This post is a comprehensive review of the education priorities of the Walton Family Foundation.
The Walton family has made many billions of dollars from the Walmart stores.
Walmart comes into a region and undersells every local retail store. In time, the mom-and-pop stores-beloved community institutions handed down in some cases from generation to generation- close their doors, and mom and pop become low-wage greeters at Walmart. The giant Walmart causes an implosion of Main Streets across the region where they are located, as working people shop for bargains and bypass their own community.
If the Walmart head office decides that the store is not making a big enough profit, the Walmart closes and goes elsewhere. It leaves behind dead small towns, towns without a local economy, because the local economy was sucked dry by the big Walmart. Whether the Walmart stays or goes, Main Street dies.
In education, the Walmart agenda is not dissimilar. The foundation supports charters and vouchers, though it prefers vouchers. It seeks to create schools that are non-union and that are able to skim off students from the local public schools. In time, the local public schools will die, just as the Main Street stores died.
They give generously to create an education marketplace of choices; the one “choice” they do not favor is the neighborhood public school. They underwrite major education media to be sure that their agenda gets favorable attention. They fund compatible researchers. They are strategic in their funding.
The Waltons and the Walton Family Foundation have gargantuan financial resources and can exert undue influence on politicians and public policy issues of their choosing. No matter where people come down on the issues of education reform or school choice, we can all agree it is unfair that the Walton family gets to dictate the future of public education because of the amount of money at its disposal, and to do so in a way that is unaccountable to the public.
In their marketplace of choices, the voucher schools and charters compete to get the “best” students.
The public schools take those rejected, excluded, or dumped by the charter and vouchers schools.
The end result: a dual system of schools, all publicly funded. One for the haves, another for the have-nots.
This is a few days old, but still a big *facepalm*
The old urban legend about a school banning red and green is back, this time directed at an elementary school in Texas.
An elementary school in Frisco, Texas is believed to be the first in the state to violate “The Merry Christmas Law” after they banned Christmas trees and the colors red & green from an upcoming “winter” party.
Except, no they didn’t. From the same article, just five paragraphs down:
The school district released a statement to MyFoxDFW.com noting:
“The school was unaware of this and it was not an official PTA correspondence either. There have never been any limitations on what students wear, what they bring to share with their classmates on party days … what greetings people exchange with each other.”
But hey, why let a little thing like reality get in the way.
Here’s the schools offical statement from their website: friscoisd.org
A new academic review from the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy contradicts Fox News’ conflation of violence and mental health, finding that the two are only related under narrow circumstances and that the vast majority of people with mental health conditions are not violent. The report calls for developing better “evidence-based criteria” for determining who is more likely to commit acts of violence and prohibiting them from owning guns.
The December 11 report is the work of mental health and gun violence researchers from top universities and research programs including the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. The report emphasizes a commitment to create evidence-based gun violence prevention policy recommendations that are informed by “the best available research” on gun violence and mental health.
While noting that it is important not to stigmatize those with mental health conditions, the Consortium’s report recommends expanding the federal prohibition on gun ownership by individuals adjudicated as having a serious mental health condition to also include persons receiving involuntary outpatient treatment when a court has ruled the person is a danger to themselves or others.
The Consortium’s approach, where the recommendation is based on academic research, stands in sharp contrast to Fox News’ reporting. Indeed, Fox News’ coverage of the relationship between gun violence and mental health has often failed to provide a nuanced picture of what is a complex issue, with the network unfairly stereotyping individuals with mental health conditions as prone to violence and using mental health to distract from the most significant factor in much of gun violence: access to firearms.
I like these.
In the 2 minutes it will take you to read this introduction, 52 adolescent girls living in poverty will give birth, 90% of whom were child brides, and 4 of whom will die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth.
The good news, however, is that no one is better qualified to end poverty than a girl living in it. When a girl is between 10 and 19 years old, a unique window of opportunity opens for her to break the inter- generational cycle of poverty.
The potential impact of breaking this cycle of poverty is huge. For example: if girls were employed at the same rate as boys, Brazil could add $23 billion to its annual GDP. India could add $383 billion if teen girls didn’t get pregnant and contributed to the economy instead. Ethiopia could add $6.8 billion if girls completed secondary school.
Along the way, we’ve found that the biggest influence on success actually comes down to attitude - so nurture your innate sense of curiosity. Experiment as much as possible. Take the bus. Eat local. Get lost. Stay in local hotels. Don’t be afraid of naive questions. Learn some of the language. Read a book. Listen to a podcast. Most of all, start doing stuff, because thinking only gets you so far with solving for girls. As soon as you are actually doing stuff you quickly learn about what works and what doesn’t.
A new congressional report criticizes the federal government for awarding tens of billions of dollars in contracts to companies even though they were found to have violated safety and wage laws and paid millions in penalties. Issued on behalf of the Democratic senators on the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, the report cited examples over the past six years.
For instance, Imperial Sugar had $94.8 million in federal contracts last year, even though it paid $6 million in safety penalties over a 2008 factory explosion in Georgia that killed 14 workers. The report also noted that the federal government had awarded $4.2 billion in contracts to Tyson Foods since 2000, even though Tyson has faced more than $500,000 in safety penalties since 2007 and 11 of its workers have died on the job since 1999.
The report urges the government to weigh a company’s safety and wage violations more closely as it awards contracts, which are about $500 billion a year to companies employing 26 million workers, representing 22 percent of the nation’s work force. It stops short of recommending automatic suspension of contracts or debarring contractors that were found to have violated federal laws, partly because government agencies were sometimes at fault, a committee staff member said.
Today I learned there’s a skateboarding school in Afghanistan where 40% of its students are female.
In a part of the world where little girls are getting shot at for promoting women’s education, that’s a pretty impressive statistic. In a part of the world where little girls aren’t even allowed to ride a bicycle, that’s a ground-breaking statistic.
Officially, this makes Afghanistan the unlikeliest of title holders for the highest rate of female participation in skateboarding out of any country in the world.
Researchers led by Sarah Kimmins at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, looked at what happened when male lab mice had a diet that was poor in vitamin B9.
B9, also called folate, is present in green leafy vegetables, cereals, fruit and meat.
Women often take folic acid supplements, before and during pregnancy, to reduce the risk of miscarriage and birth defects in their offspring.
But Kimmins’ team were startled to find that male mice that had a B9-deficient diet also fathered mice with a higher rate of birth defects, compared to counterparts which had eaten sufficient folate.
The world faces a growing population, resource constraints, climate change, and a global food system under stress. But new technology is limited in its ability to address the problems facing those in poverty. 780 million still lack access to clean water. 1/5 of humanity lives without electricity. 80% of sub-Saharan Africa is farmed with a hand-hoe.
Sara Boettiger — Senior Advisor at Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture and Assistant Adjunct Professor at UC Berkeley — will discuss the need to re-think existing models of Intellectual Property Rights (e.g. patent pools, clearinghouses, humanitarian use licensing), re-invent our research agenda, and work to shift the international debate.
More info on this event here: cyber.law.harvard.edu
The United States is behind many European and Asian countries in terms of educational achievement. The World Economic Forum ranks the United States 52nd in the quality of mathematics and science education, and fifth — and declining — in overall global competitiveness. The United States ranks 27th in developed nations in the proportion of college students receiving undergraduate degrees in science or engineering.
A report released in June by the Council on Foreign Relations warned that America’s global competitiveness is at risk because of a widening achievement gap between rich and poor, according to a Reuters report.
Tea Party Republicans held up funding in Michigan, and have targeted CCSS for criticism nationally as well.