Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) Reaches the End of the Line

Hopefully this bodes well for Michigan.

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This post is an obituary, but it will not celebrate the life of the deceased.  Ohio’s Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) finally died yesterday morning when it exhausted its final appeal—this time in a 4-2 decision by the Ohio Supreme Court.

The Plain Dealer‘s Patrick O’Donnell describes the decision: “The ECOT online charter school has lost its appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court and its main chance at avoiding having to pay back $80 million it received for students it couldn’t prove had participated enough in their online classes.  With a 4-2 vote, the court backed the state school board and Ohio Department of Education’s decision to require e-schools to show student participation in classes to justify state funding, not just student enrollment. The ruling reinforces findings that the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) was overpaid $60 million one year and $20 the next and leaves the now-closed school—and…

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Trump Administration’s Disdain for Immigrants Seeps into Plans for Education Department Restructure

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If you think it is important that public schools across the United States serve all children, you would likely prefer that the U.S. Department of Education NOT eliminate its Office of English Language Acquisition.

Here is how that Office describes its mission: “The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) provides national leadership to help ensure that English Learners and immigrant students attain English proficiency and achieve academic success.  In addition to preserving heritage languages and cultures, OELA is committed to prompting opportunities for biliteracy or multiliteracy skills for all students.”

This is an enlightened mission statement in a couple of ways. First, it demonstrates that someone in our government has committed to preserving the “heritage” languages and cultures of American Indian students. Someone, in creating this office, believed it important formally to contravene the colonialist idea that we ought to strip language and culture from…

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Repeating My Recommendation: Please Read Daniel Koretz’s Book, “The Testing Charade”

“high stakes” …a definition: adjective. Designating a gambling game in which the stakes are high; (hence in extended use of any situation or activity) high-risk, dangerous; having the potential for very significant gains or losses.

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How has high stakes testing ruined our schools and how has this strategy, which was at the heart of No Child Left Behind, made it much more difficult to accomplish No Child Left Behind’s stated goal of reducing educational inequality and closing achievement gaps?

Here is how Daniel Koretz begins to answer that question in his 2017 book, The Testing Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better: In 2002, No Child Left Behind “mandated that all states use the proficient standard as a target and that 100 percent of students reach that level. It imposed a short timeline for this: twelve years. It required that schools report the performance of several disadvantaged groups and it mandated that 100 percent of each of these groups had to reach the proficient standard. It required that almost all students be tested the same way and evaluated against the same performance standards.  And it replaced…

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How We Define Teaching Makes All the Difference

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In the beginning of I Married a Communist, a novel about the McCarthy era of the early 1950s, Philip Roth, who died in May of this year, introduces a character who, everybody would agree, is a model high school teacher. Mr. Ringold, the teacher, and his student (Nathan, the novel’s narrator) both live in Newark, New Jersey. Mr. Ringold teaches kids from his neighborhood, students he deeply understands. He cares about them, but more to the point, he cares about what they read and insists that they learn to think about it.

Here is a short excerpt, a dialog between Mr. Ringold and Nathan, then an adolescent, who rides his bicycle past the teacher’s house on the way to return books to the library:

“Mr. Ringold had stepped over to where the books had tumbled from the basket onto the pavement at the foot of the stoop and was…

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Grassroots Education Activists Emerge in Wisconsin and Indiana to Counter Power of the One Percent

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In his fine book, The One Percent Solution, political economist Gordon Lafer outlines the ways in which the far-right has made attacks on public education the centerpiece of its state-by-state tax cutting, union bashing, school privatizing agenda.  Teachers walking out this spring in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky and Colorado epitomize a backlash against the state-level, Red-wave assault against public education. Lacking visible walkouts and protests this spring, Indiana and Wisconsin have also epitomized the Red-wave policies that have undermined public schools in so many states. This year, even in these states without huge walkouts, organized support for traditional public schools has emerged to push back against the powerful, moneyed interests driving privatization. In Indiana a backlash is budding in November’s Indianapolis school board race, while in Wisconsin, a years-long push back by organized parents across the state has made public school funding the centerpiece of growing opposition to…

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To whom the wealthiest Greater Grand Rapids families are giving their money to for State races in West MI

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

As we have documented in our series on the Grand Rapids Power Structure, the DeVos Family and other members of the local elite, strategically contribute to political campaigns throughout the state, but particularly to races in West Michigan. 

Let’s look at which candidates for state office in West Michigan that the Grand Rapids Power Structure is contributing to.

State Senate Races

28th Senate District – Peter MacGregor: DeVos family, Amway $25,000; Michael Jandernoa, 42 North Partners, $10,000; John Kennedy, Autocam Medical, $10,000; Van Andel family, Amway, $5,000; Mark Meijer $2,500, Mark Murray, Meijer, $2,500; Peter Secchia $2,500

29th Senate District – Chris Afendoulis: John Kennedy, Autocam, $4,000; Steve Van Andel, Amway, $2,000

30th Senate District – Daniela Garcia: John Kennedy, Autocam, $10,000; Jack DeWitt, Request Foods, $2,500, Grand Rapids Area Chamber PAC $500; Meijer PAC $500

34th Senate District – Holly Hughes: DeVos family, Amway, $12,000; Secchia family…

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