The Weekly Update: The corporate empire of public education and where that leaves the rest of us, ALEC, Gates and charter schools

So much news, so little time.

From Real News:

U.S. Student Homelessness Up 10% Since Last Year

 Highest increases of homeless children seen in states like North Carolina where austerity policies predominate.

All those people we come in contact with daily, the sales clerk, that friendly person at the bank, the barista…they’ll all hurting, quietly, and I never knew they were in such pain, not until the strikes began to happen. Then I realized that these workers get paid so little that we are subsidizing the overhead of the 1% by providing workers with food assistance and healthcare, ensuring that the wealthy few can maintain their standard of living while the rest of us stoically suffer:

From the Real News, 1 out of 3 Bank Tellers in NY on Public Assistance

New report finds bank executives receive big bonuses, while 39% of frontline bank employees must rely on welfare because of insufficient wages

Remember that many of these employees have families, children in school, and they are barely able to make ends meet.

On the other hand, from Mother Jones:

defense

Can’t touch this

  • The Army uses more than twice as much building space as all the offices in New York City.

  • The Pentagon holds more than 80 percent of the federal government’s inventories, including $6.8 billion of excess, obsolete, or unserviceable stuff.

  • The Pentagon operates more than more than 170 golf courses worldwide.

  • 70 percent of the value of the federal government’s $1.8 trillion in property, land, and equipment belongs to the Pentagon.

…the Pentagon has once more gotten a reprieve from the budget ax: Under Murray and Ryan’s congressional budget deal, the Pentagon will get an additional $32 billion, or 4.4 percent, in 2014, leaving its base budget at a higher level than in 2005 and 2006. (The Department of Defense expects its total 2014 budget, including supplemental war funding, to be more than $600 billion.)

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost $1.5 trillion, about twice the cost of the Vietnam War when adjusted for inflation. Those funds came entirely from borrowing, contributing nearly 20 percent to the national debt accrued between 2001 and 2012. And that’s just the “supplemental” military spending passed by Congress for the wars—the regular Pentagon budget also grew nearly 45 percent between 2001 and 2010.

One out of every five tax dollars is spent on defense.

Too big to audit

Where does the Pentagon’s money go? The exact answer is a mystery. That’s because the Pentagon’s books are a complete mess. They’re so bad that they can’t even be officially inspected, despite a 1997 requirement that federal agencies submit to annual audits—just like every other business or organization.

The Defense Department is one of just two agencies (Homeland Security is the other) that are keeping the bean counters waiting: As the Government Accountability Office dryly notes, the Pentagon has “serious financial management problems” that make its financial statements “inauditable.” Pentagon financial operations occupy one-fifth of the GAO’s list of federal programs with a high risk of waste, fraud, or inefficiency.

Critics also contend that the Pentagon cooks its books by using unorthodox accounting methods that make its budgetary needs seem more urgent. The agency insists it will “achieve audit readiness” by 2017.

http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/the-weekly-update-the-corporate-empire-of-public-education-and-where-that-leaves-the-rest-of-us-alec-gates-and-charter-schools/

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