<b>The Worst Teacher In Chicago</b>
Sep 2012 11

The Worst Teacher In Chicago

Posted In Activism,Blog,Favorites,Politics

by Greg Palast

This is a true story.

CHICAGO. In a school with some of the poorest kids in Chicago, one English teacher–I won’t use her name–who’d been cemented into the school system for over a decade, wouldn’t do a damn thing to lift test scores, yet had an annual salary level of close to $70,000 a year. Under Chicago’s new rules holding teachers accountable and allowing charter schools to compete, this seniority-bloated teacher was finally fired by the principal.

In a nearby neighborhood, a charter school, part of the city system, had complete freedom to hire. No teachers’ union interference. The charter school was able to bring in an innovative English teacher with advanced degrees and a national reputation in her field – for $29,000 a year less than was paid to the fired teacher.

You’ve guessed it by now: It’s the same teacher.

It’s Back to School Time! Time for the editorialists and the Tea Party, the GOP and Barack Obama’s Education Secretary Arne Duncan to rip into the people who dare teach in public schools.

And in Arne’s old stomping grounds, Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is stomping on the teachers, pushing them into the street.

Let’s stop kidding ourselves. This is what Mitt Romney and Obama and Arne Duncan and Paul Ryan have in mind when they promote charter schools and the right to fire teachers with tenure: slash teachers salaries and bust their unions.

They’ve almost stopped pretending, too. Both the Right Wing-nuts and the Obama Administration laud the “progress” of New Orleans’ schools–a deeply sick joke. The poorest students, that struggle most with standardized tests, were drowned or washed away.

One thing Democrat Emanuel and Republican Romney both demand of Chicago teachers is that their pay, their jobs, depend on “standardized tests.” Yes, but whose standard?

Here are an actual questions from the standardized test that were given third graders here in NYC by the nation’s biggest test-for-profit company:

“…Most young tennis stars learn the game from coaches at private clubs. In this sentence a private club is….” Then you have some choices in which the right answer is “Country Club – place where people meet.”

Now not many of the “people [who] meet” at country clubs are from the South Side of Chicago–unless their parents are caddies. A teacher on the South Side whose students are puzzled by the question will lose their pay or job. Students on the lakefront Gold Coast all know that mommy plays tennis at the Country Club with Raul on Wednesdays. So their teacher gets a raise and their school has high marks.

And while Mayor Rahm promises kids in “bad” schools new teachers (the same ones at lower pay) at high-score schools, in fact, they are never actually allowed in.

But Rahm, after all, is just imposing Bush education law which should be called, No Child’s Behind Left.

You want to know what’s wrong with our schools? Benno Schmidt, CEO of the big Edison Schools teach-for-profit business is a creepy, greedy privateer. But he told me straight: that before Hurricane Katrina, his company would never go into New Orleans because Louisiana spent peanuts per child on education. He made it clear: You get what you pay for. Not what you test for.

So the charter carpetbaggers slither in, cherry-pick the easy students, declare success. The tough cases and special ed kids are left in the public system so they can claim the public system fails.

Here’s what the teacher who was terrible at $70,000 but brilliant at $41,000 told me:

“They’re not doing this in white neighborhoods. And they want to get rid of the older, experienced teachers with seniority who cost more. Get rid of the teachers and, ultimately get rid of the kids. And the charter school gets to pick the kids who get in.”

It’s simple. When you look at the drop-out rates in New York (41%) and Chicago (44%), the solution offered is to pay teachers less. They punish those who dare to work in poor schools where kids struggle and you can bet that “washing away” half the kids in our schools is, in fact, exactly what they’ve planned.

It’s notable that, when he lived in Chicago, Barack Obama played basketball with city school chief Arne Duncan, but Obama sure as hell didn’t send his kids to Arne’s crap public schools. Those are for po’ folk.

His kids went to the tony “Lab” School in Hyde Park. Obama knows what Duncan knows and what Romney knows: there’s no money and no need for universal education. Yes, they like to say that “children are our future.” But they mean the children of China are our future, the Chinese kids who will make the stuff we want and the children of India who will program it all for us.

After all, how much education does some obese kid from Texas need to stack boxes from China in a Wal-Mart warehouse?

Education is no longer about information and learning skills. It’s now about “triage.” A few selected by standardized tests or privileged birth will be anointed and permitted into better and “gifted” schools.

The chosen elite are still very much needed: to invest in India and Vietnam, to design new derivatives to circumvent the laughable new banking laws, and to maintain order among the restless hundred-million drop-outs squeezed out of the colon of our educational system.

Democrats’ Bantustans, Republicans’ Value-less Vouchers.

The Obama/Duncan/Emanuel plan is to create Bantustans of un-chartered, cheaply-run dumpster schools within a government system. But Romney and the GOP would give every child a “choice” even outside government schools with “vouchers.”

Of course, the “vouchers” don’t vouch for much. Romney’s old alma mater, Cranbrook Academy, runs at $34,025 a year, not counting the polo sticks and horse. The most generous voucher program is Washington DC’s, beloved of the GOP, which pays about $7,500, or if the student’s “choice” is Cranbrook, about 2 months of school. Hyde Park Day School Chicago is $35,900. To give each kid a real choice, not just a coupon, means a massive increase in spending per pupil. I didn’t see that in the Republican platform, did you?

The experienced teacher in Chicago who took the pay cut was offered one consolation. She was told she could make up some of the pay loss by quitting the union and saving on union dues.

So that’s the program. An educational Katrina: squeeze the teachers until they strike, demolish their unions and drown the students.

Chicago’s classroom war is class war by another name.

Class dismissed.

***


A version of this story originally appeared in the Occupied Chicago Tribune.

Greg Palast is the author of the recently published, acclaimed book Vultures’ Picnic and the New York Times Bestsellers Armed Madhouse and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. For two decades, Palast was an investigator for Chicago-area unions, including the Chicago Teachers Union.

Palast’s brand new book Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, will be out on September 18.

You can pre-order Billionaires & Ballot Bandits from Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Indie Bound. Author’s proceeds from the book go to the not-for-profit Palast Investigative Fund for reporting on voter protection issues.

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<B>Tactical Animal: Sorry Folks, Election’s Over, Donkey Out Front Shoulda Told Ya</B>
Sep 2012 11

Tactical Animal: Sorry Folks, Election’s Over, Donkey Out Front Shoulda Told Ya

Posted In Blog,Politics

by ChrisSick

In which we analyze exactly how many blowjobs Bill Clinton deserves to be given, the death and resurrection of the post-convention poll bounce, and the alternative universes of the GOP.

Got-damn, Bill, you lookin’ mighty fine.

If you haven’t seen former President Clinton’s speech at the DNC yet, I would suggest that you:

A. Consider moving out from underneath that rock you’re living under.

AND

B. Pucker up your best blowjob lips, ’cause after watching that speech, you’re gonna wanna properly congratulate the man what gave it.

And — goddamn — he deserves it! Bill Clinton didn’t just make a persuasive statement for Barack Obama’s reelection, he made a powerful argument for liberalism as the solution to our current economic malaise, as well as the pathway to future prosperity in a technocratic global economy. And, in doing so, he slid a rhetorical ice pick straight into the lungs of every Republican attack raised this election cycle.

“In Tampa, the Republican argument against the President’s re-election was pretty simple: we left him a total mess, he hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough, so fire him and put us back in.”

Close your eyes. Repeat that line while doing your best Clinton imitation. Punctuate the pauses with a subtle point of your thumbnail. Turn out the lights. Take it slow. Point that thumb. And then, you try and tell me you aren’t hot in the bathing-suit area. I defy you to.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s yet another symptom of my degeneracy into Werewolf Disease. The doctors tell me it’s the most severe case they’ve seen since Glenn Beck was fired from Fox News for finding new sides of his mouth to lie out of. And, worse, they tell me that there’s no cure – but for the reelection of Barack Hussein Obama.

But there’s good news on that front. Friends, countrymen, election junkies — I give you the death and resurrection of the post-convention bounce:

“The death of the convention bounce?

“The convention bounce may not be extinct. But it’s definitely on vacation…”

— Headline and lead quote from Aaron Blake’s The Washington Times’ Fix post, 4th Sept, 2012

An 8-point convention bounce for Obama?

“Buried in New York Times polling guru Nate Silver’s latest blog post is a chart that should have Mitt Romney ordering out for some Xanax…”

— Headline and lead quote from Robert Wright’s Atlantic story, 9th Sept, 2012

The Nate Silver post Wright refers to makes for predictably fascinating reading, but let’s cut to the back of the page, here:


[source: Nate Silver/FiveThirtyEight]

That is what a post-convention bounce ought to look like. The Real Clear Politics’ average of polls that I typical cite shows a disappointing average of +1.6 for the President. But when you start to tease out the numbers, you see why that’s misleading – namely that the majority of the polls being averaged are from the middle of last week. The two best indicators — Rasmussen and Gallup’s daily tracking polls — both show a much greater amount of heat for the President, weighing in as of today (9 Sept, 2012) at +4 for the President from Rasmussen and +5 from Gallup, despite the variations of voter models and house effects for each.

Meanwhile, Silver’s indicators show a 6.7% increase in the odds of the President winning reelection, a 0.6% increase in the popular vote to his favor, and an increase of 11.4 votes in the Electoral College (for a total of 316.9). Intrade — my other handy predictor — shows a 3.5% increase in the odds of Obama winning compared to the post-RNC numbers, that settled into a +2.5% increase for a current 58.3% chance of reelection for Obama.

Now, as much fun as I’m having seeing how many times I can work the words “Bill Clinton” and “blowjob” into the same sentence, obviously, the former President wasn’t solely responsible for the success of the convention. Other highlights included:

Okay, so the President either underperformed or purposefully decided to leave his A-game at home. And we could dissect, at length, the myriad reasons why this may be true.

But, really, there’s no need to. Because it’s irrelevant.

If Romney had gotten a meager +1.5 bounce out of his convention and Obama performed roughly the same, examining why his speech was so muted in comparison to previous examples of his rhetorical abilities would be a worthwhile exercise. But it simply does not matter. The Democrats clearly had a more successful convention than the Republicans, even by completely meaningless measures.

Except in the alternative universe that so many Republicans seem to enjoy residing in.

One of the advantages to being an occasional blogger for a well-known alt-pinup site as opposed to being, say, Dick Morris, is that I don’t have to make sudden, off-the-cuff predictions that can easily be refuted within days. Also, it means I don’t have to wake up every day being Dick Morris.

“Overall, tonight left America with the impression that Obama saved GM, killed Bin Laden, and passed ObamaCare (which most of us don’t like). What a thin, thin record on which to base a plea for reelection.

“The result of these two conventions is a decided advantage for Romney.”

– Dick Morris, FoxNews.com, 7th Sept, 2012

Presumably, after writing that, Dick swallowed another pint of LSD and decided the rest of the universe simply does not exist.

The rest of the GOP decided, even before the convention, that the strongest line of attack against Obama would be to recycle the Reagan question of Carter, “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?

“The president can say a lot of things and he will…

“But he can’t tell you that you’re better off. Simply put, the Jimmy Carter years look like the good old days compared to where we are right now.”

_ Paul Ryan, East Carolina University, 3rd Sept, 2012
[Source: Washington Post]

For those under the didn’t-hear-about-Clinton’s-speech rock who revel in being ignorant of all salient facts, two things to be aware of:

1. While overall unemployment was less under Carter (about 7% compared to 8% under Obama), other economic indicators, such as inflation and interest rates were much, much, much higher. So high, in fact, the Misery Index became a popular reference point to better understand the pain caused by economic conditions of life during the Carter administration. Obama’s highest score on the Misery Index is still below Carter’s lowest.

2. Another relevant detail to keep in mind when considering this argument is that we’re not losing nearly one million jobs a month, like we were in early 2009.

See that giant fucking dip in the middle of January, 2009? Yeah, over that shit.

But the Republican alternate universe isn’t simply home to bizarre economic statistics or surreal interpretations of events. It’s also home to a completely different definition of “facts” than here in the regular ol’ universe:

“So here we go: If the Democrats are going to call Paul Ryan a liar for lying about running marathons (among other things!), Breitbart’s ‘Big Government’ will FACT CHECK Michelle Obama’s speech about how she loves her husband and so forth.

– Alex Pareene, Salon, 5th Sept, 2012

There seems to be a sense among many Republicans that the lack of lies told at the DNC — as compared to the RNC — reflected by the lack of the media’s debunking and citing said lies, proves media bias. James Fallows (who, I believe, first used the phrase “post-truth” that so frighteningly describes our current discourse) sums it up nicely:

“How ‘false equivalence’ works. My mailbox is swamped with messages from Republicans asking when ‘the media’ will get on Joe Biden’s speech tonight with the same list of factual errors they/we produced after Paul Ryan’s ‘post-truth’ convention speech last week. Also, when Biden will be attacked the way Ryan has been about his marathon claims.

(…)

“The answer to the first question is: If someone comes up with illustrations of Biden mis-stating facts as grossly as Ryan did in his speech, then he will deserve and get comparable grief for them. But the expectation in most of these notes, interestingly, is that it shouldn’t matter whether there is any objective difference in who is bending the truth at any given time. If you point out problems ‘on one side,’ then you’d better find some equal and offsetting problem on the other, or else the game is rigged. Whether or not the problem is there.”

Oh, Republicans. Please, never change. Never cease to be so amazingly, mind-blowingly insane.

Except, wait.

Actually do change, since you’re killing our Democracy.

There’s 57 days, 12 hours, 35 minutes, and 12 seconds left before election day and no cure yet in sight.

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<b>Tattoo Tuesday Roundup!</b>
Sep 2012 11

Tattoo Tuesday Roundup!

Posted In Blog,Tattoo Tuesday,Tattoos

by Blogbot

Every week we ask the ladies and gentlemen of the web to show us their finest ink in celebration of #TattooTuesday.

Our favorite submission from Twitter wins a free 3 month membership to SuicideGirls.com.

To make up for the fact we skipped a week (because of Labor Day), we picked not one but two winners from the week before. The first #TattooTuesday winner is @edddortiz with her little dragon. The second is @r_a_n_t with her beautiful fairy.

Enter this week’s competition by replying to this tweet with a pic of your fav tattoo and the #tattootuesday hashtag.

Good luck!

A few things to remember:

  • You have to be 18 to qualify.
  • The tattoo has to be yours…that means permanently etched on your body.
  • On Twitter we search for your entries by looking up the hashtag #TattooTuesday, so make sure you include it in your tweet!

Check out the Tattoo Tuesday winners of weeks past!

<B>Tease of the Day</B>
Sep 2012 11

Tease of the Day

Posted In Blog,Tease

Chad Suicide in Simply Graceful

  • INTO: Making art.
  • MAKES ME HAPPY: Happy people.
  • MAKES ME SAD: Upset people and people leaving.
  • HOBBIES: Art.
  • 5 THINGS I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT: My family, my friends, my phone, my laptop, food.
  • VICES: Tequila, pizza, buying new shoes!
  • I SPEND MOST OF MY FREE TIME: Chilling out with some cool peoples.

Get to know Chad better over at SuicideGirls.com!