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Posted by Starry Messenger in General Discussion
Sat Dec 03rd 2011, 06:29 PM
via Fred Klonsky: /

The latest right-wing loony accusation is delivered by Kyle Olson of the Michigan-based grouplet, the Education Action Group.

Olson parades around as a concerned parent of a kindergartener. But we have pointed out that the EAG is secretly funded, has close ties to the Koch brothers, Andrew Breitbart and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The Mackinac Center has recently been exposed for secretly sending emails and lobbying Michigan legislators in violation of their non-partisan tax status.


This week, Kyle went on Fox (surprise) to denounce the use of Click Clack Moo. Cows that Type to indoctrinate kindergarten students in pro-union ideology. He accused a Chicago teacher of sneaking the word, “negotiate,” into a vocabulary lesson.

Kyle. Check this out: I read a picture book about a young Mexican boy called Diego to my first grade art students. It’s about Diego Rivera, the great Mexican muralist. Hey man. He grew up to be a Communist!
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Posted by Starry Messenger in General Discussion
Fri Dec 02nd 2011, 07:13 PM,Po...

"An investigation has been launched over allegations that Polish anti-fascist web sites are promoting violence. Irena Lipowicz, Poland's Human Rights Omsbudsman, announced the investigation on Tuesday in a statement to the Polish Press Agency.

According to Lipowicz's office, the action is “in relation to media reports” following clashes during Independence Day marches between nationalists and opponents. On Tuesday, Polish daily Rzeczpospolita reported that “anarchists and leftists are proud of their brutal attacks on people with right-wing sympathies,” and that this was being flaunted on internet forums.

The march on Independence Day was organised by two Polish nationalist groups, the All Polish Youth (MW) and the National Radical Camp (ONR). Some 210 people were arrested amid the clashes that ensued, 92 of whom were Germans with anti-fascist affiliations."

Strange thing when the anti-fascists are accused of being the bullies. Polish nationalism seems to have a strong streak of projection. I guess the right-wing tendency to victim blaming is universal. Of course, violence should never be condoned, but why are fascist tendencies being nursed in Eastern Europe?
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Posted by Starry Messenger in General Discussion
Tue Sep 27th 2011, 06:59 PM
"Human beings have no fixed characteristics and outlook, eternally permanent...In capitalist society there is the most extreme disintegration of social responsibility: the system makes “every man for himself” the main principle of life. The outlook of people can be changed by changing their material conditions, the way in which they get their living." (Emile Burns, "Introduction to Marxism", 1957, International Publishers)

"The fact is that the individualistic every-man-for himself-and-the-devil-take-the-hindmost behavior of most human beings in capitalist countries is not part of our biological heritage. It is the result of our conditioning in a society dominated by the motive for private profit. Eliminate this driving motive, and a different kind of behavior develops, one that seeks the personal good in the common good." ( A.B. Magil's "Socialism: What's In It For You", 1946, New Century Publishers)

"Does it require deep intuition to comprehend that man’s ideas, views, and conception, in one word, man’s consciousness, changes with every change in the conditions of his material existence, in his social relations and in his social life?" (Marx & Engels, "Communist Manifesto")

Greed is not an inborn human trait, it is a learned reaction to the system of society that is imposed on us. Change the system, change the behavior. NOTE: no one is saying that this change would happen overnight, or even in one or two generations. But the reaction of humans to protect each other and their society under great duress shows that we are a communal species, our instinct is for cooperation and for sharing. Only one sector of society preys on our misery, profits from our misfortunes, makes a religion of profit and greed. They are called capitalists and there isn't any rule that we have to keep them.
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Posted by Starry Messenger in General Discussion
Sat Sep 10th 2011, 04:37 PM

Just as Darwin discovered the law of development or organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of development of human history: the simple fact, hitherto concealed by an overgrowth of ideology, that mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc. that therefore the production of the immediate material means, and consequently the degree of economic development attained by a given people or during a given epoch, form the foundation upon which the state institutions, the legal conceptions, art, and even the ideas on religion, of the people concerned have been evolved, and in the light of which they must, therefore, be explained, instead of vice versa, as had hitherto been the case." (Frederick Engels, "Speech at the Grave of Karl Marx" 1883)

Why is a job seeker, a person trying to survive, expected to play-act and grovel for access to the basics of human existence? Haven't we given up enough? Haven't we downsized, gone without, lived simply, enough? Why are the workers expected to give more, when the 1% has the most?

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Posted by Starry Messenger in General Discussion
Fri Aug 26th 2011, 03:06 PM

The Teamsters today joined the AFL-CIO in demanding that President Obama stop caving in to the GOP and offer a new jobs program that he will fight for.

"We want him to fight harder," said James Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Up to now, he added, the president is "not fighting enough."

While labor isn't about to back a Republican in the election, Hoffa echoed the AFL-CIO's frustration that labor doesn't seem to be on the president's mind. Instead, he said, the president has been too willing to cave into GOP demands on spending and deficit cuts.

In an interview on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Hoffa said: "I think he's got to draw a line in the sand. But to constantly keep backing up, and backing up, we don't want him to do that. We want him to fight and we will rally behind him. And the president also has to rally the base, come back to labor. You know when he was out there talking to the farmers , I had to laugh at that. Do you think the farmers are going to vote for the him? I mean, I don't think so. When he's standing out in that corn field—I love the president—I don't know what he's thinking out there. He's not going to get any votes out there. I guess it was good television."

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Posted by Starry Messenger in General Discussion
Mon Aug 08th 2011, 02:46 PM

"NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The U.S. labor force is shrinking, as more Americans are giving up hope.

Last month, only 58.1% of Americans age 16 and over were employed, a significant drop from before the recession and the lowest since 1983.

That's especially worrisome to economists, who say a steady increase in those dropping out of the work force and not being counted in the unemployment rate is disguising just how bad the labor market really is.


"When we have a time when the labor force is not growing normally, e-pop provides the cleanest assessment of what is going on in the labor market," said Heidi Shierholz, a labor economist with the Employment Policy Institute, a liberal think tank. "What you see is from '07 to '09 -- it fell off a cliff, and it hasn't recovered since then.""
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Posted by Starry Messenger in General Discussion
Sat Jul 09th 2011, 11:07 PM
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Posted by Starry Messenger in General Discussion
Fri Jul 08th 2011, 04:09 PM
From William Z. Foster, "The Mass Impoverishment of the Toilers"

Read some of his analysis from the 1930s and tell me if this is starting to sound familiar:

THROUGHOUT capitalism the policy of the ruling class is to try to find a way out of the crisis by throwing its burden upon the shoulders of the working class, the poor farmers and the lower sections of the city petty bourgeoisie. This is being done by a vast system of starving the unemployed, wage-cuts, speed-up, inflation schemes, taxes directed against the masses, etc. In consequence, with the development of the crisis, there has been an enormous increase in the impoverishment of the toiling masses.

Wholesale starvation, spreading like a plague, is the order of the day in all capitalist countries. The bourgeoisie, intent only upon its own pleasures, cynically shrugs its shoulders at the whole terrible misery, when it does not hypocritically direct the masses towards religion for consolation. Nor are there “scientists” lacking to justify this mass starvation. Thus Prof. E. G. Conklin of Princeton University says: “Some of the weaker, according to the law of nature, will naturally die under the stress of the times. Others will not propagate their kind. The strong and hardy will survive and reproduce, and thus the human race will be strengthened.”4

Since the onset of the present economic crisis American workers and poor farmers, through unemployment, part-time work, wage-cuts, reduced prices for agricultural products, tax increases, etc., have suffered a general decline in their living standards of at least 50%. Prof. Leiserson estimates that the total income of industrial and office workers was about 22 billion dollars less in 1931 than in 1929, and this is supported by the figures of Business Week (Feb. 10). This is by no means offset by the decline in living costs which, according to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, amounted to 11.7% from June, 1929, until June, 1931. On the farms, the Alexander Hamilton Institute says, the average income per household has dropped from $887 in 1929 (already a crisis year in agriculture) to but $367 in 1931.


The workers are losing wholesale the houses, radios, furniture, etc., that they so laboriously got together during the upward swing of American capitalism; thousands of farmers are losing their farms to the usurers. The Nation, (Mar. 23, 1932), says that in Detroit alone 50,000 workers lost their life savings in the collapsed banks, and similar huge losses have been suffered all over the country. In 1931, according to the New York Journal, (Jan. 28), 198,738 workers’ families were evicted from their homes in New York City for non-payment of rent. The worker’s life has become an endless round of worry and misery. The jails are filled to overflowing, thousands preferring prison rigors to life under the Hoover regime of “rugged individualism.” Prostitution spreads like a poison weed in every American city. Tuberculosis runs riot among the half-starved masses, and the hospitals are packed with sufferers of diseases bred of under-nourishment, etc., etc. To such a debacle has come the Hooverian pre-election promises of the “abolition of poverty,” “a chicken in every pot” and “an automobile in every garage” for the workers. And daily the whole maze of poverty, starvation, misery and death gets worse.

Manifestly, a fundamentally necessary measure against actual starvation among the workers is the establishment of a system of federal unemployment insurance, financed by the government and the employers. This must be of a permanent character, because what we have to deal with is not a temporary condition of unemployment, but a huge mass unemployment on a permanent basis. This, however, has not been done. The capitalists and their government have forced the workers into wholesale starvation which is now infesting the country like a plague.

The entire question of unemployment relief has been reduced to a charity basis. Although the worker has spent his life producing the wealth of the country, now when the capitalist system has broken down he is treated as a mendicant and a criminal. He is thrown a beggarly handout like a starving dog. Mr. Gifford, head of Hoover’s Emergency Employment Committee, boasted that in the 1931 Fall relief drive about $150,000,000 had been raised in the various localities. So far as the Federal government is concerned, this money (what the workers get of it after the grafters are through) has to last the unemployed for the whole year. Thus it figures out at about $1.00 per month for each of the 12,000,000 unemployed. In New York, richest city in the world, after a disgusting campaign of begging, $18,000,000 of Gifford’s fund was raised. This would give about $1.50 per month to each of New York’s 1,000,000 unemployed.

The unemployed relief program of the Hoover Government is a real hunger plan. It is the policy of the capitalist class and it has the support of both big parties and the A. F. of L. That the Progressives also agree fundamentally with it is shown by the new unemployment insurance law in Wisconsin. This law adds insult to injury. According to its beggarly provisions unemployed workers can receive only a maximum of $100 yearly. And this applies only to those now employed, for whom insurance funds will be gradually built up. As for the masses of those totally unemployed now and part-time workers, they are left out of consideration altogether.

If the capitalists have callously forced the toiling masses into starvation conditions they have, however, very carefully looked after their own interests. “During the first nine months of 1930, our national industrial and business system was able to and did pay $432,000,000 more in dividends and $191,000,000 more in interest than it did in 1929; in the first nine months of 1931, the second year of the depression, it paid $347,000,000 more in dividends and $338,000,000 more in interest than it did in the first nine months of 1929.”6 The Publishers Financial Bureau, (New York American, Mar. 19, 1932), states that the industrial dividends paid in 1931 are “the largest for any year previous to 1929.” Anna Rochester says: “In September, 1931, the New York Times reported that of 5,000 companies, 50% had continued dividend payments without reduction; 20% were paying smaller dividends; and only 30% had omitted payments entirely. . . . For October, 1931, the total dividends plus bond interest by a large group of corporations were only 4% below the high record of October, 1930.”7 Besides, every appeal of the bankers and other capitalists to the government for assistance has met with immediate response. The two billion dollar Reconstruction Finance Corporation has been organized and the Glass-Steagall inflation bill is being prepared to absorb the worthless paper of the banks and to underwrite the dividends of industrial corporations. And in the new Federal taxes the capitalists are further shielded from the economic effects of their own bankruptcy.

No, we are not quite at the stage the country was in the Great Depression, but do you see some parallels? Someone told me recently that commies had no relevance to today, in the US. I'd say they are more relevant than ever...what is going to happen when/if things *do* get as bad as the 1930s?
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Posted by Starry Messenger in General Discussion
Sat Jul 02nd 2011, 09:20 PM
July 02, 2011, 03:25 AM By Paul Wiseman The Associated Press ?

Two years after economists say the Great Recession ended, the recovery has been the weakest and most lopsided of any since the 1930s.

After previous recessions, people in all income groups tended to benefit. This time, ordinary Americans are struggling with job insecurity, too much debt and pay raises that haven’t kept up with prices at the grocery store and gas station. The economy’s meager gains are going mostly to the wealthiest.

Workers’ wages and benefits make up 57.5 percent of the economy, an all-time low. Until the mid-2000s, that figure had been remarkably stable — about 64 percent through boom and bust alike.

Executive pay is included in this figure, but rank-and-file workers are far more dependent on regular wages and benefits. A big chunk of the economy’s gains has gone to investors in the form of higher corporate profits. “The spoils have really gone to capital, to the shareholders,” says David Rosenberg, chief economist at Gluskin Sheff + Associates in Toronto.

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Posted by Starry Messenger in General Discussion
Sat Jun 04th 2011, 03:19 PM
Due To Sick Workers

Company Credibility Erodes as NLRB Investigation over Firing of Six Whistleblowers Continues:

MINNEAPOLIS- Two months after Jimmy John's fired six workers for blowing the whistle on a company practice of forcing sandwich-makers to work while sick, the IWW Jimmy John's Workers Union has released Minnesota Department of Health documents today revealing eight outbreaks of foodborne illness at franchises across the Twin Cities area in the past five years, seven of which were due to employees working while sick at the chain. The release of the documents seriously erodes the credibility of Minneapolis franchise owner Mike Mulligan who had previously claimed to reporters and employees that, "the company has made more than 6 million sandwiches during its nearly 10 years in business—and no one’s ever gotten sick from eating one." Two of the outbreaks, both caused by sick employees, were at the Mulligans' stores.

"This is smoking gun evidence not only of the seriousness of the public health risk caused by workers being forced to work while sick at Jimmy John's, it also proves that Jimmy John's franchise owner Mike Mulligan willfully lied to the media, the public, and his employees about his food safety track record. We will continue our fight for paid sick days for restaurant workers until Jimmy John's changes their policy to protect workers and the public," said Max Specktor, one of the fired whistleblowers.

Although franchise owner Mike Mulligan has also publicly denied disciplining workers for calling in sick, the company's own written policy mandates one to two disciplinary 'points' for workers who call in without finding a replacement, even if they have a doctor's note. Workers are fired after accumulating six points. In addition to the threat of discipline for calling in sick, workers are often unable to afford to take a day off if they fall ill because wages at the sandwich chain hover around the federal minimum of $7.25 and the company offers no benefits.

According to results of a survey of 40 sandwich workers conducted by the IWW Jimmy John's Workers Union, the threat of discipline and poverty wages result in an average of at least two workers working while sick at Jimmy John's in Minneapolis every single day. The union plans to release a report highlighting these findings next week.

Nice to see some vindication of the workers, even if the news is pretty icky. Unions work to protect the public as well as workers.
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Posted by Starry Messenger in General Discussion
Wed May 04th 2011, 10:08 AM

In 1997, Miron and his research team began canvassing Michigan -- and eventually the nation -- to gather data. Even at that time, they discovered, more than half of the state's charter schools were being run by outside management firms.

"The state (education) agency had no idea about EMOs,” he said.

These days, plenty of people have heard of outfits like Edison Learning, Charter Schools USA, and Imagine. But Miron continues to gather his data, attend school board meetings, and shine a light at the junction where public education meets private industry.


And then there's the data. Last month, the investigative journalism group ProPublica reported that less than half of for-profit management companies' charters make adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind law, compared to 63 percent for all charters and 67 percent for traditional public schools.

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Posted by Starry Messenger in Education
Tue Feb 08th 2011, 08:07 PM

An independent arbitrator has ruled that former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle A. Rhee improperly fired 75 new teachers still serving their probationary period in 2008, and the arbitrator ordered them reinstated with back pay because Rhee failed to give them a reason for their dismissal.

The ruling, issued Monday by Charles Feigenbaum, was narrowly cast. It said the school system had the right to fire teachers during their two-year probationary period if they had received negative recommendations from school principals. Feigenbaum said the "glaring and fatal flaw" in Rhee's action was that the teachers were not given reasons for their terminations.

"They had no opportunity to provide their side of the story," Feigenbaum wrote.


Feigenbaum ordered the District to make a 60-day good-faith effort to find the fired teachers and offer them reinstatement in an appropriate job. He also ordered that they be made financially whole. Union officials estimate the back-pay award could amount to $7.5 million - a considerable sum for the cash-strapped District.

In other bad news for Rhee:

Michelle Rhee's early test scores uncovered

G.F. Brandenburg, a retired D.C. math teacher with an irresistible blog, has done it again. If he had chosen a career in journalism instead of teaching, no U.S. president would have finished out his first term. He has found the missing test score data from former D.C. schools chancellor's early years as a classroom teacher, something I did not think was possible.

He has proved that Rhee's results weren't nearly as good as she said they were.

You can find Brandenburg's revelations if you scroll down on his blog to the Jan. 31 item "The Rhee Miracle Examined Again--By Cohort." Then go back further for other recent pieces he has done, with many charts, to make his findings clear. You may also be enlightened by his most recent Feb. 8 item, "The Cluelessness of Rhee, Kopp and Mathews," which finds fault with my Feb. 3 column on Teach For America founder Wendy Kopp's new book. It is an honor, of a sort, to be mentioned by Brandenburg in the same headline as Rhee, who has been his prime target for years.


checked Richard Whitmire's new biography of Rhee, "The Bee Eater," to see if he has more on her Baltimore teaching years. He does not mention Brandenburg's research, and appears somewhat neutral on the argument over this issue. He quotes Rhee as saying on her resume that after two years 90 percent of her students had reached the 90th percentile in reading and math, but he also quotes other officials casting doubt on that statement. Rhee's principal, according to Whitmire, backed up Rhee. She said the students' achievement level climbed impressively. But she did not have the results to confirm that. These were not official state tests that would have been preserved and made public, but private company records.

Mathews goes into gyrations in his article to smooth over any unpleasant suggestion that Rhee might have lied, so I'm not giving him pride of place in his own thread. His claim is that she would have unknowingly made the claim that her scores got massively higher because her principal told her they did. Even if that is true, I think if I were going to use that as my bragging point on an already thin-as-ice resume', I'd make damn sure it was true before braying about it in every media outlet.

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Posted by Starry Messenger in Education
Tue Jan 25th 2011, 09:49 PM

Michael Moore's tweet during the education portion of the SOTU.
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Posted by Starry Messenger in Education
Mon Jan 24th 2011, 07:01 PM

Former NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein is busy making big bucks at News Corp., but he's apparently not too busy for some extra-curricular activities: Namely, serving as chairman of the board of the advocacy group Education Reform Now.

In his first statement in his new role, Klein is coming out in favor of changing the rules on the "last in, first out" procedure for teacher layoffs -- a position that keeps him in line with his old boss, Mayor Bloomberg, and his successor at the Education Department, Cathie Black.


Education Reform Now* -- which pushed hard for raising the state cap on charter schools as part of last year's fight for federal Race To The Top school funding -- also plans to "focus its efforts in 2011 on expanding successful school models, like high-performing public charter schools, encouraging states anddistricts to develop and adopt value-added teacher evaluations, and ensuring that proven reform programs remain funded at the federal, state and district levels."

The group clashed with the United Federation of Teachers during the push to lift the charter cap, with the union saying ERN ran misleading ads to sway the public to their side. /

About Us
Board of Directors

Sidney Hawkins Gargiulo - Hawkshaw Capital
John Petry (chair) - Gotham Capital
John Sabat - SAC Capital
Brian Zied - Maverick Capital /

Education Reform Now, a group once named Democrats for Education Reform and run by a former Milwaukee education reporter named Joe Williams, is a main player in the Democratic Party and represents their most rabidly anti-union, right-wing, pro-Wall Street fringe. But it is a very wealthy fringe.

Sitting on their board:

--John Petry. A partner at Gotham Capital Management. Petry’s Gotham Capital LLC, founded in 1985 with $7 million from junk-bond king Michael Milken, is a privately owned hedge fund.

--Sidney Hawkins Gargiulo. Hawkshaw Capital, founded in 2002 by a former Lehman Brothers analyst.

--John Sabat. SAC Capital, a Stamford, Conn.-based private investment firm.

--Brian Zied. Maverick Capital, a Dallas-based investment adviser managing hedge funds and private investment funds.

Also included among Education Reform Now’s funders is Julian Robertson, the founder of the Tiger Management hedge fund. According to McAdoo, Robertson’s gifts include $71 million in 2008, including $250,000 to Education Reform Now, $1 million to the Achievement First charter network, $2 million to KIPP charters, $3 million to the New York City Center for Charter School Excellence, $7.1 million to Teach for America and $200,000 to the New Teacher Project.

Of course, all this is open and above-board. But not always. Back in April of 2009, Ed Reform Now’s Joe Williams got in a mess of trouble for functioning as a bag man, channeling money through different organizations and funds to hide its source and destination.

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Posted by Starry Messenger in General Discussion
Sun Jan 23rd 2011, 06:24 PM

His bosses had no trouble dismissing Ryan Abbott’s report of cheating on standardized tests in an Atlanta school. They simply cast him in a self-fulfilling role, Abbott says: “disgruntled teacher.”

Former teacher Paul Landerman found Atlanta Public Schools' investigation of his complaint quickly turned against him after he reported seeing students cheating on the graduation test with a teacher present. Landerman, who taught Japanese at Carver High School, is shown here near his home in Sandy Springs Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011.

Abbott was already on probation, after four years at Benteen Elementary. His students had not posted the big increases in test scores seen in other classrooms. Yet he had the audacity to level charges against a popular colleague. After word of Abbott’s allegations spread through the school, Benteen’s principal opened an ethics case — against him.


The newspaper reviewed reports of the school district’s internal investigations and spoke with more than a dozen current and former Atlanta educators. The documents and the interviews describe a culture that punishes employees who report wrongdoing and rewards those who keep silent. Some whistle-blowers end up under scrutiny themselves. Others are subjected to questions about their mental health. Some lose their jobs.



In Atlanta, as in other Georgia school districts, teachers have little job security. Even those with tenure work under year-to-year contracts, and they have no collective bargaining rights. Younger teachers, in particular, say that if they run afoul of administrators, they risk being “non-renewed.”

This is why teachers are protective of unions and tenure. This is the kind of thing that can happen in a place with little protection. Saying "less job security" would lead to "less complacency" is total nonsense and show a lack of knowledge of school culture in general.

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