CURMUDGUCATION: In Detroit schools it’s snitch or be fired

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Detroit: Snitch or Be Fired

Governor Rick Snyder’s appointee and Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Darnell Earley (already famous as the emergency manager who poisoned the Flint water supply) has a problem on his hands.Well, actually, he has several problems…

Follow this link for the rest of this blog post: CURMUDGUCATION: Detroit: Snitch or Be Fired

Former Flint mayor  says it was “…DEQ director Dan Wyant, State Treasurer Andy Dillon and Governor Snyder who made that final decision.”



The Flint water crisis is complicated, and more details are being revealed nearly every day.

Dayne Walling has lived it from the beginning. Walling was the mayor of Flint from 2009 to 2015, the period of time when crucial decisions were made regarding Flint’s water supply.

Walling tells us that he and the city council had been considering signing on to the Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline even before Governor Snyder put an emergency manager in place to oversee operations in Flint.

“The city had been extending their contract with the Detroit system each year. The long-term contract had run out eight or nine years ago,” he says. They explored many long-term options, including the Flint River, but that option was dismissed because it “just wasn’t feasible.”

Read and listen to the whole report here: Former Flint mayor on water crisis: “It’s frustrating to me that more has not been done” | Michigan Radio

Here’s the key passage in this news report in my view:

The two systems (Detroit & KWA) have some notable differences. KWA is “a more cooperative base,” with each community paying for its share of the project and eventually treating its own water for its customers, Walling explains, while the Detroit model has a “distance and elevation cost built into their system,” meaning customers further from the service center end up paying more for their water.

So, both systems would supply Flint and Genesee County with Lake Huron water, but KWA was determined to be “a few hundred million dollars cheaper,” Walling tells us.

“That was the recommendation that emergency financial manager Ed Kurtz brought to myself and city council, but we need to be clear that it was DEQ director Dan Wyant, State Treasurer Andy Dillon and Governor Snyder who made that final decision,” he says.

MI Public Radio: Covering Flint’s Water Crisis


Covering Flint’s Water Crisis
Over the past few weeks, Flint’s water crisis has exploded as a huge national story, with coverage in The New York Times, Time Magazine, and Rolling Stone, as well as national TV news shows. Michigan Radio has been covering this story from the very beginning, including the city’s 2014 water supply switch to the Flint River and the first citizen complaints about the smell and taste of the city’s tap water. 
Our reporters have also been explaining the story to listeners nationwide on shows like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, The Rachel Maddow Show, Here & Now, The Diane Rehm Show and On Point, and many local public radio station shows around the country. Last weekend, Lindsey Smith’s documentary about the crisis, “Not Safe to Drink”

 was distributed nationally by the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal to public radio stations all over the country.

You can count on Michigan Radio to bring you the latest developments in this ongoing news story. Find all our coverage on the Flint water crisis here

Fear prevents some undocumented immigrants from getting water in Flint


Some Spanish-speaking residents in the city are just now finding out that lead contamination has made the water unsafe to drink. 


Retired CEO claims nobody’s in charge of education in Michigan, calls for ‘business’ to step up to the challenge


State School Superintendent Brian Whiston (shown here) has fine objectives but can’t succeed under the current process, writes Ken Whipple retired chairman and CEO of Consumers Energy.(Photo: David Coates / The Detroit News)

Whipple: Nobody’s in charge of education in Michigan

Ken Whipple is the retired chairman and CEO of Consumers Energy.

He opens his guest op-ed in today’s (28 Jan 2016) Detroit News with this:

“Here’s a really tough question, though: Who’s in charge of delivering this good education for all our kids. Remember, all means all. Who is accountable for progress and results? The blunt answer in our state is nobody. No one. And that’s the whole problem with our lack of progress and results.

The governor is not in charge, the State Board of Education is not in charge, the state superintendent of education is not in charge, the emergency managers are not in charge, the plethora of weak-sister charter authorizers aren’t in charge, and the Legislature has been hopeless in this.”

He then goes on to compare efforts in Massachusetts over the last 20 years, led by business groups, with Michigan’s failed reforms. For him, Massachusetts is the bar-setting state when it comes to striving for K-12 education excellence. And he repeatedly notes that “business” interests led the way to Massachusetts success.

Oh for heaven’s sake Mr. Whipple.

Do some research.
Mass. students average abt 23-24 on the ACT
Mich. students average abt 20-21 on the ACT
Mass. tests only less than 25 percent of its HS graduates – all presumably college bound.
Mich. tests 100 percent of its high school gradutes – whether they are college bound or not.
Mass. ranks in the top 10 in terms of lowest percent of its citizens living in poverty – about 10 percent.
Mich. recently ranked 33rd – with almost 17 percent of our citizens living in poverty.
Boston has roughly 20 percent of its residents living below the poverty line.
Detroit has almost 40 percent.
Mass. never approached Mich.’s numbers when it began what you say was a 20+ year journey to educational excellence. It has always had a leg up on Mich. in that regard.
Of the 100 largest school systems by enrollment, Maryland had four of the top 10 public school districts with the highest current spending per pupil. The top-five school districts (as of 2013) for per pupil spending were Boston City Schools ($20,502), New York City School District ($20,331), Anchorage School District in Alaska ($15,419), Montgomery County Schools in Maryland ($15,080) and Baltimore City Schools ($15,050).
Detroit come in at just under $14,000 from all sources including all categorical aid.
Next time you want to write an op-ed and run comparisons be sure to let readers know you are comparing apples to oranges right up front.  – JLS



Massachusetts boosted the quality of education with clear responsibility, having business help keep results on track writes Whipple. To read the entire op-ed, follow the link below.

Source: Whipple: Nobody’s in charge of education in Michigan

Reblog from CURMUDGUCATION: Power and Order during School Choice Week

Power and Order

Posted: 28 Jan 2016 08:08 AM PST

It’s School Choice Week and all the usuals have to check in, and I’ve been trying to read the work of the more serious choice advocates. And that would have to include Andy Smarick.

Smarick’s entry at the Rordhma Institute blog is School Choice: The end of the beginning

in which he would like to suggest that charter-choice systems are a done deal, and he has a lesson from his years of pushing choice that he wants to share:

Go here: CURMUDGUCATION: Power and Order

Race is in the Air We Breathe and the Water We Drink | posted by Jim Wallis @Sojourners

How would you feel if you realized your children’s water was being poisoned, and your government didn’t seem to care? That’s the story of the parents of 8,000 mostly poor and black children in Flint, Mich., (which means most all of the children in urban Flint) that has finally hit our media front pages. The evening news I am watching as I write warns the parents of Flint not to bathe their young children in city water.

But the fact that most Americans realize this would never happen in affluent white Michigan suburbs (or any other white affluent communities in our country), still doesn’t penetrate our very souls. This fundamental contrast between black and white experiences in Michigan, just north of my home town of Detroit, points to the structural racism that is still the primary moral contradiction of American life. The news about Flint is just the most recent consequence of America’s Original Sin

, the title of the new book we have just launched.

The poisoning of the majority-black population of the city is a product of a system failing the people of Flint on many levels over a long period of time. To really start unpacking the historical roots of the crisis, you have to go back to slavery itself, which debased the humanity and devalued the lives of black people from well before our nation’s founding; followed by the Jim Crow era of legal segregation, discrimination, and violence against black Americans, which resulted in early 20th century migrations of black people from the segregated south to urban manufacturing centers of the northern United States. When they got there, they found cities without legal segregation, yet with de facto segregation and discrimination alive and well in both white attitudes and systems. The arrival and growth of black populations in northern cities was followed shortly thereafter by white flight to the suburbs, aided by discriminatory housing policies that effectively prevented the vast majority of black people from joining them and blocked the financing of black homes even in the cities.

As manufacturing jobs left cities like Detroit and Flint over the years, unemployment soared, property values declined, and the people who remained found themselves trapped in poverty in cities whose tax revenue was eclipsed by the services these cities are responsible for providing for their citizens. The result? Drastically inferior employment prospects, inferior education, both leading to higher crime, and inferior health outcomes for people of color in many urban centers across the country. Racial ghettos, it must be said and understood, have never been an accident, but are the results of public policy. This is a necessarily short but accurate explanation for a very complex confluence of systems that together represent structural racism. In my new book, I explain in greater depth how some of this came to be, the history behind it, and the moral challenge it presents especially to people of faith.



Source: Race is in the Air We Breathe and the Water We Drink | Sojourners

Reposting from CURMUDGUCATION: The University of Texas is launching a… well, to be honest, I’m not sure. Some kind of MOOC. A newly tech-based instructional delivery system.

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




UT Offers Gobbledeegook Education Program

Posted: 27 Jan 2016 04:02 AM PST

Here’s one for the Has To Be Seen To Be Believed file, or perhaps the Ugly manhandling of English Language file, or most especially, the Why Regular People Don’t Listen To Academics file.

The University of Texas is launching a… well, to be honest, I’m not sure. Some kind of MOOC. A newly tech-based instructional delivery system. Probably a version of Competency Based Education.  But Marni Baker Stein, Chief Innovation Officer of the University of Texas System’s Institute for Transformational Learning, is at Inside Higher Ed to plug the… whatever it is.

The entry is entitled “The Future Is Now.” Treasure that phrase, because it’s the last thing in the piece that will make plain sense (and was probably written by the IHE editor and not Stein). Can we figure it out?

— Go here to find out>

Personalized Learning Study called “Promising” but claims diminished by limited evidence, weak generalizability 

BOULDER, CO (January 26, 2015) – A recent report from the RAND Corporation explores three school-wide initiatives funded by the Gates Foundation to promote personalized learning. The report includes many strengths, but a review explains that the study provides little support for the evidence about personalized learning to be described as “promising” for all students.

William R. Penuel, Professor of Learning Sciences and Human Development, and doctoral candidate Raymond Johnson, both at the University of Colorado Boulder, reviewed Continued Progress: Promising Evidence on Personalized Learning for the Think Twice Think Tank Review Project at the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder’s School of Education.

Personalized learning encompasses a range of strategies, from developing learner profiles with individualized goals using data to providing personalized learning paths, in which students have choice, get individualized support, and engage in learning outside school. Accordingly, the term personalized learning can mean many different things. In this report, RAND researchers organized personalized learning according to five different strategies:

  1. Learner profiles with individualized goals using data from multiple sources that students and teachers both access,
  2. Personalized learning paths, in which students have choice, get individualized support, and engage in learning outside school,
  3. Competency-based progression,
  4. Flexible use of time, space, and technology, and
  5. Developing academic and non-academic career and college readiness skills.

The researchers found evidence for the promise of personalized learning, and they based this conclusion on analyses comparing achievement data from students in 62 schools implementing personalized learning with students in a matched “virtual comparison group.” Specifically, they found that implementing personalized learning approaches was associated with higher scores on a common assessment.

The reviewers pointed out, however, that two of the factors associated with positive learning gains—student grouping and making flexible use of learning spaces—do little to distinguish these schools from many other schools that may not claim to be implementing personalized learning. In fact, only the practice of engaging students in analyzing their own data showed a consistent relationship to positive outcomes.

More broadly, the study lacked… — follow the link below to continue reading…

Source: Personalized Learning Study’s “Promising” Claims Diminished by Limited Evidence and Weak Generalizability | National Education Policy Center

CURMUDGUCATION reblog – Vouchers: Why Do Conservatives Love ‘Em?

Vouchers: Why Do Conservatives Love ‘Em?

Posted: 25 Jan 2016 05:31 PM PST

If the plaintiffs in Friedrichs vs. California Teachers (or the people for whom they’re sock puppeting) don’t like paying union fees (they already don’t have to pay dues) because the union will spend their money on activities with which they do not agree, boy, they would really hate school vouchers.

The rhetoric of pro-voucher folks (who at this point are the most long-twitching of the various undead unsuccessful reformster species) is to frame the decision about those tax dollars in a very specific way. “These tax dollars belong to the students and their families, not the bureaucracy of government schools” or some equivalent is the usual construction. This money belongs to the deserving child, not the money-grubbing public school system. It’s a clear choice. And it’s a false choice.

The tax dollars associated with public schools belong to neither the child nor the school system.

Those tax dollars belong to the tax payers.

The foundation of public education is pretty simple. “Hey,” said the members of various communities. “Let’s put some money together and get the kids an education, because if they grow up stupid, we’ll have to live with and depend on a bunch of stupid adults, and that seems like a bad idea.”

Oh, “and we’ll elect some of us to keep an eye on the school and the money we pooled to run it.”

In fact, one the weird things about voucher-choice systems pushed by conservatives is how very un-conservative these concepts are.

Those communities did not say, “Let’s collect a bunch of money, give it to the parents, and they can spend it on their kids however they like.” That would be another entitlement, and conservatives are not huge fans of the E word. In fact, conservatives have been pretty vocally unfriendly to the idea of “free” college for any who want to attend, because it would just be another entitlement by which students would feel entitled to attend college paid for by tax dollars ripped from the public’s wallets.

But how is a voucher-choice system anything other than an entitlement for children to attend private school with tax dollars ripped from public wallets?

Conservatives also dislike it when publicly funded universities use public tax dollars to pay professors who say things with which some conservative taxpayers deeply disagree. How is a voucher-choice system any different– particularly in a place like Ohio where I can set up a charter based in Sharia Law or White Supremacy or Flat Earth Cosmology?

Because one thing is certain under a voucher-choice system– taxpayers without school age children have no voice in how education is managed in their community. Yes, public schools can make choices that the taxpayers hate– and then the taxpayers can come tell the elected school board how much they hate those choices, and the taxpayers can replace the board members with more amenable ones. In a voucher-choice system, if you have no child, you have no voice.

Conservative support for vouchers continues to mystify me. It’s a new entitlement. It’s taxation without representation. It’s also expensive– because as the public system loses money through vouchers, they have no choice but to raise taxes. Okay, that’s not entirely true– a community with a large majority of childless taxpayers could elect a board that gives everybody a huge tax cut and tells the voucherfied system, “Screw you. Go find the money for schools somewhere else.” And then the system would either collapse or need a government bailout.

So tell me again why conservatives love vouchers and choice?

Source: CURMUDGUCATION: Vouchers: Why Do Conservatives Love ‘Em?

Beware of ‘push polls’ pushing your buttons

A push poll is an interactive marketing technique, most commonly employed during political campaigning, in which an individual or organization attempts to influence or alter the view of voters under the guise of conducting a poll.
When I was teaching high school journalism I briefly discussed “push polls” with my students during the run up to the local Gun Lake Tribe seeking federal approval to restore lands in Allegan County (Michigan) to their control and for future construction of their present casino.
Opponents hired a firm to create a push poll in an effort to demonstrate a significant lack of community of support for the Tribe.
Fast forward a decade or more and I answered the phone this afternoon and received a pre-recorded tele-poll which ostensibly was about the March Michigan Primary and November General Election and after running some standard demographic questions/answers (press 1-2-3-4) determining if I was leaning to the GOP or DNC candidates, one by one – up popped this PUSH statement – and this is KEY to the SPIN the PR companies Snyder hired are pushing… and I paraphrase “The Flint City Council voted in 2013 to authorize the State’s Emergency Manager to leave the City of Detroit’s water service and use the Flint River as its new source.” 
Then the pollster asked me to determine who, based on that information, I felt was mainly responsible for the Flint Water Crisis.  After explaining how the MDEQ failed to warn the City of Flint and how its Director resigned and how the EPA “did nothing” and it regional EPA administrator resigned my options were (as best I can recall) 1. Michigan MDEQ, 2. US EPA, 3. Flint City Council or 4. Detroit Water Authority. I believe I had the option of indicating I did not know.
But in any case, no option to select the State of Michigan Treasurer Andy Dillon or Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley or even Governor Rick Snyder.
Now let me copy and paste from “Bridge” an online magazine from The Center for Michigan’s Truth Squad.

“The crisis timeline distributed to reporters (at Governor Snyder’s State of the State” address) and now available online states that in June 2013, “City of Flint decides to use the Flint River as a water source,” a phrasing similar to what the governor used in his State of the State speech, (“Flint began to use water from the Flint River as an interim source”) suggesting that the city, not the state, drove the interim decision to use the highly corrosive river water for city residents.

Here’s the problem with that: City officials did not make the decision to take water from the Flint River. There was never such a vote by the city council, which really didn’t have the power to make such a decision anyway, because the city was then under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager.

The council’s vote in March 2013 was to switch water supply from Detroit to a new pipeline through the Karegnondi Water Authority – but the pipeline wasn’t scheduled to be completed for at least three years. (And even that decision was given final approval not by the council, but by then-state Treasurer Andy Dillon, according to Snyder emails released Wednesday.)

Snyder also said that Detroit, after being informed of the Flint council vote, sent a “letter of termination” of water service. Actually, Detroit sent a letter giving Flint one year on its existing contract, but that didn’t mean Flint couldn’t get water from Detroit after that date. In fact, there was a flurry of negotiations between Detroit and Flint to sign a new contract that would carry Flint through until it could connect to the under-construction pipeline. That new contract was going to cost Flint more money.

This distinction is important to note because merely stating that Flint received a “letter of termination” makes it sound as if a thirsty Flint had no choice but to stick a straw in the Flint River. Flint could have elected then to sign a new contract with the the Detroit water system (indeed, Flint eventually reconnected to Detroit water after the situation in the city became a full-fledged, hair-on-fire crisis). Flint was disconnected from Detroit because it was cheaper to take water from the Flint River until the new pipeline was completed.”

That is the PUSH of the poll – as a poll participant, you are PUSHED in a direction to accept a belief or line of reasoning, from which point as a participant you base the answers to the remainder of the questions.
  1. Dishonest.
  2. Deliberately biased.
  3. Designed to deceive voters/participants.
And while I do not know who is managing the poll I received today it’s fair to assume it was one of two companies Governor Snyder hired recently which to me means that he is AN UTTERLY DISHONEST PERSON AND IS COMPLICIT IN DELIBERATELY DECEIVING MICHIGAN CITIZENS BY BLAMING ANY PERSON, ANY GROUP, ANY DEPARTMENT – AND NOT HIM.

Who approved switch to Flint River?

State’s answers draw fouls

To read the entire Truth Squad analysis at Bridge magazine go here –

Snyder hires two PR firms amid Flint crisis

For more on Governor Snyder’s decision to hire TWO public relations firms (Mercury Public Affairs of Washington, D.C., and Bill Nowling of Finn Partners, a New York firm with offices in Detroit)  you can go here –

Push poll

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For more on Push Polls  go here – 
(Artwork credit goes to this link)