Sunday, July 5, 2009

A History Lesson About the Sandia Report

Arriving to the party somewhat late, I just learned about the Sandia Report and what happened to it. If you don’t know the story, you need to find out. It helps to explain why we're in such a miserable mess now.

This is just a very brief overview. If you know more, please add it in a comment.

A 2007 article (“Education at Risk: Fallout from a Flawed Report”) lays out the history quite well. Here are some important excerpts:

"A Nation at Risk" (1983)

What the report claimed:

  • American students are never first and frequently last academically compared to students in other industrialized nations.
  • American student achievement declined dramatically after Russia launched Sputnik, and hit bottom in the early 1980s.
  • SAT scores fell markedly between 1960 and 1980.
  • Student achievement levels in science were declining steadily.
  • Business and the military were spending millions on remedial education for new hires and recruits.

The Sandia Report (1990)

What was actually happening:

  • Between 1975 and 1988, average SAT scores went up or held steady for every student subgroup.
  • Between 1977 and 1988, math proficiency among seventeen-year-olds improved slightly for whites, notably for minorities.
  • Between 1971 and 1988, reading skills among all student subgroups held steady or improved.
  • Between 1977 and 1988, in science, the number of seventeen-year-olds at or above basic competency levels stayed the same or improved slightly.
  • Between 1970 and 1988, the number of twenty-two-year-old Americans with bachelor degrees increased every year; the United States led all developed nations in 1988.

* * * * * * * *

What we now call school reform isn't the product of a gradual consensus emerging among educators about how kids learn; it's a political movement that grew out of one seed planted in 1983. I became aware of this fact some years ago, when I started writing about education issues and found that every reform initiative I read about -- standards, testing, whatever -- referred me back to a seminal text entitled "A Nation at Risk."

Naturally, I assumed this bible of school reform was a scientific research study full of charts and data that proved something. Yet when I finally looked it up, I found a thirty-page political document issued by the National Commission on Excellence in Education, a group convened by Ronald Reagan's secretary of education, Terrell Bell.

* * * * * * * *

The heart of the document is an indictment that lambastes America for letting schools slip into precipitous decline but praises the nation's good heart, great potential, and mighty past. No paraphrase can do justice to its tone, so here's a verbatim sample: "Our Nation is at risk . . . . The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people . . . . If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war . . . . We have, in effect, been committing an act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament . . . ."

* * * * * * * *

When the report was released in April 1983, it claimed that American students were plummeting academically, that schools suffered from uneven standards, and that teachers were not prepared. The report noted that our economy and national security would crumble if something weren't done.

* * * * * * * *

Once launched, the report, which warned of "a rising level of mediocrity," took off like wildfire. During the next month, the Washington Post alone ran some two dozen stories about it, and the buzz kept spreading. Although Reagan counselor (and, later, attorney general) Edwin Meese III urged him to reject the report because it undermined the president's basic education agenda -- to get government out of education -- White House advisers Jim Baker and Michael Deaver argued that "A Nation at Risk" provided good campaign fodder.

* * * * * * * *

What made "A Nation at Risk" so useful to Reagan? For one thing, its language echoed the get-tough rhetoric of the growing conservative movement. For another, its diagnosis lent color to the charge that, under liberals, American education had dissolved into a mush of self-esteem classes.

In truth, "A Nation at Risk" could have been read as almost any sort of document. Basically, it just called for "More!" -- more science, more math, more art, more humanities, more social studies, more school days, more hours, more homework, more basics, more higher-order thinking, more lower-order thinking, more creativity, more everything.

The document had, however, been commissioned by the Reagan White House, so conservative Republicans controlled its interpretation and uses. What they zeroed in on was the notion of failing schools as a national-security crisis.

* * * * * * * *

By the end of the decade, Republicans had erased whatever advantage Democrats once enjoyed on education and other classic "women's issues." As Peter Schrag later noted in The Nation, Reagan-era conservatives, "with the help of business leaders like IBM chairman Lou Gerstner, managed to convert a whole range of liberally oriented children's issues . . . into a debate focused almost exclusively on education and tougher-standards school reform."

* * * * * * * *

From the start, however, some doubts must have risen about the crisis rhetoric, because in 1990, Admiral James Watkins, the secretary of energy (yes, energy), commissioned the Sandia Laboratories in New Mexico to document the decline with some actual data. [“Perspectives on Education in America”, aka The Sandia Report, ]

Systems scientists there produced a study consisting almost entirely of charts, tables, and graphs, plus brief analyses of what the numbers signified, which amounted to a major "Oops!" As their puzzled preface put it, "To our surprise, on nearly every measure, we found steady or slightly improving trends."

One section, for example, analyzed SAT scores between the late 1970s and 1990, a period when those scores slipped markedly. ("A Nation at Risk" spotlighted the decline of scores from 1963 to 1980 as dead-bang evidence of failing schools.) The Sandia report, however, broke the scores down by various subgroups, and something astonishing emerged. Nearly every subgroup -- ethnic minorities, rich kids, poor kids, middle class kids, top students, average students, low-ranked students -- held steady or improved during those years. Yet overall scores dropped. How could that be?

Simple -- statisticians call it Simpson's paradox: The average can change in one direction while all the subgroups change in the opposite direction if proportions among the subgroups are changing. Early in the period studied, only top students took the test. But during those twenty years, the pool of test takers expanded to include many lower-ranked students. Because the proportion of top students to all students was shrinking, the scores inevitably dropped. That decline signified not failure but rather progress toward what had been a national goal: extending educational opportunities to a broader range of the population.

By then, however, catastrophically failing schools had become a political necessity. George H.W. Bush campaigned to replace Reagan as president on a promise to confront the crisis. He had just called an education summit to tackle it, so there simply had to be a crisis.

The government never released the Sandia report. It went into peer review and there died a quiet death. Hardly anyone else knew it even existed until, in 1993, the Journal of Educational Research, read by only a small group of specialists, printed the report. [Read more about burying the Sandia Report here.]

* * * * * * * *

In 1989, Bush convened his education summit at the University of Virginia. Astonishingly, no teachers, professional educators, cognitive scientists, or learning experts were invited. The group that met to shape the future of American education consisted entirely of state governors. Education was too important, it seemed, to leave to educators.

School reform, as formulated by the summit, moved so forcefully onto the nation's political agenda that, in the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton had to promise to outtough Bush on education. As president, Clinton steered through Congress a bill called Goals 2000 that largely co-opted the policies that came out of the 1989 Bush summit.

After the 2000 election, George W. Bush dubbed himself America's "educator in chief," and until terrorism hijacked the national agenda, he was staking his presidency on a school-reform package known as the No Child Left Behind Act, a bill that -- as every teacher knows -- dominates the course of public education in America today.

* * * * * * * *

Testing provides another revealing example. Teachers have always used myriad formal and informal tools to see whether kids are learning what is being taught. No one is against assessment. But testing in the context of today's school reform is not about finding out what kids know; it's about who gets the test results.

Only on-site teachers can really make a broad ongoing assessment that gets at a range of achievements and takes the individual into account. By contrast, uniform standardized testing whose outcomes can be expressed as simple numbers allows someone far away to compare whole schools without ever seeing or speaking to an actual student. It facilitates the bureaucratization of education and enables politicians, not educators, to control schools more effectively.

* * * * * * * *

Don't be shocked if NCLB ends up channeling American education into that third current, even though it seems like part of the mainstream get-tough approach. Educational researcher Gerald Bracey, author of Reading Educational Research: How to Avoid Getting Statistically Snookered, writes in Stanford magazine that "NCLB aims to shrink the public sector, transfer large sums of public money to the private sector, weaken or destroy two Democratic power bases -- the teachers' unions -- and provide vouchers to let students attend private schools at public expense."

Why? Because NCLB is set up to label most American public schools as failures in the next six or seven years. Once a school flunks, this legislation sets parents free to send their children to a school deemed successful. But herds of students moving from failed schools to (fewer) successful ones are likely to sink the latter. And then what? Then, says NCLB, the state takes over.

And there's the rub. Can "the state" -- that is, bureaucrats -- run schools better than professional educators? What if they fail, too? What's plan C?

NCLB does not specify plan C. Apparently, that decision will be made when the time comes. But with some $500 billion per year -- the sum total of all our K-12 education spending in this country -- at stake, and with politicians' hands on all the levers, you can be pretty certain the decision will not be made by those whose field of expertise is learning. It will be made by those whose field of expertise is power.


tauna said...

Yes, the same fear-mongering propaganda of A Nation At Risk continues unabated today and goes unchallenged by mainstream media.

Newt Gingrich has injected the propaganda with steroids...see my blogpost with accompanying YouTube video of Gingrich making his incredible remarks here:

The post is a little dated (Sept. 2008) but it is relevant to know what Gingrich is saying since he is currently making a presence of himself in the big business of ed deform, even posturing with fellow opportunist Al Sharpton and the whole privatization-through- charterization, blame-public-schools-for-societal-ills bandwagon.

The Perimeter Primate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Perimeter Primate said...

Report Questioning 'Crisis' in Education Triggers an Uproar by Julie A. Miller, Education Week, October 9, 1991
(Part One)

WASHINGTON--Three researchers at a federally funded research center in New Mexico have sparked an uproar with a study of American education that concludes that policymakers and pundits who bemoan a systemwide crisis are both overstating and misstating the problem.

"Unfortunately, much of the current reform agenda, though well intentioned, is misguided," one version of the report states. "Based on a 'crisis' mentality, many proposed reforms do not properly focus on actual problems."

Some members of the research community charge that the Bush Administration is suppressing the report--which was prepared as part of an Energy Department education initiative--because it conflicts with its own rhetoric.

The researchers who prepared the report could not be reached for comment, and some sources said the researchers had told them that they feared losing their federal funding if they spoke with reporters.

But Administration officials and Capitol Hill sources familiar with the situation said the report is undergoing peer review and is not being suppressed.

Peggy Dufour, the chief education adviser to Secretary of Energy James T. Watkins, said copies of the report are available, and she provided Education Week with two different drafts. She also provided critical commentary on the report and its methodology that had been prepared by the National Center for Education Statistics and the National Science Foundation.

"I can see why the Administration might not be thrilled with this report, and, in fact, I know some [officials] aren't," a Republican Congressional aide familiar with the situation said last week. "But you would be premature and possibly paranoid to say at this point that they are burying it."

But some members of the research community say just that.

The Sandia researchers "were told it would never see the light of day, that they had better be quiet," one source said. "I fear for their careers."

Energy Initiative

In early 1990, Mr. Watkins launched an education initiative within his department that included calling on the laboratories it funds to begin outreach programs.

The study at the center of the controversy was launched when the Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque decided that its first step should be to ask its analysts to examine the problem. They reviewed existing research, interviewed educators, and conducted site visits to schools.

One conclusion Administration officials agree with is that available education data are inadequate.

Based on the data that exist, the Sandia researchers found that: . High-school completion rates are not falling, but have held steady for the past 20 years. When people who earn equivalency diplomas are considered, the rate "is improving and is among the best in the world." . The "much publicized" decline in college-entrance examination scores is due to a wider range of students taking such tests, and that, ira current population that is demographically similar is compared with test-takers 20 years ago, no decline in scores is evident.

American participation in higher education is the highest in the world, and there is no shortage of Americans pursuing technical degrees.

While educational expenditures have increased over the past 20 years, the increase has gone almost entirely to special education, and it is thus unfair to assert that increased funding has not improved the performance of students in general.

The authors do not argue for particular solutions, but contend that they must include measures to improve the status and preparation of teachers and to reach disadvantaged, urban, and minority populations where education deficits are acute.

Researchers suspicious of the Administration noted that the report conflicts with its call for radical change and its assertion that more money is not necessary.

The Perimeter Primate said...

Report Questioning 'Crisis' in Education Triggers an Uproar by Julie A. Miller, Education Week, October 9, 1991
(Part Two)

A Flawed Analysis?

All of the points raised in the report have been raised before. The issue, instead, Ms. Dufour argued, is that the researchers' use of data was selective and misleading.

"It isn't a matter of facts being inaccurate," she said. "It's a matter of are they properly juxtaposed and are conclusions properly drawn."

The reviews by the N.S.F. and the N.C.E.S. support her assertions.

Analysts at the N.S.F. "find that the report rests on a partial and flawed analysis, which does not reflect a full understanding of relevant reported research; that the narrative does not constitute a cohesive analysis, and that the conclusions presented are not adequately supported," wrote Peter W. House, director of the N.S.F.'s division of policy research and analysis.

For example, reviewers in both agencies noted that, on the dropout issue, the Sandia report presents rates by race without considering socioeconomic status; that it improperly assumes that certain characteristics are related to dropout rates; and that it asserted that it is not possible to improve on current completion rates without providing any data to back its position up.

They also noted that the report sometimes contradicts itself. For example, the authors variously assert that educators cannot predict the needs of the labor market and that the nation as a whole must do so, and that the schools are producing too many highly educated people and that they are producing about enough to meet needs.

'Getting Them on Record'

The researchers have apparently been circulating drafts of their report in the research community and on Capitol Hill for almost a year.

A few months ago, rumors began to fly that the Administration was going to kill the report.

In July, one of the researchers and the director of Sandia's education effort testified before the House Subcommittee on Elementary, Secondary, and Vocational Education.

"We knew it was only a matter of time before their chain was jerked," one Democratic committee aide said, "so we wanted to get them on record while we could."

On Sept. 24, Sandia representatives presented their findings at a meeting in Washington that included two Republican senators, Ms. Dufour, Deputy Education Secretary David T. Kearns, and Diane Ravitch, assistant secretary for educational research and improvement.

Congressional sources and Ms. Dufour said the Administration officials, particularly Mr. Kearns, reacted angrily at the meeting.

The same day, a story on the report appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. The headline read: "U.S. Education OK, Sandia Labs Report Says."

On Sept. 30, Mr. Watkins sent a letter to the newspaper that called the report "dead wrong."

"It is a call for complacency when just the opposite is required," Mr. Watkins wrote.

He noted that expert reviews had been critical, and said his department "will not permit publication of the study as presently drafted."

'A Political Arena'

Sources in the research community said the Sandia researchers have reported being berated and even threatened with loss of funding by Administration officials.

Ms. Dufour denied that, but said that officials did chastise the researchers for circulating their findings before the report had been reviewed by experts and revised.

"They have chosen to play this out in a political arena, and when you do that, the gloves come off," Ms, Dufour said.

Nonetheless, some researchers predict that Administration officials will use a lengthy review process to bury the report.

The Perimeter Primate said...

Energy Dept. Lab's Education Report Still On Hold by Julie A. Miller, Education Week, September 23, 1992
(Part One)

When analysts at a federally funded research laboratory wrote a report in 1991 questioning the idea of a systemwide crisis in American education, it created an uproar without even being published.

The report still has not been published more than a year later, and some observers are still asking whether the Bush Administration is suppressing it because it contradicts the Administration's view.

In recent months, three investigations have been initiated into charges that the Energy Department, which funds the lab involved, is refusing to publish the report for political reasons, and that scientists who were involved in the study have been threatened or punished because of it.

The report, "Perspectives on Education in America,'' was written by analysts at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., as part of the lab's contribution to an Energy Department education initiative.

In challenging gloomier assessments of American education, the report argues, for example, that declines in college-entrance-test scores are due to changing demographics. To observers who say the increases in education spending over the past two decades have failed to produce overall improvement in student performance, the Sandia authors counter that most of the added funds have gone to special education. (See Education Week, Oct. 9, 1991.)

The report's conclusions conflict with the Bush Administration's position that radical change is needed throughout the education system and with its contention that more money is not necessary to improve education.

Investigating Charges

That dissonance has led to the charge by some educators and education researchers that the report is being suppressed. The charge--which Administration officials sharply dispute--is being probed from several directions.

A number of Sandia employees said they have been interviewed by representatives of the Energy Department's inspector general about how they and the report have been handled by officials at Sandia and the department.

A spokesman for the inspector general would not confirm or deny that the office is pursuing an investigation related to the Sandia report. But when the office is not investigating a particular matter, it is its policy to say so.

Leonard Weiss, the staff director of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, confirmed that the panel is also looking into the matter.

"We were looking at the cost-effectiveness of the whole education program at D.O.E.,'' Mr. Weiss said. "Over $100 million a year spent on education seemed like a lot of money to us when it isn't their primary mission.''

"Then we heard about this report that's caused some controversy and we wanted to see where it fits in,'' he said. "And we learned some things that got us interested in it from some other perspectives. Is there some dissent that's being quashed?''

Mr. Weiss said he was not yet sure what action the committee may take.

In addition, sources on Capitol Hill said, the General Accounting Office, the investigatory arm of Congress, has been asked to look into the matter.

Steven Fried, an Energy Department spokesman, said this month that he did not know about the investigations, and that department officials would not comment on them.

The Perimeter Primate said...

Energy Dept. Lab's Education Report Still On Hold by Julie A. Miller, Education Week, September 23, 1992
(Part Two)
Under Fire From Reviewers

Mr. Fried reiterated what has been the department's position for more than a year: that the report is undergoing review and will be published if and when it is revised in response to criticisms made by reviewers.

Sandia employees involved with the report said their regular work is not subjected to this sort of review, and that they have revised the report. Energy Department officials said peer review is a standard practice, and that the revisions were insignificant and insufficient.

A second review by the National Center for Education Statistics, completed in July, supports the latter assertion.

"There continues to be a tendency to state conclusions or speculate about underlying patterns that are not supported by the data, or at least the data presented,'' concluded the N.C.E.S., which is the data-gathering arm of the Education Department.

The N.C.E.S. review also charges that the Sandia report suffers from "a lack of objectivity,'' that its use of data is sometimes misleadingly selective, and that different sets of statistics are sometimes inappropriately compared or combined.

Cited by 'Revisionists'

Although it has not been officially published, the report continues to be widely circulated and discussed among educators and education researchers. The Sandia authors sound themes similar to those of other "revisionist'' researchers who argue that the state of American education is healthier than most critics have maintained. (See Education Week, Nov. 13, 1991.)

More recent analyses have cited both specific data from the Sandia report and its conclusions. For example, David C. Berliner, a professor of education at Arizona State University, cites it in "Educational Reform in an Era of Disinformation,'' a paper he presented at meeting of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education in February.

"Unless [the Sandia researchers] lied about their graphs and their data, it's pretty straightforward,'' Mr. Berliner said in an interview.

Some supporters of the Sandia report contend that the criticisms in the peer reviews are minor and do not expose fatal flaws in its arguments.

"They are typical of what you get when somebody says, 'We need a negative review,''' said Joseph Schneider, the executive director of the Southwest Regional Research Laboratory. "[The reviewers] didn't quarrel with the main conclusions, they nitpicked on small points in the data.''

Mr. Schneider and Paul D. Houston, the superintendent of schools in Riverside, Calif., said it was the Sandia report that inspired them to write a book making similar arguments. In the book, which is to be published soon by the American Association of School Administrators, the authors charge that federal officials tried to persuade them not to disseminate the Sandia findings.

The Perimeter Primate said...

Energy Dept. Lab's Education Report Still On Hold by Julie A. Miller, Education Week, September 23, 1992
(Part Three)

Phone Call About Forum

Mr. Fried of the Energy Department acknowledged that Peggy Dufour, an assistant to Secretary of Energy James T. Watkins, had called Mr. Houston after a reporter informed her that the superintendent had arranged a forum in his district in which Mr. Schneider was to discuss what was advertised as "a suppressed federal education study.''

But Mr. Fried denied Mr. Schneider's claim that Energy officials then asked an official at the Education Department to indirectly threaten Mr. Schneider.

According to Mr. Schneider, the education official called a federally funded educational-research laboratory that in turn funds the Southwest Regional Research Laboratory, Mr. Schneider's employer, to say it would not "be in the contractor's best interests'' for Mr. Schneider to make the presentation.

Officials at the Far West Laboratory for Educational Research and Development, with which Mr. Schneider's lab has a subcontractor arrangement, did not return phone calls.

The directors of several education-research laboratories said in interviews that federal officials had made no direct threats to discourage them from disseminating the report's findings. The lab officials said they understood, though, that distributing the report would not earn them points with their funding sources.

"We've used the report quite widely in the region, and nobody ever said we shouldn't do that,'' said Robert R. Rath, the executive director of the Northwest Regional Education Laboratory. "But it's clear that the political leadership in Washington doesn't like this report and has tried to discredit it.''

The Perimeter Primate said...

Energy Dept. Lab's Education Report Still On Hold by Julie A. Miller, Education Week, September 23, 1992
(Part Four)

Effort To Dampen Publicity

There is indeed evidence that Sandia managers and federal officials have made an effort both to refute the report's findings and to dampen publicity about it.

When the Albuquerque Journal became the first news publication to write about the report, in September 1991, Secretary Watkins wrote a letter to the paper repudiating the report's findings, and the letter was widely circulated by the agency.

As more news organizations began making note of the controversy, Diane S. Ravitch, the Education Department's assistant secretary for educational research and improvement, gave numerous interviews and made several public appearances in which she angrily attacked the report.

The authors canceled appearances they had agreed to make to discuss the report, such as a planned debate with Ms. Ravitch at this year's American Educational Research Association conference.

And in declining an invitation to speak to a committee of the New Mexico legislature, one of the authors, Robert Huelskamp, wrote, "Due to recent events, my management has decided that my continued involvement in the educational arena is not in Sandia's best interest.''

Lee S. Bray, a vice president at Sandia, acknowledged in an interview last spring that he "wanted to turn down the volume a little bit,'' but he denied that he had been pressured by federal officials to silence his employees.

"There's no sense in being out there generating more controversy while there are questions related to the peer reviews pending,'' he said.

Several Sandia employees involved with the report have said in interviews over the past six months that while they are concerned about potential damage to their careers, they could not recall any instance in which they were explicitly threatened by any official with reprisals for their role in the project.

Nonetheless, sources at Sandia say the analysts who wrote the report have been told they would do no more work on education.

Michael Wartell, who headed the lab's education initiatives, was reassigned in August. Mr. Bray and Energy Department officials said it was a routine transfer, and that Mr. Wartell was expected to fill the position only temporarily.

Mr. Wartell declined to comment, but Sandia sources said he was transferred involuntarily and sooner than expected.

Meanwhile, the review process continues.

Anonymous said...

PP, a truckload of insight and even more clarity in this posting. It's a shame that this struggle is not a rational one and it won't be won by the side that brings the most truth to the table. If that were the case, you'd be the US Secretary of Education.

The idea of universal public education was born in the crucible of the struggle against slavery, the Civil War. It took hold in the most democratic moment the United States has ever experienced, the Reconstruction.

Eventually, of course the Reconstuction was smashed and our capitalist economy found its footing and began a period of dynamic growth. It was tripped up by the Great Depression but when it reasserted itself after WWII it was on a bee line to planetary domination or globalization as we have come to know it.

It was way back then that Reagan, and A Nation at Risk, and the Business Roundtable, and Gates and Broad, and vouchers, and charter schools, and standardized testing and NCLB became inevitable. We are now all the way to the beginning of the State taking over the direction of the movement to destroy the public schools under the Department of Education and Arne Duncan.

Go back as far as 1950 and the capitalist icon Milton Friedman. In his book "Capitalism" Friedman dreamed out loud of the day the education system would be privatized. He said, "The privatization of schooling would produce a new highly active and profitable industry." When Friedman talked, the ruling class listened and if you have any doubt of that read Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine".

So this fight over public education is a sruggle for power. No quarter is given the truth by them and none should be asked by us. It is a part of the great class struggle that was set up by the very existence of capitalism. And class consciousness is an integral part of how effective we will be and whether we can win.

caroline said...

I would love to hear what Diane Ravitch has to say about this report now, since her views on education reform have shifted dramatically.

Ted said...

to Anonymous:
The Shock Doctrine has a happy ending; after experiencing the deep downside of Friedman's economics, countries renounced those policies.

Will America renounce Chicago school economics before or after we go thru the brutality that Chile experienced?

Anonymous said...

Ted, the people of Chile went through a decades long nightmare at the hands of the Chicago Boys. Their president, Salvador Allende, was assassinated. Their government was destroyed by a coup that Honduras has resurrected memories of today. Under the Pinochet dictatorship, tens of thousands of Chile's most beautiful young people were tortured and broken, many were murdered. Chile's people never had a choice and were never in a position to renounce Milton Friedman. In fact the two-tiered public education system the Bachelet and the previous government tried to implement indicate the vestiges of neoliberalism still exist in Chile.

And so it is here in the United States today. We the people are not in a position to renounce the bankers who call the shots in this country. (On that read Matt Taibbi's "The Great American Bubble Machine")

So the task before us is to organize the people, point out their real enemies to them, and build a resistance capable of defeating the disciples of Milton Friedman when they move against the public schools, Social Security and Medicare, and what is left of freedom and democracy in this country.

Malcolm Martin said...

The events of each new day sharpen the division between the two groups that will fight each other for control of the economy in the titanic battle just over the horizon now. The two groups are the people who work or once worked and would like to work again and the bourgeoisie (the bankers Matt Taibbi describes, the oligarchs, the wealthiest of the non-productive people among us).

Obama's ascension to President temporarily muddled the lines between the haves and have-nots but that is being worked through. The coming battle over a second economic stimulus package will be far different from the first, where you will see much more resistance from the ruling class to the idea and to Obama himself. At the outside he will go down in a coup but only if he dares to break with them. No sign of that.

California is where the stark reality is laid bare. Arnold wants the working class to shoulder the full brunt of the economic decline and do away with even the most basic social services. He will hear of no higher taxes on the bourgeoisie even if it means the collapse of the world's eighth largest economy and the death of the state.

The Perimeter Primate said...

Scientist shortage? Maybe not

By Greg Toppo and Dan Vergano, USA TODAY


Be sure to read through the comments, for instance:

"When it comes to employment, don't believe a word that comes out of the mouth of Bill Gates or any other senior executive in the high-tech industry. Their goal is to create the impression that there's a shortage of skilled professionals here in the U.S. in order to further inflate the number of H-1B visa workers allowed into the country. Companies like Microsoft bring immigrant workers into the US on H-1B visas and pay them a fraction of what an American worker would make. These workers are totally dependent on their employer to stay in the country; if they complain about wages they are simply terminated and have to go back home. It's all an act by the high tech industry to increase profits at the expense of the American worker."


"I've been screaming about this for years! Major communications companies bring in "Canadiens" as indentured servants on a five (5) year sponsor program. These H1B visa workers work on- stop to stay in the US. American VP's love them and frown upon the US workers when they take vacations or work less than 80 hrs a week.

Normally the H1B worker will work cheaper and for less benefits. Eventually the US worker is let go.
There is no shortage of American tech workers. They are down- sized by greedy, stock option-ed executives."

The Perimeter Primate said...

Thank you commenters.

I am depositing last week's Comment of the Week here:

Here’s the connection between NCLB, test-test-testing, McGraw-Hill products, George H. and George W. Bush, and their longtime family friends, the McGraws (from a 2002 article by Stephen Metcalf @

The McGraws are old Bush friends, dating back to the 1930s, when Joseph and Permelia Pryor Reed began to establish Jupiter Island, a barrier island off the coast of Florida, as a haven for the Northeast wealthy. The island's original roster of socialite vacationers reads like a who's who of American industry, finance and government: the Meads, the Mellons, the Paysons, the Whitneys, the Lovetts, the Harrimans--and Prescott Bush and James McGraw Jr. The generations of the two families parallel each other closely in age: the patriarchs Prescott and James Jr., son George and nephew Harold Jr., and grandson George W. and grandnephew Harold III, who now runs the family publishing empire.

Thank goodness for friends! As Carrie Lips wrote in 2000

Education companies, or “edupreneurs,” are entering the education marketplace in droves with creative, cost efficient products and services for students of all ages. This rapidly expanding industry, which constitutes approximately 10 percent of the $740 billion education market, demonstrates that private enterprises, even when competing against a monopolistic system, can deliver a wide range of affordable high-quality educational services. This study provides a glimpse of the products, services, and innovations that a fully competitive marketplace could generate if the government’s stranglehold on education were loosened.

The Perimeter Primate said...

New functional link for Metcalf's Nation article about Bush/McGraw/Jupiter Island: