Yahoo, yayhoo or patriot? You be the judge…

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

A reader of this blog has taken me to task for not spelling the word “yahoo” correctly. This is deeply distressing and unfair! An expert in such things (a man from Wyoming) once imparted to me lore regarding the distinction between a “yahoo” and a “yayhoo.” Perhaps it is spelled the way it is pronounced: “yay-hoo.” I can’t be certain.

The distinction was very fine-I think “yahoo” might have made reference to people who don’t know as much as they think they do, whereas “yayhoo” might refer to someone far-gone on the ideological spectrum as to have lost touch with reality. I find it all a bit confusing, so I tend to use the terms interchangeably.

Now the writer also makes her case against Tony along the way. “With the advent of President Bush’s No Child Left Behind in 2001, followed by President Obama’s Race to the Top, Common Core and NCLB waiver programs, we have been under constant pressure to surrender education decision-making to Washington and its trade association partners. Every aspect of voter disdain can be traced to the requirements imposed by federal programs such as the Race to the Top Fund Assessment Grant and the NCLB waiver.”

So the people of Indiana rose up in long-suffering anger regarding federal interference in schools and chose to take it out on Tony Bennett. This is plausible if we take “the people” to mean “the writer” but not so much otherwise.

Tony didn’t have anything to do with NCLB, and Indiana pulled out of the Race to the Top competition. I’d be willing to wager by left big-toe that if we administered a survey to the Indiana public and asked them to explain the elements of Indiana’s NCLB waiver that all but a small percentage would likely reply “what NCLB waiver?”  or something similar. People are rational actors and the vast majority of them won’t make time in their lives to learn anything more about NCLB waivers than studying Mayan hieroglyphs absent some good reason to do so. I’m also willing to bet that the new Superintendent will lose her real or imagined federalist fervor and choose not to nullify the waiver so as to have almost every public school in Indiana facing NCLB sanctions.

Never mind any of that- we mustn’t let mere logic or facts get in the way of a good conspiracy theory, especially if the conspiracy is thwarting the will of the public. Tony Bennett was controlled by Arne Duncan and special interests, and this NEA candidate will serve as Tribune to the People. Let’s see how that works out. Tuttle concludes “As for Ladner and his ilk, I note that long ago, the British disdainfully called the patriots ‘Yankee Doodles,’ and they mocked George Washington as an ignoramus. So go ahead. Call me a yahoo. But if you paint my portrait, make sure you show me holding the Declaration of Independence in one hand and the Constitution in the other.”

For my part, I’m content to allow Tuttle to continue to draw her own self-portrait and for readers to reach their own conclusions.

17 Responses to Yahoo, yayhoo or patriot? You be the judge…

  1. George Mitchell says:

    Check out Tuttle’s tag-line:

    “Erin Tuttle is a volunteer for children and education issues in Indianapolis. She is partnering with national and local groups to promote education policy issues that strengthen students, parents and teachers.”

    Because of length the paper had to edit her original submission that she also keeps a tidy house, uses no pesticides, and walks rather than drives to the market.

  2. Matthew Ladner says:

    Now George-most volunteers are the sort of people that keep the world spinning on its axis and every group has their eccentrics…

  3. stlgretchen says:

    I don’t think Tuttle is alone in her opinion. At last count, I believe over 30 Indiana grassroots organizations were in agreement in their disdain for CCSS and the increasing federal involvement, direction, or whatever descriptor you choose to insert. Citizens were first told they were “state led”, but in reality, they were crafted by two private trade organizations, CCSSO and NGA. Now the superintendent in Stockton, CA is telling taxpayers that CCSS are “teacher directed”.

    The states that didn’t “win” RTTT federal money were promised waivers if they signed on to CCSS. Seems to me Bennett (and others) jumped out of the frying pan into the fire with that waiver. It’s about time states call the Federal bluff and refuse to go along with an even more onerous plan of mandates that have no chance of succeeding and places states into even more dire financial straits.

    It’s no wonder the “Yahoos” have had enough and apparently Bennett’s support of CCSS was the last straw for him. Should the voters be suspicious of Glenda Ritz and her agenda? Sure. And they can vote her out when she faces re-election if she doesn’t deliver what the majority of voters want.

    What a novel concept! Voters can decide who they want representing their interests in educational matters! I know this goes against the current educational reform mantra (currently directed by private organizations unaccountable to taxpayers even as the taxpayers must pay for them) and I wonder if this is why you are mystified and snarky toward those voters, yahoos, yayhoos, or citizens who don’t go along with your educational ideas. You seem to like this Solyndra-type partnership of “free market” in education. Call it “free market” when, in fact, the charters use taxpayer money for funding and maintaining of the schools. And in my state (Missouri), these “free market” or “choice” schools still have to abide by the same CCSS mandates as traditional public schools. That’s not really much of a “choice”, is it? The same education crafted by private organizations to fit their agendas is complete. Package it up, call it choice, but don’t tell the people it’s the same gift offered to the traditional public schools, it’s just in different wrapping.

    Maybe folks would like to read what education “insiders” think about Bennett’s defeat means for IN and nationally (pgs. 33-36):

    Click to access Nov%202012%20-%20Education%20Insider%20%28Federal%20Policy%20-%20Testing%20-%20Elections%29_0.pdf

    “Could have a chilling effect. Or, could wake the Common Core advocates up that they have a problem that is bigger than Jim Stergios and some bloggers.”

    “The doomed enterprise heard the first tolling of the bells.”

    With all due respect to you, Mr. Ladner, the problem with CCSS is bigger than Ms. Tuttle and us other yahoo writers and citizens trying to put a nail in the CCSS coffin. The problem isn’t us, it’s the nationalization of education in the hands of private corporations using tax dollars without taxpayer approval or input. Solyndra was exposed as a money making venture using taxpayer dollars to make a few rich and no alternative energy and/or products were produced. It went bankrupt. Many of us believe that’s the goal of education reformers today. It has zero to do with education and everything to do with profits and creating a managed economy.

    Regarding Mr. Mitchell’s and Mr. Ladner’s conversation with each other: I guess you “really put Ms. Tuttle in her place with your sarcasm and caustic remarks”. Apparently volunteers’ opinions don’t mean as much as paid corporate educational reformers in Mr. Mitchell’s and Mr. Ladner’s world. Isn’t that interesting? The volunteers (eccentrics included) might just happen to be a large part of the group (taxpayers) paying for this corporate driven educational reform and supplying their kids to the system.

    Silly me. I thought taxpayers (volunteers included) were even more valuable stakeholders in public education than the elitists who are creating these systems in which their own children probably don’t participate because it’s not good enough for them.

    If your disdain, arrogance and contempt for conflicting opinion and debate is indicative of paid educational reformers and state superintendents who try to implement these reforms, it’s no wonder Tony Bennett was defeated.

  4. I’m with Tuttle. I’ve heard her on the radio. I’ve read what she writes. She does her homework, unlike most people, on the all-important issues of education and how political forces are hurting local control of, and quality of, education.

  5. Matthew Ladner says:

    Ms. Swasey-

    How are we to square a romantic view of local control of school districts with the ugly reality of barely double digit turnout in many school district elections? The Indiana reformers addressed this by moving school elections to the Fall date when turnout will be many times higher.

    In my book this will strengthen local control of schools by increasing democratic participation in the governance process. Some however would describe it as the state meddling in local democracy.

    • George Mitchell says:

      Simple way to increase local control. Universal choice.

    • allen says:

      And turn out is supposed to do what? Diminish union influence in local school board elections? Cause the electorate to develop an interest in public education policy? Moving school board elections to the date of the general election doesn’t do either of those.

      At best moving school board elections to the general provides an opportunity for more people to vote in ignorance.

      Bennett lost due to a confluence of righties who vote, with more then a bit of justification, against all things Washington-centric and lefties who are reflexively opposed to any substantive changes to the public education system.

      At least the defenders of the status quo have a definable position on the issue. It’s the lack of a definable and coherent position that marks the reform side with some folks being in favor of vouchers but against charters, others in favor of standardized testing but against teacher accountability and other claiming their soup is too hot.

      The only common element is what everybody doesn’t want and that incoherence doesn’t have the makings of political success. That reform has moved steadily forward is more a tribute to diffuse, public disatisfaction with public education then of the wise heads of academe charting a course through the wilderness to the shining city on the hill.

      • George Mitchell says:

        There should be a way to screen out spam on this blog.

      • matthewladner says:


        WordPress runs adds to keep the lights on. Jay’s initial $25 investment couldn’t be enough forever.


        School districts are organized as local governments and while taking a step to quintiple voter turnout is certainly not a cure-all it certainly strikes me as a necessary step to avoid widespread regulatory capture.

        In other words, there is no lipstick to put on a 10% turnout pig.

      • allen says:

        Whatever the turnout, Matt it’s still a pig. There’s no policy or idea or law or curriculum that’s going to change the basic nature of public education and that’s it’s essentially political nature.

        That means that only political power will drive school districts in whatever direction the most powerful, consistent constituency demands. Teacher’s unions, having a consistent, urgent interest in the politics of education, will always win in the long run.

        Part of the strategy of opposition to reform is delay in the hopes that reform fervor will dissipate as it has repeatedly over the past five or six decades. Wait long enough and the public will lose interest and things can get back to normal.

        Fortunately charters showed up to give focus to public dissatisfaction, as well as public dissatisfaction seemingly having greater depth this time around, and the district model is under an attack such as has never been seen before. Indirect, unfocused attack but attack nonetheless.

        The main advantage of moving school district elections to the general is to save some money. Worthwhile for sure but I very much doubt it’ll have much impact on the politics of public education.

        Oh yeah, what spam?

  6. grumpyelder says:

    George, This site uses a Word Press platform, so I can assure it’s well equipped to deal with spam.- It’s up to the site owner, not readers, to decide what they consider spam or offensive comments,

    Matt;, when virtually everything is mandated by the state or federal government there’s little reason for voters to be interested. They come out fast enough when the choice is a tax increase or doing away with popular programs. Unfunded Rttt mandates are about force a property tax increase where I live. That increase is because voters knocked down a 12% Sales tax increase to fund the mandates..

    There are things that will get the public’s attention and the public is just starting to realize RTTT and Common Core have a hefty price tag.

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