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Money, speech, and corporate personhood April 26, 2007

Posted by Brian Angliss in Domestic Policy, Foreign Policy.
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Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard the latest challenge to the McCain-Feingold Act, the act that set stringent limits on the ability of unions and corporations to air ads that specifically mention a candidates name within 60 days of the election. Wisconsin Right to Life (a corporation under federal law) sued, claiming that this restriction violated their right to free speech under the First Amendment. And, judging by the questions of the Supreme Court Justices during yesterday’s arguments, it looks like there’s a decent chance that the Roberts court will overturn this portion of the McCain-Feingold Act when it releases its decision sometime before June. (more…)

What Makes Teddy Run – Follow the Money…. April 5, 2007

Posted by Jim Booth in Domestic Policy, Education, educational reform, No Child Left Behind, No Child Left Untested, rich/poor gap.
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Dr. Slammy did a pretty good take-down on Teddy Kennedy in his recent post on Kennedy’s support of No Test Publisher Child Left Behind. But Kennedy is only a role player in the debacle that is our current education policy.

The truth of the matter is that Dubya’s education policy (remember, friends, he was going to be the “education president” before Andy Card whispered in his ear that terrorists had flown planes into the World Trade Center as he sat reading to 2nd graders in a Florida elementary school) is based primarily on family connection he has with the text and test publishing industry through his cousins the McGraws. And with brother Neil making a mint off NCLB with his software company that sells test prep materials to school districts across America, well, it’s just one big happy family, now isn’t it?

As Stephen Metcalf’s now well known article in The Nation illustrates, this is not some haphazard approach to education reform. It is a carefully planned strategy with a specific aim:

“The…Bush testing regime emphasizes minimal competence along a narrow range of skills, with an eye toward satisfying the low end of the labor market. All this sits well with a business community whose first preoccupation is ‘global competitiveness’: a community most comfortable thinking in terms of inputs (dollars spent on public schools) in relation to outputs (test scores). No one disputes that schools must inculcate the skills necessary for economic survival. But does it follow that the theory behind public schooling should be overwhelmingly economic? One of the reform movement’s founding documents is Reinventing Education: Entrepreneurship in America’s Public Schools, by Lou Gerstner, chairman of IBM. Gerstner describes schoolchildren as human capital, teachers as sellers in a marketplace and the public school system as a monopoly. Predictably, CEOs bring to education reform CEO rhetoric: stringent, intolerant of failure, even punitive–hence the word ‘sanction,’ as if some schools had been turning away weapons inspectors.”

This kind of approach to the problem shows clearly that economic self-interest is perhaps the only ideology driving what seems clearly to be this administration’s anti-“educated citizenry” agenda.Ted Kennedy may be a renowned Dem. But he’s a rich guy first. That “loose confederation of millionaires and billionaires, baby” that Paul Simon refers to is not a fiction. His support of NCLB, given his background as a champion of the less fortunate in American society, should raise red flags for thinking Americans….

I refer you to Deep Throat’s famous directive to Woodward and Bernstein (back when they were journalists and not bobbing their heads in the laps of the power brokers) – “Follow the money….”