A Society with Armed School Teachers and “Hardened Schools”: What Can Trump Be Thinking?

“Your enemies are OUT THERE somewhere, lurking, around every corner. You know? And I’m not the enemy. No, not me. Only I can help you. Protect you. Save you. Listen to me. Only me.” That’s what Trump’s saying.


At the end of last week President Donald Trump prescribed a solution for tragic school shootings like the one in Florida on Valentines Day.  Arm school teachers.

NPR broadcast what he said: “We have to harden our schools, not soften them. A gun-free zone to a killer or somebody who wants to be a killer, that’s like going in for the ice cream. That’s like ‘here I am, take me.’  We have to get smart on gun-free zones.  When they see ‘this is a gun-free zone,’ that means that nobody has a gun except them, nobody’s going to be shooting bullets in the other direction. And they see that, it’s such a beautiful target. They live for gun free zones.  Now what I’d recommend doing is the people that do carry, we give them a bonus, we give them a little bit of a bonus, because frankly they’d feel more…

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Making English the Official Language in Michigan, racism, anti-immigration groups and the DeVos Family connection

Oh good grief. Of all the problems we have in this state demanding what language we ought to be official is beyond silly.

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Last Thursday, the Michigan House of Representatives voted to make English the official language for the State of Michigan. The measure passed by a 62 – 46 vote, mostly along party lines, with the majority of Republicans voting in favor of the legislation.

The language of House Bill 4053 can be found here, which basically makes English the official language in terms of state government functioning; including meetings, documents, the public record, etc. 

The bill was introduced last year by Rep. Tom Barrett, with Triston ColeAaron MillerGary GlennLana TheisPeter LucidoShane HernandezLee Chatfield being co-sponsors. Those giving the most to the campaigns of these state representatives can be found on the Michigan Campaign Finance Network link on donor tracking

We found that most of the state representatives that sponsored the English only bill have primarily funded the bulk of their own campaigns. The exception…

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By Threatening Protections for Teachers, “Janus” Case Also Threatens Students’ Interests


Jeff Bryant’s piece on Tuesday about what the St. Paul Federation of Teachers accomplished in its recent negotiations and threatened strike couldn’t be more timely. The union negotiated an agreement with the school district on February 12, 2018.

After all, on Monday, February 26, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of Janus v. AFSCME.  This is the most recent case to challenge union “agency” or “shop” fees charged to teachers or other public employees who elect not to join a union but whose interests are represented by the union they have chosen not to join. These non-members are already exempt from paying the portion of union membership fees that cover the union’s political activity. The current case was brought by Mark Janus an Illinois member of AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council.

The Associated Press‘s Mark Sherman explains…

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DACA Fight Symbolizes Fear that American Life Has Become a Mere Zero-Sum Competition

Great analogy I heard the other day…if the police pull someone over for a traffic violation, they ticket the driver, not the children sitting in the backseat too.


Why is the DACA crisis a topic for a blog on public education?

This is the impasse in Congress, exacerbated by President Donald Trump’s flip flops—saying he’ll sign any compromise Congress presents to him to protect so-called Dreamers from deportation—then rejecting any compromise that fails to include a number of other priorities of his own including the border wall and outright bans on other kinds of legal immigration long accepted as enriching our communities.

Young people who call themselves Dreamers were brought to the United States as young children without documentation. They have been raised in our neighborhoods and promised an education through 12th grade in our public schools.  In 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Dreamers’ right to a K-12 public education under the protection of the 14th Amendment in a decision known as Plyler v. Doe.  Many of these young people came to the United States as…

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School Discipline Report Distorts in Push for Policy Rollbacks.


Key Review Takeaway: 

New report misleads when it could have informed, review find

BOULDER, CO (February 15, 2018) – The Academic and Behavioral Consequences of Discipline Policy Reform: Evidence from Philadelphia, published by the Fordham Institute, investigated the impact of a reform in the School District of Philadelphia that eliminated suspensions for certain low-level misbehaviors.

Yolanda Anyon of the University of Denver and Kathryn E. Wiley of the University of California San Diego reviewed the report and found it “plagued by logical fallacies, overly simplified interpretations of findings, and inflammatory language.”

The report considered whether the change in discipline policy was associated with any of the following: (a) district-wide out-of-school suspension rates, (b) academic and behavioral outcomes for students (looking separately at students who had a record of prior suspensions and those with no prior suspensions), and (c) racial disparities in suspensions.

While the report concluded that the reform was a failure, the actual results were mixed, with the positive trends for students who were earlier suspended being much stronger in magnitude than evidence of negative outcomes for students who were not. A strength of the report is the use of advanced statistical methods and a longitudinal dataset to answer the questions of interest.

However, Anyon and Wiley explain, the report uses misleading causal (“consequences”) language in the title and to describe study results, even though the study design is limited by unmeasured confounding factors and inappropriate comparison groups. Thus, while the analyses upon which the report is based have some technical merits, the narrative seems more of an attempt to advance a political agenda opposed to the reform studied than to improve understanding of complex policy issues.

Find the review, by Yolanda Anyon and Kathryn Wiley, at:

Find The Academic and Behavioral Consequences of Discipline Policy Reform: Evidence from Philadelphia, by Matthew P. Steinberg & Johanna Lacoe, and published by the Fordham Institute, at:
http://edex.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/publication/pdfs/%2812.05%29 The Academic and Behavioral Consequences of Discipline Policy Reform Evidence from Philadelphia.pdf

NEPC Reviews (http://thinktankreview.org) provide the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC Reviews are made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: http://www.greatlakescenter.org

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

Ohio’s Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow Has Its Day in Court; Chief Justice Calls ECOT’s Claim Absurd


After a lengthy legal case in which Ohio’s biggest charter school, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) has challenged the Ohio Department of Education’s attempt to crack down on what appears to be ECOT’s outrageous over-reporting of student attendance, ECOT had its final day in court. The Ohio Supreme Court heard ECOT’s appeal yesterday morning.

For about an hour the attorneys for ECOT and for the Ohio Department of Education presented their arguments, and the justices peppered them with questions.  ECOT’s attorney, Marion Little argued that Ohio law requires only that online e-schools document students’ formal enrollment and provide 920 hours of curriculum annually. Whether or not students actually participate in the school’s online education is, according to Little, not covered by Ohio law as a condition for the state’s per pupil funding of the school. Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor expressed skepticism.

Here is the Plain Dealer‘s Patrick…

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Journalist’s Resource:Research on today’s news

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Journalist’s Resource

Research on today’s news

To burn more calories, just stand
Is sitting the new smoking? There’s plenty of research that claims associations between sedentary behaviors and mortality, but the findings of these studies tend to vary. A recent study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology reviewed 46 studies that looked at the effects of standing, rather than sitting, on energy expenditure in an attempt to understand how beneficial it really is to get up from that swivel chair. http://bit.ly/2Etvif0

Teacher misconduct: Research on educators and crime
Journalists regularly cover stories about teachers accused of misconduct ranging from public intoxication and theft to child battery and sexual assault. To help, we’ve pulled together studies that look at teacher misconduct broadly as well as sexual misconduct specifically. We included research on nondisclosure agreements, which limit the information school districts can share about former employees. http://bit.ly/2BkETTe

Grant review that focuses on researcher credentials favors men
Gender bias in the workplace is not new. Pay gaps, hiring discrimination and harassment all demonstrate differences in opportunities and outcomes on the basis of gender. As researchers work to shed light on gender bias, academia itself is not immune. New research conducted by scholars at four Canadian institutions examines differences in the funding success of proposed academic studies. http://bit.ly/2EfQ42z

Covering populist leaders: 10 research-based tips for journalists
A new paper aims to help journalists improve their coverage of populist movements and leaders. Claes H. de Vreese, a recent fellow at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, makes recommendations based on what scholars know about populist communication strategies, including a tendency to bypass the press and communicate directly with the public through social media. http://bit.ly/2EdjtX2

Advances in Alzheimer’s research
Alzheimer’s disease is an incurable neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive cognitive decline. Early detection and intervention, then, are key for those trying to alter the disease’s course. Two new studies present promising findings in this realm. One indicates that a blood test could aid diagnosis, the other suggests aerobic exercise boosts cognitive function.  http://bit.ly/2EU1Exq

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DeVos Locks Out Teachers Demanding that Education Department Address Inequity, Protect Civil Rights

Honestly Jan – if Betsy folded up the DOE tent over the next three years bit by bit, given the history of the department since the 1980s, well, public school advocates would probably have an easier time dealing with 50 state legislatures and 50 state governors.


Last week Betsy DeVos, the U.S. Secretary of Education, marked her first year in office with a news conference where she announced that her greatest accomplishment has been diminishing the role of her department.

For the Washington Post, Moriah Balingit reports: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos proclaimed Wednesday that her proudest accomplishments in her first year in office were shrinking he role of the agency, rolling back Obama-era initiatives and erasing outdated regulations… She rolled back key regulations and guidance documents intended to protect transgender students, student borrowers and victims of sexual assault in the name of reining in a department whose role she believes had grown too large.  She used budget cuts and buyouts to reduce the size of the agency.  ‘Some of the most important work we’ve done in this first year has been around the area of overreach and rolling back the extended footprint of this…

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People from West MI who have contributed the maximum amount to Michigan’s Gubernatorial candidates

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Michigan will be deciding who the next Governor will be this coming November and there has been plenty of money contributed to a variety of candidates running for that office.

According to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, 318 donors have already given the maximum amount of money allowed under current campaign finance rules. 

In addition, there has already been $16 million raised by the eight Gubernatorial candidates, 4 from the GOP and 4 from the Democrats. Of the candidates that have donors who have contributed the maximum amount of $6,800, there are three Republicans and two Democrats.

GOP Candidates who have donors contributing the maximum:

  • Bill Schuette has 97 donors who have given the maximum
  • Brian Calley has 80 donors who have given the maximum
  • Pat Colbeck has 14 donors who have given the maximum

Democratic Candidates who have donors contributing the maximum:

  • Abdul El-Sayed has 40 donors who…

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Is School Privatization Agenda Shifting to Vouchers? Charter School Advocacy Organization Collapses

Unfortunately this is far from “game over” but rather a somewhat predictable shift in tactics. The goal is the same: Defeat Government Schools


On Wednesday, Politico New York‘s Morning Education update briefly covered a pro-charter schools advocacy day in Albany, New York and then noted, “The rally comes as the old guard of charter advocacy in the state officially collapsed Monday when Families for Excellent Schools announced it would close following the firing of its CEO Jeremiah Kittredge.”  Politico New York’s Eliza Shapiro broke the stories of Kittredge’s firing late last week and on Monday, Shapiro and Politico‘s Caitlin Emma broke the news that the organization will shut down.

Even if you live far away from New York, and even if you have forgotten who and what Families for Excellent Schools is, you should keep reading. Because what happened this week may signify a shift in the politics of school privatization.

It remains true that education policy shaping the public schools that serve 90 percent of our children (the 99…

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