January 20, 2016
May 19, 2015
As this day proceeds it is becoming clear that the Republicans are making their move to do serious long-term damage to public education. It appears the Republican-dominated Joint Finance Committee is using the budget process to advance numerous policies that will destroy public schools across the state and advance private tax-funded policies to limit free and equitable education for all of Wisconsin’s children.
The following policies would have trouble passing as individual bills. As part of the budget there will not be public hearings. They are being advanced by “thieves in the night.”
- Special education vouchers
- Expansion of state-wide vouchers
- Creation of a state chartering board
- An end to the 220 program
- Takeover of MPS schools
The co-chairs of the Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee said on Tuesday its Republican members have reached an agreement to provide an additional $200 million for K-12 education than what Gov. Scott Walker proposed in his two-year budget.
The funds will restore a $127 million cut next year that was proposed in Walker’s budget, and will provide an additional $100 per pupil in state aid the following year.
That is a cut, over 2 years, of $50 per pupil.
February 22, 2015
The Ugly Racial History of “Right to Work” (Written in 2012 When Michigan Passed “Right to Work”)
Richard D. Kahlenberg and Moshe Z. Marvit ▪ December 20, 2012
The victory for so-called “right-to-work” legislation in Michigan, the heartland of industrial unionism in America, has spurred talk of expanding efforts to pass similar laws to weaken unions in other states, such as Kentucky and even New Jersey. Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer goes so far as to suggest that the spread of such anti-union laws is “inevitable,” given economic globalization—a conclusion that might surprise Germans, who have strong labor laws and collective bargaining agreements yet nevertheless manage to compete quite well.
Most of the discussion has centered on the political and economic effects of right-to-work laws—which allow workers to benefit from collective bargaining but withhold dues or agency fees to support the bargaining process. E.J. Dionne correctly notes that Republicans in Michigan were trying to weaken unions for political reasons. In Michigan in 2012, Dionne writes, “Obama won union households 66 percent to 33 percent, the rest of the electorate by 50 percent to 49 percent.” And the Economic Policy Institute finds that workers—whether or not they are in unions—earn about $1,500 less per year on average in right-to-work states, as the policy essentially transfers wealth from workers to employers and stockholders.
But as other states consider such laws, it is important also to remember the ugly racial history of right-to-work legislation. A key driver of the right-to-work movement beginning in the 1930s was Texas businessman and white supremacist Vance Muse, who hated unions in part because they promoted the brotherhood of workers across racial lines. As author Mark Ames notes, Muse bluntly outlined the thinking behind “right to work,” declaring, “From now on, white women and white men will be forced into organizations with black African apes whom they will have to call ‘brother’ or lose their jobs.”
Indeed, unions have a powerful interest in reducing racial discrimination and animus because racial hostility inhibits worker solidarity and union organizing. Southern segregationists knew this, which is why they eagerly signed on to right-to-work efforts to weaken unions in the middle part of the twentieth century.
In the 1930s and 1940s, organized labor made great strides in the northern and midwestern parts of the United States, but racial animus in the South proved a key impediment to union organizing. It was very threatening to southern segregationists, therefore, when the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) launched “Operation Dixie” in the 1940s to organize the South, because the CIO’s agenda included efforts to reduce discrimination. Southern conservatives feared that if unions united working-class whites and blacks, they could upend the politics of the South, where Jim Crow laws helped keep white and black workers on opposite sides of the political fence. They argued that unions could bring “black domination in the South.” For Martin Luther King, Jr., the unity of interests of labor and civil rights groups was underlined by segregationist opposition to both. In 1961, he told the AFL-CIO that “the labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth.”
As historian Tami Friedman notes, the CIO, with a $1 million war chest and 250 organizers, set out in 1946 to organize at least 1 million workers by the end of the year. The AFL also made a pledge to organize 1 million southern workers. CIO president Philip Murray promised both “political and economic emancipation” for southern workers, and vowed to defeat two major segregationists in Mississippi. W.E.B. Du Bois called the CIO the best hope for equal rights in the postwar era.
With President Truman also beginning to move forward on civil rights, southern segregationists ramped up their anti-union efforts. As the CIO began Operation Dixie, southern Democrats joined northern Republicans in voting for the 1947 Taft-Hartley legislation to cripple union organizing, in part by authorizing states to adopt right-to-work statutes. Friedman writes, “While the measure is often seen as the work of a Republican-dominated Congress, southern Democrats were instrumental in its passage; in both houses, over 80 percent of southern Democrats backed the bill. After President Truman vetoed the legislation, 90 percent of southern Democrats in the House of Representatives and over 77 percent of those in the Senate helped override his action.”
Southern segregationists followed up their support for Taft-Hartley with an array of state-based right-to-work laws, a strategy King strongly opposed. He declared, “In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights.”
To this day, the states most resistant to unions are those in the former Confederacy and the Jim Crow South. Of the seventeen states that had legally required segregation prior to Brown v. Board of Education, twelve are today right-to-work states. All five states that ban collective bargaining with public employees—Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia—are from the Jim Crow South. And, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the eleven states with the lowest rates of unionization are North Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, and Florida. All of these states were formerly segregated.
Given this history, one can fully appreciate the bitter irony of Michigan’s adoption of right-to-work legislation. While Michigan’s own racial history is hardly unblemished, the United Auto Workers, led by Walter Reuther, were champions of racial equality within the labor movement. Whereas the AFL-CIO refused to endorse the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, for example, the UAW and Reuther were central players in it.
Sixty-five years later, Operation Dixie has been turned on its head. Not only did labor fail to organize the South; we have now witnessed what was once unthinkable: the passage of right-to-work legislation in Michigan, on the heels of the crippling of public employee unionism in Wisconsin.
The far more hopeful story since the 1940s, of course, is the tremendous racial progress made in the United States, and particularly in the American South. Today, Vance Muse’s rhetoric about race is rejected by the vast majority of Americans and serves as a source of enormous embarrassment for the anti-labor, right-to-work movement.
As labor thinks through how to get out of the deep mess it finds itself in, it can draw inspiration from America’s great civil rights movement. In Mississippi, the UAW is framing labor organizing at a Nissan Motors plant as part of a twenty-first-century civil rights movement, and Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, has endorsed the idea of incorporating worker rights to organize into an amended Civil Rights Act. If anything good is to come out of the terrible loss in Michigan, it will be that labor has discovered that the false rhetoric of “right to work” can be directly rebutted with the powerful idea that worker rights are civil rights.
Richard D. Kahlenberg is a senior fellow at the Century Foundation and Moshe Z. Marvit is a civil rights and labor attorney. They are coauthors of Why Labor Organizing Should Be a Civil Right: Rebuilding a Middle-Class Democracy by Enhancing Worker Voice (2012).
December 15, 2014
Will Corporate Titans Destroy Public Education?
December 15, 2014 //
Film-maker Brian Malone of Malone Media has completed a documentary about the corporate assault on public education. the film is called Education, Inc.
Please take a look at the trailer and let Brian know what you think. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Find it here:
August 18, 2014
Teaching Is Not a Business
By DAVID L. KIRP AUG. 16, 2014
TODAY’S education reformers believe that schools are broken and that business can supply the remedy. Some place their faith in the idea of competition. Others embrace disruptive innovation, mainly through online learning. Both camps share the belief that the solution resides in the impersonal, whether it’s the invisible hand of the market or the transformative power of technology.
Neither strategy has lived up to its hype, and with good reason. It’s impossible to improve education by doing an end run around inherently complicated and messy human relationships. All youngsters need to believe that they have a stake in the future, a goal worth striving for, if they’re going to make it in school. They need a champion, someone who believes in them, and that’s where teachers enter the picture. The most effective approaches foster bonds of caring between teachers and their students.
Marketplace mantras dominate policy discussions. High-stakes reading and math tests are treated as the single metric of success, the counterpart to the business bottom line. Teachers whose students do poorly on those tests get pink slips, while those whose students excel receive merit pay, much as businesses pay bonuses to their star performers and fire the laggards. Just as companies shut stores that aren’t meeting their sales quotas, opening new ones in more promising territory, failing schools are closed and so-called turnaround model schools, with new teachers and administrators, take their place.
This approach might sound plausible in a think tank, but in practice it has been a flop. Firing teachers, rather than giving them the coaching they need, undermines morale. In some cases it may well discourage undergraduates from pursuing careers in teaching, and with a looming teacher shortage as baby boomers retire, that’s a recipe for disaster. Merit pay invites rivalries among teachers, when what’s needed is collaboration. Closing schools treats everyone there as guilty of causing low test scores, ignoring the difficult lives of the children in these schools — “no excuses,” say the reformers, as if poverty were an excuse.
Charter schools have been promoted as improving education by creating competition. But charter students do about the same, over all, as their public school counterparts, and the worst charters, like the online K-12 schools that have proliferated in several states, don’t deserve to be called schools. Vouchers are also supposed to increase competition by giving parents direct say over the schools their children attend, but the students haven’t benefited. For the past generation, Milwaukee has run a voucher experiment, with much-debated outcomes that to me show no real academic improvement.
While these reformers talk a lot about markets and competition, the essence of a good education — bringing together talented teachers, engaged students and a challenging curriculum — goes undiscussed.
Business does have something to teach educators, but it’s neither the saving power of competition nor flashy ideas like disruptive innovation. Instead, what works are time-tested strategies.
“Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service”: That’s the gospel the management guru W. Edwards Deming preached for half a century. After World War II, Japanese firms embraced the “plan, do, check, act” approach, and many Fortune 500 companies profited from paying attention. Meanwhile, the Harvard Business School historian and Pulitzer Prize-winner Alfred D. Chandler Jr. demonstrated that firms prospered by developing “organizational capabilities,” putting effective systems in place and encouraging learning inside the organization. Building such a culture took time, Chandler emphasized, and could be derailed by executives seduced by faddishness.
Every successful educational initiative of which I’m aware aims at strengthening personal bonds by building strong systems of support in the schools. The best preschools create intimate worlds where students become explorers and attentive adults are close at hand.
In the Success for All model — a reading and math program that, for a quarter-century, has been used to good effect in 48 states and in some of the nation’s toughest schools — students learn from a team of teachers, bringing more adults into their lives. Diplomas Now love-bombs middle school students who are prime candidates for dropping out. They receive one-on-one mentoring, while those who have deeper problems are matched with professionals.
An extensive study of Chicago’s public schools, Organizing Schools for Improvement, identified 100 elementary schools that had substantially improved and 100 that had not. The presence or absence of social trust among students, teachers, parents and school leaders was a key explanation.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the nationwide mentoring organization, has had a substantial impact on millions of adolescents. The explanation isn’t what adolescents and their “big sibling” mentors do together, whether it’s mountaineering or museum-going. What counts, the research shows, is the forging of a relationship based on mutual respect and caring.
Over the past 25 years, YouthBuild has given solid work experience and classroom tutoring to hundreds of thousands of high school dropouts. Seventy-one percent of those youngsters, on whom the schools have given up, earn a G.E.D. — close to the national high school graduation rate. The YouthBuild students say they’re motivated to get an education because their teachers “have our backs.”
The same message — that the personal touch is crucial — comes from community college students who have participated in the City University of New York’s anti-dropout initiative, which has doubled graduation rates.
Even as these programs, and many others with a similar philosophy, have proven their worth, public schools have been spending billions of dollars on technology which they envision as the wave of the future. Despite the hyped claims, the results have been disappointing. “The data is pretty weak,” said Tom Vander Ark, the former executive director for education at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and an investor in educational technology companies. “When it comes to showing results, we better put up or shut up.”
While technology can be put to good use by talented teachers, they, and not the futurists, must take the lead. The process of teaching and learning is an intimate act that neither computers nor markets can hope to replicate. Small wonder, then, that the business model hasn’t worked in reforming the schools — there is simply no substitute for the personal element.
David L. Kirp is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of “Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a Great American School System and a Strategy for America’s Schools.”
December 4, 2012
Following is an ad for for-profit companies to attend a seminar on ways to make lucrative investments with companies making profits from public school money.
The seminar is chaired by Harold Levy, who was Chancellor of New York City’s public schools. “So 2013, and beyond, will see numerous for-profit companies making inroads into public and non-profit education by taking over large swaths of the market.”
Conference provided by: http://capitalroundtable.com/ – January 15, 2013.
Private Equity Investing in For-Profit Education Companies
How Breakdowns in Traditional Models & Applications of New Technologies Are Driving Change
CHAIRED BY: Harold Levy, Managing Director
20 Expert Speakers, including –
David F. Bainbridge, Veronis Suhler Stevenson LLC
Michael P. McQueeney, Summer Street Capital Partners LLC
Jason Palmer, Straighterline
Ralph Protsik, BSG Team Ventures
Robert T. Puopolo, Epic Partners
Joshua N. Schwartz, East Wind Advisors LLC
David L. Warnock, Camden Partners Holdings LLC
Private equity investing in for-profit education is soaring, and for good reason — the public and non-profit models are profoundly broken.
This is why for-profit education is one of the largest U.S. investment markets, currently topping $1.3 trillion in value.
Look at the current state of K-12 public education. School districts across the U.S. are underfunded, underperforming, and well behind the curve when it comes to adopting quality technologies.
Many simply lack the expertise to treat today’s applied technologies as not just gadgets or strategic opportunities, but as real solutions for expanding their capacity to teach students.
And in the post-secondary world, non-profit institutions are finding that very few enticements are bringing in money. Not sports. Not research. Not classrooms.
Public funding and private endowments are both down, and neither will be particularly reliable in the future.
So 2013, and beyond, will see numerous for-profit companies making inroads into public and non-profit education by taking over large swaths of the market. What’s more, they’ll prosper in the corporate training and continuing education marketplace as well.
- The entire education sector now represents nearly 9 percent of the U.S. GDP.
- Merger and acquisition activity in for-profit education last year surpassed activity at the peak of the Internet boom.
- More and more non-profit colleges are hitting the wall and seeking investors to help them transform into for-profit institutions.
July 21, 2011
Welcome to the inaugural edition of a new monthly e-publication from the Institute for Wisconsin’s Future: WhoDoesNotPayTaxes? Its focus is on the growing problem of tax avoidance, especially by large corporations. Tax avoidance is the practice of creating and exploiting tax loopholes, credits and exemptions. Increasing corporate tax avoidance weakens financial support for important public structures and places unfair burdens on those who pay their full share of taxes. The goal of the newsletter is to focus attention on the need to tighten the tax laws and broaden Wisconsin’s tax base.
Associated Bank and M &I have lucrative tax deals.
To see the Institute for Wisconsin’s Future newsletter go to:
May 26, 2011
By Zaid Jilani on May 21st, 2011 at 4:30 pm
Two weeks ago, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) marked “a new era for education in Indiana” when he signed into law one of the most expansive school voucher laws in the country, opening up a huge fund of tax dollars for private schools. A few days later, the Wisconsin state Assembly vastly expanded school vouchers, freeing up tax dollars even for private religious schools. GOP legislators in the Pennsylvania Senate say they have the votes to pass a sweeping voucher bill of their own. And on Capitol Hill, House Republicans successfully revived Washington, D.C.’s voucher system after it was killed off two years ago.
This rapid expansion of voucher programs — which undermine and undercut public education by funnelling taxpayer money to private schools — is remarkable. After all, vouchers have been unpopular with the American public. Between 1966 and 2000, vouchers were put up for a vote in states 25 times, and voters rejected the program 24 of those times.
Yet if one looks behind the curtain — at the foundations, non-profits, Political Action Committees (PAC) — into the workings of the voucher movement, it’s apparent why it has gained strength in recent years. A tight-knit group of right-wing millionaires and billionaires, bankers, industrialists, lobby shops, and hardcore ideologues has been plotting this war on public education, quietly setting up front group after front group to promote the idea that the only way to save public education is to destroy it — disguising their movement with the innocent-sounding moniker of “school choice.”
ThinkProgress has prepared this report to expose this network and give Americans the knowledge they need to fight back against this assault on the nation’s public schools. Here are some of the top millionaires and their organizations waging war on our education system:
– Dick DeVos: The DeVos family has been active on education issues since the 1990′s. The son of billionaire Amway co-founder Richard DeVos, Sr., DeVos unsuccessfully ran for governor of the state of Michigan, spending $40 million, the most ever spent in a gubernatorial race in the state. In 2002, Dick DeVos sketched out a plan to undermine public education before the Heritage Foundation, explaining that education advocates should stop using the term “public schools” and instead call them “government schools.” He has poured millions of dollars into right-wing causes, including providing hundreds of thousands of dollars into seed money for numerous “school choice” groups, including Utah’s Parents for Choice in Education, which used its PAC money to elect pro-voucher politicians.
– Betsy DeVos: The wife of Dick DeVos, she also coincidentally happens to be the sister of Erik Prince, the leader of Xe, the mercenary outfit formerly known as Blackwater and is a former chair of the Republican Party of Michigan. Mrs. DeVos has been much more aggressive than her husband, pouring her millions into numerous voucher front groups across the country. She launched the pro-voucher group All Children Matter in 2003, which spent $7.6 million in its first year alone to impact state races related vouchers, winning 121 out of 181 races in which it intervened. All Children Matter was found breaking campaign finance laws in 2008, yet has still not paid its $5.2 million fine. She has founded and/or funded a vast network of voucher front groups, including Children First America, the Alliance for School Choice, Kids Hope USA, and the American Federation for Children.
– American Federation for Children (AFC): AFC made headlines recently when it brought together Govs. Scott Walker (R-WI) and Tom Corbett (R-PA) and former D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee at a major school choice event in Washington, D.C. AFC is perhaps the most prominent of all the current voucher groups, having been founded in January 2010 by Betsy DeVos. Working together with its PAC of the same name and the 501c(3) organization also lead by DeVos, the Alliance for School Choice, it has served as a launching pad for school choice legislation across the country. AFC made its mark in Wisconsin by pouring thousands of dollars into the state legislative races, donating $40,000 in the service of successfully electing voucher advocate Rep. Kathy Bernier (R) and donating similar amounts to elect Reps. Andre Jacque (R), John Klenke (R), Tom Larson (R), Howard Marklein (R), Erik Severson (R), and Travis Tranel (R). DeVos front group All Children Matter also donated thousands to many of these same voucher advocates. Altogether, AFC spent $820,000 in Wisconsin during the last election, making it the 7th-largest single PAC spender during the election (behind several other mostly right-wing groups with similar agendas).
– Alliance for School Choice (ASC): The Alliance for School Choice is another DeVos front group founded to promote vouchers and serves as the education arm of AFC. In 2008, the last date available for its financial disclosures, its total assets amounted to $5,467,064. DeVos used the organization not only for direct spending into propaganda campaigns, but to give grants to organizations with benign-sounding names so that they could push the radical school choice agenda. For example, in 2008 the organization gave $530,000 grant to the “Black Alliance for Educational Options” in Washington, D.C. and a $433,736 grant to the “Florida School Choice Fund.” This allowed DeVos to promote her causes without necessarily revealing her role. But it isn’t just the DeVos family that’s siphoning money into the Alliance for School Choice and its many front group patrons. Among its other wealthy funders include the Jaquelin Hume Foundation (which gave $75,000 in 2008 and $100,000 in 2006), the brainchild of one of an ultra-wealthy California businessman who brought Ronald Reagan to power, the powerful Wal Mart Foundation (which gave $100,000 in 2005, the Chase Foundation of Virginia (which gave $9,000 in 2007, 2008, and the same amount in 2009), which funds over “supports fifty nonprofit libertarian/conservative public policy research organizations,” and hosts investment banker Derwood Chase, Jr. as a trustee, the infamous oil billionaire-driven Charles Koch Foundation ($10,000 in 2005), and the powerful Wal Mart family’s Walton Family Foundation (more than $3 million over 2004–2005).
– Bill and Susan Oberndorf: This Oberndorfs use their fortune, gained from Bill’s position as the managing director of the investment firm SPO Partners, to funnel money to a wide variety of school choice and corporate education reform groups. In 2009, their Bill and Susan Oberndorf Foundation gave $376,793 to AFC, $5,000 to the Center for Education Reform, and $50,000 to the Brighter Choice Foundation. Additionally, Bill Oberndorf gave half a million dollars to the school choice front group All Children Matter between 2005 and 2007. At a recent education panel, Bill Oberndorf was credited with giving “tens of millions” of dollars of his personal wealth to the school choice movement, and said that the passage of the Indiana voucher law was the “gold standard” for what should be done across America.
– The Walton Family Foundation (WFF):The Wal Mart-backed WFF is one of the most powerful foundations in the country, having made investments in 2009 totaling over $378 million. In addition to financing a number of privately-managed charter schools itself, the foundation showered ASC with millions of dollars in 2009. It also gave over a million dollars to the New York-based Brighter Choice Foundation, half a million dollars to the Florida School Choice Fund, $105,000 to the Foundation for Educational Choice, $774,512 to the Friends of Educational Choice, $400,000 to School Choice Ohio, and gave $50,000 to the Piton Foundation to promote a media campaign around the Colorado School Choice website — all in 2009 alone. WFF’s push for expanding private school education and undermining traditional public schools was best summed up by John Walton’s words in an interview in 2000. An interviewer asked him, “Do you think there’s money to be made in education?” Walton replied, “Absolutely. I think it will offer a reasonable return for investors.” (He also did vigorously argue in the same interview that he does not want to abolish public education).
The wealthy families and powerful corporate-backed foundations presented here are just a sampling of some of the forces currently taking aim at public education. By demonizing traditional public schools and the teachers that staff them, this corporate education movement is undermining a very basic aspect of our democracy: a public commons that provides true opportunity for all, no matter what their background or socioeconomic status.
While the goals of the figures in this movement are varied, their assault on our public education system is one and the same. Joseph Bast, the president and CEO of the Heartland Institute, explained his own thinking about vouchers once, saying, “The complete privatization of schooling might be desirable, but this objective is politically impossible for the time being. Vouchers are a type of reform that is possible now, and would put us on the path to further privatization.” It’s up to Americans to protect their schools, teachers, kids, and communities from that fate.
May 12, 2011
Rethinking Schools editor Bill Bigelow is quoted in article stating “ ‘The United States of Energy’ is designed to paste a smiley face on the dirtiest form of energy in the world. These materials teach children only the story the coal industry has paid Scholastic to tell.”
Coal Curriculum Called Unfit for 4th Graders
By TAMAR LEWIN Published: May 11, 2011
Three advocacy groups have started a letter-writing campaign asking Scholastic Inc. to stop distributing the fourth-grade curriculum materials that the American Coal Foundation paid the company to develop.
The three groups — Rethinking Schools, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and Friends of the Earth — say that Scholastic’s “United States of Energy” package gives children a one-sided view of coal, failing to mention its negative effects on the environment and human health.
Kyle Good, Scholastic’s vice president for corporate communications, was traveling for much of Wednesday and said she could not comment until she had all the “United States of Energy” materials in hand.
Others at the company said Ms. Good was the only one who could discuss the matter. The company would not comment on how much it was paid for its partnership with the coal foundation.
Scholastic’s InSchool Marketing division, which produced the coal curriculum in partnership with the coal foundation, often works with groups like the American Society of Hematology, the Federal Trade Commission and the Census Bureau to create curriculum materials.
The division’s programs are “designed to promote client objectives and meet the needs of target teachers, students, and parents” and “make a difference by influencing attitudes and behaviors,” according to the company Web site.
“Promoting ‘client objectives’ to a captive student audience isn’t education,” Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, said in a statement. “It’s predatory marketing. By selling its privileged access to children to the coal industry, Scholastic is commercializing classrooms and undermining education.”
The Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood, a tiny group in Boston, has often been at odds with Scholastic, a $2 billion company whose books and other educational materials are in 9 of 10 American classrooms. Last year, the group criticized the company for its “SunnyD Book Spree,” featured in Scholastic’s Parent and Child magazine, in which teachers were encouraged to have classroom parties with, and collect labels from, Sunny Delight, a sugary juice beverage, to win free books. The campaign has also objected to Scholastic’s promotion of Children’s Claritin in materials it distributed on spring allergies.
And in 2005, the campaign tangled with the company over its “Tickle U” curriculum for the Cartoon Network, in which posters of cartoon characters were sent to preschools and promoted as helping young children develop a sense of humor.
None of the previous episodes led to any specific action.
The coal controversy seems to be the first time the campaign and its allies have challenged Scholastic lesson plans.
“ ‘The United States of Energy’ is designed to paste a smiley face on the dirtiest form of energy in the world,” said Bill Bigelow, an editor of Rethinking Schools magazine. “These materials teach children only the story the coal industry has paid Scholastic to tell.”
The Scholastic materials say that coal is produced in half of the 50 states, that America has 27 percent of the world’s coal resources, and that it is the source of half the electricity produced in the nation, with about 600 coal-powered plants operating around the clock to provide electricity.
What they do not mention are the negative effects of mining and burning coal: the removal of Appalachian mountaintops; the release of sulfur dioxide, mercury and arsenic; the toxic wastes; the mining accidents; the lung disease.
“The curriculum pretends that it’s going to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of different energy choices, to align with national learning standards, but it doesn’t,” Mr. Bigelow said.
“The fact that coal is the major source of greenhouse gases in the United States is entirely left out,” he said. “There’s no hint that coal has any disadvantages.”
In a statement, Ben Schreiber, a climate and energy tax analyst at Friends of the Earth, called the curriculum “the worst kind of corporate brainwashing.”
According to an article by Alma Hale Paty, the executive director of the American Coal Foundation, and posted on Coalblog, “The United States of Energy” went to 66,000 fourth-grade teachers in 2009.
There was no answer at the foundation Wednesday, and Ms. Paty did not return calls.
May 8, 2011
More for Millionaires
By Al Lewis Wall Street Journal
Just what America needs: richer rich people.
Collectively, U.S. millionaires are going to go from $39 trillion to $87 trillion in wealth by 2020, according to a study the Deloitte Center for Financial Services and Oxford Economics released last week.
Not a word about what happens to hundredaires, thousandaires or even hundred-thousandaires. Perhaps they’ll keep looking for jobs, losing homes to foreclosure and filing for bankruptcy. Or maybe all those trillions will one day trickle down.
Meantime, there has got to be at least one bespectacled, brainiac problem-solver in Washington thinking, “Hmm, trillions? We only need $14 trillion to end the nation’s debt crisis. Thanks, Deloitte.”
Deloitte, however, is not pointing this out for the tax man. This is for bankers, insurance peddlers and wealth managers, so they can find the trillions and collect a fee.
For all the economic misery in the news, there remain nearly 7.8 million households in America with $1 million to $5 million in assets, 2.3 million households with $5 million to $30 million and 496,000 households with more than $30 million, according to the study.
Deloitte projects the assets of these millionaire households will more than double by 2020. Why? Simple compounding of reasonable investment gains.
“There’s a lot of accumulated wealth already,” Andrew Freeman, one of the study’s co-authors, explains. “The existing pot just carries on growing. It’s a bit like a supertanker that keeps on moving.”
The rich get richer. The income gap widens. And pretty soon there’s a totally unjust disparity between the millionaires and the billionaires.
“Being a ‘millionaire’ in the U.S. is no longer viewed as the milestone of success that it was in the past,” the study notes.
So if you’re in one of those $52,000-a-year-median-income households, you really need to get with it.
America’s definition of rich is so rich, it isn’t funny. It only took $100 million to land on the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans in 1982. Bob Hope got on it for cracking jokes. Today, you need $1 billion. And not even Jerry Seinfeld makes that cut with his paltry $800 million.
I already know two words some of you are thinking of emailing me: class envy.
Let’s be clear: I don’t hate the rich. The rich hate me. They hole themselves up in gated communities. They join exclusive clubs. They buy their own planes so they don’t have to sit next to me in coach. And they often pay a lower tax rate than me. Yet I am rooting for them.
I had feared that by 2020, most of the world’s millionaires would be in China. First goes the manufacturing, then the services, then the jobs, then the millionaires, then the nation. But not according to Deloitte.
In 2000, 55% of the wealth held by the world’s millionaires were held by U.S. millionaires. That figure dropped to 42% this year. But Deloitte sees the number rising slightly to 43% by 2020.
China, Brazil and Russia may fuel the growth of millionaire wealth, but the single largest population of millionaires stays here.
I’d much rather envy our own millionaires than some other country’s millionaires.