Splintering And Shattering Our Communities

by EdwardBerger on September 3, 2015

There are forces at work that are so destructive they can shatter the hopes and dreams of our citizens and splinter our communities. Our communities serve the needs of citizens via good schools, good medical facilities, good policing, good and great services in almost every area. However, there are forces of greed and power that have come back to haunt us from the Industrial Age and The Age of Robber Barons when individuals – responsible to no one – ground fellow human beings into dust. Their control of America became a license to rape, rip, and run.

“I regard this contest as one to determine who shall rule this free country—the people through their governmental agents, or a few ruthless and domineering men whose wealth makes them peculiarly formidable because they hide behind the breastworks of corporate organization.”
—Theodore Roosevelt (1907)

The cycle is repeating. We see it fracturing our own community as school and community college funding has been systematically cut off. The facts are clear. Our really outstanding schools have been driven into deep financial trouble. These problems are not caused by bad education or bad anything the schools have done. Certainly, the schools need and will always need to keep working to evolve and get better, but that is not why they are in trouble. The majority of parents enroll their children in district schools that have the wide range of expertise, services, and programs they need. If you are a parent of a child in school, you should be outraged and fighting like a wounded mother bear for your child’s school and education future. Our community schools suffer because a political agenda – an ideology – is attempting to starve and destroy them.

The reality is that the forces that control how our tax dollars are distributed have attacked and wounded our community schools. At this time, we cannot expect those who have coordinated these attacks on America’s future to adequately fund public schools. If we are to save our schools and our free society, our Prescott community must commit to adequate funding and insist on quality education for our children. That requires that We The People dig deeper into our pockets and pass the upcoming bond issue and override. If we do not do this, our community will never recover. Area schools will not survive. Our children will be irreparably damaged. We already see the impact of funding cuts and school closures as dollars and students have been siphoned away from public education and the District is being forced to close schools.

What hurts communities the most is the spawned divisiveness that has grouped people around planted lies and destructive ideologies. In our past, people, regardless of religion, political beliefs, or limited understanding, worked together to build local government and collectively provide the services the community needs. There were always disagreements, but they were resolved. There were always fringe individuals and groups that screamed “No New Taxes,” but as demands for more and better services increase and more people are served, every reasonable person knows that these services are necessary and really a great deal.

The major recession/depression we are suffering though was brought on by the greed and avarice of a few. Shades of the world order according to Rockefeller and the Robber Barons. A great majority of Americans lost economic and social position. Families and children suffer. They clutch at what they hope is some tattered semblance of the American Dream. The communities feel the dead hand of those who are fighting to take over the State and the Nation. Fear is cloaked in hate. Their neighbors are the bad guys. Teachers are at fault. The community leaders are the enemies. The other political party is to blame. Giving women rights is wrong. Associations that oppose the billionaire class have to be destroyed. Scared and confused people group together and refuse to listen to the opinions of others or even to allow a non-member to address their group. We are experiencing this splintering today and it is keeping us divided.

The attacks on public schools and educated people are increasing in force. An inculcated belief that public education must be killed because it cannot be fixed has become a common mantra. Other schools were formed – partial schools, charter schools – a few developed exemplary programs. All took funds away from the district schools. Hundreds of millions of dollars remain unaccounted for and the entire public education system is weakened and severely damaged. A large percentage of this money went to duplicate facilities and services the public is already providing. Rather than merge new and effective programs into the existing system, as was the original plan, the alternative schools are encouraged to define the district public schools as wrong.

Corporate raiders use the Press to convince American parents that the American education system has failed, in spite of massive evidence to the contrary. They base this presumed failure on skewed test scores. They ignore what schools actually do. As they spin these lies continually, people without crap detectors begin to believe them. Those who have taken power use it to bypass or infiltrate elected school boards, privatize schools, and open new schools without public accountability so they can steal money that taxpayers think goes for kids. They use their power to take over elected bodies and financially attack and starve excellent public schools and community programs – kill them – and steal the tax dollars. They use ill-gained political power to allow school operators to build Real Estate empires while supporting Legislators who stop calls for accountability. They call this privatization.

Part of the strategy of misdirection was to denigrate, defame, and discount teachers and professional educators; to blame them for the supposed failure of our schools. If teachers would only produce more widgets, faster, at a lower wage, efficiency and profit margins would increase. But children are not products being brought to market. The answer to public education’s problems is not privatization and the diversion of public resources to private pockets. These ideologies and acts have devastating effects on every community in America. In our hearts, we know these are lies, but we have let the lies go unchallenged.

Negative and destructive energy can only last so long before people begin to see through to reality. That is happening now in many communities. People have been encouraged to ignore the warnings and information about the demise of public education offered by their superintendents and elected boards, teachers, and community leaders. People begin to seek answers and the truth. Where so many partial school promoters sold parents tales of woe and incompetence, the truth has emerged: They lie. Community members who know little about their community education programs begin to attend meetings and ask questions. In our community, this is taking place now. The damage funding cuts have done to proven and effective programs, to our children, to the longevity of the teaching staff, and to the maintenance of our facilities, is real and unacceptable.

The State has cut back the funds to support public education programs. There is no evidence that the State taxes we pay for education will be returned to our communities. Our public schools and community college are severely damaged and cannot deliver comprehensive services without more community support.

This is the time when local control has real meaning. A time when responsible citizens dig deeper into their pockets to support the education of our community’s children. Our schools need our help. If we each shoulder a bit of the burden, we will heal our community and ensure a bright future for children and all of us.

“When you wage war on the public schools, you’re attacking the mortar that holds the community together. You’re not a conservative, you’re a vandal.”
Garrison Keillor


Getting Our Heads Out Of The Morass

by EdwardBerger on June 11, 2015

Edward R. Murrow once said: “I am in a financial morass from which I am unable to extricate myself.” Many States are in a political morass as a result of a planned assault on America. The question is, how do we extricate ourselves? In Arizona, one of the most corrupt states, leaders are emerging who know how. They use facts and data, and social media to bypass the in-pocket Press.

Is there anyone who believes that the misuse of hundreds of millions of dollars of public taxpayer money in Arizona is an unexpected consequence of so-called education reform?

If so, they most likely profit at the expense of the children and families from whom this money is stolen.

If so, they are part of a radical and nation-killing movement based on feudal ideology and pure greed.

If so, they are part of a State Legislature that intentionally forbids charter school accountability and protects those who are given our tax dollars and use them for their own profits, kids-be-damned.

If so, they have written laws that allow pirates to create closed and unaccountable “schools” that rake in millions of public tax dollars via side-deals and Real Estate deals. They eliminate students that they can’t benefit from. They kick out children that don’t serve their needs and send them back into the public schools humiliated, damaged, and often broken.

If so, they are Legislators who do not believe in the separation of Church and State.

If so, they are part of political organizations that supports the privatizers and radical right-wing, and ignore the damages to their community and to children and families.

If so, they support privatization and profiteering from dollars citizens pay to educate children. They privatize any-and-all functions of government where there is profit to be gleaned. Prisons and schools for example.

Is there anyone in Arizona who believes that the extreme right-wing, working for ALEC-Koch-Goldwater Institute-John Birch Society bosses has not intentionally, decade after decade, placed totally unqualified non-educators in the position of Superintendent of Public Instruction, thus undermining public education from inside?

Those who wield these powers have used every opportunity to destroy the teaching profession, our community schools, and now our Universities.

Is there anyone in Arizona who doesn’t know that a Right To Work State is a trick to extract more profit from battered workers and to curtail information the public needs by not letting workers organize and speak out?

Is there an educated citizen of Arizona who is not convinced that the Democratic process of Representative Government has been defeated through the control of primary elections and the selection of those who will get massive financial support: Those candidates they allow to run and win? That those who wield power have effectively discouraged people from voting?

We can organize and drain the morass. Leaders are emerging. For example, I am very impressed by Jim Hall the retired principal who has started Arizonans for Charter School Accountability. https://www.facebook.com/Charterwatchers He has assembled some amazing data. Can he help get our heads out of the morass? Yes, certainly, IF you and others help him gather data and present it. Look for leaders. Be prepared to follow and to lead. Organize and work together.

The place where ideas are always flowing is Diane Ravitch’s blog site, www.dianeravitch.net This is the sharing center of our causes.

Do this for our future and for our children.

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June 3, 2015

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The powerful education reform movement is well underway. Taxpayers must be pleased with the progress so far. Legislators have turned the distribution of public tax dollars collected for public schools over to irresponsible hedge fund billionaires, profit-driven companies like Pearson PLC, foundations run by proven ‘winners’ like Eli Broad, Billy Gates, and the Waltons, and […]

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BARBERISM Raises Its Head

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Charter Schools are Set-up To Fail

December 18, 2014

For many years, I have written about the charter school movement. As you know, I label the majority of these schools “Partial Schools,” because they deprive students of a comprehensive, interdisciplinary curriculum. They discount the need for teacher certification and experience, and they duplicate many services and programs the taxpayers are already providing. What happened […]

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Arizona Ethics? The Most Corrupt State? How Corruption Affects Arizona Schools

December 8, 2014

According to researchers at the Harvard University, Edmond J. Safra Center For Ethics, I live in a State that is home to the most political corruption in America. I am 75-years old and have been an educator all my life. I have taught, mentored, pioneered, and researched. I am a leader in experiential education. I […]

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We Need To Know … We Don’t Want To Know

November 23, 2014

IS EDUCATION REALLY ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS TO All CHILDREN? If so, where are the follow-up studies of those dropped on their heads by the schools? We don’t have information – at least not in any district or charter schools I know of – about the kids pushed out of schools. We like to call them […]

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President Obama Destroyed His Educator Base

November 6, 2014

The Obama administration, and especially Arne Duncan, dealt a blow to educators, parents and educated citizens when they sided with corporations like Pearson, and those who believe a punishing blow to teachers and public community schools will improve American education. The USDOE is now an agency without credibility, driven by ideologies that are not based […]

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