White House No Place for White Supremacy?

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy


It was announced within the last day or so that President-Elect Donal Trump has named  Stephen Bannon as his chief strategist and senior counselor.

The news media and blogosphere were all over the this story, often making the statement that the White House is no place for White Supremacists or White Supremacy.

Even the liberal group, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a statement against the announcement, with the following quote: 

“Stephen Bannon, a man who led a media empire into becoming what a former Breitbart editor called a  ‘a cesspool for white supremacist mememakers,’ simply has no business in the White House.”blackhistory

Such a statement not only flies in the face of US history, it reflects a complete lack of understanding about the very nature of White Supremacy.

If one reads the important book by Clarence Lusane, Black History of the White House, it becomes clear that White…

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Michigan Tech Veteran Returns to Help Struggling Vets | Michigan Tech News

After serving her country half way around the world, a Calumet native and Michigan Tech ROTC alumna has returned home to serve in another capacity.

In July, Michelle Kovachich began her duties as a readjustment counselor with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). Her new job brought the Calumet native, a Michigan Tech alumna and US Army veteran, home after more than a decade that took her from Alaska to the Middle East and back again.

Kovachich says she loves to travel and when she graduated from high school she entertained opportunities to pursue her education far away from home. She chose Michigan Tech not necessarily because it was close to home, but because it had exactly what she wanted: a military education.

“I wanted a school with a strong ROTC program and a good relationship with the military. That’s exactly what Tech had and why I chose to go there.”

Her choice turned out to be a good one.

Read more here: Michigan Tech Veteran Returns to Help Struggling Vets | Michigan Tech News

What Will a Trump Administration Mean for Supporters of Public Education?

What Will a Trump Administration Mean for Supporters of Public Education?
by janresseger
We don’t know very much about President-Elect Donald Trump’s ideas about education. Although, during the campaign, Trump briefly presented a plan for a $20 billion block grant program for states to expand market-based school choice, and although he has hinted that he will reduce the role of the U.S. Department of Education and particularly its civil rights enforcement division, there has been no substantive explanation or discussion of these ideas.

One thing we do know for sure, however, is that every branch of our federal government will be dominated by Republicans—the Presidency, the Senate, the House, and the Supreme Court.

A new President whose plans we do not know. The absence of checks and balances. Federal public education policy that has for years been undermining support for the institution of public education. Those of us who believe improving the public schools is important have good reason to be nervous, even afraid.


We don’t know very much about President-Elect Donald Trump’s ideas about education. Although, during the campaign, Trump briefly presented a plan for a $20 billion block grant program for states to expand market-based school choice, and although he has hinted that he will reduce the role of the U.S. Department of Education and particularly its civil rights enforcement division, there has been no substantive explanation or discussion of these ideas.

One thing we do know for sure, however, is that every branch of our federal government will be dominated by Republicans—the Presidency, the Senate, the House, and the Supreme Court.

A new President whose plans we do not know.  The absence of checks and balances. Federal public education policy that has for years been undermining support for the institution of public education.  Those of us who believe improving the public schools is important have good reason to be nervous…

View original post 1,413 more words

From National Public Education Action:Recent election victories means time to re-double efforts to defeat school privatization

The election of 2016 is over, and we must intensify the fight to save our community public schools. Based on campaign rhetoric, there is no doubt that the Trump/Pence administration will accelerate the movement to privatize our public school system under the guise of “choice.” We will continue to update you and ask you join in that fight.

Even in this dark election, however, there were points of lights found in victories for those of us who believe that public schools are, as Diane often says, the pillar of our democracy. NPE Action endorsed 12 candidates—five of whom were elected or re-elected.

Steve Bullock was re-elected as Governor of Montana. Governor Bullock’s strong, support for public education and democratically governed schools are well known throughout Montana. In 2016, The Network for Public Education’s State Report Card ranked Montana 4th in the nation. Under Governor Bullock’s leadership, the state received a rating of “A” for its resistance to privatization and for its resistance to high-stakes testing. Bullock’s re-election is a major blow to corporate reformers who ran a candidate who wanted to bring charters into the state.

Barbara Madsen was re-elected as Supreme Court Judge in the State of Washington. Madsen authored the court’s 6-3 decision that found that charter schools were not entitled to public monies because they were directed by private boards instead of representatives elected by the community. Stand for Children, Bill Gates, Reed Hastings and other proponents of charters contributed to the campaign to defeat Barbara and her Supreme Court colleagues who voted with her on the charter decision. All were re-elected.

There is more good news in Washington State because it looks like Chris Reykdal will be the new Superintendent of Instruction. Chris is adamant about supporting the Washington State Supreme Court decision that denies public funding to charters. He believes in less testing, smaller class sizes, due process rights for teachers, sufficient and equitable school funding and student data privacy. Although all of the votes are not counted, Chris holds a strong lead and is expected to be the winner.

We also are pleased that two other NPE Action endorsed candidates were victorious. Renitta Shannon won a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives, and Robert Garcia was elected to a California School Board in the Etiwanda District.

We also thank our endorsed candidates who were not successful for their hard fought campaigns: Hillary Clinton, Glenda Ritz, Zephyr Teachout, Larry Proffitt, Kwame Smith, Ardy Kassakhian, and Mandy Wright. We will bring the fight forward in 2018, and we ask for their continued support in the battle to save our public schools.

Ballot Initiatives

NPE Action strongly endorsed the defeat of two ballot initiatives that would have furthered the undermining of our community public schools. We are delighted to report that despite a huge influx of corporate reform dollars, both were defeated.

Voters in Massachusetts overwhelmingly defeated Question 2, 62%-38%. Question 2 would have lifted the cap off charter schools (a cap that still has not even been reached) and permitted the addition of 12 charter schools each year. A coalition of parents, teachers and students banded together and defeated its proponents who spent at least $22 million. Big out-of-state givers were billionaires and hedge fund managers.

The question was handily defeated in areas where charters have the greatest presence, busting the “charters are a civil rights” myth. “Ultimately, communities of color spoke loudly about our needs to protect public school funding while also expressing an urgency to deliver a quality education for all our students,” said Michael Curry, president of the Boston branch of the NAACP.

Voters in Georgia said, “keep your hands off our public schools.”

Democrats and Republicans joined to defeat Amendment 1, the governor’s plan to change the state constitution to allow him to take over schools with low-test scores and turn them into charters. Civil Rights icon and former mayor, Andrew Young, baseball legend, Hank Aaron, and Georgia PTA President Lisa-Marie Haywood encouraged voters to defeat this ALEC inspired initiative to undermine the democratic control of local schools. The voters of Georgia agreed.

Californians passed Proposition 55 that extended the 2012 personal income tax on incomes over $250,000 for 12 years in order to fund education and healthcare in the state. It overwhelmingly passed.


During the election season, we were often asked why we did not endorse more candidates and ballot initiatives. The answer is a simple one—endorsements costs money. We need to do legal research to make sure we abide by state laws, and it costs modest funds to send emails and create memes.

NPE Action needs your financial support. Without that support, we cannot do the work that must be done when election time comes around. Unlike the charter industry, we do not have billionaire donors giving money to support political endorsements and candidates. We depend on you. Please donate to NPE Action today.

Make your donation here: http://npeaction.org/2016/02/19/donate/

Another way to support NPE Action is to attend our December 11 New York City dinner to honor Diane Ravitch. There are a few tickets left, which you can purchase here: http://npeaction.org/2016/09/13/6997/.

Thank you for all that you do. The 2016 election taught us a valuable lesson… we all need to do more.

Here is a link to this newsletter.  Please share it.


Carol Burris

Executive Director

NPE Action

NPE Action is a 501 (c)(4). Therefore donations are not tax deductible.

Source: Public education victories in the 2016 elections: Time to re-double efforts to defeat school privatization – NPE Action

CURMUDGUCATION: Jeb’s Charterpalooza Coming Soon

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

Source: CURMUDGUCATION: Jeb’s Charterpalooza Coming Soon

Jeb’s Charterpalooza Coming Soon

Proud to say that today’s email includes my media registration invitation to this years convention thrown by Jeb Bush (out-of-work politician) & Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE)– Transforming Lives Through Education.

I am interested in seeing what happens next to Jeb!, who now occupies a weird sort of reformster twilight zone. On the one hand, Herr Trump appears to fully embrace Bush’s education policies, or at least the Let a Million Charters Bloom part. But Bush himself–well, it seems unlikely that Jeb is in line for Trumpian Ed Secretary. And that bitter taste resting on Bush’s ivy league palate must be getting only more and more bitter as it becomes obvious that President Trump will be following a lot of the policies that Candidate Trump used to smack Bush over the head. What happens when hated political enemies actually stand for pretty much the same policy ideas? How exactly do you criticize someone for pursuing policies that you totally agree with?

The conference is as always aimed at bringing lawmakers and policymakers [and money makers] together “for in-depth discussions on proven [sic] education policies and innovative [sic] strategies to improve student achievement [aka scores on bad standardized tests].” And it’s a cast of all-stars.

Bush himself will be presenting the keynote address because, after all, he’s got time on his hands. Also featured will be:

Condoleeza Rice, who ran the store at FEE for Bush while he was out begging for votes. She’s going to moderate a panel of former ed secretaries which, honestly, should be worth the price of admission all by itself.

Angela Duckworth, working to show that the Great Goose of Grit has not yet laid its last golden egg. Though this time it’s billed as the “power of perseverance.” That must be the same power that gives one the endurance to keep milking the same questionable research for consulting and speaking fees.

Todd Rose is from the Harvard Grad School of Education and is the co-founder Center for Individual Opportunity, and scored a book about the end of average. He’ll be there, too.

Sal Khan and David Coleman are going to talk about leveling the playing field,  by which I presume they mean leveling the marketing playing field by leveraging free tutoring videos to build brand loyalty and market penetration aka How To Use SAT Products To Push Khan Academy and Vice Versa. Hope the College Board and Khan Academy paid well for this infomercial.

Diane Tavenner is the co-founder of the Summit charter management company, and a spirited acolyte at the altar of “personalized learning.” Thank goodness she has no classroom background; otherwise, she might be distracted from her vision of education by actual experience in the field.

The summit is sponsored by some of the finest names in education profiteering, including Pearson, McGraw Hill, the Walton Family, and the College Board

You can get a laid-back, sitting in his big leather retirement chair invite in the video below. As always, FEE is determined to pursue the excellence in profit-making that still waits to be tapped in public ed. And maybe share some stories about that horrible man in the White House. I’ll admit– I’m a little curious to see how the summit goes this year, but not nearly as curious as I am bout the 2017 edition. Stay tuned!

Kids with disabilities benefit from physical education focused on motor skills | Michigan Radio

The thrill of riding a two-wheeled bicycle, clutching the game-winning ball, or making a show-stopping save in soccer are examples of rites of passage that every child should have the opportunity to experience. Unfortunately, many children with disabilities never develop the physical skills or confidence to participate in extracurricular programming like this. Adapted physical education – physical education modified to teach fundamental motor skills – is hard to find in Southeast Michigan.

And this kind of adapted learning can be a gateway to sports, games, and other physical activity that promotes emotional and physical well-being.

Schools can only do so much. They generally focus on physical and occupational therapy, and educational programs to help children with disabilities function at the highest level possible. Beyond that, very few opportunities exist that target an increased quality of life by providing emotional, physical and social enrichment.

Read more and listen to this report here: http://michiganradio.org/post/kids-disabilities-benefit-physical-education-focused-motor-skills

Source: Kids with disabilities benefit from physical education focused on motor skills | Michigan Radio

Obama’s tax hikes may have boosted the economy new research shows

Tax increases targeting the top 1 percent did not stop income growth at the top and may have helped the economy overall, according to a new study.

Source: Obama’s tax hikes may have boosted the economy: New research – Journalist’s Resource Journalist’s Resource

Tax increases targeting the top 1 percent did not stop their income growth and may have helped the economy overall, according to a new study.

The issue: Tax rates, a deeply partisan issue in American politics, are often framed as an argument over how to fuel growth. Lower taxes, according to Republican doctrine, leave money in the hands of workers and businesses, allowing them to invest and drive the economy. Higher taxes, Democrats say, allow the government to fund infrastructure that will encourage business, while also lifting up the poorest with social programs. In the past few generations, Republican presidents have tended to cut taxes and Democratic presidents tended to raise them. Since the 1970s, the top 1 percent of earners have seen their tax liabilities fall dramatically (see graph below) and their share of earnings jump.

The United States has a progressive tax system, where higher incomes are taxed at higher marginal rates.

In 2013 Barack Obama’s administration increased the top marginal tax rate for individuals making over $400,000 per year by about 6.5 percent on their labor to 39.6 percent (before deductions). Those individuals earning over $200,000 per year also saw their capital income tax (tax on capital gains, dividends and profits from the sale of real estate) rise by about 9.5 percent. As the top 1 percent of earners enjoy about 80 percent of realized capital gains, the vast majority of these increases accrued only to the top 1 percent. The changes (included in the Affordable Care Act surtax and the expiration of tax cuts enacted under George W. Bush) were the largest increase in top tax rates since the 1950s.

(Saez, 2016)

So how did taxpayers respond to the reform and how did the new taxes impact income inequality? 

An academic study worth reading: “Taxing the Rich More: Preliminary Evidence from the 2013 Tax Increase,” published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), November 2016.

Study summary: Emmanuel Saez, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, looked at how the top 1 percent of earners responded to Obama’s tax reforms in early 2013. The top 1 percent are individuals making more than $400,000 and families earning more than $450,000 per year.

For control groups, he also looked at the top 1 percent to 5 percent — those with incomes between $170,000 and $400,000 in 2013 — who were only slightly affected; and the top 5 percent to 10 percent, those with family pre-tax gross incomes of between $120,000 and $170,000, whom he found essentially unaffected by the tax change.

Using annual data from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Saez compared the years 2011 and 2015 – before and after the reform.

Taxpayers can often choose when to pay taxes on their capital gains: Electing to realize gains in 2012 was tax-advantageous relative to realizing in 2013, when the rate was higher under the new tax regime. Taxes on labor can be retimed, too: “Employer and employees could potentially agree to shift wage income (such as bonuses) into 2012. Business income can be re-timed by postponing costs. […] Dividends, particularly in closely held firms, could also be accelerated in 2012.”

But “income retiming,” as this phenomenon is known, is not an option for multiple years in a row. So by looking at 2015, we should see a more accurate picture of the tax reform’s impact.

Saez also looked at charitable giving by the top 1 percent: “High income individuals have an incentive to postpone charitable giving from 2012 to 2013 […] because charitable giving can be deducted from income to reduce the amount of tax paid.” He expected to see a decline in gifts to charities in 2012 (when it was clear the tax increase was coming) and a spike in 2013. Past research suggests that such giving does respond to tax rates, especially in the short-run. “Charitable giving is potentially a useful proxy for the real economic incomes of top income taxpayers,” Saez wrote.


  • Top income shares have continued to grow, suggesting that Obama’s tax increases did not reduce economic activity at the top. Between 2011 and 2015, the share of income going to the top 1 percent has continued to increase at a rate similar to the increase between 2009 and 2011.
  • Since 1990, the best growth for the bottom 99 percent happened in two periods after tax increases on top earners: the late 1990s and following Obama’s 2013 tax increase on the highest earners. This suggests that the top marginal tax rate increase helped the overall economy.
  • The top 1 percent of income earners shifted about 11 percent of their 2013 income to 2012 to pay the lower tax rate. This “income retiming” was larger for capital gains than for employment income. (The top 1 percent of income share jumped 3.2 percent in 2012, the largest spike since the 1980s. In 2013, this group’s share fell to similar levels as 2011. That fall was as large as the fall during the Great Recession. As both 2012 and 2013 were similar in terms of market growth and economic output, the spike and fall cannot be explained by other factors. “The most plausible explanation is income retiming.”)
  • This spike and fall was about three times larger for the top 0.1 percent (families with annual incomes over $2 million).
  • There is no evidence of such change in reported incomes for the two control groups.
  • For the IRS, that loss amounted to almost 20 percent of the projected increase in revenue during the first year after the tax reform.
  • Charitable giving was a surprise: Saez expected a fall in 2012 and a rise in 2013 to offset higher taxes. But he found, instead, that charitable giving spiked in 2012 and fell in 2013, “following almost exactly the path of top 1 percent income.” This suggests top earners were not strategic about how to use charity to offset their tax liabilities.

Other resources:

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a rich-country think-tank, publishes annual tax return datafor its 35 members.

Two well-known Washington D.C. think tanks focus on taxes. The conservative-leaning Tax Foundation publishes historical tax rates. The Tax Policy Center has been called liberal.

PBS explains how a marginal tax rate works and includes a (slightly outdated) calculator allowing users to compare their theoretical tax liability in different countries.

In 2015, the Pew Research Center found 59 percent of Americans feel Congress should completely overhaul the tax system. Seventy-five percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans are bothered by corporations not paying “their fair share” in taxes.

The American tax code is over 9,000 pages long.

Other research:

A 2012 paper on behavioral responses to taxation lays some of the groundwork for this study.

A 2016 paper shows that the top 1 percent have doubled their share of pre-tax earnings since the late 1970s.


Keywords: taxes, income inequality, rich-poor divide, class


Writer: | Last updated: November 14, 2016

Citation: Saez, Emmanuel. “Taxing the Rich More: Preliminary Evidence from the 2013 Tax Increase,” National Bureau of Economic Research, November 2016.

Food stamp use by Mexican immigrant families: Welfare reform research 

A study in Social Science Research suggests low-income Mexican immigrants are less likely than low-income U.S. natives to receive food stamps.

Source: Food stamp use by Mexican immigrant families: Welfare reform research – Journalist’s Resource Journalist’s Resource

The nation’s food stamp program provides low-income families and individuals with money for groceries but has been widely criticized for the number of people it serves and the types of foods that can be purchased with government funds. In fiscal year 2016, the United States government spent $55.7 billion to provide food assistance to 44.3 million people through the program it has renamed SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Among the most common criticisms is the program is open to individuals who are not U.S. citizens, including immigrants and refugees. Eligibility requirements for non-citizens have changed considerably over the last two decades. Before 1996, most non-citizens who were legal residents of the U.S. could receive food stamps on the same basis as citizens. But the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act – a major welfare reform law enacted under President Bill Clinton – kicked most non-citizens out of the program. Between 2002 and 2010, different types of non-citizens regained eligibility through implementation of The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, often referred to as the 2002 Farm Bill. A 62-page report from the SNAP program offers details on the history of the program and current non-citizen eligibility.

A study worth reading: Reversing Welfare Reform? Immigrant Restoration Efforts and Food Stamp Receipt among Mexican Immigrant Families,” published in Social Science Research, November 2016.

Study summary: Stephanie Potochnick, an assistant professor of public affairs and public health at the University of Missouri, sought to provide more information about Mexican immigrants’ access to food stamps and food in general. She used data from the U.S. Census’ 1995-2013 Current Population Survey to help gauge how the 2002 Farm Bill influenced food stamp participation among low-income Mexican immigrants, which she calls “the largest and most disadvantaged immigrant group.” Potochnick’s study sample includes almost 38,000 low-income households with children.

Key findings:

  • Among low-income households, Mexican immigrants were much less likely than U.S. native families to receive food stamps. On average, 17 percent of low-income “Mexican Mixed Citizen” households – households that were headed by a Mexican non-citizen but had members who were citizens – participated in the food stamp program. In comparison, 32 percent of low-income native U.S. households collected food stamps. One percent of low-income households comprised only of noncitizens born in Mexico received food stamps.
  • After adoption of the 2002 Farm Bill, food stamp participation rose among Mexican immigrants, except those who were likely to be undocumented.
  • Mexican immigrant households had higher unemployment rates than U.S. native households.
  • Mexican immigrant households were larger than U.S. native households. For example, Mexican Mixed Citizen households had 4.85 people, on average, compared to 3.98 people in U.S. native households.
  • Immigrant households were less educated. For example, in 49 percent of Mexican Mixed Citizen households, no one had finished high school. That was true for 13 percent of the U.S. native households included in the study.
  • Households headed by a Mexican-born, naturalized U.S. citizen were least likely to report that they experienced food insecurity, or challenges accessing and paying for food, within the previous 12 months.

Other resources for journalists:

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides various reports on food stamp participation and cost.
  • The U.S. Census has created an interactive map that provides a snapshot of SNAP participants – including race, work status and household income — for every congressional district.
  • Low-income children qualify for free or reduced-priced meals through the federally-funded National School Lunch Program, offered in public schools, nonprofit private schools and some daycare centers.
  • The federally funded WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program offers food and nutrition education to low-income pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and the mothers of infants as well as children up to age 5.

Related research:


Keywords: Hispanic, Latino, Chicano, immigrant children, migrant farm workers, welfare reform


Writer: | Last updated: November 7, 2016

Citation: Potochnick, Stephanie. “Reversing Welfare Reform? Immigrant Restoration Efforts and Food Stamp Receipt among Mexican Immigrant Families,” Social Science Research, November 2016, Vol. 60. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2016.03.001.