Cory Booker is no friend of public education

Seattle Education

booker The then Mayor Cory Booker. Mark Zuckerberg is in the background.

Update on January 10, 2017:

We have come across additional information on Cory Booker’s predilection for the corporatization of public schools.

Booker was on the Alliance for School Choice (ASC) Board of Directors from 2004 to 2008 along with Betsy DeVos. Also note that John Walton of the Walton family was a founder of ASC.


To view the source of the document above, go to the program for the Alliance for School Choice Summit in 2008.

According to ALEC exposed:

The Alliance for School Choice (ASC) is a conservative 501(c)(3) non-profit group that promotes the school privatization agenda via the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and other avenues. It is affiliated with the 501(c)(4) advocacy group the American Federation for Children.[1] Former Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, who was charged with multiple crimes stemming from abuse of…

View original post 1,308 more words

CURMUDGUCATION: Corporations versus Human Persons

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

Corporations versus Human Persons

The story of United Airlines and the Shameful Assault on a Paying Customer has been more thoroughly covered than almost anything this week (congrats, Beloved Leader Trump, on a widespread distraction from your latest screwup). We’ve had lessons from the airlines in free market delights before, but this is an even more direct and clear example of why the corporate approach is a bad idea for public education.

And that is how you run a No Excuses airline

Note that the United screwup is even worse than is generally reported. Though folks have blamed this on an overbooking of the flight, but actually, the airline wanted to bump four paying customers so that they could fly four of their own employees to Louisville.

This means they absolutely had the option of saying, “We need these employees in Louisville? Well, the seats on the plane are already filled with paying customers, so obviously we’ll have to solve this internal transportation problem some other way.” But no. They had a clear choice to make between the interests of the company and the care of the customers, and they picked the company. Well, not exactly “picked,” because there was no decision so much as an auto-default to choosing in the corporate concerns, a default so strong and obvious to them, that they clearly didn’t even reflect on how this should look.

And why should they? Sure, it would be shabby treatment for four customers, but the airlines barely bump one customer out of a thousand, and when you’re operating at large scale, the smooth wheels of corporate operation can afford to grind up a tiny number of customers. And the selection process carefully selects those customers for lousy treatment who are the least valuable customers to the company.

That’s just part of a larger picture. Airlines have also been quietly deserting many cities and providing fewer choices, because the corporate goal, of course, is not to serve everybody, but to serve the people who are worth serving, the people who fit your business model, the people who can bring you the kind of return you want on your investment. As New York Magazine notes:

For decades, airlines have been cancelling low-volume routes, reducing service quality, raising prices, merging to achieve economies of scale, declaring bankruptcy, and sucking up billions in public subsidies, and the industry still teeters on the brink of insolvency.

The bloodied face of the passenger– well, former passenger– is the corporate mindset written in its hugest, starkest form. Customers are there to meet the needs of the corporation, not vice versa. At Deadspin, Albert Berneko argues for the human over the corporate. He quotes the tweeted response of two United staffers– the man wouldn’t deplane. What else were they supposed to do? The answer, of course, is almost anything except summon police to drag him off the plane:

Like any other corporation, its precise reason for existing is to interpose cold, absolute machine reasoning in between the humans who created it and the humans whose money and/or labor the former want; if it had humane or conciliatory answers—ones responsive to or even cognizant of any prerogative short of maximizing its own moneymaking efficiency—to questions like “What should United Airlines do when it f**** up?” it would be a malfunctioning corporation.

If you don’t yet see the parallels between the airline industry and the burgeoning charter school industry, here’s another excerpt from Eric Levitz’s NY Mag piece:

But thanks in no small part to lax antitrust enforcement by President Reagan and his successors, deregulation ultimately turned a public quasi-monopoly into a private one. Or, as Phillip Longman and Lina Khan put it in a 2012 essay for Washington Monthly, Carter’s reforms shifted “control of the airline industry from experts answerable to the public to corporate boardrooms and Wall Street.” [my emphasis]

Now, I don’t accept for a second that our public school system is a monopoly, and the trajectory from public good to private corporate interest is different, but the end result is the same– a corporate concern that must put corporate interests ahead of individual human interests.

Airlines desert unprofitable cities. Charter schools ignore unprofitable communities. Airlines push out customers who get in their way. Charter schools do the same. And neither feel a mandate to make sure that every citizen is well-served. Both ultimately are more concerned about keeping the corporate machine running smoothly than about what must be done to the cogs and wheels to keep that smoothness gliding on without interruption.

Also important to note– the rise of airline “unregulated competition” has resulted in a business that is dominated by four (very mutually supportive) companies. The Free Market does not like competition, and it never has. It likes sorting out winners and losers, and it likes giving winners the kind of market control that Free Market acolytes abhor in governments.

Is it possible that corporations can avoid being soulless and human-hostile? Sure, it’s possible. But a corporation must by its very nature put its own financial success and corporate control high on the list of priorities. Is it possible that a government-run institution can become stiff and dry and soul-crushing in its own special way? Sure. But public schools are built around a simple goal, a promise to every single student in the country, and to every citizen of the country itself, to do right by every single student. But as Derek Thompson wrote in the Atlantic:

Companies in concentrated industries, like the airlines, have legal cover to break the most basic promise to consumers without legally breaking their contracts.

Corporate privatization has in its very dna the strands that lead us to some poor, bloodied man being carried off a plane on a stretcher. Privatizing schools leads us toward that path, demanding compliance and dealing only with those whom it deems worthy of being allowed to serve the corporation. There are places for the corporate approach in our society, but the schoolhouse is not one of them.

Source: CURMUDGUCATION: Corporations versus Human Persons

Media Literacy and the Trump Administration

For nearly 20 years, GRIID has been promoting Media Literacy as an important component for an informed public. Over the past two decades we have conducted media literacy trainings throughout Michigan and have worked with public health educators, sexual assault prevention campaigns, labor organizers, environmental activists and anti-war organizers.

Media Literacy is fundamentally about…

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

For nearly 20 years, GRIID has been promoting Media Literacy as an important component for an informed public. Over the past two decades we have conducted media literacy trainings throughout Michigan and have worked with public health educators, sexual assault prevention campaigns, labor organizers, environmental activists and anti-war organizers.

Media Literacy is fundamentally about developing critical thinking skills, skills that are often not part of the current educational system. Education is often framed as a mechanism for talent creation or merely preparing students for the job market. We view education as a life-long endeavor that is primarily about developing critical thinking skills that are essential to all of us in order to promote and practice justice and liberation from oppression.

Over the past 20 years we have used numerous media literacy exercises, but none more than the Branded Alphabet. The Branded Alphabet media literacy exercise is a great way for…

View original post 177 more words

Southern blacks more supportive of American political system – Journalist’s Resource

African Americans in the South are more supportive of “American values” and the U.S. political system than black people living outside the South, a new study finds.

Source: Southern blacks more supportive of American political system – Journalist’s Resource

Disability among working-age adults: A close look at the states – Journalist’s Resource

In some states, 20 to 30 percent of working-age adults have a physical, emotional or cognitive disability, according to a new study that looks at disability prevalence in each state.

Source: Disability among working-age adults: A close look at the states – Journalist’s Resource

A controversial insecticide and its effect on brain development: Research and resources – Journalist’s Resource

The EPA declined, after years of review, to ban the common insecticide chlorpyrifos in March 2017. We outline the controversy and the evidence it hurts developing brains.

Source: A controversial insecticide and its effect on brain development: Research and resources – Journalist’s Resource

NEPC finds that Virtual Schools expand despite poor performance, lack of research upport, inadequate policies |

BOULDER, CO (April 11, 2017) – Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2017, a three-part report released today by the National Education Policy Center, provides a detailed inventory of full-time virtual schools in the U.S. and their performance, an exhaustive review of the literature on virtual education and its implications for virtual school practices, and a detailed review and analysis of state-level policymaking related to virtual schools.

The growth of full-time virtual schools is fueled, in part, by policies that expand school choice and that provide market incentives attractive to for-profit companies. Indeed, large virtual schools operated by for-profit education management organizations (EMOs) now dominate this sector and are increasing their market share.

Although virtual schools benefit from the common but largely unsupported assumption that the approach is cost-effective and educationally superior to brick and mortar schools, there are numerous problems associated with virtual schools. School performance measures, for both full-time entirely virtual and full-time blended virtual schools, suggest that they are not as successful as traditional public schools.

The virtual education research base is not adequate to support many current virtual school practices. More than twenty years after the first virtual schools began, there continues to be a deficit of empirical, longitudinal research to guide the practice and policy of virtual schooling.

State policymaking in several key areas – such as accountability, teacher preparation, and school governance – continues to lag.

An analysis of state policies suggests that policymakers continue to struggle to reconcile traditional funding structures, governance and accountability systems, instructional quality, and staffing demands with the unique organizational models and instructional methods associated with virtual schooling. Accountability challenges linked to virtual schools include designing and implementing governance structures capable of accounting for expenditures and practices that directly benefit students.

The report’s policy recommendations include:

  • The specification and enforcement of sanctions for virtual schools and blended schools if they fail to improve student performance.
  • The creation of long-term programs to support independent research on and evaluation of virtual schooling, particularly full-time virtual schooling.
  • The development of new funding formulas based on the actual costs of operating virtual schools.

Find Virtual Schools Report 2017, Alex Molnar, Editor, on the web at:

This research brief was made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice:

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:

Source: Virtual Schools Expand Despite Poor Performance, Lack of Research Support, and Inadequate Policies | National Education Policy Center

The Tripod Student Survey Instrument: Its Factor Structure and Value-Added Correlations | VAMboozled!


The Tripod student perception survey instrument is a “research-based” instrument increasingly being used by states to add to state’s teacher evaluation systems as based on “multiple measures.” While there are other instruments also in use, as well as student survey instruments being developed by states and local districts, this one in particular is gaining in popularity, also in that it was used throughout the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s ($43 million worth of) Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) studies. A current estimate (as per the study discussed in this post) is that during the 2015–2016 school year approximately 1,400 schools purchased and administered the Tripod. See also a prior post (here) about this instrument, or more specifically a chapter of a book about the instrument as authored by the instrument’s developer and lead researcher in a  research surrounding it – Ronald Ferguson.

In a study recently released in the esteemed American Educational Research Journal (AERJ), and titled “What Can Student Perception Surveys Tell Us About Teaching? Empirically Testing the Underlying Structure of the Tripod Student Perception Survey,” researchers found that the Tripod’s factor structure did not “hold up.” That is, Tripod’s 7Cs (i.e., seven constructs including: Care, Confer, Captivate, Clarify, Consolidate, Challenge, Classroom Management; see more information about the 7Cs here) and the 36 items that are positioned within each of the 7Cs did not fit the 7C framework as theorized by instrument developer(s).

Rather, using the MET database (N=1,049 middle school math class sections; N=25,423 students), researchers found that an alternative bi-factor structure (i.e., two versus seven constructs) best fit the Tripod items theoretically positioned otherwise. These two factors included (1) a general responsivity dimension that includes all items (more or less) unrelated to (2) a classroom management dimension that governs responses on items surrounding teachers’ classroom management. Researchers were unable to to distinguish across items seven separate dimensions.

Researchers also found that the two alternative factors noted — general responsivity and classroom management — were positively associated with teacher value-added scores. More specifically, results suggested that these two factors were positively and statistically significantly associated with teachers’ value-added measures based on state mathematics tests (standardized coefficients were .25 and .25, respectively), although for undisclosed reasons, results apparently suggested nothing about these two factors’ (cor)relationships with value-added estimates base on state English/language arts (ELA) tests. As per authors’ findings in the area of mathematics, prior researchers have also found low to moderate agreement between teacher ratings and student perception ratings; hence, this particular finding simply adds another source of convergent evidence.

Authors do give multiple reasons and plausible explanations as to why they found what they did that you all can read in more depth via the full article, linked to above and fully cited below. Authors also note that “It is unclear whether the original 7Cs that describe the Tripod instrument were intended to capture seven distinct dimensions on which students can reliably discriminate among teachers or whether the 7Cs were merely intended to be more heuristic domains that map out important aspects of teaching” (p. 1859); hence, this is also important to keep in mind given study findings.

As per study authors, and to their knowledge, “this study [was] the first to systematically investigate the multidimensionality of the Tripod student perception survey” (p. 1863).

Citation: Wallace, T. L., Kelcey, B., &  Ruzek, E. (2016). What can student perception surveys tell us about teaching? Empirically testing the underlying structure of the Tripod student perception survey.  American Educational Research Journal, 53(6), 1834–1868.
doiI:10.3102/0002831216671864 Retrieved from

Source: The Tripod Student Survey Instrument: Its Factor Structure and Value-Added Correlations | VAMboozled!

BIGOTRY DENIED! Anti-LGBT “activists” smacked down by court in Jackson, Michigan | Eclectablog

 Earlier this year, the City Council of Jackson, Michigan passed a non-discrimination ordinance (NDO) that prohibits discrimination against anyone for housing, employment, or public accommodation based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The vote was 5-2.

Shortly thereafter, a local group of Jackson residents, supported by clergy in local Catholic churches, started to circulate petitions to rescind the NDO and put the civil rights of members of the LGBTQ community up for a vote. Anti-LGBTQ bigot Jeffrey Feahr turned in the petitions to the City Clerk and brought the media with him.

However, due to multiple deficiencies in the petitions, the group Jackson Together asked the City Clerk Randy Wrozek to invalidate the petitions. He refused to do so Jackson Together went to court and, today, they won. Jackson’s NDO is now law.

Before today’s court hearing, Wrozek attempted to hire an outside attorney to represent him. He brought on the notorious anti-LGBTQ attorney, David Kallman.

READ MORE HERE: BIGOTRY DENIED! Anti-LGBT “activists” smacked down by court in Jackson, Michigan | Eclectablog