not charge as much as possible. But beyond the basic economic lesson here, we also need to examine how a major city in Colorado is being treated by civic planning policies in the metro area. CBS Local

NJ: City of Bridgeton to create water study committee to examine privatization. . . With basically everything from cuts and changes in certain services to tax increases being considered, Kelly is asking the water study committee to examine privatization of the city’s water utility to see if it would be something that could deliver the service with less strain on the city’s budget and at a reasonable cost to residents, the news release said. Kelly also said that because much of city’s water and sewer infrastructure is more than 100 years old, maintaining and upgrading the system is difficult and expensive.

NJ: Letter: Liberty State Park still not free from threat of privatization. . . There has always been a broad public consensus against the privatization of this sacred American public resource, the free and green park behind Lady Liberty and Ellis Island. I am concerned that the commission would be used by the governor to privatize and commercialize the park without the traditional public hearings and public comment periods provided by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

IN: Counties Finalizing Indiana Toll Road Bid. Two northwest Indiana counties are finalizing their tax-exempt bond-financed bid for the bankrupt Indiana Toll Road. Bids are due on March 15. Bond Buyer