Michigan Republicans not only want it hard for you to vote, they want you uninformed when you do (except by Super PAC ads) | Eclectablog

“As we wind down the year, those of us who pay attention to state politics are breathing a sigh of relief that the state legislature is no longer in session and working on ways to shape our state into the corporatocracy the Republicans so desperately want it to be. However, before they left Lansing for the year, they passed three pieces of legislation that go the extra mile toward making your vote as meaningless as possible.”

Eclectablog has posted a new item, ‘Republicans not only want it hard for you to vote, they want you uninformed when you do (except by Super PAC ads)’, at Eclectablog

You may view the latest post at


And The Winner For The Dumbest Comment Made (So Far) About Guns Is Rick Santorum.

From MikeTheGunGuy…

It’s time for me to issue a challenge to all my (Gun Violence Prevention) GVP friends: Which politician has said the dumbest thing about gun violence?

I don’t want to wait until next November because, frankly, some of these guys say things that are so dumb that if we waited another ten months to announce the results, the list would stretch from here to the moon.

Or at least from here to Fairfax, VA, if you know what I mean.  So what I’m going to do is post a dumbness comment whenever a particularly stupid thing comes out of one of the mouths of the clowns who actually believe they should be elected to lead the Free World, or whatever we are calling ourselves these days.

And the dumbest remark I can come up with right now popped out of the mouth yesterday of Rick Santorum, who is evidently still running for President, at least this is what he claimed he was doing in an interview on MSNBC.

Read the rest of the blog here: And The Winner For The Dumbest Comment Made (So Far) About Guns Is Rick Santorum.

CURMUDGUCATION repost: CAP: More Silly CCSS PR Polling

The slightly-cranky voice navigating the world of educational “reform” while trying to still pursue the mission of providing quality education.



CAP: More Silly CCSS PR Polling

Posted: 22 Dec 2015 05:58 AM PST

In an era in which even Jeb Bush has stopped saying the name out loud, no group has cheered harder for the Common Core than the Center for American Progress (theoretically left-leaning holding pen for interregnum Clinton staffers). No argument is too dumb, no data set too ridiculous. If that dog won’t hunt, CAP ties a rope around its neck and drags it.

So it’s no surprise that CAP is back with yet another Pubic Policy Polling poll announced with the breathless headline “NEW POLL: WHEN NEW YORKERS SEE SPECIFIC COMMON CORE STANDARDS, THEY SUPPORT THE COMMON CORE.

” Partnering up on this raft of ridiculousness is High Achievement New York, a coalition of business groups like the Business Council of New York State and reformster groups like StudentsFirstNY.

The poll, found here in its entirety, is as fine an example of scrambled thinking used to fuel PR as you’ll find anywhere. In the world of polling, there are two types of polls– a poll that seeks to find out what people are really thinking, and a poll that tries to make it look like people are thinking what I want them to think. This would be the second type of poll.

There are twenty-two questions that cover basically three areas.

For the rest of the blog post… go here… 

Robert Reich: On Trump & ‘defining deviancy down’

“Defining deviancy down” was an expression coined by the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan in 1993. Moynihan based it on the theory of sociologist Emile Durkheim that there is a limit to the bad behavior that a society can tolerate before it has to start lowering its standards.

Moynihan – and countless conservatives since — applied the slogan to the “moral deregulation” that had eroded families and increased crime. But the expression seems more apt these days to what Donald Trump and other Republicans are doing to American politics.

It’s not just their hate-mongering and bigotry, their lies and small-mindedness. It’s also their juvenile style, played in the gutter. I recall a time when political campaigns were played on high ground, when Adlai Stevenson and Dwight Eisenhower argued intelligently, when John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon thoughtfully debated the nation’s future.

But now we have Donald Trump, who said last night that it was “too disgusting” to talk about Hillary Clinton’s use of the bathroom during the last Democratic debate, and that she had got “schlonged” by Barack Obama when she lost to him in the 2008 Democratic primary.

Trump is defining deviance down, morally degrading our politics – and our nation. He is, frankly, disgusting.

By Robert Reich (Facebook post)


From Electablog: Trump campaign hires former Koch brothers shill to run Michigan campaign 

WHAT?! A corporatist presidential candidate hired a corporate shill to run his campaign?! Get oudda here! You can file this one in the “Well That Figures” file.


Source: Trump campaign hires former Koch brothers shill to run Michigan campaign | Eclectablog

From Education Week:As New SAT Looms, Students Opt for Multiple College-Entrance Tests – 

Published Online: December 22, 2015

As New SAT Looms, Students Opt for Multiple College-Entrance Tests

By Caralee J. Adams

With the rollout of the redesigned SAT coming in March, this year’s high school juniors face a dilemma: Should they take the current SAT, the new SAT, the ACT—or some combination of all three?Officials from ACT, Inc. and the College Board, which owns the SAT, say they don’t know how many students take both college-entrance exams but each reported that participation is up this fall.

A survey of parents of college applicants by Kaplan Test Prep released in November shows that 43 percent say their child plans to take both the SAT and ACT—often to see which test results in the higher score.Deciding which exam to take has added a layer of pressure to what some say is an increasingly stressful college search process.“It’s not been an easy choice at all,” said Sarina Hahn, a junior at Northampton High School in Northampton, Mass.

Feeling that there were too many unknowns with the new SAT, Hahn decided to squeeze her test prep into the fall to take the more-familiar SAT in December and January before it is revamped.

“I’m hoping from the two runs I’ll get a score that is good enough. If not, I’ll go to the ACT, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it,” said Hahn. “There is so much out there regarding the old SAT and tutors who know how to approach that test that it just seemed like it made the most sense.”

Shifting Landscape

Each year, nearly 4 million students take at least one of the two college-entrance exams. Some expect the ACT, which is now the more popular exam, will benefit this year as students like Hahn wait to see how the first administration of the new SAT goes.

“A number of school districts are saying to their juniors: ‘Just take the ACT’,” said Phil Trout, the president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

“Kids have the freedom to choose, and I know of schools where counselors are advising students to let someone else be the guinea pig for the new SAT.”

The new SAT is designed to be more straightforward and students should feel confident taking it because it focuses on the skills that are most important for college success, said Stacy Caldwell, the College Board’s vice president for college-readiness assessments.

“This is exactly the work that [students] have been working on in high school,” she said. “We’ve long said the best preparation for the SAT is taking the right rigorous courses. With the redesign, that’s even more true.”

Among the changes coming to the SAT:

The new composite score will range from 400-1600 rather than 600-2400.There will be no penalties for wrong answers, and students will have four answer choices instead of five.

The essay section will be optional.Vocabulary will be more familiar, and Calculators will only be permitted in some sections.

The new Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, offered for the first time in October, was intended to be a preview of the new SAT.

Scores and individualized feedback will be sent to students through a new interactive portal that can be used in their free online SAT test prep, added Caldwell.

To ramp up outreach, the New York City-based nonprofit has hosted webinars for counselors, presented at conferences, and distributed materials to districts and students.

While awareness of the changes dropped off after the initial announcement two years ago, the level of interest has picked up again, said Caldwell.Regional


Just what college-entrance exam students take—and the advice offered to them—may depend on whom they ask, and where they live.

This spring, 19 states will offer the ACT free, and six states and the District of Columbia will give the SAT free to all juniors—driving college-entrance exam patterns by location.

Take Missouri, where the ACT will be administered to all juniors in April. Sarah Dix, a school counselor at Hillsboro High School in Hillsboro, Mo., said she anticipates only a few juniors will travel 50 miles to the closest SAT test site this year.

There has not been a big push to tell students here about the new SAT and test prep for the ACT will be offered during the school day, said Dix.For years, Michigan has primarily been an ACT state, but this spring the SAT will be given free statewide.

After years of teachers folding ACT test prep-type questions into high school classes, many juniors are nervous about the switch, said Erica Empie, a school counselor at Hartland High School in Hartland, Mich. “Now all of a sudden this is the year they would be [taking the ACT] and everything is changing for them,” said Empie.

In this transition year, a lot of Hartland students will choose to take the ACT on their own, in addition to the SAT given for free at their schools. “This year’s juniors are in an unfortunate situation,” said Empie, adding that she believes the bulk of the educators were caught off guard by the change.

After years of students primarily taking the SAT, the Academy of the Pacific Rim Charter High School in Boston recently switched to preparing students to take the ACT, although the school does not administer either test.

“When they look at the [ACT] questions, they seem more straightforward to them,” said Doreen Kelly-Carney, a college counselor, of her students at Pacific Rim, which is mostly low-income and includes many first-generation college students. A few students will take the SAT and ACT, but the school dropped the PSAT this year and counselors are not pushing kids to take more tests than necessary.

Range of Advice

This year’s juniors are in a unique position to have three exam choices, so Jeff Fuller, the director of student recruitment at the University of Houston suggests students sit for each of them to see where they score the best.

“After the spring, it won’t be an option. So take advantage, and do it now while it’s available,” said Fuller, who is also a past president of the NACAC. He advises students to check with the universities where they plan to apply to learn about institutional preferences for tests.

Officials at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., will accept scores from the ACT or either version of the SAT.

“Some students will be more comfortable with the old SAT because they will be able to talk to their friends about the test, while others will find the new test to their liking,” said Kent Rinehart, the dean of admissions. The 6,500-student college is test optional, and about 30 percent of applicants don’t submit any scores.

“Students need to exhale and relax a bit,” said Rinehart, emphasizing that applicants’ academic records are more important than test scores. “Most colleges look at three-and-a-half years of work in high school, not three-and-a-half hours on a Saturday morning.”

Marie Bigham, a school counselor at Isidore Newman School, an independent pre-K-12 school in New Orleans, says advising students this year has been “tricky” but after taking some practice tests, she recommends they focus on one exam.

“I don’t want students to feed the beast by giving the College Board or ACT any more money than is necessary,” she said. “For the parent who suggests a student needs to take all three, I think that’s an epic waste of time.”

Still, some students aiming for the most-selective schools will likely take more than one exam. Bigham tries to provide some perspective: “We try to soft-pedal the anxiety of it.”

Juniors face a choice not only about which exam to take, but how many times. The ACT and the College Board report that about half of students take the same exam twice—typically once in their junior year and once as seniors.

Preparing for New Exams

The ACT has long been regarded as a curriculum-based test compared to the SAT, which is seen as an aptitude or reasoning test. Many expect the redesign will make the two tests more similar, and the College Board was driven, in part, by a hope of regaining market share.

While the new SAT aims to level the playing field and be less coachable, students are still investing time and money in test prep.

Since the College Board began offering free online test preparation in a partnership with the Khan Academy in June, more than 660,000 users logged on to the site and completed 15 million practice items. “The focus of the test prep is on core academic skills needed to be successful on the SAT and in high school and college,” said the College Board’s Caldwell. “Rather than it being about coaching tricks or ways to beat the test, what it focuses on is building core academic skills.”

When parents at Hartland High in Michigan ask Empie about test prep for the new SAT, she steers them to the Khan Academy website. “We are pushing it hard,” she said. “I love that free price tag and that idea that they take the PSAT score and give more tailored work.”

Kaplan Test Prep has adapted its SAT program, and officials said there has been a significant increase in students taking the new practice tests. Michael Boothroyd, the executive director of college admissions programs for Kaplan, said students can benefit from going over the test ahead of time.

“Everything about the SAT is different. The test is unlike the others—in content, scoring, the calculator policy—and the PSAT has given a taste of that,” said Boothroyd. “You can’t go into this test cold. You need to understand each section. You need strong methods.”

In September, ACT, Inc. made subtle changes to its college-entrance exam—modifying the writing section and adding STEM, career-readiness, and English/language arts scores. It offers free practice tests online, and in December, ACT, Inc. introduced an updated online prep service for a fee, with waivers available for low-income students.

“Once students take a look at the ACT, their comfort level increases,” said Paul Weeks, the senior vice president of client relations for the ACT. Still, Weeks says the best prep for ACT is taking rigorous coursework in high school.

Along with the ACT and SAT changes, the class of 2017 will also experience changes in the federal financial aid application timetable as families will be allowed to submit prior year income-tax records. Fuller notes this makes it even more important to students to stay on top of deadlines and varying policies at the colleges they are considering.

Added Sarina of Northampton: “It’s definitely an interesting time to be a junior. There is a lot of shifting going on.”


As New SAT Looms, Students Opt for Multiple College-Entrance Tests – Education Week

Affordable Care Act – FAQ on How the Health Care Law Affects You and Your Family from AARP

What is the Health Insurance Marketplace?

Through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you can shop online and get help by phone or in person to find the health plan that works for you and your family. The marketplace allows you to compare plans and costs on an “apples-to-apples” basis. You also can find out what kind of financial help you may be able to get to pay for premiums and copayments. For example, for coverage in 2016, an individual with a household income between about $11,800 and $47,100 or a family of four with a household income between about $24,300 and $97,000 would qualify for financial help. These are ballpark figures and will change every year. While people with very limited incomes will receive the greatest help, moderate-income families can often get help too. To learn more about the Health Insurance Marketplace, read The Health Care Law: More Choices, More Protections. To find the Health Insurance Marketplace in your state, visitwww.HealthCare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596.


Review THE REST OF these frequently asked questions about how the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) affects you and your family GO HERE:

Source: Affordable Care Act – FAQ on How the Health Care Law Affects You and Y… – AARP

UN study reveals that Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon living in poverty

 Foreign refugees (coming to for example the US, Canada and Britain and France among others) go through a vetting process that can take from 18-36 months which begins with an application to the United Nations (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and includes meeting a variety international and national guidelines. That is not what we are seeing in the media when we watch boatloads of men, women and children paying off persons unknown to ferry them across land and seas to escape their country-of -origin be that from the Middle East or Central America (remember the boatloads of people who fled Cuba many decades ago?). Most of these people we see piled in rafts or inside trucks paid for that experience and then hoped and prayed that it would all work out because it simply could not be any worse than from whence they came. At least no one is trying to shoot them. No father, no mother would embark on such an adventure except in the most dire of circumstances. And we would each likely do the same. In colonial times in this country, tens of thousands of refugees fled the war torn towns and villages to Canada and most never returned.


Syrian refugee Fatima sits under a footbridge where she sleeps with her baby daughter Lamia in Beirut, Lebanon.

Joint report by World Bank Group and UNHCR reveals widespread poverty and vulnerability.

AMMAN, Jordan Dec 16 (UNHCR) Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon are facing dire levels of poverty, with the situation expected to worsen in the near future, a study published today by the World Bank Group and the UN Refugee Agency revealed.

Nearly 1.7 million Syrian refugees registered in Jordan and Lebanon live in miserable conditions, often unable to afford the very basics including sufficient food, clothes and medicine. The majority are women and children who live on the margins in urban and rural areas, often in substandard accommodation, rather than in refugee camps.

In Jordan alone, nine out of every ten registered refugees are either already defined as poor or soon will be, the report found.

The majority of these were assessed as being highly vulnerable to monetary and food shocks, such as when the World Food Programme was forced earlier this year to temporarily reduce or suspend food assistance to hundreds of thousands of refugees due to funding shortages.

“This report presents a sobering analysis of the profound poverty of Syrian refugees who have endured shock after shock. Their situation will only worsen unless there is a dramatic change in opportunity for them to support their own self-reliance and contribute to local economies,” said Kelly T. Clements, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees.

Source: UNHCR – Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon snared in poverty – study

Ex-principal who worked for Gov. Snyder’s Education Achievement Authority arraigned for bribery; free on bond

Five months after a grand jury secretly indicted her in a kickback scheme, ex-Detroit principal Kenyetta (K.C.) Wilbourn Snapp made her first appearance in federal court today on multiple charges that could send her to prison for years for allegedly stealing from the state’s lowest-performing schools.

Snapp, a former principal in the Education Achievement Authority who worked at Denby and Mumford high schools, was freed on a $10,000 bond during the hearing in U.S. District Court, where she is facing conspiracy and bribery charges. She also was ordered to surrender her passport and Concealed Pistol License, and limit her travel to southeastern Michigan.

According to a July 16 indictment — which wasn’t unsealed until Dec. 10 —   a vendor paid kickbacks to Snapp in exchange for a favor: winning a contract to provide after-school tutoring for Denby and Mumford.

Source: Ex-Detroit principal arraigned for bribery; free on bond

Congressman Fred Upton’s thoughts on the December 18 2015, the House passed a fiscal year 2016 consolidated appropriations package


On Mon, Dec 21, 2015 at 5:38 PM, <MI06ima@mail.house.gov> wrote:
Dear Jeffrey:
Thank you for contacting me regarding appropriations for fiscal year 2016. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue and welcome this opportunity to respond.
On December 18 2015, the House passed a fiscal year 2016 consolidated appropriations package by an overwhelming, bipartisan vote of 316-113.  This legislation contains funding for all twelve annual appropriations bills within the budget caps established by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.  Under the budget agreement, spending caps for discretionary spending in 2016 were raised by $50 billion while reforms to mandatory spending programs and additional saving were made to fully pay for legislation.
The legislation, negotiated in tandem with the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act which makes permanent or extends several tax provisions to prevent tax increases on millions of Americans, funds key priorities to support our troops, care for our veterans and 9/11 first responders, enhance America’s energy security, protect public health and our environment, and boost basic research for life-saving cures and new technologies.
Agencies that play an important role in promoting and protecting public health receive a significant boost in funding.  Of particular note, the legislation includes an additional $2 billion for the National institutes of Health (NIH) to advance Alzheimer disease research, brain research, antibiotic research, and mush more.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is funded at $300 million above the 2015 enacted level to support programs that address preventable chronic diseases like Heart Disease.  Without a doubt, our investments in biomedical research and prevention pay enormous dividends in increased health, longevity, and quality of life and in health care savings over the long-term.  I have long worked to make critical medical research a priority and new investments in this area helps builds momentum for our 21st Century Cures initiative, which the House passed earlier this year to speed up the development of life-saving cures.
Veterans programs that provide health care and job training receive a boost to reduce the claims backlog at the VA and ensure our veterans have the employment tools they need.  The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Fund is fully funded and permanently extended to ensure that the first responders that become ill due to their work in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks receive the healthcare they need and deserve.
Agencies critical to protecting and preserving our natural treasures are also given a boost.  The National Park Service (NPS) is funded at $2.9 billion – an increase of $237 million above the 2015 enacted level to reduce maintenance backlogs and for programs related to the Park Service’s Centennial anniversary.  The Bureau of Land management also received a boost to provide for better care of our vast public lands as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is reauthorized for three years and allocated $450 million, a major boost in LWCF funding which has protected thousands of acres in Michigan by matching States and local governments for acquiring public land intended to maintain and create recreation areas in the great outdoors.
The legislation also contains a number of essential provisions to support our treasured Great Lakes and the local industries that depend upon them, including authorizing more than $1.2 billion from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for harbor operation and maintenance activities. Keeping our commercial and recreational harbors open and operational is essential to local growth, infrastructure development, and job creation here in southwest Michigan. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is fully funded – a major victory for our region – to continue efforts to protect the Great lakes from a variety of threats and the U.S. Army Corps is directed to expedite ongoing work to block Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan.
While the legislation is not perfect, it contains important funding to keep our country safe, advance medical research, protect our natural resources, and support Southwest Michigan’s economy.  As always, my top priorities remain job creation and economic growth in Southwest Michigan.  As we look ahead here in the House, I remain ever-committed to working in a bipartisan manner to get the job done for Southwest Michigan families and businesses.
Thank you again for contacting me. As always, I appreciate hearing from you and look forward to your continued input. Please do not hesitate to contact my office if I may be of assistance in the future.

Very truly yours,
Fred Upton

Member of Congress