Rising Tide Fails to Lift All Boats; School Test Scores Track Widening Inequality


For anybody who wants to understand the reasons for low academic test sores and to learn why schools cannot quickly institute reforms and turn around lagging school achievement, Matthew Desmond’s extraordinary piece in Sunday’s NY Times Magazine is essential reading.  Desmond is the Princeton University sociologist who authored the 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning Evicted.  Desmond has also founded the Eviction Lab, a team of researchers who are in the process of building an enormous data base to track eviction and extreme poverty in America.

With the headline, Incomes Rose and Poverty Rate Fell for Third Straight Year, last week the Wall Street Journal began its coverage of the new U.S. Census data: “American incomes rose and poverty declined for the third consecutive year in 2017, according to census figures released Wednesday that suggest more Americans are benefiting from the robust economy.”  It sounds as though a rising tide…

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The NAEP proficiency myth

Excellent essay about the manipulation and misappropriation of education assessments to “prove” the public schools are FAILING.
“On May 16, 2016 I got into a Twitter argument with Campbell Brown of The 74, an education website. She released a video on Slate giving advice to the next president. The video begins: “Without question, to me, the issue is education. Two out of three eighth graders in this country cannot read or do math at grade level.” I study student achievement and was curious. I know of no valid evidence to make the claim that two out of three eighth graders are below grade level in reading and math. No evidence was cited in the video. I asked Brown for the evidentiary basis of the assertion. She cited the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
NAEP does not report the percentage of students performing at grade level. NAEP reports the percentage of students reaching a “proficient” level of performance. Here’s the problem. That’s not grade level.
In this post, I hope to convince readers of two things:
1. Proficient on NAEP does not mean grade level performance. It’s significantly above that.
2. Using NAEP’s proficient level as a basis for education policy is a bad idea.
Before going any further, let’s look at some history…”

Journalist’s Resource:Research on today’s news

Facebook and the newsroom: 6 questions for Siva Vaidhyanathan

Media scholar Siva Vaidhyanathan shares his thoughts on how reporters can do a better job covering Facebook and its influence on the lives of billions of people worldwide. In an interview with Journalist’s Resource, he argues that “journalism is feeding the beast that’s starving it — the more that journalists pander to Facebook … the more that Facebook becomes the governing mechanism to journalism.”

3 quick tips for debunking hoaxes in a hurricane

Reporters covering natural disasters can expect to contend not only with the weather, but also an onslaught of mis- and disinformation. We’ve pulled together a few tips and resources  to help sort what’s real and newsworthy from what’s fake.

Hospital mergers may lead to higher health care costs

Research by UCLA economist Matt Schmitt offers new insights
 for policymakers and consumer advocates to consider as an increasing number of local and regional hospitals get gobbled up by larger health care providers based hundreds of miles away. Chris Fleisher of the American Economic Association explains.

Ig Nobel Prizes go to research on employee retaliation, self-colonoscopy

Burning and stabbing voodoo dolls gives employees who’ve been mistreated by their bosses a feeling of justice, according to new research led by Lindie Liang of Wilfrid Laurier University. The study was one of 10 recognized at the 2018 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, which also honored research on topics such as smelling flies in wine, the nutritional content of human flesh and self-colonoscopies.

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Checks and Balances Help Protect Us from Betsy DeVos


Sam Tanenhaus, the former editor of the NY Times Book Review, is quite a writer, and it is fascinating to contrast the Betsy DeVos we’ve come to know in the months since she became U.S. Secretary of Education with the Betsy DeVos we meet in Tanenhaus’s Vanity Fair profile of the western Michigan DeVos Empire.  Tanenhaus writes: “In the solar system of elite Republican contributors, Richard DeVos Sr., who died Thursday at age 92—one of the two founders of Amway, the direct-sale colossus—occupied an exalted place, and his offspring did too. Since the 1970s, members of the DeVos family had given as much as $200 million to the G.O.P. and been tireless promoters of the modern conservative movement—its ideas, its policies, and its crusades combining free-market economics, a push for privatization of many government functions, and Christian social values. While other far-right mega-donors may have become better known…

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Stunning New Report: How Can Our Society Repay A Long Education Debt to Our Poorest Communities?

And here in Michigan too – our legislature and executive branch leadership continues to be complicit in shifting dedicated revenue stream funds from the K-12 School Aid Fund for use elsewhere in the budget including shortfalls in aid to higher education. Long-past time for a class action lawsuit IMHO on behalf of all school students and parents and local school boards.


How can our society overcome nearly a quarter century of catastrophic public education policy designed by neocons, supply side economists, billionaire privatizers, and the American Legislative Exchange Council?  A new report, released yesterday by the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, outlines three steps by which we can recommit ourselves to a public school system prepared to serve and nurture all of America’s children.

  1. Congress must fund fully two federal programs designed to help school districts serving concentrations of children in poverty and children with special needs: Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA);
  2. Together the federal government, states and local school districts must, by 2025, launch 25,000 sustainable, wraparound Community Schools to ensure that children and families in our poorest communities have access to supports that will enable the children to achieve at school; and
  3. The U.S. Department of Education must recommit itself to its primary…

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Journalist’s Resource: Research on today’s news

‘Where there is more rape culture in the press, there is more rape’

Rape occurs more often in communities where the news media reflects “rape culture” — in which the coverage can be interpreted as showing empathy for the accused and blame for victims, according to a new study

published in the Quarterly Journal of Political Science.

Lead in drinking water: Key facts and reporting tips

“It’s in some ways a technically challenging story,” Anna Clark, journalist and author of “The Poisoned City,” said about the Flint water crisis. “Reporting on this myself, there was a lot I had to learn about the safe drinking water law, how water testing works, what corrosion control is, the different wording for parts of a drinking water system.”

Maternal death rate lowered in California, but racial disparity remains

After the launch of an initiative to reduce maternal mortality in California, which focused on preventing death caused by hemorrhage and preeclampsia, the maternal death rate fell from an average of 13.1 per 100,000 live births from 2005 to 2009 to 7.0 between 2011 and 2013, according to new research in Health Affairs.

School peanut bans don’t appear to reduce allergic reactions 

Massachusetts school policies that ban students from bringing peanuts from home or require classrooms to be “peanut free” have no effect on the rate at which school nurses administer epinephrine to kids who are allergic to peanuts or tree nuts, finds a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

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New Report: How Big Money Has Been Swinging Elections Against Public Education


In a fine new report, the Network for Public Education Action exposes, “how the super rich buy elections to undermine public schools.” The report presents nine case studies—in Newark, New Jersey; Washington state; Los Angeles; Perth Amboy, New Jersey; Louisiana; Rhode Island; Minneapolis; New York; and Denver—where billionaire dollars have been carefully invested to buy elections and promote the privatization of public education.

Who are the people investing their fortunes in privatizing public schools? The report, Hijacked by Billionaires, begins with profiles of the people who have either donated more than a million dollars to candidates or political committees or have contributed to at least three of the nine elections profiled in the case studies. The report’s index of billionaires includes Netflix’s Reed Hastings; the Walton family, founders of Walmart, and including Alice Walton, Jim Walton, Carrie Walton Penner, Greg Penner, and Steuart Walton; Donald and Doris Fisher…

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Dale Russakoff Describes Arizona Cannibalizing its Public Schools


It can be hard to notice just how sick a person—or a valued institution—is becoming. The patient gets weaker, but we deny that we’re watching the progress of a fatal disease until it may be too late. Even though teachers in Arizona had observed their colleagues leaving for nearby states, the size of their classes ballooning, and the building conditions and equipment deteriorating, many didn’t realize they could to stop the collapse until one day last spring when they watched colleagues in West Virginia and Oklahoma standing up. Then they realized they had to do something. That is the process Dale Russakoff describes in an extraordinarily well researched and well written article that appeared in Sunday’s NY Times Magazine.

Russakoff sets her Arizona story against the nationwide policy backdrop many people struggle to conceptualize: “Public education is a $650 billion national enterprise, comparable to the U.S. defense budget, except…

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September 22, 2018
Absentee Ballot Request deadline – UOCAVA citizens: Delivery of military and overseas AV ballots must begin for the November election by this date. All requests received since November 7, 2017 from a military or overseas voter must be honored for all 2018 elections.
October 9, 2018
Voter Registration Ends: Last day to register for the November general election.
November 3, 2018
Absentee Ballot Request deadline – By Mail: Electors who wish to receive an absent voter ballot for the November general election by mail must submit absent voter ballot applications by 2:00 p.m.
November 6, 2018
Absentee Ballot Request deadline – In Person: Emergency absentee voting for November general election Up to 4:00 p.m.
Pledge More Money, Time and Effort to Friends of Public Education Running in November!  
When Our Candidates Win, We All Win!
Please consider “12 Ways to Be Politically Active” taken from an MEA-PAC flyer and paraphrased with comments below.
Vow to Cross your Comfort Zone so Candidates Can Win!
1. Vote! Register to Vote and know your polling location. See www.michigan.gov/vote. 2. Know your local, state and federal representatives and stay abreast of the issues!
3. Contact lawmakers by email, phone or face to face with your comments. Find lawmakers on-line at www.mea.org/legislation or via MEA’s new mobile app.
4. Attend Town Hall meetings and make your voice heard in front of policy makers and lawmakers with power.
5. Attend City Council meetings. Keep track of what is happening in your city and be part of the conversation.
6. Familiarize yourself with your local School Board of Education. Join the PTA or be part of the union attendance at meetings. Volunteer and participate in your local school system’s activities and committees.
7. Join a Voting League or Political Party. Become informed, choose a party with your values and beliefs and make a difference. Join the county and state party and fill meaningful roles.
8. Attend or Organize Rallies and Events pertaining to your beliefs.
9. Support Campaigns of Friends of Public Education. Begin by donating financially to NEA-PAC and MEA-PAC. The National Education Association Political Action Committee helps candidates running for federal office who are recommended by educators. The Michigan Education Association Political Action Committee helps local and state candidates recommended by educators. You can make one donation on a MEA PAC envelope to cover both PAC’s. I will have PAC envelopes available at all General Membership meetings. Beyond giving money, join the campaigns of candidates whom you respect as Public Servants worthy of your time and effort!
10. Pound the Pavement! Influence other voters by going door-to-door for candidates whom you favor! Face-to-face conversations win elections!
11. Volunteer on Election Day! Make phone calls for your candidates! Drive people to the polls! Volunteer as an official poll worker or watcher. Be sure that you have already voted by Absentee Ballot so that you are fully available to assist campaigns on Election Day!
12. Run for Office! Front-line educators bring an important perspective to public office. Local, municipal, county and school government positions need qualified and effective leaders! Many programs help prospective candidates prepare to run campaigns.
MEA-Retired, 1216 Kendale Blvd, East Lansing, MI 48826-2573


WASHINGTON – August 23, 2018 –
Educators and students, backed by the National Education Association and the California Teachers Association, today sued the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos after they moved to illegally delay rules meant to protect students enrolled in online education programs.
The individual plaintiffs, NEA and CTA are represented by the National Student Legal Defense Network, a nonprofit organization that advocates for student rights through litigation. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, challenges the Education Department’s delay of requirements for online universities of their legal obligation to notify students that the programs in which they’re enrolled or plan to enroll in may fail to meet state licensing standards or may face adverse actions from the state or accreditor.
As enrollment in online courses and degree programs has grown exponentially over the last decade, the Department of Education, under DeVos’ mandate, took the shocking step of rescinding protections for students pursuing online degrees – protections students need now more than ever.
“It’s shocking but not at all surprising that the Department of Education would roll back student protections because this latest brazen attack on student rights is consistent with everything we have seen from the Trump administration and Secretary Betsy DeVos,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “Without these rules, current and prospective students will remain in the dark. Students will be denied critical information about which programs are right for them and which would be a waste of their time and money.”
One of the lawsuit’s plaintiffs is aspiring educator Stephanie Portilla, whose dream is to be an elementary teacher one day. Earlier this year, Portilla enrolled full-time to pursue her bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Western Governors University, an online-only university that claims it has students living in all 50 states, U.S. territories and U.S. military bases abroad.
Portilla researched and confirmed through the state of California teacher certification website that her program would meet state standards for teacher certification. However, because of the Department of Education has illegally delayed rules, there is no guarantee or legal obligation for the online university to notify her if the program ceases to meet the standards. Portilla could end up with a degree that gets her no closer to her dream of being a teacher in California
“Betsy DeVos’ latest move that removes students’ protections from predatory online universities is a direct attack on our students and their future. The common-sense disclosures help prospective and enrolled students evaluate the legitimacy of online programs and the institution that offers them. Without them, students like Stephanie Portilla could end up saddled with debt and stuck with a worthless degree they can’t use,” said CTA President Eric Heins.
In December 2016, the Department of Education issued the state authorization rule to protect students who were studying in online, distance or correspondence programs. The rules were scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2018. The rules provided important protections including common sense disclosures to help prospective and enrolled students evaluate the legitimacy of both the online program and the institution that offers it, preventing students from wasting time and money on programs that will not help them further their careers. The disclosures included information about whether the program met the licensing requirements in the student’s state and whether the school was under investigation by the state or accreditor for its online programs.
“Desperately needed as it may be, no law can force Secretary DeVos to care about protecting students. But the law does require a specific process to delay a rule, and Secretary DeVos tried to take an illegal shortcut instead,” said NSLDN President Aaron Ament.
Instead of letting these protections go into place, DeVos delayed for months and then illegally rescinded them. The Education Department is required to conduct what’s called “negotiated rulemaking” before it proposes a rule. The Department of Education had plenty of time to do negotiated rulemaking since it signaled its interest in examining the state authorization rule in January 2017. Industry also raised issues for clarification about the rule to the Department of Education throughout 2017 while the Department was conducting intensive outreach on deregulatory actions.
The Department of Education waited until the very last minute and then issued a proposal with only 15 days for the public to comment – then it missed its own deadline and failed to delay the rule by July 1, 2018. The Education Department’s delay did not publish in the Federal Register until July 3, 2018.
“The Department of Education’s reasons for delay are flimsy and do not satisfy the high bar it must meet to waive its legal obligation to conduct negotiated rulemaking,” added Ament.                                                      
Staci Maiers, NEA Communications
202-270-5333 cell, smaiers@nea.org
Claudia Briggs, CTA Communications
916-325-1550, cbriggs@cta.org
Martha Upton Fulford, NSLDN Communications