Getting rich off school reform

It’s really infuriating, how the corporate media has bought into the marketing of the for-profit schools that are destroying public education. From Salon:

You know how it goes: the pervasive media mythology tells us that the fight over the schoolhouse is supposedly a battle between greedy self-interested teachers who don’t care about children and benevolent billionaire “reformers” whose political activism is solely focused on the welfare of kids. Epitomizing the media narrative, the Wall Street Journal casts the latter in sanitized terms, re-imagining the billionaires as philanthropic altruists “pushing for big changes they say will improve public schools.”

The first reason to scoff at this mythology should be obvious: it simply strains credulity to insist that pedagogues who get paid middling wages but nonetheless devote their lives to educating kids care less about those kids than do the Wall Street hedge funders and billionaire CEOs who finance the so-called “reform” movement. Indeed, to state that pervasive assumption out loud is to reveal how utterly idiotic it really is – and yet it is baked into almost all of today’s coverage of education politics.

That, of course, is not all that shocking – after all, plenty of inane narratives are regularly depicted as assumed fact in the political press. What’s shocking is that the other reason to scoff at the Greedy Teachers versus Altruistic Billionaire tale is also ignored. It is ignored even though it involves the most hard-to-ignore facts of all – the ones involving vested financial interests.

Yes, though it is rarely mentioned, the truth is that the largest funders of the “reform” movement are the opposite of disinterested altruists. They are cutthroat businesspeople making shrewd financial investments in a movement that is less about educating children than about helping “reform” funders hit paydirt. In that sense, they are the equivalent of any industry leaders funding a front group in hopes of achieving profitable political ends (think: defense contractors funding a front group that advocates for a bigger defense budget). The only difference is that when it comes to education “reform,” most of the political press doesn’t mention the potential financial motives of the funders in question.

Stupid girl

Guys don’t realize all the social pressures on even the youngest girls to be pretty, to be sexy, to be thin, etc. (And some of it is the moms trying to live through their daughters.) That’s why I flip out about the whole Disney princess thing, because it’s hard to say where a child’s imagination stops and the sales indoctrination begins. And that’s why I’m glad we have Pink, because little girls need to hear it’s okay to be yourself:

Drone strikes

From Mother Jones:

Senator Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) 13-hour filibusterover whether or not the White House believes it has the authority to assassinate terrorism suspects within the United States raised the weary spirits of critics of the Obama administration’s targeted killing program. But, advocates say that the focus on something that may never come to pass—drone strikes at home— should not distract from the problems with targeted killing as it is actually used.

“We ought to be more focused on the current program as it is today rather than what I see as a very hypothetical and not very likely use of force within the United States,” says Raha Wala, an attorney with Human Rights First. “We have hundreds of drone strikes, thousands of people dead in a half a dozen or so countries around the world, with very little explanation from the administration as to the legal, ethical and operational basis for the program.”

While the administration says it does not have the authority to use drones within the United States to kill a suspected terrorist who is not “engaged in combat,” between 3000 and 5000 people have been killed by drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Many have been civilians. Many of the strikes themselves have not been targeted at specific individuals, but in so-called “signature strikes” against anonymous targets who are singled out and believed to be militants based on a “pattern of behavior.” While the administration has publicly defended the use of targeted killing against suspected terrorists, it has said little publicly about signature strikes. Civil liberties and human rights advocates hope that Paul’s filibuster—which did at times touch on drone strikes abroad—will help draw attention to the targeted killing program as it actually exists.

Freedom!

I think this is true in most states, by the way. Maybe depressed people shouldn’t have guns:

During the 12-year span between the mass shootings at Columbine and Aurora, Coloradans used guns to kill themselves about four times more frequently than they used them to kill each other, an I-News analysis of death certificates found.

Latest version

Honestly, none of them really know a goddamned thing:

A new study of 137 mummified bodies, some as old as 3,500 years, found a high prevalence of hardening of the arteries, which often presages heart attack or stroke.

The condition was common in four groups — ancient Egyptians, pre-Columbian people in Peru and Utah, and 19th-century Alaska natives — with different diets and ways of life.

“It kind of casts doubt on — makes us pause and think about — whether we understand risk factors as well as we thought we did,” said Randall C. Thompson, a physician at the University of Missouri who headed a research team of 19 cardiologists, radiologists and anthropologists.

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