29 Aug 2011

Murdoch’s Wireless Gen. and EdisonLearning Donated Money to Tony Bennett

As the Indiana State Board of Education decides to hand over Indiana’s so-called “failing” schools to EdisonLearning, Charter Schools USA, and Rupert Murdoch’s Wireless Generation today, it is important to note that both Edison and Wireless Generation have donated to Education Reform Idol Indiana supt. of public instruction Tony Bennett’s

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16 Aug 2011

Jeb Bush’s Privatization Plan for Indiana Public Schools

This piece is cross-posted at B-Town Errant, Indiana’s new and most progressive anti-corporate magazine. Please check it out. A few weeks after I criticized EdisonLearning’s invitation to Indiana, Supt. of Public Instruction Tony Bennett and Mitch Daniels have welcomed yet another Jeb Bush crony, Jonathan Hage, CEO of Florida-based for-profit

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02 Jul 2011

The BAEO and the Corporatists’ Indiana Voucher Defense

Yesterday in the Sun-Times, Gary, Indiana, Pastor Ray Dix regurgitated the same deceptive rhetoric the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) has been shamefully pumping into low-income African American parents for over a decade, specifically that vouchers and charter schools are the answer to the failing/imprisonment of black students. But,

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02 Jul 2011

Pastor Dix Spreads BAEO Lies, Corporatists Will Likely Finance Voucher Defense

Yesterday in the Sun-Times, Gary, Indiana, Pastor Ray Dix regurgitated the same deceptive rhetoric the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) has been shamefully pumping into low-income African American parents for over a decade, specifically that vouchers and charter schools are the answer to the failing/imprisonment of black students. But, as every school choicer watchdog group knows, the BAEO is merely a mouthpiece for the white rich who want to completely privatize education.

To begin with, Dix has ties to BAEO’s Jackie Cissell, who was among those who started the group in 2000. Cissell, who worked to elect Mitch Daniels and encouraged the Indiana Family and Social Services’ chaplain scandal, often appears on Pastor Dix’s radio show, Higher Ground, in Gary, praising fake Democrats like Cory Booker, corporate sell-outs like Tony Bennett, and former fellow Hoosier, Kevin Chavous, who has made a healthy living blasphemously using Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words to conceal his hedge-fund buddies’ desires to throw away our children’s future in charter schools and gamble with the almighty public dollars

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27 Jun 2011

Is EdisonLearning Seizing Indiana Schools? Tony Bennett Wants Dirt Hidden

Indiana supt. of public instruction Tony Bennett recently told the IndyStar he would not immediately release the names of the five potential takeover operators out to profit from Indiana’s so-called “failing” schools for fear that critics may question the legitimacy behind those doing the bidding. Bennett is also leery of

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31 May 2011

Call for Dismissal of Mitch Daniels-Appointed Board Members to the Indiana School for the Deaf

May 30, 2011,

Governor Mitch Daniels
200 West Washington Street, #206
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2731

Dear Governor Daniels:

As a language scholar and Hoosier, I find serious problems in your decision to appoint proponents of pure oralism to the board at the Indiana School for the Deaf. While promoting the artificial and often-futile task of lip-reading and risky cochlear implants which do not guarantee spoken language development, the oral-verbal teaching approach favored by these new board members could seriously hinter the education of the Indiana deaf community. Forcing deaf students to stop signing and attempt to speak English and understand speech is a crude tactic which held sway for 100 years in the dark ages of our country’s linguistic history. As it now stands, American Sign Language (ASL) is the chief language at the Indiana School for the Deaf (ISD). English is used as a second language. It should remain this way.

Thanks to the pioneering work of William Stokoe and others, scholars now accept ASL as a full-blown language operating in the left perisylvian brain region. Like spoken English, it even includes syntax (Neidle, Kegl, MacLaughlin, Bahan, & Lee, 1999). Astonishingly, as Kyra Karmiloff and Annette Karmiloff-Smith have noted (2001), children learning sign language go through the same process hearing kids do while learning a spoken language. They react to sign motherese (babytalk) and sign babbling, form one-word signs then develop strings of two, until complete sentences are formed. Remarkably, sign learners even make similar mistakes that verbal language learners make (p. 180-187; Petitto & Marentette, 1991). In fact, as Susan Goldin-Meadow and Heidi Feldman (1977) first pointed out, deaf children born to hearing parents invent their own “homesign” language which they later adapt to ASL once they enter the deaf community.

ASL is an important tool for linguists, anthropologists, psychologists, and neuroscientists. Like the FoxP2 gene, mirror neurons, music, and motherese, sign language—many scholars believe—holds significant clues to how spoken language originated and evolved (Corballis, 2002; Falk, 2009; Poizner, Klima, & Bellugi,1987; Stokoe, 2001). That is just another reason why linguists like Harlan Lane (1992) see deaf people not as disabled, but as attuned to the very inception of homo sapiens in ways which speaking people are not.

Since the early 1980s, ISD has been on the cutting edge of deaf teaching. Its bilingual method of stressing English alongside sign language has had well-respected results. Moreover, ISD’s early detection and community outreach programs are more than adequate for parents seeking unbiased knowledge on how to approach the language learning of a deaf child. Nationally, ISD has been a role model and does not need to be invaded by oralism.

Individuals associated with Hear Indiana (the state branch of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing) have no place on the ISD board. The AG Bell group–heavily funded by cochlear implant companies (AGBA, 2006, February 2; AGBA, 2006, February 21)– grew out of Bell’s antiquated, immoral, and dangerous beliefs in eugenics and the inferiority of deaf people, and there is good reason why the Indiana deaf community does not want history to repeat itself. If Hear Indiana and the medical device companies truly belief that the best route for parents to take is to allow a surgeon to drill through the mastoid bone to the inner ear of deaf infants, risking permanent facial paralysis, bacterial meningitis, and other complications without a guarantee of success, that is their own business (FDA, 2010). But these people have no right to distort facts and tell other parents what is best for them, especially when it comes to something as essential as language.

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20 May 2011

Education Reform in the Father-Knows-Best World of Mitch Daniels and Tony Bennett

“The government has ceased to function…the corporations are the government.” Theodore Dreiser If one applies cognitive and political linguist George Lakoff’s “Strict Father” model to Governor Mitch Daniels and Indiana superintendent of public instruction Tony Bennett, it’s obvious they see themselves as the be-all and end-all authorities on how teachers

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11 May 2011

Ind. Supt. of Public Instruction Tony Bennett Sold Out, Refused to Follow His Own Ed.D. Research

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett sees teachers and their unions as worse than Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) snaking throughout the locker rooms and hallways of Indiana’s public school buildings. Yet, after setting out on his pilgrimage to prove in his doctoral dissertation that teachers’ unions and teachers’ contracts were

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08 May 2011

Kevin Chavous, Former Hoosier and Leader of Black Alliance for Educational Options, Returns to Indiana to Help Destroy Public Education

Kevin P. Chavous should be every public educator and parent’s nightmare. The Indianapolis-born school reformer chairs the anti-public education Black Alliance for Educational Options’ board of directors. As co-founder of the hedge fund operated group Democrats for Education Reform, he also holds a high position in the astroturf American Federation

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22 Apr 2011

Why is the Right-Wing PR Consultant Jo Blacketor on the Indiana State Board of Education?

Although she likes to post on the charter school/voucher/merit-pay promoter Indiana Democrats for Education Reform’s facebook page, Indiana State Board of Education member Jo Blacketor makes her living at Faulkner Strategies doing PR work for right-wingers. Currently changing its name to Gridiron Communications, Faulkner Strategies’ clients include or have included

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