My problem with charter schools (a rant)

I Struggle with Charter Schools.

The concept confuses me as a start. The idea of a private group controlling something as vital to someones future as education alone raises my eyebrows, primarily because the inherent disconnect between a private enterprise and a public good. Private companies focus on the bottom line, it is a profit based construct. Fine, that’s all well and good when we’re dealing with retail or services or something, they provide a service and get paid for it. Makes sense.

Here’s the issue: education isn’t a private thing. It’s a fundamental requirement to function and succeed in today’s world. If you don’t have an education you aren’t going to succeed it’s that simple. As such there have to be guidelines, rules and above all requirements for a school to fulfill. we’re talking about peoples futures after all. Now there are things called private schools these are separately managed institutions that operate on an isolated (mostly basis). I don’t mind these for two reasons: first they do not receive public funding. That on it’s own can be a serious impediment to succeed, which leads to point two: to thrive they have to be competitive i.e. good even without funding.

It works, so I accept it, very simple. So here’s my problem: Charter schools receive public funding. That is, private institutions un-beholden to any authority that is required to follow the rules and standards of any form of government, and as such beholden to the people, is given public funding.

This in turn precludes my second point regarding private schools, if you get public funding you don’t need to compete. 

I’m sure there are plenty of people with faith in a capitalist system, the obligations of an organization to appeal to a perspective buyer i.e. parents to choose there school/ product, to do well. This is supposed to be the competition that will embolden the Charter Schools to thrive or fail, being that surplus choice will eventually leave only the strongest choices available to the parents in the country. I disagree, for a very simple reason: why would any charter school, even and especially a failing one, willingly give up on the cash cow that is the federal government? They wouldn’t, it’s to profitable which is exactly the problem.

School, and healthcare and infrastructure (roads, bridges and the like) for that matter, should not be considered economic sectors, you shouldn’t focus on making money in these areas. That encourages cutting corners, prioritizing money over quality and as has often been the case resulted in failing schools that make a lot of money for the owners and produce substandard results. I’m sure there are successes, there has to be to provide examples for this nonsense but frankly? Private institutions shouldn’t receive public money. You want to educate on your own terms?

Do it privately, with your money – not everyone else’s.

That money should go to the public institutions, they have to succeed and do well according to the people, not according to a bottom line. It is not a perfect system, but it is a damn sight more accountable. Businesses have their place, as do public institutions. Don’t bring the two together.


Trumps back. The end.

Looking back at the NATO summit,and indeed the entirety of Trumps trip overseas, it’s not hard to question the relevancy of it all. In truth it doesn’t seem like he accomplished much of anything, he signed a deal with the Saudis, that Obama had already paved the way for, he met the Pope. And that seemed to be it. He went to Israel and sat at the wall, while also infuriating the intelligence community there and seemingly resolving them to be much more reticent with the intelligence in the future, and he went to the summit.

And wasn’t that an event. Firstly, he pissed off the British with the other intelligence leak, this one by reporters in the US revealing who committed the Manchester bombings. Secondly he refused to validate and support article 5 of the NATO agreement, the one where the nations agree to support each other conditionally. The language is vague so to supplement it, most presidents (in fact all involved before this one) have affirmed it to mean an attack on an ally is an attack on the US. Trump didn’t, making a vague comment ripe for reinterpretation, especially by a man known for attacking any perceived vulnerabilities with his bordering neighbors. And finally he did not reaffirm or deny US involvement in the Paris Deal, leaving the EU hanging on that as well.

Still, while all of that is concerning for the Europeans, and damaging to foreign relationships Trump and America has with some of their chief allies, the reality is not much was really done. The deal, and some vague denials. The world still spins, the EU has decided, or at least Merkel has decided, that it must stand on it’s own feet for now, and yeah. He went home.

And when the first comment he really makes is whinging about the media, you know nothing has really changed.


The Atlantic: What did Trumps Foreign Trip Accomplish?
Politico: What did Merkel Mean?

Friday update: 26 May edition (cause meh)

So, Trump visited the NATO summit, gave a speech basically complaining about the other nations not paying ‘their fair share’ (not necessarily inaccurate, but grossly simplified and unaware of either the reasons or economic and political implications of such a thing, ala typical Trump), and also shoved aside the Prime Minister of Montenegro during a photo op.

Dick move Trump. Dick Move.

He also met with Macron, the new French President, for nearly two hours, and apparently had all sorts of discussions, regarding the Paris climate deal, the economy, NATO. How much do you want to bet that he changed his mind regarding the deal after another foreign leader explained it to him in ten or so minutes?

And his little trip was going so well. Turns out democratic nations aren’t quite so thrilled to have the wannabe despot running around, over there in Sicily. Shame that.


The CBO Score is Out! (and it ain’t looking good)

The CBO (Congressional Budget Office) has released its score on the new AHCA bill passed through the house. Simply put it has three major points:

1. 23 Million people will lose insurance (compared to the 24 from the last bill)
2. Premiums for the older, sicker Americans will rise especially in states that                            refuse to maintain any of the Obama era provisions ala Kentucky and their ilk
3. However, the bill will save the Federal government $119 Billion over ten years.

Due to the last point, in its current state the bill could theoretically pass through the senate through reconciliation, however actually reaching the 51 is the sticking point. It is currently assumed that no Democrat, even the more centrist conservative leaning sort, are likely to support any bill that threatens Obamacare.

Secondly, there are enough moderate republicans opposed to serious losses of healthcare for their constituents (and 23 million people pretty much means that most of the poorer southern states will be hit) that in its current state it is unlikely for them to support this bill, be it on a political or ideological basis. Additionally, two Republican senators, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, oppose any particular threat to federal funding for Planned Parenthood. These two alone could derail any attempt to pass this bill in its current state, but that doesn’t mean they cannot be swayed or that changes to the bill could not convince them to support it in spite of these concerns.

At this stage I have no real prediction to the Bills success or failure. However if it does pass through the republican senate, there is no question that Trump will sign it, not due to any real grasp of the bill in question but to finally repeal and replace Obamacare.

And let the consequences be on there head.

(also did anyone else hear about the republican running for the Montana seat body-slamming a reporter? Seriously, What? Why?)


The Atlantic: The AHCA Fixes Don’t Do much to fix it’s Flaws
Mother Jones: Montana Republican Candidate Allegedly slams reporter

Trumps Tax plan makes no sense

Trump has released his newest tax plan, and it has one singular issue that most people, even Republicans can’t truly look past. It doesn’t add up.

I mean that literally, the math doesn’t work. 

Firstly it bases much of its assumed debt losses on tax cuts, and cuts to Medicaid, medicare and Social Security, especially Disability Insurance. Secondly, it relies on the idea that due tot he sudden decrease in costs to the federal government, the GDP will grow upwards over the next four years, starting at 2.1% this year and rising to 3.0% by 2021. The tax plan does not explain why there would be a sudden increase in GDP, it does not allocate any resources into economic stimulus, simply cuts resources and taxes and seems to expect that to improve things according to Mulvaney.

This also contradicts the Congressional Budget Office, which claims that the GDP will only grow 1.8% this year. It’s middling, but more realistic, as there’s certainly no reason to believe this particular plan, even with the Trump bump in the Stock Exchange, will increase the GDP by any significant amount.

Oh, and they double counted the growth rate. The White House is predicting that the cuts they are presenting will not only lower the deficit they will raise revenue. Somehow.

This is the kinda stuff you fail maths class for.


The Atlantic: The Unworkable Math of Trumps Budget

Update on Manchester

Today in Manchester, U.K., during the conclusion of an Ariana Grande concert, a bomb went off. Currently (4:24 pm 23/05/2017) the casualty report reads that 19 are dead, and 50 are injured. Currently this appears to be a terrorist attack, however there has been no confirmation nor claiming of said attack.

Attention should of course be currently focused on the victims of this attack. I haven’t the slightest interest in making whoever orchestrated this attack a prominent part of this event, to validate the attack or make them in anyway relevant or important. They are not. They are thug/s, they do not matter, and the sooner they are found, caught or killed the better.

I’ve never understood these attacks, this hatred towards western nations. I don’t particularly care too. There’s no excuse.

Good luck to Manchester, and my condolences to the victims.

Trump went to Saudi Arabia.

Trump didn’t screw up. I mean, completely anyway.

He’s currently in Saudi Arabia, and just yesterday gave a speech promoting better ties between his nation and theirs, and encouraging all likeminded Muslim nations and the “Muslim world” to stand together opposing terrorism. This was actually a good thing.

Remember this is the guy who claimed that “Islam Hates us”, that tried to implement a Muslim ban, and is generally considered opposed to anything related to Islamic terrorism or the thought of it. Or the barest connection to it. And yet he voiced a moderate, speech that didn’t go to far, that toed the Saudi line and made all the right noises. Well done Trump, you didn’t screw up.

And that’s about it. It wasn’t a great success, there’s no sudden shift in rhetoric for the Saudi family, the crown princes, or anything. They’ll probably think they have a closer relationship with this president than the last one, and will so long as they keep flattering him, and, uh, yeah. Didn’t start a war.


There will be many claiming this as a success, many claiming it to be the first time, or second, or whatever that Trump actually acted like a president. He didn’t. He acted like a man who wasn’t totally incompetent and said basically nothing that mattered. Nothing has changed and next week, or month, or whatever he will make some comment about Muslims, or Mexicans or Comey and we’ll remember something very important. Trump kowtows.

He kowtows to his base when a home, he kowtows to the Russians when they visit, and he did the same for the Saudis when he visited. He wants to be praised, and a quick way to do that is to please. All he had to do was say the right, empty things they wanted to hear.

You didn’t think it mattered, did you?


The Atlantic: Trump complies with Saudi line