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Archive for the ‘education’ Category

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Finland has the highest performing K-12 students in the world, year after year.

“Finland’s schools weren’t always so successful. In the 1960s, they were middling at best. In 1971, a government commission concluded that, poor as the nation was in natural resources, it had to modernize its economy and could only do so by first improving its schools. To that end, the government agreed to reduce class size, boost teacher pay, and require that, by 1979, all teachers complete a rigorous master’s program.

They also banned all standardized testing, as they figured out this takes too much time and too much money out of learning; and now they only give standardized exams to statistical samples of students to diagnose and assess school progress.”

For every 45 minutes of study, Finish students get 15 minutes of free time recess.

In the United States, recess has been curtailed, and in some cases, eliminated.

The average class size in Finland is 19. Teachers are highly respected, highly paid, and highly unionized. So what can the United States learn from Finland?

Absolutely nothing.

That’s because education reform in the USA has nothing to do with education. It’s all about corporate profits, campaign contributions, government corruption, and ever rising profits for the publishing industries. Public K-12 students are merely victims in the profit production process through which these aims can be achieved.

This is why the US has the most tested students in the world. The more tests they complete, the more profits for the publishing corporations, such as Pearson Limited and McGraw-Hill.

This is why educational test standards are always raised in the United States. The higher the standards, the more students fail to pass. Then they must retake another profitable test over and over again until they move up a grade or pass it. The more students fail these tests, the more profitable they are for the testing industry.

Tests are changed every few years because it’s more profitable than retaining them. When school districts change tests, each district must purchase new testing materials from the publishers. In the United States, students are part of the production process for producing profits, and keeping share prices of the publishing giants rising constantly, quarter after quarter.

So don’t expect any real educational reform in the US anytime soon since real educational reform by definition means lower profits for the publishing corporations, which means less money with which to corrupt government. So don’t expect anything to change in education in the US anytime soon. The corruption of government at all levels is far too massive.

Just look at Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden who betrayed the voters of Oregon on behalf of Monsanto and Wall Street when he co-sponsored Fast Track legislation in the senate for the massive income redistribution scam called the Trans Pacific Partnership which Wyden falsely markets as a trade agreement. Wyden once wrote a constituent who wrote to him to complain about the Common “Very Profitable” Core Standards. Wyden wrote back, “Please rest assured that I will continue to do all I can on the federal level to ensure Oregon students receive the highest quality education….” Wyden’s letter shows he supports the Common Very Profitable Standards, which demonstrates how corrupt he is in all areas in which income is redistributed from the 99 to the 1 percent. See Wyden’s letter at, http://oregonsaveourschools.blogspot.com/2014/06/sen-ron-wyden-doesnt-get-it-on-common.html .

Wyden’s idea of students receiving “the highest quality education” is to increase the profits of the publishing corporations, which is another way of enriching the 1 percent at the expense of the 99 percent. In other words, less recess, more tests, and higher standards, which is another way of saying the senator wants all students to be on a college track, even if they had no desire to be on such a track.

Income redistribution from the 99 to the 1 percent; that’s precisely what Wyden does as much as anybody ever has in the US senate. That’s why he supports standardized testing of public school students, as well as Fast Track and the Trans Pacific Partnership. http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/06/how-finland-keeps-kids-focused/373544/

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While US Senator Elizabeth Warren battles for the working families of the United States, Wall Street Senator’s Ron Wyden, Mitch McConnell and Orrin Hatch are launching the latest assault against the middle class by pushing the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) income redistribution agreement through the senate.

Wyden, Hatch, and McConnell support the treaty because it will redistribute more income from the 99 to the 1 percent, which is precisely why Warren opposes this boondoggle.

In her speech, Warren says that 90 percent of the people of the US received about 70 percent of income growth from the 1930s until 1980. Since then, Warren points out, the top 10 percent has gotten 100 percent of all income growth, which is something Wyden, Hatch, and McConnell are working so hard to do. But that’s not quite accurate.

Wyden, Hatch, and McConnell have been trying to push all income growth into the pockets of the 0.01 percent via legislation and trade agreements, such as the Trans Pacific Partnership. They’re close to succeeding since 95 percent of all income growth since 2009 has gone into the pockets of the 1 percent. President Obama is also pushing hard to pass the TPP through congress.

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Although there is a movement in the US House of Representatives to eliminate your voting rights with respect to genetically modified organisms that are placed in your food and your land, and although the state government of Oregon has passed legislation to ban the voting rights of Oregon citizens on this issue in violation of the state constitution, a BENTON COUNTY, OREGON group, Benton Food Freedom, moved forward last December with a citizen-led initiative called the Local Food System Ordinance to prohibit GMO crop cultivation in the county. Supporters gathered 3,078 signatures. Benton County Supervisor of Elections Jeff Doty confirmed that the measure will appear on the May 2015 ballot. He said the group had enough signatures to “easily qualify,” and the measure is now awaiting a number.

The legislation still in the US House, and the legislation passed by the Oregon state government, are attempts by whining politicians of the Democratic and Republican Party, such as US representative Mike Pompeo, to rig the economic and political game for the 0.01 percent against citizens of ordinary means. These corrupt plutocrats, on behalf of the 0.01 percent, know precisely what they are doing, they’re trying to stop you from exercising your constitutional right to vote.

As for the Benton County initiative, “The basic scenario is that communities are caught in a situation now where they are being kept out of big decisions,” said Kai Huschke, community organizer for Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. The legal argument for Benton’s ban will be something like this: “Local governments have a constitutional right to create laws with tighter restrictions than what’s mandated at the state or federal levels. “This is a proposition for the people of Benton County, not the state or corporations.”

“Essential Points of the Local Food Ordinance:
1. Legalizes Local Food System for present and future food security.
2. Protects locally grown Heritage seed from contamination by GMO and other patented technologies.
3. Gives Rights to Natural Communities necessary for Local Food System health and well being.
4. Gives Rights to Benton County residents over those claimed by Corporations, patent holders and the State regarding a GMO free Local Food system.”

WE HAVE THE RIGHT to tell the Monsanto’s of the world to take a hike. It’s as simple as that.

READ and watch the video: Video: benton-county-voters-will-decide-on-ge-crop-ban-next-year

Video of signatures delivery:

LEARN more at Benton County Community Rights Coalition: Learn more here/

Benton Food Freedom Ballot Initiative from cheryle easter on Vimeo.

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By Bernie Sanders, US Senator, Reader Supported News

03 January 15

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a disastrous trade agreement designed to protect the interests of the largest multi-national corporations at the expense of workers, consumers, the environment and the foundations of American democracy. It will also negatively impact some of the poorest people in the world.

The TPP is a treaty that has been written behind closed doors by the corporate world. Incredibly, while Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry and major media companies have full knowledge as to what is in this treaty, the American people and members of Congress do not. They have been locked out of the process.

Further, all Americans, regardless of political ideology, should be opposed to the “fast track” process which would deny Congress the right to amend the treaty and represent their constituents’ interests.

The TPP follows in the footsteps of other unfettered free trade agreements like NAFTA, CAFTA and the Permanent Normalized Trade Agreement with China (PNTR). These treaties have forced American workers to compete against desperate and low-wage labor around the world. The result has been massive job losses in the United States and the shutting down of tens of thousands of factories. These corporately backed trade agreements have significantly contributed to the race to the bottom, the collapse of the American middle class and increased wealth and income inequality. The TPP is more of the same, but even worse.

During my 23 years in Congress, I helped lead the fight against NAFTA and PNTR with China. During the coming session of Congress, I will be working with organized labor, environmentalists, religious organizations, Democrats, and Republicans against the secretive TPP trade deal.

Let’s be clear: the TPP is much more than a “free trade” agreement. It is part of a global race to the bottom to boost the profits of large corporations and Wall Street by outsourcing jobs; undercutting worker rights; dismantling labor, environmental, health, food safety and financial laws; and allowing corporations to challenge our laws in international tribunals rather than our own court system. If TPP was such a good deal for America, the administration should have the courage to show the American people exactly what is in this deal, instead of keeping the content of the TPP a secret.

10 Ways that TPP would hurt Working Families

1. TPP will allow corporations to outsource even more jobs overseas.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, if the TPP is agreed to, the U.S. will lose more than 130,000 jobs to Vietnam and Japan alone. But that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Service Sector Jobs will be lost. At a time when corporations have already outsourced over 3 million service sector jobs in the U.S., TPP includes rules that will make it even easier for corporate America to outsource call centers; computer programming; engineering; accounting; and medical diagnostic jobs.

Manufacturing jobs will be lost. As a result of NAFTA, the U.S. lost nearly 700,000 jobs. As a result of Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China, the U.S. lost over 2.7 million jobs. As a result of the Korea Free Trade Agreement, the U.S. has lost 70,000 jobs. The TPP would make matters worse by providing special benefits to firms that offshore jobs and by reducing the risks associated with operating in low-wage countries.

2. U.S. sovereignty will be undermined by giving corporations the right to challenge our laws before international tribunals.

The TPP creates a special dispute resolution process that allows corporations to challenge any domestic laws that could adversely impact their “expected future profits.”

These challenges would be heard before UN and World Bank tribunals which could require taxpayer compensation to corporations.

This process undermines our sovereignty and subverts democratically passed laws including those dealing with labor, health, and the environment.

3. Wages, benefits, and collective bargaining will be threatened.

NAFTA, CAFTA, PNTR with China, and other free trade agreements have helped drive down the wages and benefits of American workers and have eroded collective bargaining rights.

The TPP will make the race to the bottom worse because it forces American workers to compete with desperate workers in Vietnam where the minimum wage is just 56 cents an hour.

4. Our ability to protect the environment will be undermined.

The TPP will allow corporations to challenge any law that would adversely impact their future profits. Pending claims worth over $14 billion have been filed based on similar language in other trade agreements. Most of these claims deal with challenges to environmental laws in a number of countries. The TPP will make matters even worse by giving corporations the right to sue any of the nations that sign onto the TPP. These lawsuits would be heard in international tribunals bypassing domestic courts.

5. Food Safety Standards will be threatened.

The TPP would make it easier for countries like Vietnam to export contaminated fish and seafood into the U.S. The FDA has already prevented hundreds of seafood imports from TPP countries because of salmonella, e-coli, methyl-mercury and drug residues. But the FDA only inspects 1-2 percent of food imports and will be overwhelmed by the vast expansion of these imports if the TPP is agreed to.

6. Buy America laws could come to an end.

The U.S. has several laws on the books that require the federal government to buy goods and services that are made in America or mostly made in this country. Under TPP, foreign corporations must be given equal access to compete for these government contracts with companies that make products in America. Under TPP, the U.S. could not even prevent companies that have horrible human rights records from receiving government contracts paid by U.S. taxpayers.

7. Prescription drug prices will increase, access to life saving drugs will decrease, and the profits of drug companies will go up.

Big pharmaceutical companies are working hard to ensure that the TPP extends the monopolies they have for prescription drugs by extending their patents (which currently can last 20 years or more). This would expand the profits of big drug companies, keep drug prices artificially high, and leave millions of people around the world without access to life saving drugs. Doctors without Borders stated that “the TPP agreement is on track to become the most harmful trade pact ever for ?ccess to medicines in developing countries.”

8. Wall Street would benefit at the expense of everyone else.

Under TPP, governments would be barred from imposing “capital controls” that have been successfully used to avoid financial crises. These controls range from establishing a financial speculation tax to limiting the massive flows of speculative capital flowing into and out of countries responsible for the Asian financial crisis in the 1990s. In other words, the TPP would expand the rights and power of the same Wall Street firms that nearly destroyed the world economy just five years ago and would create the conditions for more financial instability in the future.

Last year, I co-sponsored a bill with Sen. Harkin to create a Wall Street speculation tax of just 0.03 percent on trades of derivatives, credit default swaps, and large amounts of stock. If TPP were enacted, such a financial speculation tax may be in violation of this trade agreement.

9. The TPP would reward authoritarian regimes like Vietnam that systematically violate human rights.

The State Department, the U.S. Department of Labor, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International have all documented Vietnam’s widespread violations of basic international standards for human rights. Yet, the TPP would reward Vietnam’s bad behavior by giving it duty free access to the U.S. market.

10. The TPP has no expiration date, making it virtually impossible to repeal.

Once TPP is agreed to, it has no sunset date and could only be altered by a consensus of all of the countries that agreed to it. Other countries, like China, could be allowed to join in the future. For example, Canada and Mexico joined TPP negotiations in 2012 and Japan joined last year.

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Republished with permission from Readersupportednews.org

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Don’t let anybody lie to you. The reason why there is more standardized public school testing in the United States than in any other nation is because our government has been corrupted by more and more money and the corporate publishing industry demands more and more testing so they can reach ever higher profits at public expense. That’s also why there’s a call in the national corporate media for higher standards; more students will fail the tests, and they’ll be required to take them over and over again even though the standards and the tests are rigged to insure more and more students fail.

Only in the United States can every kindergarten through twelfth grade public school child be turned into a profit making commodity and have the complete process of doing so be labeled “educational reform,” despite the fact that this process has nothing to do with improving the education of children. In fact, it appears the profit making process has everything to do with eliminating important aspects of education, such as teaching critical thinking, team work, art, theater, automotive classes, wood and metal shops, as well as limiting (or in some cases eliminating) recess for elementary students. Apparently, developing social skills and learning concepts of right and wrong on the playground are not important in K-8 education, and that makes sense because there is no profit to be had for the publishing giants with regard to these extremely important life-enhancing skills. In other words, educational reform in the USA is killing our student’s education because it has nothing to do with educational reforms or educating students. It’s all about making profits at the public expense.

A letter from a teacher is below.

Dear America,

I’m sorry. You entrusted me with your children, and I have failed them. Please know that I had the best of intentions. I didn’t want to leave a child behind. I wanted to help them win this race to the top. You asked me to test them, and I tested them. I gave them choices: A, B, C, D, and sometimes even E. I didn’t just test them though; I spent hours showing them how to test, and I prepared them for that by quizzing them. My quizzes and tests were rigorous, too, just like you asked.

I have to be honest with you, though: my heart wasn’t in it at first. I had this ridiculous idea that art and music and drama and activity breaks would help my students grow. Maybe it was all those years of allowing my students to be creative. To think, I once had my English class produce a full-length play with original music and student-designed sets. I wasted weeks and weeks on that frivolous project. Sure, my students enjoyed it then, and okay, many of them still e-mail me and tell me that was the highlight of their high school experience, but I know now that if I had only had them sit in rows and practice for the ACT, if I had only given them short passages and had them tell me which of the five choices best described the author’s tone, they’d be so much more fulfilled in their lives.

After all, what did they really learn? How to access their imaginations? Developing original thoughts? Teamwork? I may as well have taught them how to file for unemployment.

Last year, our school district did away with our arts education classes. I was stunned along with the other misguided “professionals” with whom I taught. That was before I came to the stark realization that painting and sculpting and drawing might be nice hobbies to have, but they’re certainly not going to help adolescents as they compete for the jobs of the future. Do we really want a bunch of flaky artist-types distracting us? The art teacher is a barista at Starbucks now, which at least allows her to use valuable skills and restore middle-class security. And she makes a great latte.

Click the link below for the rest of the open letter to America.

qz.com-An Open Letter to America from a Public School Teacher

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Only in the United States can every kindergarten through twelfth grade public school child be turned into a profit making commodity and have the complete process of doing so be labeled “educational reform,” despite the fact that this process has nothing to do with improving the education of children. In fact, it appears the profit making process has everything to do with eliminating important aspects of education, such as teaching critical thinking, art, theater, automotive classes, wood and metal shops, as well as limiting (or in some cases eliminating) recess for elementary students. Apparently, developing social skills and learning concepts of right and wrong on the playground are not important in K-8 education, and that makes sense because there is no profit to be had for the publishing giants with regard to these extremely important life-enhancing skills.

On behalf of ever rising profits and ever rising share prices of the corporate publishing giants Pearson Limited, McGraw-Hill and a few others, the United States has turned public kindergarten through high school students into commodities for profit. On behalf of the shareholders of the 1 percent, the corporate press, which is nothing more than a propaganda machine for and of the 1 percent, has dutifully called this educational reform, and brainwashed much of the American public into believing this lie to be true. That is of course, the job of the corporate press; taking obvious lies created by conservative think tanks and other organizations and pundits of the 1 percent, and getting the public to believe these lies to be truth.

Students and testing are necessary pieces of the profit making motive, just like any other manufactured product. Manufacture a car tire without the existence of cars wouldn’t make anybody a dime. Tires and cars profitably go together like hands in gloves, bodies in clothes, hats on your heads. Nobody would manufacture gloves, clothes or hats if there were no hands, heads or bodies because no profits could be had if the two didn’t go together. The same is true of state and federally mandated testing of K-12 students.

Manufacturing tests are profitless without students to be tested, and so, quite naturally, the corporate propaganda machine engineered over a period of years a campaign to convince the American public of the need to test students more and more, until the tests were legislatively adopted, first at the state levels, and then at the federal level.

No mention was ever made by that mighty propaganda machine that Finland has the highest test scores in the world, and students there are the least tested on Earth. No mention was made of significant differences between the education of students in the USA and Finland, such as Finish boys and girls begin first grade one year later than their American counterparts because that’s when boys brains are sufficiently developed to handle first grade materials.

Beginning first grade a year later than is currently the case in the USA, not so coincidentally, would call for less testing, which would be called educational reform if adopted elsewhere, but not here. This idea would never be adopted because it would mean less profits, and to keep the share prices of the publishing giants rising requires more and more profits, which means more and more testing.

Several public grade school teachers have complained to me that the profit motive standards called Common Core are not “developmentally appropriate” for their students. In other words, for example, these new tests are geared for fifth grade students, but are being taken by third grade students. This requires many students to retake the tests over and over again until they pass the tests or move up a grade. That’s precisely the point of common core testing, as well as previous mandated standardized testing.

Having children retake the test over and over again means more and more profits for the publishing giants, so naturally, there will be a clarion call by pundits of the 1 percent to require students to reach for higher and higher standards, as if 95 percent of all high school student are going to use calculus after high school in a job. That might be true for a small fraction of high school graduates who move on to college, but it’s not true for the vast majority of high school and college graduates.

The one thing that becomes obvious is that educational reform in the United States is nothing more than a scam to redistribute income from the 99 to the 1 percent in the form of higher corporate profits, rising share prices, and mounting dividends. The 99 percent pays the price of this scam in lost tax revenue that goes to schools for testing, time away from other forms of education, such as art, as well as mounting stress on students, parents, teachers and administrators to meet higher and higher profits for the testing corporations via a corporate conduit of propaganda called higher standards.

If you want real educational reform, simply look to Finland and adopt some of that nation’s practices. However, the propaganda machine of the 1 percent will scream loud and clear that such notions will ruin education in the USA, but they will not mention that adopting such practices will only push the profit motive out of public education, which would be a tragedy for the 1 percent, but create great joy and better education for everybody else.

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The interest rates above are from July 2013, but as of November 2014, they’re still the same. Here are a few basic reasons why the government charges banks and student borrowers for loans at different rates. Also, the rate for student borrowers in the poster above doubled from 3.4 to 6.8 percent. Why?

1. College students who need student loans are typically members of the 99 percent. Rich students do not need loans.

2. Investment and commercial banks are owned by shareholders, the vast majority of which are members of the 1 percent.

3. If interest rates for banks jumped from 0.75 percent (yes, that’s less than 1 percent) to say 6.8 percent, that would cut into the already record profits of the banks, reducing their earnings, stock prices, and dividend payments. That would make the shareholding members of the 1 percent angry with the current government, and politicians wouldn’t want that to happen, because then they wouldn’t receive campaign contributions, other perks, and bribes.

4. Investment banks purchase student loans, issue bonds against the loans, and sell the bonds to rich investors, hedge funds and other financial organizations of the 1 percent.

5. The higher the interest rates paid by students, the greater the return on investment for those rich bond holders since much of the student loan payments made by members of the 99 percent go directly into the pockets of the bondholders. Some of the money goes to paying down the student loans, another portion goes toward servicing the debts, such as adjusting the books with each payment to reflect the status of the loans.

6. Doubling the interest rates of student loans increased the profits of the investment banks, hedge funds, other financial institutions of the 1 percent, and the rich investors themselves, which brings us back to point three.

7. Increasing the profits of the 1 percent makes those people happy, even if it means redistributing massive amounts of money from the 99 to the 1 percent via higher interest rates generates unhappiness among the members of the 99 percent.

8. Doubling the interest rate of student loans increased the demand for student loan backed bonds, raising the value of the bonds by increasing the return on investment, making Wall Street bankers overly happy.

9. The doubling of interest rates on student loans is a scam of the 1 percent, enacted by a remarkably corrupted government by the money of the 1 percent, especially Wall Street.

10. Much of the profits generated by student loan backed bonds are used to corrupt government even further, so that the money of the 99 percent that is being redistributed to the 1 percent via student loans is used to corrupt government even more against the interests of the 99 percent.

Conclusion: Student loans are simply a way for the 1 percent to steal money from the 99 percent and corrupt government even more than it already is.

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