Wayland Weekly Good News | Smore


We want to thank our school board members for all their hard work and dedication on behalf of our students, staff and community! To say thanks, the district honored the board members recently by donating a book on their behalf to each school’s library. Students representing each building presented the books to the board members at the Jan. 9 meeting.

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New Board Members Sworn In


At the January 9th school board meeting, new board member Cinnamon Mellema was sworn in and two current members, Theresa Dobry and Gary Wood, started another term. (New board member Dan Cassini was sworn in last week and joined the meeting via skype. He is currently out of the state.) All four board members will serve a four-year term that ends December 31, 2020. New officers were appointed for 2017: President, Gary Wood; Vice President, Peter Zondervan; Secretary, Janel Hott; Treasurer, Toni Ordway; Trustees, Cinnamon Mellema, Dan Cassini and Theresa Dobry.


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Don’t miss this opportunity to see the nationally known rock band, WAYLAND, at the Wayland Union Fine Arts Center on Wednesday, January 18th at 7pm. All proceeds will benefit the WUHS Music Programs. Tickets will be sold at the door beginning at 6pm. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults. (cash or checks only).Wayland is a four piece rock n’ roll band consisting of Mitch Arnold on vocals, Phillip Vilenski (WUHS Grad) on guitar, Dean Pizzazz on bass, and Tyler Coburn on drums. All four members have deep roots in the Midwest and the band is named after Phil’s hometown of Wayland.

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Source: Wayland Weekly Good News | Smore

WashPost Is Richly Rewarded for False News About Russia Threat While Public Is Deceived

In the current D.C. climate on Russia, all relevant journalistic incentives encourage and reward false news.

The Washington Post didn’t get a thick memo in the mail, just a whisper from anonymous “federal officials” to the extent that the Russians had hacked into a utility grid. They ran with it. And Glenn Greenwald points out that although the story turned out to be completely wrong, the Post was richly rewarded — another case of the Post’s aggressive hyping of sensationalistic false stories, ensuring that they go viral.

Source: WashPost Is Richly Rewarded for False News About Russia Threat While Public Is Deceived

Treasury Nominee Steve Mnuchin’s Bank Accused of “Widespread Misconduct” in Leaked Memo

Some Leaks Are Better Than Others

Steven Mnuchin’s confirmation hearing to become secretary of treasury in the Trump administration was already going to be contentious, what with Mnuchin’s status as a Goldman Sachs alum who ran a bank with a history of ruthless foreclosure practices.

But this week we found out even more, thanks to a manila envelope with no return address that showed up in our reporter David Dayen’s mailbox. Inside was a memo from the top prosecutors at the California Attorney General’s Office Consumer Law Section, describing in great detail how they had “uncovered evidence suggestive of widespread misconduct” at OneWest Bank while Mnuchin was in charge.

The memo indicated that Mnuchin’s bank didn’t merely act callously when it foreclosed on homeowners, but did so with blatant disregard for the law.

Source: Treasury Nominee Steve Mnuchin’s Bank Accused of “Widespread Misconduct” in Leaked Memo

Going public can open the political floodgates for tech companies

Do privately-held tech companies shell out more money for political expenditures once their shares are being sold on the open market?

Source: Going public can open the political floodgates for tech companies

We got to wondering: Is this a pattern? Do privately-held tech companies shell out more money for political expenditures once their shares are being sold on the open market?

An OpenSecrets Blog analysis of LinkedIn, Zynga, Workday, Twitter, and Facebook’s political spending and lobbying since their initial public offerings (IPOs) found that it can be a mixed bag — but for the most part, since going public these companies have steadily ramped up the amounts of money they put toward political causes.

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The Cabinet, 2009 | OpenSecrets

The individuals chosen so far by President-elect Trump to serve in the executive branch gave more than $6 million to him and his supporting super PACs in the 2016 election cycle. That’s far more than Obama’s appointees gave — and Trump hasn’t even gotten around to naming most of his ambassadors; that’s where the big donors are normally slotted in.

Check out the giving records of Trump’s nominees here

For comparison, you can check the records of those in Obama’s second-term administration here

Source: The Cabinet, 2009 | OpenSecrets

A House rules change you didn’t hear much about — and prosecutors won’t like

Former Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) sought to withhold his office’s financial documents, claiming his Fifth Amendment privilege not to incriminate himself. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

The Office of Congressional Ethics was saved from the landfill, but few noticed a change that did make it into the new House rules passed Tuesday.

Source: A House rules change you didn’t hear much about — and prosecutors won’t like

The Office of Congressional Ethics was saved from the landfill  — where House Republicans had tried to bury it — by public outcry and a couple of tweets from President-elect Donald Trump. But few noticed a sentence that did make it into the package of House rules changes passed Tuesday, making it more difficult to access documents having to do with the operations of a lawmaker’s office. And the session has only just begun.

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CURMUDGUCATION: Charter Fans Challenge DeVos

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

Source: CURMUDGUCATION: Charter Fans Challenge DeVos


Charter Fans Challenge DeVos

The Massachusetts Charter Public [sic] School Association has joined the discussion of Betsy DeVos– and they’ve joined it by asking Senator Elizabeth Warren to grill DeVos a little more thoroughly.

Don’t worry. Confirmation hearings have to end some time.

MCPSA has had a rough few months. In November, Massachusetts voters resounding rejected a proposal to lift the charter cap and let charters roam free, feasting on public tax dollars. But on January 9th, they sent a letter to Warren that opened with this paragraph:

As the Association representing the 70 Massachusetts commonwealth charter public schools, we are writing to express our concerns over the nomination of Elisabeth DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education. We do not express these reservations lightly, but we believe it is important to raise certain issues that should be addressed by the nominee.

So what’s the problem? MCPSA assures the senator that they are “hopeful” that Trump-DeVos will continue “the bipartisan efforts of the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations” to keep promoting charter schools. But they have concerns.

They are concerned about reports about DeVos voucher support and charter proliferation in Michigan “that has been widely criticized for lax oversight and poor academic performance, and appears to be dominated by for-profit interests.” They even cite a Detroit Free Press piece on the subject.

MCPSA wants to remind their senator that they are super-duper, and the Massachusetts charters are just the best ever (a hugely arguable point, but let’s not get sidetracked today). And they believe that oversight and accountability are a big part of their success. And they are concerned that DeVos has a history of opposing oversight and accountability, and somebody had better ask her about that and just, you know, make sure that she is going to support rules and accountability and oversight and demands for quality.

Meanwhile, the New York Times editorial board, which has never met a charter school scheme it didn’t like, also came out to express “big worries” about DeVos. The nominee

also faces a big challenge in explaining the damage she’s done to public education in her home state, Michigan. She has poured money into charter schools advocacy, winning legislative changes that have reduced oversight and accountability. About 80 percent of the charter schools in Michigan are operated by for-profit companies, far higher than anywhere else. She has also argued for shutting down Detroit public schools, with the system turned over to charters or taxpayer money given out as vouchers for private schools. In that city, charter schools often perform no better than traditional schools, and sometimes worse.

Goodness, New York Times! Are you ready to join the rest of us defenders of public education? That would be… unexpected. So what’s going on? Why would stalwart charter fans be concerned about a DeVos USED? I can think of four reasons.

1) Protecting the brand.

If you let any kind of riff-raff set up a charter school, and they do a lousy job of it, you hurt the brand. “Charter school” becomes synonymous with “crappy school” instead of “cool private school you can send your kids to for free.” Worst case scenario, your lousy practitioners of the charter arts screw up so badly that the public starts calling for really tight regulation and oversight. Nightmare scenario– some lunkhead messes up so badly that charters end up with more scrutiny and regulation that regular old public schools. And then the fun times are over for everyone. You let one bad apple in, and before you know it, none of us can have nice things.

2) Protecting the coalition.

As suggested by MCPSA’s bipartisan President supporter list, reformsters in general and charter fans in particular have built a bipartisan coalition. Conservatives get a free market, highly profitable system of education-flavored school-like businesses, and lefties get a system that supposedly uplifts the poor and restores social equity. The rise of Trump has been a real threat to this coalition, and while some of the pretend progressive groups like Democrats [sic] for Education Reform have mapped out a sort of two step (don’t work IN her department, but totally work WITH her department) the fact remains that it is going to be hard to rally progressives and justice warriors behind a Trump administration. But the newly formed Democratic Education Caucus may be just what they fear. Some figure far, far more conciliatory than Betsy DeVos will be needed to bridge that gap.

3) It’s that voucher thing.

Not all charter fans love the idea of vouchers. Vouchers, among other things, take a whole bunch of money off the table because the same day that vouchers go into effect, a whole bunch of Catholic and other pre-existing private schools get a windfall. Vouchers mean that charter schools have to compete not just with public schools, but with all the parochial and private schools already out there. Vouchers do not necessarily work out well for charter operators.

4) The threat of the Way-Too-Free Market.

Imagine that you are in the jewelry business and you are creating 14 carat gold. What a pain would it be for someone to enter your market selling rings that are labeled 14 carat gold but which are actually made out of brass, and discover that there are no regulations that forbid them from lying about their product and nobody with the authority to make them stop.

In states like Massachusetts, where there is at least a light smattering of regulation, charter school operators compete on a level-ish playing field because they have to provide an entity that bears at least a passing resemblance to an actual school. But when we get into states like Ohio and Florida and, yes, Michigan, we find people entering the charter school game by providing something that barely resembles a school, pumped up with advertising full of lie-soaked baloney (here’s a Florida example). How is a charter school that actually wants to be a school– how is that supposed to compete with some charter scam artist?

Or look at it this way. Free market competition, particularly between businesses that can’t really increase their revenue streams, is not about pursuing quality, but about cutting costs. Regulations essentially establish a financial floor beneath which the business may not sink, established by costs that may not be cut (e.g. auto makers cannot cut costs by removing seat belts). Ideally, that floor is also set by the business person’s ethics, but the invisible hand can exert a pretty powerful force, and there will always be people who are far more interested in making a buck than doing the right thing. So charter school accountability and oversight help establish a level beneath which operators may not stoop, and some operators will always want to make sure that their less ethical brethren are restrained from– well, I would call it cheating, but then, it’s not cheating if there’s no rule against it. If the rules say you can establish a charter where attendance is not mandatory and you only have to have one teacher for every 200 students, it’s not cheating to do so– but it sure gives you an advantage over competitors.

Put one last way– charter operators are happy to have ways to undercut public schools, but they would rather not have other charter operators undercut them.

It will be interesting to see if opposition to DeVos continues to appear on her reformy flank. Our first few months in Trumpistan will undoubtedly give rise to much political shifting and re-alignment; only time will tell how that will shake out in the education biz.

Stenographers to Power: MLive and the Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation Part II

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

On Monday, we posted a critique of an MLive story focusing on the Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation. The story on Monday from MLive created the narrative that the couple’s election/candidate contributions is “purse change” compared to their Charitable contributions.betsy_devos_card_2016

We argued that the Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation’s contributions were also primarily motivated by a political agenda, considering who the recipients on those dollars are. The MLive reporter also claimed that the couple had “lifted the veil” on the foundation’s spending, even though the information they release was minimal and did not reveal much.

Earlier today, MLive ran another article focusing on Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation contributions, specifically on one recipient of the foundation’s funding, Potter’s House. The headline reads for the MLive article reads, Betsy DeVos’ support of urban school goes beyond writing checks. 

First, the headline is a bit misleading. Potter’s House presents itself…

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Wayland Weekly Good News | Smore

Happy New Year!

High School students sing their way to State Honors Choir

High School students sing their way to State Honors Choir

Congratulations to Wayland Union High School Choir students, Shawn Sutherby, David Huynh and Nick Wnuk, for achieving a position in the MSVMA State Honors Choir. They will be performing at Devos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids on January 31st at 3:00pm. Tickets are $10 at the door.

Wayland BPA Students Excel at Regionals

Nineteen members of the WUHS Chapter of Business Professionals of America did very well at the Regional Conference held at Lake Michigan College on Jan. 4 where over 300 students competed to demonstrate skills in business management, marketing, technology and networking. Twelve students placed 1st – 4th in various categories and will advance to the State Leadership Conference on March 17-19, 2017 at the Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids. Top performers were Hailey Carpenter, Trenton Moore, Ashlyn Schafer, Kaitlyn Good, Anna Gesink, Samantha Sager, Amber Beggs, Mackenzie Banas, Logan Bishop, Robert Mucci, Chad Stoepker, and Julianna Muscarella.

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Dorr 2nd Grader Visits Author/Illustrator

Dorr 2nd Grader Visits Author/Illustrator

Reilyn Heppe, 2nd grader at Dorr Elementary, was able to meet children’s author and illustrator Jan Brett. A few years ago, Reilyn’s Young Fives teacher Mrs. Sondra Raab did an author study when Reilyn was in her class and Reilyn decided she wanted to be an author/illustrator when she grew up and hopefully get a chance to work with Jan Brett. In December, Reilyn’s parents took her to see the author at Western Michigan University during a recent book signing. Reilyn was very excited to have books signed, pictures taken with Jan, and tell her how much she admires her work.

Baker Aides Retire

Baker Aides Retire

Two aides from Baker Elementary are retiring at the end of this week. Val Kuhtic ( 28.5 years) and Julie Lowe (21 years) have both worked only at Baker while at Wayland Union Schools. The staff held a farewell party for them this week. Their last day is January 6, 2017. Thank you Val and Julie for all your years of service to WUS!

Source: Wayland Weekly Good News | Smore

ESSA Report about Evidence-Based Reform Lacks Evidence and Specifics | From National Education Policy Center

BOULDER, CO (January 12, 2017) – A recent report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) and the Knowledge Alliance focuses on the evidence-based research provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Although the report underscores the significant challenges facing state education agencies in the current policy climate, the advice provided to guide policymakers and practitioners is too thin and unsubstantiated to be of much use.

Assistant Professor Terri S. Wilson of the University of Colorado Boulder reviewed Better Evidence, Better Choices, Better Schools: State Supports for Evidence-Based School Improvement and the Every Student Succeeds Act for the Think Twice Think Tank Review Project at the National Education Policy Center, housed at CU Boulder’s School of Education.

The CAP report aims to provide guidance for the state and local education agencies now tasked with implementing evidence-based school improvement practices. The new ESSA provisions ask districts and schools to consider various sources of evidence, make judgments about the strength and reliability of that evidence, and use that evidence to justify their choices of interventions. The report contrasts these new standards with the scientifically based research requirements featured in previous federal legislation. It argues that the move from federal mandates to greater state and local autonomy is a positive change but also poses new challenges.

Though helpful in framing the challenges, the report’s general recommendations for implementing evidence-based reform strategies remain relatively vague, and these recommendations are grounded in neither the existing research literature nor the empirical study featured in the report. The broad idea of evidence-based policy is an easy thing to agree about, but Professor Wilson explains that the more difficult questions involve what counts as evidence and who is able (and authorized) to determine what kinds of evidence are most relevant to local contexts.

Professor Wilson concludes, therefore, that while the CAP report raises a number of important issues, it leaves these more difficult questions unexplored.

Find Professor Wilson’s review at:

Find Better Evidence, Better Choices, Better Schools: State Supports for Evidence-Based School Improvement and the Every Student Succeeds Act, by Steve Fleischman, Caitlin Scott & Scott Sargrad, published by the Center for American Progress and the Knowledge Alliance, at:


The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) Think Twice Think Tank Review Project (http://thinktankreview.org) provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: http://www.greatlakescenter.org

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu

Source: ESSA Report about Evidence-Based Reform Lacks Evidence and Specifics | National Education Policy Center