From Order to Chaos: The Attack on the EPA

From Order to Chaos: The Attack on the EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established in 1970 under Richard Nixon’s administration.  Now in 2017, it is likely that at least 25% of the agency will be dismantled by the Authoritarian’s administration.

This is a crime against the well-being of all living things and their environment by the White House

Even before the current administration took over the White House, the Authoritarian’s transition team sent clear messages that the EPA was in trouble. The so-called transition team wanted names of EPA employees who worked on, wrote papers about, and did research in the fields related to climate science.

They were not doing this give out awards!  They did it put the EPA on notice that “we are out to get you.”

Continue reading “From Order to Chaos: The Attack on the EPA”

Why I’ve Named Him, The Authoritarian

The Authoritarian

On this blog, I refer to the next POTUS as The Authoritarian.  My choice for using this term to name him is based on the research done by George Lakoff.  Lakoff’s theory maps moral world views by using the metaphor of Nation as Family.  Two types of families are mapped.

An idealized nurturant family is expressed in terms of progressive values: empathy, caring, support for each other, public resources for all.

An idealized strict father family is expressed in terms of power and authority, which rests with the head of the family (father), or the head of the nation–authoritarian values.

Lakoff makes it clear that the head of the strict father cannot be a loser, corrupt, and not a betrayer of trust. Father knows best.   But, here is what Layoff says characterizes the president-elect:

  • Loser: To the American majority, he is a Loser, a minority president. It needs to be said and repeated.
  • Betrayer of Trust: Above all, he is a Betrayer of Trust. He is acting like a dictator, and is even supporting Putin’s anti-American policies.
  • Corrupt: He is betraying trust in a direct way, by refusing to put his business interests in a blind trust. By doing so, and by insisting on his children both running the business and getting classified information, he is using the presidency to make himself incredibly wealthy — just as Putin has.  This is Corruption of the highest and most blatant level. (@georgelakoff. “A Minority President: Why the Polls Failed, And What the Majority Can Do.” George Lakoff. 2016. Accessed November 24, 2016.

In Lakoff’s analysis, the President-elect is interested only in absolute authority, money, power, and celebrity.

These are not the characteristics of a president in a democratic society, but let’s face it, this is what we have.  As Lakoff points out, we have to create a powerful network of communication, and call out The Authoritarian, and make sure that he knows that he’s not only being watched, but that there are moral imperatives on the opposite end of his, and that they are rooted in the principles of democracy, which have had to be fought for by the great majority of people living in this country.  He and his administration present a Clear and Present danger.

As a result, I don’t want to use his name, but instead call him for what he is, an authoritarian.  In this case he will be called The Authoritarian.

Here are some of behaviors that are most associated with The Authoritarian:

  • autocratic
  • dictatorial
  • imperious
  • totalitarian
  • tyrannical
  • dogmatic
  • harsh
  • severe
  • unyielding
  • despotic
  • oppressive

His attitude toward the press sends chills down my spine, and further undermines the free exchange of ideas. We should know what the president is up to. His ideas should be known and should be subject to criticism.  We should be able to question The Authoritarian.

The problem is the next POTUS doesn’t want anyone questioning what he thinks or does.  If you do, he’ll call you out, or worse.

Schooling and the Rise of The Authoritarian

 Schooling and the Rise of The Authoritarian

Today it was announced that the designated secretary of the US Department of Education is a person with no experience or affiliation with public education.  Her principle connection to education is the HUGE amounts of money and influence donated to further the privatization of public schools. She is an arch advocate of vouchers and charters.  In fact her efforts have resulted in the decimation of many public schools districts in Michigan.

Appointed by The Authoritarian** who won the electoral college, but lost to the people by more than 2,000,000 votes and rising, she fits the mold of the other appointees, and that is to dismantle, stoke fear, and remove the vestiges of a democratic society.

**I do not want to use his name on my blog; instead in this post he is The Authoritarian to be chosen by the Electoral College, but not the voters.

That said, I turn my attention to the writing of Ed Johnson, the most prolific and astute critic of privatization and school turn around policies.

In this guest post, Ed Johnson asks us to look at what has driven education in the past three decades and how this might have contributed to the rise of The Authoritarian.

Schooling and The Authoritarian’s rise

Want to understand a bit of why perhaps the authoritarian is the POTUS-elect?

Then simply consider the miseducation school choice proponents got from schooling that had no or limited concern with civil society, namely: civics, citizenship, fellow citizens, democracy, the common good, cooperation, hard-won freedoms and civil rights, representative government, ethics, mores, and such. Consider their miseducation has given them a worldview that serves corporatists’ and corporate school reformers’ always profits-driven, free-market global competition ways of thinking and behaving.

However, for deeper insight into why The Authoritarian got elected POTUS, consider America’s Schools Could Be Partly To Blame for The Authoritarian’s Rise.

This report also offers insight into how currently serving Atlanta school board members and superintendent – most of whom are millennials and African-Americans – contributed to The Authoritarian’s rise, à la their School Turnaround Strategy compounded with selfie culture.

After all, one has only to critically consider the vision and mission the board and superintendent imposed upon Atlanta public schools sans the public’s consensus:

Mission: With a caring culture of trust and collaboration, every student will graduate ready for college and career.

Vision: A high-performance school district where students love to learn, educators inspire, families engage, and the community trusts the system.

Where in their Vision and Mission for APS is there any core concern for civil society, expressed or implied? Where is there any concern with the purpose of Atlanta public schools that represents public interests and consensus? Well, there is none. Instead, there is only concern with “college and career,” in an amoral sense.

The currently serving Atlanta school board members have demonstrated time and time again that holding to and fulfilling civil society responsibilities is something they do not do in any overarching sense. Instead, time and time again they have shown they mainly serve to represent the superintendent’s school turnaround ambitions, hence corporate school reformers’ machinations to privatize public schools, hence The Authoritarian’s rise.

Consequently, all that Atlanta school board members and superintendent have done, and are likely to ever do, amounts to costly tampering with the structure of APS void of leading and providing for teachers and others to develop for APS requisite systemic, sustainable internal capabilities to continually improve pedagogic practices grounded in purposes that support civil society rather than tear it down. Clearly, what they do reveals they believe they need only install and reinstall, as necessary, omniscient school turnaround “sparkplugs” in order to gain requisite capabilities, jackrabbit fast.

The point, though, is that what Atlanta school board members and superintendent do and why and how they do it should come as no surprise. Indeed, few, if any, of their whys, whats, and hows come as a surprise to the civil society-minded.

Nor does The Authoritarian’s rise.

Ed Johnson
Advocate for Quality in Public Education
Atlanta GA
(404) 505-8176 |


How Could We?

How Could We?

Like many of you I’ve spent the day after mourning for our country and the people who have been abused and threatened by the man who was elected over one of the bravest women that we could have had for our President.

How could we?

How could we elect the bully?

How could we enable  the press to rarely call him out and hold him accountable for stiffing the American people about his taxes, fraud, sexual assault charges, racist beliefs and actions, and his outrageous attitude toward women, and his endless lies?

How could we allow the far right into the White House through possible cabinet appointees?  It will be a rogues gallery of has-been politicians and corporate raiders.

How could we turn our backs on children and families?

How could we elect a person who thinks climate change is a hoax and will seek to remove the environmental protections that have been put in place since “Silent Spring?”

How could we enable the privatizers of public education to have a voice at 1700 Pennsylvania Avenue?

How could we not overcome the racism and bigotry that drove his campaign and turned his rallies into assemblies without hoods?

How could we open the door to the White House to a man who has assaulted countless scores of women, insulted and threatened people who have religious beliefs different from many of us, insulted Mexicans who seek a better life, and riled up the worst in Americans by threatening to build a wall along the Mexican/American border?

How could we?




Jeb! 2016 & the Web of Influence Peddling

Latest Story

Yesterday, Jeb Bush announced his candidacy for President under the logo Jeb!2016.  Then today, Donald Trump, from a basement in one of his buildings in NYC, announced that he is running for President! Is his logo The Donald!2016?  Can it get any worse?

But Trump aside, I want to focus on the idea of influence peddling by examining three ideas that drive much of what happens, not only in education, but in other important issues in the upcoming election such as democracy, immigration reform, race, and jobs.

Here, however, I want to zero in on education.

Politicians, lobbyists and corporate executives have worked together to peddle their influence in the name of educational reform. This triad of influence is dismantling public education one charter school, voucher, tax incentive, and law at a time.

This group of education peddlers is known as “reformsters”, and I’ll use that term in this and future posts. For more about the term “reformster,” please see here, here, here, and here.

As you read this article, think of Jeb! 2016, the man also known as John Ellis Bush, and Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida.  He is a good example of a reformster, and it may help in seeing how reformsters work as you read the rest of my article.  I am not particularly picking on Jeb Bush. I could have just as easily replaced Bush’s name with Bill Gates.  But Bush is representative of a host of people who have pitched their ideas around the country in the way a salesperson tries to solicit your business.  And he’s running for President.

In today’s culture, politicians and especially business leaders, have perpetuated the myth that academic achievement in a few subjects is the most important outcome of schooling, and that indeed, there is a huge gap between achievement of students in the United States and its counterparts in other industrialized nations. Furthermore, these same politicians and business leaders (reformsters) would have us believe that there is a serious decline in the supply of high-quality students from the beginning (the end of high school) to the end of the Science & Engineering “pipeline.” Both of these cases are myths—that U.S. students do not achieve at high levels, and that there is a serious shortage of high quality persons for science & engineering. They are perpetuated to fulfill the needs and desires of officials whose best interests are served by claiming such weaknesses in the American educational system (see Lowell & Salzman).

These myths are real, however.  They are fodder for those looking to game the system.

Fear, Money & Gaming

Influence peddling is wide-spread in American education.  During the 2016 Presidential campaigns, you will see slick videos, prepared speeches, and hucksters of all shape and sizes pushing ideas that rest on three ideas:

  1. Fear
  2. Money
  3. Gaming

Fear, money, and gaming dominate the system. I’ve organized this inquiry around three ideas, and have additionally provided several case studies, as shown in the tabs below.  You’ll find two or more articles that I’ve written related to the fear, money, and gaming, as well as two case studies, one of Jeb Bush, and other on Bill Gates.  You will be surprised.  Did they go to the same schools?

[restabs alignment=”osc-tabs-left” pills=”nav-pills” responsive=”true” icon=”true” text=”More” tabcolor=”#ef4928″ seltabcolor=”#1e73be” tabhovercolor=”#eeee22″]
[restab title=”Fear Factor” active=”active”]Since the Soviets launched Sputnik in 1957, and a U.S. government report, A Nation at Risk was published in 1983, American education has been cast as a failing system, and if “reforms” were not put in place, the sky would fall.  Although the sky hasn’t fallen, teachers and schools are envisioned as the cause of the mythical failure of American education.

The underlying and foundational reason that influence peddling is flourishing in education is the move toward the privatization of education. And the privatization of education is born out of assumptions that American education is a failed system, and that the only way to prove that the system is improving is show that it returning a profit to the taxpayers. When we begin to think of schools as a business, then test scores are a measure of profitability. Indeed, students of teachers who get high achievement scores are rewarded in the same way that employees earn bonuses. But when scores are low, it is analogous to a unprofitable business, which might mean layoffs, store closings, and fired staff.  Here are two articles that underscore this fear.

Why Education Must Be Public and Not Privatized

Using Achievement Scores to Support Myths and Build Fear[/restab]

[restab title=”Gaming the System”]The drive to privatize education is a web of connections worked out by politicians and corporate executives with the support of some very prominent and not so prominent foundations and “not-for-profit” organizations that have cropped up spreading their spray over the public education landscape. The relationships and the overall web of connectivity has brought a lot of people together who have influenced state legislatures to the extent that they collectively are gaming not only public schools, but the citizens who pay the taxes to support local and neighborhood schools.  This web shows very clearly how these organizations and people have figured out how to game the education system.  In these articles, we show how politicians have learned to game the system to not only use laws written by the American Legislative Exchange Council, but make use of the Tax Code to set up not-for-profit organizations that ask for money from around the country to support the bills that they support in their legislative bodies.

Using Students for Politics and Influence Peddling. In this article, I show how politicians have learned to game the system to not only use laws written by the American Legislative Exchange Council, but make use of the Tax Code to set up not-for-profit organizations that request money from around the country to support the bills in their legislative bodies.

Why Don’t Our Elected Representatives Write Their Own Legislation?  In this article, we show that ALEC, a national “bill-mill” is an “amazon” marketplace for state legislators looking to acquire “legislative bills.[/restab]
[restab title=”Money”]More than $700 billion is spent annually on public education in America, making education an investment and consumer market comparable to banking, energy, transportation, and retail.  But just as important is the idea that education is being shaped by organizations and a few people with a lot of money.  Here are two articles to offer some evidence for this.

Billions and Billions, and I am not Talking About Stars!  I am talking about dollars, and how billionaires are influencing (science) education policy from the K-12 level to the U.S. Department of Education, and this is being done in an environment where the billionaires are demanding accountability from the recipients of its money, but do so without having to be held to any standards or accountability themselves.

Are the Deep Pockets of Gates, Walton and Broad Contrary to the Ideals of Education in a Democracy? In this article, I wonder if the deep pockets of just 10 people can be consistent with the ideals of public education.[/restab]
[restab title=”Case Studies”]In this inquiry, we look at the Gates Foundation and Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education as core examples of organizations that use power and money to influence educational change throughout the states, often in the interests of corporate affiliates.

How the Gates Foundation Used $3.38 Billion in College-Ready Education Grants to Change Education Policy.  Did you know that since 1999, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (technically founded in 2000) have made over 4,000 grants in the US Program, one of the major categories of funding for the Gates. The 4,000 grants were distributed among 16 categories such as College-Ready Education, Community Grants, Postsecondary Success, Global Policy & Advocacy, etc.

Bush’s Education Foundation and Influence Peddling: Any Truth to it? The connections between Bush’s Foundation, private companies, and state officials has set up the perfect storm for not just a privatization of schooling, but the expansion of a corrupt and secret, behind closed doors operation that changes laws to line the pockets of corporate officials

Graphics of The Bush Foundation’s Influence on State Education Laws  The Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd) agenda has seven “reform” priorities, and its work centers on influencing state governments to pass laws that are directly related to these reform priorities. Follow the link to see some data.[/restab][/restabs]


Establishment-Reformster Spray

The drive to privatize education is the outcome of connections worked out by politicians and corporate executives with the support of some very prominent and not so prominent foundations and “not-for-profit” organizations that have cropped up spreading their sp ray over the public education landscape.  And this spray stinks.

During the election cycle, including the debates to held by each party, America will be covered by this sediment comprised of nuggets of fear, money, gaming and untruths forming layer upon layer of spray, which in the is nothing but a pile of “excrement.”

What is your take on the nature of influence peddling in education?