Latest News and Comment from Education

Saturday, May 6, 2017




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Charters and the Front Line
Here's one of the things that really bugs me about the charter school industry. Public schools are on the front lines of multiple battles, and have been for decades, or possibly forever. Public schools work against ignorance and disinterest. They struggle with the issues of disintegrating families and families that appear whole but are dysfunctional. Public schools struggle against the parts of th


AZ: Dear John Allen: Bite Me
Arizona is struggling with a teacher "shortage," which is only a "shortage" if you believe that my inability to buy a Porsche for $14.99 is a sign of an automobile shortage. What Arizona is suffering from-- what many locales are suffering from-- is an unwillingness to make the terms of employment attractive enough to get teachers to work in their system. Arizona's median teacher pay ranks 50th in
Houston: Court Throws Out VAM
A while back, some Houston teachers backed by AFT took EVAAS (the Texas version of Value Added Measure) to court. It did not go well for reformsters. Ding dong, indeed. EVAAS is the VAM of choice in Houston. This is the system developed by William Sanders , an agricultural statistician who thought that a statistical model for modeling genetic and reproductive trends among cattle could be used to f

MAY 04

LeBron Opens Non-Charter School, Confuses Charter Fans
LeBron James is one of those millionaire sports stars who actually tries to do some good. In his home town of Akron, he has set up the LeBron James Family Foundation, a group that has been hugely active in the community. In 2011, recognizing that real change would require a lifelong commitment rooted in research and executed with care, LeBron began to tackle the high school dropout rate in Akron a
The Great Sorting
America has always been a land of contradictory impulses. Religious freedom! But not for those guys. Liberty for all! Except for slaves. Democracy! In which only white guys vote. Come to our country! But not you lot. Two of our biggest promises have always been in tension, because America has always been the land of the Great Leveling, where all humans are created equal, and the Great Sorting, in

MAY 02

LAUSD: More Cyber-shenanigans
Karen Wolfe has continued to pay attention to what Los Angeles schools are up to, a necessary activity as LAUSD is under constant siege by folks who would like to see it dismantled and the parts used to feed the LA charter industry. The extra challenge is that many of those folks are working form inside the district itself. Another batch of consultants heading for an LAUSD board meeting. Witness t

MAY 01

ESAs and the Vibrant Marketplace
Nat Malkus (American Enterprise Institute) is in US News touting Education Savings Accounts in an article that the page editor has entitled "Building an Education Marketplace" but the url names "The Perils and Promise of Education Savings Accounts for School Choice." The latter is less poetic, but more accurate. But if you want to see what one of the long games being played in education reform is
Is PISA Data Useless?
Yes, if you're a regular reader, then you know I think it's rather useless anyway. But in April this story dropped. Folks had begun a mild-tomedium freakout because the East Asian PISA math superpowers (South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc), the people whose program everyone else was trying to imitate, had seen their scores start to drop. But now Andreas Schleicher, the official in charg

APR 30

A Better PARCC/SBA Test Prep Program
You may recall the old SAT vocabulary lists. Dozens of test prep lists that promised to get you ready for the SAT because their creators had pored through and broken down dozens upon dozens of old SAT tests, and here they were-- the 50 or 100 or 500 words that most commonly appeared on the test. Of course you remember these lists, because they totally worked. While the SAT allegedly tested reasoni
Pennsylvania Recap (Call Your Legislator)
I don't usually do this, but it seems like a good moment to pause and gather up some of the more recent news from Pennsylvania, because it's becoming difficult to keep track of all the lousy ideas in Harrisburg right now. If you are in Pennsylvania, here's some food for thought for the next time you contact your elected representative (and that time should come early and often). School Funding Eme
Did FCC Just Damage School Internet
In the wonky alphabet soup depths of policy, this thing happened in April-- the FCC decided to uncap BDS pricing , because free market competition. Wires competing for space on free market pole Business Data Services refers to the kind of bulk internet access sold by providers like Verizon and ATT to business and other institutional buyers. Like small businesses or hospitals or libraries or school
ICYMI: Wrapping Up April Edition (4/30)
Where did that month go? Here are some reads from last week. As always, I ask you to please amplify what speaks to you. "I wish I could write like that person," is what I often hear, and I feel you, but anybody and everybody can tweet, facebook, email and otherwise amplify those voices-- and if you don't push a writer's work out into the world, it doesn't matter if she wrote it. Deescalating Schoo

APR 29

Lift Your Head
In my capacity as Head Stage Manager Guy at my school, I have spent my day on duty for a concert sponsored by a local church. It makes for a long day, but the crowd is always pleasant and the featured band this year is one my kids used to listen to growing up ( Audio Adrenaline , for you people both of faith and also of a certain age, though like most decades-old bands, they are now essentially a
Choice and Guarantees
You are visiting friends, and at suppertime, they give you two options. "We can go to Restaurant A," they say, "and there will be only one choice on the menu, but I can guarantee you that it will be awesome. Or we can go to Restaurant B where there will be plenty of choices, but it's entirely possible they will all be pretty lousy." Which restaurant would you select? Some reformy choice advocates


REVEALED: Governors are using mysterious ‘social welfare’ non-profits to prop up their administrations

REVEALED: Governors are using mysterious ‘social welfare’ non-profits to prop up their administrations:

REVEALED: Governors are using mysterious ‘social welfare’ non-profits to prop up their administrations

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One defining trait of 21st century politics in America is the use of undisclosed, “dark money” to fund election campaigns. Increasingly, such dark money groups are being used not just to elect politicians, but to shore up the political standing of governors.
Take Republican Eric Greitens, for example. When Greitens was running for governor of Missouri, he received a $1.9 million contribution from an organization that is not required to disclose the original source of the funds. That contribution set the record for the largest contribution to a candidate in Missouri history.
Since winning his gubernatorial campaign, Greitens has been a leader in the use of undisclosed, “dark money” for governing.
Jason Rosenbaum of NPR Weekend Edition Saturday reported on how Missouri Governor Eric Greitens has been relying upon an undisclosed “social welfare” organization founded by Greitens’ campaign advisors.
“Since most states don’t require 501(c)(4) to reveal much about what they’re doing, they’ve become increasingly popular fundraising mechanisms to help governors,” Rosenbaum explained.
Greitens’ campaign team has set up two different 501(c)4 “social welfare” organizations since election day. The name refers to the title of the tax code that governs such organizations.
Jeff Stuerman, Greitens’ campaign treasurer, set up the Committee for a New Missouri Inc. to fund the inauguration. Meredith Gibbons, Greitens’ finance director, is working at second fund with the similar name of A New Missouri. Catherine Chestnut, Greitens’ sister-in-law will also be working at A New Missouri.
Austin Chambers, Greitens’ senior advisor, is coordinating among the nonprofit arm, the campaign arm, and the governor’s taxpayer-funded state office.
Greitens has been heavily criticized for refusing to disclose the details behind the funding of his inauguration and privately-funded political travel.
“If there’s nothing to hide, why not just come out and say who’s paying for your flights?” Missouri state Rep. Greg Razer (D) told the Kansas City Star. “Large amounts of money are coming into this administration to pay for things, and we don’t know who’s paying for it. Who is bankrolling the system?”
“It’s not just that it’s unlimited, but it’s also undisclosed,” said Robert Maguire, a political nonprofit investigator for the Center for Responsive Politics, told NPR. “I doubt they want the public to know who’s funding them – particularly if they’re actual corporations that have any sort of business before the administration.”
One legislator even suggested the lack of disclosure was akin to political money laundering.
“Creating a nonprofit to act as a washing machine for donations and gifts wouldn’t be stopped by any of the ethics reform bills we’ve debated,” said state Rep. Gina Mitten (D).
While Gov. Greitens has been among the most brazen of Republican governors using 501(c)4 funds, his efforts should be viewed as part of a larger trend.
“Once it became so simple to raise and spend money in elections, it was only a small additional step to use the same tools in the policymaking arena,” Maguire told Governing Magazine last year. “There are no limitations, like there are when they’re engaging in elections.”
North Carolina Democratic Governor Roy Cooper has been criticized for promising access in return for contributions to the 501(c)4 organization Moving North Carolina Forward.
However, the record for the most corrupt use of a 501(c)4 by a sitting governor has got to go to Republican Robert Bentley in Alabama. His dark money group, the Alabama Council for Excellent Government (ACEGOV) was at the center of the scandal that caused Bentley to resign from office last month. As part of a criminal plea agreement, Bentley was permanently banned from ever again seeking office in Alabama after using his dark money fund to pay Rebekah Caldwell Mason, who was Bentley’s former senior political advisor and alleged mistress.REVEALED: Governors are using mysterious ‘social welfare’ non-profits to prop up their administrations: