HEJE Overview 11-21-17: Education


“In response to the recent surge of energy on the left, the hedge-funded Democrats increasingly market their agenda items in the language of psuedo-populist reform, while blocking efforts—on housing, education funding, health care, tax policy, and bank regulation—aimed at directly remedying the state’s steepening inequalities of wealth, income, and opportunity.”

–Jennifer Berkshire  on the woes of Democratic ed reformers, writing in the Baffler

DSO: Poverty-remediation efforts: affordable (and integrated) housing, enhanced (public) school funding, single-payer healthcare from pre-cradle to grave, progressive income taxes, a handy Postal bank (and for investment, a state bank in the image of that in North Dakota), not to mention a host of regulations for existing banks—so much could be done.

None of these measures forms part of the doctrine of free markets. But together they would go a long way towards buttressing a free country and citizenry.

It’s a great day for education articles and analyses—meaning that there’s an abundance of disturbing news about education, one of our four HEJE Overview signature areas of coverage. On today’s reading list: The Big Picture on the downsizing of education at the federal level; the Network for Public Education’s just-released study, “Charters and Consequences”; charter school teachers gear up to unionize; our schools’ diversity problem – and a novel solution; Scott Walker and the hollowing-out of public schools in Wisconsin; government schools are not the solution to educational inequality (the view from the other side: vouchers, yeah!). Continue reading “HEJE Overview 11-21-17: Education”


HEJE Overview 11-20-17: Healthcare


“… [I]t’s important to provide publicly funded treatment and comprehensive services to both rural and urban communities. Practically speaking, many people in need of opioid treatment are able to access treatment only using public health insurance programs like the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and block grant programs.”

–“The Opioid Crisis Is at its Worst in Rural Areas: Can Telemedicine Help?”

Our regular HEJE Overview returns to Healthcare after a bit of a break. On the Rx list today: Why everybody will love single-payer (once it’s law); the new nominee to become Sec of HHS (hint: he’s from Eli Lilly); eliminating the individual mandate—in the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (aka, tax cut bill); rising obesity among children and the health risks obesity entails, brought to a close by Big Hospital consolidations and closures in rural America (with the Mayo Clinic as chief exemplar), and finally, a cheaper (but not cheap enough to be affordable to many sufferers) approach to opioid addiction: telemedicine. Continue reading “HEJE Overview 11-20-17: Healthcare”

HEJE Overview 11-18-17: Environment


We are entering a period of consequences and are in danger of being too late… I have come to note that greenhouse gas climate forcings are accelerating, not decelerating, and sea-level rise and ocean acidification are accelerating. We confront a mortal threat, now endangering the very existence of island and low-lying nations in the Pacific and around the planet. Accordingly, ambition must be increased and enforced.”

–former NASA scientist James Hansen

It’s been another bad week for the environment, the mother of us all.

In today’s HEJE Overview-Environment: conclusions from COP23 (three links/excerpts); pipelines (DAPL, Keystone XL, Dominion Energy’s proposed pipeline expansions in Appalachia, drilling in the ANWR), and environmental injustice (two links, including one that provides handy charts and data on the most polluted states/counties/cities in the U.S.). We conclude with “Today in ‘we can’t believe we’re reading this’”: the Interior Department’s proposed lifting of the ban on importation of big game/wild animal “trophies” from Zimbabwe and Zambia, plus the president’s yesterday-evening decision to retain the ban, issued via tweet. Continue reading “HEJE Overview 11-18-17: Environment”

HEJE Overview 11-16-17: Education


From the Senate HELP committee’s hearings on the nomination of Mitchell Zais (of South Carolina) to become undersecretary of Education…

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) asked Zais about his support for vouchers and whether he was aware of recent research about the impact of vouchers on student achievement. Zais responded: “To the best of my knowledge, whenever we give parents an opportunity to choose a school that is the best fit for their children, there are improved outcomes.”

“To which Franken replied: ‘No, that is not true.’ He then cited a New York Times article from earlier this year about three studies of large voucher programs in Indiana, Louisiana and Ohio, which found vouchers negatively affected test results in reading and math. (Franken did not mention a major 2017 study on the nation’s only federally funded voucher program, in Washington, D.C., that showed similar results.) Zais said: ‘I was unaware of those studies that you cited.’”

–as reported by Valerie Strauss, The Answer Sheet, Washington Post

DSO: Should this really come as a surprise to anyone? 

Today’s HEJE Overview returns to Education: teaching, as a profession, is inherently political; the Washington Monthly brouhaha between Thomas Toch (pro-reform) and John Merrow (who’s seen the light) about the Michelle Rhee reformist era in the DCPS; a Philadelphia university faculty member has been studying  poverty among college students; a group of homeless persons, including schoolchildren, is evicted across the street from where the Zuckerbergs will build a private school for—you guessed it—poor students in East Palo Alto (not to be confused with Palo Alto).   Continue reading “HEJE Overview 11-16-17: Education”

HEJE Overview 11-15-17: Justice


As illogical as it sounds, courts routinely suspend the drivers’ licenses of those who are too poor to pay their fines and fees on time, typically with no notice or opportunity to be heard. It’s illogical because, without a drivers’ license, people lose their jobs and income – making it even harder to pay what they owe. … These policies that punish the poor have created staggering racial disparities and fueled a mass incarceration crisis that has cost billions of dollars and failed to make anyone safer.”

–“An Arkansas Town Agrees to Criminal Justice Reform to Ensure That the Poor Are Not Jailed

? There are some 3,140 counties and county-equivalents in the United States. Is this issue going to have to be re-fought 3,139 times?

In today’s survey of developments in (in)justice, we look at an interview with a man who successfully defended a death-row inmate in Texas (and got him exonerated), at the ongoing war on workers/unions (two links, one on the rather low-key Ricketts family, which shut down DNAInfo and Gothamist the second their reporters unionized, and a historical primer on Janus v. AFSCME), at a piece about why it might be preferable to sue polluters rather than attempt to legislate their infractions away, and finally, at a small city in Arkansas that’s agreed not to jail poor people for the crime of being poor. Continue reading “HEJE Overview 11-15-17: Justice”

HEJE Overview 11-14-17: Education


“On November 4, 1952, Dr. Helen Kenyon addressed the Women’s Society of Riverside Church in New York City and opined that, ‘Eleven o’clock Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America.’ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. often paraphrased the quote.

Today, sadly, our public schools best reflect Dr. Kenyon’s and Dr. King’s sentiment as the most segregated place in America.”

Rushern Baker, County Executive of Prince George’s County, Md.

Today’s Education Overview looks at continuing—and increasing—racism and segregation in U.S. schools and at the corporate takeover of U.S. public schools (very grim but very must-read) through the charter and voucher movements, before concluding with the Secretary of Education and the unfounded rumors that she’s preparing to resign and a newly-formed group, the Education Civil Rights Alliance, which will be defending students’ civil rights. Continue reading “HEJE Overview 11-14-17: Education”

HEJE Overview 11-13-17: Environment

Destroying the environment, one (de-)regulation at a time


“If we are serious about feeding the planet while fighting climate change, the world needs to urgently invest in a transition to food systems that hinge on small-scale producers, agroecology and local markets. These systems provide for moderate levels of meat and dairy, but they do so in a way that regenerates soils, provides livelihoods to rural and urban communities and makes crops and animals resilient to the vagaries of an unpredictable climate.”

–“Big Meat and Dairy’s Supersized Climate Footprint

Following a link to a must-save timeline of all this administration’s environment-adverse actions, we review: fossil fuel emissions in 2017 (highest ever); the livestock industry as major contributor at every stage of production to climate change (2 articles); the cargo shipping industry (which burns the world’s dirtiest fuel); the Monsanto-dicamba debacle (2 articles), and conclude today’s Environmental Overview by excerpting from an interview with Robert Jay Lifton on how awareness that climate change is real, here, and now gives him hope. Hint: awareness can’t be stopped.

Continue reading “HEJE Overview 11-13-17: Environment”