Peter Secchia, the Grand Rapids Power Structure and the practice of buying silence | Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

“Those who own the country ought to govern it.” John Jay 1777 Electoral politics are often brutal, deceptive and often result in strange bedfellows.

Source: Peter Secchia, the Grand Rapids Power Structure and the practice of buying silence | Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

CURMUDGUCATION: Common Core: Victim of Inadequate PR?

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

Source: CURMUDGUCATION: Common Core: Victim of Inadequate PR?


Common Core: Victim of Inadequate PR?

We’ve often heard that poor old Common Core was a swell thing that fell victim to bad implementation. But over at EdSource yesterday, Pat Reilly identified a different culprit.

Messages, backed up with data and brought to life through emotive language, are fundamental to changing minds in the 21st century. Yet too often, education advocacy is stopped in its tracks because critical concepts aren’t delivered with a strong message, leaving them misunderstood at best and politicized at worse.

See where we’re headed? Common Core was the victim of poorly done PR.

A phrase meaningless on its own, Common Core became an easy target for misinformation because no one invested resources to determine the best terminology to bring the Common Core’s important purpose to life.

Well, hey. That’s just…. not entirely wrong.

Contrast the Core with No Child Left Behind, a combination program title and marketing slogan that encompassed a whole mass of policies and rules under a single roof that was short, pithy, and pre-empted disagreement (Oh, you don’t like this. So tell us– which children exactly do you intend to leave behind?).

But what the heck was Common Core, ever? It was presented as standards, but described (every state will be on the same page) like curricular scope and sequence. It would come hand in hand with tests to show that everyone was on point, right up until the point that tests turned into a kryptonite tar baby and everyone scrambled to claim the tests and the Core were two different things. Maybe, as I speculated years ago, it was an attempt to avoid the NCLB problem of having the whole host of policies hanging in front of the same giant target. “Maybe,” said perhaps some policy maven, “if we split up, they won’t get all of us.”

But Common Core descended like stealth lightning, and after they’d been around a while, a good chunk of the population still had no idea what the hell they were. They became like a new product, marketed as “Stuff.” And time only vagued them up worse– if “Common Core” ever meant anything at all, those days are gone, with the term now being applied to a host of policies and programs that are about different things.

Maybe the problem was always bad communication, bad branding, bad marketing.

Except, no. Reilly tosses in the old charge of letting policy get politicized, but CCSS was birthed in politics, sold tlhrough political channels, and created with political tools. Politics ran in the Core’s blood from Day One.

Then there’s the New Coke problem. Even great marketing will fail to sell a crappy product, and the Core was and is a crappy product, an ineffective solution to a non-existent problem.

Reilly calls out other over-academic jargonized reformy baloney, like the “achievement gap” which means any number of different things. Reilly compares the problem to a game of telephone, but I’m not sure that’s correct. Language is built to illuminate, reveal, communicate, but the power of language is not always used for good. Language can also be used to hide, to obscure, to bury ugly and alarming images behind a veil of blah-de-blah-blah.

Much of the treat of modern reformsterism is a liberal use of language to hide meaning rather than reveal it, to use language to mean its own opposite, like the impassioned pleas to make teachers “free” of union rules that or the repeated insistence that states created the Core in the first place or the deliberate replacement of the phrase “common core” with the more politically safe “college and career ready standards” or the use of “student achievement” when we actually mean “test scores.”

In the end, Reilly calls on ed reform folks to use strategic communications, and this is the part where I reveal that Pat Reilly is the CEO of PR & Company, a PR firm that counts education as one of its “specialties.”  So this has been one more shaggy dog advertisement. She’s really just trying to sell us something, and the Common Core is still failure because everything about it, from its poorly conceived standards to its top-down central planning approach to unilaterally creating a national curriculum– everything about it was bad news. Bill Gates and others spent million upon million upon million of dollars to package it, brand it, and sell it. And yet both conceptually and in execution, it is still one of the most monumental failures of our age. No amount of PR or strategic communication would ever have changed that.

From the CURMUDGUCATION blog: Where the Free Market Fails…

Where the Free Market Fails
Donald Trump has proposed that we just get rid of Obamacare and replace it with free market forces. This is as original as any of his policy ideas (i.e. not at all), but it’s still a bad idea because health care is like education in that the freemarket cannot possibly succeed in accomplishing what we claim to want as a society.
I’ll explain in a moment, but first, let me insert my usual disclaimer that “free market” is a suspect term to begin with. At this point in human history, all markets are controlled and manipulated to some degree by the government. “Free market” is just a name for a particular type of government control. The last time there was a truly free market, a pair of humans were trading a shiny rock for a pointy stick somewhere near a cave.

Putting that aside, Trump’s idea to leave health care “customers” at the mercy of the free market is nuts for the same reason that letting the free market run loose in the education sector is nuts.

Health care operating strictly on free market means that everyone gets the health care they can personally afford, which means the wealthy get great healthcare, middle class citizens (both of them) get mediocre health care, and the poor get no health care at all. People who are already sick, on whom the health care biz can never hope to make money, will also get no healthcare at all.

Because the one area where the free market will always fail is in the area of providing a good or a service to all citizens.

Milton Friedman said, “The most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit.” And there’s our problem– because there are some citizens in the country who cannot offer sufficient benefit to a company with something to sell.

It is the fundamental nature of the free market to sort customers into two groups– those from which my business can benefit, and those from which it can not. Whether I’m making a fast-food burger, a fancy shmancy motorcar, or a pair of stereo speakers, my business plan involves saying, “We can only serve customers who are willing to pay $X.00. Anyone who isn’t going to pay that will not be a customer.” There is no office in this country where businesspersons are getting together and saying, “Okay, how can we best get this product into the hands of people who cannot meet our minimum price point?” The very closest we get is outfits like the phone companies, where the discussion is along the lines of, “How can we balance losing a little money up front for the promise of bleeding our customers for all the money we can get in the long run.” And that’s not very close.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying, “Sorry, but if you can’t pay the price of a Lexus, you can’t have a Lexus.” That’s how the system by and large works.

But there is something wrong with a system that says, “Sorry, but you’re poor, so you’ll just have to die” or, “Sorry, but you’re poor, so you’ll just have to go to a crappy school.”

It is true that there are times– bad times, disgraceful times– when our current health care and education systems say exactly that. But there is at least the hope that we and they can do better. But a free market system must mark some people as too poor for the product. It has to. It is absolutely guaranteed that it will.

For a free market system to work, it must figure out which part of the market it can afford to profitably serve. That means it must absolutely also determine which part of the market it is not going to serve.

Imagine if the feds went to Ford Motor Co. and said, “You must get a car sold to every family in America– and not just a mediocre car, but a good one. Every family.”

Or if the feds went to Apple and said, “You must sell every single person in America a new iPhone. You cannot turn down a single customer. Regardless of their financial resources, you must get your current new phone into their hands, without fail.”

Or if the feds went to Arby’s and said, “You must feed every single American lunch, every single day, no matter what they can afford to pay for, and even if they aren’t very excited about eating the food on your menu.”

That would be nuts. It would be bad business, and no even semi-smart business leader would tolerate it.

And yet, if you want to talk about free market education or free market health care, that is the gig– to provide your service to every single American, regardless of what they can afford to pay (or the government can afford to pay on their behalf).

It is the most fundamental part of the mission, and the free market has absolutely no clue about how to do it. On this point, the point of serving every citizen, the free market fails, and for that reason, the free market is uniquely unfit to take on the work of providing health care or education to the country.
Posted by Peter Greene at Friday, November 04, 2016

Source: CURMUDGUCATION: Where the Free Market Fails

Families for Excellent Trains – from the EduShyster blog

Families for Excellent Trains

The campaign to lift the charter school cap in Massachusetts goes off the tracks…

Around the 20 minute mark of Arne Duncan’s talk, I began to choke. I’d made it through Duncan’s endorsement of Question Two, the ballot initiative to lift the cap on charter schools in Massachusetts, and the occasion for last week’s *Education Party* thrown by Democrats for Education Reform. It was when Duncan started to talk about the need for school reformers to genuinely engage parents and families—*I’m not talking about astro-turf*—that the dryly bitter chuckling sound I’d been making escalated into something more profound. You see, that very morning, the Boston Globe had run an expose on the *family* at the very center of Question 2: a husband/wife team of GOP operatives who have orchestrated seemingly every aspect of the campaign…

Read more here: Families for Excellent Trains – EduShyster

Trump Fan Peter Thiel Says “Single-Digit Millionaires” Have “No Effective Access to Our Legal System”

The declaration came as Thiel was speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to tout the presidential bid of GOP candidate Donald Trump.

Source: Trump Fan Peter Thiel Says “Single-Digit Millionaires” Have “No Effective Access to Our Legal System”

“Reagan Alumni for Trump” Remind America That GOP Didn’t Start Making Things Up in 2016

The GOP gave up on reality long ago, starting with Ronald Reagan, so it makes sense that Reagan’s old staffers would feel right at home with Donald Trump.


Source: “Reagan Alumni for Trump” Remind America That GOP Didn’t Start Making Things Up in 2016

Here’s the Problem With the Story Connecting Russia to Donald Trump’s Email Server

A group of cybersecurity researchers thought the Trump Organization used a secret server to communicate with Russia’s largest private commercial bank. Here’s what’s wrong with that claim.

Source: Here’s the Problem With the Story Connecting Russia to Donald Trump’s Email Server

Members of the military giving three times as much to Clinton as to Trump | OpenSecrets Blog

Active and retired members of the military have been showing far more support for Hillary Clinton than for her Republican rival, at least as measured by the checks they’ve written to her campaign.
Individuals who listed their employers as the U.S. Department of Defense or major branches of the military, or who say they’re retired from one of those, have contributed a total of $972,709 to both nominees so far this year. Clinton has claimed $771,471 of the contributions, or nearly 80 percent.

Source: Members of the military giving three times as much to Clinton as to Trump | OpenSecrets Blog

Outside groups spending furiously in Nevada 3rd | OpenSecrets Blog


The fire from Nevada’s hotly contested Senate race has spread to other races as well, driving Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District to the top of the outside spending chart for as far as House races are concerned. That’s the seat held by Republican Congressman Joe Heck, one of the competitors for the open Senate slot, and it has turned into a fierce contest between Republican Danny Tarkanian and Democrat Jacky Rosen.
Source: Outside groups spending furiously in Nevada 3rd | OpenSecrets Blog

UPDATE: Federal elections to cost just under $7 billion, CRP forecasts | OpenSecrets Blog

We reran the numbers, and have a new-and-improved prediction for the total cost of the 2016 federal election: at least $6.9 billion, about $350 million more than we predicted last week. This time, we were able to make a more precise comparison by analyzing data from exactly matching dates in 2012 and this year — appropriately enough, Halloween. However, it’s important to keep in mind these are just estimates, and there is a good chance the real total will be far different.
read more: UPDATE: Federal elections to cost just under $7 billion, CRP forecasts | OpenSecrets Blog