Saturday, September 15, 2012

James Zogby: In Crisis, Romney Reveals Neo-Con Tendencies

James Zogby: In Crisis, Romney Reveals Neo-Con Tendencies:
I was in the Middle East when the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and the Consulate in Benghazi were attacked by extremist mobs resulting in the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other U.S. personnel. The reaction among Americans living abroad and many of our friends in the region was a combination of profound sadness and sheer horror.

If you are an American who travels to the Arab World, you know that all is not well with the U.S.-Arab relationship. After decades of policies that resulted in trauma and tragedy for many Arabs, there is a deep East-West political divide. There have been too many insults and too much pain -- inflicted both ways. We remember the bombing of the Embassy in Beirut, American hostages held in Lebanon, and the horrors of 9/11. Arabs remember the toll of the long war in Iraq, the disgrace of Abu Ghraib, the dismantling of Palestine, and U.S. support for Israel's devastating assaults on Lebanon and Gaza. We have become targets and scapegoats for each other.

What this tinderbox of raw emotion didn't need was a provocateur playing with matches. But that was precisely what happened. The recipe for disaster brought together some extremist religious groups across the Middle East with a penchant for exploiting angry and alienated youth looking for a target for their anger, and some American Islamophobes who were deliberately working to provoke outrage.

Americans abroad knew exactly what the Cairo Embassy staff were doing when they initially put out a statement denouncing the grotesque anti-Muslim video. They were attempting to save lives and save American honor by making it clear that while our nation celebrates the freedom of speech, we know enough to be outraged by those who abuse that freedom.

The situation escalated. The Cairo Embassy was breached and a terrorist group attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, murdering Ambassador Stevens. Americans watching from the Middle East believed that President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton struck exactly the right tone when they forcefully condemned the anti-U.S. riots and the murderous attack and demanded that the Libyan and Egyptian governments act swiftly and decisively to fulfill their obligations.

But when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and some of his supporters leapt into the fray, attempting to use the tragedy to score political points, we were troubled and embarrassed. What we had heard from the White House did not match Romney's description of the "disgraceful way that the Obama Administration's first response was... to sympathize with those who waged the attacks," and his accusing the President of "apologizing for America's values." And when the Chairman of the Republican Party echoed these charges, tweeting "Obama sympathizes with the attackers," and a leading GOP Senator chimed in, attributing the attacks to "President Obama's failure to lead and his failed foreign policy of appeasement and apology," we became deeply concerned.

What is clear is that this Republican assault was not a spur of the moment off-hand verbal gaffe. Rather it was a coordinated attack that reflected a consistent mind-set shaped by the neo-conservative critique of President Obama's Middle East diplomacy and, I might add, diplomacy in general.

The world, as seen by the neocons, is one of black and white absolutes. We, Americans, are good, inherently good. And our goodness is measured not by what we do, but who we are. Our goodness is ordained to confront evil and is destined to triumph. But our victory is assured only if we remain resolute, because our enemies take advantage of any display of weakness. For that reason, neocons maintain that we do not negotiate with evil -- hence diplomacy is eschewed in favor of military strength and "resolve."

This mindset defined policy during the first term of George W. Bush and led to repeated debacles, foreign policy blunders, and a severe erosion of American standing world-wide.

The first order of business for the new Obama Administration was to attempt to repair this damage--but with every step he took in this direction, the neo-conservatives went apoplectic.

When the new president announced his intention to close Guantanamo and to end torture, he was condemned as naïve and "apologizing for America." Much the same greeted his efforts to try diplomacy with Iran, set markers aimed at restarting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, end the war in Iraq, and engage in a dialogue with the Arab and Muslim Worlds.

The resistance to the President's efforts had not come from abroad, but from determined opposition at home. In the aftermath of Obama's historic speech in Cairo, while the president was still abroad, I debated a number of GOP leaders and was stunned by their refusal to give him the space needed to improve our image in and our relationship with the Arab and Muslim Worlds. Their attack lines were the same as we heard from Romney this week -- "Obama appeases terrorists," "he apologizes for America," and his weakness and lack of resolve makes us vulnerable to attack.

The reasoning behind this line of attack is simple -- neo-conservatives do not believe in diplomacy or "soft power." What they do believe in is our inherent goodness, our resolve, and the use of overwhelming military power to secure our objectives. To make clear his embrace of this mindset, on Wednesday, Romney outlined the principles that would guide his foreign policy.

"We have confidence in our cause in America...We stand for the principles our Constitution protects. We encourage other nations to understand and respect the principles of our Constitution, because we recognize that these principles are the ultimate source of freedom for individuals around the world...and [we demonstrate] resolve in our military might."

I was still overseas when I first read these words, and didn't know whether to laugh or cry at the infantile narcissism they reflected. I'm not sure that the rest of the world knows that our Constitution is "the ultimate source of freedom" everywhere. And I worry that the neocons whose recklessness brought such tragedy in the last decade are making a comeback in the person of Mitt Romney.

If this week demonstrated anything, it is that we live in a dangerous and volatile world that requires a steady hand and thoughtful leadership to get us out of the mess we're in. What we do not need is more of the very same ideological clap-trap that got us into this mess in the first place.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Which USA do you work in ?

Which USA do you work in ?:
When it comes to getting a job, the USA has bifurcated into two employment worlds, the digital world and the brick and mortar world.
The brick and mortar world is everything you physically touch. Its manufacturing. Its retail sales. Its distribution. Its construction. Etc.
The digital world is everything defined by what you find on computing devices. It can be on your desk, in your hand or in the cloud.
What has happened is that the brick and mortar world has had every bit of intelligence that can be sucked out of it completely removed.  Any information that can be created, identified or recognized is being captured in as automated a process as possible and delivered to “big data” or even small data databases in the cloud. What used to require some intelligence at the brick and mortar work place has been seeded and ceded into the cloud.
Every smart company wants to become smarter and the way to do that is not by asking their employees to communicate  orally or in writing to management, its by automating everything.
When Starbucks introduces Square, its not to make their in store employees do more, its to simplify the process involved in serving customers and to allow them to spend more time on improving the customer experience.
The problem for those  who work in brick and mortar is that as the intelligence is sucked out of the job. The intelligence required to do the job is reduced. Yes, you still have to be good at what you do. But you can  be great at customer service or great in a factory line with out a college education. The competition for jobs that don’t require degrees has pushed down the wages paid for brick and mortar jobs as well. When there are no specific skills beyond basic people and communication skills required the job pool competing for any openings expands considerably. Forcing down wages. Leaving more unemployed unemployed.
The other unfortunate part of working brick and mortar is that as intelligence is moved out of of physical locations it also reduces the number of jobs available.  Have you ever seen a cashier at an Apple Store ? Unemployment is sky high in the brick and mortar world.
Thats not to say there aren’t some bright lights in this area. As the intelligence of the factory is sucked up from the floor the cost of labor falls and makes manufacturing in the US more competitive. Hence we are seeing some manufacturing return to the US which is of course a good thing
In the other world, the digital world, the non-brick and mortar world, there is  negative unemployment. Thats right there are far more jobs than there are people to fill them.
If you just look at the unemployment rate for recent college graduates its 6.8pct. My guess is that if you take out Sports Management majors and a few other “I did this for passion and not a job” majors (Sorry had to get that in there ), that rate might be under 5pct. That is close to full employment for college graduates and even non college graduates that had the foresight or luck to learn the skills required to get a job in the digital world.
Everything of intelligence is being moved into the cloud. There is not one business process that you can think of that makes sense to put in the cloud that hasn’t been written as an app. I get dozens of proposals for these types of apps every WEEK.
The explosion is due to the fact that digital entrepreneurship is experiencing a renaissance. Why ? Because with a Laptop, a SmartPhone, a broadband connection and an account on Amazon Web Services or one of their competitors, if you understand technology and are willing to work your ass off, you have everything you need to start a cloud based company. Everything.
I don’t know the exact numbers but it wouldn’t shock me if thousands of these companies are being formed every month.
And those cloud based service companies are hiring, hiring, hiring.  You would be hard pressed to find a single example of one of these companies that is not looking to hire more smart people. Experience not required.
That giant sucking sound you hear is the sound of intelligence being sucked from the brick and mortar locations into smart applications in the cloud licensed or owned by the companies that own the brick and mortar locations.
The best news is that with online educational resources coming on, and im not talking about the for profit schools, Im talking about FREE educational resources, anyone with the focus and inclination and access to a pc on the net has a chance to  learn a digital skill that can be of value to these new digital companies and allow you to change worlds.
What is my solution ?  I will tell you what I told my alma mater Indiana University and the University of North Texas committee that I am on. Every junior and senior should hold open at least 1 class in each of their junior and senior years for job skills training.
The university should make those classes fungible. Meaning each year the range of job skills classes is defined by the needs of employers in the global marketplace.  If they change every 2 years. Great. Employers will be thrilled and so will students who will be able to find jobs. If they change every year. students will have broader skill sets. Which also makes employers happy.
Companies struggle to keep up with all the changes the latest in digital technology requires. Train people and they will hire them.
The university should also make those classes available for high school seniors. If they can test in , let them.  It will allow smart kids to do smart things and get smart digital jobs. And who knows, they just might change their mind and go to IU or North Texas or be happy grabbing a great job. Either way the school has done something good.
Trust me if Sports Management Majors were good at Pig Latin (And if you think im talking about Igpay Atinlay, you probably could have benefited from a class like this ), they could get far better jobs than they are getting today. When they get them.
Who is upset ? Professors and administrators  at universities.  Why ? Because some of the classes they have taught for years would be replaced by newbie classes. I personally think a little change in the culture  at schools is a good thing. Stop building and taking on debt and invest in new and relevant courseware. But that is me.
I’ve had a lot to say about Education and you can find my blogs on the subject here .

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Jeffrey Laurenti: Fluff and Fact on Obama's 'Global Leadership'

Jeffrey Laurenti: Fluff and Fact on Obama's 'Global Leadership':
Barack Obama opened his State of the Union address this year by ticking off claims to four major accomplishments in the global arena. Three of them his political foes could not factually contest -- ending his predecessor's war in Iraq, eliminating Osama bin Laden, and starting the phase-out from Afghanistan. But they furiously challenge the overarching achievement he asserted: that his policies have "made the United States safer and more respected around the world."

"More respected"? Conservatives are furiously seeking to discredit his claim. Mitt Romney's top foreign policy advisors regularly pillory the president for being "comfortable with the decline of America in the world" (John Bolton) and prone to "naiveté and weakness" (Richard Williamson). America's global dominance is at risk because "this president does not want America to be the leader," says Richard Grenell, the Romney campaign's foreign policy spokesman until homophobic conservatives forced his ouster.

Something as intangible as the credibility of "leadership" seems hopelessly unprovable. But the Pew Research Group's release last week of hard data on public opinion across 21 countries, representing a majority of the world's population and power centers, provides some solid metrics to judge Obama's impact on America's global leadership.

"Global Opinion of Obama Slips," Pew headlined its report summary. And sure enough, Obama's numbers are down compared to the confidence expressed in his leadership in his first year in office. Country by country, Pew documents an inexorable fall in Obama's ratings, which have plunged an average -- are you ready -- six percentage points worldwide since 2009. People's attitudes toward the United States have also dipped concomitantly, by a median five percentage points.

But whatever the disappointment in Obama, the public in every country but embittered Pakistan is far more enthusiastic about Obama's global leadership than about George Bush's four years ago. In fact, world confidence in Obama averages, at 50 percent (and a stratospheric 82 percent among Europe's biggest powers), an astounding 32 percentage points above Bush's rating. (Pakistanis churlishly now rate Obama at the same 7 percent as they did Bush.)

Awkwardly, Governor Romney essentially vows to resuscitate Bush's foreign policy, which seems certain to resurrect the worldwide hostility to American purposes that so hobbled the United States in the last decade. As a country, favorable attitudes toward the United States are currently an average of eight percentage points higher than they were at the sunset of the Bush administration. Among our most crucial allies, the large West European countries that have been indispensable partners militarily, politically, and financially in such crisis situations as Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, and now Syria, support for the United States is now 20 points higher.

The policy issues on which world publics see Obama as a disappointment cannot offer much solace to his conservative critics at home. His biggest failure, it seems, has been in delivering action on climate change, on which he dropped an average 34 percentage points across countries surveyed (and 49 points in Western Europe).

The second biggest area of disillusionment has been on the expectation that he would deal "fairly" with both Israelis and Palestinians. On average only 18 percent of respondents now expect him to do so; the comparable level of expectation in his first year was 46 percent. (Fortunately for Obama, 60 percent of his voters at home still think his Mideast policies are fair to both sides.)

On both of these issues, Obama's conservative opponents have fought his initiatives tooth and nail, and are baying for confrontation with our allies.

They also vehemently insist on U.S. freedom of action to wield deadly military force without regard to the United Nations -- which turns out to be the third area of global disappointment in Obama: the deflated expectation (45 percent in 2009, 29 percent now) that he would rely on international approval for use of force. A foreign policy elite that sneers at U.N. Security Council regulation of armed force as "Mommy, may I?" is bent on renewing Bush-era antagonisms.

For all the disappointments, Obama still enjoys far higher international public support than do leaders of other major powers. He bests German chancellor Angela Merkel throughout Europe and in Germany itself (87 percent confidence in him versus 77 percent in her).

In Arab and Muslim countries, however, Obama has poorer ratings than the deceptively invisible U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon. In Egypt, where at a crucial moment Obama pressed 30-year president Hosni Mubarak to retire, his ratings stand at 29 percent positive, 69 percent negative; Ban is rated positively by 36 percent. In Jordan, confidence in Obama stands at 22 percent, and in Ban at 42.

Between Obama and Russia's Vladimir Putin, however, there's no contest. Putin is poorly rated virtually everywhere. Americans view him negatively by a 2-to-1 margin, Germans and Britons by a 3-to-1 margin, Italians and Poles by a 4-to-1 margin, and the French by an extraordinary 8-to-1 margin. Even in Arab and Muslim countries, Obama's positive rating is nearly twice Putin's.

Of course, the most important number for any politician is how he's viewed by his own voters, and 69 percent of Russians profess confidence in Putin's handling of international affairs -- a number that makes for interesting context when we talk about influencing Russian policy on Syria. Oh, did I mention that 61% of Americans in Pew's survey reported confidence in Obama's handling of international affairs?

That's a better rating than Americans give Obama for his overall job performance, which is the number that really counts for reelection. With the American public dispiritingly uninterested in foreign policy this year anyway, conservatives should stick to the economy, stupid.

Much as his partisan opponents might want to paint Obama as a star-crossed Jimmy Carter, that dog just won't hunt. It's Governor Romney's determination to reprise the foreign policy of George Bush that terrifies many Americans -- and most of the world.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Romney is an idiot

The Miseducation of Mitt Romney: Diane Ravitch

Mario Tama/Getty Images
Republican candidate Mitt Romney participating in a 6th grade class at Universal Bluford Charter School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 24, 2012.

On May 23, the Romney campaign released its education policy white paper titled “A Chance for Every Child: Mitt Romney’s Plan for Restoring the Promise of American Education.” If you liked the George W. Bush administration’s education reforms, you will love the Romney plan. If you think that turning the schools over to the private sector will solve their problems, then his plan will thrill you.

The central themes of the Romney plan are a rehash of Republican education ideas from the past thirty years, namely, subsidizing parents who want to send their child to a private or religious school, encouraging the private sector to operate schools, putting commercial banks in charge of the federal student loan program, holding teachers and schools accountable for students’ test scores, and lowering entrance requirements for new teachers. These policies reflect the experience of his advisers, who include half a dozen senior officials from the Bush administration and several prominent conservative academics, among them former Secretary of Education Rod Paige and former Deputy Secretary of Education Bill Hansen, and school choice advocates John Chubb and Paul Peterson.

Unlike George W. Bush, who had to negotiate with a Democratic Congress to pass No Child Left Behind, Romney feels no need to compromise on anything. He needs to prove to the Republican Party’s base—especially evangelicals—that he really is conservative. And this plan is “mission accomplished.”

Romney offers full-throated support for using taxpayer money to pay for private-school vouchers, privately-managed charters, for-profit online schools, and almost every other alternative to public schools. Like Bob Dole in 1996, Romney showers his contempt on the teachers’ unions. He takes a strong stand against certification of teachers—the minimal state-level requirement that future teachers must pass either state or national tests to demonstrate their knowledge and/or skills–which he considers an unnecessary hurdle. He believes that class size does not matter (although he and his children went to elite private schools that have small classes). Romney claims that school choice is “the civil rights issue of our era,” a familiar theme among the current crop of education reformers, who now use it to advance their efforts to privatize public education.

When it comes to universities, Romney excoriates Obama for the rising cost of higher education. He claims that more federal aid leads to higher tuition, so he offers no new federal funding to help students burdened with debt. His plan does not mention the fact that tuition has increased in public universities (which enroll three-quarters of all students) because states have reduced their investments in higher education and shifted the burden from taxpayers to students. Romney will encourage private sector involvement in higher education, by having commercial banks again serve as the intermediary for federal student loans, an approach Obama had eliminated 2010 as too costly. (Until 2010, banks received guaranteed subsidies from the federal government to make student loans, while the government assumed nearly all the risk. When the program was overhauled by the Obama Administration, billions of dollars in bank profits were redirected to support Pell Grants for needy students.) To cut costs, Romney encourages the proliferation of for-profit online universities.

The Romney education plan says that no new money is needed because more spending on schools will not fix our problems. However, he proposes to dedicate more taxpayer money to the priorities that he favors, such as vouchers, charter schools, and online schools. He also wants more federal money to reward states for “eliminating or reforming teacher tenure and establishing systems that focus on effectiveness in advancing student achievement.” Translated, that means that Romney is willing to hand out money to states if they eliminate due process rights for teachers and if they pay more to teachers whose students get higher scores on standardized tests and get rid of teachers whose students do not.

In making the case for vouchers—which provide government funding to pay the tuition at any private or religious school that parents choose—Romney exaggerates the evidence; indeed, some of his claims are simply false. He points to the D.C. voucher program, which began in 2004, the first program to use federal tax dollars to subsidize private-school tuition—as “a model for the nation.” He asserts that “After three months, students [in the D.C. voucher program] could already read at levels 19 months ahead of their public-school peers.”

This is flatly wrong. A Congressionally-mandated evaluation of the D.C. program found that students with vouchers made no gains in either reading or math. As the report stated, “There is no conclusive evidence that the OSP [Opportunity Scholarship Program] affected student achievement.” Romney claims that 90 percent of voucher students graduated from high school, as compared to only 55 percent in the low performing public schools of D.C. But here he exaggerates. The federal evaluation of the program said that 82 percent of the students receiving vouchers graduated from high school as compared to 70 percent of the students who applied to the voucher program and were not accepted. This is a respectable gain, but nowhere near as large as the numbers Romney cited. Because students who enter a lottery tend to be more motivated than those who do not, reputable social scientists usually compare the outcomes of those who won the lottery and those who did not.

Paradoxically, Romney’s campaign takes credit for the fact that Massachusetts leads the nation in reading and mathematics on the federal tests known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress. But Romney was not responsible for the state’s academic success, which owes to reforms that are entirely different from the ones he is now proposing for the country. Signed into law a full decade before Romney began his tenure as governor in 2003, the Massachusetts Education Reform Act involved a commitment by the state to double state funding of public education from $1.3 billion in 1993 to $2.6 billion by 2000; to provide a minimum foundation budget for every district to meet its needs; to develop strong curricula for subjects such as science, history, the arts, foreign languages, mathematics, and English; to implement a testing program based on the curriculum (because of costs, the state tested only reading and math); to expand professional development for teachers; and to test would-be teachers. In the late 1990s, again before Romney assumed office, the state added new funds for early childhood education.

Romney’s plan, by contrast, is animated by a reverence for the private sector. While little is said about improving or spending more on public education, which is treated as a failed institution, a great deal of enthusiasm is lavished on the innovation and progress that is supposed to occur once parents can take their federal dollars to private institutions or enroll their child in a for-profit online school. Massachusetts attained success by raising standards for new teachers, not by lowering them. Nor did Massachusetts eliminate teacher tenure, that is, the right to a hearing for experienced teachers before they can be fired. Higher education, we are assured, will flourish when “innovation and skill attainment” matter more than “time in classroom.” Put in plain English, the last sentence is claiming that higher education will become more affordable when more students enroll in online universities, most of which are low-cost and for-profit. Of course, online universities are cheaper; they have no capital costs, no library, no facilities, and minimal staff. Some are under investigation for fraud because of their methods of recruiting students; they have fended off federal regulation by a heavy (and bipartisan) investment in lobbying.

The Obama administration’s first response to Romney’s proposals was to scoff and say that Obama’s K-12 policies had the enthusiastic support of prominent conservative Republican governors, such as Chris Christie of New Jersey and Susana Martinez of New Mexico. Unfortunately, this is true. Apart from vouchers and the slap at teacher certification, Obama’s Race to the Top program for schools promotes virtually everything Romney proposes—charters, competition, accountability, evaluating teachers by student test scores. If anything, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been as outspoken on behalf of charters and test-based accountability as Mitt Romney. And, like Romney, Duncan has disdained the issue of reducing the number of students per teacher.

Romney’s proposal for private-school vouchers is red-meat for the right wing base of the Republican party, especially evangelicals. Vouchers have been the third rail of education politics since Milton Friedman proposed them in 1955; they have been put before the voters in several state referenda and have been consistently rejected. As a general rule, the public does not want public money to support religious schools. And many religious schools are wary about accepting public money and the regulations that eventually are tied to it. But in the past few years, vouchers have been revived by state legislatures in Indiana, Wisconsin, and Louisiana without resorting to popular vote.

The results are already troubling. In Louisiana, where Governor Bobby Jindal’s education reform legislation was enacted in mid-April, the new law declares that students in low-performing schools are eligible to take their share of state funding to any accredited private or religious school. About 400,000 students (more than half the students in the state) are eligible, but only some 5,000 places are available in the state’s private and parochial schools. When the state posted the list of participating schools, the one that registered to accept the largest number of voucher students was the New Living Word School, which offered to enroll 315 of them. But its current enrollment is 122, and it has no facilities or teachers for the new students, though it promises to erect a new building in time for the beginning of the school year this fall. Most of its instruction is delivered on DVDs.

Another school, the Eternity Christian Academy, which currently has 14 students, has agreed to take in 135 voucher students. According to a recent Reuters article, students in this school

sit in cubicles for much of the day and move at their own pace through Christian workbooks, such as a beginning science text that explains “what God made” on each of the six days of creation. They are not exposed to the theory of evolution.
The pastor-turned-principal explained, “We try to stay away from all those things that might confuse our children.” Some of the other schools that have been approved to receive state-funded vouchers “use social studies texts warning that liberals threaten global prosperity; Bible-based math books that don’t cover modern concepts such as set theory; and biology texts built around refuting evolution.”

The Reuters reporter described the Louisiana law as “the nation’s boldest experiment in privatizing public education, with the state preparing to shift tens of millions in tax dollars out of the public schools to pay private industry, businesses owners and church pastors to educate children.” Next year, all students in Louisiana will qualify for a voucher to take courses from private vendors or corporations offering courses or training. Expect a boom in new education businesses in Louisiana.

What Governor Jindal is doing sounds like a template for the Romney plan. With no increase in funding, all the money for vouchers and private vendors and online charters will be deducted from the state’s public education budget. Governor Jindal and Mitt Romney should explain how American education will be improved if taxpayer dollars are used to send more students to sectarian schools and to take their courses from profit-making businesses and online schools.

In the vision presented by Mitt Romney, public dollars would flow to schools that teach creationism. Anyone could teach, without passing any test of their knowledge and skills and without any professional preparation. Teachers could be fired for any reason, without any protection of their freedom to teach. In some states and regions, teachers will be fearful of teaching evolution or global warming or any controversial issues. Nor will they dare to teach books considered offensive to anyone in their community, like Huckleberry Finn.

And candidate Romney should explain how privatizing the way we school our children will further his goal of “restoring the promise of American education.” “Restore” suggests a return to the past. When in American history did the for-profit sector run American schools? Which state ever permitted it until the advent in our own time of for-profit charter corporations and for-profit online corporations? Which founding fathers ever railed against public education? John Adams, that crusty conservative, said this:

The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves.
Restoring the promise of American education should mean rejuvenating public schools, not destroying them.