Massive Cheating Scandals Rock School Districts Nationwide


JAISAL NOOR: As testing season is again underway
for hundreds of thousands of public school students across the country, allegations of
widespread cheating continue to rock several major school districts. Teachers and administrators
who falsified test scores received cash bonuses because it appeared they were raising student
achievement. While educators were rewarded, in some cases struggling schools lost money
and resources. Most recently in Washington, D.C., a newly
released document has some renewing calls for investigations into alleged cheating during
the reign of former chancellor Michelle Rhee. In the just leaked 2009 confidential memo,
consultant Sandy Sanford warns Rhee of possible cheating involving 191 teachers at 70 D.C.
schools. She had previously maintained there were no indications of widespread cheating
during her tenure. Since leaving D.C. public schools, Rhee has become a leading proponent
of corporate education reform and has lobbied dozens of states to adopt policies, like ranking
teachers based on student test scores. John Merrow, president of Learning Matters and
education correspondent for PBS’s NewsHour released the document. JOHN MERROW: The issue really is what did
the Chancellor do when she got this information. And the answer is she did nothing. So there
are a couple of issues here. Once is the alleged crime of erasing student answers on the standardized
tests to boost scores. It seems pretty clear that that happened. And that’s a crime. I
mean, that’s–means that some kids got falsified scores. They were told they were proficient
when in fact they needed remedial help. That’s one. The second is covering it up, not investigating.
Now, my wife is a school principal, and she’s my role model. And I know that if someone
brought her credible evidence that someone on her faculty might be cheating, she would
be on that like white on rice or whatever the cliche is. That didn’t happen in DCPS.
They chose to look the other way. NOOR: In response, Rhee has said she doesn’t
remember seeing the report. Merrow says he has reason to doubt Rhee’s claim. MERROW: If you have look at the memo, it’s
four pages, and all over it are confidential, don’t send this around. I mean, it’s not the
kind of memo that you would not remember. And not only that, I have it from a reliable
source that she and Deputy Chancellor Kaya Henderson discussed the memo in meetings.
So that’s simply not credible for her to say she doesn’t recall it. NOOR: The D.C. City Council has indicated
it’s unwilling to re-open an investigation into Rhee’s tenure. As she has noted, she’s
been cleared in two previous investigations into the alleged cheating. Rhee now heads
StudentsFirst, an organization that lobbies to replicate her record in D.C. in dozens
of states across the country by pushing policies such increasing test-based accountability,
closing so-called failing schools, and expanding publicly funded but privately managed charter
schools. John Merrow says the memo should prompt a
reevaluation of Rhee’s track record five years after she became chancellor of D.C. Public
Schools. MERROW: So you can now look at D.C. public
schools and see whether her approach to fixing schools works. I mean, my children went to
public schools in Washington. So it’s sad, it’s tragic to say that by almost every conceivable
measure the public schools of Washington, D.C., are worse today than they were when
Michelle Rhee arrived in 2007. It has the lowest graduation rate in the nation. Truancy
is epidemic. Teachers churn. It’s a revolving door for teachers. A teacher coming in now
stays two years. Nationally the average is between three and five. It’s principal churn. Now, poor kids need stability. Schools are
maybe a rock. Not in Washington, D.C. Test scores are down. The gap between white and
black is wider. The central office which she made a big deal about shrinking is in fact
larger today than when she arrived. So you have direct evidence of whether Michelle
Rhee produce-or-else approach works. It doesn’t. NOOR: The newly leaked memo in D.C. comes
on the heels of the largest cheating scandal in U.S. history. Thirty-five Atlanta educators,
including former Atlanta superintendent Beverly Hall, were recently criminally indicted for
orchestrating a massive cheating ring, where for years educators corrected students’ incorrect
answers. The cheating made it appear the Atlanta school system was showing remarkable growth
under Hall’s leadership. Principals and administrators were awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars
in bonuses. Hall and the other accused say they’re innocent and have vowed to fight the
charges. Bob Schaeffer is with the education nonprofit
FairTest, who for years has warned high-stakes testing creates an atmosphere that promotes
cheating. ROBERT SCHAEFFER, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, FAIRTEST:
Well, it’s a sad situation that so many educational leaders in Atlanta cheated students out of
education in order to boost test scores. But unfortunately what took place in Atlanta is
nowhere near unusual. It’s more like the tip of an iceberg, that our new studies show that
in the last four school years, cheating cases have been confirmed in 37 states in the District
of Columbia, and that in about a dozen of those jurisdictions the cheating cases have
been systematic and widespread. And so it’s important when you have an epidemic
like that to see what the cause is. And the root cause appears to be the gross overemphasis
on high-stakes testing to make life-and-death decisions about students, teachers, and schools
which have been imposed from the top down by politicians and their corporate and foundation
allies and set schools up for failure or to cheat because they’re required to boost scores
by degrees that have never been obtained in the real world. NOOR: While educators in those schools received
large cash bonuses, in some cases their schools lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s
because the artificially increased test scores made it appear the schools were no longer
struggling. Therefore they no longer qualified for extra funding to help struggling students.
The New York Times reported one Atlanta school, Parks Middle, lost $750,000 alone. Again,
Bob Schaeffer of FairTest: SCHAEFFER: Students are the biggest losers
from cheating. In the case you cited, one school’s scores increased so much that it
lost three-quarters of a million dollars in additional federal aid, money that could have
been used to help kids who were really way behind, and instead the principal was lauded
for boosting test scores, and the kids were left even further behind. It’s ridiculous. There’s even a worse case in El Paso, which
hasn’t gotten anywhere the coverage of Atlanta. There the superintendent of schools is in
federal prison, having plea-bargained with the FDI, who found out that he was orchestrating
a scheme to lock out low-scoring kids, generally second-language Mexican-American immigrant
kids from enrolling in schools because they bring down average scores. NOOR: Some, like Bruce Dixon of Black Agenda
Report, argue that while both former Atlanta superintendent Hall and D.C. Chancellor Rhee
both actively worked to privatize public schools, cheating scandals like the one in Atlanta
provide an opportunity to greatly discredit and undermine the institution of public education. BRUCE DIXON, MANAGING EDITOR, BLACK AGENDA
REPORT: What Beverly Hall and Michelle Rhee have in common is that they both ran big-city
school systems. But Michelle Rhee had distinguished herself early as being an ideological spear-carrier
for the corporate drive for so-called valued-added testing and data-driven academic decision-making,
all of which were corporate jargon for running schools like a business, and ultimately privatizing
schools. Beverly Hall, on the other hand, represents
an older generation. Beverly Hall is old enough to be Michelle Rhee’s mother, okay? She represents
an older generation of black educators who just want to go along and collect their six-figure
salaries and that’s it. Beverly Hall, during her time in Atlanta,
has gone for every piece of corporate-inspired nonsense that the Chamber of Commerce and
the mayor’s office have thrown her way, all sorts of ridiculous testing schemes and teacher
evaluation process. Beverly Hall was even instrumental in diverting hundreds of millions
yearly in property taxes that should go to Atlanta public schools to a gentrification
scheme that the mayor and the Chamber of Commerce are behind called the Belt Line. Beverly Hall has been giving the Chamber of
Commerce and giving the mayor’s office and giving the corporate education deformers everything
they wanted. But at some point they must have realized that a willing tool for a superintendent
still doesn’t give them a crisis. NOOR: Grassroots groups who have called for
boycotts of high-stakes tests say such cheating scandals validate their arguments that these
tests hurt children. The two-month-old teacher-led test boycott is continuing in Seattle, and
this week in New York hundreds of parents have vowed to opt out their kids from taking
high-stakes tests. Reporting for The Real News, this is Jaisal
Noor in New York.

85 thoughts on “Massive Cheating Scandals Rock School Districts Nationwide

  • April 18, 2013 at 3:00 am
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    This is the teachers unions educating the children that they "care" about. You better wake up, people.

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  • April 18, 2013 at 3:08 am
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    More proof we need to get away from this test based "education".

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  • April 18, 2013 at 3:16 am
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    I'm amazed that Barry Soetoro hasn't come to Ms. Rhee's defense! This is right up his alley obviously, since he continues to prevent his own academic records from being made public. He probably cheated on all of his exams, if he took them at all! USA RIP

    Reply
  • April 18, 2013 at 3:17 am
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    If I were in the teacher's position, I would do the same thing. It would be either cheat or send a third of the class to special ed.

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  • April 18, 2013 at 3:24 am
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    Good News! The City of Washington, DC will be underwater in three months! There go all the "Spearchuckers"! Good Riddance!

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  • April 18, 2013 at 3:40 am
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    As a student at Michigan State University, I would like to say that anyone here with two eyes can note things that are referred to as academic dishonestly. Either for questions on tests or doing other student's homework. Further, I have spoken with the administration about this, and they have failed to change anything. I don't believe that this is a small or localized issue. I agree that it is the emphasis on numbers that causes this cheating, and an environment of personal interviews is better.

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  • April 18, 2013 at 3:44 am
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    I guess my problem is this short-sighted way of thinking by the legislators.. But even that doesn't quite sound right. I just hate this over-emphasis on testing. I don't think memorizing answers to questions is real learning – a parrot can do that – but what *is* learning is hard to quantify and break into numbers. Which is where I think our society fails big time.. Why must every human experience be turned into something measurable through statistics?

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  • April 18, 2013 at 3:57 am
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    This is what happens when you base your entire society on the profit motive. Everything is for sale, no one is exempt from corruption and devil take the hindmost. You have to walk the streets armed and fortify your home, not just lock it up. Oligarchy becomes the reality and real human rights disappear beneath a veneer of propaganda.

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  • April 18, 2013 at 3:57 am
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    Michele Rhee's thing was I get to be an asshole and treat people badly because I'm so fucking brilliant – of course it turns out she wasn't brilliant just an asshole- and that's usually the case, for every creative genius a-hole like Steve Jobs there is a thousand fuckers who think they are brilliant but are just a-holes and believe or not there are people who are super productive creative geniuses who manage to treat others well-shocking but true.

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  • April 18, 2013 at 4:44 am
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    Michelle Rhee is the wife of our Mayor here in Sacramento, King's Lead Hat Johnson, who established and owns interest in (in some legally approved way) several charter schools.
    It's amazing how many 'Liberal' Dems are invested in Charter Schools. Gov. Brown, for one.
    It's time for an accounting of Charter Schools. How much have we thrown away on failed schools? What new techniques have arisen from the 'miracle' of competition that we were promised?
    Act now, before Corporations get involved.

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  • April 18, 2013 at 6:00 am
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    How convenient…They figured out that scandal,now they do the cuts for public sector…

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  • April 18, 2013 at 6:24 am
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    RIGHT ON! PREACH IT!

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  • April 18, 2013 at 6:41 am
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    Yip.

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  • April 18, 2013 at 8:59 am
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    teaching students how to think for themselves constitutes learning in my opinion and in order to do that they have to do some memorization, but the point is to give them the tools they need to be entrusted with the responsibility of learning for themselves and then deciding what is and isn't worth knowing…

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  • April 18, 2013 at 9:20 am
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    "teaching students how to think for themselves constitutes learning in my opinion" This I can definately agree with. 🙂

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  • April 18, 2013 at 11:23 am
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    The sad thing is, dems are *supposed* to be against privatising things.

    Dems: Pro privatization of education. Repubs: Also pro privatization of education.

    When the dems and repubs agree on something… You know its something fucking bad.

    Reply
  • April 18, 2013 at 11:35 am
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    Beverly Hall sold her soul, and did everything the corporate elite asked of her.

    And they threw here under the bus anyway without a second thought.

    Working for the corporate devil doesnt pay, folks. He always comes back to collect what he has given.

    Reply
  • April 18, 2013 at 11:42 am
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    I lived in Nashville when the south was solidly Democratic.
    I know a bit about how Democrats fail.
    It's called machine politics, and corruption.
    And then you get a Right-Wing Troglodyte voted in.
    As a fine band from Georgia once said:
    "Money changes everything".

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  • April 18, 2013 at 1:40 pm
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    Meritocracy is a pretty idea but it does not work in reality, but we already knew this.

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  • April 18, 2013 at 3:20 pm
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    This whole education reform "movement" is a fake movement funded by wall st and hedge fund managers. They just want to make the public schools fail so that they can trick the population into allowing privatization (via charter schools) so that wall st can leech off of the public education system, and suck as much money away from it as possible.

    Michelle Rhee is a fraud who will lose.

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  • April 18, 2013 at 3:34 pm
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    The Democrats are not a left-wing party. They may be to the left of Republicans, but they're still a center-right party. Therefore, they'll support privatization when it has public subsidizes.

    The population either needs to organize to create an actual left-wing party, OR they need to prevent the democrats from implementing these center-right policies.

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  • April 18, 2013 at 6:59 pm
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    "The deliberate dumbing down of America"
    —Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt, former Senior Policy Advisor in the U.S. Department of Education

    Reply
  • April 18, 2013 at 9:33 pm
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    If the public schools weren't such a fail today there would be no need for private funding to try and fix that gap

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  • April 18, 2013 at 11:43 pm
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    They are being failed on purpose. Public education was just fine overall, but the crooks want to get at the money. That's what this is all about. It is a bank heist, and people are allowing it.

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  • April 19, 2013 at 1:54 am
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    Michelle Rhee has also recently been caught lying, claiming (in an interview with the LA Times) that her children attend public school, when in fact they attend private schools.

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  • April 19, 2013 at 4:14 pm
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    Actually this shows how well a profit motive works.

    The problem is rewarding abstract numbers with money rather than the ability of students to be entrepreneurs or perform in the job industry for 10-30 years after graduation.

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  • April 19, 2013 at 4:21 pm
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    Both the funding and legislation have steadily increased for public schools over the last 50 years, yet they've gotten worse in the same time period.

    And there's always an excuse why.

    Makes you wonder what it would take for people to realize it's not such a hot idea. A couple public school massacres? Apparently not. Teachers raping students and not getting fired? Nope. Massive cheating scandals? Nope again.

    No measure for failure = blind religious devotion

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  • April 19, 2013 at 4:48 pm
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    The profit motive works only if you want to live in a society in which you have to walk the streets armed and fortify your home.
    Besides the fact that your snippet about students makes no sense I would point out that money IS an abstract. It's an invented concept made up by human beings.

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  • April 19, 2013 at 10:54 pm
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    That funding mainly goes to private companies (leeches) who over charge for books, overcharge for making tests that any department in a school can make, and who overcharge for lesson plans (which is something a teacher can do him/her self without a private company).

    The money never went to paying teachers the salary they deserve, building more schools to lower class sizes, paying for social workers in schools (which lower SES students need), paying for after school programs, etc.

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  • April 20, 2013 at 6:27 am
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    Remind me again who gets to decide to spend the public money?

    The problem with getting a never ending money that doesn't really have to be spent effectively is that people DON'T spend it effectively. They have a million other things going on in their day so looking for good value isn't necessary. Guess what happens? They get over charged.

    Paramedics literally save ppl's lives. Rescue workers risk their own. No where else there is a flat rate, and surprise their quality isn't declining.

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  • April 20, 2013 at 6:42 am
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    In MOST cities (not all) in the U.S., the mayor of a city makes most of the spending decisions, with state money being a governor who makes the decision.

    They never put money into paying teachers (who are underpaid) better. They never put money into social workers (which again, lower SES kids need). They never put money into after school programs, etc. THE WAY TO BETTER THE SCHOOL SYSTEM IS TO PUT MONEY INTO THOSE THINGS I JUST LISTED. It's pretty simple and cheaper and efficient.

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  • April 20, 2013 at 10:13 am
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    Trickle-down corruption at work:

    Wall St>K St>Capitol + White House>State level corporate+administrators>schools!

    Corruption epidemic spares no one, but as usual, punishes the poor and most vulnerable the most.

    This attack on children's rights is a violation of the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the culprits should be charged in the int'l criminal court!

    Reply
  • April 20, 2013 at 4:56 pm
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    center right is too kind for them since the Democrats are indistinguishable from the Republicans on the big issues: exploitation of the working class and war profiteering

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  • April 20, 2013 at 7:04 pm
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    So hold on. You are telling me, that a democratically elected (public) official constantly DECIDES to spend funds on private companies that overcharge?

    So do private schools which don't receive funding elsewhere do this? Hrm.. no. So wait, schools that are actually hard up for money and private spend their money more efficiently? Very strange indeed.

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  • April 20, 2013 at 11:15 pm
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    Private schools do get funding in vouchers. Charter schools (which are private entities) get funding from a city or state.

    The solution that any sane and democratic society finds is to elect PUBLIC policies that look to spend money directly on bettering teacher pay, more social workers for lower SES students, and more after school programs.

    A sane population doesn't go off worshiping private entities, ESPECIALLY for essential things like education.

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  • April 21, 2013 at 12:24 am
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    True but there are small differences, and differences in a country with a huge population can mean big differences for the population.

    For example, the Republicans look to basically eliminate Social Security and Medicare (along with other programs). The Democrats look to cut just a portion of it, not eliminate it completely.

    Though we should be fighting against both Republicans and Democrats, we should also note the importance of keeping the Republicans out of office as much as possible.

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  • April 21, 2013 at 7:47 pm
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    Not worshipping anything. In fact your distrust of giant, powerful organizations is healthy. It's just peculiar when it doesn't extend to the largest organizations of all when they fly a flag of democracy. Seems to be moot to you that despite scandals that run for pages, a two party system that no one actually considers "democratic" and a record of honestly that is far worse than Enron it's far better to trust than say a small private institution which hasn't shown any wrongdoing.

    Strange.

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  • April 21, 2013 at 10:52 pm
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    But I don't go by the thinking of:

    If private all by itself = good

    If state or state related = bad

    That's void of any analysis. Of course I know what the state is, and how it is an institution of power. But I also know what the population has FORCED the state to give. People won things from the state, like education rights, social spending, etc. Today, private power has looked to destroyed those victories the public gained in the state, hence why hedge fund managers want to privatize schools.

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  • April 21, 2013 at 11:38 pm
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    I don't give all companies a free pass either. Especially the big ones.

    You never really "won" any social spending either. You pay for it. Actually in deciding to give a lump sum of money to the gov + inflation, you've taken away much of the extra ppl have used for charity in the past. You've taken money from ppl whose priorities were at worst unneeded toys for themselves and to ppl who favor war, funding prisons, subsidizing comps and other countries. And a tiny bit left for schools.

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  • April 21, 2013 at 11:46 pm
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    Again, your logic is void of any analysis.

    The population has won things from the state, like Social Security, public education rights, labor laws, etc. They weren't handed over to us by the nice people in the state, they were WON by struggle.

    And just because tax money does go to wars, prisons, etc, you want to cut off or eliminate public education??!?! Why not eliminate the wars, prisons, etc while forcing the state to directly spend on education instead of subsidizing private companies?

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  • April 21, 2013 at 11:47 pm
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    If the general populace got 95% of their tax money back. How much you think would be re-invested in war? What about bailing out banks?
    How about providing money for local schools, roads or utilities that need it?

    Allowing private citizens to constantly and continually directly decide where to spend most of their money would result in far better priorities of spending even IF most of them decided to spend on pointless toys.

    Why ask those you signed your money to, to give you what you wanted?

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  • April 22, 2013 at 11:20 pm
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    I'm anti-war (for moral reasons) and anti-bailout.

    Of course we should provide for local schools, roads, utilities, etc, which is why we must push for policies that take our tax dollars, and forces power to spend it on those things instead of war. If a population is organized, and if a population demands it, no matter how evil the state is, it will succumb to public pressure.

    Private power doesn't succumb to public pressure. It is a perfect tyranny, much worse than state tyranny.

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  • April 23, 2013 at 3:13 am
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    "Private power doesn't succumb to public pressure"

    Really? So there's been no recalls ever? No business that went ever out of business when someone found a tainted product? No business that has been run out of town by unruly people, and not the city council?

    Now remind me when the last protest in front of washington created a policy change? How many gov agencies have ceased from public discontent? Does public opinion really sway gov policy after elections?

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  • April 24, 2013 at 1:04 am
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    If it weren't for public pressure (especially the public safety movements in the 70's) pressuring the government to put regulations, we'd never have recalls.

    And you really don't know history. Guess which president was the most liberal???? The answer is Richard Nixon. Want to know why he was so liberal??? Because population movements FORCED him to be. That's why today we have things like the EPA, safety regualtions, etc. Public opinion CAN sway the state somewhat, unlike private power.

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  • April 24, 2013 at 6:18 am
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    Wow, I hope people won't be lauding Bush in a generation. I'm very familiar with history. And if you ever read anything about Nixon or heard his tapes you'd know no one ever forced anything from him. He forced situations around him to his advantage, the public be damned. Some of his best friends in business wanted things like the EPA and safety regulations. It killed their competition, and gives them protection from lawsuits. Check the resume's of those on the EPA board.

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  • April 24, 2013 at 6:25 am
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    And again, you may want to re-read my comment about recalls, tainted products etc. I could compare caloric energy needed for the average person to effect policy change on both if you like. You sincerely business policy is impossible to change with public opinion and gov is hard but very possible? We can go there if you like, it's pretty easy to demonstrate.

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  • April 24, 2013 at 4:30 pm
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    I think it's a serious error to see things like that. You completely ignore the movements that were spawned from the 60's. In the 70's, they were intensified, and all that popular sentiment eventually was expressed, in some fashion, into policy. Was it exactly 100% the policy environmentalists wanted?? No. But was it a great step in the right direct? Yes. That wasn't because of Nixon's buddies or what not. Maybe his buddies profited or took advantage, but it was CAUSED by popular pressure.

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  • April 24, 2013 at 4:39 pm
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    Of course govt policy can be changed by popular pressure, even against the govt's will. What are child labor laws, social security, unemployment checks, safety regulations (in buildings for example), civil rights, freedom of speech (which is NOT in the constitution), disability rights, etc? All these things came from hard fought battles from popular movements that FORCED the government to implement them, sometimes even against private power's will. The state can be influenced by the public.

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  • April 25, 2013 at 3:58 am
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    How many people and how long did each of those take? You have an entire country of people campaigning for generations to get some of those changes. You call that effective? Thats about as effective as waiting for a natural disaster to happen.

    How long does it take to run a company out of town when the relationship sours? Many times days. And it takes a few people. Now facist countries where the gov harbors the corp? It still happens with the same frequency as other popular movements.

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  • April 25, 2013 at 4:22 am
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    You miss the eye of oppertunists. It's like the monkey's paw. You ask for something. They're happy to give it to you, but it's a perverse reverse of what you actually wanted. But in some way you get literally what you asked for.

    We just had the crash of 2008 4 years ago. The entire country was mad. Heck the entire world was. The public didn't get it's way on TARP, asked for regulations. Got Dodd Frank which codified bailouts & made things worse

    Some huge wins for public pressure I'd say.

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  • April 27, 2013 at 7:21 pm
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    You forget that the first time they tried to push a bailout package, the public went nuts, called their representatives, and they couldn't pass any bailout package.

    The population has not been organized, thanks to 100+ years of propaganda from both the state sector and private businessmen.

    And the battle for democracy (yes, democracy….something you "libertarians" hate) is a long one with many battles lost and won. It will continue, and private power fears it more than anyone (state too).

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  • April 27, 2013 at 8:36 pm
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    Actually I didn't forget about that. In one of the most unprecedented cries to congress to not pass something. They decided no, then decided yes a couple days later. So that's an example of how GOOD the public is at changing gov's mind? Sounds like you're the one listening to propaganda.

    Strict democracy is a bad thing. If you had it in 2001 all american muslim citizens or visitors would have be either captured, deported or killed from having more than 50% of the populace wanting it so.

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  • April 27, 2013 at 10:01 pm
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    I want to whole world to read what sirellyn (which is basically something U.S. "libertarians" believe) said, "Strict democracy is a bad thing".

    Only democracy can fight back against propaganda. It was propaganda which made many sectors of the general population ignorant (hence the ultra jingoism during 9-11 for one example). But it was also a democratic culture which has fought racism, fought for labor rights, fought for disability rights, fought against war, etc.

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  • April 28, 2013 at 5:52 pm
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    Yep, unsurprisingly saying its ok to have a knee jerk reaction for which 50% of the population would agree and damn a slightly smaller percent is NOT a good thing. Like a democratic decision for genocide in Bosnia.

    Instead advocating there should be some very basic things that no matter how many ppl feel, should still be against those basic laws. (Like mass murder, exile or theft.) So yeah I'm against democratic witch trials.

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  • April 28, 2013 at 6:04 pm
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    What should be a bigger question for you is why are YOU against more democracy? Pure democracy means at every instant >50% of the population decides which policy takes effect and exactly how all social resources are allotted.
    Right now you sort of elect 1 of 2 candidates every 4 years. Much of the populace doesn't vote or doesn't even want either of those 2 candidates. You have no means to measure how much democracy you even currently have, or fear to look at answers that would allow more.

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  • April 28, 2013 at 6:15 pm
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    Democracy doesn't fight against propaganda. Critical thinking does. A mass group of people can be caught up in the same incorrect thinking pattern. You're inferring that a number of top influencers know better but steer others towards something worse. Most of the time those time influencing people don't know better, they honestly believe what they do. (Like you do now.)

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  • April 28, 2013 at 9:55 pm
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    But in order to fight propaganda effectively, critical thinking must be done in community, NOT only individually. The problem that the current U.S. population faces is that they're very atomized from each other (due to for example private power destroying worker unions 100-50 years ago). All polls show that the U.S population has more or less a social democratic attitude (and that's with 100 years of propaganda). If they shared their ideas in community, change would happen pretty quickly here.

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  • April 28, 2013 at 9:58 pm
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    We have some sort of measure of how much democracy we currently have. We don't have a much in the U.S. at the moment. Look at polls. Most of the population wants more social security, medicare for everyone, more public funding for schools, a more democratic U.N., more actions on climate change (most Bush voters thought Bush supported the Kyoto protocols) etc. Yet both parties are well to the right of all these positions.

    Mind you the population have these wants even with effective propaganda.

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  • April 28, 2013 at 10:52 pm
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    Any changes you'd implement still rely on delegated democracy. That is, you elect ppl for a term to make all your decisions for you (even if you don't like them.) They in turn delegate to others, and those still others. In the end you are neither closer to either aspect of true democracy. That being having the majority making closer to instant decisions on ALL policies. Through direct or indirect action.

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  • April 28, 2013 at 10:57 pm
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    Part of the problem with the UN right now is that aspects of it are TOO democratic. That is for smaller countries if they have resources that larger countries have, there's far too few people voting in favor of those small countries and far too many voting to make a good resource deal for the larger countries.

    You can steamroll a small group of ppl as long as the majority says it's ok.

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  • April 29, 2013 at 1:39 am
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    No. I prefer direct democracy, with the population maintaining a democratic culture. We elect people to do what we tell them to do, NOT to make decisions for us. That's democracy.

    You U.S. "libertarians" have very little concept of democracy because you fear it. You know that if the population were organized, and if the society were democratic, they wouldn't allow small classes of people (like wealthy landowners) to exploit the majority of the population. Elites have always known this.

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  • April 29, 2013 at 1:42 am
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    And for you to say that the UN is too democratic is a huge fail on your part. So when the entire world votes against Israel in the UN (with only the U.S., Israel, and the Marshall Islands voting for Israel), and the U.S. gains the power to veto everything, that's democratic??? When the entire world (no joke) votes to end the U.S. blockade against Cuba (with only US and Israel voting against), and nothing happens that's a democratic UN???

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  • April 29, 2013 at 2:18 pm
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    So what about those other smaller countries who don't have a veto? How fair do you think it is for them?

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  • April 29, 2013 at 2:31 pm
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    "But in order to fight propaganda effectively, critical thinking must be done in community, NOT only individually."

    You just advocated propaganda. In fact when you advocate any sort of group think you are doing just that. You want ppl to think a particular way). The only way you don't is simply to explain how to disseminate information in a demonstrable way that works, anyone can challenge it. And everyone can make up their own mind.

    "We have the perfect way." is an age old deceit.

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  • April 29, 2013 at 10:05 pm
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    It's not fair for them. That's the point I was making. The UN is not democratic (contrary to you stating that it's TOO democratic). In those two cases I mentioned (Israeli atrocities against Palestinians and the blockade against Cuba) the entire world except the U.S. and Israel voted to end those things, and yet the U.S. still got it's way (it can basically veto anything).

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  • April 29, 2013 at 10:10 pm
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    When people are isolated, they're easy targets for propaganda and domination. That's where the term DIVIDE and conquer comes from. When people are organized, together, and in constant communication, it's tougher for any propaganda from any potentially major authority to work.

    Of course it's convenient to worshipers of private power to bad mouth organized opinion as "groupthink", because they know that organized opinion will always go against the concentration of wealth and power. They fear it.

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  • April 30, 2013 at 12:28 am
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    Being individual and being isolated are two completely different things. Individuals also self organize spontaneously all the time. They do so when they need to. Occupy Wall Street happened in just such a manner.

    You also have incredible redundancy. And redundant systems are incredibly strong. This is why many giant businesses LOVED the idea agencies like the EPA, FDA, SEC. They have one target to infiltrate, once done they are shielded from actual litigation.

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  • April 30, 2013 at 2:17 am
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    Occupy was an organized movement by people organized in a democratic fashion. Funny you mention it, because from what I remember, most of occupy didn't like the U.S. "libertarians".

    And while business do utilize state structures for their own profit, this does not mean we eliminate the state structures (which would give them more power). It means we push to make the regulations work, because when they do, they can prevent crisis (look what happened when they deregulated….a housing bubble!!).

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  • April 30, 2013 at 3:04 pm
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    "organized in a democratic fashion"

    Really? When it first arrived on the scene there wasn't any voting involved. In fact people we so individualistic that they had a very hard time coming up with something the entire movement stood for.

    So individuals getting together spontaneously. Completely different thoughts and beliefs, but they still worked together. Amazing! In your world, this just can't happen.

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  • April 30, 2013 at 3:11 pm
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    You've got about a million pages of regulations. 6-10 agencies specifically setup to ensure good business and prevention of fraud. (Far more than any other time in history.) Any every single agency failed or looked the other way.

    In fact you have currently fraud laws which explicidly state what was done was wildly illegal. But the justice dept itself will not proscute.

    If their ignoring all current laws, what mixed up logic makes you think more will help?

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  • May 1, 2013 at 2:05 am
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    If you eliminate those laws and regulations, corporations will just run wild.

    Again, if certain regulations aren't enforced well, you don't go looking to eliminate the regulations (and put the economy at risk for more bubbles like we had with the housing bubble), you look to actually have the regulations enforced. We learned of the fraud in the savings and loans scandal thanks to good regulators. We have people not dying in fires in buildings and less collapses because we have regulation. etc

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  • May 1, 2013 at 2:13 am
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    I never said that. Occupy was democratic, because it displayed the anger by the majority of the population, and it didn't have leaders (thankfully) or demands because that's not what it was about. It was about expressing the frustration the majority of the population feels. Look at the polls. The frustrations you see in the polls were the exact frustrations you saw in Occupy.

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  • May 2, 2013 at 2:19 am
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    Did you even read what I said. The JUSTICE department will not go after wall street for fraud. It's not b/c the laws aren't clear. They are crystal clear. In fact they are inditing smaller businesses on the exact same charges they could give the big guys.

    They are REFUSING to apply the law. And then amending laws later (when you ask for MORE regulations) to make it retroactively legal. Ala Dodd-Frank.

    So what mixed up logic makes you think they'll use a new law?

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  • May 2, 2013 at 2:23 am
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    What you don't seem to understand is that the natural predator for business is another business. When you write a ton of laws that only giant mega corps can afford to enforce, you pretty much get rid of their competition. It's worse still when they won't even charge them like they do now. So instead of doing the same thing that isn't working, try giving the smaller guys a chance to take down the larger ones.

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  • May 3, 2013 at 1:38 am
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    Again, if the public puts pressure (which they're not doing at the moment), then something can happen. I'm not going to eliminate regulation and have a building fall on top of me while I'm working like in Bangladesh. I like living in a first world country with regulations and standards.

    That we as a population must fight to make sure that the regulations aren't used for bad, of course. For example, I think the public should fight to eliminate patents. But good regulation must be strengthened.

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  • May 3, 2013 at 1:41 am
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    No. Business tends to work together (especially if they're filthy rich). What do you think is the Chamber of Commerce??? Why do you think these businessmen have events like the world economic forum?? They are very class conscience, and they tend to work together on major issues. Sure there are splits, but it's nothing huge.

    Hell, even Adam Smith knew that when businessmen get together in secret, they're up to no good.

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  • May 3, 2013 at 5:40 am
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    Cross businesses work well together, but like ones do not. Or do very little. They are competing for market share. They are also the natural successors. The only way cartels work over the long term is via gov support. The banking industry in particular used to have lots of banks, with none staying at the top for more than a few decades. After the Fed, well, not so much. It wasn't b/c they were excellent banks. The laws and regulations gave them protections and flattened all competition.

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  • May 3, 2013 at 5:48 am
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    The more laws you have the more you require lawyers, or in modern cases, you need an army of ultra specializes lawyers. So guess who can afford that? Only the richest ppl and corps. You literally screw litigation efforts of little guys by piling on rules.

    More laws mean less chances tiny loopholes won't be found except by the army of lawyers looking for them. It also means guilt by desire, not by fault. If someone wants to charge you, chances are today you've broken at least 30 laws.

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  • May 3, 2013 at 5:55 am
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    Getting a criminal via technicality is glorified on TV, but in real life you'll find it's extremely reversed. Look no farther than the innocence project, or David vs Goliath corporate fights to see victim counter-sued or imprisoned for something innane despite evidence or even them being the original plaintiff.

    So thank you for helping fortify the bureaucratic nightmare that only allows those with the vast wealth to fund the law army needed for a legal fighting chance.

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  • May 3, 2013 at 7:35 pm
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    If there is no regulation, those with wealth will have even more power than ever before. It would be pure private tyranny.

    No doubt they use the state to protect themselves.

    But there are also many state regulations (make distinctions!!!) that they're dying to get rid of, which is why they lobby like crazy for de-regulation. Why would private power lobby so much for the de-regulations you want if it wasn't in their interest???

    Remember how the housing bubble happened.

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  • May 8, 2013 at 5:55 pm
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    No! Not under Ms. Perfect Michelle Rhee.

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  • May 8, 2013 at 5:57 pm
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    Is criminal too cheat in this way, but know we see what pressure and the fear of losing a job could do to some professionals?

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  • May 26, 2014 at 7:25 pm
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    That was ingenius.  Pretending to help kids by letting them pass, but what they are doing is setting kids up to fail college.  

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  • October 12, 2014 at 1:18 am
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    This is a fucking shame. I hate are school system.

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  • April 1, 2015 at 8:48 pm
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    @Monique Kearney  You our right. I do two. LOL

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