Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ownership Society News

The death of the Dodgers by corporate greed

McCourt & commissioner,  Bud Selig
Dave Zirin, writing in The Nation asks, "What does the L.A. Dodgers bankruptcy say about America?"

The Dodgers are arguably the most culturally significant franchise in the history of American Sports. It’s the team of Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Fernando Valenzuela, and Hideo Nomo. That’s more than just a tradition. That’s a Ken Burns epic From their days in Brooklyn, the Dodgers were the franchise of the immigrants, the strivers, the ones who thought the American Dream was there for those willing to scratch and bleed for it....

 ...As Harold Meyerson wrote in the Washington Post, the Dodgers now represent “a particularly vicious form of capitalism that America has come to know too well the past few decades: a new owner takes over a venerable firm and extracts what he can for himself, decimating the company and damaging the community in the process”...

...As Meyerson wrote, “I’ve long believed that kids who grew up listening to Scully got at least a 30-point bump on their verbal SAT.” Now Scully is just another person the Dodgers went to court so they wouldn’t have to pay. Now he’s just another senior citizen wondering how a California dream could become so scarred. What does the Dodgers bankruptcy say about America? Everything.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Walton money continues to flow into corporate ed reform

BENTONVILLE, Ark., June 28, 2011 -- Today the Walton Family Foundation announced investments totaling more than $157 million in education reform initiatives for 2010 – a $23 million increase over 2009, in which education reform grants totaled $134 million... Having invested more than $1 billion in education reform, the Walton Family Foundation is the largest donor to initiatives that support parental choice and competition within education. -- PR Newswire
Walton money  focuses on seven regions throughout the nation that serve high concentrations of low-income families. They include Albany, Denver, East and South Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Newark and Washington, D.C. The foundation started investing in New Orleans schools following Hurricane Katrina, beginning in 2006 – helping create a school system where 70 % of public school students currently attend privately managed charter schools.

In D.C., the Walton Foundation was one of Michelle Rhee's largest patrons while she was chancellor. They threatened to pull out their "investment" from D.C. when Rhee was fired. But the district continues to be the biggest target of the Walton's to a tune of about $16 million/year.

Other "strategic" Walton investments include:

• Teach For America                                      $16,652,436

• Charter School Growth Fund                       $12,533,526

• DC Public Education Fund                           $10,000,000

• KIPP Foundation                                            $8,650,000

• California Charter Schools Assoc.                 $3,940,652


Monday, June 27, 2011

Corp. sponsorship of charter schools in exchange for student slots, board seats

BATON ROUGE -- Over the objections of some public school advocates, the Louisiana Senate voted 22-16 Monday to allow corporations to sponsor charter schools in exchange for controlling up to half of the enrollment slots and half of the governing board seats.House Bill 421 by Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, must return to the House, where the lower chamber is expected to approve only minor changes and send the bill on to Gov. Bobby Jindal, who announced his support for the measure in January. The House approved the bill 72-23 earlier in the session.

The bill continues a recent trend of the Legislature embracing policies that redirect tax dollars away from traditional public schools to charter programs, private school tuition scholarships and tax breaks for families that pay private school tuition. A separate bill this session, which now awaits Jindal's signature, would allow a household to deduct from their taxable income up to $5,000 in private school tuition and expenses per child. -- Times-Picayune

Ohio Gov. Kasich -- 'Thanks Koch Bros."

In an "unlisted video" which Gov. Kasich recorded using state resources, he tells the Koch Industries astroturf group Americans For Prosperity: 
"... in the four months that I've been Governor, we've accomplished a lot in Ohio... in all of these efforts the strong support of Americans for Prosperity has made a really big difference. ...it's so important that Ohio's fighters for freedom, the grassroots leaders of Americans for Prosperity, continue to lend their support to the effort to get Ohio back on track." -- ProgressOhio.org

Monday, June 20, 2011

Growing share of income for the rich

Inequality in the U.S. has has grown steadily since the 1970s, following a flat period after World War II. In 2008, the wealthiest 10 percent earned almost the same amount of income as the rest of the country combined.
INCOME LEVEL NUMBER OF PEOPLE AVERAGE INCOME OVERALL CHANGE 1970-2008
Top 0.1% 152,000 $5.6 million +385%
Top 0.1-0.5% 610,000 $878,139 +141%
Top 0.5-1% 762,000 $443,102 +90%
Top 1-5% 6.0 million $211,476 +59%
Top 5-10% 7.6 million $127,184 +38%
Bottom 90% 137.2 million $31,244 -1%
*Based on the salary, bonuses and stock options of the three highest-paid officers in the largest 50 firms. ** Calculated from Bureau of Economic Analysis data. NOTE: All figures have been adjusted for inflation.
SOURCES: The World Top Incomes Database and reports by Jon Bakija, Williams College; Adam Cole, U.S. Department of Treasury; Bradley T. Heim, Indiana University; Carola Frydman, MIT Sloan School of Management and NBER; Raven E. Molloy, Federal Reserve Board of Governors; Thomas Piketty, Ehess, Paris; Emmanuel Saez, UC Berkeley and NBER. GRAPHIC: Alicia Parlapiano - The Washington Post. Published June 18, 2011.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Say it ain't so, Arne

DOE Officials Accused Of Leaking Info To Short-Sellers

Marcus Barum blogs on  Huffington Post:
Did Education Department officials leak market-sensitive info to stock traders?" That's the provocative headline from Project on Government Oversight reporting on a probe by the agency's inspector general into controversial claims that may implicate Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
The Daily Caller reports:
Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn blasted the Education Department Wednesday for what he called “very significant inappropriate behavior in tipping hedge funds on short selling private education” and called on a key Senate panel to investigate the matter. Coburn was referring to documents released last week by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a watchdog group that has called for federal authorities to investigate market manipulation by famous Wall Street short-seller Steven Eisman.
The Hill reports:
One email exchange shows a DOE employee informing a short seller of the expected date the rules would be proposed, a piece of information that then appeared in a Morgan Stanley investment report one week later.Wait! Morgan Stanley? Isn't that Bill Daley's company?


A much better way for Gates fund to spend his billions.

(Reuters) - Britain and billionaire Bill Gates pledged $2.3 billion at an international donor conference on Monday to fund vaccination programs to protect children in poor countries against diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia. -- Guardian

It's actually hard to imagine that the Gates Foundation invests 10X more than this each year in environmentally polluting profit-making ventures that often cause the health problems that the vaccines are meant to prevent.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Joel Klein hails the new order

The Broadie roster
Not so long ago, people pointed to Michelle Rhee in the District and me in New York as the major “reform superintendents.” When we left those positions in the past year, some asked whether it was the “end of an era” and questioned the future of education reform. What a difference a few months can make! -- WaPo, "School Reform's New Generation"

Friday, June 10, 2011

Is this the new face of corporate school reform?

From May 31, 2011 Business Insider:

At the end of 2010, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp paid almost $400m in cash to purchase 90% of Wireless Generation, a company that bills itself as "the leading provider of innovative education software, data systems, and assessment tools for reading, writing and math,"

On Tuesday, News Corp announced "The Future of American Education: A Presidential Primary Forum." The joint effort with the College Board will pit "all Republican primary candidates who meet a threshold level of support in national polls" against each other.

The Wall Street Journal's Paul Gigot and Joel I. Klein, former  Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education and current CEO of News Corp's education division will moderate the panel.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"Reformer" Klein is a hustler supreme

He helps land Rupert Murdoch a $27 million no-bid contract from NY schools

The money - part of the state's $700 million in Race to the Top winnings - will go to Wireless Generation, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., to develop software to track student test scores, among other things. Wireless Generation helped build a similar system in the city called Achievement Reporting and Innovation Systems, or ARIS, that has been widely criticized in the city. The contract would expand the ARIS system statewide.

In a request sent to the state controller's office in May to sign off on a no-bid process, officials cited the tight timeline for beginning the Race to the Top project and the company's record at producing results. -- Daily News
hy did the state argue for this contract? On the basis of Wireless’ record in developing ARIS, NYC’s much criticized $80 million data system. Recently, Lindsey Christ of NY1 in an award-winning three-part series pointed out the glaring deficiencies of ARIS and the far superior data system developed by NYC teachers for relative pennies. Last fall, Gotham Schools did a similar expose; we featured critical observations from a teacher about the inadequacies of the system back in 2008.  The hi-tech community recognized it a huge boondoggle and a “super mugging” when the no-bid contract was first announced in 2007. -- NYC Public School Parent
Supreme hustler Klein, who could rake in as much as $4.5 million this year at his new gig with News Corp., also will collect $34,000 annually for life after serving 8 years as chancellor. This after slamming teacher pensions as "hollowing out public education."

Higher [Hedge)ucation

Harvard and other major American universities are working through British hedge funds and European financial speculators to buy or lease vast areas of African farmland in deals, some of which may force many thousands of people off their land, according to a new study.
The company that manages Harvard's investment funds declined to comment.
"It is Harvard management company policy not to discuss investments or investment strategy and therefore I cannot confirm the report," said a spokesman. Vanderbilt also declined to comment. -- Guardian

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Has America in 2011 become 200 AD Rome?

Dust-bowl refugees walk towards Los Angeles during the Great Depression. House prices have now fallen further than in the 1930s. Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis

British Guardian Economics Editor, Larry Elliott ponders whether America in 2011 is Rome in 200AD or Britain on the eve of the first world war: an empire at the zenith of its power but with cracks beginning to show.
The experience of both Rome and Britain suggests that it is hard to stop the rot once it has set in, so here are the a few of the warning signs of trouble ahead: military overstretch, a widening gulf between rich and poor, a hollowed-out economy, citizens using debt to live beyond their means, and once-effective policies no longer working. -- "Decline and fall of the American empire"

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gov. Walker's war on public ed

John Nichols, writing in The Nation, describes the massive resistance movement growing in opposition to Wisconsin Gov. Walker's assault on collective bargaining rights and on public education.
Yet Walker refuses to compromise. So beholden is he to political paymasters such as the Koch brothers and the De Vos family, which has steered millions of dollars into the state to promote his extreme proposals to replace on of the nation’s strongest public education systems with voucher programs and privatization schemes, that the governor continues to pressure his legislative allies to enact a biennial budget that slashes spending for education and local services.

Monday, June 6, 2011

New Gates palace opens in Seattle

Symbol of unchecked foundation power

New Gates 900,000 sq. ft. "campus" cost $.5 billion in tax-exempt dollars.
In order to keep its tax-exempt status, the Gates foundation has to give away about $3 billion a year. Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, says the foundation's influence goes far beyond that.
"They're influencing governments in lots of different ways — and corporations, and really everybody else in society, and it's not just about writing checks," she says. It's about setting agendas, framing debates, advocating the foundation's point of view and taking action. Palmer says the foundation has changed the perception of what a private organization can do. -- NPR

Merrow says Klein was the architect of current corporate reform

In Sunday's Daily News, John Merrow claims that, "Love or loathe him, Joel Klein is the person most responsible for shaping U.S. schools today." Improbable as it may sound, Merrow is probably right. Corporate lawyer Klein, now hustling school district contracts for Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., was a totally unqualified, yet major player in the disaster they now call public school reform. The fawning Merrow even credits Klein with nurturing Michelle Rhee.
His critics — and there are many — discount the academic achievements Klein boasted about, particularly after the flabby nature of state tests was exposed and scores were recalibrated, leading to significantly lower gains for many public schools on his watch. They say he was obsessed with test scores and didn't pay enough attention to genuine learning.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Powerful Dem backs N.J. T-Party gov's school voucher program

In an interview after the ceremony, Norcross said his interest in school choice was borne of moral obligation and old-fashioned capitalism. -- Star Ledger
High-powered Dem, George E. Norcross III rushed to Gov. Christie's side in the wake of the N.J. gov's chopper scandal. The billionaire insurance mogul who also sits on the Democratic National Committee, came out at a Camden rally and locked arms with the T-Party gov in support of his OSA school voucher plan for New Jersey. Sitting alongside Christie and Norcross was a who's who of the school "choice" (voucher) movement: Acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf and several executives representing Excellent Education for Everyone, or E3.
"Cooper Hospital and my family's foundation are going to be involved in several new charter schools in the city of Camden," Norcross announced. He had previously signaled interest in establishing a new charter school in Camden, but Friday was the first time he stated definitively and in public that the wheels were already in motion. -- Courier Post
Besides being chairman of the board at Cooper Hospital, Norcross is actively involved in the redevelopment of Camden's Lanning Square neighborhood. A new cancer institution and teaching hospital are among the major facilities already under way.