Have We Been Sitting Idly By While the Meaning of the Term “Public Education” Has Been Corrupted?

Betsy’s husband Dick Jr laid out the battle plan, calling it a “stealth campaign” in a 2002 speech to the Heritage Foundation. Here’s a 2 minute clip from the nearly hour long address. Frightening. https://youtu.be/H-fTAhc4QC4


George Lakoff, the cognitive linguist now retired from the University of California at Berkeley, introduced many of us to the idea that metaphoric moral frames shape our political thinking.  Lakoff concludes his 1996 Moral Politics with an epilogue on the problems posed for public discourse when most of us assume we can neutrally discuss public policy.  Instead, explains Lakoff, political language is always laden with moral judgements that remain invisible to most of us  as we listen, speak, or argue. There is no such thing as neutral, objective political dialogue:

“Conservative and liberal political positions are impossible to compare on an issue-by-issue basis.  Instead, understanding a political position on an issue requires fitting it into an unconscious matrix of… morality… There are no neutral concepts and no neutral language for expressing political positions within a moral context…. (N)ews reporting assumes that concepts are literal and nonpartisan. But concepts, and the…

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Public Schools Alliance Releases One Year Report Card for DeVos: She Gets an F

Traditional Anniversary Gifts By Year:
1ST YEAR: Paper. (Happy Anniversary Secretary DeVos – marking you paper with an F!)
2ND YEAR: Cotton.
3RD YEAR: Leather.
4TH YEAR: Fruit & Flowers, or Linen & Silk.


Did you remember that today is Betsy DeVos’s first anniversary as U.S. Secretary of Education? One year ago, on February 7, 2017, the U.S. Senate confirmed DeVos’s nomination by the barest margin. Mike Pence, the Vice President, had to be brought in to cast the deciding vote.

Today, in honor of DeVos’s first anniversary as Education Secretary, a coalition of education, civil rights, labor, religious, and community organizing groups—the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools grades DeVos on the quality of her work to implement the K-12, public schools mission of the U.S. Department of Education.

Here is how the Alliance defines its rubric for evaluating DeVos’s performance: “To assess the Secretary’s leadership, we reviewed the U.S. Department of Education’s mission and purpose statements and identified four specific roles in public K12 education on which to review her work…

  • “Supplementing state and local resources for schools and districts, particularly those…

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New D.C. School Cheating Scandal: This Time It’s About Graduating Students Who Didn’t Do the Work

Interesting – I Google searched the phrase: charter school scandal… over 489,000 hits. Good grief.


Last November, right after Thanksgiving, National Public Radio and WAMU in Washington, D.C. exposed a scandal at the District’s Ballou High School.  Last May the school had made headlines for graduating all of its seniors and getting every one admitted to college.  You would think we’d have caught on about such promised miracles by now, but apparently we are a gullible society when we want to believe.

Here is what WAMU reported: “An investigation by WAMU and NPR has found that Ballou High School’s administration graduated dozens of students despite high rates of unexcused absences.  WAMU and NPR reviewed hundreds of pages of Ballou’s attendance records, class rosters and emails after a DCPS employee shared the private documents.  The documents showed that half of the graduates missed more than three months of school last year, unexcused. One in five students was absent more than present—missing more than 90 days of…

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Drain the swamp? Lobbyists are filling it up

President Donald Trump promised to drain the swamp. Instead, it’s filling up.

For the first time since 2007, the number of registered lobbyists along with federal lobbying expenditures went up, reversing annual declines in both registrations and spending that began a decade ago.

In all, $3.34 billion was spent on federal lobbying last year, up 6 percent from $3.15 billion a year ago. The increase comes after lobbying expenditures had declined five of the past six years — spending rose less than 1 percent the other year… Read More

by Geoff West

Campaign funding from Health Insurance and Pharma blocks hopes for Single-Payer enthusiasts

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont hosted a town hall recently to discuss the Medicare for All Act, during which he emphasized a conflict of interest around involving the private sector in healthcare.

“Right now, we have a healthcare system that is not designed to provide quality care to all people in a cost effective way,” Sanders said. “Let us be frank, we have a healthcare system designed to make enormous profits for insurance companies and drug companies. And disease prevention is not very high on their lists.”…Read More by Josh Finkelstein


Trump’s state in the eye of the Union

We expected the phrase “America First.” The name Gorsuch. And multiple uses of the word “great.”

In the days before President Trump’s first State of Union all we could do was guess what achievements he would highlight and what goals he would line out for 2018.

Reports had suggested Trump’s speech would center on four topics: the economy, immigration, infrastructure, trade and defense. And he delievered

Here’s our primer on what we expected Tuesdaynight… Read More  by Geoff West

O’Rourke’s no-PAC campaign paying off against Cruz

After voting against the 2014 Farm Bill, El Paso Democrat Beto O’Rourke was asked to apologize. Not to the voters, but to a political action committee (PAC) that donated to his campaign.

“At that moment, I just said ‘You know what, I don’t want to take PAC money anymore,”  O’Rourke said. “This is crazy.”
Now, as Rep. O’Rourke campaigns to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.) in the upcoming midterm election, his pledge to not “take a dime from PACs or special interest groups” may have paid off.The Center for Responsive Politics requested quarter four fundraising information from both campaigns ahead of Federal Election Commission’s deadline. Information provided shows that O’Rourke outraised Cruz and did so largely through smaller, individual contributions…. Read More by Megan Janetsky

Chan Zuckerberg Priorities, Including “Personalized” Learning, Are Veiled in a Haze of Rhetoric

Excellent post Jan. Personalized Learning…what a gawdawful” term. Used and abused with so many definitions and lengthy descriptions to make impossible to nail down that even the most experienced of educators can agree on what it means. Surely non-educators like the Zuckerbergs ought not even bother trying. Great article here explaining the explanations. http://edglossary.org/personalized-learning/
There’s so many meanings that it’s like going to a hardware store and trying to buy a gallon of white paint.


We shouldn’t be entirely surprised by the sales pitch from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) about the glories of so-called “personalized” learning.  When tech giants push education theory, one always needs to watch for ideas that embody the use of technology. But in the case of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, there is another reason to be careful.  Jim Shelton leads the education work of CZI, a limited-liability corporation that will also be granting gobs of money to develop and promote its education agenda.

In a piece at CHALKBEAT last week, Matt Barnum reports: “Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made a bold statement in a recent essay: By giving students individual help, average students can be turned into exceptional ones. ‘If a student is at the 50th percentile in their class and they receive effective one-on-one tutoring, they jump on average to the 98th percentile,’ Zuckerberg wrote.  It’s a remarkable claim…

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West Michigan Elite amongst the largest contributors to the 2018 Election in the State

Michigan GOP: bought and paid for by select few…

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network is already making it clear that the 2018 Elections in Michigan will be one of the most expensive in state history

In the 2018 Election we will see contributions from numerous sectors, including Political Action Committees (PACs), Caucus Committees, Super PACs, outside funding and an increase in individual candidate contributions.

One area, Caucus Committees, not only demonstrates the outrageous amounts of money that have already been raised in Michigan, the data also shows that West Michigan elites are amongst the top contributors to purchasing the 2018 elections.

According to the data collected by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, the top two contributors to the Senate Republican Campaign Committee are listed as: 

  1. DeVos Family, Windquest Group and RDV Corp, $240,000
  2. Kennedy family, Autocam, $60,000

This amount of money is just what was raised in 2017 and we can expect even higher numbers for 2018.


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David Sciarra’s Prescription for Curing Chris Christie’s Education Malaise in New Jersey

Once upon a time Chris Christie, Cory Booker and Mark Zuckerberg had themselves an education plan. In the end they’re the ones who got schooled.


A lot of us worry about how far backward our society is falling in its commitment to public responsibility. It seems overwhelming to try to imagine how states and the federal government can crawl out from a deep hole dug by tax cutting, privatization, and elimination of services and programs many of us have assumed government will provide. Kansas during Sam Brownback’s tenure as governor has stood out for the failure of his experiment in tax slashing and supply side, trickle-down economics.  But despite that Governor Chris Christie was checked by Democratic legislative majorities, he also left a stain on public education.  Christie formally left office on January 15.

Here is how the executive director of the Education Law Center, David Sciarra describes Christie’s problematic public education legacy: “He set the tone in the 2010 state budget—his first—when he pushed through a $1 billion school-funding cut, wiping out two years…

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