Bill Bennett, God-Man : "When 4 Americans Are Hung.... You Level The City"
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 11:04:01 AM EST
"No person can be more rightly credited with making morality and personal responsibility an integral part of the political debate than William J. Bennett."

Until revelations concerning a gambling addiction torpedoed his burgeoning career, Bill Bennett was busily building brand name recognition as a conservative moralist and an advocate for personal responsibility. But, Bennett seems to have drifted far since those days and now appears to champion a new allegedly "Biblical" values system based not in themes of mercy and forgiveness from the New Testament that Christianity has traditionally emphasized but, rather, rooted in a focus on Old Testament narratives on mass killing, and the punitive face of God, that ignores large swaths of the Old Testament of a distinctly different character, passages which emphasize mercy and forgiveness. The concept that whole populations can be held accountable for the actions of a few violates typical American popular notions of fair play ( as well as the Geneva Convention ) and seems to contradict the conservative ethic which holds that we are masters of our fates.

I'm at the 2006 "Voter Values" conference sponsored by the Family Research Council, and this morning's first prominent speaker was Sean Hannity, followed by William Bennett. Recounting the incident that led to a massive US military assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah - and implying that the US response to the deaths of four American private mercenaries working for Blackwater USA was somehow mild  , Bennet stated : "When four Americans are hung and the city cheers, you take out Fallujah. You level the city...."  Bennett then cited the example of the destruction of Hiroshima. Bennett's exhortation to mass collective punishment - the slaughter of hundreds or thousands of innocent civilians perhaps, or at least the destruction of their homes and cities - received enthusiastic applause. [ note: in response to one criticism of the following passage I originally wrote : "But, Bennett seems to have drifted far since those days and now appears to champion a new "Biblical" values systen based not in New Testament theme of mercy and forgiveness but, rather, in Old Testament narratives of mass slaughter. " I've amended the passage to now read: "But, Bennett seems to have drifted far since those days and now appears to champion a new allegedly "Biblical" values system based not in themes of mercy and forgiveness from the New Testament that Christianity has traditionally emphasized but, rather, rooted in a focus on Old Testament narratives on mass killing, and the punitive face of God, that ignores large swaths of the Old Testament of a distinctly different character, passages which emphasize mercy and forgiveness." ]

Bennett is doing just fine.  Along with Michael
"junk bond" Milken they are getting states all over the country to pay for their K-12 curriculum for e-schools.  Not a bad deal - they get the public school funding for each child they enroll, the kids learn at home on loaner computers, and the rest is profit for K-12. How much?  I dunno, it's a private company.  


by Brainbelle on Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 01:43:33 PM EST

Thank for bringing up that connection. I'd heard somewhere along the line that Bennett was in that arena but I'd long forgotten.

by Bruce Wilson on Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 06:38:46 PM EST

...was founded by Milken, his brother and Larry Ellison in 1996, but doesn't even have a website?

Mary, my wife and I are educators and have been following private sector, charter school results and hadn't heard of KU until your post.

All I was able to find was a Forbes article, a lot of links to to the same article  and an employment agency site, selling jobs at Knowledge Universe.

According to the article in Forbes, Knowledge Universe is a lot of interlocked corporations with 14,000 employees.

I wonder how they are scamming these school districts?
Which ones have bought into this deal?
And how is it working?
Where does Bennett fit in?
I read a while back Neil Bush is into some kind of education project funded by Saudis.
Maybe it's the same deal. 

Is this some kind of stealth takeover of the public school system?

by justintime on Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 10:31:26 PM EST
One of the more informative articles about KU was put together by Arizona State University: c

    I came to follow charter schools when the voters of Washington found them on the ballot for the 3rd time a few years back.  They were defeated by later permitted by changing the distance a student must live from their school to anywhere in the state.  That opened the door for K12's Virtual Academies.  K12 set up the Washington Virtual Academy through the Steilacoom SD:

If you sign up for the K12 mailing list you will receive information about attending a K-12 demo in your area.  I recommend it; they are quite the education.  K12 does not promote their virtual academies in public as homeschooling, but the demo makes it clear they are marketing their program to homeschoolers as homeschooling.  It's not.  It's public school.  The children are enrolled in the SD for the full federal/state/local funding.  I do not know how much K-12 gets for each student and how much the SD keeps but this article indicates another district gets 6% of the $6000 in funding for their program run by Insight  School Inc. 11m.html

(do you know what the average homeschooler could do with $6000 per child per year? That's a ridiculous amount of money for a few textbooks, worksheets and a loaner computer.)

Even more troubling are the applications for K12.  All are sent to a mysterious post office box in Baltimore.  All require extensive personal information: For example, PA requires the child's dental records.  OH requires information for the school lunch program (for HOME schooled students?).  All require family financial information.  Many are online:

What is Milken doing with that data?  

I think Bennett is the public face.  Who would send their children to a school run by Michael Milken?  What taxpayer would sit still for it?  A publicly funded private company with no public oversight?  

Jeb Bush founded a Charter School in Florida - Liberty City Charter School:

Neil Bush owns a TX company that creates the software for Charter Schools:

I personally believe it's the privatization of the public education system.  

by Brainbelle on Sun Sep 24, 2006 at 02:47:46 PM EST

You've given us a lot to consider and I'll have more to say later.

We live in WA and are familiar with charter school activity here.
Do you live in WA?
Just saw a government study on the poor performance of charter schools.
Did you see that? 

Do you know of any schools that have bought the Milken/Bennett deal?
Why is there no evidence of anything actually happening with KU, reports in the public forum, case studies in the journals, hype on the internet?
Are they not proud of what they're doing for education?
Is KU just for home schoolers?
Mysterious all right.

There are some great ideas out there, many already implemented, with results coming back.
My wife got a Gates grant for computers in primary schools.
Good program.

by justintime on Sun Sep 24, 2006 at 06:48:04 PM EST
keep googling.  There is a lot of info about charters and virtuals out there.  

Yes, we live in WA.  I missed the poor performance report.  I haven't been paying all that much attention.  I figured once the law was changed to get around the voters, it was a lost cause.  Big money and big lobbying are backing charters and virtuals.  

Steilacoom is sponsoring K12's Washington Virtual Academy.  Nasell-Grays River SD is sponsoring Washington Connections Academy.  I'm sure there are others.  

Anyone anywhere in WA can enroll their kids in K12, and lessons are done in the home.  I do not consider it homeschooling; to me it's permitting the district to use your home as an adjunct public school.  As public school students they are subject to the same rules as children in the classroom, including NCLB and the WASL.

It just annoys me as a taxpayer that K12 makes such a selling point of it being 'free'.  It's not.  It's public money going FROM the public classroom into Milken's pocket with no public accounting.  

by Brainbelle on Sun Sep 24, 2006 at 08:01:40 PM EST

is certainly the wrong analogy.  

This is much more like the tactics of the Gestapo.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 12:16:19 PM EST

But, Bennett suggested that the US assault on Fallujah was an inadequate one and that it had resulted only in increased Iraqi resistance.. Now, Bennett didn't simply come out and suggest that rebellious Iraqi cities ( or simply cities with factions rebellious or hostile to US interests ) should be destroyed with nuclear weapons, but he certainly sidled up to the edge of that idea.

by Bruce Wilson on Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 12:28:42 PM EST

Did attendance match predictions? Or was it as much of a bust as Dobson's recent Pittsburgh rally where only 3,000 showed up after 17,000 wereexpected.

Are theofascists losing popularity, do you think? 

by justintime on Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 12:38:26 PM EST
The organizers had to move extra seats into the main conference hall. So, it was a smashing success. Then again, the talent pool was extraordinary - the event seems to have been designed to motivate the troops ( many at the conference were politically involved at more than a casual level ) to get out the Christian right vote in November.

by Bruce Wilson on Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 01:36:14 PM EST

Yeah, that will win the hearts and minds of Iraqis as well as the rest of the Muslim world. What Bennett and too many of the so-called "conservatives" are good at is blowing things up, but incompetent at rebuilding things.

They're about change, but not change with improvement..

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Sep 24, 2006 at 01:00:45 PM EST

liked to blow things up. It's a problem when people with that impulse grow up but never mature.

by Bruce Wilson on Mon Sep 25, 2006 at 10:35:38 AM EST

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