Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Dangers of Forming Political Coalitions While Black: North Carolina, 1898

Posted By on Tue, May 15, 2018 at 2:45 PM

  • Vigilantes outside the charred remains of The Daily Record, courtesy of
I've been reading about North Carolina's Reverend William Barber and his Poor People's Campaign over the past few days, and contributed to the organization's legal defense fund for people being arrested during what it calls its "growing moral fusion movement." (I mention my contribution not to pat myself on the back but to encourage others to consider making a donation.) Keep that word "fusion" in mind as you read what follows. The Poor People's Campaign just began 40 days of nonviolent action in some 30 state capitols across the country and Washington, D.C. More on that and Reverend Barber later.

First I want to write about a hole I just filled in my gap-filled understanding of U.S. history: the Fusion Coalition in North Carolina at the turn of the 20th century and the Wilmington Massacre of 1898, which has been called the only successful coup d'etat in U.S. history. I read a bit about it in articles about Reverend Barber and decided to dig deeper on my own. If you know this history, your education is more complete than mine. If not, it's worth reading about this event, a chilling example of the dangers which can follow from blacks growing in affluence and influence, and joining forces with poor whites, in a place where racism reigns supreme.

Here's the basic story. Wilmington was the largest city in North Carolina in the late 19th century and also home to a large, reasonably affluent and educated black populace made up in part of skilled workers, professionals and business people. The city also had one on the few black-owned daily newspapers in the country, the Daily Record.

At the time, the Democratic Party was the party of racism and segregation and the Republican Party deserved to be called the Party of Lincoln. The Republican party was composed of white and black voters. North Carolina Republicans were joined by the Populists to form the Fusion Coalition. By 1894, the Fusion party had taken the governorship and every other statewide office. Blacks served in local and state governments.

The Democratic Party decided the best way to regain political control was to appeal to whites' racial resentment. The state party chairman stated, "North Carolina is a WHITE MAN'S STATE and WHITE MEN will rule it, and they will crush the party of Negro domination beneath a majority so overwhelming that no other party will ever dare to attempt to establish negro rule here."

White Supremacy clubs formed around the state. In Wilmington, some of the most incendiary anti-black speeches came from Alfred Waddell, a gifted orator and member of the city's upper class. In one speech he said, "We will never surrender to a ragged raffle of Negroes, even if we have to choke the Cape Fear River with carcasses."

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Monday, May 14, 2018

Educators, It's Definitely Time To Get Political

Posted By on Mon, May 14, 2018 at 4:38 PM

"You teachers need to get back to playing beanbag with your boys and girls and leave the political hardball to us. Don't trouble your pretty little educator heads with things you don't understand."

That's the mantra Republicans are directing at teachers: "Don't get political."

"You said you wanted a raise," teachers are being told. "Well, we gave you one. You're welcome. But some of your leaders won't take 'Yes' for an answer. They don't care about you. They just want to make this political."

Republicans have been using public education as a political punching bag for years so they can rationalize underfunding the education of 80 percent of our children who attend public schools while they funnel ever more money to private school vouchers. So it's only natural, they want teachers to take their raises and go home before they cause any more trouble.

"You're putting an initiative on the ballot to tax the rich? Bad move. If you get partisan, you'll lose public support."

That's coming from a party whose elected officials signed "No New Taxes" pledges and a governor who promises to cut taxes every legislative session. They fill their campaign war chests with contributions from corporations, Arizona's wealthy elite and, of course, the Koch brothers network. The money comes with the understanding that taxes on the rich will continue their downward slide. Naturally they hope teachers will acknowledge a simple fact of life: When the rich get richer and teachers make subsistence wages, that's just the price of Freedom.

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Friday, May 11, 2018

The Games BASIS Plays

Posted By on Fri, May 11, 2018 at 9:21 AM

  • PhotoSpin
Dust off your bullshit detector, put in new set of batteries and turn it on.

Ready? OK, feed this into your BSD. "The five top high schools in the country are all in Arizona, and they're all part of one charter school chain." Does that statement trigger your detector's smell alert? Are red lights flashing? I hope so. Such ridiculously lopsided results should raise suspicions that someone is gaming the system.

"BASIS has the top five high schools in the country!" It's all over the news and on the latest BASIS public relations blast. To be accurate, it should read, "BASIS snagged the top five spots on U.S. News & World Report's high school rankings by requiring its academically select students to take at least 8 Advanced Placement courses." AP or IB (International Baccalaureate) courses decide a school's ranking. The more courses students take and the better they do on the exams, the higher the ranking. Period. BASIS has figured out how to play the game better than any other schools in the country.

The Star article on the U.S. News & World Report ranking is hopelessly misleading. Hank Stephenson, who usually does his homework, must have knocked this one out in a few minutes so he could get back to more serious reporting. If he ran a simple google search, he could have read my posts about the rankings's questionable criteria from 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Or he might have tapped his colleague Tim Steller on the shoulder, who exposed the ranking system in the Star in 2013.

Stephenson and a lot of other reporters have written that the rankings are based on diversity, free/reduced lunch programs, graduation rates, state test scores, things like that. And, Stephenson adds at the end of the list, "Advanced Placement [is] also considered." That's like saying the winner of a boxing match is chosen based on weight, medical exams, drug testing, things like that. And what happens in the ring is also considered.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The New Republican Outlaw

Posted By on Tue, May 8, 2018 at 3:10 PM

Is a Republican candidate who's crime-free, too PC?

Not quite. Not yet. But today's Republican voters love their bad boys. I mean their really, really bad, sometimes shockingly bad boys. It's happened too often lately to be happening by chance. It's a growing trend. Criminal behavior isn't a bug for this year's Republican candidates, it's a feature. Making a Wanted Poster into a Campaign Poster is turning into a calculated political move.

Look at the GOP's latest criminal, Don Blankenship, one of three Republicans running for Senate in West Virginia. Blankenship was CEO of Massey Energy, known for running some of the most dangerous mines in the state. In 2010, 29 men died due to an explosion in one of his mines, the result of putting profits over miner safety. He served a year in prison, a ridiculously light sentence given his role in the disaster.

In a rational world, Blankenship wouldn't consider running for office, especially in the same state where his negligence was responsible for 29 deaths. And if he was idiotic enough to run, in a rational world he should get maybe 10 votes. Yet, as of Tuesday, on the day of the primary, Blankenship is looking like he just might win. Trump begged people to vote for one of the other candidates. Blankenship's retort: "I'm Trumpier than Trump."

Go back five months to the Senate election in Alabama and candidate Roy Moore, accused by multiple women of dating some of them and stalking others when they were underage and he was in his thirties. Only the statute of limitations saved him from trial and possible conviction. He should have quit the race when the accusations began flying. He didn't. Trump begged voters to choose the other Republican in the primary. They didn't. Jones won the primary. He lost the general by less than two percentage points. In Alabama. In the Bible Belt.

Right here in Arizona, we have our own beloved-by-many, convicted criminal Joe Arpaio. If the conviction isn't enough reason for him to remove himself from the glare of public scrutiny, he should hide because he's the reason Maricopa county has to pay out $70 million and counting for his department's racial profiling. Fiscally conservative voters should be coming after him with pitchforks. Instead he's holding his own against two high profile, credible Republican candidates in the race for Jeff Flake's Senate seat.

This time, Trump isn't running away from the criminal candidate. Trump pardoned Arpaio. And last week during a stop in Tempe, Mike Pence showered the outlaw sheriff with praise.

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Friday, May 4, 2018

UA, ASU Libertarian Schools Are Growing Fat On Money From the Government They Despise (It's Much Worse Than I Thought)

Posted By on Fri, May 4, 2018 at 12:42 PM

  • Courtesy of BigStock
Here's something I never thought I'd say. Arizona is throwing money at education.

I'm not talking about the K-12 budget. The raises for teachers still leave them far behind the national average. The rest of the public school funding is ridiculously low as well, and it will stay that way as long as Republicans control every part of state government.

No, I'm talking about the state throwing money at the libertarian outposts at University of Arizona and Arizona State University. They've received so much state funding, they don't know what to do with it. Literally. Both have multimillion dollar surpluses from the past two years. And there's more where that came from in next year's budget.

I've written a lot recently about the UA's Center for the Philosophy of Freedom (aka, the Freedom Center) and the Department of Political Economy & Moral Science. In the process, I've talked a bit about the money they've gotten from the state budget, but I found out this morning I've failed in my attempt to follow the money, as have many media outlets I've been reading. I'm going to do my best to get the budget numbers right here. If my explanations are a bit garbled, forgive me. This old English teacher is doing the best he can. And if I don't get it 100 percent right, I guarantee it's far closer than what I've written before.

Thursday, the Star ran an article, Conservative centers at UA, ASU will get $7.5M more amid surpluses. It's an edited version of a piece of investigative reporting by Jim Small, executive director and editor of the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting. The funding numbers Small reports astounded me. I had written that the Freedom Center received $2 million in 2017 and is set to receive another $1 million in the current budget — $3 million total. Small puts the figure at $5 million over the past two years and another $3.5 million in the upcoming budget, for a total of $8.5 million. ASU's School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership has received even more, a total of $10.5 million counting next year's allotment. They literally don't know how to spend it all, according to Small. UA's libertarian outposts will have $5.5 million left over at the end of this fiscal year. The ASU department will have $4.25 million remaining.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

'Educators Support Fund' Is Helping Out Tucson Area Educators

Posted By on Wed, May 2, 2018 at 10:35 AM

The local Educators Support Fund is accepting donations to help Tucson area educators who have taken a financial hit during the walkout.

"We opened Tuesday at noon," said Cheryl Cage, one of five people who created the fund. "As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, we've already collected over $6,000."

The site allows educators to submit requests for funds up to $500. Though many educators were able to use personal leave or sick leave to cover the missed days, others lost pay. "A number of requests have come in from people asking for something like $120 to cover utility bills," Cage said. "The requests have been modest and reasonable."

The fund defines "educator" as anyone who should be included in the pay raise demands of Arizona teachers. Requests will be considered from educators working in the Marana, TUSD, Amphitheater, Flowing Wells, Catalina Foothills, Tanque Verde, Sunnyside and Vail school districts.

The sponsors of the site include Cage, a long-time community activist, as well as: Terry Goddard, former Attorney General; Joel Feinman, Pima County Public Defender; Luci Messing, past Tucson Education Association president; and Robin Hiller, founder and executive director of Voices for Education. Hiller's organization is a 501c(3), which allows it to collect and distribute the funds.

According to Cage, “Our educators make significant financial sacrifices for our community. Through our financial support we hope to show them that we have their backs and are willing to sacrifice along with them."

Anyone wishing to contribute or request funds should go to the website,

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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

UA's 'Freedom School' Isn't Free Of Costs Or Hiring Restrictions

Posted By on Tue, May 1, 2018 at 5:26 PM

  • Courtesy of
Two articles put UA's Freedom School back in the news, directly and indirectly.

First story: At a time when Ducey's proposed budget is squeezing blood from every funding turnip it can find, the governor managed to find a million dollars to give to the Koch-backed libertarian outpost at University of Arizona. It includes $100,000 to develop a "civics and constitutionalism curriculum for K-12 and postsecondary education institutions."

Second story: An Associated Press story on the Star's front page discusses how the Koch brothers give money to Virginia's George Mason University to hire professors, then demand a say in who is hired and fired. Not covered in the story is a similar arrangement at UA's "Freedom School."

The Ducey budget.

Ducey and Republican legislative leaders have been scrambling to pull together a budget with enough money to fund a 9 percent salary increase for teachers. That means, among other things, cutting $35 million from hospitals, cutting $52 million from Medicaid prescription costs, taking $20 million from the state's settlement with Volkswagen and adding $16.7 million to property taxes in Tucson.

But with all the cuts, Ducey found $2 million to give to the Koch-backed "Freedom Schools" at UA and ASU, a million dollars each. The current budget is the first one with a line item for the Koch-backed "Freedom Schools." This proposed budget will be the second.

Call the $2 million what it is: a taxpayer funded gift to the universities' libertarian centers in exchange for millions of dollars from the Koch donor network to help fund Ducey's reelection efforts. In 2014, based on the promise that Ducey would be Arizona's Great Right Hope, the Koch brothers and their affiliates spent millions on his first gubernatorial campaign. The reported total ranged from $1.5 million to $5 million depending on how much dark money spent on the campaign came from the Koch network.

Since then, Ducey has proven himself to be the real deal. He's cut taxes every year and pushed through an expansion of private school vouchers. In 2017, he told the millionaires and billionaires gathered at the Koch Donor Summit, "I needed the power of the network" to push the voucher expansion to cover all K-12 students through the legislature. Ducey has every reason to expect to receive a hefty chunk of the $400 million the Koch network plans to spend on the 2018 elections.

Of the million dollars going to UA's "Freedom School"—the "Freedom School" is actually two entities, the Center for the Philosophy of Freedom and the Department of Political Economy & Moral Science—$100,000 is earmarked to develop a "civics and constitutionalism curriculum for K-12 and postsecondary education institutions." That means taxpayers are funding the expansion of the course, Phil 101: Ethics, Economy, and Entrepreneurship, which is currently being taught in four local school districts as well as a number of charter and private schools. Creation of the course was funded by a $3 million grant to the Freedom Center from the John Templeton Foundation. Using the grant, David Schmidtz, founding director of the Freedom Center, created the course out of whole cloth. He and associates wrote the curriculum, wrote and self-published the textbook and trained the high school teachers in summer seminars. Schmidtz is listed as the teacher of record for the high school courses.

If the budget being considered by the legislature passes, taxpayers will pick up the tab for maintaining and expanding the spread of libertarian-centered courses into public high schools around the state.

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Friday, April 27, 2018

The Teachers Are Right. Their Strike Makes Sense. I Know Because Ducey Said So.

Posted By on Fri, Apr 27, 2018 at 4:20 PM

Three encouraging takeaways for me from Thursday's walkout.

A Sea Of Red: 50,000 to 75,000 teachers and supporters filled the streets of Phoenix and gathered in front of the state Capitol. Thousands of others lined the streets in Tucson and, I imagine, other cities as well. A terrific show of unity.

Good #RedforEd Ink: The media appeared to be awed by and delighted with the teachers and the walkout. The Yays! far outweighed the Nays in print and on TV news.

The Governor's Seal Of Approval: Ducey had nothing but positive things to say about teachers Thursday. No talk of political theater. Nothing about teachers deserting their classrooms and their students. In a televised interview, he said, "I'm listening to these teachers. I think citizens have a voice. They have a right to petition their government. I think they want to be heard, and they are being heard."

Ducey's almost-endorsement of the walkout is huge, as is his acknowledgement that teachers deserve a 20 percent raise. Governor One Percent got religion a few weeks ago and increased his salary offer twenty fold. He even said—be still my heart—that the work Arizona's teachers have done makes them worthy of a raise.
"These teachers have earned the pay raise. They're getting the results and outcomes inside the classroom. . . . Our public districts and our public charters are improving faster than any state in the nation."
The improvement he's talking about is Arizona's scores on the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress ( NAEP) test, which went up while most other states stayed flat.

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