Charter Researchers Promoting “No Excuses” Schools Republish Inflated Claims

BOULDER, CO (October 9, 2015) – In December 2014, the “Department of Education Reform” at the University of Arkansas published a meta-analysis of the effects of so-called No Excuses Charter Schools. The report was subsequently reviewed by Professor Jeanne Powers of Arizona State University, for the National Education Policy Center. Powers raised several serious questions, and she criticized the report for its overstated claims about the potential of these types of schools to close the achievement gap.

A new version of the report was recently released by the National Center for Studies of Privatization in Education (NCSPE), and Professor Powers has now provided a short follow-up review, published along with the initial review on the NEPC website. She finds that the NCSPE version has a revised introduction and conclusion, wherein the authors do note additional limitations to their study. However, the report’s major shortcomings remain. In the follow-up review, Powers explains, point-by-point, her remaining concerns with the study:

William J. Mathis, (802)
Jeanne M. Powers, (805)

URL for this press release:

Find Powers’ original review and follow-up review of the “No Excuses” charter report here

The original Arkansas report is currently available at the following url:

The republished version of the Arkansas report is currently available at the following url:

I will take a Michigan Macintosh any day of the week over a HoneyCrisp – how about you?

Michigan Radio report—

In our little informal apple poll, Michiganders agreed: Honeycrisp apples are the tastiest apple to eat.

Unfortunately, your love for Honeycrisp apples could be the reason why they are so pricey.

Up until 2008, farmers had to pay a royalty on Honeycrisp apple seeds to the University of Minnesota, where they were first developed.

According to a University of Minnesota website, Honeycrisp apples are now enjoyed by millions, in places like Europe, New Zealand and South Africa.

These apples are loved for a balanced sweet and tart taste and their crisp texture, and they can last up to seven months with refrigeration.

But Honeycrisps are far from perfect.

Read the rest of the story here –

Michigan Radio reports Flint will change its drinking water source

Since shutting off the pipeline from Detroit and tapping the Flint River for the city’s drinking water, Flint residents have endured a progressively nightmarish existence every time they filled a glass from their kitchen faucet.

The cloudy water smelled and tasted bad.  Then there were E. coli outbreaks. The heavy chlorination in response to those outbreaks left people with burned skin and hair falling out in clumps.

A disinfectant by-product landed the city in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act for a year.

And then there’s lead.

Income for highest-paid workers growing at double the rate for lowest-paid workers

Rising wage inequality, 2003–13

OCTOBER 08, 2015

Rising wage inequality in recent years has brought increased focus on the disparity between the highest wage earners and the lowest wage earners. From 2003 to 2013, real or inflation-adjusted annual wages for the highest-paid 10 percent of workers (wages at or above the 90th percentile) increased 4.6 percent, while those for the lowest-paid 10 percent decreased 2.2 percent.

  • Percent change in real or inflation-adjusted annual wages by selected percentiles, 2003–13
    Percentile 2003–13 change
    10th (lowest 10%) -2.2%
    25th (lowest 25%) -5.5
    50th (median) -1.8
    75th (highest 25%) 1.7
    90th (highest 10%) 4.6
Average hourly wages for the highest- and the lowest-paid 10 percent of workers by metro area employment size, 2013
Employment 90th percentile 10th percentile

1,000,000 or more

$47.06 $9.07

500,000 to 999,999

42.23 8.76

100,000 to 499,999

37.44 8.67

Less than 100,000

34.41 8.57

Wage inequality varies considerably by metropolitan area. Large metro areas tend to have greater disparity between the highest- and lowest-paid workers, while smaller areas have less disparity. The highest-paid workers in large metro areas also tend to earn more than the highest-paid workers in smaller areas, while the lowest-paid workers earn similar amounts in large and small areas. In 2013, workers in the top 10 percent earned $47.06 per hour in the largest metro areas (those employing a million or more), compared with $34.41 in the smallest areas (less than 100,000 employed). For the lowest-paid 10 percent, hourly wages ranged from $9.07 in the largest areas to $8.57 in the smallest areas.

These data are from the Occupational Employment Statistics program. To learn more, see “Measuring wage inequality within and across U.S. metropolitan areas, 2003–13,” by J. Chris Cunningham, Monthly Labor Review, September 2015.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Rising wage inequality, 2003–13 on the Internet at October 09, 2015).

OpenSecrets.Org Weekly Newsletter: What we don’t know just might hurt us

Two women arrested Tuesday morning and charged in federal court with laundering money from Chinese businessmen each tried to give a California GOP lawmaker the maximum contributions allowed by law last year, Federal Election Commission records show.

Jason Gagnon, communications director for Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), whose campaign and leadership PAC received the checks, said the $10,200 the congressman’s committees ultimately received will be donated to a charity organization after OpenSecrets Blog inquired about the donors on Wednesday.committees and PAC — nearly double the gifts of the No. 2 on that list, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

487 organizations spend millions to influence Trans Pacific outcome

For interest groups that sought to influence Washington’s thinking on the massive trade package set to bind together 40 percent of the world’s economy,Monday’sannouncement of an agreement on the terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership was a long time coming. Over eight years of negotiations, 487 clients paid lobbyists to meet with or contact lawmakers …read more…

With a gun lobby lock on Congress, Clinton would try executive action

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton’s plan for cracking down on gun violence faces long odds given a Congress that has largely failed to pass gun control legislation for years and receives millions of dollars from gun rights groups every election cycle. Which is why Clinton – speaking in New Hampshire on Monday after a shooting left 10 people dead at Umpqua … read more

Ryan’s fundraising flair could be crucial for House GOP

Rep. Kevin McCarthy‘s shocking announcement that he would drop his bid for House speaker could put Republicans at a disadvantage in one of the most vital aspects of the next election: fundraising. Absent the saving grace of a certain House Ways and Means chairman, that is. When McCarthy backed out, that left two relatively inexperienced fundraisers in the race. Reps. Daniel Webster … read more


Some teachers are mad as hell and they just aren’t going to take it anymore

UPDATE: New Mexico’s Teacher Evaluation Lawsuit: Final Day Five

Posted: 10 Oct

The final day in the New Mexico’s Teacher Evaluation Lawsuit in Santa Fe was this past Thursday, October 8th. Unfortunately I could not attend day five (or day four) due to a prior travel engagement, but here are two articles that highlight the events of the final day (for now) in court.

Owing to spending parts of four decades in education, I follow with some interest VAMboozled! A blog by Audrey Amrein-Beardsley notably because she is spot-on when it comes to cover educational issues, specifically teacher evaluation, accountability and something called “value-added modeling” which is where she derives the moniker for her blog.

Secondly, because my brother is a high school history teacher in New Mexico, I also follow her reporting on the near soap-opera going on in his adopted home state. A group teachers, backed by the American Federation of Teachers, is charging that the New Mexico’s current teacher evaluation system is unfair, error-riddled, harms teachers, and deprives students of high-quality educators.  More here ->

Reporter Chris Quintana in The Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper reported the teacher evaluation system, implemented in the 2013-14 school year, has been among the most divisive of the education reforms instituted by Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera. Skandera has said the previous system rated 99 percent of teachers effective and needed to be overhauled. Skandera, it is worth noting, is a former member of Jeb Bush’s staff when he was governor in Florida.

Teacher Evaluation Systems “At Issue” Across U.S. Courts

 But back to Audrey Amrein-Beardsley’s blog… she reports that New Mexico is not alone in lawsuits over teacher evaluations.  She writes, “As you have likely noticed, lawsuits continue to emerge whereby (typically) state’s “new and improved” teacher evaluation systems, based in part on value-added model (VAM) output, are at legal issue. If you have lost track, Education Week just published an article with all lawsuits currently filed, underway, or completed across the nation. In sum, there have been 14 cases filed thus far across seven states: Florida n=2, Louisiana n=1, Nevada n=1, New Mexico n=3, New York n=3, Tennessee n=3, and Texas n=1.”
 You can find her blog here –

Kalamazoo County public charters enrollment down; traditional public holding steady, or increasing

One heels of the fall count day for public schools across Michigan, here’s a nice job on the public charter/traditional public enrollment figures by Julie Mack of the Kalamazoo Gazette/MLive.

Julie writes, ”

KALAMAZOO, MI — While enrollment is largely flat this fall among Kalamazoo-area school districts, the student counts at charter schools serving the general population are down 14 percent compared to fall 2014, according to figures supplied this week by local school officials.

Wednesday was the state’s official Count Day. Once finalized, the numbers determine the finances of K-12 public schools, which receive most of their funding through a per-student grant from the state.

The area’s three largest school districts — Kalamazoo, Portage and Mattawan — are reporting their students counts are within 1 percent of their fall 2014 numbers.

Kalamazoo and Mattawan are up slightly, while Portage is down six students, based on the preliminary, tentative figures.

Kalamazoo Public Schools, the region’s largest school district, is estimating an increase of 82 student, putting enrollment at approximately 12,668 students.

That’s an increase of 0.6 percent, but KPS officials said it’s significant considering thecurrent challenges facing public schools.

That includes a declining birthrate that is shrinking the number of school-age children, and a change in the cut-off date for kindergarten enrollment from Oct. 1 last year to Sept. 1 this year, which decreases the number of eligible kindergartners.”

Here’s the link to the rest of the story.

Drug testing welfare recipients costs twice what it saves

Matt Agorist of the Free Thought Project writes on, “In an ostensible attempt to combat the increasing welfare state in America, the conservatives moved to begin drug testing applicants to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The program was hailed by the right as the be all end all to those “lazy welfare recipients sitting at home and smoking their drugs all day. 

Agorist writes that advocates of the legislation claim that they will save money by getting those “evil drug users off of the government teet, thereby reducing the expense of the welfare system. Sounds great doesn’t it? Taxpayers should most assuredly not be shelling out money for people to sit at home and “smoke their drugs all day.” But is that really what happens?”

As I see it, if the purpose of drug testing people receiving “government assistance” (in ALL its forms) in an effort to find people who are making dumb decisions, I would not start by testing welfare recipients. I can make a list of people making use of tax dollars and making some really dumb decisions who very well might be under the influence of something or other.

Here’s the link to the rest of Agorist’s article —