HEJE Overview 11-12-17: Education


Texas Constitution, Article 7, Section 1: “A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.”

“That means a general diffusion of that knowledge through the public trust. Not some little church school over here that doesn’t know beans when the sack’s open about educating a child. Education is very technical. It’s hard to do. It takes competent, well-trained, well-educated people to do this work. This business of the state diverting tax money to what my daddy would have called jack-legged schools—it’s corrupt, it’s wasteful, it’s certainly not conservative, and it’s got to stop. This is why we call public education a moral value. People are made in the image of God. Not just some people—all people. And that means that we get to name God’s world. It’s a fundamental human right. That requires the best standards of knowledge that we have.”

–Rev. Charles Johnson of Pastors for Texas Children

It’s Sunday, and this Baptist minister understands the meaning of the words “public,” “trust,” “moral value,” and “fundamental human right.”

Today’s HEJE-Education considers whether charters have anything to offer rural America; the value of children as “products” to their future “consumers”; the Secretary of Education and her religious-political-economic Weltanschauung; the views of Reverend Charles Johnson, founder of Pastors for Texas Kids on public education, and the risks of charterization-privatization of Puerto Rico’s schools. Continue reading “HEJE Overview 11-12-17: Education”


Coffee Break 11-11-17: Rural America

 Rural America, long-form edition


“…the lynching of Samuel Bush did not occur in Alabama, Mississippi, or any of the other states typically associated with that particular form of racial terror. Rather, Bush was lynched in Decatur, Illinois.”

lynching in the Midwest between 1880-1940

Today’s (bonus!) Coffee Break summarizes-discusses a number of long-form pieces, each of which deals in one way or another with rural America. Included: Are prisons economic lifelines for small rural towns? A history lesson on lynching not in the South, but in Illinois. A Guardian writer traveled from Maine to Mississippi last summer, and has some depressing anecdotes to report. And speaking of Maine (the U.S.’s most rural, and whitest, state): on Tuesday, voters there passed a referendum to expand Medicaid access to 80,000 of the state’s residents—but the governor is refusing to implement. Continue reading “Coffee Break 11-11-17: Rural America”

Coffee Break 11-11-17: Veterans Day

Honoring our Veterans 


“…the version of Veterans Day we know now wasn’t always so. It wasn’t always a holiday, it wasn’t always on Nov. 11 and, at first, it wasn’t even called Veterans Day. The original intent, established in the wake of World War I, was to celebrate world peace. Then the wars never ended, so Veterans Day changed.”

Katie Mettier, on the history of Veterans Day

Today’s Coffee Break looks at the history of Veterans Day, at the administration’s veteran-related accomplishments to date, at homelessness, opioid use, and suicide among veterans, and at the plan for veterans being touted by Illinois Democrat JB Pritzker, who is running for governor.

Continue reading “Coffee Break 11-11-17: Veterans Day”

Coffee Break 11-6-17: Sutherland Springs


We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries, but this isn’t a guns situation. We could go into it but it’s a little bit soon to go into it. Fortunately somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction, otherwise it wouldn’t have been as bad as it was, it would have been much worse.”

–the president, commenting on the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, TX Continue reading “Coffee Break 11-6-17: Sutherland Springs”

HEJE Overview 11-4-17: Education


In front of the crowd, the school board members sit at long tables, their names on placards in front of them, and Superintendent Mike Wilcox begins his explanation of why the Richland-Bean Blossom school corporation is considering closing Stinesville Elementary School and busing all children in the rural area to the central campus in Ellettsville, population 6,600, six miles away. The central campus has a large primary school, intermediate school, junior high, and high school. Superintendent Wilcox shows a PowerPoint about the work of the long-range planning committee and its considerations: quality, brand, needs and wants, absolutes, HVAC and ADA compliance. Many needs have been identified in the high school athletics area. Declining enrollment and increased operating costs for Stinesville Elementary make its long-term viability uncertain, he says.”

–on the closing of a high-quality rural school, Stinesville Elementary, in Indiana

Beware of “choice”—and PowerPoints.

We look at two novel arguments that might preclude further expansion of charters and voucher schools, consider persistent and endemic problems with special education, and review charter-voucher-other developments in three of the leading “choice” states favored by the Secretary of Education: Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. There’s plenty to think about but little to smile about. Continue reading “HEJE Overview 11-4-17: Education”

HEJE Overview 11-4-17: Health/care

Looking at health/care and poverty: three cases

What do a paralyzed bull rider from Oklahoma, at least 29 victims of the Las Vegas shooting, and many opioid addicts on methadone/buprenorphine have in common?

Right, you guessed it: they’re too poor to pay for medical treatment. Accordingly, in lieu of our QOTD, we begin this Overview by linking to U.S. POVERTY STATISTICS (2016) Continue reading “HEJE Overview 11-4-17: Health/care”

HEJE Overview 11-4-17: Justice


While writing my book … I met people who slept in their cars and waited in long lines for extractions at free clinics. I met people who had pulled out their own teeth and others who had lost loved ones to dental abscesses. I met a boy dying from complications of untreated tooth decay.”

Mary Otto, author of Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health

We’re breaking down the HEJE Overview today, starting with varieties of Justice/ Injustice: Ethnic, Housing, Economic, and Dental.

A range of topics, all ultimately traceable to the multitude of injustices suffered by the poor in America. Continue reading “HEJE Overview 11-4-17: Justice”