In Cleveland, they built it, and riders came

ROI… return on investment… lordy what a ridiculous phrase to use (see below and follow the link to the article) when it comes to public services that serve “the public good” – the investment in helping people get to work or places of business or doctors visits or public schools and colleges or tourists and visitors is borne out by the fact people can accomplish all of that and more without have to own or rent a private vehicle because they are beyond their means or such ownership is otherwise simply impractical. Sometimes – no, very nearly always – there is no profit in providing public services because it is simply what living and working in society is all about as part and parcel of our collective responsibility for one another.

The lessons of Cleveland’s HealthLine bus rapid transit are many, including the need for wide community support for the project to succeed.

The BRT line that was constructed beginning in 2005 opened three years later, at a total cost of $200 million, about half provided by the federal government. Today, Calabrese said, it boasts the highest return on investment for any public transit project in the country – $114 for every dollar spent. 

The key seemed to be to give riders not only a shiny new bus line, but significantly improved service along the way.

Read the full article here: Bridge • The Center for MichiganIn Cleveland, they built it, and riders came

Michigan needs more construction & skilled trades workers; apprenticeship programs available

Just Google the phrase “construction worker shortage Michigan” –

After decades of  the “college for all” mantra, too many K-12 public schools have divested themselves of their vocational and traditional “shop” classes. Intermediate school district “tech centers” have picked up SOME of the slack, but interest in skilled trades has waned as more and more school counselors and parents have pushed, pulled and prodded students into the mindset that the jobs of tomorrow will require a post-secondary, if not 4-year degree.

Well beyond the fact that such claims are exaggerated to say the least, the job openings of TODAY, while demanding SOME post-secondary training or certification (less than a 4-year degree), are waiting for applicants who just are not there to be interviewed.

But the Michigan Laborer’s District Council has some advice for not only high school students, but under-employed young people interested in combining brains & brawn so to speak. Jobs and apprenticeships for jobs await!

By Geno Alessandrini Sr., business manager of the Michigan Laborers’ District Council, an affiliation of 13,000 construction workers who are members of the Laborers’ International Union of North America.


The Michigan Laborers’ Training & Apprenticeship Program gives construction contractors and workers access to a training program that is one of the best in the industry. The skills learned make union construction laborers the safest and most productive in the industry. Our union and signatory contractors are committed to not only ensuring our workers are highly skilled, but that every worker returns home safe to their family after a day of work.The facts matter: we need more skilled trade workers across the entire construction industry, workers that are well-trained, understand the critical importance of a safe worksite and earn a family supporting wage.


To read the full op-ed go here: Alessandrini: We need more construction workers

Bunkum Award Announcement | National Education Policy Center

BOULDER, CO (February 23, 2016) – With the Oscar celebration next week, and the Emmys and Pulitzers on the way, the National Education Policy Center announces this year’s winner of its Bunkum Award. We invite you to enjoy our 10th annual tongue-in-cheek salute to the most egregiously shoddy think tank reports.

It’s not easy to laugh when data are manipulated and made to fit foregone conclusions or when the research literature is misrepresented or ignored and low-quality or dishonest “evidence” has real impact on policy and on children. As best we can tell, polar bears aren’t laughing at reports from the American Petroleum Institute.

Yet “humor is one of the best ingredients of survival,” according to Aung San Suu Kyi—whose travails have been far weightier than ours. So we will persevere in our commitment to having a bit of fun each year with the evidentiary farce-lympics.

The Think Twice Think Tank Review Project arose as a response to the often-outsized policy influence of glossy, well-publicized reports that have not been vetted by peer-review. These reports regularly wrap themselves in the veneer of research, but they are frequently little more than propaganda masquerading as social science.

This year’s awards announcement, available on the NEPC website, is hosted by Dr. David Berliner, the Regents’ Professor Emeritus and former dean of the College of Education at Arizona State University. Berliner is a member of the National Academy of Education and the International Academy of Education, a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, a past president of the American Educational Research Association, and a widely recognized scholar of educational psychology and policy.

The 2015 Bunkum Winner

This year’s winner is the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, for Separating Fact from Fiction: What You Need to Know about Charter Schools. The National Alliance (NAPCS) describes itself as “the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement.” Separating Fact from Fiction is a fetching, sleek publication adorned with 15 charming photos of smiling children keeping watch over 21 easy-to-digest, alleged “myths” followed by responses that the report generously describes as “facts.” Yet Separating Fact from Fiction might more honestly be titled:

Playing 21 with a Stacked Deck
Blackjacked! 21 Attempts to Club Sound Policy.

To read more: Bunkum Award Announcement | National Education Policy Center

FairTest: The “New” SAT Is No Better than the “Old” SAT

For Michigan’s high school juniors (including my grandson) the “mandatory – no exceptions – college-bound or not-college-bound” SAT test will be this spring. This analysis of the “new” SAT is not a good sign for them. The College Board, which administers the SAT, won the three-year $17.1 million contract according to the Michigan Department of Education. Just imagine what Michigan schools could do with the money instead of sending it to that company.

Diane Ravitch's blog

for further information:
Bob Schaeffer (239) 395-6773
cell (239) 699-0468

for immediate release, Monday, February 22, 2016

Saturday, March 5, is the first administration of the “redesigned SAT.” Though its sponsor, the College Board, is promoting revisions in the exam’s appearance, none of the upcoming changes addresses its key weaknesses, according to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest).

Bob Schaeffer, FairTest’s Public Education Director, explained, “Even the College Board admits that the ‘new’ SAT will not provide more accurate forecasts of undergraduate success. It will still under-predict the classroom performance of women, older applicants and students whose first language is not English. The coaching industry is already selling high-priced ‘test prep steroids’ to teenagers whose parents can pay thousands to artificially boost scores on…

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