- ITPI Executive Director Donald Cohen on community schools
- When government outsources tech
- Vouchers: There is no upside
First, the Good News…
1) National: Writing in The Hill, In the Public Interest’s Executive Director, Donald Cohen says charter schools aren’t fixing public education. here’s what is. “What low-income students and their families need is what those from wealthier neighborhoods already have: enough funding and a say in how that funding is spent. In other words, those closest to the classroom–students, teachers and parents – know what they need. We just have to listen. The good news is that there are schools that are listening, in diverse places such as Hillsborough County, Fla., and the Washington, D.C., suburbs. They’re called “community schools,” and they aim to support the entirety of a student’s well-being to ensure they are healthy, well-fed, safe and in a better position to learn. Most importantly, they empower those closest to problems at school to guide the solutions to those problems.”
2) National: Writing in Education Week, Eesha Pendharkar reports on what other states are doing to shore up AP African American Studies after Florida’s ban. “Two Democrat-led states, Illinois and New Jersey, are emphasizing the need for AP African American Studies, or have warned the College Board—the organization that developed the course—that if it censors content, they will not accept the course. The College Board’s final course framework, unveiled Feb. 1, unleashed a firestorm. Scholars, educators, news reports, and the nonprofit itself painted conflicting pictures of when and why certain topics were moved or dropped.” [Sub required]
For an excellent overview of what’s at stake in the battle over teaching American history watch the video of Whitewashing Black Studies: The Fight for African American Studies in the Era of Racial Backlash. With Kimberlé Crenshaw, Professor of Law at Columbia/UCLA, Executive Director of AAPF; Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers; Daniel Martinez HoSang, Professor of Ethnicity Race and Migration and American Studies at Yale University; and others. [Video; about two hours]
3) National: On the latest New Thinking podcast, “two people sent away for life as teens and granted clemency after 30 years talk about resisting a prison system that ‘sets you up for failure’ and their work on behalf of those on life sentences still left behind.” The two people are April Barber Scales and Anthony Willis. Hosted by the Center for Justice Innovation.
4) National: Education Week has done a report on how three districts are bolstering their school-based mental health services. The public schools are in Tacoma, Washington; Guilford County, N.C.; and Chicago. In Chicago, “the 323,000-student district will partner with universities to provide internship and externship programs to candidates who are near graduation or completing their certification. The interns will do their clinical hours in Chicago schools under the supervision of trained clinical health providers. This ensures that when they are hired full-time they’re already familiar with the schools, staff, and students in the district, Judson said. Some of the district’s retention strategies will include paying those who mentor internship or externship students, as well as providing space for them to facilitate professional development.” [Sub required]
5) National: Former NIAID head Dr. Anthony Fauci and Max Stier of the Partnership for Public Service wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post about recruiting younger people to government service. “Federal leaders should pay more attention to hiring young people to sustain the workforce, and some managers have a tendency to hire for experience instead of building the talent bench. Recruiting on college campuses is suboptimal. Individuals younger than 30 who do apply are discouraged by lengthy and convoluted hiring processes and a pay system that is outdated. To keep our democracy strong, vibrant and prepared for the future, the U.S. government needs to recruit and retain a new generation of idealistic, energetic, skilled and diverse individuals.” They joined Courtney Bublé and Ross Gianfortune on Government Executive’s Workforce podcast to discuss some of the issues. [Audio, about a half hour].
6) National: As the aging out of the public sector workforce proceeds apace, Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene report on finding government workers in high schools. “Periodically, Tania Williams, the human resources manager of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, visits high schools to tell students about the job opportunities in the commission. ‘Nobody has a clue about what we do,’ she says. ‘We provide public transit, regional planning, and traffic management throughout Southern Nevada, and students will say, ‘I don’t want to drive a bus for a living.’” Williams’ frustration with the widespread ignorance about public sector job opportunities is common. Similarly, in Johnson County, Kansas, innovation analyst Grace Hanne devoted vacation time to volunteering in a career-centered school during the Covid pandemic. ‘I wanted to know what the kids knew about the public sector path,’ she says. ‘They knew nothing—only that there were jobs for police, fire and office work.’”
7) Alabama: The Alabama Legislature “could consider bills in the coming legislative session that could affect how Alabamians cast ballots and, for those released from prison, how they get their right to vote back. One expected bill from Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison, D-Birmingham, would streamline the process of restoring voting rights to formerly incarcerated individuals.”
8) Kentucky: Writing in the Lexington Herald-Leader, Fran Wagner, president of the League of Women Voters of Kentucky, says the state legislature should restore voting rights to Kentuckians with felony convictions. “Thankfully, today, there is legislation under consideration to do just that. Senate Bill 164 and House Bill 97 would both put an amendment on the ballot to let Kentucky voters decide whether to restore voting rights automatically to those who have completed sentencing, and restore other civil rights after a waiting period.”
9) Nevada: Nevada has joined a multistate federal lawsuit against the Food & Drug Administration over its handling of one of the drugs used in abortion pills, Democratic Attorney General Aaron Ford announced. “‘While our country continues to grapple with the fact that abortion rights were stripped away from many Americans, we must stand against actions that would further restrict this right,’ said Ford in a statement. ‘The FDA’s regulations regarding mifepristone do not protect those seeking abortions, but they do make reproductive health care harder to access.’”
10) Oklahoma: There has been a major reversal on using public money to support religious schools in Oklahoma. “Oklahoma’s new attorney general has withdrawn the state’s official legal position that public dollars may be used to operate religious charter schools. The move sets aside an advisory opinion by his predecessor that had prompted the first application for a Catholic-themed virtual charter school, and it leaves some uncertainty about what may happen next, and whether the issue may still end up in the courts.” [Sub required]
11) International: Rosie Collington, co-author with Mariana Mazzucato of the groundbreaking book on the government consulting industry and the weakening of the public sector, The Big Con, joined podcaster @parismarx to discuss the consequences of governments outsourcing tech to the private sector. This has, of course, been an issue in the U.S. also. See In the Public Interest’s report, Out of Control, among other things detailing a 1,000 percent cost overrun in New York City for IT outsourcing. [Full interview on Tech Won’t Save Us; about an hour].
12) National: Josh Cowen, Professor of Education Policy at Michigan State University, has written an op-ed for the Albert Shanker Institute on School Vouchers: There Is No Upside. “Despite an ever-growing volume of data showing that direct and sustained dollar investments in public schools yields large and inter-generational opportunity, the alternative scheme to divert those dollars into individual accounts for private tuition and side-item educational expenses is alive and well. But so is the evidence against school vouchers schemes, and because that evidence grows so quickly it’s important from time to time to stop and take stock. So here’s what a combination of independent analysis from the research community and old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting by journalists has shown us to be true today.”
13) National: Writing for The Hechinger Report, Meredith Kolodner and Sarah Butrymowicz report on how career-training companies scoop up federal funds with little oversight. “Between 2018 and 2021, these schools took in more than $239 million in federal workforce grants from the Department of Labor—most of which went to for-profit institutions like MedCerts. On top of that, such schools received unspecified millions of dollars in tuition money from Department of Defense grants for military service members and their spouses. ‘There isn’t enough oversight,’ said Shalin Jyotishi, a senior analyst at the progressive think tank New America, adding that information about how students fare ‘is excruciatingly difficult to obtain for for-profit institutions.’”
14) Arkansas: State lawmakers are expected to take up Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ (R) massive 144-page education bill this week. The Arkansas Advocate reports that “The bill also proposes the creation of a voucher program, called “Arkansas Children’s Educational Freedom Account Program,” which once fully implemented in 2025 would be one of the most robust voucher programs in the U.S. It will provide families state funds of up to 90 percent of the annual per-student public school funding rate for use on allowable education expenses, like private school tuition. For the 2023-2024 school year, qualifying expenses are: tuition, fees, testing, school supplies and uniforms.”
Teachers and public education advocates are protesting the bill. “Diana Gonzales Worthen has been a teacher in Arkansas for 26 years. She said she thinks the bill is moving too fast. ‘I think there’s a lot of great things in it, but we need dialogue and time to flesh things out so it can really benefit all of our kids,’ she said. ‘It’s very quick. There’s not been a lot of time given to analyze the 144-page bill.’ Sen. Greg Leding (D) who represents Fayetteville voted against the bill last week.’ The legislation is moving really quickly, so there’s not a lot that we can do. I encourage everybody to reach out to their House members right now, since the bill’s already cleared the Senate,’ Sen. Leding said. ‘Even if this bill does become law here in a couple of weeks, the fight doesn’t end there.’”
The Arkansas Education Association, a longtime opponent of vouchers, says, “While we’re encouraged to see this issue of low teacher pay addressed after years of our advocacy, we urge the Arkansas state legislature to do so without harming students through voucher schemes. ‘There are higher priorities for improving public schools. If we’re serious about every child’s future, let’s get serious about doing what works. And what works is resourcing our neighborhood public schools so that all students have inviting classrooms, a well-rounded curriculum, class sizes that are small enough for one-on-one attention, and support services such as health care, nutrition, and after-school programs for students who need them.’”
15) Idaho: The Idaho Public Charter School Commission has rejected a renewal agreement for Monticello Montessori Charter School in East Idaho after learning the school had not paid payroll taxes since 2014 and had not met academic performance measures. “In other action Thursday, the commission gridlocked over a renewal application for the unaccredited Peace Valley Charter School in Boise. But ultimately commissioners voted to renew Peace Valley’s charter—with seven conditions attached—for another five-year period. Commissioners also agreed to renew 14 other charter schools during Thursday’s meeting at the Joe R. Williams Building in Boise. ”
16) Indiana: Indiana school districts may have to turn over underused buildings to charters. “Unless lawmakers amend the bill, it might not be possible to distinguish between a school that’s ‘underutilized’ and one that has purposefully small class sizes. The latter is often a selling point for families who choose charter and private schools. And it’s possible that a school is ‘underutilized’ but using all of the space, critics said.”
17) Indiana: State Senators are pushing back against a state house bill that would expand vouchers, Chalkbeat Indiana reports. “Pushback is already mounting against provisions that seek to generously expand eligibility for the state’s ‘school choice’ program—which allows families to receive vouchers to attend private schools. Republican Senate Pro Tem Rodric Bray said that while his chamber is ‘passionate about school choice, too,’ he’s skeptical his caucus will be on board with the House proposal. ‘I’m a little hesitant on that,’ he said Thursday, pointing to ‘a big number’ price tag to allow a majority of Hoosiers to qualify for the school choice program. ‘Every year the voucher piece is a big discussion on the budget. We’ll have some other conversations, as well, but that will be a big one.’”
18) Nebraska: The right wing in Nebraska has launched one of the most aggressive attacks on public education and transgender people in the country. “Nebraska would use taxpayer money to fund private school vouchers, make it easier to remove books from school libraries, target transgender students and give the state’s newly elected conservative governor more control over education policy under bills being considered in the Legislature. Other states have made similar moves, but the Nebraska effort is remarkably wide-ranging, with the potential to permanently alter the fundamentals of education in the state’s 244 school districts.”
19) New York: Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a major financial and political backer of charter schools, is at it again. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, he announces an expansion of summer school funding for charter schools. “Philanthropists can’t fund all the summer schools the nation needs, but they can fund more of them. Because of the strong results we saw in New York City, we have decided to run the program again this summer—and expand it to charter schools in seven other cities: Baltimore; Birmingham, Ala.; Indianapolis; Memphis and Nashville, Tenn.; San Antonio and Washington. By working with local leaders, we hope we will more than double the number of students we serve. We are focusing on public charter schools because most charters receive less public funding than district schools and districts rarely open summer programming to charter students. Charter leaders also have been eager to get these programs off the ground.” [Sub required].
20) New York: Big charter networks shrank this year, complicating the New York City cap debate, Chalkbeat New York reports. “The city’s charter sector has long been defined by its explosive growth and lengthy waitlists while enrollment has sagged among the city’s district schools. But preliminary state enrollment data suggests that demand for charter schools may be cooling—including among the city’s largest networks—complicating arguments for lifting the charter cap. The city’s charter sector grew slightly this school year, by 0.42 percent, compared with a 2 percent decline among traditional public schools. But that masks important variations among charters: About 45 percent of them enrolled fewer students this year, according to a Chalkbeat analysis of state data. (The official statistics sometimes group multiple campuses under the same charter school.) About 60 percent of traditional public schools enrolled fewer students.”
21) Rhode Island: Teamsters Local 251, representing school bus drivers in Providence, is getting ready to strike against First Student, the large school transportation privatization company. “Minutes before the proposed agreement was sent out, Teamsters Eastern Region Vice President Matt Taibi, the secretary and treasurer of Local 251, said there was a ‘pretty high’ chance 250 drivers would stop working on March 6. Taibi said retirement security ‘was at the heart of the strike’ in 2018, which lasted 11 days and caused student absenteeism to rise. First Student’s offer comes well ahead of the March 3 deadline the union had set. Taibi said the latest communications have been happening by email rather than in person. The drivers serve the city’s elementary and middle schools, high school special needs students and high schoolers going on sports trips, meaning a strike could have serious consequences.”
22) Texas: The Texas Education Agency has produced a 53-page report on the teacher workforce in the state. ABC7 Amarillo reports, “Zeph Capo, president of the Texas American Federation of Teachers, said the report echoes what his union has heard over the last several years and is hopeful lawmakers will enact its recommendations. ‘I’m glad that they’re recognizing and lifting up what we have been fighting and pushing for,’ he said. ‘What we’ve been hearing from members and educators across the state is this lack of respect.’ Matthew Gutierrez, superintendent of the Seguin Independent School District, said the report is a good starting point for lawmakers to understand teachers’ needs and hopes that the debate over voucher-like programs like education savings accounts doesn’t derail any potential funding for school districts.”
Meanwhile, a sharp battle over school vouchers in unfolding in the Texas legislature as Gov. Abbott (R) is making passage of a voucher bill one of his top priorities. “‘School vouchers really are school privatization,’ Zeph Capo, President of the Texas American Federation of Teachers said. ‘When we hear them talk about school choice, what we hear are layoffs, what we hear are school closures, what we hear are school districts forced into considering four-day week schedules to accommodate and being able to keep up with teacher pay raises and additional student growth,’ he added.”
Kronda Thimesch, a Republican state representative from District 65 says the Texas Constitution requires the state to support and maintain an efficient system of free public schools. “If you want to ensure that the Texas economy stays healthy and strong, you must have a strong workforce. And that means that we need to get our students ready to learn so that they can earn once they’re out of school,” Thimesch said. “So I do not support a philosophy that we give from our public schools to the benefit of private schools, year after year. ‘Our schools don’t get to pick and choose the students that come to their classroom or their schools,’ she added. ‘They don’t get to say, “We’re full. You need to go on down the road.” Our schools take everyone, and they educate our child regardless of whether they’re hungry, if they have shoes, if they know the language.”
23) National: With the apparent backing of the private equity industry and pension funds, the idea of creating a national infrastructure bank is back on the table. Last time it went nowhere. The Bond Buyer reports that ‘the bank could serve ‘as a mechanism to recruit the $9 trillion to $13 trillion of pension money that’s looking for longer duration assets,’ Cave said. He estimated the bank could raise $100 billion of equity to finance $1 trillion of debt over a 10-year period. Introduced by Reps. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., and Colin Allred, D-Tex., the Federal Infrastructure Bank Act of 2023, H.R. 490 would create an institution to work with state and local partners to encourage private infrastructure investments through loans and loan guarantees. It’s been referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Unlike previous bills, it would include no public money and would be entirely funded with private investment.” [Sub required]. Can “asset recycling” be far behind? The Bond Buyer recently referred to it as a “niche market” that may still be in play. [Audio, about a half hour].
24) California: Orange County officials say the privatization of the beautiful Newport Back Bay will harm very popular public access and wildlife. “A wealthy GOP political donor’s effort to enlarge his backyard with public coastal parkland would ‘irreparably’ injure public access and impede wildlife movement in an otherwise ‘dedicated habitat area,’ read new court filings by County of Orange officials. The statements are part of what’s now a privatization battle over a protected land parcel in Upper Newport Bay, which has long been fenced off and sought for ownership by an adjacent property owner and longtime political power broker named Buck Johns.”
There’s a bit of history here to what may appear just a local story. Nearly 30 years ago one of the first aggressively pro-privatization, Koch-backed policy outfits, the Reason Foundation, urged Orange County to engage in a fire sale of assets and slashing of public service workers to respond to a bankruptcy. As usual, they produced a report supposedly containing data and analysis justifying the privatization of everything and massive assault on public service unions.
The Los Angeles Times picks up the story here in its February 16, 1995 edition. “The foundation’s 21-page report, written by Poole and titled ‘Rescuing Orange County,’ is expected to provide political and intellectual backbone to the tax opponents on one side of a widening split in the county over whether a tax hike should be considered as the county struggles to recover. The report won plaudits from several opposed to a tax increase, who termed it a blueprint for a ‘rightsized,’ leaner county government. But it drew criticism from labor groups alarmed by its recommendations for a significantly smaller county work force and for privatizing many services now provided by the county. ‘This was magnificent,’ enthused developer Buck Johns, a member of the conservative Lincoln Club, which paid a portion of the cost of producing the report. ‘Bob Poole gave us a clinical analysis of exactly the direction we need to head.’ But a spokeswoman for county workers’ largest union, the Orange County Employees Assn., said the recommendations are “not helpful” to the county’s restructuring effort. ‘Government is organized to serve the people and provide quality services, and a certain quantity of service, at an affordable price,’ said Linda Pierpoint, OCEA’s staff manager. ‘If they’re talking about cutting out more employees now, what happens to the services these people were performing?’”
So after 30 years of radical developer encroachment on the Newport Back Bay the battle continues against the privatization of public spaces and public goods.
25) Florida: The state attorney general, Ashley Moody, is making it easier to pave over wetlands in Florida. “In each case she’s been taking her cues not from Floridians but from the Republican Attorneys General Association, or RAGA (not to be confused with the Indian musical genre of the same name). But now she’s signed onto the most raggedy RAGA lawsuit of all, one that’s aimed at hurting the environment. It’s an attack on our wetlands. And from what I can see, Florida’s top lawyer has gotten herself mired in a legal swamp. (…) To developers, though, they’re still just an obstacle to be overcome on the way to the bank. Selling swampland to unsuspecting buyers is a Florida tradition dating to at least 1908. That’s when an ambitious huckster named Dickie Bolles bought a big chunk of the Everglades from our cash-strapped state government. (…) Of course, the developers, oil industry, and Big Agriculture are not fans of saving the swamps and opposed the new definition. Taking their cue from these corporate masters, Moody and 23 other members of the RAGA army—I call ‘em the Raga-naroks — filed suit last week to toss it out.”
26) Ohio: Is privatization the answer to Ohio’s rail crisis? “The lobbyists have also been successful in greasing the wheels for a proposed $1.6 billion sale of the city of Cincinnati’s publicly owned railroad to Norfolk Southern. So far, DeWine has not raised concerns about the proposed privatization effort, which critics say could lead the city to lose out on perpetual lease payments.”
27) National: Medicare Advantage policies, which have been widely criticized as a form of Medicare privatization, are attracting increasing research scrutiny. Janet P. Sutton, a Senior Policy Associate at Acumen LLC has some useful tips about what people enrolled in so-called Medicare Advantage programs can look at to assess whether their plans are disadvantageous and if they should disenroll. “Beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage (MA) plans have opportunities to disenroll from their plans and either return to traditional Medicare or switch to a different MA plan. In some circumstances, disenrollment is voluntary; in others, beneficiaries are forced to disenroll. For instance, beneficiaries may be required to disenroll if they change residences outside the plan’s service area, lose Medicare eligibility, or if Medicare terminates a plan’s contract. Beneficiaries also may be involuntarily disenrolled if they fail to pay premiums. Beneficiaries may choose to leave their plan if they are dissatisfied with providers covered, if their medical needs change, or if out-of-pocket costs are too high. Looking at disenrollment rates can shed light on the quality of MA plans. High voluntary rates of disenrollment likely mean poor patient experiences and suggest a plan may not be meeting beneficiaries’ needs. People also disenroll from plans when they learn that different coverage options may be a better fit for their needs. Research has found that people with chronic conditions and low incomes are more likely to disenroll from MA plans.”
28) National/Ohio: The privatized housing voucher scheme of Columbus is failing many tenants, a Columbus Dispatch investigation reports. “CGI Federal Inc., a multinational IT and business consulting corporation, took over administration from the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority last year. (…) The Dispatch spoke with two dozen tenants, Legal Aid lawyers, social workers, and CMHA representatives, most of whom described serious problems in CGI’s handling of new unit processing, tenant recertification, and communications with clients. North Linden resident Jacqueline Stuckey said she was on a waiting list for 15 years before receiving a voucher in late 2021, but she has been unable to use it to pay her landlord because of processing delays. ‘(There’s) the stress, the anxiety, the constant insecurity, of not knowing: are we gonna have to move next week?’ said Stuckey, who is 39. ‘I’ve waited 15 years for housing security, and I feel more insecure now.’” [Sub required]
29) National/Ohio: A private Christian health nonprofit saddled thousands with debt as it built a family empire including a pot farm, a bank, and an airline, ProPublica reports. “The family then funneled the money through a network of shell companies to buy a private airline in Ohio, more than $20 million in real estate holdings and scores of other businesses, including a winery in Oregon that they turned into a marijuana farm. The family calls this collection of enterprises ‘the conglomerate.’ (…) In all, the Beers family set up at least 35 companies in six states in seven years. The full extent of their holdings is likely greater, but it can’t be determined because transaction details between private businesses aren’t typically made public.”
30) National: John Knefel of Media Matters for America reports that all of a sudden Fox News is discovering that government regulation is needed after the Ohio train derailment and toxic poisoning. “I knew nothing about these derailment numbers,” [Brian] Kilmeade said. “I’m stunned by it—that we have thousands of derailments all the time and how costly it is, and how they’re not kept up and maybe the regulation needs to be there.” If Kilmeade and his Fox News colleagues want to discover what’s going in by way of public safety risks they should check out the Congressional Research Service’s new report, published on Friday, “East Palestine, OH, Train Derailment and Hazardous Materials Shipment by Rail: Frequently Asked Questions.”
For an example of what great coverage of the Ohio rail disaster looks like, check out the regular coverage of its aftermath by The Lever. On its latest podcast The Lever’s crew discuss how they go about their investigative reporting on East Palestine and Norfolk Southern, and “How The Lever Forced Buttigieg To Do His Job.”
31) New Jersey: State workers are being bounced into private health care plans. “Dozens of towns and school boards in New Jersey have dropped the state health benefits plan for public workers and chosen to go with a private insurer amid dramatic increases that officials warned could leave taxpayers on the hook, NJ Advance Media has learned. At least 31 letters notifying state officials the towns or school boards are instead opting for private insurers were sent from last year to the end of January, according to documents obtained through the Open Public Records Act.”
32) Oregon: A backlash is growing against a proposal to privatize Oregon’s public liquor sales system. “Oregon’s nearly 100 craft distillers would take a massive hit if the state were to privatize alcohol sales. We’re already facing a headwind competing against better funded national brands. Allowing spirit sales in grocery stores will only make it harder for Oregon distillers who help create 19,000 jobs and generate $2 billion in economic output for the state, according to the Distilled Spirits Council.”
33) International/National: The Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan Trust Fund has increased its holdings by 33 percent in the GEO Group which imprisons people and detains immigrants for profit.
34) International: The battle against healthcare privatization in Ontario is growing. “Waving flags and chanting, ‘public health care,’ Unifor members braved the -30C windchill to march in Thunder Bay to send a strong message to the Ontario government to stop cutting services and privatizing health care. Over 100 Unifor members, along with supporters from Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA), rallied Feb. 24 in front of St. Joseph Care Group on Algoma St. N. as a precursor to Unifor’s two-day Northern Ontario Leadership Meeting (NOLM). ‘There’s no question in my mind, if we turn over the ownership and control of our public hospitals to the private-for-profit clinics, we will lose our single-tier public health care system in this country,’ said Kelly-Anne Orr, Unifor Assistant to the National Officers.”
35) Think Tanks: The Project on Government oversight is hailing its victory over the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in a Freedom of Information (FOIA). This will have implications across the sprawling DHS bureaucracy, including at Immigration and Customs enforcement. “The DHS has a long history of concealing reports by independent subject-matter experts on the conditions of everything from medical and mental health care to the use of force and segregation at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities. The court was clear that the expert reports we’d requested cannot be concealed from public review. Now that we’ll have the records, we’re hoping to use what we discover to push hard for the DHS to improve conditions at its facilities instead of hiding them. Stay tuned, as we fully expect DHS to appeal the court’s decision.” [POGO Weekly Spotlight February 25, 2023; no link]
36) National: New York Times columnist Charles Blow has a timely warning about where the well-funded opponents of diversity, equity, and inclusion are going now that they have launched their project to overturn and distort American education by beginning a purge of school boards, teachers, and librarians. “This fight against D.E.I. isn’t confined to public institutions and bureaucracies,” explains Blow. “As the leader of this movement, Rufo has set his sights on corporate America as well. In July he published what he called a survey of the ‘programming’ of every Fortune 100 company and found they had all adopted D.E.I. programs, including those that ‘promote the most virulent strands of critical race theory and gender ideology.’”
37) National: Where is the public interest in the debate over social media online misinformation and toxic behavior? What should be done about private or public regulation of it? Three thoughtful articles, one by research librarian Leslie Stebbins, another by legal analyst Elie Mystal, and one by Jay Willis, the Editor-in-Chief of Balls & Strikes.
38) International: Tom Nichols weighs in on how energy privatization bankrupted Britain. “Britain is in crisis. A cost of living crisis. And, in particular, an energy crisis. Since 2020, the typical UK energy bill has risen by 400 percent. And many are having to choose between heating and eating. Some of this is the result of global oil prices which have spiked since the beginning of 2022. But, much of it is the result of much longer-term trends which and, in turn, the product of a radical experiment the country undertook starting in the 1980s. Under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher (and, later, John Major), the UK began selling-off the entirety of its energy infrastructure to the private investors.” [Video, about 50 minutes]
Photo: National Education Association