Errant Eye: News Capture 8/25/11

In “What Caught My Eye” this morning:

1) As it’s “back-to-school” time here in Bloomington and IU is abuzz with horribly inattentive drivers this piece on school debt might be of interest.  From Bryce Covert at New Deal 2.0 (by way of Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism, “Recession Has Lit the Fuse on Explosive Student Debt”:

The rise in student borrowing is a longtime trend, but things have clearly gotten worse in the recession. A lot of it is because of decisions schools are making. In a recent Atlantic Monthly article, Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus explain that higher tuition — paid for by student loans — “keeps most colleges going.” Private colleges Loyola University and Franklin Pierce see 77 and 85 percent of students enroll with loans, respectively. Historically black colleges, which tend to have lower endowments and a poorer population, are closer to 90 percent

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. Part of this, they report, is not because the actual education is more costly, but because “room and board charges have doubled in actual dollars since 1982 to enhance campus life.”

The HT offered this AP piece from back in June: Colleges hike tuition as state reduces funding: Here’s the nice takeaway,

Already, staggering reductions in funding are leading colleges in some states to boost tuition as much as 22%.

Did you know you could go to college in Mexico City for free–that’s what one might call real “pubic education”.

2) I love Jeremy Scahill.  Here he is trying to get through to the numskulls on Morning Joe regarding Libya:  “NATO-enforced regime change…and covert US policy…we have 6 or 7 wars going.”  But listen to all the goons who don’t actually talk about the “substance” of war and murder and mayhem, but rather the “style” of Obama.  “Not to rain on your drone-loving parade here,” quoth Jeremy.

3) Our friend Steve at School Matters discusses another of the “turnaround companies” that the Daniels/Bennett mafia is considering to “takeover” “troubled schools” (please be sure I mean all those quotation marks):

Just as the Indiana State Board of Education is about to decide whether to turn over under-achieving schools to Charter Schools USA, the Florida-based school operator is under fire in its home state….

Jonathan Hage, the CEO of Charter Schools USA, is an old hand at Republican politics. He was a speechwriter for the first President George Bush, worked for former Gov. Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s Future, and served (with Rhee) on Gov. Rick Scott’s education transition team.

Three months ago, Charter Schools USA bused students from some of its charter schools to a budget-signing ceremony and political rally for Scott. “Now, other public schools have all kinds of policies about not participating in political activities, so I guess this is another one of the freedoms that have been granted to taxpayer-financed charter schools,” the Sentinel’s Dave Weber wrote on the newspaper’s education blog, Sentinel School Zone.

4) And speaking of the liars and corporatists who are our modern School “Reformers” here’s a bit about Michele Rhee, famed for purported reform successes but now infamous and pilloried for cheating scandals on her watch.   But the tarnish of the truth of malfeasance is a badge of accomplishment in the world of Free Market Opportunity (also called preying on Recession).

Always, she preens for the cameras. Early in her chancellorship, she was trailed for a story by the education correspondent of “PBS NewsHour,” John Merrow.

At one point, Ms. Rhee asked if his crew wanted to watch her fire a principal. “We were totally stunned,” Mr. Merrow said.

She let them set up the camera behind the principal and videotape the entire firing. “The principal seemed dazed,” said Mr. Merrow. “I’ve been reporting 35 years and never seen anything like it.”

5) Texas, no economic miracle even if the media (and Rick Perry, and his handlers) want you to think so.  Somerby at the Daily Howler takes apart how the propaganda machine circles the wagons to the left and to the right even when offering the truth, as below.

The unemployment rate in Texas, for instance, was 8.4 percent as of Friday—less than the federal unemployment rate but worse than that of 25 other states, and it could move up a tick or two after Sept. 1, when budget cuts passed during the most recent legislative session will reduce the public employee rolls. Texas has more minimum-wage jobs than every state other than Mississippi, a superlative you brag about if you don’t care about what kind of jobs you create and are only trying to run up the numbers. And growth in public sector (i.e., government) jobs in Texas has been 19 percent over the past 10 years, vs. just 9 percent growth in private-sector jobs.

The “colorful” RP is looking like the top GOP dog in the hunt to destroy the planet.  This from McClatchy.

Perry was favored by 29 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents in the latest Gallup poll, compared with 17 percent for former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Lake Jackson was third with 13 percent, and Rep. Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota came in fourth with 10 percent.

6) Immunizing criminality at the highest level: first the bailout, now the “get out of jail” card.  From Taibbi, via the New York Times:

On the one side is Eric Schneiderman, the New York Attorney General, who is conducting his own investigation into the era of securitizations – the practice of chopping up assets like mortgages and converting them into saleable securities – that led up to the financial crisis of 2007-2008.

On the other side is the Obama administration, the banks, and all the other state attorneys general.

This second camp has cooked up a deal that would allow the banks to walk away with just a seriously discounted fine from a generation of fraud that led to millions of people losing their homes.

The idea behind this federally-guided “settlement” is to concentrate and centralize all the legal exposure accrued by this generation of grotesque banker corruption in one place, put one single price tag on it that everyone can live with, and then stuff the details into a titanium canister before shooting it into deep space.

The wheels of the bus go round and round, round and round, the wheels of the bus go round and round…until they fall off.


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