Category Archives: Education

Trump Change

For $24M, Emperor-elect Trump will settle two class actions lawsuits regarding how Trump University fleeced its students. For those of you keeping score that amounts to just over 1/2 of 1% of Trump’s net worth and, after the lawyers get their cut, maybe $600 per member of the class.

Crumbs from the emperor’s table.

iNews Friday, 4/2/2010

A sampling of this week’s output from the iNews 9000 Turbo wi-fi headline translator—

Headline: Pope Opens Holy Week Saying He Won’t Be Intimidated
Translation: Come on down to Easter Mass – No cover charge for boys

Headline: Bush team ‘arrogant group of Martians’
Translation: Bush-era Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator program canceled

Headline: ‘Christian warrior’ militia accused in plot to kill police
Translation: Downward, Christian Soldiers

Headline: Delaware, Tennessee Win ‘Race for the Top’ Education Funding
Translation: Children of 48 States Left Behind

Headline: Judge Invalidates Human Gene Patent
Translation: “Only Trump may buy and sell someone,” court rules

Headline: Stone Family Wedding Was Held in Full Military Garb
Translation: The bride wore camouflage

Headline: Chocolate Protects Against High Blood Pressure, Stroke
Translation: Big Pharma to buy Hershey, become Big Wonka

Headline: Abortion provider’s killer is sentenced to life in prison
Translation: Pro-life Roeder gets his wish

Tyranny of the Minority Crackers

Last week the Texas Education Board—an organization packed with conservative crackers—approved a slew of textbook changes that will go a long way toward turning your children into morons ignorant of their own nation’s history.  Jefferson is gone in favor of even more Reagan than was already in the books.  Joseph McCarthy gets rehabilitated while the separation of church and state gets excised.  But what should really stick in your craw was the explanation that board chairman, Don McLeroy, gave for turning history texts into reactionary nonsense:

All we are doing is reflecting what has actually happened in the country… Somebody has got to stand up the experts.

Professor Larry Schweikart, an ardent Reagan apologist, went even further commenting on Fox News that textbook authors, “…all tend to come from New York, Boston, Washington and Philadelphia giving them a drastically different viewpoint from the rest of America.”

And herein lies the problem.  Social conservatives consistently and successfully push the fiction that somehow their twisted viewpoint is the majority opinion in America, polls, population, and votes notwithstanding.  As Sarah Palin frequently opines:  The coasts, the Northeast, and the rust-belt, despite their enormous population advantage over the Midwest and South, simply don’t exist.  They’re not part of ‘real America’.

So…if you live in one of those blue areas, the areas that represent about 58% of the US population, best get your children in touch with their inner ‘Reagan-lover’ because as Texas goes so goes the nation.

To This We Have Been Reduced – Your Dead-end Disposable Job

The Detroit public schools have teamed up with that foremost purveyor of low-wage, low-esteem, dead-end employment, Walmart, to offer a for-credit course in ‘job readiness’ that includes entry-level service-sector employment.

Now… In a city where the unemployment rate is estimated to be an astonishing 50%, you might think that any job, even a job at Walmart is an attractive proposition. But two questions arise: First, is this the way we should be spending scarce public school dollars, on training for what is essentially ‘disposable’ employment? Second, why-the-f*ck does Walmart get to shift the training burden (such as it is) onto the public? Isn’t this just another government give-away to a company that already makes a big chunk of its enormous profits by squeezing its workers?

Or…perhaps this is just an acknowledgment of the new reality of employment in the US—disposable jobs, disposable workers, and the fact that education is no longer a guarantee of stability and success.

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Obama speaks to half-empty Congress – Absent members had notes from parents

President Barack Obama addressed a half-empty joint session of Congress last night, further evidence of the polarization of the ongoing debate surrounding health reform.

The president used his speech to forcefully state his vision for reform, which included an end to rescission and preexisting conditions, and a limited public option. However, he laid the groundwork for constructive compromise with conservative critics by proposing torte reform pilot projects and revenue neutrality.

Obama also devoted significant portion of time to urging representatives and senators to work hard and stay in Congress, even though they might rather still be on their August recess. “Not every committee hearing you attend may be interesting. Every bill you work on may not seem relevant to your life. But the work you do here this year will help enact real health reform for the American people,” Obama said.

However, his words were largely unheard, with no-shows evident among the Republican and Blue Dog contingents. Many seats in the House chamber were empty, with parents of senators and representatives representing red and swing districts choosing to opt out of their children hearing the speech.

The concerns of Adele Cantor of Virginia reflected those of fellow parents. “The idea of him talking to my son just didn’t seem appropriate,” said Mrs. Cantor.

“I mean, I’m not a student of civics or anything, but I can’t remember a president ever speaking to Congress before. Political recruiting in Congress for legislation sounds like Communism,” she said.

Fred Baucus of Montana said he was fearful of the effect of the president’s words, since Congress is a captive audience. “Hussein Obama is trying to indoctrinate Congress, to subvert the role of lobbyists in making our laws,” he said.

In Ohio, Lois Boehner wanted to know why Obama is allowed to call all the joint sessions of Congress. “I voted for McCain-Palin, and I believe their policies should govern us. Why doesn’t McCain get to call 45% of the joint sessions?”

The principal leaders of Congressional Democrats and Republicans bowed to parental wishes and did not allow discussion following the president’s message. Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate is not the place for controversial topics. “Follow-up conversation may happen at home with parents,” Reid said.

In a related story, President Obama paused briefly during his speech in order to take away Rep. Joe Wilson’s (R-SC) Pokemon cards. “You’ll get them back in June. Now go to the Math Center,” the president told Wilson.

To This We Have Been Reduced – Educational Elitism

My understanding of ‘The American Dream’, to the extent that I have one, is this:  The ability to provide a more prosperous, more secure life for one’s children than one has enjoyed for oneself.  And the keys to the American Dream, in my opinion, are hard work and education.  Now…setting aside the former—one could write volumes on how hard work alone is irrelevant in an economic game already rigged in favor of the wealthy—education was once our society’s great equalizer.  With decent, free education through the age of 18 and a merit-based system of colleges that almost anyone could attend and many could afford, the United States once had a powerful engine of cross-generational prosperity.  Sadly this is no longer the case.

The New York Times notes that in the 25 years since the early eighties, college tuition costs have risen over 400% while family incomes have risen only 147%, in inflation adjusted dollars.  So in order to send their children to a four-year public university, many middle-class families must take on a crushing debt burden.  Combine this with a system of grants and scholarships that provide proportionally more money to the already affluent, and you envision the end of post K-12 education for the majority of Americans.  Not that it matters anyway.  In many industries, especially more lucrative areas such as finance and consulting, students that graduate from any university not in the top 15 in the nation, are ignored, basically unemployable.

I also note with considerable irony that I was able to get both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees (in the early 80s, of course) without incurring any debt.  In the case of the former, I worked throughout my undergraduate career, splitting my college costs about 60/40 with my parents.  In the case of the latter, my employer paid my tuition, and I continued to work while obtaining my degree.  But, had I attempted that today, I would leave the same university I attended with almost $60,000 in debt, covering only the smallest fraction of my costs by working…and that’s only if I could get in.  Today, that university’s admission standards are so high (due to the huge crush of applicants, both foreign and domestic) that my own application would have been rejected.

All these factors lead to an inescapable fact… Today’s older workers are more educated than the workers of the generations that follow them, and this trend is not likely to reverse itself.  A combination of un-affordable education, educational elitism, and post-graduate lack of opportunity, has killed the American Dream.  In fact, we may be many decades past its death.

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