Public Education

Donald Trump’s Greatest Crime: Destruction Of Federal Government Agencies, Long Term Damage

Possibly the greatest crime Donald Trump has perpetrated in his 15 months of being President is his destruction of federal agencies.

This is particularly true of the Department of Justice, the State Department, the Interior Department, the Education Department, the Housing and Urban Development Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Environmental Protection Agency and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but really all departments in the federal bureaucracy have been affected.

Trump has trashed the FBI and the Justice Department, and Jeff Sessions has been the worst Attorney General in modern history. Trump has worked to destroy the credibility of the Department of Justice, not only in the investigation of his scandals, but also the reversal of so many civil rights policies.

The State Department has so many vacancies in the Foreign Service, and so many able diplomats in the Diplomatic Corps have resigned.

The Interior Department under Ryan Zinke has been a disgrace on the matter of protection and perpetuation of national parks and national monuments.

The Education Department under Betsy DeVos has worked to undermine public education at all levels, and undermined protection of minorities and women under education laws.

The Housing and Urban Development Department under Ben Carson is ignoring the major problems of public housing, and not protecting the rights of tenants.

The Department of Health and Human Services has tried to destroy ObamaCare, but has failed at that, while putting obstacles in the way of those who wish to engage in the program.

The Environmental Protection Agency under Scott Pruitt is a total tragedy, rife with scandal and disgraceful actions against the environment.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau may be on its death bed under Mick Mulvaney, an extremely corrupt person, who is also the head of the Office of Management and Budget.

We are in the midst of a great tragedy that will not be undone for decades and one feels helpless as one sees the federal government deteriorating!

The 4th Of July In The Trump Era: America Has Lost Its Way!

Today is the 241st anniversary of Independence Day, declared in 1776.

America was a great experiment in being a republic, and over the nearly two and a half centuries since, America ended slavery; opened its arms to scores of immigrants from all over the world; expanded the right to vote to all citizens over time, no matter what race, religion, nationality, or gender they were; promoted a social safety net; and expanded public education to all.

The Constitution was expanded to face modern realities; and both major political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, contributed to the advancement of tolerance and justice and equal opportunity; and the Supreme Court became a body that dealt with expansion of civil liberties and civil rights.

There were many detours along the road to today, but overall, progress was made, and a sense of optimism reigned.

And then, September 11 occurred, and the nation’s politics veered from one viewpoint to another and then to what is now present, a dark view of our nation, its people, and the world.

We live in the Trump era, which is in process of delaying, deleting, and destroying so much progress that has been accomplished in the 20th and early 21st centuries.

We are seeing race, religion, ethnicity and gender being used in an abusive manner to take away basic civil liberties, civil rights, common decency, and a sense of civility.

We are seeing the wealthy becoming the most stratified group in American history, and the middle class, created in the 20th century, destroyed, and the poor being treated in a shabby fashion.

One political party, the Republicans, has become the party of negativism, hatred, prejudice, and pure nastiness, and we have seen the shift of the Supreme Court toward a hard right conservatism that brings back memories of the Gilded Age Supreme Court.

It is as if we are in a time warp, and have reverted to 140 years ago!

So while we celebrate our national holiday, we have a lot to mourn, and it MUST make all of us determined to fight and resist with all our abilities combined, to resolve this crisis in a constitutional manner, with the removal of Donald Trump from the Presidency, as a tyrant and authoritarian figure who has met his match with our Constitutional remedy!

Cabinet Of “Deplorables” Marches Forward Toward Confirmation

The effects of election results are demonstrated once again as the Cabinet of “Deplorables” marches forward toward confirmation.

The last 24 hours have been particularly gloomy as Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education, and Jeff Sessions was confirmed as Attorney General.

Having a person who has never in any way been involved in public education and believes in charter schools and Christianized education is outrageous and demoralizing. America’s children will suffer as she takes over with the intention of ignoring the issues of disabled students, racial and ethnic minorities, and the protection of women and girls, and the problem of guns in schools.

Jeff Sessions reminds us too much of George Wallace, and the old saying applies–Once a bigot, always a bigot–ant to believe that he will dispense equal justice, and enforce civil rights and civil liberties, and protect women’s rights and immigrants rights, is to believe the tooth fairy.

We will soon see Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services, with an intention to destroy Medicare, Medicaid, and ObamaCare as we know it; and Scott Pruit head the Environmental Protection Agency which he has sued 14 times and would like to destroy the agency if he could; and Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior, but not dedicated to preservation of the National Parks and protection of native American rights.

And other horrors in the cabinet are also in line for a vote, one that the Democrats and Progressives are unable to stop, a very depressing time.

Trump Appointments That Declare “War”: Health And Human Services, Education, Labor, Environmental Protection Agency, Interior, Justice, Energy

Donald Trump has made a horrific list of cabinet and other appointments that have declared “war” on domestic concerns that extend from the time of Theodore Roosevelt through to Barack Obama, with particularly great threat to the heritage of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal and Lyndon B. Johnson and the Great Society.

The appointment of Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services endangers Social Security. Medicare, Medicaid, and Food Stamps–affecting the poor, elderly and sick.

The appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education endangers public education at all level, and concerns about college debt burdens for millions of college and university students, and promotes the “Christianization” and charter school movement against American traditions of two hundred years.

The appointment of Tom Puzder as Secretary of Labor endangers the whole labor movement advancements of the past century, including unionization, minimum wage, sick leave, overtime, and safety conditions.

The appointment of Scott Pruitt as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and of Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior endangers the environment, and our national park and national forest system in massive ways that are incalculable.

The appointment of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General of the United States endangers the enforcement of civil liberties and civil rights, and will be particularly dangerous to the rights of racial minorities, women, and gays and lesbians.

The appointment of Rick Perry as Secretary of Energy endangers the nation, as Perry is totally ignorant of science and nuclear energy, and wanted to destroy the department, based on his statements during Presidential debates in 2011 and since.

We are faced with a nightmare scenario, as probably the most that might be expected is the blocking of potentially one or two of these nominees at the most, but the clear cut possibility that all of them will be confirmed by the Republican majority in the US Senate, and the Democrats will not be able to stop any of them from destroying our domestic future!

The Likely “Best” Choice For The Republican Ticket In 2016: John Kasich And Marco Rubio

The first Republican debate is long over, and Donald Trump is monopolizing all of the oxygen in the room, but he is a calamity waiting to happen to the Republican Party.

It is clear already that the best ticket the GOP could offer the American people, in November 2016, would be to nominate Ohio Governor John Kasich for President and Florida Senator Marco Rubio for Vice President.

This would offer the American people a 64 year old Congressional veteran, with 18 years in the House of Representatives and 6 years as Ohio Governor—a man who is a clear cut conservative but centrist in nature, accepting Medicaid; accepting gay marriage as established and tolerant of gays and lesbians; having an element of compassion toward the poor working class, drug offenders, and mentally ill people; great experience in balancing budgets as head of the House Budget Committee; great communications ability, including six years as a talk show host on Fox News Channel; a very popular Governor of the crucial state for any Republican to win the White House; who has accepted that climate change exists; has supported gun regulation in the past; has supported criminal justice reform; is open minded on illegal immigration and eventual citizenship; and has an enlightened view of Christianity and its doctrines, so that recently he has been called a Pope Francis type personality.

However, others have said that Kasich has a “prickly” personality; that he has a “hair trigger” temper; that he is condescending, arrogant, and manipulative, which is, of course, quite disturbing. It also has been pointed out that he has weakened labor unions in Ohio, and has undermined public education in Ohio, in favor of charter schools. So, as with any candidate, he has definite shortcomings, but there is also the reality that, in comparison to his rivals, he stands out as having more potential as a candidate, and to have some, if not all, of the proper character traits, with no one having all, unfortunately.

So it is clear that Kasich is not preferable to a Democratic nominee, any of them in reality, but he comes across as the best person in the race on the Republican side at this writing.

At the same time, Marco Rubio, at age 45 in 2016, might be the best choice for Vice President. He has charisma; good looks; is Hispanic (Cuban American); represents another swing state like Ohio is, but Florida is the largest state to be a swing state; and while he is much more conservative than Kasich, he has potential for growth and maturity in his views over time. Rubio would not be thrilled to be Vice President, but it is a stepping stone to the Presidency when he is older and more seasoned. Besides, he has given up his chance to hold his Senate seat, so it would be more enticing for him to accept the Vice Presidency if he fails to win the Presidential nomination of his party.

This would be a team that would easily give the Republican Party their best shot at winning, but if they do not appeal to women, African Americans, Hispanics, the young, and to working class Americans, they have no chance of winning, so they need to moderate their image.

This team of Kasich and Rubio could accomplish what no other combination would be able to do–win the White House for the Republicans!  Having said that, the odds for the Democrats to keep the White House are excellent, and if Trump runs as an independent or third party candidate, it is guaranteed that the Democrats will win, and likely be certain to regain the Senate, and possibly,. even the House of Representative!

Bernie Sanders’ Promotion Of Free Undergraduate Tuition At All Public Universities And Colleges

Let me begin this entry by pointing out that the author was the beneficiary of a free tuition undergraduate education for four years at Queens College of the City University of New York in the 1960s.

The entire City University of New York system, and the State University of New York System, had free undergraduate tuition a half century ago, until it disappeared in the crises over budgetary issues in the early 1970s.

Also, the entire California University System had free tuition for all undergraduates, until the Governorship of Ronald Reagan in the late 1960s and early 1970s, leading to anger over the Vietnam War, and the imposition of tuition after widespread student demonstrations on the campuses across California. Budgetary issues were used as the reason, but much of it was a conservative attack on higher education in the largest populated state.

Now, in the second decade of the 21st century, 50 years later, the average student must go into tremendous debt to gain a higher education, causing massive student loan payments that harm the economic future of those students and of their ability to buy homes, cars, have children, and live the “American Dream”.

In many states, the cost of a public higher education, including all expenses, is more than $20,000, forcing many to forgo education, and to undermine the concept of gaining an open mind and tolerance, which a college education provides, along with training for a specific career.

So we have seen a “war” on higher education, particularly in states governed by Republican Governors and legislatures, including Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Florida, Louisiana, Texas and other states.

Education is not just for career training, but also for promoting ability to analyze, evaluate, interpret, and develop problem solving skills, and to make college more difficult is counter productive.

In the midst of this reality, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an announced Democratic Presidential candidate, has proposed providing taxpayer supported undergraduate education at all public universities and colleges, and while this would be expensive, it is worth considering.

Returning to the tradition in New York and California 50 years ago, and making it nationwide, would be a good move! Education should be considerd a right, not a privilege to be left only to those who can afford it, similar to the public school system. Of course, conservatives and Republicans are out to destroy the public school system as well, in favor of charter schools, which should not be allowed to harm the concept of public education begun in the 1820s in the New England states.

The Attack On Teacher Tenure An Attack On Education Itself!

The decision of a California judge against teacher tenure in California is the alarm bell of attacks on public education, and really, educational standards itself!

There is no question that there are people in the teaching profession who should not be allowed to keep their jobs, due to incompetence, inappropriate behavior in the classroom, and refusal to update their skills and motivation to work.

There is, certainly, a need to give administrators the power to remove such teachers from the classroom and the profession, and therefore, there is a need for reform of tenure.

But the sweeping decision in California will promote right wing attacks on education itself, and will have deleterious effects as follows:

Veteran teachers who are at the top of the pay and benefits scale, after many years of hard work and dedication, could be forced out of the profession simply based on cost factors.

The ability of teachers to have academic freedom will be compromised, and it will discourage innovation and new ideas, out of fear of antagonizing administrators and parents.

The promotion of religion over science will be accelerated, creating a future of ignorance on the challenges that face us, and promoting instead a concept of obedience to the literal interpretation of the Bible, which already, one third of the American people believe in as fact.

The promotion of a flag waving patriotism, which sweeps historical reality and fact under the rug, and ignores the truth of our shortcomings and mistakes, is the promotion of a dangerous nationalism, which advocates the greatness of America, while showing lack of respect and knowledge of the rest of world history and civilization. This will also discourage the study of foreign languages and cultures, further isolating America from world affairs knowledge and understanding.

The movement to privatize education makes it a profit making institution, which education should not be, and will condemn generations of students to right wing propaganda, including attack on the institution of labor unions itself, which made America a middle class society, but now in danger of becoming an autocracy ruled by the top one percent of billionaires and millionaires for their own aggrandizement!

Rick Santorum Critical Of Public Education And Higher Education As Promoting Indoctrination

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has now criticized public education and higher education as promoting indoctrination in what he considers liberal, secular, humanistic thought and learning.

Santorum touted the advantages of home schooling, which all of his children have experienced, as the way to counteract public education and promote parental values.

He complains that higher education institutions advocate challenges to religious values, and are out to propagandize liberal, secular values and concepts.

It is clear that Santorum does not see organized religion as indoctrination, promoting obedience and acceptance without open analysis, evaluation, and interpretation. He is disturbed that many young people move away from organized religion as they get older, and blames it on the secular humanism which challenges men and women to THINK, to come to conclusions, to JUDGE, to refuse to accept dogma, whether religious, political, or any other type of learning.

Santorum would rather have people accept religion without challenge, reject a worldly view, accept authority of all kinds without question, and keep women in a subservient role, as all religions promote.

The answer is that IF someone wishes to follow what Santorum advocates, then send your children to religiously based schools and universities, or keep them engaged in home schooling below the college level. But if one chooses to isolate his or her children from contact with others of a different religion, race, or ethnicity, those children are losing a valuable opportunity to learn about the real world out there. And if they do not learn to think, to evaluate, to analyze, to interpret information and challenge established institutions, then they are not able to accept the responsibilities of adulthood in a full sense!

Above all, separation of church and state, when it comes to public schools and public colleges and universities, must be maintained, as we are not a theocracy.

Religion is appropriate in churches and synagogues, but not in public education, and religion should not be taught in public schools or forced at the college and university level, unless one chooses independently to study it as a subject of inquiry.

This does not mean that religion as part of history should not be introduced and taught, but no indoctrination or advocacy can be allowed, despite the desires and wishes of Rick Santorum!

Rick Santorum On The Rampage: Attacking Public Education, The Environment, And Prenatal Care

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is on the rampage, ranting and raving like a maniac, and making many mainstream Republicans roll their eyes as they see the chances of their party disintegrating for November.

Santorum yesterday, while campaigning in Ohio, attacked public education, saying it is outmoded, and should not be controlled or operated by national or state governments, but instead privatized. The fact that we have had public schools since the 1820s is ignored, as he calls such an idea “antiquated” and “anachronistic”! He calls public schools “factories”, and says that local school boards and parents should control the educational system, even though the historical record does not show that to have been done very well in the past! The idea that parents, who in many cases have no knowledge or understanding of educational curriculum, should control what is taught, is as dangerous as to let patients tell doctors how to do their job, or clients to tall attorneys how to conduct cases in court! It is also a great way to distort history and science, teaching a distorted view of the past, and allowing religion to become part of science in relation to evolution and climate change, already being promoted in many states dominated by the Christian Right.

Santorum also attacked those he says are following a false theology, such as Barack Obama, who feel that the earth comes before human beings, and that radical environmentalists want to prevent mankind from utilizing the earth, and therefore endangering the future prosperity of America. Teddy Roosevelt would turn over in his grave at such an assertion!

Santorum also accused those who promote prenatal care, including amniocentesis, of setting out to abort disabled children, preventing their birth. There is no evidence of such a claim, but it is interesting that Rick Santorum, as with other Republicans, constantly calls for cuts in Medicaid, the major program to help the disabled with health care. So Santorum is totally hypocritical on this matter.

The man is displaying all of his instability, weirdness, craziness, and lunacy, which will destroy his ability to attract educated voters, women, independents, moderate Democrats, and those who believe that religion should not be part of government policy, who want separation of church and state.

The more he rants and raves, the more the Republican Party is on the road to total defeat in November, so keep it coming, Rick!

Republican Attack On PBS And NPR: Attempt To Suppress Knowledge And Analysis!

The Republican Party is setting out to destroy the public education system nationally and in many states, and part of that attack is the plan to zero budget the Public Broadcasting System and National Public Radio.

Both PBS and NPR have been contributing to the knowledge, entertainment, and education of the American people since the mid 1960s, part of the many contributions of the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson.

But because conservatives and many Republicans hate both PBS and NPR because of their perceived liberal and progressive bent, they want to wipe it out, and take away all of the benefits of both over the past 45 years.

This is, effectively, promoting censorship and ignorance, and it should be condemned, and petitions, emails and phone calls need to be sent to the House of Representatives to call upon them to stop these intolerant steps, as they try to suppress freedom of expression.

The amount of public funding of PBS and NPR is so minimal, and will not have any real effect on the national debt or deficit.

It is short sighted and demagogic to call for the removal of public support for television and radio programming that is the highest quality found in the communications industry today!