KOCH-HEADS AND THE SOCIAL CONTRACT, OR HOW THE ACA SHOWS WHETHER WE CARE ABOUT EACH OTHER ANYMORE: “The ACA is worthy of defense on its merits because it begins solving problems that Americans have always wanted solved. These include outlawing discrimination against those with preexisting conditions and doing away with the fears of those who could never afford coverage or temporarily lost it during hard times. But a larger principle is at stake, too. In an article last week about Americans for Prosperity, the group backed by Charles and David Koch, New York Times writers Carl Hulse and Ashley Parker made the essential point. The Koch effort, Hulse and Parker wrote, is ‘not confined to hammering away’ at the ACA. ‘They are also trying to present the law as a case study in government ineptitude to change the way voters think about the role of government for years to come.’ The underlying fight is thus over social insurance approaches that have been part of the fabric of American life since the progressive era and the New Deal. If opponents of the ACA can discredit it, they can move on to demonize other necessary public programs — and undercut arguments for further government efforts to ease inequalities and injustices.” (via Washington Post)
THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS SOCIETY?
FORMER FLORIDA TEACHER OF THE YEAR TEACHES FLORIDA ABOUT ITS FAILING OF TEACHERS: “I made this “Dear John” video last summer, before I left Florida and moved to Massachusetts. In the seven months since I’ve left the state: I’ve realized there are states and places that fund education well and have policies that support teachers, not break us down. It has been unexpectedly refreshing to get to know the education systems in New England. They are not perfect, but they have certainly made me realize how complex things are in Florida and the negative impact that has on our FL teachers and students. I’ve realized that my morale, even as a recognized teacher, was low in Florida. Morale is a serious issue, especially in states that are hotbeds for change and policy. We have to address this. Now. Many Florida teachers have had their VAMs made public. I can’t yet comment on that because I am still angry, and as a Southern girl, my mom told me not to speak or write in anger. My colleague Julie Hiltz has written a great piece on her score being published on The Answer Sheet blog
read her thoughts here. Florida has begun to pull out of the Common Core (they will have their own FL standards
read more here) and is not participating in PARCC, but has contracted with The American Institutes for Research to create its own FL assessments (read more on that here). This is like watching a trainwreck, but one attached to the students, teachers, and parents that I love
directly connected to my heartstrings. *sigh*” (via Washington Post)
HRNK! REPUBLICANS MAKING MEXICAN JOKES!: “In a campaign shakeup, Gov. Rick Scott’s top fundraiser — billionaire healthcare CEO Mike Fernandez — abruptly quit his post late Thursday after weeks of behind-the-scenes disagreements. Fernandez said he was quitting to spend more time with his family and businesses. And he praised Scott's campaign in a letter to the campaign's leadership team. ‘Together, we have helped the Governor raise more than $35 million. This has been an unprecedented effort, which is only matched by our shared commitment to reelect our Governor this November,’ Fernandez's letter said. ‘I am proud of the team the Governor has put together, and I am confident that we are on course for victory,’ he wrote in the letter, released late Friday by Scott's campaign. Despite the praise, Fernandez has been unhappy for weeks with the struggling campaign's direction and the attitude of some of its workers. Fernandez began expressing his frustrations at least a month ago when he sent an email to top Scott allies and complained about two campaign aides who had joked around in a cartoon-style Mexican accent en route to a Mexican restaurant in Fernandez’s home town of Coral Gables. Fernandez, who is Cuban, wouldn’t comment about the email.” (via Miami Herald)
MORE EXPENSIVE BADLY BENT NAIL CLIPPERS, PLEASE!: “The drawings of a gleaming 1,000-foot-tall observation tower planned for downtown Miami are eye-catching. Resembling a badly bent nail clipper, SkyRise Miami would be part event space, part amusement park with a flight-simulation ride and bungee jump. Also eye-catching: $10 million. That is what the Florida House is proposing to spend on the project next year, according to a budget proposal released last week. Other big-ticket items in either the Senate or House proposed budgets: $15 million for the 200-mile Coast-to-Coast Connector, a bicycle and pedestrian path that links St. Petersburg to Titusville; $4 million for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium; $1 million for the Hacienda Hotel in New Port Richey; $2 million for the Tampa Jewish Center; and $2 million for St. Petersburg's 20/20 Agenda, an anti-poverty program. During the Great Recession, budget deficits and tea party protests meant pork barrel spending gave way to austerity. But now it's an election year and legislators are looking at a $1.2 billion surplus in what is expected to be a total budget of around $75 billion. So lawmakers are scrambling to haul in projects to benefit their districts.” (via Tampa Bay Times)
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