Archives for the month of: January, 2017

Jerry Falwell Jr. says that Trump has asked him to lead a federal task force on higher education policy.

Falwell says he can be very helpful to Betsy DeVos (if she is confirmed). DeVos showed at her hearing that she knows nothing about higher education.

Zunger is an engineer at Google.

This article is an alarm bell.

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The Network for Public Educations vows to carry the fight for a qualified Secretary of Education to the Senate floor.

We now have more than 300,000 members, located in every state.

We will fight for a Secretary of Education who will uphold the laws, support the right to an education for all children, and strengthen our public schools.

NPE just released this statement:

Although disappointed by the decision of the HELP committee to send the vote on Betsy DeVos to the Senate floor, The Network for Public Education (NPE) was pleased by the strong opposition to DeVos. All Democrats voted against DeVos. Senators Collins of Maine and Murkowski of Alaska while voting to move her nomination forward, would not commit to voting for her when the vote comes to the full Senate.

“Betsy DeVos put a spotlight on the threat to public education that charters-both online and brick and mortar, and private voucher schools pose to our democratically governed, community public schools. Public school advocates across the nation spoke out. Our campaign against DeVos generated over 600,000 emails and thousands of phone calls and letters to the Senate. Most Americans do not want an unregulated, privatized school system paid for by American taxpayers. That is what DeVos represents,” said NPE Executive Director, Carol Burris.

NPE President, Diane Ravitch, believes the massive political donations by DeVos was the driving factor behind her appointment. “We are disappointed but not surprised that Betsy DeVos was approved by the Senate HELP committee, despite the fact that she is completely unqualified for the job by experience or knowledge or any other criteria. As she has acknowledged, she and her family have given millions of dollars to the Republican party, including to members of the committee that just approved her. We weep for the children of America, knowing that this woman will launch an assault on their community public schools, as she did in Michigan. Since her choice theology was implemented in Michigan, that state’s rankings on national tests have plummeted, and Detroit–now flooded with charters–remains the lowest performing urban district on national tests. We will continue to fight this nomination as it moves forward.“

NPE Executive Board member, Phyllis Bush, lives in Indiana, a state the embraces the DeVos philosophy. “While the members of the HELP committee can talk about the importance of using a business model to reform public schools, the ultimate cost to Indiana is landing on the backs of students. Privatization reform has resulted in larger class sizes, tests that provide little useful information, school letter grades that reward zip codes, the elimination of essential services in public schools, and a critical teacher shortage.”

The Network for Public Education intends to mobilize its over 300,000 supporting members to continue the fight against DeVos’ appointment.

“When it comes to our fight for adequately funded, democratically-governed public schools, we make ‘no excuses’.” Our neighborhood schools made our country great. We will not allow them to be destroyed,” Burris said.

Steve Hinnefeld posts a blog about a new study of vouchers showing that voucher schools encourage and practice discrimination.

“Research led by an Indiana University professor confirms what school voucher critics have long argued: Voucher programs receive public funding yet discriminate on the basis of religion, disability status, sexual orientation and possibly other factors.

“The finding is especially timely as President Donald Trump and his designee to serve as secretary of education, Michigan school-choice activist Betsy DeVos, have indicated they will use federal clout and money to push states to expand voucher programs.

“At the time we did the study, we had no idea it would be so relevant,” said Suzanne Eckes, professor in the IU School of Education and the lead author of the research paper. “People are starting to think about these questions, and the topic has not been widely addressed in research.”

“The study, “Dollars to Discriminate: The (Un)intended Consequences of School Vouchers,”was published last summer in the Peabody Journal of Education. Co-authors are Julie Mead, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Jessica Ulm, a doctoral student at IU.

“The researchers examined 25 programs in 15 states and Washington, D.C., that provide public funding for private K-12 schools, including traditional tuition voucher programs and voucher-like programs called education savings accounts. Indiana is one of seven states with a statewide voucher program. Other programs are limited to cities (Milwaukee, Cleveland) or special-needs students.

“The authors say legislators who authorized the programs neglected to write policies that provide equal access for students and avoid discriminating against marginalized groups.

“We argue that each state has an obligation to ensure that any benefit it creates must be available to all students on a non-discriminatory basic — including the benefit of a publicly funded voucher for attendance at a private school,” they write.

“Indiana’s school voucher program, established in 2011, served 32,686 students who attended 316 private schools last year. Nearly all voucher schools are Christian schools, including Catholic, Lutheran and Evangelical or non-denominational schools. The state spent $131 million on vouchers but provided almost no fiscal oversight, according to a report by the IU Center for Evaluation and Education Policy.

“Indiana law bars voucher schools from discriminating on the basis of race, color or national origin. But state law doesn’t mention discrimination by religion, disability or sexual orientation.

“Voucher schools in Indiana can receive extra state money for enrolling special-needs students. But some of the schools have language on their websites that suggests they may not admit students with disabilities – or that they will provide only limited accommodations for students.

“As the study notes, citing a 2014 Bloomington Herald-Times article, some Indiana Christian schools that receive vouchers welcome only families that embrace their religious beliefs, including a rejection of a “gay/lesbian lifestyle” that is “contrary to God’s commands.”

The Michigan Finance Campaign Network published a report on DeVos Family political giving. This is not a comprehensive report, as others have shown that the DeVos Family utilizes other vehicles for its political gifts. This report documents $82 million, but when Senator Sanders asked Betsy DeVos whether her family had given $200 million to Republican politicians, she agreed that the number sounded right. Of course, it is easy to misplace a hundred million or so.

Not one Republican voted to defend our public schools against the most unqualified nominee for Secretary of Education in history



Jersey Jazzman writes that the corporate reform movement had a good thing going until Trump was elected.

The Democratic reformers were able to link arms with the far right and even to enjoy the financial largesse of anti-labor, anti-public school financiers like the Walton family.

But now the alliance is broken. But is it shattered? After all, DeVos gave Eva’s schools $500,000. DeVos funds AEI. Mike Petrilli was #neverTrump but endorsed DeVos. Very confusing.

Andy Borowitz, humorist, writes that Trump fired the Acting Attorney General Sally Yates after the Constitution was found on her computer.

Betsy DeVos will very likely get the approval of the 12 Republicans on the Senate HELP committee today, despite being totally unqualified to be Secretary of Education.

Meanwhile, the New York Times published an article about the “brain enhancement” company that DeVos and her husband invested in, and which she said she will not withdraw from. This means she has a direct conflict of interest. But Trump has demonstrated that financial conflicts of interest are no problem, so let the money flow to the investor even if she is a government official who can promote her investments.

But a review of Neurocore’s claims and interviews with medical experts suggest its conclusions are unproven and its methods questionable.

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Continue reading the main story

Neurocore has not published its results in peer-reviewed medical literature. Its techniques — including mapping brain waves to diagnose problems and using neurofeedback, a form of biofeedback, to treat them — are not considered standards of care for the majority of the disorders it treats, including autism. Social workers, not doctors, perform assessments, and low-paid technicians with little training apply the methods to patients, including children with complex problems.

In interviews, nearly a dozen child psychiatrists and psychologists with expertise in autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or A.D.H.D., expressed caution regarding some of Neurocore’s assertions, advertising and methods.

“This causes real harm to children because it diverts attention, hope and resources,” said Dr. Matthew Siegel, a child psychiatrist at Maine Behavioral Healthcare and associate professor at Tufts School of Medicine, who co-wrote autism practice standards for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. “If there were something out there that was uniquely powerful and wonderful, we’d all be using it.”

Will the new Secretary tout the miracle of biofeedback as a cure for autism?

Ray Richmond is a writer in Los Angeles. This article appeared in the Los Angeles Times. I won’t reproduce it in full because that would violate copyright law. I hope you will open the article and read it. It expresses my own feelings of personal fear, fear for the future of my nation and my fellow citizens, fear for our democracy, and deep uneasiness about the future.

I never thought I’d have to write that I sense fear from my fellow citizens when it comes to speaking out against a presidential administration. But I do.

I never thought I’d have to write that our president is the biggest and most compulsive liar that I’ve ever encountered in American public life. But I must.

I never thought I’d have to write that the leader of the United States has the demeanor of a middle school-aged adolescent, with mature development arrested at age 13. But it’s true.

I never thought I’d have to write that my government has declared literal war against the truth, or that the president’s chief spokesperson would go on television and with a straight face and present the idea of “alternative facts.” But they have.

I never thought I’d have to write that my president is so insecure and consumed with the size of his support that he would personally phone the acting chief of the National Park Service to produce photographic evidence of a larger turnout at his inauguration. But he did…

I never thought I’d have to write that members of President Trump’s senior staff all were using a private Republican National Committee email server after having made Hillary Clinton’s doing so the centerpiece of the general election campaign. But it has.

I never thought I’d have to write that the winner of the presidential campaign is loudly and persistently making dubious claims of voter fraud despite having come out on top. But he does….

I never thought I’d have to write that an American president this week stood in front of the hallowed CIA Memorial Wall and made a self-aggrandizing speech about his own greatness and popularity, unable to see past his own narcissistic reflection. But he did.

I never thought I’d have to write that five members of the president’s inner circle, including two of his children, are registered to vote in two states. But they are.

I never thought I’d have to write that Steve Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, has gone so far as to tell the New York Times, “The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while. The media here is the opposition party.” But he did.

I never thought I’d have to write that the leader of the once-free world could consume himself with bad-mouthing movie stars and TV shows in tweets and all but declare war on information itself. But he does….

I never thought I’d have to write that waking up in the morning to the news — once an activity embraced with relish — so fills me with dread. But it does.

I never thought I’d have to write that going about the business of my daily life feels utterly empty and foreboding due to what appears to be the purposeful destruction of our hallowed institutions of democracy in real time. But it has.

I never thought I’d have to write that I feel helpless in the face of tyranny and autocratic rule from a man who believes himself at once omnipotent and infallible. But I do.

I never thought I’d have to write that I sense I’m a stranger in my own land. But I do.