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Colette Coleman Guest Essay: The Case for Paying All Teachers Six Figures!

The Free Press WV

Dear Commons Community,

Colette Coleman, a writer and education technology specialist, had a guest essay in Friday’s New York Times entitled, The Case for Paying All Teachers Six Figures.   Her essay calls out to policy makers that our education system would be much better off if teachers received higher pay comparable to other professions.  Her entire essay is below and worth a read.

Tony

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The New York Times

The Case for Paying All Teachers Six Figures

By Colette Coleman

May 28, 2021

During the Covid-19 pandemic, debates over school closures and student safety grew in an understandable way. But this back and forth left no oxygen for robust conversation about lagging salaries for K-12 educators — an issue that was finally getting the attention it deserved before Covid hit. But now that each week brings more vaccine jabs and more news of school districts fully reopening in the fall, it’s time for this issue to get back in the spotlight.

Covid-19 revealed how teachers — in addition to nurturing, protecting and mentoring our children — are essential to a smoothly running society. It’s time to pay them accordingly. Significant raises can keep more people from ending up like me and countless others: a passionate educator who turned to another line of work largely in response to what I saw as incommensurate pay.

In 2019, Kamala Harris, then a Democratic presidential candidate, said at a rally on the campus of Texas Southern University what teachers sadly know to be true: “We are a nation and a society that pretends to care about education.” In a PDK poll from that year, most educators reported that they don’t want their children to enter the profession. About half of teachers surveyed said they had “seriously considered” quitting. A troubling number follow through.

During her campaign, Ms. Harris proposed something that, if enacted, could reverse this trend and prove we do care about education: federally subsidized $13,500 teacher raises. This would be a sound prescription for our near-term teacher shortage and serve as a long-term investment in our children’s futures, increasing our nation’s lagging productivity.

Ms. Harris’s plan to use federal and state funds to boost educators’ annual salaries to an average of $70,000 or more would be good; getting them to six figures would be even better. After all, entry-level Facebook engineers earn well over $100,000. On average nationally, teachers start at under $40,000. Even veteran teachers still make much less compared to other professionals who need similar levels of education to do their jobs. Isn’t shaping the minds of the future at least as important as building addictive apps?

The RAND Corporation, a research organization, noted in a recent report that several factors influence student performance, including “individual characteristics and family and neighborhood experiences.” Its analysts concluded that “among school-related factors, teachers matter most.” High-quality teachers, they said, can boost student performance on reading and math tests twofold or threefold.

Research collected by the Center for American Progress found that “the teacher labor market is responsive to changes in pay just like other occupations and that “changes in pay can affect not only teacher attrition, but also the pool of candidates choosing to enroll in teacher preparation programs.” Even the former secretary of education Betsy DeVos — a staunch conservative — recognized that “great teachers” should earn a minimum of $250,000 a year in many cases.

Years ago, when I quit my Wall Street job to teach in the Los Angeles Unified School District, I thought — as the culture has taught us all — that a pay cut was just the cost of following a calling, a reduction taken to do meaningful work. I soon learned I was wrong.

Working in the district, I got grown-up goody baskets from parents, drawings from kids and discounts from Starbucks as tokens of appreciation. (This attitude was exemplified more recently by a Washington Post article this month that, with nothing but good intentions, asked “What kind of gift should we give teachers at the end of this pandemic school year?”) After I left that role because of pay that didn’t make up for the burnout I felt and went to teach in Indonesia, I got those nice gifts, too. But more crucially, I got better working conditions and objective confirmation that my time and expertise were valuable: It came in the form of money. The school paid me like the well-educated professional that I was.

Here in America, although they’re not paid like it, teachers are in high demand. Covid has made what’s known as the broken teacher pipeline worse, but it has been around since long before the pandemic. A large survey conducted in 2020 found that 67 percent of teachers “have or had a second job to make ends meet.”

All of this has led to a reality — which could worsen as we leave the worst of Covid-19 behind — in which there is a stark, declining interest (and little incentive) to pursue teaching as a career.

A 2019 report revealed that fewer college students are studying to become teachers and that because of “low salaries, difficult working conditions and a lack of career pathway opportunities,” teaching generally cannot compete “with other high-status professions such as medicine and law.”

It may be awkward to acknowledge, but it needs to be permissible in polite society to admit that the interplay between money and status — which we all are pressured to navigate — has a role in the teacher pipeline issue.With the cost of living and the price of raising a family higher than ever and rising, who wouldn’t be tempted to find not just your calling but also a higher-paying career? But that’s a choice American society doesn’t have to push educators to make.

According to the Learning Policy Institute, prepandemic, nearly one in 10 American teachers left the classroom every year. Educator sentiments in recent surveys suggest that attrition rates may worsen in the coming months. This educator exodus takes a toll on students and their outcomes. Even before Covid-19, many students lacked permanent teachers, and some districts had resorted to recruiting talent from abroad.

The math, again, is simple: Shortages have gone up because salaries have gone down. The Economic Policy Institute reported that teacher pay, adjusted for inflation, declined from 1996 to 2017.

Teacher deficits and departures hurt students because inexperienced educators often fill the vacancies. But even when children have skilled, veteran instructors, the quality of their education is compromised if these teachers are underpaid.

Working in Los Angeles, I saw how poor compensation affects teacher performance and thus kids’ learning. When the bell rang at 3, my students busted out of the building, but the second part of my day was just beginning. I’d stay after school to help students, grade papers, plan lessons and call parents. Then I’d trek to tutor in beachside homes. This work was much easier than teaching in my crowded classroom, yet I got paid a lot more per hour.

Working in an under-resourced school and preparing effective lessons for middle school math, science and history classes — each with over 30 students of varying reading and English abilities — was taxing enough. My perpetual state of exhaustion and money-related stress made it even worse. Academic studies have confirmed that economic burdens, no matter your job, make it harder to perform and excel, decreasing cognitive ability and even temporarily lowering I.Q.

The financial concerns so many teachers face also serve as a tax on their attention. For me, when unanticipated bills appeared, I’d spend a lot of my energy wondering how I would pay them, which sometimes made it hard to stay present with my students.

While the country’s management class has been captivated by the power of wellness practices, researchers at Princeton confirmed that, to some extent, you can buy a baseline of well-being. They concluded that earning at least $75,000 or more annually (in 2010 dollars) stabilized people’s self-reported levels of contentment by making life’s difficulties more manageable. I didn’t realize how true this was until I left California to work in Indonesia.

My new school wanted to attract top talent, so it paid accordingly. Given the fair salary and favorable exchange rate, I lived well. With this new financial freedom, my opinion of teaching improved, and my performance soared. I didn’t mind staying late to plan intricate lessons or help students, because there was no second job I had to run off to.

Most teachers, naturally, wouldn’t move abroad to earn more. And they shouldn’t have to. The Equity Project Charter School (known as TEP) in Manhattan is a model that proves paying educators well pays off. TEP offers middle school teachers a $125,000 annual base and up to $25,000 in bonuses. This approach benefits both teachers and kids: TEP performed in the top 2 percent of about 400 New York City middle schools.

While carrying out that approach nationwide on the backs of local district budgets would be untenable, there is more than enough fiscal room at the federal level to subsidize investment in educators.

And there’s already some evidence at the state and local level that K-12 jobs can be well paid: administrators. Just look at district superintendents’ salaries, which can reach well into six figures. Given all of their responsibilities, they deserve such high pay, and it’s easier to finance because there are fewer of them. But that doesn’t mean teachers deserve less.

The Harris plan, according to a statement released during her presidential campaign, would smartly offset the cost of raising pay “by strengthening the estate tax and cracking down on loopholes that let the very wealthiest, with estates worth multiple millions or billions of dollars, avoid paying their fair share.”

There’s a social factor to consider in this teacher-administrator pay differential. The majority of K-12 teachers, nearly 80 percent, are women. Over 75 percent of superintendents, however, are men. Would we be OK with paying teachers so little if they were mostly male?

Of course, even if we were to raise teachers’ salaries to match those of their district leaders, it’s not the case that all of K-12 education’s problems would disappear. My dissatisfaction and that of many other former teachers extended beyond compensation. Attracting and retaining highly qualified educators will also require, for instance, improvements in working conditions. Meaningful raises are a strong start, though. Competitive salaries would lower attrition rates and attract fresh talent that would push everyone to do better. (Making the market for teaching more attractive may, yes, put job pressure on low-performing teachers, but that’s a good thing for students.)

For many teachers, the extra money would allow them to quit second jobs and give their primary work the attention it needs. It’s past time to match our lofty cross-partisan rhetoric about valuing our children and caring about education. In 2019, during that campaign stop at Texas Southern University, Ms. Harris pithily summed up her attitude about American apathy toward education and educators.

“We’ve got to deal with that,” she declared. She and Joe Biden are in office now. And she’s still right.

 

Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance could pursue racketeering charge (RICO) in Trump Organization probe!

Manhattan DA could pursue racketeering charge in Trump Org probe, experts  say - POLITICO

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance

Dear Commons Community,

Politico has an article this morning speculating whether Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance might use New York’s “little RICO” statute to prosecute President Donald Trump’s business empire as a corrupt enterprise.

New York’s RICO enterprise corruption statute can be applied to money-making businesses alleged to have repeatedly engaged in criminal activity as a way to boost their bottom line.

“I’m sure they’re thinking about that,” veteran Manhattan defense attorney Robert Anello said. “No self-respecting state white-collar prosecutor would forgo considering the enterprise corruption charge.”

The state law — sometimes called “little RICO” — can be invoked with proof of as few as three crimes involving a business or other enterprise and can carry a prison term of up to 25 years, along with a mandatory minimum of one to three years.

“It’s a very serious crime,” said Michael Shapiro, a defense attorney who used to prosecute corruption cases in New York. “Certainly, there are plenty of things an organization or business could do to run afoul of enterprise corruption, if they’re all done with the purpose of enhancing the revenue of the enterprise illegally. … It’s an umbrella everything else fits under.”  As reported by Politico.

“Despite a series of court battles over access to Trump’s tax returns and Trump Organization records, no charges have been filed against the Trump Organization, Donald Trump or current Trump Organization officials. A spokesperson for Vance’s office declined to comment on whether prosecutors are mulling charges under the enterprise corruption law.

Attorneys for the Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment, but Trump himself has denounced Vance’s ongoing probe as a politically inspired witch hunt.

“This is purely political, and an affront to the almost 75 million voters who supported me in the Presidential Election, and it’s being driven by highly partisan Democrat prosecutors,” Trump said in a statement Tuesday, following reports that Vance impaneled a special grand jury to hear testimony about potential crimes involving the Trump organizations.

“New York City and State are suffering the highest crime rates in their history, and instead of going after murderers, drug dealers, human traffickers, and others, they come after Donald Trump,” the former president added.

Vance’s team has reportedly examined a wide range of Trump and Trump Organization activities, including whether Trump aides knowingly submitted inflated real estate valuations to lenders and insurance companies while understating values for tax purposes, as The New York Times has detailed.

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen made similar claims during House testimony in 2019 and has been cooperating with Vance’s office after serving time in federal prison on several charges.

Prosecutors are reportedly eyeing several properties in their probe of potential financial wrongdoing, including Trump’s Seven Springs Estate in Westchester County, as CNBC has reported. New York Attorney General Letitia James, who recently agreed to coordinate her efforts with Vance’s, has also been examining valuations of Trump Tower in Chicago and Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles, according to a court filing last year.

The district attorney’s office has also examined financial payments made during the 2016 campaign to two women in bids to keep stories about alleged sexual encounters with Trump from going public. Lawyers said alternative explanations given for the payments could violate New York laws against making false entries in business records.

Not all lawyers are convinced that trying to paint Trump’s entire business empire as a criminal enterprise, or bringing an umbrella charge that would seem to assert that, is a good idea.

“Can you imagine a defense attorney standing up and saying: ‘Are you saying the whole Donald Trump enterprise is a criminal organization?’” asked Jeremy Saland, a former prosecutor in the Manhattan DA’s office who is now in private practice.

Saland said prosecutors would probably be better off simply attempting to file specific charges on things like tax or business fraud, rather than trying to broaden the case.

“Why overcharge and complicate something that could be fairly simple?” he said. “Why muddy up the water? Why give a defense attorney something that could confuse a jury and be able to crow that they beat a charge in a motion to dismiss?”

Saland also noted that the penalties for crimes like high-value tax frauds are similar to enterprise corruption.

One challenge for prosecutors could be the time limits in the New York state racketeering law. The government would have to prove two of any crimes charged occurred in the previous five years. That means any alleged crimes that took place during the height of the Trump campaign in 2016 could lose their ability to trigger the “little RICO” law in the coming months.

However, if prosecutors can meet those timing requirements, invoking New York’s racketeering law might allow them to buttress their case with evidence of older episodes of wrongdoing or episodes they can’t charge individually, lawyers said.”

New York’s enterprise corruption law — part of the Organized Crime Control Act — was passed in 1986 and modeled on the better-known federal statute dating to 1970, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

The measures were originally billed as means of cracking down on the mafia, drug gangs and businesses fronting for organized crime, but over time courts ruled that the broad statutes were not limited to such uses and could be used against such things as anti-abortion protesters who threatened violence or blockaded clinics.

The laws “all were designed for organized crime, but the courts have held by the terms of those statutes they have broad applicability,” Anello said.

Former prosecutors and defense attorneys described Vance’s move to use a special grand jury, first reported by the Washington Post Tuesday, as a logical one.

“The impaneling of one of these grand juries nearly always means that the DA has at least tentatively decided to present at least some charges to the grand jury for its consideration of an indictment or indictments. Typically, the exact contours of what those charges are, against whom, and what they will look like is not decided until much later in the long-term grand jury’s life,” emailed Daniel Alonso, who served as chief assistant district attorney under Vance.

Alonso said one focus of the probe seems to be Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, whose personal income tax returns have reportedly come under scrutiny. The New York Times has reported that Manhattan’s district attorney appears to be seeking Weisselberg’s cooperation with the probe. “Beyond that, we’ll have to wait and see,” said Alonso, now with law firm Buckley LLP.”

Wait and see indeed!

Tony

 

 

New York Daily News Headline Mitch McConnell – Spineless McWorm!

Dear Commons Community,

The New York Daily News went to town on Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his cronies with its front cover this morning.

The newspaper depicted McConnell as a worm after Senate Republicans blocked bipartisan legislation yesterday to set up an independent commission to investigate the deadly U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6 by supporters of then-President Donald Trump, who was impeached for inciting the violence.

“Spineless McWorm,” read the tabloid’s headline, adding underneath: “Mitch & His GOP Cowards KO Riot Probe.”

The Senate vote was 54-35 — six short of the 60 needed — to take up a House-passed bill that would have formed an independent 10-member commission evenly split between the two parties. It came a day after emotional appeals for the commission from police who fought the mob, the family of an officer who died and lawmakers in both parties who fled Capitol chambers in the worst attack on the building in two centuries.

The Republicans were mostly but not totally united: Six voted with Democrats to move forward. Eleven senators — nine Republicans and two Democrats — missed the vote, an unusually high number of absentees for one of the highest-profile votes of the year. At least one of the missing Republicans would have voted in favor of considering the commission, according to his office.

The GOP opposition means that questions about who should bear responsibility for the attack could continue to be filtered through a partisan lens — in congressional committees — rather than addressed by an outside, independent panel modeled after the commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

“The investigations will happen with or without Republicans,” declared Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, one of the Republicans who voted to move forward. “To ensure the investigations are fair, impartial and focused on the facts, Republicans need to be involved.”

The vote was in part a GOP attempt to placate Trump, or avoid his reprisals, as he has kept a firm hold on the party since his defeat by Democrat Joe Biden. The former president told his supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat before the siege and continues to falsely say he won the election — claims shouted by his supporters as they stormed the building. Trump called the commission legislation a “Democrat trap.”

Friday’s vote — the first successful use of a Senate filibuster in the Biden presidency — was emblematic of the profound mistrust between the two parties since the siege, especially among Republicans, with some in the party downplaying the violence and defending the rioters.

The vote also is likely to galvanize Democratic pressure to do away with the filibuster, a time-honored procedure typically used to kill major legislation. It requires 60 votes to move ahead, rather than a simple majority in the 100-member Senate. With the Senate evenly split 50-50, Democrats needed support from 10 Republicans to move to the commission bill.

Speaking to his Republican colleagues, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said after the vote they were “trying to sweep the horrors of that day under the rug” out of “fear or fealty” to Trump. He left open the possibility of another vote in the future on establishing a bipartisan commission, declaring, “The events of Jan. 6 will be investigated.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi echoed that commitment, saying Democrats “will find the truth.”

Though the bill to form the commission passed the House earlier this month with the support of almost three dozen Republicans, most GOP senators said they believed the bipartisan panel would eventually be used against them politically. While initially saying he was open to the idea, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell turned firmly against it in recent days, arguing that the panel’s investigation would be partisan despite the even split among party members.

McConnell, who once said Trump was responsible for provoking the mob attack on the Capitol, said dismissively of Democrats, “They’d like to continue to litigate the former president, into the future.”

Still, six in McConnell’s caucus defied him, arguing that an independent look was needed, and Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey would have brought the total to seven but for a family commitment, his office said. In addition to Cassidy, the Republicans who voted to move forward were Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Rob Portman of Ohio and Mitt Romney of Utah.

Murkowski said Thursday evening that she needed to know more about what happened before and on the day of the attack, and why.

“Truth is hard stuff, but we’ve got a responsibility to it,” she said. “We just can’t pretend that nothing bad happened, or that people just got too excitable. Something bad happened. And it’s important to lay that out.”

Murkowski has it right!

Tony

Fox News’ Neil Cavuto Airs Hate Mail – I know the feeling!

Dear Commons Community.

Last week Fox News’ Neil Cavuto aired hate messages (sample above) he receives from trolls mainly from people who feel he is not conservative enough for the network.  He is one of the only personalities on Fox who dared to criticize Donald Trump during his time in office. 

I know the feeling, I receive some nasty email on this humble blog also:  Below is a sample (heavily asterisked) commenting on one of my posts on Brianna Keilar calling out Senator Josh Hawley.

“Tony , you dumb son of a bitch!!
What f**in college did u graduate from, you stupid mother f**r. Don’t you have better things to write about! You dumb mother f**r. Your probably one young stupid p**k! You don’t know any better right! You dumb ass mother f**r!”

Author: Dt (IP address: 136.144.43.31, 136.144.43.31)
Email: Donaldtrump@gmail.com

Fortunately, the CUNY Commons has a comment filter which I use to screen for profanity-laden messages.

Tony

New Survey: Pandemic Accelerated Higher Education’s Shift to Cloud Technology!

Cloud Computing Services to Educational Institution | Case Study

Dear Commons Community,

A new survey of more than 650 higher education leaders reveals institutions continued to upgrade their technology operations to the cloud during the pandemic – and, in some cases, accelerated their transitions as a result of the crisis.  While there has been much written and discussed about how the pandemic has moved higher education to a new normal of online instruction, this survey expands into other areas of information technology.  The survey of senior administrators including presidents, chancellors, provosts, CIOS, CFOs and deans was conducted in March 2021 by The Chronicle of Higher Education and sponsored by Ellucian, a higher education technology solutions provider. As reported in a press release.

“Results highlight how the increased focus on technology as a strategic enabler has amplified the role of chief information officers (CIOs) in the institutional C-suite. Notably, 86% of higher education administrators agreed the pandemic has increased collaboration among campus leaders in their strategic approach to technology adoption, and 75% said they expect this to continue post-pandemic. In addition, 75% said the pandemic has changed their approach to using technology to support critical functions, such as enrollment or recruitment.

Senior leaders overwhelmingly said cloud-computing services have been valuable in responding to institutional needs (96%), which aligns with growth being seen in cloud adoptions industry-wide. While 54.3% of those surveyed reported they are cloud-based today, 63% indicated that cloud service adoption will increase as a result of the past year. Respondents expect 68.6% of applications to be in the cloud in 24 months.

Top areas where cloud services will most benefit college’s operations:

  • Online instruction – 76%
  • Student services – 56%
  • Enrollment and admissions management – 52%
  • Adoption of latest technology and functionality – 52%
  • Strategic reallocation of IT staff – 43%
  • Financial management – 33%

“The survey results underscore that despite the pandemic, the higher education community remains committed to serving students with excellence. Recognizing that education is the imperative for global success, we must continue to align human abilities with technology capabilities and embrace digital transformation as a driver of enhanced experience and outcomes,” said Stephen Laster, Chief Product Officer, Ellucian.

Despite the unexpected shift to remote learning and campus operations in March of 2020, a majority of technology officers polled (74%) said their institutions’ technological capabilities and systems were prepared for the pivot; 75% said they had sufficient knowledge of existing capabilities and systems to make good decisions.

However, senior administrators said they still face challenges in the move toward technology adoption:

  • Budget constraints – 75%
  • Faculty reluctance – 56%
  • Training the community – 49%
  • IT infrastructure – 42%
  • Evaluating outcomes – 35%

The survey also shows ongoing investment in delivering student services, managing enrollment, and interacting with stakeholders including donors and alumni. And, pandemic experiences helped institutions clarify directions for future investment in technology, including cloud solutions and the ongoing faculty and staff training.”

Tony

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan urges GOP to reject Trump and ‘2nd-rate imitations’

Paul Ryan: GOP "at a crossroads," urges party to focus on "principles," not  people - Axios

 

Dear Commons Community,

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan has joined the fight against Donald Trump, urging fellow conservatives to reject the former president’s divisive politics and those Republican leaders who emulate him. 

Ryan made his remarks yesterday during an address at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. He was critical of both Republicans and Democrats, though he saved his sharpest barbs for Trump, who is by most measures the leader of the modern-day Republican Party.  As reported by the Associated Press.

“It was horrifying to see a presidency come to such a dishonorable and disgraceful end,” Ryan said, referring to the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol that Trump inspired on Jan. 6.

“Once again, we conservatives find ourselves at a crossroads,” Ryan continued. “And here’s the reality that we have to face: If the conservative cause depends on the populist appeal of one personality, or on second-rate imitations, then we’re not going anywhere. Voters looking for Republican leaders want to see independence and mettle. They will not be impressed by the sight of yes-men and flatterers flocking to Mar-a-Lago.” 

It’s unclear how much impact Ryan’s words will have in the broader fight for the future of the GOP, if any. Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, was among the most respected Republicans in the nation’s capital before Trump’s rise, but two years out of office, his open contempt for Trump is not in line with the vast majority of Republican voters and elected officials.

A tiny but growing group of anti-Trump Republicans has struggled to steer the party in a new direction, even as Trump continues to promote the same false claims — that he would have won the 2020 election if not for mass voter fraud — that inspired the Capitol insurrection. At the same time, Trump is openly contemplating another presidential run in 2024.

One of Trump’s most vocal allies on Capitol Hill, Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., lashed out at Ryan on Twitter ahead of the speech. 

“It really is amazing that Paul Ryan, who is the reason the GOP lost the House in 2018, is going to come out today and blame Trump for the problems in the GOP,” she said, adding a shot at another Trump critic, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo. “Paul, the problem is you and your pal Liz.” 

Ryan spoke Thursday as the opening speaker for the Reagan library’s “Time for Choosing” series, which will later feature 2024 Republican presidential prospects such as former Vice President Mike Pence, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Those close to Ryan, 51, do not expect him to run for public office again, but they suggest he is paying close attention and remains concerned about the future of the party. The Wisconsin Republican also sits on the board of Fox Corp., which owns Fox News.

In his remarks, Ryan described President Joe Biden’s agenda as “more leftist than any president in my lifetime” and warned of exploding federal spending under the Democrats who control Washington. He lamented the GOP’s interest in culture wars and “identity politics” at the expense of conservative principles. 

“Culture matters, absolutely yes, but our party must be defined by more than a tussle over the latest grievance or perceived slight,” he said. “We must not let them take priority over solutions — grounded in principle — to improve people’s lives.”

The Republican Party has an opportunity to win elections and address critical policy challenges, as long as they don’t get in their own way, Ryan continued.

“If we fail this test, it will be because the progressive left will have won by default,” he said. “It will be because the conservative cause … lost its way and followed the left into the trap of identity politics, defining itself by resentments instead of by ideals. It will be because we mistake reactionary skirmishes in the culture wars with a coherent agenda. It will be because we gave too much allegiance to one passing political figure and weren’t loyal enough to our principles.”

Ryan is correct in his assessment of Trump and Trump wannabees.   The country needs more Republicans to speak out against the cowardice that has befallen on the GOP.

Tony

Video: New “Never Again PAC” to Go After ‘Treason Caucus’ Republicans Who Tried to Overturn Election!

Dear Commons Community,

Two Democratic Party veterans have started the “Never Again PAC” to help defeat the 147 members of Congress who voted to reject the election results.  As reported by The Huffington Post.

“We’re going to try and make sure that these members of Congress own this for their careers,” said David Bowes, one of the two Democratic campaign veterans behind the “Never Again PAC” and its associated super PAC. 

Bowes, a former aide to Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, and Ian Moskowitz, most recently with the Biden campaign, hope to raise and spend $4 million by the time of the 2022 midterm elections. The money would help defeat 10 to 15 of the most vulnerable Republican members of Congress who voted on Jan. 6 to overturn results from states won by Biden — even after a violent mob incited by Trump swarmed the Capitol building and forced them to hide for their lives.

The pair has made a 45-second ad (see video above) that splices footage of pro-Trump rioters attacking police officers at the Capitol with title frames that label the 147 Republicans the “treason caucus.”

Of the eight Republican senators who voted to reject the election results, only one is up for reelection next year: John Kennedy, in the relatively safe GOP state of Louisiana. Of the 139 House Republicans, Bowes and Moskowitz said that they plan to analyze which ones seem most vulnerable. Some possibilities include Mike Garcia, in a Southern California district Biden won by 10 points, and Beth Van Duyne, in a Texas district Biden carried by 5 points.

“We’re going to see where things shake out,” Moskowitz said. “We know what they did, and we’re going to make sure their constituents know what they did.”

They may have their work cut out for them, as the vast majority of the Republican Party and much of the country’s political press corps appear to have shrugged off what Trump did and now treat him as a legitimate candidate for the 2024 presidential nomination.

When Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney continued to speak out against Trump’s post-election conduct, she was ousted from her No. 3 spot in House GOP leadership and replaced with someone willing to spread Trump’s continued lies about the election. Press coverage, meanwhile, routinely elides Trump’s attempt to overturn the election he had lost to remain in power as it features quotes from his advisers about his strategy for 2024.

“It’s extremely concerning that the Republican Party is trying to move on. It’s why this organization exists,” Bowes said. “Republicans want to pretend Jan. 6 didn’t happen, but we’re here to say, ‘Never again.’ We’re going to make sure voters never forget exactly who put our democracy at risk.”

And Moskowitz pointed to recent polling showing that Americans, by nearly a two-to-one margin, continue to blame Trump for the Jan. 6 attack. “The general public is angry about it,” Moskowitz said. “We know that this message resonates. We think that it has staying power.”

Trump spent weeks attacking the legitimacy of the Nov. 3 election, starting with his lies in the pre-dawn hours of Nov. 4 with claims that he had really won in a “landslide” and that it was being “stolen” from him. Those falsehoods continued through a long string of failed lawsuits challenging the results in a handful of states.

After the Electoral College finally voted on Dec. 14, making Biden’s win official, Trump began urging his followers to come to Washington on Jan. 6 to intimidate his own vice president and members of Congress into overturning the election results and installing Trump as president for another term anyway. The mob he incited attempted to do just that as it stormed the Capitol. His supporters even chanted “Hang Mike Pence” after Pence refused to comply with Trump’s demands.

A police officer died after being assaulted during the insurrection, and two others took their own lives soon afterward.”

Tony

Amazon Acquires MGM Studios!

Amazon in Talks to Buy MGM for as Much as $10 Billion

Dear Commons Community,

Amazon announced yesterday that it’s signed an agreement to buy Hollywood studio MGM for $8.45 billion in an effort to compete with streaming services such as Netflix and Disney.

In announcing the deal, Amazon pointed out that MGM, which is nearly 100 years old, has a huge catalog of more than 4,000 movies including the “James Bond” franchise and 17,000 TV shows including “Fargo” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Amazon said the trove of films will be particularly beneficial to Amazon Studios, which has mostly focused on TV show programming.

MGM has actively been exploring a sale since December, looking to cash in on streaming-video services seeking content. The Wall Street Journal reported in December that MGM had a market value of roughly $5.5 billion, significantly less than the price tag Amazon agreed to. As reported:

“Amazon noted on Wednesday that the deal is subject to regulatory approvals. While Amazon has attracted antitrust scrutiny, legal experts say U.S. regulators are unlikely to stop the e-commerce giant from making its second-biggest acquisition after Whole Foods.

After the Wall Street Journal reported on the impending deal on Monday, George Hay, Cornell Law School professor, told Yahoo Finance that it’s “hard to imagine any basis for blocking the deal.”

That’s largely because the streaming industry is viewed as highly competitive, as evidenced by AT&T’s  recent decision to spin off Time Warner less than three years after spending $85 billion on the media giant and defeating an antitrust challenge of its own from the Trump administration’s Justice Department.

Another clue the streaming space is competitive: Just last month, Netflix sharply missed on its subscriber goals when it reported earnings, a loss partly attributed to an increasing crowd of competitors in the streaming space like Disney+, Hulu, AppleTV+  and, yes, Amazon. In addition to being the “everything store” and a cloud giant, Amazon creates some original movies and TV shows like “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

“This is partly a merger of competitors, but Amazon is a very small player in streaming and is barely in the business of movie making, so it does not appear that Amazon is getting market power (the usual test) in streaming,” Eleanor Fox, a professor of trade regulation at NYU Law, told Yahoo Finance in an email message after Monday’s Wall Street Journal report.

While the deal wouldn’t necessarily be blocked, it would without a doubt capture the attention of antitrust regulators because of its sheer size and because it involves Amazon, a giant whose critics accuse it of using its size and influence to crush competitors. Just Tuesday, Amazon was hit with an antitrust lawsuit from the Washington, DC, attorney general accusing it of illegally abusing its monopoly power with regard to third-party sales.

This isn’t a small deal, either. MGM is a major Hollywood player and one of the world’s oldest film studios whose “James Bond” movies is one of the highest-grossing franchises of all time.

Fox, who described the antitrust risks of the deal as “not large,” also said it would be a gigantic merger that “will give Amazon huge advantages that some would call unfair advantages in placing and pushing its own content over the content of competitors.”

“It may affect the choices and minds of us all; Amazon will be king over not only what we buy but what we watch. Not an absolute monarch but with kingly nuanced influence,” Fox said.

And, as Christopher Sagers, a professor at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, pointed out, this isn’t just any company hoping to buy MGM. It’s Amazon, which he described as a “favorite villain of the left.”

“For purely political reasons, the case will get interest,” Sagers said. “The left definitely has the White House’s ear with antitrust.”

As they say in TV land:  “Stay tuned!”

Tony

David L. Kirp:  Community College Should Be More Than Just Free!

First Year of Community College May Soon be Free | VOICE

Dear Commons Community,

David  L. Kirp, a professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, had a guest essay in yesterday’s New York Times, commenting on President Biden’s proposal to expand community college access by making it tuition free.  Kirp makes the point that free tuition will help but not solve the problem of poor student performance especially as measured by graduation rates.  He goes on to comment on programs around the country that have invested in improving community college graduation among poor and minority students including CUNY’s own ASAP program as examples of what should be done.

The entire guest essay is below.

Tony

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New York Times

Community College Should Be More Than Just Free!

Davide L. Kirp

May 25, 2021

Free community college for everyone is the centerpiece of President Biden’s $302 billion, 10-year investment in expanding access to higher education. Though it has been hailed as a revolutionary proposal, this walking-through-the-door access doesn’t solve higher education’s biggest challenge — boosting the number of community college students who graduate or transfer to a four-year school.

As one undergraduate said: “Anyone can get into college. The challenge is staying in college.”

The data tells an abysmal tale. Only four in 10 community college students earn a degree or transfer to a university within six years. Eighty percent of community college freshmen aspire to a bachelor’s degree or higher, but fewer than a sixth of them reach their goal.

Those who would benefit the most from an associate degree fare especially badly. Just 36 percent of Latino students and 28 percent of Black students graduate. Students from low-income families do worse. Among those with family incomes below $30,000, fewer than one in six earn a degree.

Never underestimate the power of “free.” Students who grow up in poverty are acutely price-sensitive — justifiably so, since they are often perpetually on the brink of going broke — and they’re more likely to earn an associate degree if tuition is eliminated. Tennessee became the first state to make community college free, in 2015, and the graduation rate has increased to 25 percent from 22 percent since then. But zero-tuition community college will discourage these students from enrolling in an open-admissions university like Middle Tennessee State, where half of the students earn a bachelor’s degree.

Let’s be clear — I’m a critical friend, not a basher, of community colleges. For more than a century, these schools have been a portal to higher learning for millions of students who otherwise would have settled for a high school diploma. They admit African-Americans, Latinos and immigrants at about the same rate as these groups’ representation in the United States. That’s a substantially higher rate than their representation in four-year schools.

After visiting some of these schools, I came to appreciate how the best of them truly serve as engines of mobility. For example, thousands more students have graduated from Valencia College, in Orlando, Fla., since the school created a seamless path to the University of Central Florida across town.

At the City University of New York, more than half the community college students enrolled in ASAP (Accelerated Study in Associate Programs) — a model that combines comprehensive financial support with “I-have-your-back counseling” and course schedules that take into account the demands of family and work — graduate in three years. That’s more than double the percentage of CUNY community college students who earn a degree in the same amount of time.

Nationwide, if the community college graduation rate is going to rise, data-driven strategies like these need to be replicated.

Here’s what else has been shown to move the needle.

  • Telling students how to find schools that match their interests, with information about those colleges’ academic offerings and graduation rates, as well estimates of the cost, leads them to choose better schools.
  • Personalized text-message nudges can prod students into getting to and staying in college.
  • Parsing the voluminous amount of student information that an institution collects enables it to spot signs of trouble, like receiving a failing grade on a midterm or missing classes, before they ripen into crises. Those students are quickly connected to invaluable academic and counseling support.
  • A brief experience for college freshmen, designed by social psychologists to promote a sense of belonging, concentrates on rebutting a core belief of many students that “I am an impostor.” As a result, students become more tenacious when confronted with academic and social challenges.

These strategies work equally well at universities. When John Jay College, ranked 67th among “regional universities-north” by U.S. News & World Report, tested the ASAP model, nearly 60 percent of the students in its first cohort in 2015 graduated in four years. That’s about twice the school’s overall graduation rate and considerably higher than the nationwide average. At the University of Texas, the “belonging” experience halved the difference between the percent of Black and white students who completed their freshman year requirements.

But President Biden’s American Family Plan leaves four-year colleges and universities out in the cold. Their students get no help with tuition, and the schools receive little if any of the $650 billion the plan designates for colleges’ student success initiatives. While the cost of subsidizing these students was doubtlessly a factor, the omission is a mistake. Not only is the graduation rate of these institutions 50 percent higher than that of community colleges, the financial situation of their low-income students is just as shaky.

Instead of making community college free for everyone, four-year schools should be on the same financial footing as two-year schools. Lower tuition and fees on a sliding scale, with free college for those whose families earn up to $100,000 and subsidies for families earning up to $150,000.

President Biden’s plan wisely allocates $600 million for historically Black colleges and universities. Don’t other private, nonprofit colleges that educate substantial numbers of low-income, minority and first-generation students deserve to be treated just as well?