What’s “choice” got to do with it, Paul Ryan? | Eclectablog

 Paul Ryan wants persons to have the “choice” to not purchase health insurance.

Hey, why so timid, Paul?

Let’s go Full Monty on this choice stuff, Mr. Speaker.

Let’s give persons the “choice” to not purchase auto insurance; I’m sure there won’t be any issues with folks getting into car accidents and just refusing to pay for the damage they do to someone else’s car–or worse.

Let’s also give folks the “choice” to not purchase mortgage insurance; I can’t imagine the banks you conservatives love so much will have any problems with that. Unsecured loans are their favorite.

Let’s get rid of all food and drug regulations–as you’ve been dreaming of–so we can all have the “choice” to play Russian roulette every time we go to the grocery store or out for dinner.

While we’re at it, let’s get rid of the EPA–it seems like that’s part of your party’s fever dream, too.

What could possibly go wrong if we eliminate the federal guidelines protecting our water supply–I mean, Flint was just…

READ THE FULL BLOG POST HERE: What’s “choice” got to do with it, Paul Ryan? | Eclectablog

Defy the anti-Obamacare propaganda and tell the White House your ACA success story | Eclectablog

The President is supposed to care about all Americans — not just those who align with his self-serving agenda.

Of the many things to be infuriated about since Donald Trump became President, and there are many, his attempt to position Americans as “victims” of Obamacare and solicit Obamacare “disaster” stories from the public is pretty high on the list for me right now.

It’s bad enough that he’s supporting the Republicans’ craven attempt to deprive 24 million Americans of insurance coverage over the next decade — all to give the wealthy a tax cut and spite President Obama. (For the gory details, read Chris Savage’s excellent post.)

But to wage a propaganda campaign against Obamacare by directly soliciting only negative stories from the public is utterly despicable. It proves yet again that Trump and his cronies simply do not care about the lives of Americans. They only care about their personal agenda, one they think will …

READ MORE HERE: Defy the anti-Obamacare propaganda and tell the White House your ACA success story | Eclectablog

Gluten and diabetes: The headlines get it wrong again!By Dr. William Davis

By | March 14, 2017

Another study was released recently that purports to “prove” that gluten-free diets are associated with increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

As with many studies of this type, the findings were misinterpreted but fed into the media’s continual need for titillating headlines.

I thought this hubbub would pass by now, but reports about this study (such as this piece of tripe from The Washington Post) seem to be gaining more traction than usual, fueling the misunderstanding and misinformation that plagues nutritional thinking.

While I thought this would just pass, it looks like it will not and I’m therefore posting my comments.

First, a few words about epidemiological studies…

READ MORE HERE: Gluten and diabetes: The headlines get it wrong again | Dr. William Davis

New Texas Lawsuit: VAM-Based Estimates as Indicators of Teachers’ “Observable” Behaviors

VAMboozled! A blog by Audrey Amrein-Beardsley


Last week I spent a few days in Austin, one day during which I provided expert testimony for a new state-level lawsuit that has the potential to impact teachers throughout Texas. The lawsuit — Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA) v. Texas Education Agency (TEA), Mike Morath in his Official Capacity as Commissioner of Education for the State of Texas.

The key issue is that, as per the state’s Texas Education Code (Sec. § 21.351, see here) regarding teachers’ “Recommended Appraisal Process and Performance Criteria,” The Commissioner of Education must adopt “a recommended teacher appraisal process and criteria on which to appraise the performance of teachers. The criteria must be based on observable, job-related behavior, including: (1) teachers’ implementation of discipline management procedures; and (2) the performance of teachers’ students.” As for the latter, the State/TEA/Commissioner defined, as per its Texas Administrative Code (T.A.C., Chapter 15, Sub-Chapter AA, §150.1001, see here), that teacher-level value-added measures should be treated as one of the four measures of “(2) the performance of teachers’ students;” that is, one of the four measures recognized by the State/TEA/Commissioner as an “observable” indicator of a teacher’s “job-related” performance.

While currently no district throughout the State of Texas is required to use a value-added component to assess and evaluate its teachers, as noted, the value-added component is listed as one of four measures from which districts must choose at least one. All options listed in the category of “observable” indicators include: (A) student learning objectives (SLOs); (B) student portfolios; (C) pre- and post-test results on district-level assessments; and (D) value-added data based on student state assessment results.

Related, the state has not recommended or required that any district, if the value-added option is selected, to choose any particular value-added model (VAM) or calculation approach. Nor has it recommended or required that any district adopt any consequences as attached to these output; however, things like teacher contract renewal and sharing teachers’ prior appraisals with other districts in which teachers might be applying for new jobs is not discouraged. Again, though, the main issue here (and the key points to which I testified) was that the value-added component is listed as an “observable” and “job-related” teacher effectiveness indicator as per the state’s administrative code.

Accordingly, my (5 hour) testimony was primarily (albeit among many other things including the “job-related” part) about how teacher-level value-added data do not yield anything that is observable in terms of teachers’ effects. Likewise, officially referring to these data in this way is entirely false, in fact, in that:

  • “We” cannot directly observe a teacher “adding” (or detracting) value (e.g., with our own eyes, like supervisors can when they conduct observations of teachers in practice);
  • Using students’ test scores to measure student growth upwards (or downwards) and over time, as is very common practice using the (very often instructionally insensitive) state-level tests required by No Child Left Behind (NCLB), and doing this once per year in mathematics and reading/language arts (that includes prior and other current teachers’ effects, summer learning gains and decay, etc.), is not valid practice. That is, doing this has not been validated by the scholarly/testing community; and
  • Worse and less valid is to thereafter aggregate this student-level growth to the teacher level and then call whatever “growth” (or the lack thereof) is because of something the teacher (and really only the teacher did), as directly “observable.” These data are far from assessing a teacher’s causal or “observable” impacts on his/her students’ learning and achievement over time. See, for example, the prior statement released about value-added data use in this regard by the American Statistical Association (ASA) here. In this statement it is written that: “Research on VAMs has been fairly consistent that aspects of educational effectiveness that are measurable and within teacher control represent a small part of the total variation [emphasis added to note that this is variation explained which = correlational versus causal research] in student test scores or growth; most estimates in the literature attribute between 1% and 14% of the total variability [emphasis added] to teachers. This is not saying that teachers have little effect on students, but that variationamong teachers [emphasis added] accounts for a small part of the variation [emphasis added] in [said test] scores. The majority of the variation in [said] test scores is [inversely, 86%-99% related] to factors outside of the teacher’s control such as student and family background, poverty, curriculum, and unmeasured influences.”

If any of you have anything to add to this, please do so in the comments section of this post. Otherwise, I will keep you posted on how this goes. My current understanding is that this one will be headed to court.

Source: VAMboozled! | VAMboozled! A blog by Audrey Amrein-Beardsley

Lessons from the Massachusetts Charter School Expansion Campaign | National Education Policy Center

BOULDER, CO (March 14, 2017) – In the November 2016 election, voters in Massachusetts decisively defeated a referendum that would have significantly increased the number of charter schools in the state. Early polls had “Yes” with a sizable lead, and the Yes side had a considerable financial advantage—$24 million versus $14 million—in the most expensive ballot question in state history.

In What We Can Learn from the Massachusetts Ballot Question Campaign on Charter School Expansion, University of Massachusetts Boston professor Lawrence Blum discusses lessons from the Massachusetts campaign and its results—lessons that might inform the debate around future pushes for expansion of charter schools and other market-based reforms.

Professor Blum explains that while the charter expansion advocates supporting “Question 2” on the state ballot argued that charters were necessary for equity, the No side countered that charter schools drained resources from the larger public system. These opponents further contended that only by improving the public school system could we ensure that no students are written off and that equity is served. Opposition by the NAACP and influential local black leaders challenged the Yes side’s familiar narrative that black parents overwhelmingly favor charter schools.

Moreover, while charter expansion advocates outspent their opponents, the No side had many more local people involved, as part of an impressive grassroots ground operation, with organizing by teachers and their unions, by parents, and by students. Communications from the No side also successfully connected charter school expansion to “dark money” and to a market-based ideological agenda.

Acknowledging the localized elements of this campaign, it nevertheless holds possible lessons about the fault lines of the charter school debate and about how the public may be willing to respond to the Trump administration’s likely efforts to expand taxpayer support of privately run schools.

Find What We Can Learn from the Massachusetts Ballot Question Campaign on Charter School Expansion, by Lawrence Blum, on the web at: http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/ma-charter

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

AHCA! AHCA! Who wins in GOP repeal of the Affordable Care Act: Insurance companies and the wealthy | Eclectablog

At a public appearance this past weekend, Republican Congressman Tim Walberg told the crowd at an impromptu townhall, “Remember, the Affordable Care Act was passed without CBO scoring.”

This is false. Although the CBO hadn’t scored earlier versions of the ACA passed in the House and Senate, the final bill was scored several days before the final vote.

And, as it turns out, they pretty much nailed it. Yesterday, the nonpartisan CBO released its assessment of the Republican plan to repeal the ACA known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and, as expected, it is going to be devastating for many Americans:

The analysis, released late Monday afternoon by the Congressional Budget Office, predicts that 24 million fewer people would have coverage a decade from now than if the Affordable Care Act remains intact, nearly doubling the share of Americans who are uninsured from 10 percent to 19 percent.

The office projects the number of uninsured people would jump 14 million after the first year…

READ MORE HERE: AHCA! AHCA! Who wins in GOP repeal of the Affordable Care Act: Insurance companies and the wealthy | Eclectablog

How changes to Michigan’s school ranking system hurt Cass Tech — and helped the DeVos family charter school | Chalkbeat

Some of Detroit’s most celebrated selective schools saw their standings plunge on the state’s most recent school rankings.

Renaissance High School was one of the highest ranked schools on Michigan’s 2014 Top to Bottom schools list, scoring in the 98th percentile, better than 98 percent of state schools.

But when the state in January released its latest ranking, based on 2016 test scores, the school had dropped to the 48th percentile, putting it slightly below the state average.

Cass Technical High School dropped 57 percentage points, from the 78th percentile in 2014 to the 21st percentile in 2016. (There was no 2015 list).

And the Bates Academy, a selective elementary school in northwest Detroit, dropped from the 86th percentile in 2014 to the 34th percentile last year.

The nosediving rankings could be alarming to parents and educators, but testing experts say the dramatic swings say more about a rating system that’s been in turmoil in recent years than it does about individual schools.

READ MORE HERE: How changes to Michigan’s school ranking system hurt Cass Tech — and helped the DeVos family charter school | Chalkbeat