Grand Rapids ranks as one of the worst cities for Inclusive Recovery

“The Great Recession of 2008 forced many cities to rebuild their economies. But in many places, the recovery has been uneven, with some cities enacting policies that increase equity across racial and ethnic groups, while others widened the gaps between the haves and the have nots. A new study from nonprofit research organization Urban Institute explores which cities prioritized inclusion in their struggle for economic growth.”

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Last week, the online site Colorlines, post a story about a new study looking at how US cities with populations of 100,000 or more has dealt with the recovery since the 2007-2008 economic recession. 

Colorlines writes:

The Great Recession of 2008 forced many cities to rebuild their economies. But in many places, the recovery has been uneven, with some cities enacting policies that increase equity across racial and ethnic groups, while others widened the gaps between the haves and the have nots. A new study from nonprofit research organization Urban Institute explores which cities prioritized inclusion in their struggle for economic growth.

The study done by the Urban Institute, Inclusive Recovery in US Cities, was released just weeks ago. Their research looks at both economic inclusion and racial inclusion: 

Our overall inclusion index combines the economic inclusion and racial inclusion indices for a composite view of inclusion in a city…

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DeVos Diminishes Civil Rights Enforcement, Violates Education Department’s Mission

My hope is that one by one the 50 states and DC step up to provide these protections as the DeVos aim is to destroy the DoE anyway.


There continue to be warning signs that Betsy DeVos’s Department of Education is backing away from its responsibility to protect students’ civil rights:

  • The NY TimesErica Green reported this week on a new protocol by which the Department’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) will “disregard cases that are part of serial filings or that they consider burdensome to the office.”  Department officials plan to stop investigating claims from frequent filers—people calling attention to widespread problems by filing numerous complaints against a number of institutions like schools, colleges, libraries and other educational institutions.  The stated goal of DeVos’s department is efficiency, despite that Catherine Lhamon, who led the OCR during the Obama administration explains: “the Education Department cannot pick and choose the cases it pursues. If the office has evidence that the law has been violated, it must open a case.”
  • Then there is the February publication of a…

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It’s not the KKK invading Grand Rapids this weekend, it’s a group more dangerous: The American Legislative Exchange Council

“On Friday, in Grand Rapids, a national right-wing organization will meet to create proposals that will give more power to corporations, attack public education, promote greater privatization of government and craft energy policy that will continue to benefit the oil and gas industry as we all suffer the consequences of climate change. How can we allow this kind of gathering to take place in this city, especially knowing that they seek to use wealth to influence public policy that gives private power greater control over our lives?”

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

The American Legislative Exchange Council, also known as ALEC, will be having their 2018 Spring Task Force Summit in Grand Rapids all day long, this Friday, April 27.

The ALEC event will be held at the Amway Grand Plaza and is a private event for members only. This is not surprising, as ALEC does not want journalists or any one else to expose what new policies they are crafting that will promote their neo-liberal economic agenda.

ALEC, of course, is the creation of the Koch Brothers, and is designed to implement policies that promote privatization, greater corporate control, plus undermine unions and attack public education. 

The Center for Media & Democracy (CMD) has done more to expose the efforts of ALEC over the years and they are the ones who discovered that ALEC will be in Grand Rapids this weekend

In an article by David Armiak and 

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ICE is kidnapping members of our community: ICE Out Now Press Conference in Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Just after noon today, about 25 people gathered in front of the Grand Rapids office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The Press Conference was called by Movimiento Cosecha GR and the GR Rapid Response to ICE project, since there has been an increase in ICE activity, including arrests and intimidation.

When I arrived for the press conference, there were two ICE agents wearing bullet proof vests and standing next to white Homeland Security vehicles. One of the ICE agents told us that “they were there to make sure that everyone was safe.” This is what those who critique law enforcement strategy as the management strategy, where cops try to manage what community groups do, always presenting a “we are here to help” posture.

After most people had arrived for the Press Conference, there also appeared members of the GRPD, although they just circled the block a few times to…

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Arizona Teachers Will Walk Out Tomorrow for Salaries and Adequate School Funding


Last Thursday, Arizona’s teachers voted to walk out tomorrow, April 26, unless Governor Doug Ducey can show there is a way to pay for his recent promise to raise teachers’ salaries in one of the nation’s lowest paying states. For the Washington Post, Valerie Strauss reports: “Ducey said he would give teachers a 20 percent pay hike by 2020. But Arizona teachers, who are among the lowest paid in the country, say the governor has not identified how he would pay for it, and they say their schools are starving for funds after massive budget cuts since the Great Recession. According to the nonprofit group Arizona Schools Now, the Arizona legislature cut $1.5 billion in school funding while a 2016 voter-approved initiative has restored only 18 percent.”

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities documents that Arizona is among 7 of the 12 states with deep cuts in…

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Journalist’s Resource: Research on today’s news

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Foodborne illness: Causes, identification and costs
Steering clear of bagged romaine? That’s not a bad idea, given that recent research found that it’s harder to remove harmful bacteria from salad greens than one might think. For details on this study and more, consult our latest roundup on foodborne illness.

Digital media research: The most interesting studies of early 2018
We highlight some of the most compelling papers in digital and social media published or released during the first quarter of the year. They offer insights into important topics such as fake news websites, audience analytics, media bias and using virtual reality to tell stories that evoke empathy.

Airbnb prices lower among minority hosts in San Francisco
A new study published in the Journal of Housing Economics looks at the pricing of San Francisco rentals available through Airbnb, a platform that allows individuals to rent rooms directly to others. It found that hosts who are Asian or Hispanic charge 8-10 percent less than white hosts on similar properties.

Do school uniforms really improve student achievement? 
We’ve updated one of our most popular posts with new research and statistics. This research roundup looks at how mandatory uniforms affect student achievement, attendance and behavior as well as gang activity in public schools. It’s a useful tool for fact-checking claims made by school board members, state legislators and others.

Economic impact studies: Should journalists rely on them? 
Before big projects go to elected leaders for a vote, consultants often will be hired to determine their financial impact – whether the projects will create jobs, for example, and improve tourism and property values. This updated tip sheet offers journalists guidance in scrutinizing and writing about economic impact studies. We also provide a list of academic articles that discuss these studies and their shortcomings.


House Farm Bill Will Make Families Work 20 Hours a Week to Qualify for Food Stamps and Reduce Access to School Lunch

“The Farm Bill coming out of the House Agricultural Committee will hurt poor children, their families, and their public schools. All this is why the National Education Association is asking its members to send its action alert asking members of the U.S. House of Representatives to vote against the Farm Bill that was passed out of committee last week. You might also want to send NEA’s action alert to your Congressional representative.”


With voting along strict party lines, the U.S. House Agriculture Committee passed a 2018 Farm Bill out of committee last Wednesday, a bill which would add punitive work requirements curtailing families’ participation in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.  Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Conaway has said he will bring the bill to the House floor for a vote in May.  The bill would not only reduce families’ access to SNAP, but it would also limit students’ access to free school lunch and breakfast programs.

Marc Egan, Director of Government Relations for the National Education Association, sent a letter to all members of the U.S. House of Representatives last week to urge them to vote NO on this bill when it comes before the full House next month.  Egan explains the implications for federally funded school meals: “This bill makes unnecessary changes to certification and…

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Betsy DeVos Watch: Adding another anti-civil rights lawyer to the Dept. of Education

“Betsy DeVos has also diminished the Department of Education’s role in defending the rights of LGBT students, students with disabilities and students of color. Bringing in Muniz, is just one more confirmation of the Department of Education’s lack of commitment to civil rights issues within education.”

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Last Wednesday, Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, announced the confirmation of Carlos G. Muñiz as the Education Department’s General Counsel. In a statement that DeVos released, she said: 

We are pleased to finally have Carlos on the team. After a protracted confirmation process, Carlos can at last get to work on behalf of our nation’s students. He has dedicated his career to upholding the law, and his insight and expertise will be invaluable as we work to advance educational opportunities for all students.

As a lawyer, Muniz is currently a partner with McGuireWoods LLP and a senior vice president in the National & Multistate Strategies group of McGuireWoods Consulting LLC. Muniz previously workedas Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s chief of staff for three years, between 2011 and 2014. During his time in that capacity, Muniz represented Florida State University in a lawsuit brought by a student…

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Boxed Water, Greenwashing and the DeVos Family support for racist water policies in Michigan

And after you read this blog post by Jeff Smith, visit to learn how water is being commoditized by banks and beverage companies across the globe. Nestle’s wells in Michigan are just the beginning. We here are just a test case. If they succeed in continue to pilfer Michigan’s greatest natural resource the planet is doomed.

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

More and more corporations are trying to present themselves as caring about the environment. These corporations use slick advertising campaigns and try to deceive us into thinking that we can consume our way out of the environmental crisis we have made.

Greenwashing is a term that eco-activists have used for several decades now, in an attempt to expose the hypocrisy of capitalism. Green Capitalism is especially visible around the time that we celebrate earth day. In fact, corporations have pretty much hijacked earth day, by trying to convince us that they too care about the planet. Nothing could be further from the truth, since what drives capitalism is labor exploitation, profits and exponential growth……none of which is sustainable.

A great example of greenwashing in the West Michigan-based product known as Boxed Water. Boxed Water markets themselves as a product that is Better For Our Planet. The company’s main argument…

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State School District Ratings and Report Cards: Educational Redlining and Steering?

Politicians never seem to try telling dentists how to dent or doctors how to doct but boy oh boy do they ever enjoy telling teachers how to teach.


In his recent book, The Color of Law, Richard Rothstein shows how explicit government policies following WWII—Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, low-interest Veterans Administration home mortgages, government sanctioned insurance-writing policies, and others—have caused the racial segregation of America’s cities and suburbs. What we have called de facto segregation—segregation that just happened somehow—was really driven by explicit policies written or sanctioned by the government.

As I think today about states’ rankings and ratings of school districts and specific schools within districts, Rothstein’s book comes to mind. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) (which replaced No Child Left Behind) requires labeling of schools. Congress has said that states must test students every year and then—based on the test scores and graduation rates and at least one other factor the federal government and states choose to use—rate schools. Congress says the purpose of this exercise is to help parents know about the…

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