Education Savings Accounts: Proponents Claim Educational Choice Beats Mere School Choice

Sadly the MI GOP led by the sanctimonious DeVos family gets the credit/blame for conceptualizing and bringing to fruition 529 plans being available for the wealthy to write off K-12 private and parochial school tuition and fees. Ugh.

janresseger

The National Education Policy Center’s new brief, The State of Education Savings Account Programs in the United States, traces the history of school vouchers, explains how Education Savings Account vouchers work, identifies their problems and injustices; and accomplishes all this in a readable and interesting way.

The authors, for example, help us learn about Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) from this quote taken from published promotional materials from supporters who glorify ESAs and adore school choice. The sales pitch is notable for distinguishing “educational” choice from mere, old-fashioned “school” choice: “For more than two decades, school choice had been just that—school choice. In a potentially profound development, ESAs focus on educational choice and upend many assumptions that have framed education policy issues… ESAs give families almost unfettered control over the public funds allocated for their child’s education. With an ESA, parents are able to customize their child’s education by…

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The Saga of Sam Brownback’s Kansas: Struggling to Make Things As Good As They Used to Be

janresseger

Sam Brownback, Kansas’ governor may leave, if his appointment is ever approved by the U.S. Senate for a position in the Trump administration, but even if the appointment is never approved, term limits in Kansas mean he won’t be governor after this year. The budget he proposed earlier this month will be his final budget proposal. A lot of legislators, even those in his own party, are ready to see the last of Brownback’s budgets and his theories of public finance. You will remember that his rollback of the state’s income taxes in 2012 and 2013—what he described as a real live experiment in supply-side economics—utterly failed.

After Brownback slashed taxes, the state’s economy failed to grow, the state ran out of money, and the state’s supreme court found Kansas school funding unconstitutionally inadequate.

Last year in a miracle of bipartisan consensus, members of the legislature addressed the state’s financial…

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Betsy DeVos Watch: Billionaires and Populist Rhetoric

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

As of this writing, the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, has posted 26 speeches on the Department of Education website. Of those 26 speeches, some of them have been given during college or university commencements, while others have been with other state or national education conferences.

However, there are a disproportionally high number of speeches that Betsy DeVos has delivered that specifically addresses organizations and associations that are far right politically and embrace education privatization.

Here is a list of the speeches she has delivered to these far right and other groups representing the current Neoliberal establishment:

2/23/2017 Conservative Political Action Conference

3/29/2017 Brookings Institute

5/22/2017 American Federation of Children

6/13/2017 National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

7/20/2017 American Legislative Exchange Council

10/13/2017 Washington Policy Center

10/27/2017 Future Farmers of America

11/30/2017 Foundation for Excellence in Eduction

1/16/2018 American Enterprise Institute

(Editor’s Note: This list of speeches by…

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National School Choice Week: A Time to Examine How the Lessons of ECOT’s Demise Apply Beyond Ohio

janresseger

During this National School Choice Week, a celebration of school privatization that is being financially and ideologically promoted by people like Jeb Bush and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, it is a good time to consider the lessons we have been learning about the impact of parental choice and what is virtually always at the center of school choice: privatization of education at public expense.

One obvious and little noticed problem for those who seek to bring the problems of school choice to the public’s attention is that the laws which established charter schools and govern their operation are state-specific.  When an unscrupulous charter school, or even a big chain of charters goes down in another state, it is easy to think, “This isn’t relevant to me,” and maybe skip reading the story.  Even if the Network for Public Education (NPE) releases a high quality, incisive a report on…

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DACA Action in Grand Rapids Shut Down Rush Hour Traffic, Motorist hits people who were demonstrating with their car

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

On Friday, about 75 people met at Calder Plaza to rally in support of DACA recipients and to demand that Congress pass a Clean Dream Act. A Clean Dream Act would include NO funding for a border wall, increased border security, interior enforcement, more detention centers and NO mandatory E-Verify.

Several people spoke to those gathered, people who had just come from Washington, DC, where Dreamers and their supporters occupied Congressional offices and some were arrest for civil disobedience.

The DACA action on Friday was organized primarily by local Dreamers, but was also facilitated by the West Michigan Coalition for Immigration Reform.

After people spoke, the DACA Action then moved to the corner of Michigan and Ottawa in Grand Rapids, where about half of the crowd moved out into the street on the crosswalk area to block traffic.

For about 15 minutes the traffic was stopped on Michigan Street, going…

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Test-and-Punish Just Hangs on as Failed Education Strategy

by janresseger
ESSA, the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, is like an old, altered, jacket, now frayed at the cuffs. The fabric was never really good in the first place and, when the jacket was made over, the alternations didn’t do much to improve the design. Not much noticed at the back of the closet, the jacket sags there. But it would take too much energy to throw it away.

Pretty much everybody agrees these days that the 2001 school “reform” law, No Child Left Behind, was a failure. The Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos went to the American Enterprise Institute the other day and criticized the education policies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

And at the other end of the political spectrum, on January 8, 2018, the 16th anniversary of the day President George W. Bush signed No Child Left Behind, Diane Ravitch declared,

janresseger

ESSA, the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, is like an old, altered, jacket, now frayed at the cuffs. The fabric was never really good in the first place and, when the jacket was made over, the alternations didn’t do much to improve the design. Not much noticed at the back of the closet, the jacket sags there. But it would take too much energy to throw it away.

Pretty much everybody agrees these days that the 2001 school “reform” law, No Child Left Behind, was a failure. The Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos went to the American Enterprise Institute the other day and criticized the education policies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

And at the other end of the political spectrum, on January 8, 2018, the 16th anniversary of the day President George W. Bush signed No Child Left Behind, Diane Ravitch declared, “NCLB, as it…

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Amazon says No to Grand Rapids and the Right Place Inc. will still not make the proposal public

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Yesterday, it was reported that the online sales giant Amazon, has narrowed down their list of cities to twenty and Grand Rapids is not on the list.

MLive reported, “Although we were not selected to advance in this process, we take great pride in how the greater Grand Rapids area was presented to Amazon and the collaborative work that went into it,” said Birgit Klohs, president and CEO of the Right Place economic development program. 

MLive went on to say, “The Right Place team included Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc., the city of Grand Rapids, the Michigan Department of Transportation, Gerald R. Ford International Airport, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and Gov. Rick Snyder’s office.”

Considering that the City of Grand Rapids was involved in the process, one would think that the 108 page proposal from Grand Rapids to Amazon would have been a public document. Not so.

I inquired…

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ECOT’s Sponsor Asks Judge to Appoint Receiver for the School, But ECOT Presents Plan to Keep Going

ECOT’s Sponsor Asks Judge to Appoint Receiver for the School, But ECOT Presents Plan to Keep Going
by janresseger
Well… today is the day the Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West has said it will terminate its sponsorship and end the operation of Ohio’s giant, notorious online charter school scam, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow.

Last night the Columbus Dispatch reported that ECOT held an emergency board meeting yesterday, after which the school announced it had made a “final offer” to the Ohio Department of Education, that would include an agreement that William Lager, ECOT’s founder, would step down from Altair Learning, the private company he owns that manages ECOT. The plan would also, according to the Dispatch, “allow the state to continue recouping $80 million in overpayments of state aid,” and would allow the school to remain open through graduation this spring. Brittny Pierson,ECOT’s superintendent announced: “While we would have liked to remain open indefinitely, it’s clear the department will not accept a payback plan that would allow for that. Thus, we are left fighting to remain open until the end of the year to allow our students the opportunity to finish their school year….”

janresseger

Well… today is the day the Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West has said it will terminate its sponsorship and end the operation of Ohio’s giant, notorious online charter school scam, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow.

Last night the Columbus Dispatch reported that ECOT held an emergency board meeting yesterday, after which the school announced it had made a “final offer” to the Ohio Department of Education, that would include an agreement that William Lager, ECOT’s founder, would step down from Altair Learning, the private company he owns that manages ECOT. The plan would also, according to the Dispatch, “allow the state to continue recouping $80 million in overpayments of state aid,” and would allow the school to remain open through graduation this spring. Brittny Pierson, ECOT’s superintendent announced: “While we would have liked to remain open indefinitely, it’s clear the department will not accept a payback plan that…

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Immigrant Youth Fight for Their Future: What Will We Do in Grand Rapids?

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Since the Trump administration announced that it would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, the immigrant community has been fighting to maintain this program.

DACA youth, their families, friends and allies has been organizing on all kinds of levels, from educational forums to meeting with members of Congress, engaging in sit-ins, strikes and other forms of Direct Action.

Yesterday, hundreds of immigrants, DACA recipients and allies visited members of Congress. These visits were more like office occupations, where Dreamers made lots of noise to demand that Congress pass a Clean Dream Act. A Clean Dream Act would mean that it is not attached to other issues, especially the Congressional budget. Those in DC raising hell have been clear, by saying, “We are not a bargaining chip to be used by Republicans and Democrats.”

Dozens of people from West Michigan sat in on Senator Stabenow’s…

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Solidarity Event Planned with J20 Arrestees

by Jeff Smith (GRIID)
Almost a year ago, 230 people were mass arrested at protests against President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Following the arrest – which happened at an “anti-capitalist and anti-fascist” march – approximately 210 people were indicted on eight felony charges of inciting a riot, rioting, conspiracy to riot, and five counts of felony property destruction, punishable by up to 75 years in prison. While two charges – rioting and conspiracy to riot – have been reduced to misdemeanors, defendants are still facing the prospect of 60 years in prison.

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

(Editor’s note: This post was submitted anonymously.)

Almost a year ago, 230 people were mass arrested at protests against President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Following the arrest – which happened at an “anti-capitalist and anti-fascist” march – approximately 210 people were indicted on eight felony charges of inciting a riot, rioting, conspiracy to riot, and five counts of felony property destruction, punishable by up to 75 years in prison. While two charges – rioting and conspiracy to riot – have been reduced to misdemeanors, defendants are still facing the prospect of 60 years in prison.

Since January of last year, the cases have wound their way through the legal system. After mass arresting an entire city block, the government is attempting to retroactively build a case by searching seized cell phones, pouring over video recordings (some of which were obtained by alt-right sources), and subponeaing website records in…

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