Sunday, June 10, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #60 - Part 3

Attacks on the Commons: Louisiana privatizes education; Florida scrubs voters

It's becoming an every week thing now, noting further attacks on the Commons, on the idea that we are a society and that everyone of us has obligations to all others. You know, that "we the people" crap. This week, two more examples.

First is Louisiana, which is embarking on a plan to privatize public education. As I said a couple of weeks ago, describing the general intent, the idea is not to support private schools, but to eliminate public schools in favor of private ones. Louisiana is prepared to go further with this than any other state so far, with the state preparing to shift tens of millions in tax dollars out of the public schools to pay private industry, businesses owners, and church pastors to educate children.

Starting this fall, thousands of students will get vouchers covering the full cost of tuition at more than 120 private schools across Louisiana, including small, Bible-based church schools. These schools have supposedly been vetted by the state to ensure the adequacy of the curriculum offered, but it's hard to credit that claim: Some approved schools use social studies texts warning that liberals threaten global prosperity; some use Bible-based math books that don't cover concepts such as set theory (and which, I can only assume, insist you express your answers in cubits); some use biology texts built around refuting evolution - not that merely ignore it or deny it, but seek to actively refute it.

Next year, in 2013, students of any income will be eligible for "mini-vouchers" that they can use to pay a range of private-sector vendors for classes and apprenticeships. Industry trade groups, businesses, online schools, tutors, and others can be paid with these vouchers.

The thing is, every time a student receives a voucher of either type, their local public school will lose an equal amount of state funding. This program is a conscious plan to undermine public education and turn education into just another profit center whose quality depends solely on how rich you and how well-connected your family is in order to get you into the handful of slots available in the schools that actually do offer a quality program. And if you're neither rich nor well-connected? Them's the breaks and don't expect any of these creeps to want to do anything about it. Because they do not believe in "we the people."

Second item on the topic this week is an update to last week's discussion of the state government of Florida, which is looking to purge as many as 239,000 voters from its rolls. Local officials across the state, both Democrats and Republicans, resisted the purge because they said the data provided by the state sucks. But the state kept pushing. Interestingly, just as happened in the purge of 2000, many of the supposedly ineligible voters are more likely to vote for Democrats. In 2000 it was blacks; this time its Latinos.

Recently, the DOJ sent a letter to Florida state officials saying this purge violates both the Voting Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act. In response, all 67 county elections supervisors suspended the voter purge.

Even more recently, however, state officials say they will defy the federal warning and they plan to continue scrubbing the election rolls, using inadequate and often erroneous data, the inevitable result of which would be to tilt the voting population in favor of the right wing, that is, the very people who deny any obligation to others, the very people who deny the Commons.


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