The Bleak Friday Interview

In which I sit down with political economist Gordon Lafer to enjoy a slice of *grim pumpkin* pie…

tiny pumpkin pieEduShyster: Now I know Black Friday is usually thought of as a day for bargain hunters to mob Walmart stores and their minimum-wage-ish associates, but can I just point out that by swelling the Walton family coffers, these shoppers are actually helping to create more opportunities for low-income youth? Wait—why are you laughing?

Gordon Lafer: Because it’s preposterous—you can’t be an adult and say that with a straight face. First of all, the thing that correlates most clearly with educational performance in every study is poverty. So when you look at the agenda of the biggest and richest corporate lobbies in the country, it’s impossible to conclude that they want to see the full flowering of the potential of each little kid in poor cities. To say *I want to cut the minimum wage, I want to prevent cities from passing laws raising wages or requiring sick time, I want to cut food stamps, I want to cut the earned income tax credit, I want to cut home heating assistance. Oh but, by the way, I’m really concerned about the quality of education that poor kids are getting*—it’s just not credible. You’re creating the problem that you now claim to want to solve.  Continue reading →

The Great Big Lovin’ Walheart

The Walton family hearts America’s poor kids. Their parents? Not so much.

walheartWhen we last paid a call on our good friends the Waltons, we found them in a fine, beneficent fettle indeed. Armed with Walmart profits equivalent to the wealth of the bottom 42% of American families combined, the Waltons felt moved to wrap their arms around the nation’s burgeoning population of low-income children and hug them into college readiness and 21st century success. And I’ve got great, heartwarming news, reader. As this New York Times feature reveals, the Waltons’ great big lovin’ Walheart beats stronger than ever—and there is nary an education reform group nor a charter school that is not ententacled in the family’s tender embrace. Continue reading →

Would You Like Fries with That Reform?

What does the battle over the minimum wage have to do with education? Everything…

By Adell Cothorne
Way back before I became a principal, a whistleblower, the “cupcake lady” or joined the fight to save public education, I was a McDonald’s worker. It was 1984 and you name it—cashier, grill operator, grease trap emptier, bathroom cleaner—I did it. I’ve been thinking a lot about my McDonald’s days since watching a recent report on CBS Sunday Morning called “The Battle Over the Minimum Wage.”  Continue reading →

Building Tomorrow’s Walmart Workers—Today

Our nation’s fate hangs in the balance—and once again the blame can be laid squarely at the feet of our union-stifled public schools. Reader: I give you the skills gap. Perhaps the most fiercely urgent chasm we’ve encountered to date, the skills gap refers to the vast unfilled space between current and future job openings and the skills of the people looking for jobs.

Or that’s what we’re supposed to think it means. The real skills gap is between what workers have—a fierce desire not to live in their cars—and what their employers wantto pay them as little as possible. Which brings us to today’s fiercely urgent question: if the skills gap demands that we dismantle our public schools pronto, what kind of schools are best suited to producing the cheap, compliant workers that tomorrow’s employers so urgently need today? The answer: excellent schools. Continue reading →

Now on Sale at Walmart, Education Rephorm

Walmart is leading the effort to give low-income Americans more ¢hoi¢e in education, while insuring that they remain low income.

It is a well known fact that students who attend our union-stifled public schools are ill prepared for their future careers—at Walmart. That is why Walmart is leading the effort to fix our failing schools by introducing some much needed competition into the public education monopoly. Much like shoppers at Walmart have a choice of many different Chinese-made goods, education consumers will soon have a veritable all-you-can-eat buffet of edu-choices. All this is thanks to the efforts of the Walton Family Foundation, which has plunked down a cool $1 billion worth of Walmart profits to transphorm public education. Continue reading →