Where are they now? Lucrative lobbying gigs, other jobs landed by newly-former lawmakers – OpenSecrets Blog

With their treasure troves of connections and policymaking know-how, former lawmakers are hot commodities for lobbying firms.

Luckily for those exiting Capitol Hill, there’s money to be made with government credentials. In early 2014, the Sunlight Foundation estimated that while lobbyists made a median of nearly $180,000 in lobbying revenue in 2012, the median for lobbyists with government experience was $300,000.

 … read more

by Niv Sultan

Source: Where are they now? Lucrative lobbying gigs, other jobs landed by newly-former lawmakers – OpenSecrets Blog

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Nonprofits backing Trump have deep, swampy ties

The politically active nonprofits boosting Trump’s agenda (and, by extension, his re-election) have more links than their public jostling might suggest.

Outside groups mobilizing in support of President Trump have already spent tens of millions on his behalf—and may never have to reveal where they got the money.

Trump’s unprecedented move to register as a candidate for the 2020 presidential election on his first day in office blurs the line between groups spending in support of the president’s agenda and those supporting his re-election.

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by Anna Massoglia

Source: Nonprofits backing Trump have deep, swampy ties

Biggest share of inaugural funding came from Wall Street

President Donald Trump got help to fund his inaugural celebration largely from Wall Street, the oil and mining industries and real estate.

For someone who repeatedly berated Wall Street during his campaign, President Trump received a lot of inauguration help from its inhabitants. The securities and investment industry contributed the greatest chunk to Trump’s inaugural festivities, $14.3 million, or about 13 percent of all donations. To compare, Obama received $4.6 million from Wall Street in 2009 and $3 million in 2013.

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by Ashley Balcerzak

Source: Biggest share of inaugural funding came from Wall Street

Two (at most) secret donors funded 93% of pro-Rubio nonprofit

Conservative Solutions Project, a 501(c)(4) with 0 employees that isn’t supposed to be primarily political, spent millions to boost Rubio’s candidacy

A politically active nonprofit that supported Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) failed 2016 presidential bid raised nearly $22 million in two years, 93 percent of which came from either one or two anonymous donors, tax documents obtained by the Center for Responsive Politics show.

Conservative Solutions Project, a 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organization with no employees or volunteers that isn’t supposed to be primarily political, spent millions of dollars on ads, research and polling to boost the Florida senator’s candidacy, but it appears to have done little or no social welfare — unless one counts portraying Rubio as a champion on taxes and foreign policy as being a public good. That raises questions of whether CSP crossed a legal line by acting mainly as a political group — and also whether it existed to benefit a single person, violating the IRS’ “private benefit” rule.

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by Robert MaguireSource: Two (at most) secret donors funded 93% of pro-Rubio nonprofit

CURMUDGUCATION: Houston: Court Throws Out VAM

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

Houston: Court Throws Out VAM

A while back, some Houston teachers backed by AFT took EVAAS (the Texas version of Value Added Measure) to court. It did not go well for reformsters.

Ding dong, indeed.

EVAAS is the VAM of choice in Houston. This is the system developed by William Sanders, an agricultural statistician who thought that a statistical model for modeling genetic and reproductive trends among cattle could be used to figure out how much value teachers were adding to students. The result was a system that nobody could really explain to anybody, but which spread like kudzu across the educational landscape because science! numbers! The explanation of the secret VAM sauce looks like this:

But I prefer this one, which is more accurate:

Experts came to testify, and laid out twelve major findings about the VAAS system:

1) Large-scale standardized tests have never been validated for this use.

2) When tested against another VAM system, EVAAS produced wildly different results.

3) EVAAS scores are highly volatile from one year to the next.

4) EVAAS overstates the precision of teachers’ estimated impacts on growth 

5) Teachers of English Language Learners (ELLs) and “highly mobile” students are substantially less likely to demonstrate added value

6) The number of students each teacher teaches (i.e., class size) also biases teachers’ value-added scores.

7) Ceiling effects are certainly an issue.

8) There are major validity issues with “artificial conflation.” (This is the phenomenon in which administrators feel forced to make their observation scores “align” with VAAS scores.)

9) Teaching-to-the-test is of perpetual concern. 

10) HISD is not adequately monitoring the EVAAS system. HISD was not even allowed to see or test the secret VAM sauce.

11) EVAAS lacks transparency.

12) Related, teachers lack opportunities to verify their own scores. 

US Magistrate Judge Stephen Smith agreed, saying that “high stakes employment decisions based on secret algorithms (are)incompatible with… due process” and the proper remedy was to overturn the policy. The Houston Federation of Teachers was pleased:

HFT President Zeph Capo: “With this decision, Houston should wipe clean the record of every teacher who was negatively evaluated. From here on, teacher evaluation systems should be developed with educators to ensure that they are fair, transparent and help inform instruction, not be used as a punitive tool.” 

What happens next? Well, personally, I hope my union here in Pennsylvania, where we use PVAAS (which is EVAAS with less E and more P), will call up that bunch of experts and march them into some state court to repeat the Houston performance.

Do teachers and schools need some form of accountability to parents, students, and the taxpayers who foot the bill? Absolutely. But that form of accountability needs to be real, and not some high-tone version of bouncing dice of a horny toad’s back under a full moon. Let’s get rid of this bogus (but highly profitable) tool and replace it with something useful. VAM is a big fat fake; not only does the emperor have no clothes, but he’s not even the emperor.

Update: More details available here.

Source: CURMUDGUCATION: Houston: Court Throws Out VAM