Category Archives: education

Keeping It Real: Law, Coercion, & The Frontiers of Public Finance

“If the federal government creates money out of thin air, rather than taking it from some people to give it to others, as we have so often been told, then who owns the money? Who deserves the money? If money is not truly a commodity siphoned from the public, but a tool created and distributed by the government and its agents to the public, then who can claim ownership of the money currently wasting away in federal coffers? Deeper, still – who is entitled to the money that doesn’t even exist yet? If there is no money scarcity, only real resource scarcity, then most legal and philosophical conversations about distributive justice are anachronistic and impoverished.”

Keeping It Real: Law, Coercion, & The Frontiers of Public Finance by the Modern Money Network’s Raúl Carrillo

SEC Charges Charter School Operator in Chicago With Defrauding Bond Investors

How did I miss this?

From the SEC:

Washington D.C., June 2, 2014 —

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a charter school operator in Chicago with defrauding investors in a $37.5 million bond offering for school construction by making materially misleading statements about transactions that presented a conflict of interest.

The SEC alleges that UNO Charter School Network Inc. and United Neighborhood Organization of Chicago not only failed to disclose a multi-million-dollar contract with a windows company owned by the brother of one of its senior officers, but investors also weren’t informed about the potential financial impact the conflicted transaction had on its ability to repay the bonds.

UNO is settling the SEC’s charges by agreeing to undertakings to improve its internal procedures and training, including the appointment of an independent monitor.

“UNO misled its bond investors by assuring them it had reported conflicts of interest in connection with state grants when in fact it had not,” said Andrew J. Ceresney, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “Investors had a right to know that UNO’s transactions with related persons jeopardized its ability to pay its bonds because they placed the grant money that was primarily funding the projects at risk.”

Read the rest.

Some background on UNO here.

Bad Science

“The overwhelming number of retractions due to flawed methodology, flawed approach, and general misconduct over the last decade is staggering. Stories in almost every field have seen a rash of inaccuracies. The percentage of scientific articles retracted because of fraud has increased tenfold since 1975.”

Lefties, time to adopt a hard-line precautionary principle, at least until we free science from neoliberalism.

Strike Against the Charter Movement: Newark elects Baraka

Newark elects Ras Baraka as mayor. Baraka is a former public high school principal, and son of the late poet Amiri Baraka (who came out to support the student walkout against racially segregated leveling at my alma mater, Columbia High School, in 2006). His opponent, Shavar Jeffries, sat on the school board, founded a charter school, and was supported by the charter lobby. From the Star Ledger:

A major focal point of the election was the debate over the schools and state-appointed Superintendent Cami Anderson’s controversial “One Newark” school reorganization plan — which calls for the relocation and consolidation of one-quarter of the city’s schools and turning over some neighborhood schools to charter operators.

Baraka was a fierce opponent of the plan, which would have involved shutting down schools and moving kids all around the city. The equivalent plan in Chicago, Renaissance 2010, has been disastrous, and disproportionately so for black students. Jeffries supported “One Newark,” along with our glorious governor.

Though Jeffries raised nearly double as much money as Baraka ($1.7mil vs. $945k), Baraka won with 54% of the vote. Though I haven’t been following this election as closely as I would have liked, seems like a significant strike against the school privatization movement in NJ.

Coming Soon: “Class Action” Film Essay

photo-classaction

I’m honored to announce that one of my first projects as Multimedia Editor of Jacobin Magazine is a companion video to “Class Action,” a critique of neoliberal education reform produced by Jacobin & the Chicago Teachers Union’s CORE Caucus.

I’m a bit late in blogging this news and now there’s only 10 hours left to back the project. Do it! Your money supports the printing of a full-color booklet documenting the destruction of America’s public schools currently taking place under the guise of “reform.” Copies will be given to unions & community groups to use for fundraising and organizing, but won’t be for sale online. But a $10 Kickstarter pledge gets you a physical copy. (My video will be available for free.)

The propaganda machine of the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) is sophisticated and insanely well-funded, and has nearly succeeded in masquerading the gutting of our public school system as a “progressive” movement. The actual fruits of GERM include undermining teachers unions and democratic school boards through privately run charter schools; a counterproductive obsession with standardized testing and unidimensional “accountability”; and the shuttering of dozens of schools in cities across the country. The research supporting GERM ranges from non-existent to fraudulent. Rarely do these reforms benefit students, quite often the reverse, though the billionaires who fund the movement do stand to profit both directly and indirectly.

My video will be an attempt at a counter-narrative exposing the pernicious role that billionaire philanthropists and their foundations play in the “education reform” debate. The video will be based on an essay in the booklet by Joanne Barkan, who has done excellent reporting on the subject, and will feature images from Katrina Ohstrom of abandoned Chicago schools. This project is my first foray into the film essay, a form I’ve long admired. I hope I can do the material justice. Stay tuned!