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December 28, 2013

safe to assume graft at the texas education agency?

I totally missed this story from a couple weeks ago, but I'm game for any story about how charter schools are less than transparent, blacking out financial information in public records.

This could lead into what you'd expect from me — "charter schools are bullshit because the public education should not be a business because businesses inevitably cut corners because Adam Smith" — but not this time.  We all know that.  What I'd like to focus on is this excuse about why some of this information is blacked out:

A spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency said redactions appeared on the application because the information was copyrighted.

OK guess what?  THAT'S NOT HOW COPYRIGHT WORKS.  The short version of copyright is that it's the protection afforded a fixed expression of an original work.  Information (or an idea, for that matter) is not ever protected under copyright.  Ask Major League Baseball, which has being trying (and failing) to claim copyright protection for baseball scores for decades.  Also, when some joker on Twitter coins a tasty little phrase and wonders if he should copyright it?  Well give it a shot Cowboy, but don't hold your breath.  Because THAT'S NOT HOW COPYRIGHT WORKS.  Trademark that shit, if you're actually using it in interstate commerce, but if not then your only other course is to whine and cry.  So get to it.

Back to the point.  The Texas Education Agency claims that the redactions happened because the information is copyrighted.  Let's assume it is!  (It's not.)  Let's assume that the charter school company, or the charter school subcontractor, for that matter, actually filed copyright on some silly financial report.  Fine.  The mere fact of copyright does not cause a third party to redact information from a public report.  In fact, the only way that the third party knows to do something like that (or leave the copyrighted material out), is when the copyright owner demands that to happen.

So what the Texas Education Agency is hoping you're too dumb to figure out is that the charter school company refuses to release information that public schools do routinely, and the Texas Education Agency is just fine with that.

I'm tempted to say shame on the reporter for not pursuing the obvious follow-up: "Erm, that's not how copyright works."  But it's an important story, chipping away at the artificial veil of secrecy imposed by those that would make a buck at the expense of our public school system, so instead of hating on the reporter, hate on the Texas Education Agency and everyone else trying to dismantle public education for their personal profit.  And then go read and share the article.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:40 PM

December 25, 2013

happy happy

So obviously Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, but then what I Christmas about?  Oh, I'm not trying to fight the War on Christmas (which is much more an Orwellian construct than its authors would like to admit), but seriously, in a secular world, and even in the mildly religious world that many self-professed faithful live in, what is Christmas?

Well, in many respects, it's a paid day off.  We all dig that.

Notionally it's a pagan holiday appropriated like so many others by the growth of Christianity a couple thousand years ago.

In my case, it's about seeing family and giving gifts (i.e., buying things).  It would mean a lot less if I saw my family more often.  If I lived closer to the family, I'd be a lot more cynical about the commercial aspects.

Whatever.  I'm just trying to throw in a hundred words before I wish you all happy whatever-this-day-means-to-you, be it the birth of Christ or a Vegan tattoo party.

Posted by mrbrent at 7:55 AM