ECOT’s Sponsor Asks Judge to Appoint Receiver for the School, But ECOT Presents Plan to Keep Going

ECOT’s Sponsor Asks Judge to Appoint Receiver for the School, But ECOT Presents Plan to Keep Going
by janresseger
Well… today is the day the Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West has said it will terminate its sponsorship and end the operation of Ohio’s giant, notorious online charter school scam, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow.

Last night the Columbus Dispatch reported that ECOT held an emergency board meeting yesterday, after which the school announced it had made a “final offer” to the Ohio Department of Education, that would include an agreement that William Lager, ECOT’s founder, would step down from Altair Learning, the private company he owns that manages ECOT. The plan would also, according to the Dispatch, “allow the state to continue recouping $80 million in overpayments of state aid,” and would allow the school to remain open through graduation this spring. Brittny Pierson,ECOT’s superintendent announced: “While we would have liked to remain open indefinitely, it’s clear the department will not accept a payback plan that would allow for that. Thus, we are left fighting to remain open until the end of the year to allow our students the opportunity to finish their school year….”

janresseger

Well… today is the day the Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West has said it will terminate its sponsorship and end the operation of Ohio’s giant, notorious online charter school scam, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow.

Last night the Columbus Dispatch reported that ECOT held an emergency board meeting yesterday, after which the school announced it had made a “final offer” to the Ohio Department of Education, that would include an agreement that William Lager, ECOT’s founder, would step down from Altair Learning, the private company he owns that manages ECOT. The plan would also, according to the Dispatch, “allow the state to continue recouping $80 million in overpayments of state aid,” and would allow the school to remain open through graduation this spring. Brittny Pierson, ECOT’s superintendent announced: “While we would have liked to remain open indefinitely, it’s clear the department will not accept a payback plan that…

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Immigrant Youth Fight for Their Future: What Will We Do in Grand Rapids?

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Since the Trump administration announced that it would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, the immigrant community has been fighting to maintain this program.

DACA youth, their families, friends and allies has been organizing on all kinds of levels, from educational forums to meeting with members of Congress, engaging in sit-ins, strikes and other forms of Direct Action.

Yesterday, hundreds of immigrants, DACA recipients and allies visited members of Congress. These visits were more like office occupations, where Dreamers made lots of noise to demand that Congress pass a Clean Dream Act. A Clean Dream Act would mean that it is not attached to other issues, especially the Congressional budget. Those in DC raising hell have been clear, by saying, “We are not a bargaining chip to be used by Republicans and Democrats.”

Dozens of people from West Michigan sat in on Senator Stabenow’s…

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Solidarity Event Planned with J20 Arrestees

by Jeff Smith (GRIID)
Almost a year ago, 230 people were mass arrested at protests against President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Following the arrest – which happened at an “anti-capitalist and anti-fascist” march – approximately 210 people were indicted on eight felony charges of inciting a riot, rioting, conspiracy to riot, and five counts of felony property destruction, punishable by up to 75 years in prison. While two charges – rioting and conspiracy to riot – have been reduced to misdemeanors, defendants are still facing the prospect of 60 years in prison.

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

(Editor’s note: This post was submitted anonymously.)

Almost a year ago, 230 people were mass arrested at protests against President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Following the arrest – which happened at an “anti-capitalist and anti-fascist” march – approximately 210 people were indicted on eight felony charges of inciting a riot, rioting, conspiracy to riot, and five counts of felony property destruction, punishable by up to 75 years in prison. While two charges – rioting and conspiracy to riot – have been reduced to misdemeanors, defendants are still facing the prospect of 60 years in prison.

Since January of last year, the cases have wound their way through the legal system. After mass arresting an entire city block, the government is attempting to retroactively build a case by searching seized cell phones, pouring over video recordings (some of which were obtained by alt-right sources), and subponeaing website records in…

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Will Ohio’s Giant Online ECOT Charter School Close Suddenly Day After Tomorrow?

Imagine everybody’s surprise when, at 7:53 PM last Wednesday night, reporters from the Columbus Dispatch announced that Ohio’s notorious Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) will likely be put out of business on Thursday, January 18th. ECOT’s final legal appeal of the state’s attempt to claw back $60 million in tax dollars overpaid to ECOT for the 2015-16 school year and another $20 million for the 2016-17 school year is still scheduled on February 13 for oral arguments before the Ohio Supreme Court.

Here is what we learned last Wednesday night from Dispatch reporters Catherine Candisky and Jim Siegel:

janresseger

Imagine everybody’s surprise when, at 7:53 PM last Wednesday night, reporters from the Columbus Dispatch announced that Ohio’s notorious Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) will likely be put out of business on Thursday, January 18th.  ECOT’s final legal appeal of the state’s attempt to claw back $60 million in tax dollars overpaid to ECOT for the 2015-16 school year and another $20 million for the 2016-17 school year is still scheduled on February 13 for oral arguments before the Ohio Supreme Court.

Here is what we learned last Wednesday night from Dispatch reporters Catherine Candisky and Jim Siegel: “The Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West, ECOT’s long-time sponsor, informed school officials this week that it has initiated proceedings to suspend ECOT operations ‘at or near the end of the current semester’ and terminate its sponsorship contract… ECOT’s semester ends next Thursday, Jan. 18.”  “ECOT, a statewide online school opened…

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Boarding Schools In Michigan: An Interview with Dee Sherwood

Dr. Dee Sherwood is a member of the social work faculty at Western Michigan University. She teaches courses on the American Indian Boarding Schools and intergenrational trauma in Indigenous communities. She is a mixed blood descendant of Paiute, French and English Nations.

Dr. Sherwood has helped to organize community events in the Grand Rapids Urban Indian community including film screenings, marches and educational forums, including events featuring Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement. She served as the advisor to the Native American Student Association at a local university. She also co-authored a curriculum guide published by the Ziibiwing Center for Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways.

In this seven-part interview, Dee talks about the origins of boarding schools in the US, how the history of boarding schools was a form of genocide against indigenous people, how boarding schools impacted indigenous communities, where some of them were located in Michigan, how this history is rarely taught even at the university level and how indigenous people have dealt with the consequences of boarding schools.

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Dr. Dee Sherwood is a member of the social work faculty at Western Michigan University. She teaches courses on the American Indian Boarding Schools and intergenrational trauma in Indigenous communities.  She is a mixed blood descendant of Paiute, French and English Nations.

Dr. Sherwood has helped to organize community events in the Grand Rapids Urban Indian community including film screenings, marches and educational forums, including events featuring Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement. She served as the advisor to the Native American Student Association at a local university. She also co-authored a curriculum guide  published by the Ziibiwing Center for Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways.

In this seven-part interview, Dee talks about the origins of boarding schools in the US, how the history of boarding schools was a form of genocide against indigenous people, how boarding schools impacted indigenous communities, where some of them were located in Michigan, how…

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Celebrating the Real Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

As we celebrate one of the great leaders in the Black Freedom Struggle, it is important that we familiarize ourselves with the real Dr. King and not the one that is promoted in commercial media or by organizations that have their own agendas.

Like most people, Dr. King was not a static person and was not part of a static movement. He evolved over time and continued to sharpen his own view of the world as he moved beyond a civil rights view to a more global liberationist view. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also matured in his use of tactics and strategizing when dealing with systems of oppression.

What follows are resources that we encourage people to investigate, so as to drawn your own conclusions about who Dr. King was, what he preached and practiced before he was assassinated nearly 50 years ago.

One good sources is The King…

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Countries that Trump calls Shitholes are violent, poverty stricken countries because of over a century of US Policy

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

President Trump is creating a stir again over his recent comments about immigrants that are coming from “shithole” countries, like Haiti and countries in Africa. 

Numerous commentators are responding to the racist nature of such comments and for good reason. However, there is a completely different component here that most media sources are missing and that is the fact that many of the countries that Trump is referring to have refugees/immigrants coming to the US because of US imperialism and European colonialism.

Let’s start with a look at Haiti.

Haiti became independent in 1804, after a revolution led by Black people.The US hated this fact and has been punishing Haiti ever since. Abraham Lincoln proposed to send all the black slaves to Haiti as a White Supremacist solution and since the early 20th century the US has pretty much run the small Caribbean nation.

From 1914 to 1934, the US…

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Indiana Privatizes Education: Daniels, Pence, DeVos, Bush, and a Red-State Tea Party Tide

janresseger

In his fine book, the One Percent Solution, economist Gordon Lafer describes Indiana—a state that became all-Red as its House of Representatives turned Republican in the 2010 Tea Party wave—as “one of the models of corporate-backed education reform.”

Lafer continues: “Between 2011 and 2015 legislators in the Hoosier state adopted new statutes restricting teachers’ right to collective bargaining, expanding both charter schools and vouchers, authorizing online education, lowering certification standards, requiring that teacher evaluations be based on student test scores, and replacing across-the-board pay increases with merit pay that is reserved for those with the highest test scores and often comes in the form of a onetime bonus rather than a permanent raise.” (p. 147)

Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education, covers this political transformation of Indiana in a fascinating short piece that you may have missed during the holidays. Burris explores the history of…

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The Business Press in Grand Rapids, 2017 Newsmakers and the local Power Structure

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Reading the business press can be difficult at times, but for those who are engaged in grassroots organizing, it is important for us to monitor such news sources. It’s important because those who have economic and political power are often more candid with what they think in the business press than in the more mainstream commercial media.

In addition, the business press also is pretty up front about their bias, even allegiance, to those who wield tremendous economic and often political power. This was demonstrated recently in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, with their announcement of the 2017 Newsmakers of the Year awards event, scheduled for January 31st at the Frederick Meijer Gardens. 

The list of nominees reads like a who’s who of the Grand Rapids power structure, with mostly familiar names, to those who follow power dynamics in West Michigan.

There are 16 separate categories, with 3 nominations…

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Government Confusion and Dysfunction Increases Insecurity for Children, Families, and Schools

janresseger

Life is filled with unknowns and eventualities we cannot control, but it used to be that we could expect the core functions and protections of government to be more or less predictable.  For twenty years now, parents whose jobs did not provide health insurance but who earned too much to qualify for Medicaid have been secure, knowing they could cover their children through the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a federal program administered by the states.

And in 2012 President Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to protect the young people who were brought here as babies or toddlers by their undocumented immigrant parents. DACA ensured these young people could at least qualify for a driver’s license, secure a work permit, and know they would not be deported as they matured into young adulthood.

We seem to live in a time of diminished expectations. Ten or fifteen…

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