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Migrant-Child Shelter Operator, Southwest Key, Also Runs a Charter School (or Two)

Southwest Key is a nonprofit that operates several of the detention centers for children of the migrants who are currently the focus of the news for their being forcefully removed from their parents as part of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance policy.”

Even though on June 20, 2018, Trump signed an executive order to reverse the forceful removal of migrant children from their parents, Trump’s order does nothing for the children currently in custody and housed in places like Southwest Key. There is also some question about Trump’s order facing problems if a migrant family’s case is not processed within the federally-required, 20-day limit.

There’s a lot of money to be made in operating a nonprofit that holds migrant children. In 2015-16, Sanchez was paid $786,822 in total compensation.  In 2016-17, Sanchez’s salary almost doubled, to $1.48M in total compensation. ($600K is listed as “base compensation”; $400K is “bonus compensation,” and $457K is listed as “other compensation,” with no explanation as to what “other” means.)

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Southwest Key facility in Brownsville, TX; building formerly a Walmart

According to Southwest Key’s 2015-16 tax form, its “unaccompanied minors programs… serve youth who enter the United States without parents or adult guardians and have been detained by immigration officials.”

Now that the Trump administration started separating migrant children en masse from their parents, Southwest Key will certainly increase the amount of government money it takes in. Government money is Southwest Key’s primary revenue source; in 2015-16, government grants comprised $240M out of $242.5M in Southwest Key’s total revenue, which was up from $159M in 2014-15.

Southwest Key does not have its 2016-17 tax form available to the public. However, Southwest Key operates a charter school (which happens to share the same Austin, TX, address as Southwest Key, even though Google has the buidings as neighbors), The East Austin Academia, Inc., DBA (doing business as) East Austin College Prep. The charter school has filed its 2016-17 tax form, and on that form, Sanchez’s $1.48M salary “from related organizations” was listed.

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East Austin Academia/College Prep, 5909 Jain Lane according to Google

 

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Southwest Key headquarters, 6002 Jain Lane

Sanchez sits on the charter school board as its secretary; Southwest Key’s VP, Alexia Rodriguez, who was paid $596K in total compensation from Southwest Key in 2016-17, sits on the charter school board as board chair.

Even though East Austin Academia shares the same address on its tax form as Southwest Key (6002 Jain Lane, Austin, TX  78721), the charter school is paying three entities with the same, 6002 Jain Lane address, as “independent contractors” for services to the charter school:

  • Southwest Key Programs, $1.14M for “administration and rent”
  • Cafe Del Sol, $336K for “food services”
  • Southwest Key Maintenance, $113K for “janitorial services”

Further in the tax form, the above disbursements are identified as being paid to “related organizations.”

In 2016-17, East Austin Academia received $8M in government money, representing almost all of its $8.16M in total revenue.

The school’s web link for “school scores and policies” includes numerous links, all for 2013-14. The most recent info from its “school finance” page is from 2016-17. The most recent info from its “campus federal report card” is also from 2016-17, which could be expected given that the 2017-18 school year is just ending. Many scores are below state average. Even so, East Austin Academia’s (DBA East Austin College Prep) has the following model and philosophy:

For too long children growing up in East Austin have been expected to settle in their educational and professional aspirations. At East Austin College Prep, we create a positive, nurturing atmosphere of high expectations with a results-driven bottom line: 100% of our students will go to college. Period.

EAPrep doesn’t just get students excited to attend college. It prepares them with the academic and social skills necessary to survive in the university environment and beyond. That means a strong foundation in math and science and a comprehensive extracurricular program that includes visual and performing arts, as well as athletics.

And our students won’t just go to college for themselves. Here, community service projects are part of the curriculum. After all, from the beginning, the mission of EAPrep has been to grow a better East Austin, one student at a time.

Though East Austin College Prep offers no evidence to support its claim of 100% college acceptance, it repeats this claim on its model and philosophy page:

What Sets Us Apart

  • Extended school day
  • Staff on-call until 9:00 pm
  • 6 week summer session
  • College prep curriculum based on award-winning model
  • Small classes with individualized instruction
  • Free after-school programs on campus daily
  • Service learning component
  • Model health program for families
  • Parental and community involvement
  • College-bound graduates!
  • 100% college acceptance

Prospective students are invited to schedule a tour at the Jain Lane address or at an MLK Blvd address:

Call to schedule a tour: 
EAPrep’s Elementary Campus (Grades Pre-K – 5)
6002 Jain Lane
Austin, Texas 78721
512.287.5000

EAPrep’s Secondary Campus (Grades 6 – 12)
5800 E. MLK Blvd
Austin, Texas 78721
512.287.5050

info@eaprep.org
http://www.eaprep.org

East Austin College Prep

The MLK campus is not mentioned on the East Austin Academia/College Prep 2016-17 tax form.

Sanchez must be branching out.

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Juan Sanchez, Southwest Key CEO

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

Michelle Rhee’s DC Legacy: “A Monster.”

When the survival of a school system hinges upon test scores, that system will be driven toward corruption.

Case in point: DC public schools, beginning with the advent of mayoral control and the 2007 appointment of Michelle Rhee as DC chancellor under then-DC mayor, Adrian Fenty.

michelle-rhee  Michelle Rhee

At the time that Fenty lost his 2010 re-election bid (arguably because of his ties to toxic Rhee), DC test scores were already suspiciously high (and they suspiciously fell in the years following her departure), yet Rhee dodged any through investigation of cheating in DC schools that  occurred during her watch. (I have documented Rhee and her DC tenure in my book, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Education.)

Even though Rhee left DC in 2010 (and joined the board of Scott’s Miracle-Gro in 2014), her legacy of ugly, corporate-reform destruction continues via the documented unwinding of DC public schools.

Consider this June 18, 2018, Associated Press (AP) synopsis of post-Rhee DC schools:

As recently as a year ago, the public school system in the nation’s capital was being hailed as a shining example of successful urban education reform and a template for districts across the country.

Now the situation in the District of Columbia could not be more different. After a series of rapid-fire scandals, including one about rigged graduation rates, Washington’s school system has gone from a point of pride to perhaps the largest public embarrassment of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s tenure.

This stunning reversal has left school administrators and city officials scrambling for answers and pledging to regain the public’s trust.

A decade after a restructuring that stripped the decision-making powers of the board of education and placed the system under mayoral control, city schools in 2017 were boasting rising test scores and a record graduation rate for high schools of 73 percent, compared with 53 percent in 2011. Glowing news articles cited examples such as Ballou High School, a campus in a low-income neighborhood where the entire 2017 graduating class applied for college.

Then everything unraveled.

An investigation by WAMU, the local NPR station, revealed that about half of those Ballou graduates had missed more than three months of school and should not have graduated due to chronic truancy. A subsequent inquiry revealed a systemwide culture that pressured teachers to favor graduation rates over all else — with salaries and job security tied to specific metrics.

The internal investigation concluded that more than one-third of the 2017 graduating class should not have received diplomas due to truancy or improper steps taken by teachers or administrators to cover the absences. In one egregious example, investigators found that attendance records at Dunbar High School had been altered 4,000 times to mark absent students as present. The school system is now being investigated by both the FBI and the U.S. Education Department, while the D.C. Council has repeatedly called for answers and accountability.

“We’ve seen a lot of dishonesty and a lot of people fudging the numbers,” said Council member David Grosso, head of the education committee, during a hearing last week. “Was it completely make-believe last year?”

School Superintendent Hanseul Kang promised Grosso a “new accountability system” to prevent these kinds of abuses. The interim chancellor, Amanda Alexander, told the committee the estimated graduation rate for 2018 would end up just over 60 percent, a drop of more than 10 percentage points now that the attendance rules are being properly enforced. The chancellor’s office runs the public school system while the Office of the State Superintendent of Education oversees both the public schools and Washington’s robust charter school system.

Repeated efforts to interview both Kang and Alexander for this story were unsuccessful.

While the attendance scandal was still fresh, a new controversy engulfed the top public school official. Chancellor Antwan Wilson was forced to resign in February after revelations that he skirted his own rules to place his daughter in a prestigious high school while skipping a 600-student waiting list.

The Wilson scandal speaks to some of the unique dynamics and pressures of the D.C. school system. Parents who don’t like their local “in-bound” school can apply to any public school in the city through a complex and highly competitive lottery process. One local columnist dubbed the school lottery system “an academic Hunger Games.”

Most recently in the headlines has been one of the jewels of the school system, the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, alma mater of comedian Dave Chappelle and musician Me’Shell Ndegéocello. In May, an internal audit alleged that more than one-quarter of Ellington students were fraudulently coming in from neighboring Maryland or Virginia.

Students from outside Washington can attend city schools if they pay tuition, but the investigation alleges widespread residency fraud with parents faking Washington addresses to avoid those fees. Ellington parents have sued, claiming they’re being railroaded by an administration eager to prove strong oversight and repair its reputation. The issue is working its way through courts.

The brutal year for Washington schools doesn’t seem to have hurt Mayor Bowser as she runs for re-election. Bowser, campaigning on the improved economy in the capital, has no significant opposition in the all-important Democratic primary Tuesday as she seeks a second term.

The issue of the school system was the only down note in Bowser’s otherwise triumphant State of the District speech in March. Bowser could only acknowledge “significant bumps in the road,” and promise rapid changes.

Defenders of the school system point out that independent measurements such as the National Association of Educational Progress test have shown consistent improvement that shouldn’t be lost in the controversy over graduation rates.

The AP article ends with the spotlight on Rhee:

Critics view the problems, particularly the attendance issue, as an indictment of the entire data-driven evaluation system instituted a more than a decade ago when then-Mayor Adrian Fenty took over the school system and appointed Michelle Rhee as the first chancellor. Rhee’s ambitious plan to clear out dead wood and focus on accountability for teachers and administrators landed her on the cover of Time magazine holding a broom. But now analysts question whether Rhee’s emphasis on performance metrics has created a monster.

Perhaps the most famous article written about Rhee is Amanda Ripley’s November 26, 2008, piece in TIME magazine, the one with Rhee on the cover dressed in black and wielding a broom. (The “witch” image is not lost on most who view it.)

In this 2014 post, I petitioned Ripley for a redo of her feature on Rhee after the fact– after the broom-wielding Rhee was herself swept out of her job by voters who canned Fenty for his Rhee alliance. From my 2014 post:

For all of her demanding that DC teachers and administrators be held “accountable” for test scores, Rhee expected to be above answering to anyone, and Fenty let her have that license. As Marc Fisher of the Washington Post notes in September 2009:

Rhee is all about control. She agreed to come to Washington only after being assured greater authority over the schools than any superintendent had ever had. Almost instantly, she managed to alienate important people. [Emphasis added.]

Regarding Rhee’s talent for alienating people, Fisher continues:

At 39, she’s never run a school, let alone a school system. She doesn’t make nice, insists on bashing her own employees in public, and seems to think that she can pull off a miracle. She barely deigns to speak to D.C. Council members, she’d fire legions of teachers if she had the chance, and she sacked her own daughters’ principal. [Emphasis added.] …

There really was no reason to expect that Rhee would succeed as DC chancellor. She was little more than a public relations campaign constructed on an abrasive personality– the kind of person whose ugliness raises “reality TV” ratings.

And in 2018, as noted via an AP piece demonstrating “rapid fire scandals” in DC schools:

But now analysts question whether Rhee’s emphasis on performance metrics has created a monster.

It’s worth repeating:

When the survival of a school system hinges upon test scores, that system will be driven toward corruption. 

Rhee TIME 2008

Rhee: The antithesis of effective school leadership

_________________________________________________________________________________

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

The Trump Foundation and the “Art of the Self-Deal”

Heads Up! It’s Political!

Today, I learned what IRS Form 4720 is.

It is the form that a nonprofit private foundation may be required to complete when those responsible for a nonprofit foundation must reimburse the foundation for “self-dealing,” or using the nonprofit foundation for the personal gain of those operating the foundation. IRS Form 4720 may also be required when a private foundation is involved in excessive lobbying or in political campaigns, among other impermissible actions.

IRS Form 4720 includes sections for assessing the taxes and penalties that must be paid related to the self-dealing (or other prohibited) activities.

Individuals or entities that benefited from self-dealing must reimburse the foundation for the dollar amounts in question and might be required to pay the foundation additional fees.

I learned about IRS Form 4720 from reading the June 14, 2018, lawsuit filed by the Attorney General of New York against the Trump Foundation and the Trump family members responsible for its operation.

The Attorney General’s Investigation found that the Foundation is little more than an empty shell that functions with no oversight by its board of directors. The Foundation, which does not have any employees, delegated its operations to the accounting office of the Trump Corporation, Inc., a management company owned by Mr. Trump and located at 725 Fifth Avenue. The Trump Corporation supplies back office services to the several hundred Trump business entities that make up the Trump Organization. The accounting staff’s responsibilities for the Foundation are the same as its responsibilities for the businesses in the Trump Organization.

The Foundation’s Board existed in name only. Board members failed to exercise their fiduciary duty to provide oversight and control of the organization for at least nineteen years, from 1999 through the present. The Board has not met since 1999 and does not oversee the activities of the Foundation in any way. The Board has not set policy or determined the direction, operations or acts of the Foundation. It has not promulgated, and the Foundation does not have, any written criteria for the consideration, approval, or monitoring of grants, or protocols for assuring compliance with the organization’s governing documents and charitable mission. In fact, the Board has played no role in approving the grants that the Foundation has made and failed to obtain annual reports concerning the activities and operations of the Foundation, as required by N-PCL §519.

In the absence of a functioning board, Mr. Trump ran the Foundation according to his whim, rather than the law. Mr. Trump, who was the sole signatory on the Foundation’s bank accounts, approved all grants and other disbursements from the Foundation. Accounting staff for the Trump Organization had responsibility for issuing checks from the Foundation, and issued the checks based solely on Mr. Trump’s approval before presenting the checks to Mr. Trump for signature. …

As described more fully below, because of the lack of oversight and direction, Mr. Trump was able to use the Foundation’s charitable assets to satisfy the obligations of, or otherwise benefit, himself and other entities in which he had an interest.

The 41-page lawsuit details how the Trump Foundation was used during Trump’s presidential campaign as a means for providing Trump the image of benevolence (and political leverage) to a number of veterans’ groups (and, by extension, to the public at large). (One can view the veterans’ orgs donations in the Trump Foundation 2016 tax form.) An excerpt from the lawsuit:

The Fundraiser, which solicited donations from members of the public, including New York residents, reaped approximately $5.6 million in tax free donations. Of that total, $2.823 million was contributed to the Foundation. The remainder was donated directly by private donors to veterans charity groups, without going through the Foundation.

Following the Iowa Fundraiser, the Foundation ceded control over the charitable funds it raised to senior Trump Campaign staff, who dictated the manner in which the Foundation would disburse those proceeds, directing the timing, amounts and recipients of the grants. …

The Investigation further revealed that the Foundation permitted the Campaign to exhibit and award enlarged presentation copies of supposed Foundation checks to grant recipients at campaign rallies for the political benefit of Mr. Trump and to support the Campaign. Mr. Trump held several campaign rallies in Iowa in the days leading to and including the date of the Iowa caucuses, February 1, 2016. During those campaign appearances, Mr. Trump, personally distributed the presentation copies of Foundation checks to Iowa veterans groups.

The enlarged copies of checks he used for the presentations reflected his dual role. The Foundation’s name and address were printed on the enlarged presentation checks, along with the Trump Campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again!,” Mr. Trump’s name in large letters, with a smaller reference to the DonaldTrumpForVets.com website, and Mr. Trump’s signature. A copy of Mr. Trump giving out one of the enlarged checks is pasted in below:

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The suit also details numerous situations in which Trump and his business entities were held liable in courts of law for using the Trump Foundation as personal fund to settle lawsuits and fund personal financial commitments. In some of these situations, IRS Form 4720 came into play, with Trump or Trump businesses being required to reimburse the Trump Foundation for misused funds and pay taxes on Trump Foundation payouts that should never have happened:

2007 Mar-A-Lago Transaction

Mar-A-Lago is a private club in Palm Beach, Florida, of which Mr. Trump is the 99.99% owner, located in a district zoned residential. In August 2006, the Town  of Palm Beach issued a citation to Mar-A-Lago for violation of several ordinances related to the height and location of flagpoles on residential properties, as well as for failure to seek a building permit or certificate of appropriateness for installing the flagpole.

Mar-A-Lago sued the town, arguing that the ordinances were unconstitutional. On April 17, 2007, the parties settled the lawsuit under terms that required Mr. Trump to contribute $100,000 to charities agreed to by the parties. The parties subsequently agreed that the contribution should be made to the Fisher House Foundation.

Mr. Trump personally directed his accounting staff to draw the $100,000 payment from the assets of the Foundation, not his personal accounts or the accounts of Mar-A-Lago in the following handwritten note he sent:

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The Trump Organization accounting staff followed Mr. Trump’s instruction to use the Foundation’s account to satisfy the settlement obligation, even though the Foundation was not involved in the lawsuit in any way.

The Investigation found that by directing the Foundation to make payment to Fisher House, Mr. Trump caused the Foundation used its charitable assets to benefit another organization that he controlled, which constituted improper self-dealing. After the OAG (Office of the Attorney General) commenced the Investigation, on March 17, 2017, Mr. Trump reimbursed the Foundation $100,000, plus interest in the amount of $8,763.41, for this transaction.

2012 Trump National Transaction

In 2012, Martin B. Greenberg sued the Trump National Golf Club, Alonzo Mourning Charities Inc. (“AMC”), Florida Team Golf and Celebrity International (“Florida (“Golf” Team Golf”), and Hole in One International, an insurer. The Trump National Golf Club is 99% owned by DJT Holdings, LLC, which is, directly and indirectly, owned by Mr. Trump. Promotors of a fundraising golf tournament, held at the Trump National Golf Club to benefit AMC, promised golfers a chance to win $1 million by shooting a hole in one at the thirteenthhole. Mr. Greenberg shot a hole in one at the thirteenth hole, but, according to his complaint, the insurer determined that Mr. Greenberg’s shot was not made from a minimum distance of 15  yards and declined to pay the claim.

The parties settled the lawsuit on February 13, 2012 for $775,000 (the “Settlement Amount”). The settlement consisted of two concurrent agreements: one among Mr. Greenberg, the Trump National Golf Club, AMC and Florida Team Golf (the “Settlement Agreement”), Agreement” and the other between AMC and the Trump National Golf Club (the “AMC-TNGC Agreement”). Agreement” Under the Settlement Agreement, AMC and Florida Team Golf agreed to pay the full Settlement Amount to the Martin B. Greenberg Charitable Foundation (the “Greenberg Foundation”). Under the AMC-TNGC Agreement, the Trump National Golf Club agreed to pay $158,000 toward the Settlement Amount, which the golf club would pay directly to the Greenberg Foundation.

The Foundation, not the Trump National Golf Club or Mr. Trump, paid $158,000 to the Greenberg Foundation. The Trump Organization raised the $158,000 payment through an auction for the benefit of the Trump Foundation of a lifetime membership in Mr. Trump’s golf clubs. The auction was held through a charity auction website. The contract between the auction website and the Foundation, dated December 1, 2011 and signed by then-attorney for Mr. Trump Michael Cohen on behalf of the Foundation, identified the Foundation as the beneficiary of the auction. The auction webpage announced, “Proceeds from this item benefit the Donald J. Trump Foundation.” This statement was false because Mr. Trump intended that the proceeds would be used to satisfy the Trump National Golf Club’s obligations under the AMC-TNGC Agreement.

An individual made a winning bid on December 19, 2011. After deducting a 15% service fee, the auction website delivered $157,250 to the Trump Foundation on January 9, 2012, and on February 14, 2012, the Trump Foundation paid $158,000 to the Greenberg Foundation, per Mr. Trump’s directions.

The Investigation concluded that the Foundation improperly used the funds it received from the auction, which were advertised as being used to support the Foundation, to satisfy the obligations of the Trump National Golf Club, an organization controlled by Mr. Trump, and, as a result, constituted improper self dealing.

After the commencement of the Investigation, on March 17, 2017, the Trump National Golf Club contributed $158,000 plus interest in the amount of $3,593.08, to the Foundation to reimburse it for its expenditure.

2013 Trump Hotels Transaction

In 2013, the Foundation paid $5,000 to the DC Preservation League (“DCPL”), a Section 501(c)(3) organization that advocates historic preservation in Washington, D.C. The payment entitled the Foundation to a half-page ad in the 2014 commemorative program for DCPL’s annual gala. The Foundation did not use the space in the program to advertise itself. Rather the Trump Organization used the space to promote The Trump Hotel Collection. A copy of the ad from the program promoting Trump Hotels and providing a phone number for reservations, without any mention of the Foundation, is pasted below.

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(D.C. Preservation League, Commemorative Program (Feb. 11, 2014) (produced by DC Preservation League as part of this Investigation).)

The Investigation concluded that the $5,000 payment was made for the benefit of Trump International Hotel Management LLC, an organization controlled by the directors of the Foundation and constituted improper self-dealing.

After the commencement of the Investigation, on December 9, 2016, Trump
International Hotel Management LLC contributed $5,084.62 to the Foundation to reimburse it for the contribution to DCPL plus interest. On December 19, 2016, the Foundation filed IRS Form 4720 with the IRS reporting the transaction and The Trump International Hotel Management LLC paid excise taxes and interest in the total amount of $502.33, $505.12, and $506.88 due, respectively, for each of 2013, 2014 and 2015.

2014 Trump Painting Transaction

On March 20, 2014, Mr. Trump caused the Foundation to pay $10,000 for the
winning bid on a painting of Mr. Trump at a charity auction for the Unicorn Children’s Children’ Foundation, a Section 501(c)(3) organization. The Trump Organization used the painting as at Trump National Doral Miami, an entity owned by Trump Endeavor 12 LLC, which is owned by Mr. Trump. The Investigation concluded that the payment of $10,000 was used to benefit an organization controlled by the director of the Foundation and constituted improper self-dealing.

After the commencement of the Investigation, on November 17, 2016, Trump
Endeavor 12 LLC returned the painting to the Foundation and paid $182.82 to compensate the Foundation for the fair rental value of the painting plus interest, as determined by an outside appraisal report for the applicable period. On December 19, 2016, the Foundation filed IRS Form 4720 with the IRS and Trump Endeavor 12 LLC paid outstanding excise taxes and interest in the amount of $8.49 and $18.49, due, respectively, for each of 2014 and 2015.

2015 Seven Springs Transaction

In 2015, the Foundation paid $32,000 to the North American Land Trust
(“NALT”) to satisfy a $32,000 pledge by Seven Springs LLC (“Seven Springs”). NALT is a land preservation organization that preserves natural resources. Seven Springs, which is owned by DJT Holdings LLC, an entity owned by Mr. Trump, holds a property of over 200 acres in Westchester County used for recreation by the Trump family. Seven Springs had donated a 156-acre easement to NALT and the $32,000 gift was to satisfy a pledge by Seven Springs to the fund NALT maintains for managing the easements it acquires. As the Foundation admitted in a tax filing, the contribution should have been made by Seven Springs, not the Foundation.

After the commencement of the Investigation, on November 17, 2016, Seven
Springs LLC corrected the transaction by reimbursing $32,000 to the Foundation, and, on December 9, 2016, paying $288.38 to the Foundation as the applicable interest on the amount contributed. In addition, on December 19, 2016, Seven Springs LLC filed IRS Form 4720 and paid excise taxes of $3,213.19.

And here is part of that which the Attorney General is seeking by way of judgment:

As a result of the foregoing, the Foundation has acted beyond its capacity by persistently disregarding the limitations in its certificate of incorporation and the law, and it has conducted its business in a persistently illegal manner and abused its powers contrary to the public policy of the State of New York by operating without any oversight or control by a board of directors.

Accordingly, the Foundation should be dissolved pursuant to N-PCL § 1101(a)(2) and its remaining assets and future assets, if any, applied to charitable uses consistent with the mission set forth in the Foundation’s certificate of incorporation, pursuant to N-PCL §§ 1115(a) and 1008(a)(15).

Simultaneous with the filing of this Petition for Dissolution, the Attorney General has notified the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Election Commission concerning potential violations of the Code and federal election law that may subject the Foundation and its directors and officers to substantial penalties or fines. Pursuant to N-PCL §§ 1115(a) and 1007(c) distributions of corporate assets upon dissolution should be deferred until the complaints to the Internal Revenue Service and Federal Election Commission have been resolved and it is determined if any penalties or fines will be imposed on the Foundation. …

Enjoining Mr. Trump from serving as an officer, director, trustee or equivalent position of any not-for-profit or charitable organization incorporated or authorized to conduct business or solicit charitable donations in the State of New York for a period of ten years; and enjoining the remaining directors (Donald, Jr., Ivanka, and Eric Trump) from serving as officers, directors, trustees or equivalent positions of any not-for-profit or charitable organization incorporated or authorized to conduct business or solicit charitable donations in the State of New York for a period of one year, subject to suspension in the event the remaining directors undergo sufficient training on the fiduciary duties of directors of not-for profit corporations;

Directing Mr. Trump to pay an amount up to double the amount of benefits
improperly obtained through self-dealing transactions after July 1, 2014.

On June 17, 2018, George Conway, husband to Trump “counselor,” Kellyanne Conway, tweeted support for extending the Attorney General’s civil suit into possible criminal investigation:

Kellyanne Conway has not mentioned either the AG’s lawsuit or her husband’s suggestion for criminal investigation as of this writing.

Trump has, however, tweeted about it twice in succession on June 14, 2018:

Those operating a private foundation are not allowed make themselves the recipients of the foundation’s “charitable” disbursements.

To do so would be exceedingly swampy.

swamp gator

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

NY Success Academies Is Relying on TFA-Spinoff, TNTP, to Fill Teaching Vacancies

On June 12, 2018, Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academies (SA) posted this job ad for middle school math and science teachers. Moskowitz is using Teach for America (TFA) spinoff org, The New Teacher Project (now known simply as TNTP) to “run the hiring process” in order to fill those teacher vacancies.

SA suffers from high levels of teacher turnover that SA doesn’t care to address, according to multiple comments by former employees on Glassdoor. Commenters also note that due to high attrition, promotion comes quickly, outpacing competence.

quit job

More teachers are always needed– which makes the services of a teacher pipeline useful.

The SA ad begins, “TNTP has partnered with Success Academy….” That’s what TNTP does— it sells its services to school districts, supplying “both vision and manpower.”

The SA job ad describes TNTP as “a national nonprofit founded by teachers.” Well, that is a stretch. TNTP was founded in 1995 by former TFAer, Michelle Rhee (with TFA founder, Wendy Kopp, serving on the TNTP board “as needed”); Rhee left TNTP in 2007 to become DC chancellor. (Note that Rhee’s DC assistant superintendent, Kaya Henderson, was also a TNTP “partner,” as noted on TNTP’s 2000 tax form.)

The year of Rhee’s TNTP departure (2007), current TNTP president, Karolyn Belcher, began to show up on TNTP’s tax forms as one of its “highest-compensated employees.” In 2015, Belcher became TNTP president; her 2017 total compensation was $301,882.

Like Rhee, Belcher also hails from TFA, having taught only two years (1990-92).

In December 2015, I wrote a post about Belcher’s rise in TNTP— and the fact that Belcher operated a Harlem-based charter school that had its charter revoked; a 2004 report by the Charter School Institute indicated that Belcher’s school, Reisenbach Charter School, received a negative report, including issues of low 8th-grade test scores, high teacher turnover, and fiscal problems.

Despite Reisenbach’s negative history, as a city councilwoman in 2004, Moskowitz argued to keep the Belcher’s school open.

Once again, it seems that Moskowitz might be trying to lend a hand to Belcher, a fellow corporate reformer. And since SA experiences high teacher attrition, one might think of the SA-TNTP agreement as one corporate reformer hand washing another.

But will SA provide enough soap?

According to TNTP’s tax forms (see end of post for links), TNTP revenue is finding it difficult to keep up with TNTP expenses:

  • 2012: total revenue: $50.3M; total expenses: $50.8M
  • 2013: total revenue: $57.9M; total expenses: $55.5M
  • 2014: total revenue: $57.2M; total expenses: $63.4M
  • 2015: total revenue: $83.5M; total expenses: $62.7M
  • 2016: total revenue: $49.7M; total expenses: $61.7M

In 2015, the unusual increase in revenue was from unusually high “contributions and grants”, with “program revenue” falling from the previous year:

  • 2012: contributions and grants: $18.2M; program revenue: $32.1M
  • 2013: contributions and grants: $21.3M; program revenue: $36.3M
  • 2014: contributions and grants: $20.1M; program revenue: $36.9M
  • 2015: contributions and grants: $48.8M; program revenue: $34.5M
  • 2016: contributions and grants: $16.6M; program revenue: $32.9M

The 2015 revenue boost looks like a philanthropic bailout. But there was no such boost in 2016….

Note that on its “our finances” webpage, TNTP advertises itself as follows:

To ensure the long-term sustainability of our work, TNTP is a revenue-generating non-profit.

However, TNTP’s program revenue has been on the decline since 2014– which defies TNTP’s statement about revenue generation ensuring TNTP’s long-term sustainability.

Whether adding Moskowitz as a client will help TNTP’s questionable finances remains to be seen. But TNTP may help keep Moskowitz’s SA teacher revolving door turning, at least for a while.

revolving door

 

TNTP Tax Forms:

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Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

“You’re a Doctor? I Thought You Were Stupid”: Stellar Grad Speech by Indy ER Physician

The record a student leaves behind as he/she graduates from high school can be a poor predictor of the degree of responsibility evidenced in that student’s contribution to society in adulthood.

Thank goodness.

Below is one of the best graduation speeches I have either heard or read (in this case, it’s the latter). It was given by ER doctor, Louis Profeta, to his alma mater, North Central High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. Profeta posted his speech on Linkedin on June 01, 2018.

By his own admission, Profeta’s professional accomplishment is a surprise to those who knew him when.

An ER Doctor Speaks as a High School Graduation

Louis M. Profeta, MD

In kindergarten, I got a prize in the science fair for painting Play-Doh black. I wedged plastic dinosaurs and saber-tooth tigers in it to make it look like the La Brea tar pits. I think it was in 4th grade when I won a ribbon in the Allisonville grade school pancake supper poster contest.

And those two pinnacle moments pretty much sum up the entirety of my academic accolades in Washington Township schools, including all the way through high school.

I got an F in high school chemistry, and an F in algebra and a bunch of C’s, a couple D’s and if it weren’t for gym and kings court singers, I doubt I would have gotten any A’s. Any kings court singers here? I was the jester in the madrigal dinner. I did a few other things. I was in junior spec, Reviewing the Situation, 1981 baby. I played trumpet in band — actually I was second to the last trumpet — which means I played exactly two notes in every song. Blaaamp blaaammp. Nobody ever saw my name on some academic kudos report sent out by the school and no parent ever uttered the words:

“Louis Profeta made honor roll, why can’t you?”

And if I had to apply to college today at Indiana University, I would not get in.

You see, I thought I was going to be this star athlete and compete in college, so I really had not planned for much else. But then I got hurt in a fall, actually broke my neck, spent weeks in the hospital and all those “dreams” were over … poof. It’s amazing how quick a door can close in your life; it’s also incredibly magical how quick they can open if YOU are open to the possibilities that arise from failure and the word “no.” I know this more now being an ER doc. It’s amazing how strong and fragile we as human beings are, often at the exact same moments in time. So I laid in the hospital, looked around at all the doctors and the nurses and thought: “Hmmmm, this stuff is kinda cool. They make good money; I think I’ll do this.” Honest to god, I picked IU for college because they beat Purdue in a basketball game on TV. Dad goes,

“Where you wanna go to college?”

I’m like, I don’t care, whoever wins this game, I’ll go there. Thank God Purdue lost … and continues to lose.

So years later, after college and medical school and residency, I found my way back practicing emergency medicine in the very same community and township I left and a remarkable thing happened. I started seeing old classmates and their families as patients and they would all say the same thing.

“You’re a doctor? I thought you were stupid. Can I see some ID, a diploma, something like that?”

It’s understandable because even at Allisonville grade school, I had to go to early classes for kids with learning disabilities and, in fact, I was the last kid in my class to be allowed to write with a ballpoint pen. If you saw my writing you’d understand why.

“Dr. Profeta, pharmacy’s on line three they can’t tell if the prescription you wrote is for Keflex or Viagra.” Those words have been uttered. My k’s look like v’s, my x’s like a’s.

I did pay attention in class on occasion. I had this one teacher — a science teacher, Mr. Sutton — in 7th grade. I pretty much hung around troublemakers, people like me. And Sutton pulls me aside one day and said,

“Listen, you’re smart, you do know that don’t you? Why would you let other kids drag you down with them?”

Yeah, I got a D in that class, too, I think. But that simple sentence dug in like a Carolina tick and stuck there. “Why let others drag you down with them?” The opposite of that is just as true.

Why not let good, honorable, happy, successful and focused people into your life because they will lift you up with them? Which is what I did in college and continue to do. Make it a lifetime habit as familiar as brushing your teeth. Surround yourself with people who elevate you. You know that phrase you hear ad nauseam on TV when someone’s kid commits a crime,

“He’s a good kid, just got caught up running around with the wrong crowd?”

Well, it’s garbage. Nobody runs in the wrong crowd. You BECOME the wrong crowd by your choices, your acts, and by who you CHOOSE to associate with. You make those choices and nobody else. They start now, only they are amplified once you are an adult. Don’t BECOME the wrong crowd. As an emergency doc, I’ve told countless mothers and fathers the news and tragic consequences from those choices. Smart choices begin today; don’t be afraid to downsize your “circle of friends” should that circle be composed of a disproportionate number of members of “the wrong crowd.” You have but one future.

The fact that I was asked to speak here is humbling and truly an honor. But it’s also just an echo of lifelines tossed to me by others and the common sense to grab hold of opportunity when it arises and, more importantly, to develop the focus and drive to show up and do the work. As someone who now teaches hundreds of doctoral students of medicine every year, I’ll tell you something: Give me drive and determination over aptitude any day. ALL of you can find drive. Aptitude is simply what results from hard work and practice.

So Principal Branigan wants me to give you pointers, some words of inspiration. I guess he forgot about all those irate parents calling and complaining about my kid scalping tickets to junior spec. How about just some simple, good, old-fashioned advice from someone who has taken care of more than 60,000 fellow Hoosiers and has bore witness to good decisions and bad decisions, good life habits and bad life habits and has himself made some really dumb choices in life?

All this…this pomp and circumstance is just a dress rehearsal for things to come, which starts with a commitment to a lifetime of education that should not be limited to just the books assigned or the lectures in the classroom. To paraphrase Mark Twain, don’t let school get in the way of an education. Seek out knowledge. Seek it out. Drown yourself in knowledge of people and places and things as simple as what is the advantage of a toggle bolt to hang a towel holder to what will Brexit mean on the emerging European markets. Learn Bernoulli’s equation of laminar flow and what distinguishes a V6 engine from an inline six. Learn how to poach an egg even if you hate eggs, or how to write a haiku because all knowledge is good. All knowledge opens doors. Ignorance is what closes them. Make yourself valuable through knowledge; make yourself indispensable.

If you know everything there is about an overhead cam engine, think about how valuable you’ll be if you know how to service a lithium ion battery in an electric motor, too. If you know everything about cutting hair, think about how valuable you will be if you know how to balance the books for a hair salon, too. Learn one more thing. Everyday that should be your mantra:Learn one more thing.

Commit important quotes or poems or speeches or Bible verses that speak to you to memory that they might guide you through life. Go back to them, read them over and over. For me, it was Martin Luther King’s speech on the mall, the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln, the Ten Commandments, the poem the “New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus that graces the base of the Statue of Liberty, the preamble to the constitution, Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and “The Napping House” by Audrey Wood.

The messages contained within those works for me are steeped in the understanding of human dignity and the ultimate sacrifices given by those for our country. They brought to light for me the freedoms I take for granted and the opportunities I have been given. They celebrate the beacon of welcoming light and hope this country represents to the rest of the world and have helped me to recognize that America is not the soil beneath my feet it is we the people. Civil disobedience is far more impactful when exercised at the ballot box than by smashing a storefront window or blocking traffic or the entrance to a classroom. I’ve come to realize I have responsibilities as a citizen of this nation and the world that I need to embrace and that I have miles to go before I sleep, my friends, miles to go before I sleep.

“The Napping House”? Because if you are blessed one day, you will need to read to a child…even when your eyes are too tired or too cloudy to see the print.

I implore you young scholars, young leaders of tomorrow. Do not shout down the people you disagree with. You do both them and yourself a disservice. Listen and debate, argue respectfully but let people have their say. Know that the opinions you have today often change as your views of the world change. What seems just and righteous to you through the eyes of an 18-year-old morph with wisdom and life experiences. Know this truth and embrace the process of growth and know that, while you think you understand what love is, you have no idea its depth until you hold in your arms your own child. So recognize that most of you do not yet truly know the love your parents have for you, so respect them by making life choices that keep you safe and me from having to tell them horrible news.

I ask of you, in your journey to give people a break, give your fellow human the benefit of the doubt, the patience of Job. Don’t be so quick to judge another’s behavior as rude, disrespectful, racist, sexist or intolerant. Not every bit of attitude or inattentiveness directed towards you is about you. You simply are not that important to the stranger on the street. And many people simply do not have the insight that you might demand of them. They have their own lives. Spend a day in our ER: I’ll show you real problems. You’ll see what I’m talking about. Don’t be so quick to assume the professor, the waiter, the clerk or the driver has a bias against you. Instead, entertain the prospect that perhaps their own worlds are falling apart with a sick child, a failing marriage, a terminal illness, financial struggles, an addicted sibling, or just a lack of awareness and that they are simply too preoccupied with their own lives to worry about your frailties. Instead, offer to all a smile, a thank you and a shoulder to lean on. Compliment often, even when you don’t mean it. Buy the person in line behind you their coffee, leave a few coins in the playground sandbox; you’ll make a child’s day. Do this and, in time, your life will be filled with a greater degree of love and understanding. Do this for all of us who have suffered through a sick child and a trying time where we perhaps were lost in our own thoughts.

Know how to balance a checkbook and what the interest rates on a credit card mean; understand the concept of a credit rating and how it will impact your life. Learn about mortgages now, the pros and cons of owning versus leasing a car and the beauty of saving for retirement and what a 401(k) means to you. If you save $2,000 a year at a 9% return, that is worth a million dollars in 40 years. Know there is far more joy in being able to write a check for something like a luxury car or a watch than actually owning it. I drive a basic model pickup truck, it’s paid for. When I go outside, if the sun is overhead…it’s noon. Learn this and embrace it and you will grow to live a comfortable life. Each day you do not, however, puts you at risk of a lifetime of poverty. The search for that simple, vital knowledge started yesterday. I hate to tell you, but you’re already a day late.

Live a life of diversity, and when I talk about diversity, I’m talking about diversity of thought and diversity of perspective.

Surround yourself and embrace people who do not pray like you, who do not look like you, who do not love like you and especially who do not vote like you. You don’t have to agree with them or emulate them, but respect their views because, by doing this, you will realize that we as a people have far more in common when it comes to the important things in our lives than the things that divide us. You will make great friends, and trust me, the discussions at your parties and your barbecues will be much more lively instead of the same old echos. Give it a try. Don’t let mainstream and social media pundits or some celebrity tell you how you are supposed to think. Don’t be pigeon-holed into a certain identity that they ascribe to you by the way you look or the way you love or the way you pray or the way you vote. You are much more than some assigned demographic.

The world is yours, my friends. Make it your own, nurture it, grow it, clean it, feed it, preserve it for your children. Strive for a lifetime of fulfillment, peace and understanding. Fill your days with smiles and hugs and sing songs of togetherness, because we all breathe the same air, we all walk the same soil and we all want the same thing out of life, which is to simply be happy.

And, finally, learn strength. You alone are in control of your own destiny. That is the freedom the founding families spoke about when they said we are endowed by our creator with the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It’s inside each of you. That God given strength to pursue happiness. Chase it with the power, the fury and the determination of a thousand horses, with the searing heat of a million suns. Carpe diem as they say, my friends, carpe diem. Seize the day, seize this day and all days forward.

God bless you, class of 2018. God bless you in this journey.

This year, I taught senior English for the first time since 1991.

Near the end of the year, I learned a new term from one of my students who expected to barely pass my class: “passing F.”

A “passing F,” I learned, is one in which rounding error is the would-be failing student’s friend. If the student has the lowest D for one quarter in a semester and the highest F for the second quarter in the same semester, the average of those two grades produces the highest F with a .5 attached.

That .5 is then rounded up to the next whole number– which gives the student the lowest D for the semester– and the student ends up passing.

The grade is not beautiful, but it is nonetheless passing.

I taught approximately 140 seniors this year. The likelihood that at least one experienced the “passing F” phenomenon in one of her/his classes is a reasonable.

Perhaps such a student will confess as much as he/she delivers some future graduation speech from a platform of societal contribution founded on valuable lessons learned in postsecondary young adulthood.

IMG_1110 Louis M. Profeta, MD

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Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

Education in North Korea: The State Is Your Conscience.

On February 07, 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Council released this 372-page report on the state of human rights in DPRK, also known as North Korea.

IMG_1109

On June 12, 2018, I published two posts in which I include extensive excerpts from the UN report on North Korea: The first involves history and background of the DPRK, including rise of the Kim regime; the second includes excerpts of the Commission’s findings on the state of human rights in North Korea.

In this post, I offer UN report excerpts concerning the state of education in North Korea.

All three posts are a few thousand words (the challenge of creating blog posts from documents hundreds of pages long); however, if the American public is to be educated about life in North Korea, I submit that posts such as these (long as they are) are important reads.

Without further delay, let us proceed.

Children are taught to revere and idolize [Supreme Leader] Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, and now Kim Jong-un. Plaques with slogans, posters and drawings expressing gratitude to the Supreme Leader are found in kindergartens irrespective of the children’s ability to fully comprehend these messages. In addition to the usual subjects in schools, such as mathematics, science, art and music, an unusually large portion of the school syllabus is dedicated to the instruction about achievements and teachings of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, including the Ten Principles and the DPRK’s official version of its revolutionary history. One former educator in the DPRK suggests that the teachings of ideology based on the writings of and about Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il in fact “constitutes most of the education” in the DPRK. The contents of these teachings are customized to suit the students’ capacity to understand and then memorize them. If the students do not perform well on the subjects of Kim Il-sung’s philosophy and revolutionary history, they may be punished even if they do extremely well in other subjects. …

education in north korea

North Korean schoolchildren

There are two basic themes central to the North Korean indoctrination programme. One is to instil utmost loyalty and commitment towards the Supreme Leader. The other is to instil hostility and deep hatred towards Japan, the United States of America (USA), and the Republic of Korea (ROK). The latter objective is pursued with such deliberate and systematic efforts that it clearly amounts to advocacy of national hatred constituting incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence, and to propaganda for war, in violation of article 20 of the ICCPR.

Children are taught that they should aspire only to emulate Kim Il-sung. For example, those inclined to drawing are encouraged only to draw pictures of the Supreme Leader or make drawings which might have pleased Kim Il-sung. Good drawings are put up in schools. Typically, they either depict the Kim family or they depict children stabbing Japanese or American soldiers with swords or pencils.

One witness stated that as a school student, drawing anything other than images to please Kim Il-sung never occurred to him. He was interested in becoming a great warrior, to become a killer of the enemies, going to the Republic of Korea and dying for the sake of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il.

Children are encouraged to be willing to risk their lives for the values of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, more so than for their own parents. Children are surrounded by patriotic images and slogans projecting Kim Il-sung as a fatherly figure, protecting the nation and providing for its citizens. Such messaging and indoctrination serves not only to create loyalty to the leader from a young age, but effectively works to fracture familial ties as children are expected to display greater respect and commitment towards the Supreme Leader than their own parents.

kim jong-un and children

Kim Jong-Un with schoolchildren

All school subjects are taught in a manner compatible with state ideology. For example, one witness described that, when reference was made to a chemical gas in chemistry lessons, a comparison had to be made between how the two Korean governments would use the gas. According to this rhetoric, while the DPRK aimed at industrial development, ROK would use it for tear gas against protestors discontented with the conditions of their lives. In a 1981 speech, Kim Il-sung had reminded that:

It is important in class education to intensify anti-imperialist education, education against US imperialism and Japanese militarism. They are sworn enemies of the Korean people and the target that must be attacked in the Korean revolution. We must intensify anti-imperialist, anti-US and anti-Japanese education among Party members and the working people so that they fight indomitably against US imperialism and Japanese militarism. We must also educate people to harbour bitter hatred for the landlords, comprador capitalists, and reactionary bureaucrats the anti-popular fascist ruling system of South Korea and to have the spirit to fight them without compromise. …

Children and university students in the DPRK are regularly required to participate in parades, mass rallies and other choreographed performances which serve a political purpose. The largest of these performances is the annual mass gymnastics, today generally referred to as the Mass Games.

The Games feature approximately 100,000 children and young adults in a minutely choreographed display of gymnastics, dance, acrobatics, and dramatic performance. In a lengthy talk delivered to the producers of the Mass Games, Kim Jong-il in 1987 explained that the Mass Games not only aim at fostering a particularly healthy and strong physique in participants, but also a high degree of organization, discipline and collectivism in schoolchildren. He went on:

The schoolchildren, conscious that a single slip in their action may spoil their mass gymnastic performance, make every effort to subordinate all their thoughts and actions to the collective. … Since mass gymnastics are creative works [t]he creative workers must present in great depth and breadth throughout their mass gymnastic productions the leader’s greatness, the sagacity of his leadership, his immortal revolutionary achievements and his noble communist virtues. Their works must also show in full the greatness and brilliant achievements of the Party that effects historic changes …

The Mass Games have become a major source of foreign currency revenue for the DPRK. They attract large numbers of tourists, who are often unaware of the human rights violations endured by participating children, who are compelled to participate (unless their physical appearance does not meet the state-determined ideal). Training will often last an entire year, including 4-6 months during which the participants train all day at the expense of their schooling. Training practice is gruelling. Children who do not perfect their performances are subjected to physical punishment and additional evening training.

kim jong-un and children 2

Kim Jong-Un with schoolchildren

A former university sports teacher informed the Commission that he was required to train students for the Mass Games. He said students were forced to train 6-12 hours a day in very harsh conditions. Although most participants were school children and university students, some army personnel also participated. Anyone with any sort of disability was excluded. The witness recalled that many children fainted from fatigue during training. Many also suffered severe injuries.

In testimony before the Commission’s Tokyo Public Hearing, Ms L described how she missed an entire semester of university education because her class was required to practise for 6 months, 10 hours a day, for a short segment of a parade, to be held in the Kim Il-sung Stadium of Pyongyang in the presence of Kim Jong-il. Training was so intense that some participants fainted from exhaustion. Fainting was especially common during summer when students trained in the hot sun, on concrete floor. Practice emphasized perfection. Anyone who made repeated mistakes was made to remain on the training ground until midnight as a punishment. Ms L recalls that her teachers would invoke the example of a boy of 7 or 8 years of age who had practised through the intense pain of an acute appendicitis. He eventually died because he did not receive timely medical care. The dead child was treated as a hero because he had dedicated his entire life for an event in the presence of Kim Jong-il. …

Citizens in the DPRK are constantly exposed to ubiquitous state propaganda. The Propaganda and Agitation Department within the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea is primarily responsible for generating propaganda directives. In a speech to Party Propagandists in 1981, Kim Jong-il stated, “… solid foundations for propaganda and agitation work have been laid under the single guidance of the Party Central Committee.” Kim Jong-Il provided guidance on how to intensify ideological education as well as propaganda and agitation for the construction of the socialist economy. He spoke of verbal agitation, agitation by artists, effective use of visual aids and officials setting personal examples as different forms of agitation that are powerful and influential.

The propaganda units in local administrations, schools, places of work and at various other levels are responsible for reproducing messages determined at the centre. They also put up propaganda materials under the directive of the Central Committee’s Propaganda Department. In every province for example, there is an art centre responsible for drawing the portraits of the Supreme Leaders and portraying their accomplishments which are displayed in exhibitions, and hung in the hallways and on the walls of public departments and companies. Mansudae Art Studio in Pyongyang is reportedly the central level body responsible for producing propaganda paintings, murals, posters, billboards, and monuments revering the Kim family. It has been suggested that it is the largest art factory in the world, employing roughly 4,000 DPRK nationals, including some 1,000 artists.

Exceptionally good drawings by children are put up not only in their own schools but also other schools. There are also designated artists in universities and in the military who draw such propaganda materials for posters and billboards to be put in university halls and premises, and for drawings in textbooks and other publications for teachings in the military academy. …

The people of the DPRK are taught from young to revere the Kim family and to internalize the state ideology as their own thoughts and conscience. …

north korea child in uniform

North Korean child in “mock” military uniform

While around 2 million citizens are said have access to computers, they only have access to an intranet system that contains information filtered and determined by the government. Internet access is restricted to a limited few such as universities or some members of the elite. Computers must be registered with the authorities including those for official organizational use and home computers are not connected to the intranet system. …

Intensive state indoctrination occurs in an environment where the exercise of the right to express facts and opinions critical of the state or its official ideology is not tolerated. … 

A witness related to the Commission how he was discouraged since his youth by his parents from aspiring to become a writer as no one could write freely. In the DPRK, one can only write about matters which put Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il and the Workers’ Party of Korea in a good light. Writers who write beyond this remit were liable to be arrested and treated as political criminals.

At the Seoul Public Hearing, Mr Jang Hae-sung told the Commission: “My friends, people who used to be writers … [w]e are never allowed to write our ideas, our thoughts … for example, this writer, he slipped when he was talking to someone else. He was drunk at the time, he slipped and he said that writers are never allowed to write their ideas and just by saying that, he was sent to Yodok, Camp No. 15...” …

As to problems associated with freedom of expression in writing:

The Commission was informed by a witness of a young worker who had hung up a few dozen hand-printed posters in the city of Nampo that called for the overthrow of Kim Jong-il in June 2001. This was considered a major political incident and KPA Security Command, MPS and SSD formed a joint taskforce to investigate the case. Kim Jong-il was notified and he apparently personally issued orders to track down the suspects and persecute them severely. Over the course of 5 months, the security agencies took writing samples from every inhabitant above the age of 10. The man was caught after he confided about his conduct to a friend who was an informant. Despite intense torture, the man did not implicate any co-conspirators and the investigators concluded that he had acted alone. For political reasons, however, the security agencies spread rumours that the man had been corrupted by viewing foreign movies and pornography and eventually agreed to commit the crime as a spy acting on behalf of the USA. Based on a conviction by the Military Supreme Court, the man was executed by hanging. His immediate family and the entire city population were forced to watch. The wife of the victim was forced to immediately divorce him when he was arrested so as to avoid guilt by association. His mother and two sisters were sent to Kwanliso No. 15.

Returning to education, i.e, the “music curriculum”:

One witness recalled memorizing children’s songs such as “Revolutionary Army Game”, as part of the nation’s required music curriculum. Only classical music pieces composed before 1899 could be played, and works by the Russian composer Rachmaninoff for example were off limits because he had migrated to the USA. The purpose of music in the DPRK was to inspire adoration of the leader and the belief that socialism will triumph. Accordingly, only pieces that convey admiration for the Kim family and instil loyalty towards the nation and the Party are allowed. Popular music of the West and ROK is totally banned. A person responsible would be punished if caught for playing music of this genre.

As to discrimination in college admission:

A witness at the Seoul Public Hearing, Ms Kwon Young-hee, described the discrimination that her family confronted because both her parents were originally from South Korea. The family encountered discrimination when they sought to leave Musan in North Hamgyong Province and move to Pyongyang:

I learned about the fact that we were not able to relocate to Pyongyang. By the time we learned about the rejection we were old enough to understand that we were discriminated against, because my elder sister against her wish had to apply to this other college and so my siblings suffered from this kind of discrimination.” …

One former high-level official explained to the Commission that he knew of his songbun (government-determined social) status since he was about 10 years old as there had been a certificate in his family home about his grandfather’s involvement in the Korean War. He was also told by his family not to play or associate with those of a lower status. He grew up believing that a high songbun meant that one was closer to the Kim family.

The lowest songbun was given to, among others, formerly wealthy industrialists, alleged spies, Catholics and Buddhists. In effect, a family’s history even before the establishment of the DPRK pre-determined a citizen’s destiny in the DPRK.

In the past, songbun was the key factor determining the course of every citizen from birth. Higher songbun determined whether a person could gain access to the army (particularly the more elite units), university and the Workers’ Party of Korea—necessary preconditions to any future career in public service. Conversely, those with lower songbun were often assigned to jobs in mining and farming, and their descendants often were excluded from higher education. …

The determination of songbun is recorded in a comprehensive resident registration system with detailed files on all adult citizens and their families. The systematic compilation of these files by security agencies and institutions of the Workers’ Party of Korea is not a transparent process, and determinations cannot be contested. Moreover, official discrimination under the Songbun system is also an intergenerational phenomenon, where an individual’s classification is not only determined by his or her personal conduct, but also by the songbun classifications derived from more than one generation of the person’s extended family. Therefore, a system of perpetual discrimination on the ground of birth, akin to a caste-based system, has emerged in the DPRK. …

Individuals resident registration files follow them throughout their life. If and when that individuals serve in the military, enters university or joins the workforce, their file is sent to the relevant overseeing authority. A continuing assessment of an individuals loyalty to the state would be reflected in the file. At any point when an individuals loyalty “score” appears low, that individual would be criticized harshly, monitored even more closely, and, in the worst cases, sent for training through labor. Low scores can affect applications to enter university or promotions at work. However, individuals are seldom informed of the actual reasons behind an unsuccessful application or lack of advancement at work, even though they can usually infer that the reason is poor songbun.

As to treatment of children and adults with disabilities, the news is mixed but still tainted with the inhumane:

It is believed that, in 1959, the government built 11 special boarding schools for hearing-impaired children and vision-impaired children. There do not appear to be any schools or systems for the educational integration or inclusion of children with intellectual or multiple impairments.

While acknowledging the legal rights of persons with disabilities appears to be a positive step in addressing the human rights concerns of this vulnerable population, reliable information about this population is scant. Witnesses have reported systematic discrimination against people with disabilities, whereby families of babies with disabilities have been banished from Pyongyang and forced to relocate in rural areas where there are no services for them, in addition to generally harsher living conditions. According to a former high-level official interviewed by the Commission, the Ministry of Public Security was responsible for cases of children with disabilities. He said that the public security officers visited families to discourage them from keeping their children with disabilities. If they were residents of Pyongyang and insisted on keeping their children, the families would have to leave the capital. If the family agreed to be separated from the child, however, the child would be taken by the government to a designated location. The family would have to sign documentation to agree never to seek that child again and the name of the child would be deleted from the Family Registration File as if the child with disabilities never existed.

To what extent this policy is still in practice is questionable as there have been recent reports that people with disabilities are permitted to reside in Pyongyang. This may be an indication that this policy may have been abandoned or not pursued as strictly as in the past. …

Nevertheless, Mr Kim Soo-am of the Korea Institute for National Unification explained to the Commission that “there is still a high level of discrimination against people with disabilities. In regions where they get a lot of foreign visitors, they limit the residence of people with disabilities.

According to a recent NGO report, many DPRK nationals who fled the DPRK indicated that infants with disabilities were killed or abandoned. Another research institute based in the ROK reported that human rights violations against persons with disabilities include the segregation and forced sterilization of persons suffering from dwarfism.

There have been disturbing allegations of an island in South Hamgyong Province where gruesome medical testing of biological and chemical weapons has been conducted on persons with disabilities. The Commission has received no first-hand accounts of these allegations. A former high-level official, recounted two occasions when he was working for the Ministry of Public Security when people were arrested and sent to a facility, Hospital 83, where the doctors told him they would be used for medical experiments. Based on the information received, the Commission is not in a position to confirm these allegations. It notes them as subjects for further investigation.

In addition to progress on the legal front, the rights of persons with disabilities have received positive attention on a government policy level. Diplomatic sources note that the Korean Federation for the Protection of the Disabled People has made the International Day of People with Disability a national event. One North Korean athlete participated in the 2012 Paralympics. In its 2009 UPR report, the DPRK noted that the annual day of persons with disabilities “serve[s] as an important occasion in facilitating their integration into society and encouraging the general public to respect the dignity and worth of the persons with disabilities and render them support.” 

nrth korean toddler with machine gun

North Korean toddlers taught to shoot enemies.

Impact of deficient economy and songbun upon education:

In 2012, the Supreme People’s Assembly extended compulsory education to 12 years from 11 years, promised more classrooms and said that teachers would be given priority in the distribution of food and fuel rations, according to the DPRK’s official Korean Central News Agency. Despite the DPRK’s commitment to universal provision of education, access is hindered for some by systemic discrimination. Because of the collapse of the DPRK economy, students are generally required to provide resources to fund teachers and school operations.

Mr Charles Jenkins, who lived in the DPRK for over 39 years, told of goods that his two daughters were asked to bring to school: “[T]he girls were always coming to me saying that school officials had requested a certain amount of supplies from every student’s family. Sometimes they would say their teachers told them they needed to bring in 2 kilograms of brass each by Monday. Or a kilogram of lead. Or a hundred meters of copper wire. They asked for coal, gasoline, even rabbit skins.” These specific requests were in addition to the 60 kilograms of corn that he had to send every month to the school. “That’s 2.2 pounds per daughter every day, even though a student’s ration is only a pound per day, so you can see that someone, somewhere, was skimming more than half of what we sent.” He also noted that his daughters were attending the Foreign Language College, “supposedly a high-class place where the country’s elite were being educated”.

The Commission believes that if these practices prevailed in elite schools, those attending less privileged institutions may be subjected to similar requests to provide subsides that their families may not be able to afford.

In addition, it appears that privileges in school – such as whether a student can be designated head of class – are also determined by songbun. Furthermore, compulsory education does not apply to children sent to political prison camps, where an elementary level of instruction is administered under a different curriculum.

Where discrimination in education becomes most apparent is in the selection process for universities or the opportunity to even take the entrance examination. Numerous testimonies of witnesses interviewed by the Commission reported that those persons with low songbun were not even allowed to take the entrance exam or were not allowed to attend institutions appropriate to their level of academic performance and test scores.

I left off on page 96 of the 372-page report. However, the information in this post is grim.

This is life in North Korea, where education is indoctrination toward unflinching subservience to the Kim autocracy– where freedom of thought is systematically and crushingly trampled, and if it survives and is expressed, even minutely, it is severely punished.

I am American. I can write these things and live.

IMG_1106

Kim Jong-Un

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

Destruction of Human Rights in North Korea: This is Not Love for One’s People.

Heads Up: It’s Political!

Following Trump’s summit with Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) dictator, Kim Jong Un, Trump expressed the view that Kim “loves his people.” He said so to journalist, Greta Van Sustren, who called him on it.

One can view the exchange, captured in the Voice of America (VOA) video below in which Van Sustren interviewed Trump in Singapore on June 12, 2018, following the summit. Here is the exchange between Trump and Van Sustren beginning at minute 3:42:

DT: He has been a rough person, uh, but, uh, we get along very well. He’s smart, uh, loves his people. He loves his country. He wants a lot of good things, and that’s why he’s doing this.

GVS: But he, he’s starved them. He’s been brutal to them. He still loves his people?

DT: Look, he’s doing what he’s seen done.

 

On February 07, 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Council released this 372-page report on the state of human rights in DPRK, also known as North Korea.

Below are some excerpts from that UN report.

Due to its length even in excerpted format, I chose to format as its own post this first, extensive set of excerpts regarding background on DPRK and the Kim Dynasty.  Feel free to open and read.

And now, for some of the Commission’s findings on the condition of human existence in DPRK:

(Indoctrination and Suppression of Freedom of Thought)

The population of the DPRK is indoctrinated from a young age in accordance with the single state ideology and the Ten Principles as sustained by the Supreme Leader and the Workers’ Party of Korea to such a degree that it not only infringes on the freedom to seek and receive information as article 19 of the ICCPR and article 17 of the CRC envisage, but it also supresses the emergence and development of free thought and conscience, which is protected by article 18 of the ICCPR and article 14 of the CRC. The Human Rights Committee has commented that the latter right is far-reaching and profound, and encompasses freedom of thought on all matters. The fundamental character of these freedoms is also reflected in the fact that this provision cannot be derogated from, even in times of public emergency.

Children are taught to revere and idolize Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, and now Kim Jong-un. Plaques with slogans, posters and drawings expressing gratitude to the Supreme Leader are found in kindergartens irrespective of the children’s ability to fully comprehend these messages. In addition to the usual subjects in schools, such as mathematics, science, art and music, an unusually large portion of the school syllabus is dedicated to the instruction about achievements and teachings of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, including the Ten Principles and the DPRK’s official version of its revolutionary history. One former educator in the DPRK suggests that the teachings of ideology based on the writings of and about Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il in fact “constitutes most of the education” in the DPRK. The contents of these teachings are customized to suit the students’ capacity to understand and then memorize them. If the students do not perform well on the subjects of Kim Il-sung’s philosophy and revolutionary history, they may be punished even if they do extremely well in other subjects. These educational goals are contrary to those outlined in article 29 of the CRC. 

There are two basic themes central to the North Korean indoctrination programme. One is to instil utmost loyalty and commitment towards the Supreme Leader. The other is to instil hostility and deep hatred towards Japan, the United States of America (USA), and the Republic of Korea (ROK). The latter objective is pursued with such deliberate and systematic efforts that it clearly amounts to advocacy of national hatred constituting incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence, and to propaganda for war, in violation of article 20 of the ICCPR.

Children are taught that they should aspire only to emulate Kim Il-sung. For example, those inclined to drawing are encouraged only to draw pictures of the Supreme Leader or make drawings which might have pleased Kim Il-sung. Good drawings are put up in schools. Typically, they either depict the Kim family or they depict children stabbing Japanese or American soldiers with swords or pencils. …

Children are encouraged to be willing to risk their lives for the values of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, more so than for their own parents. Children are surrounded by patriotic images and slogans projecting Kim Il-sung as a fatherly figure, protecting the nation and providing for its citizens. Such messaging and indoctrination serves not only to create loyalty to the leader from a young age, but effectively works to fracture familial ties as children are expected to display greater respect and commitment towards the Supreme Leader than their own parents. 

All school subjects are taught in a manner compatible with state ideology. For example, one witness described that, when reference was made to a chemical gas in chemistry lessons, a comparison had to be made between how the two Korean governments would use the gas. According to this rhetoric, while the DPRK aimed at industrial development, ROK would use it for tear gas against protestors discontented with the conditions of their lives.

MASS GAMES AND OTHER COMPULSORY MASS PROPAGANDA EVENTS

Children and university students in the DPRK are regularly required to participate in parades, mass rallies and other choreographed performances which serve a political purpose. The largest of these performances is the annual mass gymnastics, today generally referred to as the Mass Games. …

The Mass Games have become a major source of foreign currency revenue for the DPRK. They attract large numbers of tourists, who are often unaware of the human rights violations endured by participating children, who are compelled to participate (unless their physical appearance does not meet the state-determined ideal). Training will often last an entire year, including 4-6 months during which the participants train all day at the expense of their schooling. Training practice is gruelling. Children who do not perfect their performances are subjected to physical punishment and additional evening training. …

In testimony before the Commission’s Tokyo Public Hearing, Ms L described how she missed an entire semester of university education because her class was required to practise for 6 months, 10 hours a day, for a short segment of a parade, to be held in the Kim Il-sung Stadium of Pyongyang in the presence of Kim Jong-il. Training was so intense that some participants fainted from exhaustion. … Ms L recalls that her teachers would invoke the example of a boy of 7 or 8 years of age who had practised through the intense pain of an acute appendicitis. He eventually died because he did not receive timely medical care. The dead child was treated as a hero because he had dedicated his entire life for an event in the presence of Kim Jong-il.

CONFESSION AND CRITICISM SESSIONS

Children in the DPRK are introduced at an early age to “confession and criticism” sessions. Children gather in groups weekly and take turns standing up and describing their activities for the previous week, as far as possible showing how they were living in accordance with the teachings of the Kim philosophy and the Ten Principles. The Principles are recited during the confession. Children must berate themselves if they have failed in some way during the preceding week; such as being absent from class or not having made a contribution as expected. They must then make a commitment to become better. They are also expected to describe the failings of at least one of their peers in the same group. Until they identify someone for criticism, they are not allowed to stand down.

COMPULSORY MEMBERSHIP IN MASS ORGANIZATIONS

All citizens are required to become members of and participate in the activities of mass associations that are under the oversight of the Workers Party of Korea. Membership starts on entry to elementary school. All children aged between 7 and 13 are made members of the Children’s Union. Their activities are overseen by officials of the Kim Il-sung Socialist Youth League, which is made up of DPRK citizens aged between 14 and 30. After the age of 30, a citizen becomes a member of the General Federation of Korean Trade Unions, Democratic Women’s Union or the Union of Agricultural Working People depending on one’s employment and marital status. …

Membership of these associations serves several basic functions. One is to organize and monitor the daily activities of the people whether at work or outside of work. Another is to ensure continued indoctrination through regular classes on teachings of the Kim philosophy as well as sharing of information on current and foreign affairs. …

A major activity undertaken by the Youth League is to mobilize its members and administer “volunteer” labour units to carry out public construction works. It is expected that ordinary DPRK citizens, aged from 17 years old onwards, would be mobilized and enlisted into groups to work on various construction projects building roads or public structures. …

Refusing participation in these activities does not appear to be an option as doing so would reduce one’s prospects for social and political mobility and leave a black mark on one’s dossier. In addition to a registration system where all DPRK citizens are issued an identity card which they keep in their possession, there is another record system maintained by the Government with respect to each individual which has direct impact on one’s ability to succeed and advance in society, and which the individual has no right to access.

UBIQUITY OF PROPAGANDA

Citizens in the DPRK are constantly exposed to ubiquitous state propaganda. The Propaganda and Agitation Department within the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea is primarily responsible for generating propaganda directives. In a speech to Party Propagandists in 1981, Kim Jong-il stated, “… solid foundations for propaganda and agitation work have been laid under the single guidance of the Party Central Committee.” Kim Jong-Il provided guidance on how to intensify ideological education as well as propaganda and agitation for the construction of the socialist economy. He spoke of verbal agitation, agitation by artists, effective use of visual aids and officials setting personal examples as different forms of agitation that are powerful and influential. …

In each and every household in the DPRK, there must be at least three framed pictures on display, i.e. one of Kim Il-sung, one of Kim Jong-il and one of the two of them appearing to be in discussion. Kim Jong-un’s picture has not yet been ordered to be displayed. This may be in keeping with the example set by Kim Jong-il. He did not add his own image until the end of the traditional mourning period of three years following his father’s death. It has been widely reported how every DPRK citizen must wear a badge or lapel pin with Kim Il-sungs portrait as a sign of loyalty. Everyone is also expected to bow to these portraits and to always make sure that they are kept in pristine condition. …

One witness described how his father had unintentionally soiled an image of Kim Jong-il printed in a used newspaper which he had used to mop up spilt drink and was consequently sent to a political prison camp (kwanliso). … According to one witness, a staff member of a hospital in North Hamgyong Province was investigated by the State Security Department (SSD) for one month after accidently breaking the glass on a portrait of Kim Il-sung whilst carrying out the mandatory weekly cleaning of it. …

The people of the DPRK are taught from young to revere the Kim family and to internalize the state ideology as their own thoughts and conscience. The Commission finds that throughout the lives of the DPRK citizens, whether at work or outside of it, the activities of citizens are regulated and closely monitored by the state. The individual has no option but to participate in state-directed associations and activities; as otherwise, one’s record would be tainted and opportunity for upward mobility would be impeded. …

(Control of News from the Outside World)

Summing up the impressions that numerous persons who fled the DPRK conveyed to the Commission, one witness emphatically stated :

“You are brainwashed … don’t know the life outside. You are brainwashed from the time you know how to talk, about 4 years of age, from nursery school, brainwashing through education, this happens everywhere in life, society, even at home … North Korea is not open to the outside world, is a fenced world. So nothing should come through that fence. Even listening to the radio, this is restricted to certain channels. They want the people to be blind, deaf to the outside world, so that the people won’t know what is happening.” …

When people buy television sets in the DPRK, they have to register the television with a government authority, the Transmission Surveillance Bureau of the SSD, referred to as Department or Bureau 27. This bureau is responsible for modifying the equipment so that it is able to receive only the approved channel(s) and to block off television channels broadcast from the ROK, China and Russia. The DPRK also deploys sophisticated jamming equipment to block foreign television broadcasts. However, such jamming efforts face limitations considering they are energy-intensive while the DPRK commonly suffers from energy shortages. …

DPRK citizens with some technical knowledge are able to listen to the radio, including foreign broadcasts, while avoiding detection. A skilled technician can substitute the missing components in a recorder such that a nail can be used externally to complete the circuit to allow someone listening to the radio using earphones to appear as if he or she was simply listening to the recorder. Short wave radio broadcasts produced by stations located in or set up by the ROK are also easily accessible with appropriate equipment. Several of these Seoul-based radio stations, some funded by the USA, are run by former DPRK nationals and provide listeners with not only news from outside the DPRK but also news regarding the DPRK and the government’s activities not normally broadcast internally.

(All Media Must be Government Approved)

Ms L testified that she regularly watched ROK (South Korean) movies on a hard disk or CD, but she was very scared of being caught. Some of the vendors were shot to death. She was asked by the municipality to go to one of the executions, but did not do so. The authorities could not force her, because she was out of school and they could not easily locate her. In her home province, there was a special security force that was assigned to crack down on the viewing of South Korean movies. They conducted door to door searches and checked people’s CD players. On some occasions, they waited for the electricity power to come on and then deliberately cut it, so that people could not take out the CD from the player. On one occasion, a friend threw his CD player out of the window, so as not to get caught. Around 2006, one of her sister’s friends, a 31 year old woman and her brother were caught watching South Korean movies and were tortured. She was detained for one month, during which she was deprived of sleep and beaten. She had to write a long apology for days on end. Shortly after her release, Ms L saw the woman and noticed how thin she was. She also heard that the woman’s brother was beaten so badly that he could not walk for a while. …

In 2009, one witness, who was planning to flee the DPRK, was caught while calling from a mobile phone through a localization device employed by the SSD. He was stripped and searched. When the mobile phone was discovered, the agents accused him of espionage and beat him, before detaining him at the SSD Interrogation Detention Centre in Hyesan, Ryanggang Province. In detention, the agents took turns beating him with a piece of wood. He lost his teeth in the lower jaw. The witness managed to escape and was later told by a contact in the SSD that he would have been executed if he had stayed.

Another witness recalled a man being arrested for the use of a Chinese mobile phone and involvement in smuggling activities in 2006. He was interrogated by the SSD and severely tortured, resulting in head injuries and fractured bones. The victim was released without further punishment following the payment of a substantial bribe.

(Suppression of Freedom of Expression)

Among the long list of offenses allegedly committed by Jang Song-thaek, uncle to Kim Jong-un, who was executed in December 2013, was “unwillingly standing up from his seat and half-heartedly clapping” when Kim Jong-un was elected vice-chair of the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea and announced at the Party’s Third Conference.

A witness related to the Commission how he was discouraged since his youth by his parents from aspiring to become a writer as no one could write freely. In the DPRK, one can only write about matters which put Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il and the Workers’ Party of Korea in a good light. Writers who write beyond this remit were liable to be arrested and treated as political criminals.

At the Seoul Public Hearing, Mr Jang Hae-sung told the Commission: “My friends, people who used to be writers … [w]e are never allowed to write our ideas, our thoughts … for example, this writer, he slipped when he was talking to someone else. He was drunk at the time, he slipped and he said that writers are never allowed to write their ideas and just by saying that, he was sent to Yodok, Camp No. 15...”

Ms Jeong Jin-hwa during the same session of the Seoul Public Hearing added: “There are lots of people who were taken like that, especially in the media. If you are in the media in North Korea, if you slip, it becomes a political issue. And as Mr. Jang said, we saw a lot of people taken away to the kwanliso, the political camps. So some people, the general criminals go to the correctional camps, but these writers, the people in the media, if they slip just once, they can disappear overnight and their family can be gone overnight, and sometimes, the three generations are wiped [out]. So you see, some people are told that, people think that they deserve it because they turned their backs on the regime. This is what the people think.

I have to stop. This post is becoming too long.

Trump says that Kim “loves his people.”

There is no love for his people in the 2014 UN report.

None.

Only self-serving control enforced by cruelty.

IMG_1106 Kim Jong-Un

_________________________________________________________________________

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.