Who’s On Track For The Nomination? | FiveThirtyEight

CLINTON – 1,443 pledged delegates won

SANDERS – 1,208 pledged delegates won

Total Delegates possible:  4,051

A simple majority would be 2026.

Clinton would need 583 additional delegates.

Sanders will need 818.

The Democratic National Committee includes 712 “superdelegates,” usually elected officials and party leaders, whose votes at the convention are not bound to a candidate based on primary and caucus results. Because superdelegates can change their preferences before the convention, we are not including them in our delegate targets.

Source: Who’s On Track For The Nomination? | FiveThirtyEight

Andrew Bacevich and America’s Long Misguided War to Control the Greater Middle East

THE CONVICTION that invasion, bombing, and special forces benefit large swaths of the globe, while remaining consonant with a Platonic ideal of the national interest, runs deep in the American psyche. Like the poet Stevie Smith’s cat, the United States “likes to gallop about doing good.” The cat attacks and misses, sometimes injuring itself, but does not give up. It asks, as the U.S. should,

What’s the good
Of galloping about doing good
When angels stand in the path
And do not do as they should

Nothing undermines the American belief in military force. No matter how often its galloping about results in resentment and mayhem, the U.S. gets up again to do good elsewhere. Failure to improve life in Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya stiffens the resolve to get it right next time. This notion prevails among politicized elements of the officer corps; much of the media, whether nominally liberal or conservative; the foreign policy elite recycled quadrennially between corporation-endowed think tanks and government; and most politicians on the national stage. For them and the public they influence, the question is…

Read more here: Andrew Bacevich and America’s Long Misguided War to Control the Greater Middle East

Workers Building Trump Golf Course Face Deplorable Conditions – from “The Takeaway, WNYC”

The Dubai we see on TV looks like paradise. Sheikh Zayed Road — one of the most famous landmarks in the capital of the United Arab Emirates — is lined with towering skyscrapers, luxurious hotels, and golf courses.

But in the shadows of the strip lies the Dubai we don’t typically see — the slums that the workers who built those larger-than-life structures call home.

Migrant workers from neighboring countries often come to the United Arab Emirates with the promise of a better life. In “Trump in Dubai,” VICE Senior Producer and Correspondent Ben Anderson found that migrant workers constructing Donald Trump’s new international golf course receive poor pay and live in squalid conditions.”Trump in Dubai” airs on HBO.

Click on the ‘Listen’ button above to hear our full interview with Anderson, and check out some clips from his report below.

Source: Workers Building Trump Golf Course Face Deplorable Conditions – The Takeaway – WNYC

Self-financed candidates open their wallets in early months of 2016, despite poor track record | from the OpenSecrets Blog

Fifteen candidates running for open seats or challenging incumbents around the country have themselves provided more than half the funds they raised in the first quarter of 2016, a Center for Responsive Politics analysis of new campaign finance data shows.

The self-funding candidates range from Democrat David Trone in Maryland’s 8th District, who’s financing his own campaign to the tune of nearly $10 million, to Tim D’Annunzio in North Carolina’s 8th District, who’s mounting a challenge to fellow Republican Rep. Richard Hudson and has given $71,000 of the $71,016 his campaign has raised. Trone is a co-owner of Total Wine & More and has long been a Democratic … read more….

Source: Self-financed candidates open their wallets in early months of 2016, despite poor track record | OpenSecrets Blog

Are super PACs becoming captive to hedge funders? Six give nearly $10 million to presidential groups in March alone | from the OpenSecrets Blog

Are super PACs becoming captive to hedge funders? Six give nearly $10 million to presidential groups in March alone
Hedge fund managers know something about when to hold and when to fold.

Last month, they did more of the former when it came to political giving, holding steady with their pattern of making uber-contributions to presidential super PACs — even after the favored candidate of some of them dropped out of the race.

Wall Street dominates political giving. But it’s these donors, a much smaller subset of the securities sector, who play with the biggest money.

The month of March saw more big contributions to presidential super PACs from James Simons, Robert Mercer, Donald Sussman, Paul Singer , George Soros and Cliff Asness in particular.

The six men — founders of investment companies that manage hedge funds, or high-risk private funds that often require seven-figure buy-ins from their investors — anted up a total of $9.5 million to presidentially focused super PACs for the month, bringing their total gifts to these groups to $33.5 million for the cycle.

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read the full article



Saturday, April 23, 2016

Getting Better

Some days I think the problems behind ed reform boil down to a basic misunderstanding of human nature.

In Ed Week a few weeks back, Marc Tucker wrote about getting great teachers in every classroom (I would rather talk about helping the teacher in every classroom to do more great teaching, but okay) and in the midst of that discussion, he drops this

There are, of course, teachers who do work really hard, year after year, to get better and better at the work, but they are the ones driven by an inner demon, not ordinary mortals like you and me.  So, while it is probably true that most of our teachers could be really good, really expert, there are not nearly enough of them, because they have no incentive to do so. 

I’m really stumped here. Is Tucker seriously suggesting that ordinary mortals don’t want to get better at what they do?

The observation comes in the context of reporting that it takes ten years to achieve expertise, spurred by the rewards of climbing a career ladder. And here he goes

It says that happens only if the individual keeps working hard, year after year, to become better and better at the work.  But teachers have no incentive to do that.

This is just bonkers. The world is filled with people who work to get better and better at what they do, because that’s how people are wired. Every single one of my students cannot help trying to get better and better at things that they value. The confusion, I think, occurs because we force so many people in our society to do things, improve at things, get better at things they don’t give a rat’s rear about.

Yes, if you want someone to get better at processing G-34/A forms that mean nothing to anyone, you will have to incentivize that work. But where you find people doing something they love, you find people trying to get better for the same reason you find them breathing and eating– because that is what human beings are wired to do. We are learning and growing machines. But some people have always tried to “harness” that power by breaking people and trying to make them grow in approved directions, like a demented gardener who just keeps chopping and pruning and building obstacles to force trees to grow sideways.

Growing and improving is normal. Every person I know who plays music, in any capacity, is always trying to do better, spurred on by exactly zero external reward-based incentive. Every person I know who does a job they enjoy is always trying to do better. Every kid who ever tried to make a mud pie kept trying to improve the design and construction process. I cannot believe this is a thing we need to explain.

Reformsters keep embedding this faulty notion into their understanding of teaching over and over and over again– that teachers will only do a non-crappy job of navigating the education maze if policy makers can find a better piece of cheese to offer. Teachers will only improve through training and development if we tie it to the correct complex of carrots and sticks.

This is nuts. First of all, teaching is one field where it is absolutely clear, up front, that you need to be intrinsically motivated to enter. “I went into teaching so I could make big money, power and prestige,” said no teacher ever. The appeal used to be that you could do important work and be largely left alone to pursue excellence in your own way. Now the work is forcefully downgraded (help young folks grow has been replaced with help young folks do test prep) and the freedom to pursue excellence is increasingly stripped from the job.

Second, teaching has the best, most immediate feedback loop of almost any profession or research field. Every classroom is a laboratory, and every lesson is an experiment. “Think I’ll try teaching adverbs by using fluffy stuffed zebras,” you think, and after about ten minutes you know whether you have a genius idea on your hands or something for your Never Again file. And it’s not just about measuring data– a teacher who implements a bad lesson plan gets to suffer the consequences in real time. Make a bad step in the classroom and your students will make you pay for it for the next thirty minutes. No spread sheets or number crunching necessary; the consequences of your choices are felt immediately. This is one more reason that teachers are hugely motivated to get better.

There’s no question that mentoring from other teachers is hugely, enormously, infinitely helpful, and that many school systems have grossly inadequate systems in place to support such mentoring. But again– when a helpful experienced teacher shows up at your door when you’re trying to figure out how to approach a tricky lesson, it’s not necessary for them to say, “I’ll give you thirty bucks to take my advice.”

Everything in my personal experience says that people want to get better at the things they value. There’s a whole world of argument and discussion to be unpacked form the words “better” and “value,” not to mention the whole “how to” question– but everything I know says the basic motivation is in there if it hasn’t been too badly damaged or broken. My entire teaching career is about finding it and tapping into it. And teaching, as a career, is uniquely configured to tap into it. Reformers need to stop trying to build a bridge across a beautiful valley that we can just walk through.

CURMUDGUCATION: Why Our Betters Like Charter Schools

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Why Our Betters Like Charter Schools

You must read this post from Mercedes Schneider, if you have not already, showing the many connections between Education Post, the administration, and the usual gang of reformsters.

This is not news, exactly. We’ve seen it before. The Center for American Progress was founded by John Podesta after he left the Clinton White House and before he left CAP to run the current Clinton campaign (catch him in Connecticut, trying to distance the Clinton campaign form the same policies that CAP pushed). Go back and watch Food, Inc for just one layout of the revolving door between companies like Monsanto and the government agencies that set food policy. Go all the way back to Eisenhower and the military-industrial complex.

Oddly enough, this type of government, this way of running a group of organizations, is readily recognizable to anyone who lives in a small town. It’s not about “How can we find the best person to handle this?” It’s about “I know a guy.”

Boy, I wish we could find somebody to get this policy pushed through. “Hey, I know a guy.”

Man, if only we could get some groups started to build some support for this policy. “Hey, I know a guy.”

We need somebody with the expertise and connections to run this operation. “Hey, I know a guy.”

We really need to get somebody in that office who shares our vision. “Hey, I know a guy who’s be perfect.”

This is not meritocracy. This is betterocracy. This is operating a whole system of organizations through your personal connections with The Right Kind of People, and it doesn’t matter whether the organization is a business or an advocacy group or a lobbying outfit or an agency of the US government. What matters is getting the Right Kind of People in there, people we know, people we already have connections to and who know how to get the right things done in the way that we agree with.

This is where the GOP and Democrats agree– they may disagree about what exact policies should be followed, but they both agree that the way you get things done is by getting the Right People in the Right Positions. Letting people vote? Well, sometimes that’s a tool you have to spend money to harness, but it’s also great if you can work around it. Democracy has no value in and of itself. In fact, it can be downright dangerous because sometimes those crazy voters will go rogue and refuse to put the Right People in office.

And what is the charter school movement except an attempt to extend this same operating system to the education business. Isn’t it simply our bettercrats looking at public education and saying, “Well, this is stupid. have to get elected? Have to get special qualifications? Have to negotiate with the help? Have to be plugged into the whole system that is NOT run by the Right People just so I can open a school? That’s no good. When I want to open a school, I should just be able to call a guy I know. And if I’m looking to get some schools opened in my area, I should be able to just make some calls. And all of this should be under the management of the Right Kind of People.”

The networking is the tip off. In sectors of a small town, there are only so many qualified and interested people, so everything in certain sectors is run by the same group of people. They move around between jobs (Right now, Chris, you can help most by running this non-profit, and we’ll move Pat into the City Hall job. Maybe next year y’all will trade back), but it’s always basically the same group of folks. In a small town nobody may kick because nobody else cares how things are run. Or someone may kick and you get a spectacular power struggle.

In the big time, the network idea still works, but now admission to the network is tougher because you have to have the right connections, prove you have the right stuff, be able to flash the right stack of money and show of power. And of course you can still run into spectacular problems, like when some demented narcissist or cranky old guy get in the way of the people whose turn it was to get the Big Job.

But the point doesn’t change. The charter school movement is about the takeover of public education by the network of Betters, the people who would like to be able to operate schools without having to deal with government and elections and rules and unions. What are operations like the Broad Academy and Teach for America except a way to formalize the injection of Right People with the Right Connections into the system? When Detroit needed a superintendent, somebody said “I know a guy” and called Eli Broad who said “I know a guy” and made a call and–whoosh!– John Covington left one job to take another.

Sure, there are people who get into the charter biz to make money. But I’m increasingly convinced that the movement as a whole is mainly by extending the system of Government by the Right People by Way of Their Connections with Other Right People to our education system. They would like to operate schools with the same system they use to operate Ed Post and CAP and the Broad Academy. I know a guy. I’ll make some calls. We need to get the Right Person working on that. Charter schools are just the logical extension of that system into the world of education. For those of us who don’t know the Right People– well, that’s just proof we aren’t the Right People ourselves.

Source: CURMUDGUCATION: Why Our Betters Like Charter Schools