Knowledgeable conservatives more likely to back conspiracy theories 

Conservatives who are familiar with politics and have little trust in institutions are more likely than liberals to endorse conspiracy theories, argues a recent study.

Source: Knowledgeable conservatives more likely to back conspiracy theories – Journalist’s Resource Journalist’s Resource

Conservatives are more likely than liberals to endorse conspiracy theories. Many are highly knowledgeable about politics and have little trust in institutions, a new study finds.

The issue: President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, goes one common conspiracy theory. Another: George W. Bush knew in advance about the 9/11 attacks and let them happen. Conspiracy theories can spread quickly in this era of social media, especially as people sort themselves into information silos, only sharing information with the like-minded. During the 2016 presidential election one candidate frequently leveled charges against his opponent with little evidence, sometimes framing them with the noncommittal phrase “people say.” He won.

A 2009 paper defines conspiracy theories as “an effort to explain some event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who attempt to conceal their role.” Other researchers add that conspiracies often allege the illegal usurpation of political or economic power.

The authors of a 2014 paper found “over half of the American population consistently endorse some kind of conspiratorial narrative about a current political event or phenomenon.”

They are also powerful distractions. Politicians responding to conspiracy theories must often turn their attention away from more pressing issues.

Psychologists have described how conspiracy theories allow believers to explain complicated events and how they may address feelings of alienation. Because many conspiracy theories hinge on politics, some researchers have noted how they impugn competing ideologies and solidify political attitudes. Indeed, a 2012 paper showed party affiliation correlated with the endorsement of particular theories.

But the authors of a new paper feel these explanations alone are not enough, and ask if political knowledge and trust play a role.

Read the full report here:

Air pollution drives down the stock market

When New York is enveloped in pollution, the stock market loses value and sends a negative signal to global markets, a recent paper finds.

Source: Air pollution drives down the stock market – Journalist’s Resource Journalist’s Resource

When New York is enveloped in pollution, the stock market loses value and sends a negative signal to global markets, a new paper finds.

The issue: Air pollution is bad for our lungs, for children’s health and development, and for the global climate. Researchers also have found smog and dirty air associated with diminished work performance and poorer cognitive output in adults.

Could this be impacting the world’s most advanced economies?

Read the full report here:

DeVos’ Michigan schools experiment gets poor grades – POLITICO

Despite two decades of charter-school growth, the state’s overall academic progress has failed to keep pace with other states.

Source: DeVos’ Michigan schools experiment gets poor grades – POLITICO


Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Education Department, Betsy DeVos, has spent two decades successfully pushing “school choice” in her home state of Michigan — a policy that she and her husband vowed in 1999 would “fundamentally improve education.”

Except the track record in that state shows that it hasn’t.

Read more here:

With Grand Rapids Facing a Housing Crisis, Grand Action proposes to spend over $250 million for tourism and entertainment

With Grand Rapids Facing a Housing Crisis, Grand Action proposes to spend over $250 million for tourism and entertainment
by Jeff Smith (GRIID)
Let’s be perfectly clear about what the new Grand Rapids Destination Asset Study will mean. It will mean that more public money gets directed at private projects that will result in increasing the wealth of a selected few in Grand Rapids.
Read more of this blog post…

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Let’s be perfectly clear about what the new Grand Rapids Destination Asset Study will mean. It will mean that more public money gets directed at private projects that will result in increasing the wealth of a selected few in Grand Rapids.screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-6-13-27-pm

In addition, the new study proposes that much of the need to expand certain assets that will primarily be used to attract more visitors/tourists to Grand Rapids. Not all that surprising, this will mean that the hotels, restaurants/bars, property management companies, construction companies, foundations, marketing firms and private parking businesses will be the primary beneficiaries of such projects. All one has to do is look at the list of people/entities that were interviewed in the process of the study and you understand which opinions are valued and which are not (see the last page of the study for list of those interviewed). 

This new study was commissioned by the…

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Three Men and a Tenor – Michigan’s “Most Wanted” Vocal Group

Michigan’s “Most Wanted” Vocal group performing high- energy, comedy and big vocal sounds that bring audiences of all ages to their feet!

Source: Three Men and a Tenor – Michigan’s “Most Wanted” Vocal Group

Volume 1 | December 7, 2016
As we gear up for our 25th Anniversary tour, we have decided to start up our online newsletter again to keep in contact with fans we have met along our journey. We have several holiday shows coming up and we will also be posting dates for the next several months in the near future.
H O L I D A Y   S H O W S


December Dates

6th – Dexter, MI  – Ha Ha Holidays – 7p  INFO

7th – Dexter, MI  – Ha Ha Holidays – 7p  INFO

9th- Marshall, MI – Ha Ha Holidays – 7:30p  INFO

10th- Three Rivers, MI – Ha Ha Holidays – 7p INFO

17th- Portland, MI – Ha Ha Holidays 7p –  INFO

This is CLASSIC footage of Mark’s daughter Rylie when she was knee high to a grasshopper. Rylie LOVED Chuck’s original Christmas song “Frosty The Bluesman” – Listen to her growl it out!

In The Studio
  At long last, the guys are back in the studio, recording a new album of songs from the show, new cover tunes, and new original songs. While an official release date has not been announced, the guys are hoping to wrap up their work on this project by March or April.
THREE MEN and a TENOR | 3126 Broad, Dexter, MI 48130

Education: A Three Legged Stool

David R. Taylor

During the pioneer days, farmers would use a sturdy 3 legged stool to sit on and milk the cows for their milk. If that stool had one leg that was weaker than the other two then it would collapse and the farmer would fall on the ground.

If we look at education as a three-legged stool: one leg would be the teacher, one leg would be the student and one leg would be the parent.

The focus of most education reformers has been on the teachers, which is a good place to start but we cannot forget or ignore the other two legs. When the only leg that is improved is the teacher, then the result is a lopsided stool with one leg longer or stronger than the other two, therefore the other two legs are shorter or weaker and can’t support anyone sitting on it.

Three-Legged-StoolUntil we focus equal amount…

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CURMUDGUCATION: Disrupting the Moral Center

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

Source: CURMUDGUCATION: Disrupting the Moral Center

Disrupting the Moral Center

Sarah Jones at the New Republic yesterday posted a blistering take on technocracy entitled “The Year Silicone Valley Went Morally Bankrupt.” It doesn’t address education, but it surely could.

She takes us back to 1996, and “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” by John Perry Barlo, a statement of Silicone Valley’s to rise over and above the nation that birthed it:

Barlow’s manifesto is undeniably grandiose. “We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth,” he announced. “We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.” This was more than an expression of ego. Barlow asserted a moral hierarchy, and in this new order, Silicon Valley outranked the world it had come to transform.  

Barlow’s vision seems to keep the moral center of American democracy, but as examination and time have revealed, it’s really the blueprint for the Betterocracy– the mobility and openness of technology do not give all citizens an equal voice, but give all citizens an equal opportunity to rise to their appropriate level, because at the end of the day, Technocratic Bettercrats believe that some people really are better than others, and those who are Better should be in charge, and those who are Lesser should shut up.

Jones connects this to a moral aloofness, a technocratic solutionism, a belief that the only problems that really are problems are problems that have a technological solution. “Show us your problem,” Silicone Valley says, “and we will disrupt the heck out of it.” If it’s not solvable by technology, it’s not a real problem.

Jones centers on two examples. One is Peter Thiel, who bullied Gawker into silence and has been riding on the Trump train. Thiel is a vocal critic of democracy, diversity, and women, and like Trump, he has suffered the opposite of negative consequences for his stances. That Trump can connect with the Bettercrats of the tech world is not surprising– they share a fundamental belief that might makes right, that if you can do something and you want to something and nobody can stop you from doing something, then there is no reason to rein yourself in. I’m not sure that these folks are morally aloof– it’s just that they are their own true north on the moral compass.

Jones also tosses out Mark Zuckerberg’s unwillingness to come to grips with the journalistic power of facebook, and for extra fun reminds us that Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, who got caught touting a completely fictitious medical test company is still running that company, now claiming some new technomedimarvel, as if she hadn’t been outed as an untrustworthy liar of epic proportions.

“Tech moguls,” Jones writes, “strive to remake the world, but this year they behaved as if they owe us no explanation for their decisions.”

But she of course need not have stopped with her three examples, nor did 2016 represent a sudden new emergence of this issue. Netflix mogul Reed Hastings famously complained that democratically-elected school boards should be done away with (they just get in the way of their Betters). Stephen Barr, who moguled the Green Dot Charter school chain, just backed off his run for Los Angeles mayor— he was qualified to be mayor because he had run the charters, and he was qualified to run the charters because he wanted to– but had originally launched the run because he intended “to disrupt the political establishment and turn our city around.”

Education reform is rife with these Techno-Bettercrats. Sir Michael Barber, head mogul of the multinational edu-juggernaut Pearson, does not at the end of the day justify their attempts to remake the education system as profitable or good for kids, but as an act of Higher Moral Purpose. Sure, remaking the world when the world resists being remade presents some challenges, but those challenges never create a need to self-examine, to check the poles on one’s moral compass. No, this is the reaction:

Be that as it may, the aspiration to meet these challenges is right

And of course, Jones has passed up the lowest hanging fruit of all– Bill Gates, who believes that he has the right, even the obligation, to remake the nation’s education system into the form that he believes is right. Nobody elected him, nobody asked him, and at no point did he submit himself to any kind of democratic process. Because democracy is a process by which a whole bunch of Lessers who shouldn’t have a say inflict their will on their Betters. Gates has some ideas about how schools should work, so he’s just going to implement them without discussion or explanation.

There’s been a sudden shock that Donald Trump, in all his autocratic authoritarian glory, is going to be our President, but the truth is we’ve been working our way up to this for a while. Champions and vocal supporters of democracy have been few and far between. In government, both dems and GOP have looked for ways to thwart the will of the electorate, whether it is trying to skew elections by gaming the rules or trying to create policy out of the offices of unelected department appointees. All around the nation, giants walk among us, devoted not to the rules or the laws or some undergirding principles, but to their own greatness, their own vision, and their own power and ability to implement those visions. They are genius Gullivers, held down by puny Lessers and unions and the stupid government functionaries that get themselves elected by those Lessers.

And those Lessers that are hungry or homeless or struggling in minimal employment? They would be better off if they just learned to Stay in Place instead of trying to leach off their Betters. If I’m a Better and you’re not– well, maybe you deserve a little help, but it will be what I choose to give you and damn sure not what you try to take from me. I have wealth because I deserve it. It’s mine. If you wanted some of this, you should have been better. In the meantime, I will certainly try to be benevolent and give you a little of the help that I think you deserve.

American exceptionalism? It’s not America that’s exceptional– it’s the small group of techno-disruptor-visionaries who aim to rebuild this country the way they think it should be built. They don’t need a moral compass– they are their own True North. And as they strip away the tiny people and democratic traditions holding them down, one by one, they have less and less need to pretend otherwise.

Wayland Union Schools Weekly Good News 

December 5 – 9, 2016

High School Collage Concert

High School Collage Concert

The public is invited to attend Wayland Union High School’s Holiday Collage Concerts, Saturday, December 10 at the Wayland Union Fine Arts Center featuring all of the high school performing arts programs! There are two unique concerts to attend, one at 4pm and the other at 6:30pm. The concerts are free and are sure to bring you holiday cheer!

Students Participate in Art Hop

Wayland Union Schools students volunteered at the annual Art Hop in downtown Wayland this past weekend. Theater students dressed up like Charles Dickens characters, high school choir members sang Christmas Carols, orchestra students played in various venues, and some students had their artwork on display. It was a great night for the community and to see our students highlight their talents!

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Heroes at Baker Elementary

Baker Elementary is a great place to volunteer! Kid’s Hope mentors come in once a week and work one-on-one with students. Also, several parents spend time at Baker each week helping in their child’s classroom.

Pictured below is Tom Niemchick who volunteers in Mrs. Penfield’s All Boys Kindergarten class. While helping out, Tom reads to the boys as a group. Afterwards they split up into groups of four and work on sight words. After Tom’s accident, he found himself with a lot of extra time on his hands. His sister encouraged him to volunteer at his local school. It was a perfect fit for Tom and for the boys in the All Boys class. Anna Spray volunteers as a tutor for first graders. Anna has been volunteering at Baker Elementary for the past five years since she retired from Kellogg six years ago. She helps tutor children who need a little extra one-on-one help.

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Practicing Writing

Baker Elementary Great Start Readiness Preschool students in Mrs. Pillars classroom practice their writing skills by writing in their journals once or twice a week. This week they were practicing writing their first names and forming letters. GSRP is a free preschool to qualifying four year olds funded through Michigan’s Great Start program.
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Dorr Elementary Secret Santa Shop

Dorr PTO helped students shop for Christmas presents for their family members by holding a Secret Santa Shop this week. Volunteers set up the store and assisted students to pick out gifts for their family – gift wrapping was included!

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Holiday Book Fair on Wheels

Holiday Book Fair on Wheels

Pine Street Elementary School held a Holiday Book Fair this week not in the library but in the parking lot! Lowry’s Book Mobile is a custom fitted trailer lined with book shelves. They are heated and is a self-contained mini-bookstore.

Middle School FTC Catatechnics

Wayland Middle School’s FIRST Tech Challenge Team, “FTC Catatechnics”, had their first competition last weekend in Allendale. They are also competing Saturday, December 10 at East Kentwood High School’s Freshman Campus against 40 other teams. Matches begin at 11am. The public is welcome to attend.
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Pearl Harbor Day Assembly

Katie Stone VFW Teacher of the Year!

Katie Stone VFW Teacher of the Year!

Katie Stone, 4th grade teacher at Steeby Elementary School, was named the VFW Teacher of the Year at the recent Pearl Harbor Day Assembly. The following are the criteria for the this award: Passion for teaching and working with students, demonstrates creativity and innovative ideas within the classroom, flexibility, ability to make connections with staff, students and parents, and is a good role model for students. Congrats Katie!
Prior to the Pearl Harbor Assembly, 7th and 8th grade students interviewed local veterans about their military service while enjoying refreshments. During the assembly, social studies teachers highlighted events of Dec. 7, 1941. Performances were given by the middle school orchestra, choir, and 8th grader, Ashtyn Fekete performed Taps.

CCA students visit GRCC M-TEC

Career Connections Academy students along with guidance counselor, Julia Dinallo, and teacher, Jody Tyner, visited GRCC’s Michigan Technical Education Center on December 9. Programs at M-TEC range from Automotive Servicing, to Manufacturing, to Building Trades & Construction.

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Steeby Thanks Student Teachers

This fall, Steeby was fortunate to have two student teachers from Grand Valley State University – Jillian Lewis in Ms. Johnson’s class and Shelby Tedrow in Ms. Stone’s class. For their last day, the teachers surprised them with cake! They will be continuing their student teaching for Special Education in other school districts and we wish them well!
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Source: Wayland Weekly Good News | Smore