Friday, April 28, 2006

Mayors, politics and schools

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has proposed a drastic take over of the Los Angeles city schools. This effort follows in the wake of similar take overs in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and to a lesser extent Sacramento.
The motivation of these efforts is positive; they want to improve public education in areas that are failing. Clearly the schools are failing for central city and poor kids. This take over by mayors appears to be an assault on elected school boards and bloated school administrations since clearly the Mayor and his aids are not going to teach classes. I am not aware of evidence that school boards are the problem although school bureaucracies certainly are part of the problem.
In New York and Chicago, the mayors claim some positive movement toward school improvement. My reading of the data at present is that results are mixed, some schools improved, many did not.
This direction appears to be more interested in making headlines, making the case that the Mayor is doing something, rather than improving schools. I would be pleased to learn otherwise.
However, before we go down this path, lets ask the question from the other direction.
If schools are failing, what is the role of Mayors at present?
Without taking over schools, Mayors could do a great deal.
Urban schools would be improved – at times dramatically- if gangs and violence were removed. City administrations could provide police, probation, and youth counselors and gang intervention teams to dramatically reduce crime and violence around the schools.
Urban schools would be improved by providing decent buildings, grounds, and facilities. Certainly city administrations could provide improved buildings and maintenance and lease these back to the schools. Mayors could provide after school facilities for both academic support and a safe place for recreation in violent neighborhoods. These are things the mayors could do now, and are not doing.
Jean Anyon has argued persuasively in Radical Possibilities (2005) that urban economic development and good jobs are needed to improve the neighborhoods; along with school reform.,
Perhaps the biggest issue is the Mayor could use some of his political capital to improve school funding. California schools rank about 43rd.out of the 50 states in per pupil expenditures ( and about 43 in reading and math scores). If we were to raise funding levels tgo make California 10th. in the nation, that would create an educational revolution.
`Schools are funded by the state from local property taxes and other sources. The legislature and the governor decide each year to continue the current Appalachian level of funding of California schools. And, Antonio Villaraigosa was once Speaker of the Assembly. He led the process. Real school reform would require that the legislature and the Governor do their job; adequately fund the schools. Mayors of large cities could well move votes on the budget.
I wonder why the Mayor- a former legislative leader, chooses to take over the schools rather than do his own job well?
You see, the proposal to have Mayors take over schools is based upon a view that the problem of urban schools is a problem within the school walls. The proposal assumes that schools can be radically improved while the surrounding society is divided and impoverished. I know of no evidence to support this view.
I think that we should demand that legislators do their jobs- fund the schools, and that Mayors do their jobs – provide a decent, safe environment, and at the same time demand that teachers improve the schools.
If you know of some instances when politicians improved the schools, please let me know. I do know that it was a marginal fix here in Sacramento.
I welcome other ideas on this topic. Please use the response button below.
Duane Campbell

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Voter Fraud in 2004 election

No Paper Trail Left Behind: the Theft of the 2004 Presidential Election*

By Dennis Loo, Ph.D.

Cal Poly Pomona

"Alice laughed: "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't believe impossible things." "I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." (Through the Looking Glass)

In order to believe that George Bush won the November 2, 2004 presidential election, you must also believe all of the following extremely improbable or outright impossible things.1

1) A big turnout and a highly energized and motivated electorate favored the GOP instead of the Democrats for the first time in history.2

2) Even though first-time voters, lapsed voters (those who didn’t vote in 2000), and undecideds went for John Kerry by big margins, and Bush lost people who voted for him in the cliffhanger 2000 election, Bush still received a 3.4 million vote surplus nationally.3

3) The fact that Bush far exceeded the 85% of registered Florida Republicans’ votes that he got in 2000, receiving in 2004 more than 100% of the registered Republican votes in 24 out of 67 Florida counties, more than 200% of registered Republicans in 10 counties, over 300% of registered Republicans in 4 counties, more than 400% of Registered Republicans in 4 counties, and over 700% in one county. This could only be explained by a massive crossover vote in these specific counties by registered Democrats and/or Independents. Bush's share of crossover votes by registerd Democrats in Florida, however, did not actually increase over 2000 and he lost ground among registered Independents, dropping 15 points. Floridians were just so enthused about Bush and Cheney that they somehow managed to overrule basic math.4

4) The fact that Bush got more votes than registered voters, and the fact that by stark contrast participation rates in many Democratic strongholds in Ohio and Florida fell to as low as less than 8%, do not indicate a rigged election.5

5) Bush won re-election despite approval ratings below 50% - the first time in history this has happened. Harry Truman has been cited as having also done this, but Truman’s polling numbers were trailing so much behind his challenger, Thomas Dewey, pollsters stopped surveying two months before the 1948 elections, thus missing the late surge of support for Truman. Unlike Truman, Bush’s support was clearly eroding on the eve of the election.6

6) Harris' and Zogby’s last-minute polling indicating a Kerry victory was wrong (even though Harris and Zogby were exactly on the mark in their 2000 election final polls).7

7) The “challenger rule” - an incumbent’s final results won’t be better than his final polling - was wrong;8

8) On election day the early-day voters picked up by early exit polls (showing Kerry with a wide lead) were heavily Democratic instead of the traditional pattern of early voters being mainly Republican.

9) The fact that Bush “won” Ohio by 51-48%, but this was not matched by the court-supervised hand count of the 147,400 absentee and provisional ballots in which Kerry received 54.46% of the vote doesn’t cast any suspicion upon the official tally.9

10) Florida computer programmer Clinton Curtis (a life-long registered Republican) must be lying when he said in a sworn affidavit that his employers at Yang Enterprises, Inc. (YEI) and Tom Feeney (general counsel and lobbyist for YEI, GOP state legislator and Jeb Bush’s 1994 running mate for Florida Lt. Governor) asked him in 2000 to create a computer program to undetectably alter vote totals. Curtis, under the initial impression that he was creating this software in order to forestall possible fraud, handed over the program to his employer Mrs. Li Woan Yang, and was told: “You don’t understand, in order to get the contract we have to hide the manipulation in the source code. This program is needed to control the vote in south Florida.” (Boldface in original).10

11) Diebold CEO Walden O’Dell’s declaration in a August 14, 2003 letter to GOP fundraisers that he was "committed to helping Ohio to deliver its electoral votes to the president next year" and the fact that Diebold is one of the three major suppliers of the electronic voting machines in Ohio and nationally, didn’t result in any fraud by Diebold.

12) There was no fraud in Warren County, Ohio where they admitted counting the votes in secret before bringing them out in public to count, citing an unidentified FBI agent's warning of a terrorist incident as the rationale, a report that the FBI denies ever making.

13) CNN reported at 9 p.m. EST on election evening that Kerry was leading by 3 points in the national exit polls based on well over 13,000 respondents. Several hours later at 1:36 a.m. CNN reported that the exit polls, now based on a few hundred more - 13,531 respondents - were showing Bush leading by 2 points, a 5-point swing. In other words, a swing of 5 percentage points from a tiny increase in the number of respondents somehow occurred despite it being mathematically impossible.11

14) Exit polls in the November 2004 Ukrainian presidential elections, paid for in part by the Bush administration, were right, but exit polls in the U.S., where exit polling was invented, were very wrong.12

15) The National Election Pool’s exit polls13 were so far off that since their inception twenty years ago, they have never been this wrong, more wrong than statistical probability indicates is possible.

16) In every single instance where exit polls were wrong the discrepancy favored Bush, even though statistical probability tells us that any survey errors should show up in both directions. Half a century of polling and centuries of mathematics must be wrong.

The Emperor (and the Electoral Process) Have No Clothes

The preceding list recounts only some of the irregularities in the 2004 election since it ignores the scores of instances of voter disenfranchisement that assumed many different forms (e.g., banning black voters in Florida who had either been convicted of a felony previously or who were “inadvertently” placed on the felons list by mistake, while not banning convicted Latino felons14; providing extraordinarily few voting machines in predominately Democratic precincts in Ohio; disallowing Ohio voters, for the first time, from voting in any precinct when they were unable to find their assigned precincts to vote in; and so on). A plethora of reasons clearly exists to conclude that widespread and historic levels of fraud were committed in this election.

Indeed, any one of the above highly improbables and utterly impossibles should have led to a thorough investigation into the results. Taken as a whole, this list points overwhelmingly to fraud. The jarring strangeness of the results and the prevalence of complaints from voters (e.g., those who voted for Kerry and then saw to their shock on the electronic voting machine screen that their vote had just been recorded for Bush), require some kind of explanation, or the legitimacy of elections and of the presidency would be imperiled.

Explanations from public officials and major media came in three forms. First, exit polls, not the official tallies, were labeled spectacularly wrong. Second, the so-called “moral values” voters expressed in the now ubiquitous “red state/blue state” formula, were offered as the underlying reason for Bush’s triumph. And third, people who brought forth any of the evidence of fraud were dismissed as “spreadsheet-wielding conspiracy theorists” while mainstream media censored the vast majority of the evidence of fraud so that most Americans to this day have never heard a fraction of what was amiss. I will discuss each of these three responses, followed by a discussion of the role of electronic voting machines in the 2002 elections that presaged the 2004 election irregularities, and then wrap up with a discussion of these events’ significance taken as a whole.

Killing the Messenger: the Exit Polls

Exit polls are the gold standard of vote count validity internationally. Since exit polls ask people as they emerge from the polling station whom they just voted for, they are not projections as are polls taken in the months, weeks or days before an election. They are not subject to faulty memory, voter capriciousness (voters voting differently than they indicated to a pollster previously), or erroneous projections about who will actually turn up to vote. Pollsters know who turned up to vote because the voters are standing there in front of the exit pollsters. Because of these characteristics, exit polls are exceptionally accurate. They are so accurate that in Germany, for example, the winners are announced based on the exit polls, with paper ballots being counted as a backup check against the exit polls.15 Exit polls are used, for this reason, as markers of fraud.16

Significant, inexplicable discrepancies between exit polls and official tallies only started showing up in the U.S. in 2000 and only in Florida (Florida, of course, decided the 2000 election’s outcome). The discrepancy was not the exit polls’ fault, however, but in the official tallies themselves. Although the mainstream media fell on their swords about their election’s evening projections calling Florida for Gore in 2000, their projections were right. In analyses conducted by the National Opinion Research Center in Florida after the U.S. Supreme Court aborted the vote recount, Gore emerged the winner over Bush, no matter what criteria for counting votes was applied.17 The fact that this is not widely known constitutes itself a major untold story.

GOP pollster Dick Morris further affirms exit polling’s validity. Immediately after the 2004 election he wrote:

Exit polls are almost never wrong. They eliminate the two major potential fallacies in survey research by correctly separating actual voters from those who pretend they will cast ballots but never do and by substituting actual observation for guesswork in judging the relative turnout of different parts of the state…

To screw up one exit poll is unheard of. To miss six of them is incredible. It boggles the imagination how pollsters could be that incompetent and invites speculation that more than honest error was at play here.18

Confounded and suspicious of the results, Morris resorted to advancing the bizarre theory that there must have been a conspiracy among the networks to suppress the Bush vote in the west by issuing exit poll results that were far off from the final tallies.

A number of different statisticians have examined the 2004 election results. University of Pennsylvania statistician Steve Freeman, Ph.D., most notably, analyzed the exit polls of the swing states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida and concluded that the odds of the exit polls being as far off as they were are 250 million to one.19 Exit polls in Florida had Kerry leading by 1.7 points and by 2.4 points in Ohio. These exit poll figures were altered at 1:30 a.m. November 3, 2004 on CNN to conform to the “official” tally. In the end, Kerry lost Florida by 5% and Ohio by 2.5%. This is a net shift of 6.7 points in Florida and 4.9 points in Ohio in Bush’s favor, well beyond the margin of error. By exit poll standards, this net shift was unbelievable.

A team at the University of California at Berkeley, headed by sociology professor Michael Hout, found a highly suspicious pattern in which Bush received 260,000 more votes in those Florida precincts that used electronic voting machines than past voting patterns would indicate compared to those precincts that used optical scan read votes where past voting patterns held.20

The Edison-Mitofsky polling group that conducted the National Exit Poll (NEP) issued a 77-page report on January 19, 2005 to account for why their exit polls were so unexpectedly far off.21 Edison-Mitofsky rule out sampling error as the problem and indicate that systemic bias was responsible. They concluded that their exit polls were wrong because Kerry voters must have been more willing to talk to their poll workers than Bush voters and because their poll workers were too young and inexperienced. Edison-Mitofsky offer no evidence indicating that their conclusion about more chatty Kerry voters actually occurred, merely that such a scenario would explain the discrepancy. In fact, as nine statisticians22 who conducted an evaluation of the Edison-Mitofsky data and analysis point out, Bush voters appeared to be slightly more willing to talk to exit pollsters than Kerry voters. This would make the exit polls’ discrepancy with the official tallies even more pronounced. In addition, the Edison-Mitofsky explanation fails to explain why exit polls were only exceptionally wrong in the swing states.

Red State, Red Herring: the “Moral Values” Voters

A plausible explanation still needs to be offered for the startling 2004 election outcome – how did Bush, caught in a lie about why we went to war with Iraq, racked by prison abuse and torture scandals at Abu Graib and Guantanamo, bogged down in Iraq, failing to catch Osama Bin Laden, badly embarrassed during the debates, caught sleeping prior to 9/11, and so on, manage to win a resounding victory? Enter here the “moral values” rationale. As Katharine Q. Seelye of the New York Times wrote in a November 4, 2004 article entitled “Moral Values Cited as a Defining Issue of the Election:”

Even in a time of war and economic hardship, Americans said they were motivated to vote for President Bush on Tuesday by moral values as much as anything else, according to a survey of voters as they left their polling places. In the survey, a striking portrait of one influential group emerged - that of a traditional, church-going electorate that leans conservative on social issues and strongly backed Mr. Bush….

In the same issue, another article by Todd S. Purdum entitled “Electoral Affirmation of Shared Values Provides Bush a Majority” cited 1/5 (more precisely, 22%) of the voters as mentioning “moral values” as their chief concern. This was echoed throughout major media.23 The only person in the mainstream media to challenge this was New York Times columnist Frank Rich, on November 28, 2004 in an opinion piece entitled “The Great Indecency Hoax:”

The mainstream press, itself in love with the "moral values" story line and traumatized by the visual exaggerations of the red-blue map, is too cowed to challenge the likes of the American Family Association. So are politicians of both parties. It took a British publication, The Economist, to point out that the percentage of American voters citing moral and ethical values as their prime concern is actually down from 2000 (35 percent) and 1996 (40 percent).24

As Rich correctly points out, no American media outlet repeated this statistic. Instead, the widely mentioned and oft-repeated “moral values” vote took on the status of an urban – or in this instance, suburban/rural - legend.

Shocked by the election results, many people took out their anger at the perceived mendacity of Bush voters, especially those in the so-called “red states.” This fury, while understandable given Bush’s record, badly misses the point. Voters did not heist this election. As others have pointed out eloquently, many of the people who really did vote for Bush did so primarily because they were misled through systematic disinformation campaigns.25

“Spreadsheet wielding conspiracy theorists”

In November 2004 major U.S. media gave headline news treatment to the Ukrainian Presidential election fraud, explicitly citing the exit polls as definitive evidence of fraud. At the very same time major U.S. media dismissed anyone who pointed out this same evidence of likely fraud in the U.S. elections as “conspiracy theory” crazies. A November 11, 2004 Washington Post article, for example, described people raising the question of fraud as “mortally wounded party loyalists and … spreadsheet-wielding conspiracy theorists.”26 Tom Zeller, Jr. handled it similarly, writing in the November 12, 2004 issue of the New York Times (“Vote Fraud Theories, Spread by Blogs, Are Quickly Buried”): “[T]he email messages and Web postings had all the twitchy cloak-and-dagger thrust of a Hollywood blockbuster. ‘Evidence mounts that the vote may have been hacked,’ trumpeted a headline on the Web site ‘Fraud took place in the 2004 election through electronic voting machines,’ declared”27

Neither of these articles bothered to address even a fraction of the evidence of irregularities. The Washington Post passed off the exit polls discrepancy as “not being based on statistics” since the exit polls “are not publicly distributed.” Both of these statements were untrue. The New York Times article for its part failed to even mention exit polls. Both articles explained away the glaring and unbelievable totals for Bush in hugely Democratic districts as due to the “Dixiecrat” vote. This would be plausible except for two things: first, Bush did not win over any more crossover votes in 2004 than he did in 2000, and second, these votes far in excess of Republican registered voters numbers occurred primarily in non-rural areas. In just one example of this, Baker County, Florida, out of 12,887 registered voters, of whom 69.3% were Democrats and 24.3% Republicans, Bush received 7,738 votes while Kerry only received 2,180.28 As Robert Parry of points out:

Rather than a rural surge of support, Bush actually earned more than seven out of 10 new votes in the 20 largest counties in Florida. Many of these counties are either Democratic strongholds – such as Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach – or they are swing counties, such as Orange, Hillsborough, and Duval.

Many of these large counties saw substantially more newly registered Democrats than Republicans. For example, in Orange County, a swing county home to Orlando, Democrats registered twice as many new voters than Republicans in the years since 2000. In Palm Beach and Broward combined, Democrats registered 111,000 new voters compared with fewer than 20,000 new Republicans.29

The only person in major media to treat these complaints seriously and at any length was Keith Olbermann at MSNBC who ran two stories on it, citing Cuyahoga County’s surplus 93,000 votes over the registered voter count, and the peculiar victories for Bush in Florida counties that were overwhelmingly Democratic scattered across the state.30 For his trouble, media conservatives attacked him for being a “voice of paranoia” and spreading “idiotic conspiracy theories.”31

The Oh-So Loyal Opposition: the Democratic Party

An obvious question here is: why haven’t the Democrats been more vigorous in their objections to this fraud? The fact that they haven’t objected more (with a few notable individual exceptions) has been taken by some as definitive evidence that no fraud must have happened because the Democrats have the most to gain from objecting. In part the answer to this puzzle is that the Democrats don’t fully understand what has hit them. The Kerry campaign’s reaction to the Swift Boat Veterans attack ads that damaged them so much are a good illustration of this. The right-wing media hammered away at Kerry through their by now very heavy presence over talk radio, the Internet, Fox News, and other outlets. The mainstream media such as ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and major newspapers and magazines, still adhering to the standards of “objective” journalism, which the right-wing media consider “quaint,”32 legitimated these false allegations about Kerry by presenting “the two sides” as if one side made up entirely of lies and half-truths could be considered a legitimate “side.” The Kerry campaign concluded that these ads were all lies and wouldn’t have any effect, thus they took too long to respond to them. By the time they did, the damage had been done. In a CBS/NY Times poll taken September 12-16, 2004, 33% said they thought that the Swift Boast Veterans’ charges against Kerry were “mostly true.”33 A remarkable feat given that Kerry volunteered and was multi-decorated for heroism while Bush used his father’s connections to dodge real service.

The Democrats’ meek acceptance of other races’ extremely peculiar outcomes prior to the 2004 elections illustrates this point further. As a result of the 2000 Florida debacle, Congress passed the “Help America Vote” Act in October 2002. While this act introduced a number of reasonable reforms, it also resulted in the widespread introduction of paperless electronic voting machines. This meant that there was no way to determine if the votes recorded by these computers were accurate and tamper-free. The GOP majority has blocked efforts subsequently by a few Democratic Congresspeople, led by Michigan Rep. John Conyers, to rectify this and ensure a paper ballot.

The following is a partial list of 2002 discrepancies that can be understood as dress rehearsals for the stolen presidential election of 2004:

On Nov. 3, 2002, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll showed Democratic Sen. Max Cleland with a 49-to-44 point lead over Republican Rep. Saxby Chambliss. The next day, Chambliss, despite trailing by 5 points, ended up winning by a margin of 53 to 46 percent. This was, in other words, an unbelievable 12-point turn around over the course of one day!

In the Georgia governor's race Republican Sonny Perdue upset incumbent Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes by a margin of 52 to 45 percent. This was especially strange given that the October 16-17, 2002 Mason Dixon Poll (Mason Dixon Polling and Research, Inc. of Washington, D.C.) had shown Democratic Governor Barnes ahead 48 to 39 percent, with a margin of error of ± 4 points. The final tally was, in other words, a jaw dropping 16-point turn-around! What the Cleland “defeat” by Saxby and the Barnes “defeat” by Perdue both have in common is that nearly all the Georgia votes were recorded on computerized voting machines, which produce no paper trail.

In Minnesota, after Democrat Sen. Paul Wellstone's plane crash death,34 ex-vice-president Walter Mondale took Wellstone’s place and was leading Republican Norm Coleman in the days before the election by 47 to 39 percent. Despite the fact that he was trailing just days before the race by 8 points, Coleman beat Mondale by 50 to 47 percent. This was an 11-point turn around! The Minnesota race was conducted with paper ballots, read by optical scan readers, but Mondale never bothered to ask for a recount.35

Welcome to a world where statistical probability and normal arithmetic no longer apply!36 The Democrats, rather than vigorously pursuing these patently obvious signs of election fraud in 2004, have nearly all decided that being gracious losers is better than being winners,37 probably because – and this may be the most important reason for the Democrats’ relative silence - a full-scale uncovering of the fraud runs the risk of mobilizing and unleashing popular forces that the Democrats find just as threatening as the GOP does.

The delicious irony for the GOP is that the Help America Vote Act, precipitated by their theft of the Florida 2000 presidential vote, made GOP theft of elections as in the preceding examples easy and unverifiable except through recourse to indirect analysis such as pre-election polls and exit polls.38 This is the political equivalent of having your cake and eating it too. Or, more precisely: stealing elections, running the country, and aggressively, arrogantly and falsely claiming that “the people” support it.

Flavor Flav of the rap group Public Enemy used to wear a big clock around his neck in order to remind us all that we’d better understand what time it is. Or, as Bob Dylan once said: “Let us not speak falsely now, the hour’s getting late.” To all of those who said before the 2004 elections that this was the most important election in our lifetimes; to all of those who plunged into that election hoping and believing that we could throw the villains out via the electoral booth; to all of those who held their noses and voted for Democrats thinking that at least they were slightly better than the theocratic fascists running this country now, this must be said: voting really doesn’t matter. If we weren’t convinced of that before these last elections, then now is the time to wake up to that fact. Even beyond the fraudulent elections of 2000 and 2004, public policies are not now, nor have they ever been, settled through elections.

The Role of Mass Movements and Alternative Media

What can be done? The Eugene McCarthy campaign of 1968 and the George McGovern campaign in 1972 didn’t end the war in Vietnam. The Vietnamese people and the anti-war movement ended the war. Civil rights weren’t secured because JFK and LBJ suddenly woke up to racial discrimination. The Civil Rights Movement and Black Power Movement galvanized public opinion and rocked this country to its foundations. Men didn’t suddenly wake up and realize that they were male chauvinist pigs - women formed the Women’s Movement, organized, marched, rallied, and demanded nothing less than equality, shaking this country to the core. The Bush administration is bogged down and sinking deeper in Iraq not mainly because the top figures of the Bush administration consist of liars, blind (and incompetent) ideologues, international outlaws and propagators of torture as an official policy, but because the Iraqi people have risen up against imperialist invasion. Prior to the war, the international anti-Iraq war movement brought out millions of people into the streets, the largest demonstrations in history, denying the U.S. imperialists the UN’s sanction and leading to Turkey denying US requests to use their land as a staging area. These are major, world-historic feats.

The 2000, 2002 and 2004 elections fraud underscores the critical importance of building a mass movement, a movement of resistance that doesn’t tie itself to the electoral road and electoral parties. In addition, as Robert Parry has eloquently argued, a counterforce to the right-wing media empire must be built by the left and by progressive-minded people. As it stands today, the right can get away with nearly anything because they have talking heads on TV, radio, the Internet and other outlets who set the tone and the political agenda, with mainstream media focusing on sex and sensationalism and taking their political cues to a large extent from the right.39

Like a bridge broken by an earthquake, the electoral road can only lead to plunging us into the sea – which is precisely what happened in the 2004 election.

*This has been revised from the version that originally appeared on this website and from the version published in Censored 2006.

1 Several of the items in this list feature Ohio and Florida because going into the election it was universally understood that the outcome hinged on these swing states.

'TruthIsAll' on the offered a list that is similar in format to my highly improbables and utterly impossibles list of the 2004 election results and I have drawn directly from their list for items #7 and 8. (, retrieved June 4, 2005.

2 High turnout favors Democrats and more liberal-left candidates because the groups who participate the least and most sporadically in voting are from lower socio-economic groups who generally eschew more conservative candidates.

3 Seventeen percent of election 2004 voters did not vote in 2000. This includes both first-time and lapsed voters. Kerry defeated Bush in this group 54 percent to 45 percent. (Katharine Q. Seelye, “Moral Values Cited as a Defining Issue of the Election,” The New York Times, November 4, 2004). This data contradicts the widely held belief that Bush owes his victory to mobilizing conservative evangelicals and getting out the Republican base.

4 See for the breakdown of individual counties:, the National Election
Archive Project, retrieved March 13, 2006.

Liberty County was the most glaring case. 88.3% of the registered voters were Democrat and 7.9% GOP. Despite this Bush received 4,075 votes to Kerry’s 1,927. This translates to Bush receiving 712.3% of the registered GOP vote in Liberty.

Gore carried the 2000 Florida Independent vote by only 47 to 46 percent whereas Kerry carried them by a 57 percent to 41 percent margin. In 2000 Bush received 13% of the registered Democratic voters votes and in 2004 he got the virtually statistically identical 14% of their votes. Sam Parry, “Bush's 'Incredible' Vote Tallies,”, November 9, 2004.

See also Colin Shea’s analysis: “In one county, where 88% of voters are registered Democrats, Bush got nearly two-thirds of the vote--three times more than predicted by my model. In 21 counties, more than 50% of Democrats would have to have defected to Bush to account for the county result; in four counties at least 70% would have been required. These results are absurdly unlikely."

5 “[C]ertified reports from pro-Kerry Cleveland, in Cuyahoga County, [showed] … precincts with turnouts of as few as 22.31 percent (precinct 6B), 21.43 percent (13O), 20.07 percent (13F), 14.59 percent (13D), and 7.85 percent (6C) of the registered voters. Thousands of people in these precincts lined up for many hours in the rain in order, it would appear, not to vote.

“Meanwhile, in pro-Bush Perry County, the voting records certified by Secretary of State Blackwell included two precincts with reported turnouts of 124.4 and 124.0 percent of the registered voters, while in pro-Bush Miami County, there were precincts whose certified turnouts, if not physically impossible, were only slightly less improbable. These and other instances of implausibly high turnouts in precincts won by Bush, and implausibly low turnouts in precincts won by Kerry, are strongly suggestive of widespread tampering with the vote-tabulation processes.” Michael Keefe, “The Strange Death of American Democracy: Endgame in Ohio,”, retrieved May 31, 2005.

6 “Bush's job approval has slipped to 48% among national adults and is thus below the symbolically important 50% point.” “Questions and Answers With the

Monday, April 24, 2006

Segregation of English Language Learners in Calif.

A new study finds that California's English learners -- students who are
not yet proficient in English -- attend highly segregated schools, which
hinders their educational opportunities. The study found that, at the
elementary school level, more than half of California's English learners
attended just 21 percent of the state's public schools, where they
comprised more than 50 percent of the student body. The study also found
that 80 schools in the state have English learners from more than 20
language backgrounds. According to the researchers, segregation limits
educational opportunities for English learners, or ELs, in several ways.
First, many English learners in California are handicapped by their lack
of access to native English speakers, who serve as language "role models."
Second, most English learners in California come from low-income homes,
so high concentrations of English learners also means many English
learners attend low-income schools, a significant disadvantage. Third,
schools with high concentrations of English learners are less likely to
have fully certified teachers than schools with low concentrations of
English learners, even after accounting for differences in school poverty.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Sac Bee editorial; Immigration Keystone

In the editorial of 4/22, “Immigration Keystone” you blame much of the current immigration crisis on lack of enforcement of employer sanctions.
Yet the entire world is experiencing a major restructuring of the global economy, directed by transnational corporations and the institutions which these corporations control (NAFTA, WTO, FTAA,GATT).
Economic policy; free trade and globalism produces massive immigration in many parts of the world. As a direct result of NAFTA , over 3 million small Mexican farmers were driven from their lands. Not surprisingly, some of them, and their children, came to the U.S. looking for work to feed their families.
While transnational capitalism produces migration, democracies need policies to respond. HR 4437 is a Republican proposal to militarize the border and to build a 700 mile wall. We have already increased border enforcement by over 800% since 1986. Militarizing the border will not work.
Neither employer sanctions, border walls, nor Minutemen will stop this migration.
A fair and just immigration policy would recognize and protect the dignity of all working people.
We need to address the economic policies which produce immigration and defeat HR 4437. For more see

Dr. Duane E. Campbell

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

School Board ignores pleas for ELL

Board of Education rejects calls to dramatically change textbooks

By JULIET WILLIAMS, Associated Press Writer
Published 12:10 am PDT Tuesday, April 18, 2006

SACRAMENTO (AP) - The state Board of Education on Monday approved options for textbooks to be used in classrooms through 2014, but rejected pleas from bilingual education advocates who wanted to include textbooks that address the needs of English learners while teaching California's curriculum.
Critics of the current options for schools - including Assemblywomen Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park, and Jackie Goldberg, D-Los Angeles - wanted the board to also let schools use textbooks they said would help non-English speakers with vocabulary while learning basic subject matter.

Instead, the board voted 6-4 to adopt the recommendations of its curriculum committee, leaving English-as-a-second-language instruction separate from other academic subjects.

The board's vote starts the process of telling textbook publishers what options the state wants when they develop the next set of textbooks, to be used in classrooms starting in the 2008-09 school year. Schools and districts then can choose from the state-approved options.

The vote signified a loss for newer board members who advocated reforming the existing teaching options. Education Secretary Alan Bersin, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's appointee to the board, had urged members to put off a vote until July so they could look at options he said the committee had failed to study.

"There is no record that any of this was considered at any time during the deliberations," Bersin said, criticizing their work.

Dozens of people lined up to speak in favor of and against offering alternatives. One woman, a teacher, read a kindergarten story in Korean, saying board members likely understood as much of that story as a child with little or no English would understand with the existing teaching options.

But others, including commissioner and board member Ruth Green, noted that the state already was under a tight deadline to give the textbook companies guidance, and that it took a year to devise the proposal presented Monday. She argued that the existing system already has led to improvements in scores on national tests and doesn't need tinkering.

Norma Baker, director of elementary programs at the state's largest school district, Los Angeles Unified, and former chairwoman of the state's curriculum commission, said all students should be taught the same if they are expected to meet the same standards.

"It is a rigorous, demanding curriculum based in the foundation that all students can achieve," she said.

Board member Johnathan Green, worried that a separate instructional method designed for English learners might lead to classes segregated by English proficiency, potentially leaving the state open to litigation.

"My concern, being an African-American, is that we (could) have different standards," said Williams, who voted in favor of the commission's recommendation.

Shelly Spiegel-Coleman, project manager for multilingual curriculum at the Los Angeles County Office of Education, said her group and others who favored change were shut out of talks.

"The curriculum that's going to be sustained for the next eight years ... will have the same lessons, same text, same teachers guide, no matter who sits in front of the teacher," she said.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Education compliance in teacher preparation?

SB 1209 Scott
The current highly restrictive law providing for teacher credentialing is SB 2042. This act was a continuation of the practice of standards based education and testing as a measure of accountability, promoted by groups such as the Business Roundtable. These reductionist practices also brought us Open Court, the High School Exit Exam, and others.
SB 2042 was developed and implemented through the Commission on Teacher Credentialing during the time when the chairs of that commission included the highly ideological Margaret Fortune and Alan Bersin.
The current proposal: SB 1209 would require more performance assessment of future teachers without providing funds for this assessment.

SB 1209 Scott.

(5) Existing law provides that the requirements for a professional
clear preliminary multiple or single subject teaching credential
include, among other things, completion of a an accredited program
of beginning teacher induction professional preparation, as specified.

This bill would eliminate the contingency that each teacher
preparation program include a specified teaching performance
assessment only if funds are available in the annual Budget Act for
this purpose.

Prior to developing new assessments to measure compliance with 2042, we need to first ask, Has anyone seen any evidence that 2042 has improved teacher preparation?
If you know of any empirical evidence that SB 2042 has improved teacher preparation please let me know.
More will follow on this issue including an assessment of the role of professional advocacy organizations such as ACSA and others.
Duane Campbell

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Exit Exam is academic straitjacket

Exit exam is academic straitjacket

By Don Arnstine -- Special To The Bee
Published 2:15 am PDT Sunday, April 16, 2006

What a shame. At the beginning of the school year more than 90,000 seniors had not passed the exit exam. But according to the school district's consultant, there's just no alternative to the exit exam. So these 90,000 souls who faithfully attended public schools for 12 years, passed their courses and did what they were told must keep taking the exit exam (for which there is no legitimate substitute) until a miracle occurs and they pass it.
So who wrote the exit exam? It was a collection of consultants, panelists and "experts." All of them educators, but none of whom ever actually met the children who will have to take the exam.

Why on earth should every child in the state of California be obligated to acquire a specific fund of information selected by strangers who never even met them, their parents or their teachers? We would have to assume that students, teachers and parents in California have no idea of what's worth learning.

There are two very serious shortcomings in California's high school exit exam. First, the content that is tested for represents only a small fraction of all that's worth learning, and the insistence that everyone learn this content means that students will never have the opportunity to learn anything else - including what interests them.

Second, when all students must take the same exam they will, sooner or later, be expected to study the same curriculum, the same courses, the same knowledge. The successful student, the one who wins the college scholarship, will be the one with the highest scores on the exam. It will not be the creative student, the one with a rich imagination or the one who has explored a subject in depth and has learned more about it than even her teacher knows. When the curriculum is determined by exams, nothing will be learned by accident, or just for the satisfaction of knowing. Everything will be for the test.

The exit exam is an academic straitjacket. Schools and teachers must teach for whatever is on the exam. But is it the goal of public education to insure that every child in the state learn the same facts? And why should we take such satisfaction in this list of facts, rather than any other? Meanwhile, the things we wish all students would learn, like helping others, obeying the law, becoming involved citizens, are no longer included among our educational goals. All we want them to do is just pass the test.

Go to: Sacbee / Back to story

Saturday, April 15, 2006

ED Voice; How corporate CEO's shape education policy

EdVoice a power player in Capitol's political war over school funds
By John Howard

(published April 13th, 2006)
It's advisory board reads like a who's who of California's hyper-wealthy
political players. There's developer Eli Broad, Netflix founder and former
president of the state board of education Reed Hastings, Silicon Valley
venture capitalist John Doerr, and Gap founder Don Fisher. While different
in political philosophy and temperament, they are linked by their desire to
change California's educational system--and they put their money where their
mouths are.

And in June, their money, if not their mouths, will be on both sides of the
debate over a new income tax to pay for universal preschool.

Proposition 82, sponsored by Hollywood producer Rob Reiner, would provide
free preschools for every four-year-old in the state. It would boost the
personal income-tax rate by 1.7 percent on California's wealthiest
residents, those individuals with annual incomes of $400,000 or more, and
families with incomes above $800,000. Together, these people represent about
1 percent of California taxpayers, and they pay about one-third of the $45
billion collected each year in the state personal-income tax.
As an organization, EdVoice has not taken a position on Proposition 82. But
some of its wealthiest advisory-board members have contributed heavily to
the pro-Proposition 82 campaign, which has raised more than $4.4 million.
Some of that money, $300,000 worth, has come from the California Teachers
Association (CTA), EdVoice's arch-rival. Hastings has contributed $250,000,
and Doerr and Broad have contributed $100,000 each.

Other big money against Proposition 82 is likely to flow from EdVoice
members into political-action committees that are fighting Proposition 82.

Those contributions are not required to be disclosed until next month. But
Capitol insiders in both major parties believe the money already is flowing
and that the organization's members are likely to wind up as among the
heaviest contributors on both sides of the hot-button proposition. And they
point to past donations as a guide to this year's contributions.

For example, Don Fisher's wife, Doris, gave $350,000 to the state chamber of
commerce's California Business Political Action Committee and $250,000 to
the California Business Properties Association Issues PAC. Both are likely
to weigh in financially against Proposition 82 or against EdVoice's proposed
parcel tax in November. Fisher's son, John J. Fisher, the co-owner of the
Oakland Athletics, gave $25,000 to the anti-Proposition 82 forces.

EdVoice president Christopher Cabaldon notes that EdVoice has a bipartisan
membership that gets involved in issues on an individual basis, and not as
representatives of the larger group, "whether you are a Republican business
person or a Democratic social justice advocate." Those members may
contribute to a variety of political campaigns.

"It's aggressively bipartisan. These are people who say they are not above
the political. There are folks on both sides of the partisan political aisle
who come together around an issue. That's how we built the grand compromise
on Proposition 39. It's not as if we're some think tank in an ivory tower."

EdVoice, while denounced by CTA, the most powerful education group in the
state, and pro-CTA Democrats, is not so easily typecast. At its inception,
when it gained traction after successfully spearheading the passage of
Proposition 39 in 2000, EdVoice was bitterly attacked by the solidly
Republican Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA). That proposition
lowered the local-voter threshold to approve school bonds to 55 percent of
the vote, down from the two-thirds vote that had been required previously.

The HJTA saw Proposition 39 as a violation of Proposition 13 and the
beginning of spiraling tax increases. By one estimate, more than nine out of
10 local school-bond proposals that were defeated because they failed to
achieve two-thirds votes would have been approved if Proposition 39 had been
in effect during the previous decade. Since its passage, the proposition has
provided $26 billion.

EdVoice also is pushing a proposed parcel-tax initiative for the November
ballot. The plan would levy a $50 tax on every property in California and
raise an estimated $500 million annually for schools. Critics of the plan
come from both the right and the left. Some Republicans oppose it as a tax
hike, and Democrats fear that its passage could block more comprehensive
education-finance reform. The results of a comprehensive study of education
finance, a $2.6 million study by two dozen experts sanctioned by the
legislative leadership and the state schools superintendent, is expected to
be released in December, after the November elections.

"It [the parcel tax] could take real reform off the table. It's like the
'lottery effect'--people approved the lottery thinking they were giving big
money for education. But $500 million is maybe 1 percent of the money
California spends on education. It won't have any impact," said one Capitol
critic. The proposal needs 600,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot;
signature-gathering began last month. The $500 million would be used for
class-size reduction, textbooks and school safety.

Rex Hime, a lobbyist for the California Business Properties Association,
also was critical, although his group has not yet taken a formal position on
the plan. "We think that continuing more taxation isn't the way to go. You
do this one-time shot, and that's about it. Once you do that vote, you can't
go back."

Whatever the fate of the parcel tax, or Proposition 82 for that matter,
EdVoice appears here to stay, continuing to target high-profile issues.
John Howard is the Managing Editor of Capitol Weekly.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Clean money initiative: work to do

This November the California Nurses Clean Money Elections Act will clean up politics and throw the lobbyists from the state house. Clean Money Elections allows candidates to run for office — and win! — without raising money from deep pocket donors. It’s already working well in Arizona, Maine, and Connecticut, with increases in voter participation and minority representation and a decrease in the influence of lobbyists and corporations. We need your help to collect enough signatures to place our initiative on the November ballot!

"People who have more money should be free to buy more cars, more homes, more vacations, and more gizmos than the rest of us. They should not be able to buy more democracy."
- Bill Moyers

Friday, April 07, 2006

On the immigration debate

From the National council de la Raza. April 7,2006.

• It is important progress that a bipartisan group of senators reached an agreement on a comprehensive solution to immigration reform. It is clear that, if the agreement can get to the Senate floor, it would pass with a strong majority of the Senate. That agreement would put millions of undocumented workers who are contributing every day to this country’s economic strength and vitality on a path to permanent status.

• But the Senate failed to reach an agreement to allow this compromise to come to the floor. At the end of the day, the leadership on both sides of the aisle could not agree to a process which would protect the compromise from being undone by negative amendments, or would protect the compromise all the way through the process of negotiating with the House.

• It is also important that the Senate resoundingly rejected the enforcement-only approach reflected in Senator Frist’s bill. The Senate is squarely on the side of comprehensive reform, rather than the harsh House approach.

• This process is far from over. Our community continues to be concerned about the Sensenbrenner bill. We will continue to insist on a resolution to the immigration reform debate which will bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and treat immigrants with fairness and justice.

• Latinos are interested in seeing leadership exercised by both parties, because real solutions will require bipartisan collaboration. Similarly, we will be watching members of either party who decide to sacrifice public policy solutions, so urgently needed by our country on this issue, for political calculation. We need leadership and action.

• The key message for the community is that it is important keep informed and stay in contact with trusted community organizations. Above all, the Latino community should continue its extraordinary activism on this issue. Every time we rally peacefully, carrying American flags and demonstrating the intensity of the desire for comprehensive immigration reform, we make progress in the legislative debate. We need to keep marching, keep contacting our legislators, and keep making progress. The April 10 events are a wonderful opportunity to ensure that our voices are heard in opposition to punitive measures and in support of comprehensive immigration reform.

• We ask students to exercise leadership in their schools in a way that builds support for this issue and long-term empowerment of the community. We do not encourage continued walkouts. Instead, organize speak-outs and voter registration drives at your schools, join after-school vigils and organized activities, and link hands with trusted community-based organizations. For more information, go to

also see:

Monday, April 03, 2006

Angelides v. Wesley

Two Democrats spar on education

By Peter Hecht -- Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 7:28 pm PDT Monday, April 3, 2006

LOS ANGELES - It wasn't the great debate that both campaigns promise is coming.
But the two Democratic contenders for governor at least showed up in the same city and the same place - though two hours apart - Monday to contrast their visions for improving student achievement levels in California's struggling public schools and increasing access to higher education.

Steve Westly, the state controller, promised to raise K-12 funding by changing the payout formula for the California Lottery to offer a smaller percentage in prizes for lottery ticket buyers and a larger share of revenues for schools.

Phil Angelides, the state treasurer, sold his plan to tax high income earners and close corporate tax loopholes to pay for training and recruiting more teachers for public schools as well as rolling back student fee increases at the University of California and California state university systems.

Angelides also chided both Westly and Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who say they don't support a tax increase, for being in denial over how to fund education.

With the June 6 primary election nine weeks away, the two Democratic candidates preened their educational credentials and differing philosophies before the state convention of Education Trust - West, an advocacy group working on improving the quality of education for economically disadvantaged students.

Westly, the first to address the gathering at the Omni Hotel in Los Angeles, remarked on the challenges faced by many minority and low-income students and charged that California is turning its back on public education.

"We have tied their (students') hands with funding cuts, crowded classrooms and broken schools," he said. "If we want a high school degree to stand for something, we have to stand by our kids."

Angelides, noting that California has the largest number of low-income students and English learners of any state, complained that the state ranks near the bottom in education spending, declaring: "We are never going to have first-rate schools with second-rate levels of investment."

Turning his attention to Westly and Schwarzenegger and their stated resistance to raising taxes, Angelides said: "Let's be clear. I'm the only candidate for governor who will do what it takes to fully fund our schools and balance the state budget."

Angelides has proposed closing unspecified corporate loopholes and raising taxes on families earning $500,000 a year or more to generate more revenue for education.

On Monday, Westly pledged to squeeze more money out of the California State Lottery.

Currently, the lottery guarantees 34.1 percent of revenues from ticket sales for K-12 schools, 53.9 percent for prizes and 12 percent for administrative overhead and retail commissions. Westly told the gathering that he wanted to cut percentage of the lottery prize money by an unspecified amount and shift some of the prize money to schools.

His proposal seemed to challenge assumptions by state lottery officials, who have frequently said that big dollar lottery payouts lure more ticket buyers and, as a consequence, a greater share for education. Lottery revenues account for about two percent of total education funding.

In an interview, Westly said he wasn't sure if he would need to bring a new initiative before voters to rewrite the lottery funding program from the 1984 voter-approved California Lottery Act or whether he could into law a reform measure passed by the Legislature.

"While it was passed by voters," Westly said of the lottery initiative. "a lot of voters thought more money would be going to education."

Though Angelides didn't comment on Westly's plan, his campaign director, Cathy Calfo said in a statement Monday: "Instead of real plan, Steve Westly has offered a phony lottery reform proposal that incredibly calls for slashing prizes while still selling the same number of tickets."

The two Democratic candidates also disagreed on whether to roll back tuition increases approved by Schwarzenegger for the University of California and the California State University systems. Angelides said he would drop the tuition rates for all students to the levels before Schwarzenegger took office.

Westly said he would seek a targeted increase in financial aid for lower-income students, but not a tuition decrease for all students.

If this is an accurate story, I have a question.
Why did the Education Trust not ask this question

Which of you will promise to end the underfunding of public education in California?
(We rank about 36th out of 50)

The Education Trust should have asked, and a candidate should have answsered.
I am looking for that candidate.

Faculty support

Ideas on how faculty can teach and promote justice.

Selected ideas for faculty in social science, multicultural education, and other justice related fields. Many of us became teachers and faculty out of a concern for promoting democracy and social justice. It is important that we think this through.

Purpose; to record some of our experiences in order to advance our efforts and to assist others struggling with these same issues.

Paulo Friere;
We need to make the political more educational and the educational more political.

1. Raise key issues in your classes: race, class, gender, justice.
2. Use progressive authors and present progressive positions.
3. Encourage students to participate in struggles, not just read and talk about them.
4. Announce the next march, rally, film, guest speaker etc.
5. Use films and video’s that make strong points.
6. Teach about unions and labor history.
7. Give examples from your personal life.
8. Post literature and articles on bulletin boards.
9. Invite and bring progressive speakers and films to the campus, and build an audience for these speakers.
10. Recognize students who are making positive contributions. Allow them to make announcements in class.
11. Assist students to form progressive clubs, ie. Mecha, Latinos Unidos, Peace and Justice.
12. Organize faculty into progressive support groups.

Set your own research agenda to support popular struggles. Ie. Living wage research, inequality research.
1. See for example, Inequality and American Democracy: What we know and what we need to learn. Lawrence Jacobs and Theda Skocpol.

2. Join or create radical caucuses within professional organizations.

Praxis. The combination of analysis and act leading to political clarity.

1. Participate ourselves in political organizations and struggles.
2. Invite students to join us in these organizations.
3. Encourage students to take internships in progressive groups., ie. The AFL-CIO’s Organizing Institute. Mecha. Etc.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Student walkouts and punishment

State Superintendent O'Connell and local educational administrators ( not leaders) are responding to student demonstrations with punishment and threats.
Here in the Sacramento area all kinds of threats were made.
It is noteworthy that they are avoiding their own responsibility.
Why must (mostly Latino) students walk out of school to find out about real world politics?
It is supposed to be a function of schools to prepare all for citizenship. Instead these folks want to punish students.
A reason is that California's History /Social Science curriculum was designed by neo con Diane Ravitch, and the standards respond to the frameworks. That is, we have a very conservative history/social science curriculum and textbooks.
And, unfortunately, as a consequence of the nature of higher education in California and the teacher selection process, we have a dominant majority of teachers who are not activists for democracy.
In the 1960's Chicanos had to walk out of school to find out about their own lives and cultures.
Now students have to walk out to discuss the draconian immigration bills.
Duane Campbell
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