Posts Tagged ‘Education’

Inured To Work

March 20, 2018

In his final year in office Governor John Kasich has befuddled political news aficionados by actively promoting the consolidation of Ohio’s Department of Education with the Governor’s Office of Workforce Training (House Bill 512). He has denigrated the independence of the Education Department and called for control of education to be within the purview of the governor. Since he is in his final year, and his children are likewise in the last of their K-12 education, what is the intention or rationale behind such an aggressive position? Adrian Ma, reporting for WOSU, headlined Ohio School Board Opposes Education Consolidation Bill (3-14-18). “Members of the Ohio Board of Education [which the Governor dissed in his promotion] have approved a resolution speaking out against a bill being considered in the General Assembly.” “Both the Ohio Education Association (OEA) and the Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT) released statements in opposition to the bill Wednesday.” “Speaking to the Board of Education, OEA Vice President Scott DiMauro said even though the bill’s intent is to consolidate to improve collaboration between the agencies, but K-12 officials have to collaborate with more than just higher education and workforce development. DiMauro said they also have to work with local districts, the state Medicaid office, mental healthcare and addiction specialists and many more.” 3-19-18 The Plain Dealer’s Patrick O’Donnell headlined Computers are now grading essays on Ohio’s state tests. “No, not just all those fill-in-the bubble multiple choice questions. The longer answers and essays too. After Ohio started using American Institutes for Research in 2015 to provide and score state tests, Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs have increasingly taken over grading. Computers are now scoring the entire test for about 75 percent of Ohio students, State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria and state testing official Brian Roget told the state school board recently. The other 25 percent are scored by people to help verify the computer’s work.” “According to the department, some students copied large portions of the questions or of the passages that they had to read into their answers.  That led the computer to give them zeroes on the question – either as apparent plagiarism or simply because the student offered little original thought in the answer. That’s a sticky point because the tests ask students to show what parts of the passage led them to their answer.” “The most clear guidance so far: An update this month of all the ways students can earn a zero on a question. “A score of zero also is earned when there is a significant amount of text copied directly from the prompt and/or reading passage, with little to no original writing from the student,” that new guide states. “Copying limited text from the prompt is allowable but, as a rule, at least 30 percent of a response needs to be original to demonstrate understanding and earn points.”” Analysis can’t help but ask how the AI program determines writing to be original (since AI is based on data in/data out, that is past examples of “writing” determine the algorithm)? Wiki gives “In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is an unambiguous specification of how to solve a class of problems.” Fair or unfair? We’ve all become captive to algorithm solving our problems, taken this to be “naturally” equitable. Is it? Speaking with Harry Shearer (Le Show, 11-26-17) Cathy O’Neil, author of Weapons Of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality And Threatens Democracy, explained how they are really rather biased, depending on how the plan is put together. Analysis would liken this to be analogous to routing a road map to a given destination by various sources – AAA, Google, Travel and Tourism Bureau, etc. Speaking with Guy Raz on the TED Radio Hour (1-26-18) she elaborated: “I mean, look – it’s really important to understand the difference between accuracy and fairness. So it used to be that life insurance companies made black men pay more for life insurance than white men simply because they were going to die sooner. That lasted for a long time before the regulators in question were like – wait a second – that’s racist. And it’s racist because we have to ask the question why. Why are black men living less than white men? And is that their fault that they should take responsibility for and they should pay for, or is that a problem that society itself should take on and fix? So it wasn’t an inaccurate fact that black men lived less time. But the question was, how should we deal with that? And that’s a question of fairness, and it’s a question that we all have to grapple with together. And many of these questions are of that nature. So yes, it’s true that people who live in this ZIP code are more likely to default on their debt. Does that mean we don’t loan them any money, or do we make a rule that people of this age who have a job, who finish college or whatever – what do we decide is fair? And that’s a really hard question. Data science has done nothing to address that question.” “This is Roger Ailes. He founded Fox News in 1996. More than 20 women complained about sexual harassment. They said they weren’t allowed to succeed at Fox News. He was ousted last year, but we’ve seen recently that the problems have persisted. That begs the question, what should Fox News do to turn over another leaf? Well, what if they replaced their hiring process with a machine learning algorithm? That sounds good. Right? Think about it. The data – what would the data be? A reasonable choice would be the last 21 years of applications to Fox News – reasonable. What about the definition of success? Reasonable choice would be – well, who’s successful at Fox News? I guess someone who, say, stayed there for four years and was promoted at least once – sounds reasonable. And then the algorithm would be trained. It would be trained to look for people to learn what led to success. What kind of applications historically led to success by that definition? Now think about what would happen if we applied that to a current pool of applicants. It would filter out women because they do not look like people who were successful in the past. Algorithms don’t make things fair if you just blithely, blindly apply algorithms. They don’t make things fair. They repeat our past practices, our patterns. They automate the status quo. That would be great if we had a perfect world, but we don’t. And I’ll add that most companies don’t have embarrassing lawsuits. But the data scientists in those companies are told to follow the data, to focus on accuracy. Think about what that means. Because we all have bias, it means they could be codifying sexism or any other kind of bigotry.” Which brings us back to the lame duck Governor enthusiastically promoting consolidating the Department of Education into the governor’s Office of Workforce Training, although his children (and grandchildren) will be unaffected. In A People’s History of the United States (pg. 73-74) Howard Zinn writes: “The philosophy of the Declaration [of Independence], that government is set up by the people to secure their life, liberty, and happiness, and is to be overthrown when it no longer does that, is often traced to the ideas of John Locke, in his Second Treatise on Government. That was published in England in 1689, when the English were rebelling against tyrannical kings and setting up parliamentary government. The Declaration, like Locke’s Second Treatise, talked about government and political rights, but ignored the existing inequalities in property. And how could people truly have equal rights, with stark differences in wealth? Locke himself was a wealthy man… As adviser to the Carolinas, he had suggested a government of slave owners run by forty wealthy land barons. Locke’s statement of people’s government was in support of a revolution in England for the free development of mercantile capitalism at home and abroad. Locke himself regretted that the labor of poor children “is generally lost to the public till they are twelve or fourteen years old” and suggested that all children over three, of families on relief, should attend “working schools” so they would be “from infancy… inured to work.”’

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Internationalism,It’s More Informative Than You Think

February 22, 2018

February 22, 2018 disparate professionals walked off the job in equally disparate locations on the globe. “Public schools across West Virginia are closed Thursday as teachers and other school employees hit the picket lines, demanding higher wages and better benefits. According to Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association (WVEA), teachers in all of the state’s 55 counties are participating in the planned two-day walk-out, and a group will march Thursday morning to the capitol building in Charleston. Organizers expect thousands of teachers to participate.” “The work stoppage comes after Gov. Jim Justice signed legislation late Wednesday night granting teachers a 2% pay increase starting in July, followed by 1% pay increases over the next two years. “We need to keep our kids and teachers in the classroom,” Justice said in a statement after signing the pay raise bill. “We certainly recognize our teachers are underpaid and this is a step in the right direction to addressing their pay issue.” But the bill did not address further concerns of teachers, including issues with the teachers’ public employees insurance program, the rising costs of healthcare, and a tax on payroll deduction options, according to Campbell [Christine Campbell, president American Federation of Teachers – West Virginia]. The pay raise, which amounts to 4% over the next few years, is a reduction from an earlier version of the bill that proposed a 5% total increase in wages, Campbell said, also remarking that teachers in surrounding states make anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 more than teachers in West Virginia.” (West Virginia teacher walk-out closes all public schools, Sarah Jorgensen for CNN, 2-22-18) Writing for Great Britain’s Independent, Simon Calder headlines Air France Strike Grounds Dozens of UK Flights, Leaving Hundreds of Passengers Stranded, 2-22-18. “Tens of thousands of Air France passengers have been stranded by a coordinated one-day strike involving pilots, cabin crew and ground staff. The airline’s management has offered a basic increase of one per cent to staff, but the unions are demanding a six per cent rise. They are also unhappy about job losses and staff workloads.” Statista.com (the statistics portal) shows that worldwide, the airline industry showed profits for the last 8 years with each of the last three years nearly tripling that of the previous 5. Projections for 2018 are to be even larger. The wage increase for either public sector or private sector workers was 1%. Any coincidence? Before you answer that, consider the third meeting of the International Trade Union Network of Solidarity and Struggle 2018 recently held outside Madrid Spain; covered by Cole Stangler for In These Times, 2-20-18 (Meet the coalition building a global union movement against capitalism). “a four-day conference in late January attended by nearly 300 labor activists from 25 different countries and 35 different groups”. “A spirit of radicalism and internationalism runs deep within the Network of Solidarity and Struggle, a loose alliance organized by three national-level unions: Solidaires in France, the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) in Spain and CSP Conlutas in Brazil. All of these unions are on the left of their countries’ respective labor movements. “We need to function as a class, and for us having contacts is fundamental,” said José Manuel Muñoz Póliz, general secretary of the CGT, which claims to have grown to nearly 100,000 members in recent years and defines itself as anarcho-syndicalist. “The resolutions that are being passed here won’t be defended by political parties or governments: They’re being defended by workers.” Póliz said ties among union activists in different countries make the movement stronger as a whole — whether that’s by sharing information about broader threats like privatization and employer-friendly legal reforms or by adopting common actions and tactics. Because of the network’s commitment to working-class autonomy, he said it is more effective than the larger, more mainstream international union federations like the European Trade Union Confederation, whose agenda, he believes, is weakened by ties to parties and governments.” “Yet, activists at the conference insisted the U.S. labor movement stands to gain from a stronger dose of internationalism. According to them, it isn’t just a question of principle, but of practical advantage. In the day-to-day tussles between multinational corporations and labor unions, the latter often suffer from information deficiencies that hurt campaigns.” (sounds like something straight out of Hardt and Negri!) This in the age of information, information technologies and multinational media corporation control of information distribution (as well as misinformation dissemination). Though, on the same day, Dear Leader suggested paying teachers packing heat a premium bonus, the 1% pay increase offered WV professional educators differed not from the 1% increase a private corporation offered to its professionals. The only difference is in our ability to know that it is so. Internationalism, it’s more informative than you think.

The League

August 6, 2017

One of the bright spots in the news of Licking County this past week pretty much flew under the radar, for all intents, unheralded. The online Newark Advocate (8-3-17) listed “Letter” under the news labeled “Granville.” Clicking the item revealed a page headlined “Letter: League of Women voters forming”. Analysis surmises it must have been a letter to the editor of The Granville Sentinel, a Gannett subsidiary. Notable is: “A chapter of the League of Women Voters (LWV) is forming in Licking County. The history of the LWV goes back almost 100 years nation wide. It once had a strong and active presence here until the local chapter disbanded in the 1990s.” and “The LWV is always firmly non-partisan with regard to candidates, but on some policy issues it takes a stand after reaching consensus based on research and discussion.” Policy issues would primarily be issues around voting rights, voting access and organization which are an integral part of the league’s 100 year history. Unmentioned by the letter is the absence of participation by young Americans in the organization (both women and men), leading to a decline in League membership as well as League sponsored events nationwide. You can only rely on the elderly (though they don’t think of themselves as such) for so long before fatigue or natural attrition sets in. Other local organizations, such as the NAACP, The Poverty Think Tank, etc. face a similar challenge. This has not been a factor with commercially sanctioned civic organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, who rely on the profit incentive to solicit and retain members. Of course, commercial organization implicates paid administration whereas those running the League at the start-up, local level are volunteers. A vibrant local chapter of the League is able to organize, publicize and activate educational community issue forums as well as candidate debates. A “Candidate debate” differs markedly from the “meet the candidate” events sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, primarily in terms of organization and sanctioning. No League member “benefits” from “sponsoring” the event (usually held at a public space rather than a hotel, private facility). Candidates agreeing to participate receive their party’s representative on the question screening panel. Questions are submitted before hand, screened by the League organization with input from the party reps – GOP, Dem, Green, independent, etc. The questions are screened for purposes of filtering out blatantly promotional, biased, or gotcha questions, sometimes edited to maintain intent but neutralize presentation. Candidates receive advance copy of the debate format, but not the questions themselves. This stresses the importance for their being knowledgeable of the substance as well as their own positions in responding to the questions. It also facilitates spontaneity. The monitor runs the debate but has no input on the questions themselves (as opposed to the Chamber’s previous format of having the Advocate editor present questions and stimulate responses. Many Advocate advertisers, as well as the Advocate itself, belong to the Chamber). There is a separate time keeper allotting each candidate equal time in toto (use up too much time in a single grandstanding response means you lose it in your closing statement). In this manner, unlike “meet the candidate” debutante events, League candidate debates are rather rigorous, something Licking County might find quite refreshing. The letter ends with “If you would like to be included in the communications about forming a LWV chapter in Licking County, please call Rita Kipp at 740-525-2287.”

If Not Democracy, Then What?

July 31, 2017

Newsweek lifted an article from RobertReich.org entitled INTRODUCING DONALD TRUMP, THE BIGGEST LOSER by (who else?) Robert Reich, 7-31-17. Those not familiar with Reich will recall he was part of the Clinton cabinet and now is (like a lot of former government heads) an academic. Well, to cut to the chase, he writes articles and essays telling folks what they need to know and think, the big picture, and giving out forewarnings. Describing our apprentice prez as a “loser”, by a former cabinet member of all people, is a bit jaw dropping. No, not because he chose to identify the apprentice president with winning and losing (which we already know), but rather for stooping to the apprentice president’s level of dialogue and discourse (“He’s a loser.”). First our political leaders have degraded to expletives, exaggeration, and unsubstantiated innuendo. Now our academics? Reich’s article is another essay (by many) illuminating that the current administration’s priority is winning/losing rather than any ideology or policy commitment. Analysis finds itself in that same company having written/posted likewise.  Reich lays out a sterling argument referenced impeccably with accurate current events and observations (his own as well as those of others). With his summation he writes “Anyone who regards the other party as a threat to the nation’s well being is less apt to accept outcomes in which the other party prevails – whether it’s a decision not to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or even the outcome of a presidential election. As a practical matter, when large numbers of citizens aren’t willing to accept such outcomes, we’re no longer part of the same democracy. I fear this is where Trump intends to take his followers, along with much of the Republican Party: Toward a rejection of political outcomes they regard as illegitimate, and therefore a rejection of democracy as we know it.” America and democracy? Like bacon and eggs, bread and butter, Kardashians and Extra – hard to imagine one without the other. “Rejection of democracy”? Naaa. Same day NPR produced New Florida Law Lets Residents Challenge School Textbooks (Greg Allen, Morning Edition 7-31-17). From the transcript: “Keith Flaugh is a retired IBM executive living in Naples, Fla., and a man with a mission. He describes it as “getting the school boards to recognize … the garbage that’s in our textbooks.” Flaugh helped found Florida Citizens’ Alliance, a conservative group that fought unsuccessfully to stop Florida from signing on to Common Core educational standards. More recently, the group has turned its attention to the books being used in Florida’s schools. A new state law, developed and pushed through by Flaugh’s group, allows parents, and any residents, to challenge the use of textbooks and instructional materials they find objectionable via an independent hearing.” There is an elaboration of Florida Citizens’ Alliance agenda and methodology followed by: “Flaugh says he’s just as concerned about how textbooks describe U.S. history and our form of government. “I spent over 20 hours with a book called ‘United States Government,'” he says. He found more than 80 places where he believes the textbook was wrong or showed bias, beginning with the cover. Its subtitle is “Our Democracy.” “We’re not a democracy, we’re a constitutional republic,” Flaugh says.” The dictionary gives the following definition for the word “republic”: “a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch.” Fair enough. Analysis wonders about the elected part and whether Mr. Flaugh is taking something for granted (are we all?). If the representatives and the president aren’t determined through election by the people (which hold supreme power), then how does it come about? Who determines winners and losers? If not democracy, then what?

 

Creep

February 24, 2017

A fascinating article surfaced. “Big Pharma Quietly Enlists Leading Professors to Justify $1,000-a-Day Drugs” by Consumer Reports 2-23-17. The article is Yuuuuge and has the potential of several Analysis essays. A brief synopsis would be as follows: Drug makers have priced their products in the past based on the costs of marketing, production costs, composition availability, regulation, and research/development. All of these and the anticipated profit margin. “Pharmaceutical companies have traditionally justified their prices by citing the cost of research and development, but recent research on drug pricing has challenged this argument. Many of the largest drug companies spend more on sales and marketing than on developing their drugs.” But has this justified the $1K a day drugs? Turns out not. The companies are increasingly collaborating with academics who act as consultants to come up with a new pricing justification. One of these is “Precision Health Economics [which] has become a prominent booster of a new way of setting drug prices—based on their overall value to society. Value is determined by comparing the drugs’ cost with their effectiveness in saving lives and preventing future health expenses.” Precision Health Economics is composed of various academics who not only teach/do research at institutions of higher learning, but free lance as consultants for the large drug manufacturers, many of whom fund the research done at the universities the consultants are part of. According to Ohio’s Governor, this would be a win-win. The educational institution is working with the business sector and both are benefitting. Unfortunately, the academics at Precision Health Economics are arguing for and justifying the cost of drugs that are in most cases 3-4 times what they cost in other countries. The research squabble that ensues over the “overall value to society” ends up in the specialty academic journals, many of which are likewise published, funded or edited by Precision Health Economics (or one of its members) or the drug industry itself. The current brouhaha over Ohio teachers doing externships with businesses in order to renew their licenses, or mandatory unelected and “non voting” business membership on school boards misses the point made by the Consumer Reports article. Analysis finds this to be a kind of legitimacy creep in that at first, it is just the wonderful folks who run the local bank or car dealership who will “get involved with the kids”. Eventually this may end up with a reciprocal relationship, not necessarily chosen, elected or agreed upon where the business interests, policies and interactions are justified by their “community involvement” with the schools. Analysis leaves it to the reader to imagine the various different scenarios — from curricula to contractual services to real estate “opportunities” to product pricing as well as work force selection and grooming. Legitimacy creep is not entertained by “Aw shucks, we want what’s best for our kids” conversations.

“Gilead Sciences’ $84,000 list price for its highly effective treatment for the hepatitis C virus prompted dozens of state Medicaid programs and prison systems to restrict treatment to only the sickest patients. A congressional investigation in 2015 found that Gilead, which purchased the drug from a smaller pharmaceutical company, had set the price of the treatment at the peak it thought the market could bear, more than double what the drug’s original developers had suggested. “Gilead pursued a calculated scheme for pricing and marketing its hepatitis C drug based on one primary goal, maximizing revenue, regardless of the human consequences,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, when he presented the findings of the congressional investigation.” “Raising her two sons on her own, [Emily] Scott barely supports the family with her weekly income of about $350 from sewing shirts at an apparel factory. She is one of more than 11,000 Tennesseans on Medicaid who have been diagnosed with hepatitis C, according to the most recent state data. If all of them received the new medication, the state estimated that it would cost over $1.6 billion, more than double what Tennessee’s Medicaid program spends on drugs in a year.” ““The drug companies do not have people’s interest in mind, they have money in mind,” Scott said. “It’s not fair that they are playing with people’s lives.”” Analysis indicates this is something to bear in mind when promoting business persons on boards of education (Citizens United extends personhood to corporations) and collaborations between academics and businesses. The bottom line may creep into “the learning.”

Opposites Attract

February 15, 2017

The popular colloquialism is that opposites attract. During the run up to the presidential election, and beyond, presidential wannabe and Ohio Governor John Kasich has consistently put on the armor of righteousness, of being the adult in the room (on the debate stage, on the ballot, etc.). He has and continues to present himself as the sensible alternative, the opposite of the ilk of our 45th president. But is this actually the case? Analysis finds “Kasich: Enough with the ‘Rust Belt’” by Julie Carr Smyth (AP 2-13-17) to reveal some mirroring appearing within this self-aggrandizing differentiation. “”We’re a big manufacturing state. But we also want to change the image of Ohio into something from the Rust Belt to the Knowledge Belt,” Kasich said during an Associated Press forum this month.” The following day (2-14-17) the AP headlined Study Ranks Ohio Near The Bottom For College Affordability (Ohio Public Radio Jo Ingles). “A new study ranks Ohio in the bottom five of all 50 states in college affordability. The study also shows just over 4 in 10 Ohioans have a post-secondary degree.” “William Doyle with Vanderbilt University says the state needs to make more need based aid available. “Families making less than $30,000 a year would need to pay 81% of their income to attend a public four-year research institution in Ohio. That’s including the grant aid they receive.”” None to be found with the Ohio Governor’s recent 2 year “recession” budget. It certainly doesn’t reflect that, or consider those findings (“The group says without making college more affordable, the state’s economy will suffer from a lack of skilled workers.”). What does the Ohio Governor propose to form this “Knowledge Belt” with? Chrissie Thompson, with Cincy’s The Enquirer, headlines Kasich: Teachers should job shadow with businesses to renew licenses (2-14-17). “Too many students, he says, leave high school to pursue college degrees that cost a fortune and don’t prepare them for realistic, good-paying jobs. “Are our schools preparing our students in a real way?” he [John Kasich] said at a recent event honoring innovative schools. “Never let the education get in the way of learning.”” Chrissie Thompson asks “How much money schools would get under John Kasich’s plan”? She considers the very real existence of school districts without a plethora of successful (and hiring) businesses, as well as teachers (like kindergarten) that would benefit more from successful business owners coming to their class and “teaching” the kids about what they do (rather than the teacher spending the day at the plant). But Kasich’s budget proposals doesn’t make large increases in K through 12 education. Indeed, he would like to see state financial backing cut to districts that have fewer students (no matter that the actual geographic district hasn’t shrunk). With the national election run up he touted the miracle Ohio economic recovery while post election it is Gotham City gloom and doom recession (shades of the presidential inauguration speech Batman!). Does he know something he’s not saying? “Where Have All The Young Kids Gone? Many Ohio Schools are Experiencing Enrollment Decline.” SHP Blog Dan Roberts (4-24-14). “The student population in Ohio is dwindling. In a recent story appearing in a Sunday edition of the Columbus Dispatch entitled, “Shrinking Environment,” written by Dispatch Reporter Charlie Boss, the student population in Ohio is expected to be reduced 2% by 2018.” A clever way to promulgate Ohio’s “responsible”, “performance based” K-12 education funding while at the same time cutting back on spending! Now about that “Knowledge Belt”, is this as a hold up or as a fashion accessory buy out from the 45th president’s daughter’s collection?

Post Inaugural Musings

January 22, 2017

What a tickle to think that the news media got their photo journalism wrong. The images of Yuuuge crowds in Washington DC dated the 21st were actually from the day before while those dated the 20th were from the following day. The news media just can’t get it right. Not to be trusted. So sad. The new administration will banish them from the White House and put the news media across the road. Like the marines, a seat at the press corps table will be accorded only to those who have shown themselves worthy – a few good men! Analysis witnessed further screw ups on the part of the press. Coverage of the made-up, non-existent demonstrations that took place in DC on the 20th was accompanied by audio describing the violence as perpetrated by people “dressed in black with their faces covered to shield their identity.” The images mistakenly showed the Washington riot police, dressed in black with face shields in place. Analysis goes off on tangents over the press’s repeated reporting of a populist president who actually didn’t win the popular vote. No problem. What’s a couple of million amongst patriots in need of coming together? Those people who appeared at the demonstration in Washington (whichever/whatever date you choose) should have voted. Why didn’t they? The XQ Institute runs a TV ad showing factory work and workers from the 1930’s as well as high schools from the 50’s. Their accompanying audio goes something like “High schools were designed to be great training for factory employment. Let’s rethink it.” With the recently inaugurated president’s emphasis on factory work, does that mean we will see a return to the public high schools of the 50’s? And what about school house rock? Analysis finds these rifts of fantasy to reveal a thread extending back through the populist president’s mentor, and assistant to Joe McCarthy, Roy Cohn. Those of you still able to keep score at home without your smart phone may recall the inquisition methodology from that time. After showing proof that the suspect bought a newspaper from a street urchin, the charge became one of associating with a known communist. Who knew the news boy was a red? Ya gotta look at the shoe laces! Fast forward to today. Who ya gonna believe, the news media or our amazing successful president?

Bowling For Community Connectors

December 14, 2016

Language can be revealing. The extended presidential election of the past two years speaks eloquently to that. Words matter (though not always in color). Remember the brouhaha in Florida over whether the state employees were allowed to utter “climate change”, “global warming” or none of the above? Analysis finds it most revealing when words morph into other meanings than those intended. Case in point – the word “funding” has morphed into “investment”. The dictionary meanings are not at all the same. The primary meaning given for investment is “the action or process of investing money for profit or material result”. Secondary meanings all embrace return “worth buying because it may be profitable or useful in the future” and “an act of devoting time, etc. to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result”. Funding is simple “money provided, esp. by an organization or government, for a particular purpose.” [as well as the act of doing such]. Not complicated, but notice the shift in usage: Grow Licking County seeks additional investors in 2017 Kent Mallett , The Advocate, 12-14-16 – “Nate Strum, economic development director for the Licking County Chamber of Commerce and Grow Licking County, said he’d like to see about 50 investors in 2017.” “The organization received contributions from 31 investors in 2016, including $150,000 from the Licking County commissioners. Other top contributors were: Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority, $25,000; city of Heath, $12,000; and $10,000 each from the cities of Newark and Pataskala, the villages of Hebron and Johnstown, Energy Cooperative, and the Newark campus of Ohio State University and Central Ohio Technical College.” Even GLC member and County Commissioner Tim Bubb got in a plug “”Grow Licking County should be invested across the county, from all sectors,” Bubb said. “It sends the right message. Early investors did so without a track record. This shouldn’t be that painful because the results are there.”” What Analysis finds painful is that over half the funding for GLC comes from sources that themselves are funded by, well, public funding. Is this a trend? In his 2014 State of the State address Ohio Governor Kasich spoke “And we’re going to launch a new initiative, Community Connectors. It’s an initiative to support the best ideas in our state for bringing together schools, parents, communities, community organizations, faith-based groups, business leaders, and, of course, our students in mentoring efforts based on proven practices. We’re going to ask you, the Legislature, to take the $10 million from casino receipts, and we’re going to ask you to create a program that will give these communities a $3 match for every dollar they put in to build these mentoring efforts.” June 2014 saw fruition of Community Connectors with Kasich signing House Bill 483. 12-14-16 The Dispatch’s Mark Williams headlines Kasich panel suggests ways to prepare Ohio kids for jobs. “Ohio Gov. John Kasich appointed a panel composed of legislators, business leaders, labor leaders, educators and others to examine ways to make students better prepared to enter the workforce. Business leaders could one day serve on local school boards in a nonvoting capacity. More internships and apprentice programs would help students learn about — and prepare for — careers. Teachers would have opportunities to spend time in the workplace to learn more about what their students need to know to be successful in the workplace. The ideas were among proposals released Tuesday by Gov. John Kasich’s Executive Workforce Board. The recommendations are meant to address, among other things, longstanding employer complaints that they can’t find people with the right skill set to fill jobs.” “One recommendation is for local school boards to appoint three nonvoting members to represent local business interests and for school officials to get involved in local business groups. The report suggests teachers could get credits as part of their license renewals for externships so that they could gain a better understanding of business needs.” Analysis notes the slippage from “funding” to “investment” by the expectations “for profit or material result.” But The Dispatch was too kind in its reporting of what those results were to be. 12-18-14 The Plain Dealer’s Patrick O’Donnell headlined Schools need a religious partner if they want any of Gov. Kasich’s student mentorship money. “HB 483, as it went into law, makes faith-based organizations an option equal to “civic organizations” and business, but not a requirement.” But “Any school district that wants a piece of that state money must partner with both a church and a business – or a faith-based organization and a non-profit set up by a business to do community service. No business and no faith-based partner means no state dollars. “You must include a faith-based partner,” United Way of Greater Cleveland President Bill Kitson, told potential applicants at an information session the United Way hosted Thursday here in Cleveland. Kitson sits on Kasich’s advisory panel for the program, called “Community Connectors,” which is taking applications for grants now.” No matter the nitty gritty of the outcome or present status, “funding” has morphed into “investment” with the emphasis on “for profit or material result.” The old joke was about “revenue enhancement” being used to elide pronouncing the word “tax.” Last word, er, joke: “Kitson noted that $10 million is not a lot of money. The United Way, he said, is spending $2.5 million to service people in 25 Cleveland schools – about a quarter of the schools in the district. Doing that for the whole district would cost $10 million – the same amount available statewide for Community Connectors – so the state program will likely tackle single schools or just a few at a time.”

Biopolitics Laid Bare

August 13, 2016

Analysis often lists “hegemony” as a tag line for many of its posted essays. Within any conversation, discussion, or exchange of ideas, it is assumed that there will be more than one point of view. Hegemony doesn’t negate this outlook. What it does describe is that one point of view or outlook dominates the exchange by determining format, or prioritization of hierarchy, or the agenda of ideas. Some ideas will be energetically contested while others will be so marginalized as to never find voice. Currently, in Ohio, there is a very contested exchange of ideas over the nature of state sponsored (paid for) education. The state constitution mandates education as a required state concern. The current Department of Education was caught with its pants down regarding charter school oversight, especially in regard to online schooling. The State Auditor has been vocal in advocating for better control, “accounting”. Results range from new legislation “to give an accounting” all the way to Ecot (major online school) being required to account for when its students attended and what they received for this attendance, etc. The “to give an accounting” screw primarily turns on money spent (by the state) and what is received in return (much as a purchase at a big box store is defined). The intricacies of what is learned, how much it costs, and whether it is comparable with brick and mortar educational facilities is what complicates the online analysis (how “to give an accounting”). After all, there is no little teacher on the other end of an online educational program to teach math, history or Spanish. It is only soft ware, 1’s and 0’s. Yet the demand remains for determining (and verifying) a return on money spent per pupil in either pedagogy. What ties the discussion together, makes it possible, is the self righteous predetermination of “performance” as a basis to assess the return on investment. (starts to sound a lot like the marketing of stocks, doesn’t it?). Hegemony reveals itself when one questions the value or worth of the cost of a school nurse, the guidance counselor, individual sports coach, school social worker or psychologist. Just how does one (the legislature) factor in the return on investment via the outcome or “performance” of individual students for these disparate education contributors? The hegemony of the debate, the dominance of the financial mode for determining the benefits of public education, through whatever means, is clarified when one considers other forms of public sponsored or funded interaction akin to education. Public transportation readily comes to mind. Though Licking County’s response to the need of public transportation certainly continues the hegemony of financial return (with service very much established around this priority), large city fixed service mass transit elides this hegemony. Like public education, public transit is considered a given requirement. Yes, bus routes must have limits (starts and ends), and yes, certain frequencies must be established, and stops determined, but after that, there is no channeling of ridership as to who goes where, and how often. Subway systems and light rail are accessible for riders no matter what, unfettered by any requirement of justification for their efficacy. Another example would be public libraries which promote various, often disparate resources for use by any (and all) with few necessities of legitimation by the user. We’re not talking rules here, but giving an accounting for resource availability. The hegemony of performance with financial accountability at the heart of the public education debate is evidence of what theoreticians describe as biopolitics. Black Lives Matter is just one of many responses to the politics of authority, where a monarch, dictator or “police” authority rules through intimidation or overt power (might makes right). Most modern “democratic” states rely on other measures to insure that taxes get paid, the state is secure internally/externally, and that its citizens can live out their lives (raise families, pursue interests, care for themselves and loved ones, etc.). Differing from authoritarianism, biopolitics relies on the biological development of the individual, and hence the citizenry. Through various means, biopolitics determines a pool of soldiers, or medical practitioners, truck drivers and school teachers, etc. to avail itself for the good of the state. The current debate of performance based accounting for the efficacy of any state sponsored schooling reveals the working of biopolitics within the functioning of Ohio’s “real” governance. Although an American democracy where each should be able to determine their own path, the State of Ohio is determining resource allocation only on the basis of how it promotes the aspirations of the state (which currently are totally market driven). Unlike public libraries or public transportation, where the individual user can determine the actual use (or not) of the public resource, the hegemony of “performance” and financial return on educational spending determines the orientation and development of the biological individual public education is meant to serve. Education as a resource for the citizens of Ohio becomes education as a response to the demands of the market. This is biopolitics laid bare.

Free Breakfast Program A Social Commentary

March 2, 2016

Maria DeVito, writing for the Newark Advocate, reports on 2-29-16 “Newark schools launch free breakfast program”. In it she states “The pilot program started at Ben Franklin on Jan. 8, but Newark City Schools Superintendent Doug Ute said the district plans to provide breakfast at all its schools starting next school year.” One reason for this was given as “Last year, the district realized that of the students who were eligible to eat a free breakfast, only about 30 percent were taking advantage”. The rest of the article covers the nuts and bolts specifics of the program and its implementation (such as “The school uses the federal reimbursements it gets for students to pay for the program, which the students named Morning Kickoff, Cable Miller said.”). It also notes that “Licking Valley Local Schools has been offering free breakfast to all of its students for about six or seven years, said Jan Jennings, the district’s cafeteria director.” and that “Heath City Schools just started serving breakfast to all of its students this year, Superintendent Trevor Thomas said.” Analysis, of course, is intrigued by all this, especially that “only about 30 percent were taking advantage”. Analysis wonders what is behind all this? That same leap day (2-29-16), Janie Boschma, writing for The Atlantic, came out with a very long and complicated study entitled “The Concentration of Poverty in American Schools”. She begins with the rather cut and dry (and almost lifted out of each page of American history) “In almost all major American cities, most African American and Hispanic students attend public schools where a majority of their classmates qualify as poor or low-income, a new analysis of federal data shows. This systemic economic and racial isolation looms as a huge obstacle for efforts to expand opportunity because researchers have found that the single-most powerful predictor of racial gaps in educational achievement is the extent to which students attend schools surrounded by other low-income students.” This is followed by a slew of statistics, studies, and sources which all pretty much indicate that big city or small, these students find themselves in schools where 75% or more of their peers can be designated as low income or poor. “the National Equity Atlas [“The Atlas is a joint project of PolicyLink and the University of Southern California’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity, or PERE”] defines low-income students as those eligible for the federal free- and reduced-lunch program.” Given that Ohio has opted to emphasize charter schools as a “choice” remedy, Analysis considers the significance of the disparity. Boschma writes “The overwhelming isolation of students of color in schools with mostly low-income classmates threatens to undermine efforts both to improve educational outcomes and to provide a pipeline of skilled workers for the economy at a time when such students comprise a majority of the nation’s public school enrollment.” Again a slew of statistics, studies and sources citing how graduation rates, test scores, college matriculation, etc. are affected. “The issue, Reardon said [“Sean F. Reardon, a professor at Stanford University’s graduate school of education and one of the nation’s leading experts on residential and educational segregation”], isn’t “that sitting next to a poor kid makes you do less well in school.” Rather, he said, “it’s that school poverty turns out to be a good proxy for the quality of a school. They are in poorer communities, they have less local resources, they have fewer parents with college degrees, they have fewer two parent families where there are parents who can come spend time volunteering in the school, they have a harder time attracting the best teachers. So for a lot of reasons schools serving poor kids tend to have fewer resources, both economic and social capital resources.”” OK, so that would explain the initial low participation rate at Newark’s Ben Franklin (“only about 30 percent were taking advantage”). To participate is to admit, much as use of “food stamp” plastic reveals one’s situation. But why take a program intended for a part and extend it to all (“All the students at Ben Franklin Elementary School were offered the same meal as part of a pilot program that offers all students a free breakfast regardless of whether they are part of the free and reduced-price lunch program.”)? Again, Boschma writes ” In some cities, urban leaders are trying new strategies to confront these trends. They are driven by a belief that for prosperity to continue, they need to craft policy that ensures their own young people are equipped to compete for the jobs the city is creating.” Though her article focuses primarily on racial/ethnic disparity, the problem, as problem, returns to one of economic conditions – income disparity with prosperity as the solution. “These high levels of concentrated poverty in schools persist—and have increased overall—even in cities where there has been tremendous growth since the recession.” This would account for the use of this program in rural Licking Valley as well as economic wunderkind Heath. As DeVito reported for the Newark Advocate in her 2-26-16 article, “Local experts: Diversity a necessary conversation topic”, “According the United States Census Bureau, in 2014 less than 10 percent of the county population’s identified as a minority. The biggest minority population was African Americans with 3.8 percent.” What drives or “creates” this breakfast program since the racial/ethnic factors described by Boschma would preclude its use? Indeed, as Boschma writes, “Socioeconomic integration is a legal alternative to racial reintegration—ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2007 in the case of Parents Involved v. Seattle—that largely produces the same effect.” Analysis finds that having everyone eating together without pretense for exception is definitely a form of socioeconomic integration, something affirming and for which schools implementing it should be lauded.