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To start your own Feature Points account here’s my referral link:-

http://featu.re/3ZB3M3

If you start this way and enter my referral code you’ll automatically get 50 free points to start you off. Here’s my code:-

3ZB3M3

Give it a shot guys at least! It takes a few minutes out of your day and and you could earn some money :) even if you’re not interested, reblog and spread the word :) thanks!

COMMON SENSE ABOUT VOUCHERS

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It’s a little known fact that when the Bush administration first sent its No Child Left Behind bill to Congress, its priority was not reforming schools but privatizing them.  NCLB initially set up an impossible set of testing standards (e.g., a kid speaking no English arriving in school the day before testing would literally have to take the test the next day in English) so parents could pull their children from these “failing schools and use taxpayer money to attend private schools.  (Read: Christian schools.)   Congress knocked that down, but the Right’s dream of destroying public education lives on.

Now the cause is vouchers, packaged under the slogan of “school choice,”  which only makes sense if you aren’t thinking.  The “choice” of attending a private school is never with the family — it’s with the private school.  They decide who to admit and who not to admit.   

Let’s assume the best — that vouchers will only be made available to truly low income families in disastrous schools.  Voucher laws typically grant $4000 for tuition, which covers 1/5 to less than half of private school costs.  Will private schools open their doors to those kids out of the goodness of their hearts?  Will they handle the kids whose fathers are in jail, who come to school with no food in their stomachs or clean clothes on their backs, who get sick and can’t go home because mom can’t get off work and grandma can’t drive, or whose parents can’t be bothered with homework or parent conferences anyway?

You know they won’t.  What they will do is take the disadvantaged kids who can run a football or slam dunk a basketball, use taxpayer money to subsidize part of their tuition costs, get their star athletes and “cream of the crop” students at a bargain, and leave behind public school systems with that much less money to spend on the kids who remain.

It’s a cynical thing to pass this off as “reform” and “choice.”  It’s a sick thing to imagine that somehow our nation will be made better off by destroying public education — and not caring that you do precisely that.

It’s the darker side of competition that Milton Friedman and his free-market disciples tend to downplay: If parents value high test scores, you can compete for voucher dollars by hiring better teachers and providing a better education—or by going easy in grading national tests. Competition was also meant to discipline government schools by forcing them to up their game to maintain their enrollments, but it may have instead led to a race to the bottom as they too started grading generously to keep their students.

None of this is terribly surprising—in econ 101 we learn that markets work their magic when buyers and sellers are well-informed about what’s getting bought and sold, and can therefore transact with one another without fear of getting conned. The apparent failure of the Swedish schooling experiment is a lesson in the inability of markets to solve problems where it’s hard to compare the educational “product” that’s offered, and the outcomes you can observe are subject to manipulation. It’s also a reminder that the cold, hard calculations of markets aren’t necessarily suited to the realm of education. Governments don’t shut schools because they fail to turn a profit. Private equity firms do. The parents of more than 10,000 students learned this difference the hard way last year, when the Danish private equity group Axcel abruptly announced its exit from the Swedish school market, stating that it could no longer cover the continued losses.

Yeah mah life’s a bitch, but ü knoe nothin ‘bout it..
Been to hell and back,. I can show you vouchers..
It’s a little too late to say that you’re sorry now..
You kicked me when I was down, eff whatcha’ say..
Juz dün hurt me, it dün hurt me.. no more.. 
You get no love, no love, no love, no love… :P

Ryan, the presumptive Republican vice-presidential candidate, told an audience at Florida’s largest retirement development that Obama’s health care law “puts a board of 15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats in charge of Medicare who are required to cut Medicare in ways that will lead to denied care for current seniors.”

It’s a wonkier variation of Sarah Palin’s 2009 assault, which she’s returned to since, on Obama’s “death panels,” which was in turn echoed by Michelle Bachmann’s claim last fall that “15 political appointees will make all the major health-care decisions for over 300 million Americans.” She continued: “I don’t want 15 political appointees to make a health-care decision for a beautiful, fragile 85-year-old woman who should be making her own decision.”

Of course, it’s not true.

So why is the Romney campaign bringing back this bogus vision of faceless technocrats cruelly snatching life from helpless seniors (along with the equally bogus idea that Obama will have “robbed” more than $700 billion from Medicare)? It has a lot to do with seniors, many of whom are learning about Ryan’s plans for the program—and Ryan himself—for the first time after Romney picked the Wisconsin House member as his running mate last month . According to a Pew poll released this week, only 30 percent of people have heard “a lot” about his plan, and 29 percent have heard nothing about it at all.

But that poll and others show that the more people do hear about Ryan’s Medicare reform plan(not to mention the rest of his budget), the less they like it. And while Republicans stress that Ryan’s proposed Medicare changes wouldn’t impact current seniors or anyone entering the system in the next decade, and that even after the change seniors could choose between something like the current system and vouchers, the CBO agrees with Democratic claims that the Ryan plan would place a greater burden on Medicare enrollees.

Privatization: The Black & White of Education in Chicago’s Public Schools

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) released on December 1st a report on the “underutilization crisis” in the Chicago Public Schools system, a crisis that has been manufactured largely to justify the replacement of neighborhood schools by privatized charters. The study, titled The Black and White of Education in Chicago’s Public Schools, analyzes the mechanisms and effects of CPS schemes that masquerade as educational policy.

While the policy of neighborhood school closings and charter openings has not moved education in Chicago forward in any significant way, the benefits to charter school operators, private testing companies, real estate interests, and wealthy bankers are growing. Far from being a system of reform that improves education, the policy of closing schools in one area of the city and opening schools in another has been the failed status quo in Chicago for nearly 20 years, and key outcomes are:

  • Increased racial segregation in schools
  • Depletion of stable schools in Black neighborhoods
  • Disrespect and poor treatment of teachers
  • Expansion of unnecessary testing
  • Decreased opportunities for deep, conceptual learning
  • Increased punitive student discipline
  • Increased student mobility
  • Minimal educational outcomes

In Regency-land, a voucher to Almack’s meant that you were all the thing in high society. Heroines and their fortune-hunting mamas were thrilled, heroes groaned at the thought of the Marriage Mart and weak lemonade. Only those who had been previously approved by the fair arbiters of high society were issued the precious vouchers.

This one comes from the Huntington Library’s exhibition on the Regency and was issued to Anna Elizabeth Grenville, Marchioness of Buckingham.

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Palestine, 17-18 June 2013

A third of all households in Palestine, or 1.6 million people, struggle to feed their families, falling into the “food insecure” category and numbers are rising. 

A joint UN survey carried out by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, WFP, UNRWA and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), found that in 2012, 34 percent of households in Palestine were food insecure, up from 27 percent in 2011. Contributing factors include high unemployment rates, stagnant economic growth, the financial problems of the Palestinian Authority, the continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza.

WFP reaches approximately 650,000 food-insecure, non-refugee, households in Palestine with programmes including distributions of food and electronic vouchers.

Vouchers can be redeemed to buy olive oil, salt and other groceries, most of which are produced locally in Palestine. 

In the past three years WFP has injected more than US$100 million into the Palestinian economy through local purchase and the redemption of electronic food vouchers. This investment supports local businesses and generates employment.

Top Photo: Rasmeya Mohamed Abu Eram has just made some bread using WFP flour, she still has some flour on her hands. Rasmeya is 67 has a family of 24 Sons and grand sons she lived here in Jimba and the close by city Yatta all her life they have 250 ships and they sell dairy products.

Middle Photo: Each voucher in the West Bank provides USD 13 per month per person; beneficiaries can use it to buy bread, cereals, milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, pulse,s tuna, tahina and salt. In particular, olive oil produced in Palestina is one of the new items that they can buy. The voucher programme benefitted 116,000 beneficiaries in 2012 and WFP plans to reach 146,000 individuals in 2013.

Bottom Photo: UNRWA staff distributing WFP Food to palestinians in South Hebron hill area, in the West Bank next to village of Jinba; people here receive a 3 months ration.

Photo: WFP/Marco Frattini

After the Obama Administration filed suit against the state of Louisiana over a school voucher program allowing low-income kids in low-performing schools to attend other institutions, it appears the Wall Street Journal’s Jason L. Riley can make that assertion.

The Obama Department of Justice claimed letting poor kids take money for their educations elsewhere if their assigned schools get a D or F grade from state raters “frustrates and impedes the desegregation process.” While the injunction against Louisiana was dropped, Riley still suggests: “Forcing poor blacks to attend the state’s worst schools strikes me as something out of the Jim Crow South.”

Ninety percent of the kids getting vouchers in Louisiana are black, and potential school choices often a lot whiter than what they leave. With that in mind, it’s hard to believe vouchers promote segregation.

Kenneth Davis, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Mount Sinai Medical Center:

Turning Medicare into a voucher-based system is not a solution for our seniors or what ails our health care system in this country. With over 100,000 visits to Mount Sinai last year by Medicare beneficiaries, I am acutely aware and concerned about the changes that are being proposed to the Medicare system. The voucher model — which essentially gives seniors a check and sends them off into the private marketplace — is based on the notion that competition, facilitated by a free market, will bring down the cost of health care. Putting private insurers into the ring with traditional Medicare, it is presumed, will change the trajectory of overall health care costs, and solve our cost crisis. Unfortunately, the answer is not so simple.

By Jeff Bryant

“It’s always hard to tell for sure exactly when a revolution starts,” wrote John Tierny in The Atlantic  recently. “I’m not an expert on revolutions,” he continued, “but even I can see that a new one is taking shape in American K-12 public education.”

In the piece titled, “The Coming Revolution in Public Education,” Tierney pointed to a number of signs:

*Teachers refusing to give standardized tests, parents opting their kids out of tests, and students boycotting tests. 

*Legislators reconsidering testing and expressing concerns about corruption in the testing industry.

*Voucher and other “choice” proposals being strongly contested and voted down in states that had been friendly to them.

Resistance is particularly vehement in low-income communities of color in large urban school districts where reform measures have lead to widespread teacher firings and school closings. In Chicago, Philadelphia, New York City, Cleveland, and Detroit, vocal protestors have been organizing in their own communities but also uniting in national campaigns, such as this year’s Journey for Justice effort that brought hundreds of activists in allied grassroots organizations to the White House to protest school closings.

Unlike school reform proponents who benefit from massive donations from rich foundations and politically connected funders, grassroots groups leading the resistance – like the Alliance for Educational Justice and Alliance for Quality Education – have far humbler means and few connections to the political class and deep pocketed philanthropists like Bill Gates.

iTunes

If one is gifted iTunes Vouchers and that same one has a wish list the length of an elephant trunk comprising of all forms of media - CDs, Movies, Books and Series - what should take priority..?

Also, is it odd that I may organise the list by date released and buy the most recent and the oldest releases..?

A Victory for Vouchers

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A Marion County Judge Friday dealt a serious blow to opponents of Indiana’s school voucher law. 

In his 10-page ruling Superior Court Judge Michael Keele ruled that the State’s Choice Scholarship program which allows parents of of low income students to use vouchers to attend the school of their choice does not violate the Indiana Consitution.

The ruling was a summary judgment, which meant there was no geniuine issue of material fact with respect to the voucher program. 

Plaintiffs had tried to argue that because the vouchers could be used for private schools the program violated the state Constitution’s prohbition against taxpayer money for religious institutions.

However, Judge Keele ruled the money was not for the benefit of the religious schools but for the parents and students.

Opponents plan to appeal.

The voucher law was passed in 2010 as part of a major education reform package.  It is considered the largest in the nation.

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