Friday, January 27, 2006


And that will do as much good as it has done in NYC and Washington D.C.

Modern politics - and the media coverage of it - is all about conflict, so the biggest news in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's budget proposal hasn't received much notice beyond the first-day headlines. Since few in the Capitol are seriously upset about his proposal to dump an astounding amount of new money on the public schools, the issue has gotten only a fraction of the attention it received a year ago, when the governor was accused of shortchanging education. Schwarzenegger's proposal would give the schools $1.7 billion more than is required by the state constitution, an 8 percent increase that represents $600 more per student than the current year's $7,427 in state and local tax dollars. Counting federal aid and other sources of revenue, the schools would be getting $11,000 per student next year.

The increase the governor proposes would come on top of the $400-per-child boost that Schwarzenegger and the Legislature gave the schools this year. What will all that new money buy? That's the big question, and how the money is spent, not the total amount, will probably be the subject of the most debate in the Capitol as the budget is hammered out this spring.

The good news is that Schwarzenegger is mostly resisting the temptation to meddle in local school policy. He is proposing to give the lion's share of the new money to local districts with no strings attached. The biggest chunk - about $2.3 billion - would pay for a 5 percent cost-of-living increase for every district, plus enough money to accommodate higher enrollments in those districts that are still growing. Another $400 million would make up for past inflation that wasn't covered by the budget and help reduce historical inequities in general purpose revenue between various districts. More good news: The governor proposes nearly $300 million to reimburse the schools for mandated programs the state imposed on them but didn't pay for. This includes $133 million in ongoing funding.

But Schwarzenegger, like past governors, can't completely keep himself from trying to micromanage the schools. It's natural, apparently, for people in power to think they know better how to spend the money than do the people on the front lines. Plus, some people within the education lobby itself, and some Republicans in the Legislature, do not want to give all the new money to the schools without restriction because they fear that most - if not all - of it would go to higher teacher salaries.

More here


"Philosophy of Education" professor Douglas Kellner is something of a buried treasure on the UCLA campus. While in public not much of a fire-starter, especially compared to the roustabout behavior of his more active radical colleagues, Kellner is an absolute tiger on paper. A close look at Kellner's personal history and theoretical background reveals a professor whose political views are a witch's brew of worldwide conspiracy, Marxoid theory, "critical pedagogy," and an overwhelming dose of anti-Bush hatred.

In Kellner's brief memoir titled "Philosophical Adventures," he describes his fairly stable middle-class upbringing and subsequent adolescence. The tale, predictably enough, is narrated in an ironic tone full of retroactive progressive insights. In one instance, Kellner puts a radical spin on random childhood anecdotes. Through these red-colored lenses, his youthful attempt to buy candy for all his fellow neighborhood children becomes a nascent exercise in communism. Kellner likewise feels obligated to highlight every stereotypical point in his transformation from boomer kid to young radical. Kellner tells of discovering the big city, Little Italy in particular, which was where he "bought [his] first ounce of grass." Like so many of his counterparts, Kellner ended up taking a long sojourn through Europe, where "A bad flu and free medicine taught [him] the rationality of socialized medicine." As if that weren't groovy enough, Kellner also "learned the emancipatory possibilities of free love." All this leads to the logical question: could Kellner's youthful rebellion possibly be more clich,d? In a word, yes. Kellner returned to the United States and by 1968, "was studying continental philosophy at Columbia University when the student uprising erupted." While "unprepared for the explosiveness and impact of the student rebellion," Kellner caught on quickly and "became active in New Left politics, participating in major anti-war demonstrations."

While many baby-boomers were radical during their college years, Kellner's political extremism never faded. The first reason is that by becoming a professor, Kellner never had to actually leave the theory-based fantasy world of college to pursue a real job. Second, Kellner didn't catch on with just any school. No, after earning his Ph.D., Kellner took a position at the University of Texas-Austin, home of one of the loopier, more extreme faculties in the country. While nominally in the heart of conservative cowboy country, Austin is really in a countercultural world unto itself. Kellner contributed to the scene in his own freaky way by joining a "University of Texas Progressive Faculty" group, and by co-hosting, with fellow radical Frank Morrow, a public access cable television show called "Alternative Views." The views were indeed alternative. The show, which ran from 1978 to the mid-1990s, was a true piece of black helicopter conspiracy madness. "Alternative Views," investigated everything from "The Elites Who Govern Us" (apparently the Trilateral Commission, The Bilderberg Group and the Council on Foreign Relations), to supposed links between Nazis and Republicans, to the more pedestrian white supremacist threats like the Ku Klux Klan.

Most inflammatory of all was a number of "Alternative Views" episodes which aired allegations of connections between the CIA, the Mafia, and George H.W. Bush; between the Bush family and the Nazi party of Germany; and, for good measure, the Bush family's intersections with the savings and loans scandals of the early 1990s. This obsessive lunacy would form the bedrock of Kellner's later preoccupation with President George W. Bush, a man who in his mind represents evil incarnate.

Kellner's mania against Bush was only reinforced by the murky circumstances under which Kellner left his comfortable, tenured position at the University of Texas. As Kellner tells it:

"The Austin adventures came to an end in the mid-1990s when George W. Bush became Governor of Texas and a rightwing cabal took over the UT-Philosophy Department. Austin had been a great place to live with a vibrant counterculture and political culture and for decades the University of Texas had been an excellent location to teach. But as the University became more rightwing during the Bush years, many of us saw the (w)righting-on-the-wall, saw Austin and UT drowning in the sewer of corruption and mediocrity that distinguished Bush family politics, and decided to move on, leaving Texas to the Bushites."

While Keller's story seems instructive, there's clearly just as much not being said. Even Kellner's devotees, always alert to the distant thump of black helicopter rotors, must have experienced a certain amount of doubt at his suggestion that newly elected Texas Governor George W. Bush concerned himself with the ideological composition of one state school's philosophy department. Even California Governor Ronald Reagan, elected in 1966 on explicit promises to "clean up the mess in Berkeley," took only broad actions in all but a very few cases. While Reagan did oversee the ouster of card-carrying Communists like Angela Davis and Blas, Bonpane, his control was typically higher level, as in his role in the dismissal of UC President Clark Kerr. No doubt there is some sort of story behind Kellner's careful phrasing, but it's far more likely to have the stench of sour grapes.

For that matter, UCLA's decision to hire Kellner, especially in the post in question, has the stench of politics about it. Kellner, from the time that he was hired to his departure in 1997, was a philosophy professor at UT. But at UCLA, Kellner came nowhere near the philosophy department. Instead, he was installed into the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies (GSEIS) Education Department, with an inscrutable specialization in "Philosophy of Education." The situation has the inarguable appearance of a position being created for Kellner, not of Kellner filling a pre-existing job opening. Fitting a position around the academic is a rare courtesy extended only to true academic superstars. By normal standards, Kellner would not qualify. But to the GSEIS faculty like Peter McLaren and Daniel Solorzano, a fellow extremist like Kellner was valuable property, and someone well worth the professional courtesy.

MUCH, much more here


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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