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GOP Tea Party frontrunner: ‘Abolish’ public schools

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A Tea Party-backed Republican congressional nominee has championed abolishing public schools in California, and is currently the favorite to win his November election.

The candidate, David Harmer, a corporate lawyer who has yet to serve in public office, is up against two-term Democratic incumbent Jerry McNerney for California’s 11th district — located in Northern California — in the House of Representatives.

Harmer made the argument to kill public schools in a 2000 op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle, which was dug up Thursday by Nick Baumann of Mother Jones.

Framing the issue as a struggle between government tyranny and freedom — a preferred political tactic of conservatives — Harmer wrote: “In the freest and most prosperous country on Earth, in the midst of the information age, government ownership and operation of the schools is a counterproductive anachronism.”

He added: “So long as the state Constitution mandates free public schools, a voucher system (or refundable tuition tax credit) is the best we can do. To attain quantum leaps in educational quality and opportunity, however, we need to separate school and state entirely. Government should exit the business of running and funding schools.”

The GOP candidate argued in the Chronicle that his vision for education reflects “the way things worked through the first century of American nationhood.” As Baumann notes, that was an era “when educational opportunities for poor people, African-Americans, women, the disabled, and others were, to say the least, extremely limited.”

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Although Harmer holds a slim lead in the polls — 49.4 to 48.4 percent — polling expert Nate Silver of the New York Times analyzes the dynamics of the race and gives the Tea Party favorite a considerable 54.7 to 45.3 percent chance of victory next month.

Yet Harmer’s views on education, largely ignored so far, could hurt him in a state where the public school and college system is so treasured that even Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman — bucking her party’s trend of defiance to publicly-funded education — has pledged to strengthen California’s public schools.

Read Baumann’s Mother Jones article for more context and perspective.

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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Commentary

Why do conservatives hate Oberlin College so much?

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When I was an undergraduate at Oberlin in the mid-Aughts, there was a student in my class year who was obsessed with 19th-century British Royal Naval culture. Every Friday evening, he would host a sing-along in a dorm lounge, for which he would bring xeroxes of historical sea shanty lyrics and pass them around so that we could sing along, waving our glasses of “grog.” This was a semi-established event — he had distributed flyers around campus advertising the weekly British Royal Naval sea-shanty singalong and grog-drinking event, which would extend late into the night. Though he was not a resident of the dorm where it took place, he was welcomed into the lounge by its members, and became a fixture of sorts.Like many well-endowed liberal arts schools in rural areas, Oberlin College functions as a sort of de facto social welfare state, and is designed to encourage and cultivate one’s passions, even if they are not strictly academic. Thus, after writing up a proposal for the student-run activities board, the same student, the British Royal Navy culture guy, was able to plan, organize and execute a ticketed Royal Naval Ball, held in the atrium of the science center. The event featured 20 dishes of authentic British era-appropriate cuisine, cooked by student chefs, several courses of wine and port, and a violinist present to play period-specific music. The whole affair culminated with a traditional, British partner line dance — its sole inauthenticity the fact that we didn’t pay attention to our dance partners’ genders the way the Brits would have.
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World

Raptors victory: Feel-good multiculturalism masks the reality of anti-Black racism in Canada

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During what was probably one of the most exciting and gratifying moments of his professional life, moments after the Raptors’ NBA finals victory on Thursday, a California sheriff’s deputy stopped Raptors president, Masai Ujiri from walking onto the court for the Raptors’ trophy presentation The deputy carded him and asked him for his credentials.

Even though he is the president of the Toronto Raptors’ basketball team and even though it was his own team’s victory ceremony, as a Black executive, he was treated with suspicion, as if he was trespassing.

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2020 Election

Here are 5 reasons why 2020’s down-ballot races could reshape America’s future

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The political press always tends to focus mostly on the marquee race for the White House but that's especially true this cycle, as Donald Trump runs for a second term. He demands attention and his antics enrage his opponents and delight his supporters in equal measure.

But national reporters risk missing the big picture by centering so much of their reporting at the top when many of the most important political battles in 2020 will take place further down the ballot.

Trump is catnip for reporters and their editors, but the dearth of coverage of downballot races didn't begin with his election. As the news media in general faces structural changes—with print circulation declining and much of their work moving into digital spaces that are more difficult to monetize--publishers have cut back on reporters assigned to the state and local government beat. Nevertheless, Trump has arguably worsened the trend by getting so much airtime— one estimate suggested that over the past four years, Trump has taken up, on average, 15 percent of the entire daily news cycle on the three leading cable networks, nearly three times what Obama did.

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