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People_16_Teacher_BlackboardThere are no doubt many legitimate criticisms of the national education initiative known as “Common Core.” Progressive historian Diane Ravitch has put forth many of them. But as an editorial this morning’s Greensboro News & Record aptly notes, the recent critiques offered at the General Assembly by the tin foil hat crowd and egged on by Lt. Gov. Dan Forest are mostly absurd and a testament to the pernicious influence of the far right conspiracy kook movement:

“There may be some valid reasons to worry about the Common Core academic standards. Communism, pornography, social engineering, sex education and the Muslim Brotherhood are not among them. Yet, those were among the horrors cited at a legislative research committee hearing in Raleigh last week.

That people believe such nonsense demonstrates the power of disinformation campaigns aimed at derailing an honest effort to raise the level of instruction in our public schools.

The initiative wasn’t even begun by President Barack Obama, as many of its critics think. It was devised by the National Governors Association to introduce greater consistency across the country. One of its strongest proponents is former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2016. North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory also endorses Common Core….”

Read the rest of the editorial by clicking here.

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Diane RavitchThe nation’s most visible defender of public education has a worth-your-time column at The Huffington Post this morning entitled: “Understanding the Propaganda Campaign Against Public Education.”

According to Diane Ravitch, privatization advocates are fomenting fear, uncertainty and doubt (“FUD”) in order to advance their cause:

“FUD was pioneered decades ago. Now public education is the target, and privatizing it is the goal. I hope Professor Proctor [who has studied the propaganda strategy] turns his attention to this issue, where a well-funded propaganda campaign seeks to spread enough doubt to destroy an essential Democratic institution.

There is no evidence from any other nation that replacing a public system with a privatized choice system produces anything but social, economic, and racial segregation.”

Read Ravitch’s entire column by clicking here. You can follow her on Twitter by clicking here and check out her website and new book by clicking here.

 

 

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NC HHS Sec. Aldona Wos

NC HHS Sec. Aldona Wos

Yesterday, Governor Pat McCrory’s DHHS Secretary, Aldona Wos, unveiled the administration’s long-awaited reform plan for Medicaid.  One of McCrory’s favorite talking points on Medicaid has been how “broken” the system is and how he’s going to “fix” it.  Setting aside the past year of missteps in which McCrory and Wos did more than any Governor and Secretary in history to discredit and cause problems for NC’s award-winning Medicaid program, what does the administration’s plan yesterday tell us about the future prospects of Medicaid and health care for the poor in NC?  Here’s my take:

1. Surrender:  The Governor completely surrendered by backing down from his former big plans to sell off substantial parts of the Medicaid program to private, out-of-state insurance companies.  The proposal yesterday to use “Accountable Care Organizations” or ACOs is simply, at its core, a new way to pay existing or new networks of doctors, hospitals and other health care providers.  Paying health providers as a group for each illness a patient gets rather than piecemeal for every test and procedure is supposed to get providers focused on quality and efficiency, especially when payments go up if patients are healthier. ACOs represent gradual evolution in health care and not “major reform.”

2.  Missing the boat on Medicaid expansion: The Governor also made it clear that he has no intention of solving the coverage gap for the 500,000 poor North Carolina citizens who would be eligible for Medicaid coverage if he led the charge to expand Medicaid using the billions of dollars in federal money available to our state. Conservative governors and legislators around the country – whether in New Hampshire or Utah – are coming up with innovative solutions to cover their citizens with all the new federal money available.  By leaving an expansion proposal out of his plans to change Medicaid, our Governor is renouncing any claim to national moderate leadership on this issue, leaving billions of federal tax dollars collected from North Carolinians to go to states that do expand and hurting hundreds of thousands of his own constituents.

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School-vouchersIn case you missed it over the weekend, be sure to check out Professor Jane Wettach’s excellent essay in Saturday’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer in which she exposes the enormous practical and constitutional problems with the school voucher scheme passed into law by conservative politicians last summer. The essay comes, of course,  in the aftermath of Friday’s very welcome court ruling that enjoined the implementation of the new law. Among other things, Wettach cites several damning statistics from a new report by the Children’s Law Clinic at Duke University Law School including:

  • A total of 696 private schools are registered with the State Division of Non-Public Education. Of those, 70 percent are religious and 30 percent are independent.
  • A quarter of the private schools have enrollments of fewer than 20 students; nearly another quarter have enrollments of fewer than 50 students. Read More
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K12 logoFat cat corporate execs getting rich by sucking up taxpayer dollars: It’s one of the dirtiest little secrets of the mad rush to privatize essential public services and turn them over to giant Wall Street-backed corporations. Fortunately, the good folks at the Center for Media and Democracy are doing their best to expose the phenomenon and keep track of the nation’s mushrooming cadre of publicly-funded plutocrats.

The group has released a new report entitled Exposed: America’s Highest Paid Government Workers: They’re Not Who You Think They Are. Listed first among the six magnates profiled in the report is Ron Packard, CEO of the controversial K-12, Inc., whom the report describes as “America’s highest paid ‘teacher.'”

As readers of Sarah Ovaska’s numerous stories on the subject here at NC Policy Watch will recall, Read More