Fifty Shades of No Way – New SBOE Member Todd Chasteen’s First Book To Challenge

Now that Todd Chasteen has now been appointed to the NC State Board of Education, I would like to go ahead and ask that he and others on the board read the latest installment of the Fifty Shades of … book for possible inclusion in schools, or at least in the dialogue of what is happening in North Carolina.

I will offer only this table of contents to the SBOE and Mr. Chasteen in deference to any delicate sensibilities toward works of literature that actually display and describe the human condition through creative use of language, strong diction, vivid imagery, incredible detail, and varying syntax.

I must admit that the other books in this series really are not that well written and have one driving motif, but I would ask that this book, Fifty Shades of No Way, be investigated as it does accurately portray the climate and terrain of the Old North State.

Here is the list of chapter titles. There are 50 –Get it? Fifty Shades of No Way. In each chapter there is deception, manipulation, vivid imagery, hurt feelings, but most of all in each one of them someone is getting screwed pretty hard and often, mainly the citizens of North Carolina.

Enjoy

  1. HB2 – Bathroom Bill
  2. HB3 – 5.5% income tax cap – TABOR
  3. Medicaid Expansion Denied
  4. Voter ID Law
  5. Gerrymandering of Districts
  6. Duke Coal Ash Ponds
  7. Fracking Industry Without Oversight
  8. Teacher Pay still at the bottom tier in the nation
  9. Removal of due-process rights for new teachers
  10. Tom Ross Replaced With Margaret Spellings
  11. Graduate Degree Pay Bumps Removed for new teachers
  12. Bad Teacher Evaluation Systems
  13. Push for Merit Pay
  14. “Average” Raises and neglecting veteran teachers
  15. Central Office Allotment Cuts
  16. Rainy Day Fund That Can’t be Accessed Unless The Apocolypse Comes
  17. Religious Freedom Bill
  18. Attacks on Teacher Advocacy Groups (NCAE)
  19. Revolving Door of Standardized Tests
  20. Less Money Spent per Pupil in Traditional Public Schools
  21. Remove Caps on Class Sizes
  22. Jeb Bush School Grading System
  23. Opportunity Grants Expansion
  24. Allowing Private and Religious Schools To Profit From Tax Payer Money
  25. Charter School Growth Without Regulation
  26. Virtual Schools Deregulation
  27. Achievement School Districts
  28. Reduction of Teacher Candidates in Colleges
  29. Elimination of Teaching Fellows Program
  30. Governor’s Inability to Defend Policies to the Press
  31. Governor’s Unwillingness to Defend Policies to the Press
  32. Attacks on Teacher Assistants
  33. Elimination of State Employees Rights to File Discrimination Suits in State Courts
  34. Pissing Off Bruce Springsteen
  35. Using God and Jesus as Political Crutches
  36. Gov. Dan Forest’s request to have Charter School Report to be Rewritten
  37. Buck Newton Keeping Our State Straight
  38. House Bill 539 – Giving Charters Money For Services They Do Not Provide
  39. Rowan-Salisbury Pepper Spray Proposal
  40. Chad Barefoot’s Appt. to Senate Education Committee Chair
  41. Teach For America Expansion Plans
  42. SB 873 – Access To Affordable College Education Act
  43. Clyde Edgerton and New Hanover County’s Superintendent
  44. What the Teacher Working Conditions Survey Really Said
  45. Arresting of Teachers Who Protested and Saying They Were At Fault
  46. McCrory’s Didaskalithedemosiophobia – Yep, That’s What I said – Look it up on my Blog
  47. SB867 – Background Checking Bill
  48. Appointing People Who Are Not Qualified to the SBOE
  49. Special Sessions of the General Assembly
  50. Surreptitious Midnight Meetings to Craft Bills That Only Benefit a Few

North Carolina: Governor’s Appointee to State Board of Education Has Conflict of Interest

Thanks to Dr. Ravitch for keeping a light on the shadowy dealings in North Carolina.

Diane Ravitch's blog

I posted last night that Governor Pat McCrory plans to appoint a man to the state board of education who has little experience in public education, but is known for his strong support for removing a book taught in a high school English honors class.

North Carolina teacher Stuart Egan points out that the nominee has a conflict of interest. His wife ran/runs a school that receives state-funded vouchers.

View original post

Censorship and the Fear of Free Thought – The Nomination of Todd Chasteen for SBOE

When Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451, he was living in a time of the rising Cold War and the end of Nazism.

The novel is a futuristic look (in 1950) into what society might be like if reading books were banned by the government. Firemen, who were the governmental workers who burned rogue books, would use a fire that reached 451 degrees Fahrenheit to incinerate written works of imagination and free thought. It was a way to control the people. It was a way to keep their minds from being curious and imaginative. It kept them from being “free”.

Today, around 50,000 copies are still sold a year for the classic dystopian novel and it is a staple in many junior classes in North Carolina as well as middle school gifted classes. Its message is still very relevant today.

The main character in the novel Guy Montag, a conflicted fireman, befriends a man named Faber (an old English professor) who explains why great books are so important. Faber lists three reasons:

  1. Books have “quality” of information.
  2. Books provide “leisure to digest it” (information).
  3. Books give us the “right to carry out actions based on what we learn from the interaction of the first two” (information and time to digest).

Simplified in a crude and dirty manner – books promote free thought and interaction with ideas.

As an English teacher, I tend to cringe at the thought of books that have that very quality and ability to engage thought in young people being banned or challenged by people who believe that they know what is best for others without proper investigation.

That does not mean that I want to all of a sudden make Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint a staple in high schools or make all freshmen read Lolita by Nabokov. But I do want them to read works of literature that have value and insight into the human condition.

That’s why the nomination of Todd Chasteen to the North Carolina State Board of Education is disturbing and a seemingly reactionary move by Gov. McCrory to appease the very conservative coalition in power in Raleigh.

For this English teacher, this nomination spells censorship and more governmental control over what is read by students in North Carolina. His track record screams that free thought, interaction with unknown ideas, and expressions of differing viewpoints should not be allowed in high schools.

That would hurt our students.

Mr. Chasteen was vetted in a report by Lindsay Wagner when she worked as the education correspondent for NC Policy Watch. Her April 24, 2015 report entitled “Censorship controversy, thin record spark concerns over McCrory’s State Board of Ed nominee” speaks loudly when considering that he will in all probability be appointed to the empty Northwest NC vacancy (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2015/04/24/censorship-controversy-thin-record-spark-concerns-over-mccrorys-state-board-of-ed-nominee/).

Chasteen’s efforts in banning a book called The House of the Spirits from a Watauga County classroom garnered a lot of media, especially when it was revealed that his boss at the time, Franklin Graham, was also actively trying to have it banned as well. According to Chasteen the book was simply a vehicle for promiscuity. He said,

“If the Bible contained the 59 sexual references and the graphic, descriptive detail of The House, my kids would not read the Bible, nor would I. Mr. Mckay stretched to find a few violent, non-descript stories in the Bible of 1500 pages. The House, 59 depictions in 430 pages, a pattern, pervasive vulgarity, and very descriptive. The Bible, as non-graphic, does not say that King David enjoyed “the dark, hot, juicy cavern of her _____.” This is not a mere nuance. The reading of the Bible does not produce sensual arousal.”

But the Bible does talk about David having multiple wives and when he met Bathsheba, he actually had her first husband placed in the front lines of war to ensure he would be killed. Maybe there was not anything graphic since it is biblical diction, but it doesn’t sound wholesome. Then, of course, David begat Solomon (he of 700+ wives) from Bathsheba, and Solomon was the “wisest man who ever lived.” That is unless you talk to Jim, the slave from Huckleberry Finn.

There is that wonderful exchange on the river between the truant, irreverent Huck and the runaway slave.

“Yit dey say Sollermun de wises’ man dat ever live’. I doan’ take no stock in dat. Bekase why would a wise man want to live in de mids’ er sich a blim-blammin’ all de time? No—’deed he wouldn’t. A wise man ’ud take en buil’ a biler-factry; en den he could shet DOWN de biler-factry when he want to res’.”

“Well, but he WAS the wisest man, anyway; because the widow she told me so, her own self.”

“I doan k’yer what de widder say, he WARN’T no wise man nuther. He had some er de dad-fetchedes’ ways I ever see. Does you know ’bout dat chile dat he ’uz gwyne to chop in two?”

“Yes, the widow told me all about it.”

“WELL, den! Warn’ dat de beatenes’ notion in de worl’? You jes’ take en look at it a minute. Dah’s de stump, dah—dat’s one er de women; heah’s you—dat’s de yuther one; I’s Sollermun; en dish yer dollar bill’s de chile. Bofe un you claims it. What does I do? Does I shin aroun’ mongs’ de neighbors en fine out which un you de bill DO b’long to, en han’ it over to de right one, all safe en soun’, de way dat anybody dat had any gumption would? No; I take en whack de bill in TWO, en give half un it to you, en de yuther half to de yuther woman. Dat’s de way Sollermun was gwyne to do wid de chile. Now I want to ast you: what’s de use er dat half a bill?—can’t buy noth’n wid it. En what use is a half a chile? I wouldn’ give a dern for a million un um.”

Will Todd Chasteen want to now ban Huck Finn? It goes against the Bible, which leads me to my major concern about the potential appointment of Chasteen – he is not one who is familiar with public education.

Wagner wrote in her article,

“Todd Chasteen appears to have strong connections in private, religious education.

His wife, Kim, runs a private Christian school in Boone called Grace Academy. And Chasteen is a proponent of home schooling, having served as a government instructor for High Country Christian Home Schoolers.

Chasteen’s bio for HCCHS says he “has a passion to help ground and prepare our students against an onslaught of liberal views that they may face in higher education, and to be able to convey the subject matter with academic freedom.”

Wow. That’s sounds like someone who does not need to be on the state board of education for public schools.

First, if his wife still runs that private Christian school in Boone, would it not be a conflict of interest that Grace Academy has actually received monies from Opportunity Grants for students who enroll. Below is a screen shot from the NCSEAA website of schools participating in Opportunity Grants (https://www3.ncseaa.edu/cgi-bin/SCHOOLROSTER/NPS500.pgm)? Would Chasteen actively help public schools or would he allow his puritanical views start dictating the very types of books NC student would read?

grace academy

With a bias toward biblical adherence and being anti-liberal arts, Chasteen is the very person that Bradbury warns us against. I can just imagine his challenging the very list of books used often in my junior English classes.

  • Scarlet Letter for the out-of-wedlock child of a clergyman with a married woman.
  • Huck Finn for the language and that Solomon bit.
  • The Great Gatsby because it promotes adultery and drinking and a worship of money.
  • The Crucible because of, well, witches.
  • Of Mice and Men because of the language and violent scenes.

He would also have to consider banning Shakespeare – all of it. The Bard is well-known for his use of bawdry and vulgar language.

And considering that the new budget doesn’t offer much in new resource monies, I may not be able to procure multiple titles of books that would be allowed in schools. Why won’t public schools have that money? Because Grace Academy and other religious affiliated schools that may teach the coexistence of dinosaurs and humans and that the earth is literally only a few thousand years old will be getting that money through an expanding voucher system.

The free thought and investigation of other viewpoints will not be fostered. That would be catastrophic.

Plus it’s an infringement on the First Amendment and freedom of speech. If you have never seen the movie Field of Dreams, then you should just for the PTA meeting scene where a parent is trying to have a book banned from the school based on its use of language.

The woman says,

“Mr. Harris, the so-called novels of Terence Mann endorse promiscuity , godlessness, the mongrelization of the races, and disrespect to high-ranking officers of the United States Army . And that’s why right-thinking school boards all across the country having been banning this man’s S-H-l- since 1969 . Terence Mann? You know why he stopped writing books. Because he masturbates.”

In the movie, Terrance Mann had won the Pulitzer Prize. High praise if you ask me. The House of the Spirits won The Best Novel of the Year in Chile in 1982, and Allende, the author, received the country’s Panorama Literario award. That’s high praise as well.

Annie Kinsella, wife of the protagonist Ray responds beautifully,

“Who wants to burn books? Who wants to spit on the Constitution of the United States of America? Anybody? All right. Now, who’s for the Bill of Rights? Who thinks freedom is a pretty darn good thing? Come on ! Come on ! Let’s see those hands ! Who thinks we have to stand up to the kind of censorship they had under Stalin? All right. There you go.”

Ray Bradbury would have known of Stalin. Maybe that’s what he was thinking about when he wrote F451.

Because he saw what censorship could do to a people.

Maybe Chasteen should put it on his own reading list.

Outsourcing Our Kids For Profit – Rep. Rob Bryan and Sen. Chad Barefoot Will Have Much to Answer For in The Future

Doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results is a classic definition of insanity. Thinking it will be different because you changed localities is nothing more than hoping for a geographical cure. Neither is very healthy. But if the true motive behind it is profit, then people might just say anything to make it work.

Rep. Rob Bryan and Sen. Chad Barefoot just outsourced a bunch of our kids. They literally are giving our students and our taxpayer money to out-of-state, for-profit charter school operators within an Achievement School District (ASD) – all in the name of helping kids.

That would be true if helping kids means lining the pockets of people out-of-state.

They are taking kids out of their communities’ care and putting them in the hands of entities who simply want to make a profit from them. And the money these charter school operators receive will be purely profit, because their academic success is already guaranteed. Why? Because they don’t really have to show academic success; they are measured differently, just look at HB 242, championed by Sen. Jerry Tillman.

Neither Barefoot or Bryan could never really explain the “how the ASD will work” or the “why it will work”. They are simply appealing to their authority. They just tout that it will work in spite of all the results of past experiments and implementations ASD districts in multiple states, especially Tennessee whose model Bryan originally looked at to create the NC ASD proposal.

Lack of specificity is a tactic in making arguments. It hopes that people will get lost in the ambiguity of an explanation and simply rely on the speaker as being more equipped to make a decision because of a title or office held.

But lack of specificity is also a sign of not really knowing the answers. It’s like when you ask a question of someone and what he doesn’t say speaks as loudly as what he does say.

Take for instance the explanations given by Sen. Barefoot when pressed for specificity in a meeting for HB1080 (the ASD bill) chaired by Sen. Tillman as reported by Billy Ball (http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2016/06/24/senate-committee-approves-controversial-charter-takeover-of-low-performing-schools/).

Barefoot calls the ASD model for NC an “innovative solution.” But when others in the meeting bring up that there really have not been positive outcomes from other ASD implementations, Barefoot just says that we will make it work because we are NC (the geographical cure).

But several Democrats and public education advocates who spoke Friday decried the bill as advancing an unproven reform.

“We would ask that you not send North Carolina down this road with an experiment which has been shown to not be effective in other states,” said Leanne Winner, director of governmental relations for the N.C. School Boards Association, a statewide group that represents local boards of education.

Barefoot, however, countered multiple times that North Carolina’s version of achievement school districts will differ from other states such as Tennessee. When pressed on the claim, Barefoot said other states “flood” schools in the achievement school district with money to middling results.

That’s a non-answer. No specifics. No details. He just said that we wouldn’t invest the same amount of money in them. That’s also odd because many teachers in our state wouldn’t mind having a bit of a “flood” in money coming their way to help in resources and maintenance. But “flood” is a subjective word. What might be a flood in the eyes of people like Barefoot and Bryan may actually be nothing more than a trickle.

Barefoot also made mention that “The bar is so low in these schools, anything that makes an impact that’s considered by this state has to be considered a good thing.”

Really? Then why not allow our own state to make that impact through funding turn-around teams that our own edcuators have put into place, but that the General Assembly will not fund adequately? Ball reports,

Opponents of the bill have also pointed out that state-run turnaround efforts in the school, through the Department of Public Instruction’s Office of District and School Transformation, yielded improving dropout rates. Additionally, the office says, more than 80 percent of the schools where it intervened with professional development and additional resources were lifted from the bottom 5 percent of schools in the state.

Yet, due to limited funding, the office claimed this year to have only been able to step in to 79 of the nearly 600 low-performing schools in the state.

Also, when it seemed that Barefoot was caught in a web of inexplicable pseudo-facts, Sen. Jerry Tillman came to the rescue with a gauntlet of non-truths rooted in confirmation bias.

Advocates like Tillman said charter operators will run the schools more successfully.

“They will make great growth,” declared Tillman. “That’s a fact.”

This is from the man who said that one math teacher could teach two different math courses in one classroom at the same time to a group of students that may reach over 35 because the state will not help fund schools so that classes can actually be capped (https://www.ednc.org/2016/06/09/senate-moves-state-one-step-closer-split-high-school-math-tracks).

The truth of the matter is that there is not much to really tout about ASD’s and the handing over of money to for-profit charter operators. Just follow the money and one can see that it really is about profits. Ball’s report makes reference to that.

As Policy Watch has reported, support for the bill was financed by a wealthy Oregon businessman who runs a network of charters, and has been promoted as a salve for long-time struggling schools by ALEC-affiliated groups like the Education Freedom Alliance out of Oklahoma.

Looking at Ball’s original posting on NC Policy Watch referenced earlier will give you the links to those news bits.

The cruel irony here is that this is all in the name of helping kids and offering them choices and opportunities, except here choices have been removed from the very communities who raise these kids. And the money they pay in taxes is actually helping to outsource their own kids’ education, one that will not be measured in the same ways as others who attend traditional schools.

And that’s wrong on so many levels.

Some JT for JT – A Justin Timberlake Mix Tape for Sen. Jerry Tillman

I am a child of the 80’s. Mix tapes are in my genetic makeup.

This is my third mix tape for this blog. The first was a compilation of Bruce Springsteen for Gov. Pat McCrory.

https://dianeravitch.net/2016/06/27/stuart-egan-tea-party-legislature-in-north-carolina-seeks-to-lock-steep-tax-cuts-into-the-state-constitution/

The second was for all of the North Carolina General Assembly and our rocky relationship compiling the best of Taylor Swift who, as we know, is the master of relationships.

https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/05/14/the-master-of-breakup-songs-and-ended-relationships-a-taylor-swift-mix-tape-for-elected-officials/

Now it is time for one specifically for Sen. Jerry Tillman made up of Justin Timberlake songs.

That’s right – JT for JT.

Now, you will have to use your imagination in some places for the titles and songs to make sense. In other cases, please don’t use your imagination at all. “Rock Your Body” can become a disturbing song with too much imagination.

So here goes:

  1. “Mirrors” from The 20/20 Experience

There’s the chorus – “”I don’t want to lose you now. I’m looking right at the other half of me. ”

However, when relating this song to the senator, I am wishing he would look in the mirror because then he might see what actually a main part of what is making North Carolina lose itself. Sen. Tillman’s constant blaming of the public schools for the rise of unregulated charter schools shows someone who is unwilling to look at himself and his own role in hurting public schools.

Simply put, he needs to look in a mirror.

  1. “Drink You Away” from The 20/20 Experience – 2 0f 2

The chorus starts with “I can’t drink you away / I’ve tried Jack, I’ve tried Jim….”

But I may have found something that will help me drink Tillman away. It’s called the November Election Elixir.

  1. “Summer Love” from FutureSex/LoveSounds

This song is appropriate for not only the current summer season, but it is the senator’s favorite time to legislate bad policies like the voter ID law and charter school deregulation because it is the most active time for the NC General Assembly. How could he not love it?

“I can’t wait to fall in love with the summer session of the NCGA
The summer session of the NCGA  can’t wait to fall in love with me
This just can’t be summer love, you’ll see
This just can’t be summer love.”

I know, more words than notes. JT can make it work.

  1. “SexyBack” from FutureSex/LoveSounds

Sorry, that scared the hell out of me too.

  1. “Not a Bad Thing” from The 20/20 Experience – 2 0f 2

“I know people make promises all the time
Then they turn right around and break them, like you have done for years
And someone like you cuts their heart open with a knife, now NC’s bleeding
But the guy running against you in November could be that guy to heal it over time
And I won’t stop until you leave
Cause baby North Carolina is worth it.”

So don’t act like it’s a bad thing to actually legislate helpful bills for all public school kids.

Yep, not a bad thing to think about.

  1. “Tunnel Vision” from The 20/20 Experience

The title says everything. A limited view of the state of the State of North Carolina gives way to allowing for tunnel vision. At least he’s consistent.

  1. “Cry Me A River” from Justified

“Your bridges were burned, and now it’s your turn
To cry, cry me a river
Cry me a river-er
Cry me a river
Cry me a river-er, yea yea”

This will be the song that I sing when Sen. Jerry Tillman realizes that his obsessive love for unregulated charter schools and the diversion of tax payer money to vouchers and private schools will in the end backfire. They have not worked in the past and they wil not work now. And when he tries to place blame on someone else because he didn’t look in the “Mirror” or get rid of his “Tunnel Vision”, I will just tell him to “Cry Me a River.”

  1. “Take Back the Night” from The 20/20 Experience – 2 0f 2

I hope that we can take back our state in November.

  1. “Can’t Stop the Feeling” released 2016 as a single

I really hope I can sing this in November after we “Take Back the Night” but when I think of how we can “unelect” this group in November and help to transform our state back to a better time for all of its citizens I sing,

“I got this feeling inside my bones
It goes electric, wavey when I turn it on
All through my city, all through my home
We’re flying up, no ceiling, when we in our zone

I got that sunshine in my pocket
Got that good soul in my feet
I feel that hot blood in my body when it drops, ooh
I can’t take my eyes up off it, moving so phenomenally.”

  1. “What Goes Around / Comes Back Around” from FutureSex/LoveSounds

Damn right, it does.

Stuart Egan: Tea Party Legislature in North Carolina Seeks to Lock Steep Tax Cuts into the State Constitution

Thanks to Dr. Raitch for posting.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Stuart Egan, NBCT high school teacher in North Carolina, describes the latest disaster cooked up by the North Carolina General Assembly, which is dominated by Tea Party extremists: a constitutional amendment to lock in steep tax cuts.

The General Assembly majority calls it TABOR, a Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

Egan calls it “A Tourniquet Around the Bloodlines of Our Republic.”


GOP leaders in the North Carolina General Assembly are pushing for a proposal to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would cap the income tax rate a 5.5% (currently it is 10%).

That proposal is a political tourniquet, pure and simple. And just as limited blood flow would cause harm to the skeletal system in a body, this measure would cause our state’s infrastructure to slowly disintegrate.

Chris Fitzsimon puts it very bluntly in his latest “The Follies” from June 17, 2016 (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2016/06/17/the-follies-253/). He states,

“As the…

View original post 328 more words

Sit-ins With Thoreau With Bare Arms, Tabor, Gollum, Didaskalithedemosiophobia, Cats, The Phantom Menace, Jesus Running For Office, Diane Ravitch, and License Plates – Week in Review for June 20 – 26

The busiest week this blog has ever had.

https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/06/20/curiosity-didnt-kill-the-cat-it-made-the-cat-a-better-student/

https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/06/20/unlockeing-the-john-locke-foundation-part-4-the-empire-strikes-back-with-a-menacing-phantom-study-report/

https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/06/21/mccrorys-didaskalithedemosiophobia-a-clinical-term-i-just-made-up-but-actually-exists/

https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/06/21/license-plates-for-lawmakers-part-2/

https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/06/22/politics-and-the-god-complex-putting-jesus-on-the-ticket/

https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/06/22/have-a-seat-and-let-them-smell-the-bullst/

https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/06/23/civil-disobedience-in-north-carolina-read-and-dont-thoreau-it-away/

https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/06/23/the-toughest-job-in-nc-being-gov-mccrorys-press-secretary/

https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/06/24/sb867-background-checking-the-right-to-bare-arms/

https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/06/24/tabor-a-tourniquet-around-the-bloodlines-of-our-republic/

https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/06/24/gollum-and-his-precious-the-achievment-school-district-and-what-is-in-its-pocketses/

https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/06/25/north-carolina-the-ongoing-destruction-of-public-education/

 

North Carolina: The Ongoing Destruction of Public Education

Thanks to Dr. Ravitch for keeping North Carolina in the light for others to see.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Wake up, people of North Carolina! The legislators in your state are pummeling your public schools with a sledge hammer. They are turning them over to for-profit corporations! Do you want your local public school to be run by a national corporation? Do you care who “owns” your neighborhood school?

Stuart Egan, a high school teacher in North Carolina, has been writing recently about the step-by-step privatization of public schools in North Carolina.

In this post, he describes the General Assembly’s decision to create an “Achievement School District,” modeled on the one that failed in Tennessee. The basic idea is to gather up the lowest-performing schools in the state (attended by the poorest students) and turn them over to a charter operator.

He cites the comment made by Rep. Cecil Brockman, who favors outsourcing these schools to out-of-state corporations:

Perhaps the most frustrating moment of the final debate came when…

View original post 152 more words

Gollum and his “Precious” – The Achievement School District and What is in Its Pocketses

Yep – I went there.

 

In the latest besmirching of public schools, leaders of the Senate Education Committee gave their approval to an Achievement School District in North Carolina, a GOP backed endeavor that places low performing schools from poverty stricken areas in the hands of out-of-state, for-profit charter organizations.

Past ASD “experiments” have proven disastrous. And at the middle of the meeting, the man who collected the votes and announced the decision was none other than the champion of unregulated charter schools, Sen. Jerry Tillman.

Sen. Tillman is no stranger to the assault on public education in North Carolina. His bills and lawmaking have enabled many charter schools to take public funds and run unregulated creating results that are not measured like traditional schools are so they can be trumpeted as successful.

Billy Ball reported in his article on NC Policy Watch on June 24 (“Senate committee approves controversial charter takeover of low-performing schools”),

“Committee Chair Jerry Tillman, a Republican who supports the measure, declared the “ayes” to have won the vote Friday, although to some listeners, the voice vote appeared to be evenly split or favoring the opposition.“

Tillman was going to make sure it would pass. That’s why there was a voice vote. And the oldest ears in the room declared a winner.

That’s being consumed with power.

At one time Tillman was a public school educator and administrator. He still probably receives a pension from the very entity that he now works against – the public schools. It is almost unbelievable that such a transformation could occur. But power can corrupt.

It is not an uncommon theme, the corruption of power. It is told in many stories. It drives plot. It created transformations in the very characters that cannot get enough power.

I remember reading Lord of the Rings as a teenager. Gripping. Then I went to college here in North Carolina and had this roommate who would in the middle of the night come next to me and lightly say, “What’s the Bagginses gots in his pocketses?”

It would make me release my bladder sometimes. Not gonna lie.

My roommate was taking this course called “Faith and Imagination” from the religion department. They read LOTR because of its allegorical nature. And he loved Gollum. And he quoted him in the most uncomfortable situations.

Too much, I think.

Fast-forward 20+ years and we get Peter Jackson’s epic Lord of the Rings Trilogy on the big screen and then we got a wonderful view of how Gollum could be envisioned.

gollum

That is an interesting fellow. You won’t forget him.

So when I caught a glimpse of a picture of Sen. Jerry Tillman…

tillman

I saw this again –

gollum

Then I thought of this,

tillman

And it all made sense. A once public school official who championed public schools changed into someone who is willing to sell them away using tax payer money.

Smeagol (Gollum before he was Gollum) was once a Halfling like Frodo and Samwise, but something changed him when he discovered the power of the ring – the one ring to rule them all.

ringofpower

If you look very closely it says, “Ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.” Translated, it says, “One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.”

Rumor is that it was created by the for-profit charter school industry in Mordor, which is out of state. It is the “precious” that people like Tillman look to have and it calls the same people to send our public schools into disarray.

Actually that’s not true, but metaphorically-speaking it is spot on.

So precious is the link to the for-profit charter school industry that Tillman is not hesitant to shout the wonderful effects of charter schools when he has no proof otherwise. He was reported as saying in that Senate committee meeting that kids in charter schools do better than kids on regular public schools and that is the reason that the kids in the ASD “district” should be given over to the charter industry. Ball even quoted Tillman as saying, “They will make great growth. That’s a fact.”

Wow! Someone is corrupted by the dark side.

Those who know the story of LOTR remember that the ring is destroyed in the very place where it seemed impossible to go – Mordor. It was a happy ending. Worth rewatching over and over again.

Hopefully here in NC it will be a happy ending when those in power realize that placing our kids in the hands of an impersonal entity through an ASD is not the answer.

Louisiana, Michigan, and Tennessee have already found that out.

TABOR – A Tourniquet Around the Bloodlines of Our Republic

TABOR. To many in the NCGA it is called the TAxpayer Bill of Rights. Makes it sound like it truly benefits those in our state. It doesn’t. It’s just another catchy acronym that acts like a Trojan horse for something more destructive.

Acronyms are easy to shape and easier to sound beneficial. However, the “benefits” of this piece of legislation would be far reaching and would take years to heal from.

In reality TABOR is a Terribly Awful Breach Of Representation, a Totally Asinine Bit Of Reform, and a Truly Abusive Bit Of Rubbish in which people are being forced to Turn All Backs On Reality. It’s a Tremendously Atrocious Bunch Of Refuse Taken Amidst the Bowels Of Rapacity and passed off with a Total Assortment of Baloney Or Rigmarole.

It’s a metaphorical tourniquet, a Tourniquet Around the Bloodlines of Our Republic.

Just think of a tourniquet, a device that constricts blood flow to a limb or extremity. Only in times of medical emergency should a tourniquet be used. Maybe for a poisonous snakebite or a bloody wound. Sometimes one is used to allow for blood to be taken for testing and health purposes.

But one does not place a tourniquet on an arm or leg for kicks and giggles. There are consequences because blood is the very life force that carries oxygen and nutrients to the very parts of the body that need them. Cutting off blood flow has deleterious effects. Bones weaken and muscles atrophy.

That’s not good for a growing body.

Now think of a metaphorical tourniquet, one in which a constricting element is placed on a part of society that cuts off resources and funding for those who are most invested.

GOP leaders in the North Carolina General Assembly are pushing for a proposal to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would cap the income tax rate a 5.5% (currently it is 10%).

That proposal is a political tourniquet, pure and simple. And just as limited blood flow would cause harm to the skeletal system in a body, this measure would cause our state’s infrastructure to slowly disintegrate.

Chris Fitzsimon puts it very bluntly in his latest “The Follies” from June 17, 2016 (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2016/06/17/the-follies-253/).  He states,

“As the N.C Budget & Tax Center points out, that cap would cut off a vital source of revenue that the state needs and make it virtually impossible for future lawmakers to use the income tax to increase state investments, even in times of emergencies.

It also locks in place the massive tax cuts for the wealthy passed in 2013 that will cost more than $2 billion a year when fully in effect, more than the entire budget of the community college system and early childhood programs combined.

The new lower tax cap could threaten the state’s coveted AAA bond rating and force increases in the state sales tax and could lead local governments to raise property taxes and fees.  It’s a terrible idea that threatens funding for public schools, health care, and environmental protections and makes decisions for future members of the General Assembly that will be elected by the voters just like the current members were.”

That’s scary to think about. The very fabric, the very sinews of society like schools, healthcare, and environmental protections would be instantly jeopardized and it would take years to recover as part of the GOP’s plan is to change the constitution of the state.

Remember that all three of those areas (schools, healthcare, and environment) have already been hazardously affected in the last three years here in North Carolina.

Per pupil expenditures are lower, charter school growth is uncontrolled, and teacher pay is still low despite what the current administration wants to boast.

Medicaid expansion was denied and we as a state are still paying into a system that benefits other states but not ours because of political ideology and a dislike for the current president.

The fracking industry is being given an open door and permission to do whatever it wants. Duke Energy’s coal ash spills have still gone relatively unpunished.

Those three areas alone form a large part of our state’s infrastructure, or rather the skeleton of the state’s body. When these areas are harmed, then the need to help them heal is paramount. When bones and muscles have been damaged in a body, then one does not place a tourniquet on the wounded limb. You make sure that blood is flowing amply into the affected area.

It promotes healing. It promotes health.

That is unless those who want to place the tourniquet on those parts of society want to create a situation where amputation is the only option in the end. And while we could not literally amputate the public school system or the environment, we can do the political equivalent – privatize them. It would allow a few select people to profit over the very institutions that our state is supposed to provide.

Think about the effects on K-12 public education, community colleges, the public university system, public assistance programs, health care, correctional facilities, transportation, economic development, parks and recreation, environmental projects, state police forces, and aid to local governments.

You place a tourniquet on those items and you stagnate the growth of a state whose population is growing. And when the bone structure cannot handle the weight of a growing body, then… well you can imagine.

Proponents of the amendment to cap income taxes will tout that it means more money for people to spend on their own. It would allow for people to have more choices within their power. But unless you can send your students to private schools, have your own libraries and media outlets, pay for all out of pocket medical expenditures, hire your own security team, have your own environmental control, or set up your own recreational facilities, then you may be out of luck.

Even John Hood of the John Locke Foundation, a self-professed “conservatarian,” expounds on the role of the state in keeping a strong infrastructure. He says in his op-ed “How to read this column” printed in the June 19th edition of the Winston-Salem Journal (http://www.journalnow.com/opinion/columnists/john-hood-how-to-read-this-column/article_1b7789ac-1fcf-5389-a6be-eca653d233bc.html) ,

“So I believe government should (and always will) exist to protect individual rights and to finance certain core services that, because of collective-action problems, will not be adequately provided through purely voluntary means. At the state and local level, those services include public safety and health, education and some infrastructure.”

And to place a cap on state income tax as being proposed would hurt the ability for the state to finance those “core services”.

Ironic that people who are pushing for this cap like Sen. Tom Apodaca, Sen. Jerry Tillman, Sen. Bob Rucho, and Sen. Bill Rabon are public officials elected by the public who seem more interested in placing a tourniquet on the very services that they are sworn to protect and provide the public.

Actually, it isn’t ironic, but rather consistent and predictable.

Just look at what has happened in the last three years here in North Carolina.

So tell Tom Apodaca, Buck, Or Rucho that this is nothing more than surreptitious politics. Let Tillman, Andrew Brock Or Rabon know this is not good.
And vote it down if it comes up in November.