“This tax would mostly be paid by US consumers, in the form of higher prices. How do I know? Basic economics.”
Amy Lynn Smith has posted a new item, ‘Trump tries to squash ACA insurance enrollment but we can do the outreach ourselves’, at Eclectablog.
You may view the latest post at
The slightly-cranky voice navigating the world of educational “reform” while trying to still pursue the mission of providing quality education.
Competition vs. Quality
If you are running a race, you will run faster and harder to beat people who are also running fast. If you are playing football, you will train to be better than the team facing you on the field. It seems sensible.
There are some problems with this model just on its face. The people in the front of the pack, the winners, will get stronger perhaps, but the race will also separate out some losers, who will either have to either accept losing as their lot in life. Or they’ll figure out ways to cheat. After all, if the definition of winning too narrow, like “being first to cross the finish line”– well, there are plenty of ways to accomplish that without having to run the whole race faster than anyone else.
If we really believe that every student in America should get to attend a school that’s a winner, then a competition that only a few can win seems like a poor model.
Competition may deliver excellence for a few, but it will not deliver excellence for everyone.
But there are other issues. If we make the reward for winning something important like, say, your food, then by losing, racers lose the very thing they need to compete. Competition will make them weak and hungry, the very opposite of breeding excellence.
But competition often does not breed excellence at all– in fact, it can create the opposite effect.
Consider a market competition this way– that vendors are competing for the chance to sell their wares. When prime customers are scare, competition favors those who lower their standards– not those who raise them.
Colleges, for instance. As reformsters often point out while decrying the proliferation of remedial college coursework, colleges have responding to shrinking pol of college prospects by lowering their standards. They have competed for customers by admitting folks who would not have been considered customers at all in an earlier day, and since a college’s customers are also part of their process and “product,” they’ve competed by running away from excellence.
Wal-Mart did not conquer the retail world by pursuing excellence. “I want the very best product on the market, so let’s go to Wal-Mart,” said no consumer ever. Getting the greatest number of customers means lowering the bar as much as possible, both for the products on sale and the customers welcomed through the door.
The very term “exclusive” is associated with high quality. Clubs bill themselves as “exclusive” because everyone hears “selective” and “the best.” Private schools and charter schools have long understood that “excellence” is achieved by being careful about who gets in your front door. Other charters have understood that “success” (as in “enriching the bottom line”) can be achieved by lowering the bar as you open the front door.
In a system with too few resources, competition eats excellence and spits it out. In a city education ecosystem that contains many charter schools, where there are 200,000 seats for 100,000 students, competition for customers will be fierce, and schools will compete with whatever strength they have. If they can’t compete for the academically oriented crowd, they will compete for the folks who want a convenient school or an easy school or a school without Those People in it. They will compete by using creative advertising that ignores the truth. They will worry more and more about getting people in the door and less and less about what is waiting for them inside. And while Wal-Mart can’t afford to disappoint customers into never coming back, a school doesn’t have repeat customers– its customer base is always aging out every couple of years.
“Competition creates excellence” only seems true to people used to being in the front of the pack and setting the rules. For everyone else, competition is a reason to game the system, change the rules, move the finish line, or just lower the standards.
The goal of public education is excellence for everyone, but competition produces excellence for only a few, and sometimes not even that. It’s a lousy metaphorical framework for education. Better, say, to talk about a garden on which we focus the full resources of the community to plant and water and tend living things to grow and mature without worrying about which one is tallest, sweetest or most vibrantly colored, or how we could best deprive one flower of water so that another can win a greenery contest. Education is not a race, and competition will not improve it.
The slightly-cranky voice navigating the world of educational “reform” while trying to still pursue the mission of providing quality education.
Source: CURMUDGUCATION: Local Control
State legislatures are taking action to undo the choices of voters. North Carolina’s legislature decided they were unhappy about the election for governor, so they stripped power from the office. And just this week, South Dakota’s legislature is moving to throw out the law passed by the voters which would establish a host of ethics rules and oversight.
Throughout the nation, government is in the hands of the very rich, who since the advent of Citizens United have unbridled freedom to shop for the legislators who will provide the desired results. When the DeVos family couldn’t convince the electorate to pass a voucher law or elect Dick DeVos governor, the billionaire family decided that it was time to just do an end run around the voters. If democratic local voter control won’t provide the results you want, just circumvent it.
And what a week it has been. Herr Trump has declared that maybe he should send the feds into Chicago to clean things up. Government agencies, paid for with taxpayer dollars, have been forbidden to speak to those taxpayers. And we’re getting a wall, courtesy of an executive order (that curious method by which Presidents get to pretend that they’re actually the legislative branch and make laws).
And while Trump’s declaration to launch an inquiry into election fraud may be related to a frail and tender ego, it may also make a handy first step toward extending the tools of voter suppression that have been steadily encroaching on voters over the past few years.
Charter schools and choice– the good, the bad, and the ugly– are perhaps best understood in the context of the larger erosion of democracy in our country.
There’s no reason that charter schools have to be part of this problem. Charter schools can be run by and responsive to local taxpayers and voters. Just up the road from me is a community that lost their local school because the district felt enrollment had dropped too far; the community restarted their school as a charter school, owned, operated and controlled by a local board.
Charter schools do not have to mean the end of local control.
And yet, in the modern charter era, they almost always do. From Philly to Detroit to New Orleans, a signature feature of charter-choice systems is to do away with the local control of an elected board. Replace it with properly connected board members, or run it out of a corporate office– sometimes far, far away. Hold meetings in the dark. Make decisions in seclusion. Keep the financial operations under wraps.
Charteristas have not been shy about it. Reed Hastings, head of Netflix and well-muscled charter supporter, famously outlined how bad elected school boards are for the business plan, and how they should be done away with. To the investors and businessmen, it is only common sense– you do not let the help dictate how your business will be run and you do not let the customers see anything you don’t want them to see. And those “customers” will damn well settle for the choices that you decide to give them, that you think they deserve, that make business sense for you.
There was a time when faux Democrats provided protective cover for this, and neo-liberals were fre market wolves in progressive sheeps’ clothing. But that camouflage coalition is starting to show signs of strain, and it becomes increasingly obvious that this is a variant strain of Republicanism. I find that hard to face– I come from a long line of Republicans, and there are strains of the classic version that I still resonate to. The less government, the better. Let people get together with their own neighbors to deal with their own stuff.
But this is one of the mysteries that we live with. How did the party of small government, local control, and no federal overreach– how did they become the party of disenfranchisement, the party of government intrusion that works to disempower city governments and disenfranchise citizens. How did the party of Lincoln become the party that aims those attempts to disempower and disenfranchise mostly at citizens who are not wealthy and not white. How did the Grand Old Party end up providing a haven for a bunch of money-hungry power-grabbing racist sumbitches?
At any rate, school choice week is a frighteningly perfect time to reflect on how the worst of the modern charter movement is just a small part of a bigger movement, a sea change in which huge chunks of our elected government no longer holds the democratic process as a valuable or important part of our national life. If you want to pitch charter schools to me, your warm-up needs to be an explanation of how that charter will be a reflection of and responsive to local control, and if you can’t do that, give me a good explanation of why democracy and local control are no longer an important part of our national character.
“We, the Trump administration, and the media have to co-parent this country, have joint custody of the country, for the next eight years probably.”
Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, joins Judy Woodruff to discuss the first week of the Trump administration, including moves to build a border wall, a visit canceled by Mexico’s president, a plan to cut “sanctuary city” funding, the president’s stance on the use of torture, debunked allegations of widespread voter fraud and the administration’s relationship to the press.
“Progress Michigan is calling on Attorney General Bill Schuette to investigate Betsy DeVos’ plan to have her foundation pay for a Michigan public school superintendent’s trip to Washington D.C. to testify on DeVos’ behalf and influencing her testimony. The DeVos family also paid $67,000 for a superintendent coach for the GRPS administrator.
According to Wood TV 8, Betsy DeVos’ foundation, the American Federation for Children, planned to provide Grand Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal an all-expenses paid trip to D.C. to sing DeVos’ praises during her Senate confirmation hearing. The organization even included talking points and told her where to sit in the committee room. In addition, the DeVos family paid $67,000 for a superintendent’s coach to help Weatherall Neal when she began her position five years ago.”
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal recently broke from the education crowd when she supported President Donald Trump’s nomination of West Michigan philanthropist and activist Betsy DeVos for secretary of education.Now, emails and correspondence obtained by Target 8 show how far the superintendent planned to go to show her support.The correspondence shows plans for a trip to DeVos’ confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C., paid for by DeVos’ nonprofit, American Federation for Children. It also included “talking points” provided by the organization.The leader of the GRPS teachers union said the emails and correspondence raise questions about whether the superintendent is too closely tied to DeVos.
Wear Red for Public Ed on Tuesday to Oppose DeVos
On Tuesday, January 31, a U.S. Senate Committee will decide if the full chamber should vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary despite being unqualified and unfit for the job. Join AFT Michigan and Michigan Education Association members in demonstrating opposition that day—Wear Red for Public Ed on Tuesday, Jan. 31.
DeVos is no stranger to Michigan educators and students who have suffered under policies pushed by her and her billionaire family’s contributions to Republican politicians for years. Her support of unaccountable for-profit charter schools in Michigan has harmed children and communities.
Both of Michigan’s U.S. Senators, Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, have announced plans to vote against her.
“Betsy DeVos and her family have a long record of pushing policies that I believe have seriously undermined public education in Michigan and failed our children,” Stabenow said. “Therefore, I cannot support (her).”
, Peters pointed out DeVos’ only education experience has involved lobbying for the transfer of taxpayer money to private schools and the rapid expansion of charter schools without sufficient accountability to parents and students.
“I stand with the many educators and parents in Michigan and across this nation when I say: Mrs. DeVos lacks the experience, qualifications and the right vision to oversee our nation’s education system,” Peters said.
Wear Red for Public Ed on Tuesday to show we remain united by our common belief in great public schools for all of our students!
“Indiana teachers are calling on Senator Todd Young to recuse himself from a vote on one of President Donald Trump’s cabinet picks.
Thursday, the teachers held a group held a sit-in at his office.
Sources say the family of Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos gave Young more than $48,000 last year. Teachers say it’s a conflict of interest.”
Yesterday, January 26, several hundred people gathered in downtown Grand Rapids to express their opposition to the newly signed Executive Order from President Trump on immigration policy.
The protest in Grand Rapids was one of dozens that have taken place across the country in the last few days, since President Trump signed the Executive Order.
Read the full blog post here: https://griid.org/2017/01/27/grand-rapids-protests-trumps-new-immigration-policy/
Yesterday, several hundred people gathered in downtown Grand Rapids to express their opposition to the newly signed Executive Order from President Trump on immigration policy.
The protest in Grand Rapids was one of dozens that have taken place across the country in the last fe days, since President Trump signed the Executive Order.
The executive order would essentially do the following:
- Securing the southern U.S. border “through immediate construction of a physical wall” to stop immigrants that are undocumented, the flow of drugs, human trafficking and acts of terrorism
- Detaining “individuals apprehended on suspicions of” law breaking and expedition of claims of their eligibility to stay in the U.S.
- Swift deportation of “individuals whose legal claims to remain in the United States have been lawfully rejected”
- DHS Secretary John Kelly to “take all appropriate steps to immediately plan, design and construct” the wall
- Projections for “long-term funding requirements,” including the…
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