Sunday, April 6, 2014

Issue #159 April 6, 2014- Money and Society

Class, Money, Elections
and Education. . .
We are well into our third year of intense social, political and economic struggle here in Wisconsin, and there isn't any sign that the conflict will be deescalating anytime soon.  With any extended clash the action ebbs and flows depending on a variety of circumstances and the issues being contested can become distorted and changed as events progress.  What seemed to be clear and well defined issues are altered by the actions and reactions of the parties involved.  Context is such an important part of any interpretation of events, and things change over the course of months and years.  As time passes we also see a loss of focus and a tendency to return to what we are comfortable with. 

Maintaining focus on the issues that caused us to take to the streets in 2011, and that increased our political awareness and participation, is challenging for a variety of reasons.  The intensity of the protests and recall efforts of 2011-12 is difficult to maintain, especially when many of the participants are in such high intensity professions like education.  To expect educators to continue to teach all day, expand their professional knowledge, and to be political activists puts a tremendous strain on each individual.  It is also difficult to fight battles on so many fronts.  Educators are challenged in the political arena, but also are facing significant numbers of challenges professionally as anti-education initiatives portrayed as "reform" efforts are implemented.  Finally, it is difficult to maintain focus on issues that those in power put so much effort into distorting and masking.  Continuing to speak out about the issues that united us in 2011 means cutting through layers of misinformation and staying focused on the true issues. 

Yet, these issues are no less important, in fact the need to keep people thinking about what is really happening in our society is increasing as we move further from the pivotal events of 2011.  The Progressive Uprisings have been met with equally strong responses from the opposition.  The voices of labor, the working and middle classes along with groups that have been historically silenced in political, social and economic debates are being countered by a powerful minority A minority that seeks to maintain a system that segregates the majority of us from accessing the benefits of freedom and equality that our national ideology espouses.

These struggles revolve around some central issues that have been common themes throughout our history.  Of course economics is a central theme in any of these conflicts.  Economic policies show what we as a society value.  They also define success for individuals and groups and are one of the primary ways that power is defined in American society.  Wisconsin has a long history of being an important player in how Americans look at economics and social class.      

Follow on The author was a member of Milwaukee?s

The wealthy in our society use the language of class struggle to justify their own positions on economic issues.  The constant struggle in America to "move up" and to "keep up with the Joneses" puts a strain on all of us.    

The merely rich are making more, but they're not worth more. It's the 0.01 percent that are creating our new Gilded Age.
The Atlantic|By Matthew O'Brien

This strain plays out in a number of ways.  Politicians are constantly forced to choose what views, ideals and opinions they should represent.  As elected representatives of the people they are put in the position of making decisions that impact a diverse group of people.  No district, whatever the size, is 100% unified around any given issue.  Elected representatives choose to cast their vote based on a number of factors, of which remaining in office isn't the least influential.  As the class struggles intensify, the pressure from different groups rises increases as well.  Our political leaders are forced to make choices, and too often they are choosing the elite who can finance the next campaign over the majority of citizens.  

The Journal Sentinel seems to be giving Gov. Scott Walker a pass on his lackluster job-creation record, with no real investigation of why Wisconsin...

In order to maintain their influence we have seen significant efforts made by the elite to insure that wealth will be one of, if not the, major influences on our political system.

Originalists used a modern interpretation of the term to eviscerate campaign-finance limits. The Framers would be disgusted.
The Daily Beast

The court's McCutcheon v. FEC decision will empower big donors in states across the country, too.
Mother Jones
Of course, there are the inevitable denials of any sort of effort to buy elections and purchase elected officials.

In The Wall Street Journal, Charles Koch writes that instead of welcoming free debate, collectivists engage in character assassination.
The Wall Street Journal|By Charles G. Koch

The middle and working classes are continuing to try and organize to protect our interests.  Without huge sums of money, individuals must unite to increase our chances of success.

Wondering about what having a union means for you? Hear directly from other Verizon Wireless workers and union members.|By CWAUnion

The conflict spills over from economics, and reaches all parts of our society.  Education has become one of the key battlegrounds where the conflicting views of what our society should be is being fought.  Education is one of the potential equalizers that can balance the playing field and provide opportunities for all citizens.  However, it is also a place where financial influence and political conflicts can create inequity and marginalize large segments of our population.  

Efforts to privatize and profit from our schools have been combined with political ideologies and thus create a potentially disastrous situation for our public education system.  

A battle in NYC shows what happens when corporate-backed schools fight special needs public school kids for space.

Bill continues his conversation with education historian Diane Ravitch about the privatization of public education.
Bill Moyers

Chicago slush. - David Sirota Chicago is the iconic example of all of these trends. A new report being released this morning shows that the supposedly budget-strapped Windy City - which for years h...

Dear Editor: On April 1, Delavan-Darien became one of the first school systems in Wisconsin to be brought to its knees by Act 10. Voters rejected the school referendum asking|By Lee Enterprises

The public needs to continue to hear the counter arguments to privatization of public schools.  If we as a society can unite around our public education system, we can provide a foundation to truly build a just and equitable society.   

The education privatizers are trying to convince us that parental 'choice' will solve all the problems in our schools. But the choice they have in mind is to dismantle a once-proud system of education that was nurtured and funded...

Are they really better at it than traditional public schools? A look at the data.
Washington Post

A new study showing explosive growth in student poverty suggests that rather than raising standards and testing students more, the biggest...
Bill Moyers
The Good, The Bad and
The Ugly. . .

The Good . . . Another example of how citizens around Wisconsin are looking for ways to reclaim our state.

Thanks to a movement spearheaded by several concerned Eau Claire residents - including WEAC Retired members Chris Hambuch-Boyle, Gail Halmstad and Pamela Wall - citizens are...|By

A classy campaign and a race that put the focus where it should be, on ways to make our schools better for all students.

Race with two minority candidates influenced by unusual endorsements.|By Lee Enterprises

The Bad . . . While there is a case to be made for new faces and voices in our government, there is also a need for "veterans" to help guide newcomers and to provide the expertise that comes with experience.  Some of these elected officials are leaving because of the current political climate which leaves little room for compromise and bipartisanship. 

A lot of institutional memory, wise pragmatism and common sense - - 94 years' worth - - went out of the Wisconsin State Senator chamber when...

We certainly wouldn't want professional educators to score our essay exams, would we?

[ post ][ account ]0 favoritesCL >austin >all jobs >et cetera jobs— — —✉☎replyxprohibited[?]Posted: 2014-03-10 11:47am Seeking Talented...

The Ugly . . . We know that we have a lot of work to do together in Wisconsin.

A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds African-American kids face huge barriers to success in the Badger State.|By Lee Enterprises

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