Sunday, June 22, 2014

The open line: Bitter enders, charter schools and a sane Republican

Posted By on Sun, Jun 22, 2014 at 4:47 PM

The Sunday night line is open. A roundup includes Koch-heads carrying their anti-Obamacare evangelizing to Utah; another academic proclaims charter schools a failure, and, from Texas, a sane Republican.

* MISSION WORK: Sen. Bryan King and Rep. Joe Farrer, bitter-enders in the fight to deprive working poor Arkansans of health care coverage under Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, have taken their preaching to Utah to trash Sen. David Sanders for touting the private option in Utah. It's a failure, they say, because in some counties there isn't enough competition for Blue Cross. Here's a hint boys Spread the word enough and there'll be plenty of competition for the huge number of paying customers. Oh, wait, They really don't want competition. Or for working poor to have health insurance, either.

* CHARTER SCHOOL FAILUREA Tulane professor has evaluated the grand experiment of turning all New Orleans public schools over to charter school operators and the assessment is devastating:

It's been a failure. The New Orleans miracle is a big lie, Diane Ravitch writes in quoting an op-ed by Celeste Lay.

… The New Orleans Recovery School District comes in at the 17th percentile in the state in its percentage of students at the basic level and above. The RSD has no A-rated schools and few B schools. By the state’s post-Katrina definition of a failing school, nine years into the experiment, nearly all of the schools in the RSD are “failing.” Communities around the state that are grappling with their own public education challenges should look at New Orleans’ charter schools experience with skepticism.”


“It doesn’t matter that with all this choice, most kids in New Orleans have no greater educational opportunities than before. The focus on choice as opposed to results also obscures the fact that certain groups have profited substantially in the post-Katrina system.”

Here's the direct link to the article.

It's important because it illustrates, as others have, the mirage of choice of better schools in the Orleans Parish Schools.

Parents must apply to the RSD schools via OneApp, a system that fails to guarantee a spot in any of one’s top choices. Given the scores within RSD, parents have a Hobson’s choice. They can apply to OPSB schools but because these schools control their own enrollment, there are lotteries. Unlike the Power Ball, all tickets do not have an equal chance of winning. You can only get into the lottery if you meet a school’s criteria. At one school, prospective kindergartners are given a reading and math test (never mind that most can’t read and are unfamiliar with the term “math”) in a room, alone with a test administrator he or she does not know on a date assigned by the school. Students who do not score above a certain level cannot get into the lottery, and those who score the highest have better odds of selection. When it can essentially draft its students, is it a wonder this is one of the city’s highest performing schools?

Choice is a trick word, Celeste Lay writes. (How well the Waltonites in Arkansas understand this.)

The powerful also shape debates in their favor in a more insidious way: by determining underlying societal values which work to manipulate the powerless into supporting what is not in their best interests. For example, “choice” is always posed as a societal good – having more choices is just better. It’s better to have choices even when they are constrained by a dearth of good options or are rigged in favor of the most advantaged.

Sounds like a Walton U. SWAT team needs to get down to Tulane and start debunking this clear thinker.

* FOUND: A SANE REPUBLICAN IN TEXAS: The chairman of the Texas Republican Party rejects the portion of the Texas GOP platform that endorses repudiated "reparative therapy" to cure gay people of their gayness. Said Steve Munisteri:

"And I just make the point for anybody that thinks that may be the possibility: Do they think they can take a straight person to go to see a psychiatrist and turn them gay?" he asked on Texas Public Radio.

Munisteri added that many Republicans in the state don't believe the party should support psychological treatments that try to turn gay people straight.

“My emails and phone calls to the office from Republicans are running overwhelmingly opposed to that plank in the platform,” he said.

Is there an Arkansas Republican brave enough to say this? Rapert and Cox and Co. would impeach them.

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