Category Archives: Privatization

‘Stunning and Dangerous’: DeVos Memo Reveals Plan to Roll Back Civil Rights

“President Trump and his administration can claim to oppose discrimination all they want, but actions speak louder than words,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.)

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-17-2017

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this year. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

In a move decried as “more evidence of backward thinking” by the Trump administration, an internal memo from the Department of Education’s office for civil rights lays out the agency’s plan to roll back investigations into civil rights violations at public schools and diminish Obama-era rules requiring “schools and colleges to overhaul policies addressing a number of civil rights concerns,” the New York Times reported on Friday.

According to the memo, “requirements that investigators broaden their inquiries to identify systemic issues and whole classes of victims will be scaled back,” the Times noted. “Also, regional offices will no longer be required to alert department officials in Washington of all highly sensitive complaints on issues such as the disproportionate disciplining of minority students and the mishandling of sexual assaults on college campuses.” Continue reading

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‘Literal Colonialism’: Blackwater Founder Calls for ‘American Viceroy’ to Rule Afghanistan

Given Prince’s past connections to Trump, his recommendations could have some measure of influence

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-2-2017

Despite the fact that private contractors have a long record of abuse and deadly criminality, Prince believes that they should have a stronger presence in Afghanistan. (Photo: Melissa Golden/Redux)

Displaying what one commentator called “sheer 19th century bloodlust and thirst for empire,” Erik Prince, founder of the private mercenary firm Blackwater, argued in The Wall Street Journal this week that the United States should deploy an “East India Company approach” in Afghanistan.

The country, he wrote, should be run by “an American viceroy who would lead all U.S. government and coalition efforts—including command, budget, policy, promotion, and contracting—and report directly to the president.” Continue reading

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“It’s Crap”: The Trump Administration’s Budget Is a Highway to Privatization

Former Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, is leading the White House’s effort

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-24-2017

President Donald Trump wants to privatize “some public assets such as airports, bridges, highway rest stops, and other facilities” while his budget calls for cutting the Highway Trust Fund along with other programs. (Photo: Tiberiu Ana/flickr/cc)

“Private companies should fund, build, and run more of the basic infrastructure of American life.”

That’s how the Washington Post sums up a key tenet of the Trump administration’s thinking on infrastructure, in an article Wednesday that outlines the White House’s push to privatize “some public assets such as airports, bridges, highway rest stops, and other facilities.”

President Donald Trump’s budget proposal, released Tuesday, calls for spending roughly $200 billion over 10 years to spur at least $800 billion in state, local, and private infrastructure investment. Continue reading

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‘You Can’t Make This Up’: Comcast Threatens Legal Action Against Net Neutrality Proponents

If FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s plan “is enacted, there would be nothing preventing Comcast from simply blocking sites like Comcastroturf.com that are critical of their corporate policies”

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-23-2017

“This is exactly why we need Title II net neutrality protections that ban blocking, throttling, and censorship,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future. (Photo: Alyson Hurt/cc/flickr)

Open Internet proponents who have been fighting the Trump administration’s rollback of net neutrality protections, which has been enacted at the bidding of the telecom industry, said Tuesday that Comcast is now threatening legal action saying the website Comcastroturf.com is infringing on its trademark.

As the organization Fight for the Future quipped on Twitter, “You can’t make this stuff up.”

The website in question is currently providing a tool for the public to see if their names are among those stolen and used by anti-net neutrality bots to post comments in support of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plan to undo Title II protections that classify the internet as a public utility. Continue reading

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Trump Administration to Raid Public Ed to Fund School Choice Programs

With key K-12 and higher ed programs on the chopping block, education advocate Diane Ravitch declares: “Don’t agonize. Organize.”

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-18-2017

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this year. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

The Trump administration is preparing to unveil a sweeping school choice plan that would be prioritized at the expense of student aid and debt relief as well as public education programs that help low-income children, according to news reports.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a wealthy philanthropist who lobbied for voucher programs and charter schools before being tapped to lead the nation’s K-12 and higher education systems, will reportedly announce the school choice proposal Monday at an Indianapolis summit hosted by the conservative group she formerly chaired, the American Federation for Children.  Continue reading

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Trump’s Corporate Takeover Detailed 100 Days into ‘For-Profit Presidency’

“The true depth of the administration’s unswerving commitment to an especially savage version of corporate capitalism is now, as we approach the first 100 days under the Trump administration, utterly clear.”

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-24-2017

President Donald Trump “has gleefully signed measures making it easier for coal companies to pollute streams and rivers; authorizing Big Oil to hide payments to developing country governments; erasing obligations for government contractors to ensure the safety and health of their employees; and making it possible for cable and Internet providers to collect and sell our most personal information,” observed Public Citizen president Robert Weissman. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/cc/flickr)

President Donald Trump approaches his 100th day in office the most unpopular U.S. leader in modern history for a reason.

Exacerbating his failure to uphold his populist campaign promises, a new report found that Trump spent the majority of his presidency enriching his own business empire while appointing fellow “corporate cronies” at the highest levels of government leading to what Public Citizen describes as “an unprecedented corporate takeover.” Continue reading

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Leaked Draft of ACA Replacement Reveals Massive Cuts to Subsidies, Medicaid

Just as polls reveal Obamacare and Medicaid expansion are more popular than ever, GOP moves closer to slashing subsidies and raising taxpayer costs—adding fuel to brewing protests nationwide

By Nika Knight, staff writer for Common Dreams. Publisjhed 2-24-2017

A protest sign at the Women’s March in Los Angeles on January 21, 2017. (Photo: Larissa Puro/flickr/cc)

A leaked draft of a House bill to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was published Friday by Politico, and it reveals that Republicans are moving towards slashing subsidies and ending the Medicaid expansion—moves that are vastly out of step with the opinions of the American public.

The draft (pdf) reveals that Republicans are hoping to “take down the foundation of Obamacare, including the unpopular individual mandate, subsidies based on people’s income, and all of the law’s taxes. It would significantly roll back Medicaid spending and give states money to create high risk pools for some people with pre-existing conditions. Some elements would be effective right away; others not until 2020,” per Politico‘s Paul Demko. Continue reading

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Why every American should fear abolishing the Department of Education

Photo: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Written by Carol Benedict

On the same day as the confirmation of Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary occurred, KY Rep. Thomas Massie introduced a bill to the House of Representatives in Washington DC, which consisted of 1 sentence.

“The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”

No provisions for the Department’s various responsibilities to be distributed to others, nothing. Just simply GONE.

Massie attempts to offer explanations of local schools and states as being the best qualified to determine the educational requirements of America’s children. In an ideal United States, this is an entirely reasonable notion.

But reality is never ideal. Left without any federal guidelines, in the past schools have not been able to demonstrate an ability to teach students across the nation in any form of standardized curriculum. A student in Minnesota or Washington state is given completely lessons, and thus grade completion standards, than a student in Florida or Mississippi, for example.

DeVos promotes a voucher system that allows students to bypass public schools and instead attend schools selected as chatter schools, This will then siphon the student’s portion of public education funds and transfers that to the charter school.

But charter schools are not required to teach special education classes or accommodate special needs students. Nor are they required to offer any accountability for student outcomes. They are allowed free reign to spend budgets as they wish. They are not participants of the federal school lunch programs, and they often offer curriculum based on a denominational or religious point of view

While it may seem all streamlined, there are a few important details slipping through the cracks.

After DeVos’ confirmation, Facebook exploded with comments from teachers. Among them, we noticed the following sentiments:

When you take money away from public schools and give it to charter and private schools, schools will be even more segregated. Very few poor parents can drive their kids to school each day, nor can they afford to pay the cost of private education not covered by a voucher, which will leave these children stuck in a public school with even less funding than before.

In addition, all schools that take federal money should have to show they are educating children, all children. If you take federal funds, not only should you be required to take every kid (those with mental, physical, and behavioral challenges), but you should be able to show you can successfully educate them. That’s what we require of public schools. Private and charter should be no different. Betsy DeVos disagrees.

Her lack of knowledge of federal disability laws and basic educational concepts is also appalling. Her appointment sadly proves that party lines are more important than children. Every American should fear this.

About the Author:
Carol Benedict is an indépendant researcher and human rights activist. She is also an independent Journalist and a professional member of the US Press Association.

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Trump Vows to Make Paul Ryan’s Nightmarish Budget Vision a Reality

President Donald Trump’s campaign promises on safety net programs would certainly be broken if House Speaker Paul Ryan gets his way

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-26-2017

President Donald Trump on stage with Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan at the GOP congressional retreat on Thursday. (Screenshot)

In Philadelphia on Thursday, President Donald Trump seemed to reassure his party that he supports right-wing budget priorities like those embraced by House Speaker Paul Ryan—whose past budget plans have been denounced as “cruel,” “draconian,” “a massive cut-off of state funds to the most vulnerable population in the country,” “going after what Americans want, on issue after issue,” and “a Koch brothers’ dream and the American peoples’ nightmare.”

“He’s writing his heart out,” Trump said, looking over at Ryan during his address at the Republican congressional retreat. “And we’re actually gonna sign the stuff that you’re writing—you’re not wasting your time.” To the room of GOP lawmakers, who erupted in whistles and applause, Trump continued: “He would write and send it up—and nothing would happen. But now it’s gonna happen.” Continue reading

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EPA Nominee Pruitt’s Hearing Shows Him Poised to Be “Every Polluter’s Ally”

Bernie Sanders and others blasted Scott Pruitt’s anti-environment record on Wednesday, echoing scores of groups that oppose to his nomination

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-18-2017

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt. (Screenshot)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) and his Democratic colleagues on the Senate Environment and Public Works committee dug into Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nominee Scott Pruitt on Wednesday, blasting his record of suing the very agency he’s been selected to lead, and putting his fossil fuel industry ties front and center.

As Ben Jervey and Steve Horn reported for DeSmog Blog, the morning hearing unfolded in something of a pattern, with “Republican members complimenting the [Oklahoma] attorney general and lobbing him softball questions, and the Democrats grilling him on his stance on climate science, his ties to the fossil fuel industry, and his perspective on what role the EPA has in actually, well, protecting the environment.” Continue reading

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