Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Media Noise

If this election season has taught me anything at all, it is that the 24-hour news cycle has changed the world, and not in a good way. The fact that Donald Trump can say anything at all and still gain votes, or this week that Hillary Clinton can make half a dozen major gaffes and actually improve her position, tells me that it no longer matters WHAT the media say about you. What matters is that they say it and repeat it often. If your name is mentioned 250 times a night, and your opponent tops out at 100, you win, even if you are being reviled. Nobody is actually listening anymore because there's just too much input, but the sounds of candidates' names are like dog whistles, imprinting meaninglessly but powerfully on voters' brains.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Required Reading

Neal Gabler on how Trump is, with the complicity of the media, not the destruction but rather the fulfillment of the Republican Party's master plan.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Regents Revisited

It is not an exaggeration to call what is happening at the Board of Regents a sort of coup.

I've written from time to time about our system of Regents, usually none too positively. The only time when I'm really happy about the Regents is when I'm comparing them to the Texas Board of Education. At least our Regents are well-educated and well-meaning and not a bunch of crackpot yahoos.

But they've had a tough few years. The not-that-fast fast-tracking of the Common Core with accompanying new ties between standardized tests and teacher evaluations proved to be the death of them. Some of the recently seated members, including the best bet for Chancellor, are associated with the opt-out movement. Chancellor-to-be Rosa is new as of 2008, making her a relative newcomer on a board where some outgoing members had served for 20 years.

The Board of Regents is getting younger, more diverse, and more closely aligned to P-12 education. It is also becoming more blatantly political. Then again, isn't everything?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Second Verse, Same as the First

Last year, the governor proposed a way to let corporations and rich people divert tax dollars into scholarship programs for private and parochial schools. His plan was defeated. Lo and behold, it's back. This year he's sweetened the pot with a tax credit for teachers who buy their own supplies and one for parents who pay tuition for little kids in families with an income of $60K or less.

But it's the same rotten plan, for a variety of reasons neatly laid out by the folks at the Fiscal Policy Institute. To sum up, the Parental Choice in Education Act (PCEA):

1) provides an unprecedented amount of tax reduction relative to contribution, making it the go-to charity of anyone who's paying attention;

2) enables the super-wealthy by avoiding limits on contributions;

3) purports to provide scholarships to poor kids while actually allowing money to go to families with household incomes up to $300K (and higher in the Senate proposal that just passed);

4) directs $150+ million in state revenues away from public schools toward private and parochial schools by letting the private sector dictate state spending authority.

Thanks to Rick Timbs at SSFC for alerting us once again to this horrible plan.