Search results for: "carnegie"

The Carnegie Corporation doesn’t have as much money to throw into the corporate reform movement as the Walton Foundation, the Broad Foundation, and the Gates Foundation but it is definitely on the same page as the big guys. Here is its report on 2011 spending. The education grants begin on p. 24. And there they are: charter schools, Jeb Bush’s favorite “digital learning,” Common Core, Race to the Top policies, and the usual reformy organizations.


Statement on Ukraine by scholars of genocide, Nazism and WWII

At this fateful moment we stand united with free, independent and democratic Ukraine and strongly reject the Russian government’s misuse of history to justify its own violence.

(February 28, 2022 / Jewish Journal) As we write this, the horror of war is unfolding in Ukraine. The last time Kyiv was under heavy artillery fire and saw tanks in its streets was during World War II. If anyone should know it, it’s Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is obsessed with the history of that war.

Russian propaganda has painted the Ukrainian state as Nazi and fascist ever since Russian special forces first entered Ukraine in 2014, annexing the Crimea and fomenting the conflict in the Donbas, which has smoldered for eight long years.

It was propaganda in 2014. It remains propaganda today.

This is why we came together: to protest the use of this false and destructive narrative. Among those who have signed the statement below are some of the most accomplished and celebrated scholars of World War II, Nazism, genocide and the Holocaust. If you are a scholar of this history, please consider adding your name to the list. If you are a journalist, you now have a list of experts you can turn to in order to help your readers better understand Russia’s war against Ukraine.

And if you are a consumer of the news, please share the message of this letter widely. There is no Nazi government for Moscow to root out in Kyiv. There has been no genocide of the Russian people in Ukraine. And Russian troops are not on a liberation mission. After the bloody 20th century, we should all have built enough discernment to know that war is not peace, slavery is not freedom and ignorance offers strength only to autocratic megalomaniacs who seek to exploit it for their personal agendas.

Statement by scholars of genocide, Nazism and World War II

Since Feb. 24, 2022, the armed forces of the Russian Federation have been engaged in an unprovoked military aggression against Ukraine. The attack is a continuation of Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and its heavy involvement in the armed conflict in the Donbas region.

The Russian attack came in the wake of accusations by the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, of crimes against humanity and genocide, allegedly committed by the Ukrainian government in the Donbas. Russian propaganda regularly presents the elected leaders of Ukraine as Nazis and fascists oppressing the local ethnic Russian population, which it claims needs to be liberated. President Putin stated that one of the goals of his “special military operation” against Ukraine is the “denazification” of the country.

We are scholars of genocide, the Holocaust and World War II. We spend our careers studying fascism and Nazism, and commemorating their victims. Many of us are actively engaged in combating contemporary heirs to these evil regimes and those who attempt to deny or cast a veil over their crimes.

We strongly reject the Russian government’s cynical abuse of the term genocide, the memory of World War II and the Holocaust, and the equation of the Ukrainian state with the Nazi regime to justify its unprovoked aggression. This rhetoric is factually wrong, morally repugnant and deeply offensive to the memory of millions of victims of Nazism and those who courageously fought against it, including Russian and Ukrainian soldiers of the Red Army.

We do not idealize the Ukrainian state and society. Like any other country, it has right-wing extremists and violent xenophobic groups. Ukraine also ought to better confront the darker chapters of its painful and complicated history. Yet none of this justifies the Russian aggression and the gross mischaracterization of Ukraine. At this fateful moment we stand united with free, independent and democratic Ukraine and strongly reject the Russian government’s misuse of the history of World War II to justify its own violence.


Eugene Finkel, Johns Hopkins University

Izabella Tabarovsky, Washington D.C.

Aliza Luft, University of California-Los Angeles

Teresa Walch, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Jared McBride, University of California-Los Angeles

Elissa Bemporad, Queens College and CUNY Graduate Center

Andrea Ruggeri, University of Oxford

Steven Seegel, University of Texas at Austin

Jeffrey Kopstein, University of California, Irvine

Francine Hirsch, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Anna Hájková, University of Warwick

Omer Bartov, Brown University

Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, New York University and POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews

Christoph Dieckmann, Frankfurt am Main

Cary Nelson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Waitman Wade Beorn, Northumbria University

Jeffrey Herf, University of Maryland

Timothy Snyder, Yale University

Jeffrey Veidlinger, University of Michigan

Hana Kubátová, Charles University

Leslie Waters, University of Texas at El Paso

Norman J.W. Goda, University of Florida

Jazmine Conteras, Goucher College

Laura J. Hilton, Muskingum University

Katarzyna Person, Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw

Tarik Cyril Amar, Koc University

Sarah Grandke, Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial/denk.mal Hannoverscher Bahnhof Hamburg

Jonathan Leader Maynard, King’s College London

Chad Gibbs, College of Charleston

Janine Holc, Loyola University Maryland

Erin Hochman, Southern Methodist University

Edin Hajdarpasic, Loyola University Chicago

David Hirsh, Goldsmiths, University of London

Richard Breitman, American University (Emeritus)

Astrid M. Eckert, Emory University

Anna Holian, Arizona State University

Uma Kumar, University of British Columbia

Frances Tanzer, Clark University

Victoria J. Barnett, US Holocaust Memorial Museum (retired)

David Seymour, City University of London

Jeff Jones, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

András Riedlmayer Harvard University (retired)

Polly Zavadivker, University of Delaware

Aviel Roshwald, Georgetown University

Anne E. Parsons, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Carole Lemee, Bordeaux University

Scott Denham, Davidson College

Emanuela Grama, Carnegie Mellon University

Christopher R. Browning, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (emeritus)

Katrin Paehler, Illinois State University

Raphael Utz, Deutsches Historisches Museum Berlin

Emre Sencer, Knox College

Stefan Ihrig, University of Haifa

Jeff Rutherford, Xavier University

Jason Hall, The University of Haifa

Christian Ingrao, CNRS École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, CESPRA Paris

Hannah Wilson, Nottingham Trent University

Jan Lanicek, University of New South Wales

Edward B. Westermann, Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Maris Rowe-McCulloch, University of Regina

Joanna B. Michlic, University College London

Raul Carstocea, Maynooth University

Dieter Steinert, University of Wolverhampton

Christina Morina, Universität Bielefeld

Abbey Steele, University of Amsterdam

Erika Hughes, University of Portsmouth

Lukasz Krzyzanowski, University of Warsaw

Agnieszka Wierzcholska, German Historical Institute, Paris

Martin Cüppers, University of Stuttgart

Matthew Kupfer, Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project

Martin Kragh, Uppsala University

Umit Kurt, Van Leer Institute, Jerusalem

Meron Mendel, Frankfurt University of Applied Science, Anne Frank Center Frankfurt

Nazan Maksudyan, FU Berlin / Centre Marc Bloch

Emanuel-Marius Grec, University of Heidelberg

Khatchig Mouradian, Columbia University

Jan Zbigniew Grabowski, University of Ottawa

Dirk Moses, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Amos Goldberg, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Amber N. Nickell, Fort Hays State University

Tatjana Tönsmeyer, Wuppertal University

Thomas Kühne, Clark University

Thomas Pegelow Kaplan, Appalachian State University

Amos Morris-Reich, Tel Aviv University

Volha Charnysh, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Stefan Cristian Ionescu, Northwestern University

Donatello Aramini, Sapienza University, Rome

Ofer Ashkenazi, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Roland Clark, University of Liverpool

Mirjam Zadoff, University of Munich & Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism

John Barruzza, Syracuse University

Cristina A. Bejan, Metropolitan State University of Denver

Isabel Sawkins, University of Exeter

Benjamin Nathans, University of Pennsylvania

Norbert Frei, University of Jena

Stéfanie Prezioso, Université de Lausanne

Olindo De Napoli, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II

Eli Nathans, Western University

Eugenia Mihalcea, University of Haifa

Rebekah Klein-Pejšová, Purdue University

Sergei I. Zhuk, Ball State University

Paola S. Salvatori, Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa – Università degli Studi Roma Tre

Antonio Ferrara, Independent Scholar

Verena Meier, Forschungsstelle Antiziganismus, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

Frédéric Bonnesoeur, Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung, TU Berlin

Sara Halpern, St. Olaf College

Irina Nastasa-Matei, University of Bucharest

Michal Aharony, University of Haifa

Michele Sarfatti, Fondazione CDEC Milano

Frank Schumacher, The University of Western Ontario

Thomas Weber, University of Aberdeen

Elizabeth Drummond, Loyola Marymount University

Jennifer Evans, Carleton University

Sayantani Jana, University of Southern California

Gavriel D. Rosenfeld, Fairfield University

Snježana Koren, University of Zagreb

Brunello Mantelli, University of Turin and University of Calabria

Carl Müller-Crepon, University of Oxford

Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe, Freie Universität Berlin

Amy Sjoquist, Northwest University

Sebastian Vîrtosu, Universitatea Națională de Arte “G. Enescu”

Stanislao G. Pugliese, Hofstra University

Ronald Grigor Suny, University of Michigan

Antoinette Saxer, University of York

Alon Confino, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Corry Guttstadt, University of Hamburg

Vadim Altskan, US Holocaust Memorial Museum

Evan B. Bukey, University of Arkansas

Elliot Y Neaman, University of San Francisco

Rebecca Wittmann, University of Toronto Mississauga

Benjamin Rifkin, Hofstra University

Vladimir Tismaneanu, University of Maryland

Walter Reich, George Washington University

Jay Geller, Case Western Reserve University

Atina Grossmann, Cooper Union

Francesco Zavatti, Södertörn University

Eliyana R. Adler, The Pennsylvania State University

Laura María Niewöhner, Bielefeld University

Elena Amaya, University of California-Berkeley

Markus Roth, Fritz Bauer Institut, Frankfurt

Brandon Bloch, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Monica Osborne, The Jewish Journal

Benjamin Hett, Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY

Volker Weiß, Independent Scholar

Manuela Consonni, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Svetlana Suveica, University of Regensburg

Izabella Tabarovsky is a researcher with the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute, focusing on the politics of historical memory in the former Soviet Union.

Evgeny Finkel is a political scientist and historian at Johns Hopkins University.

This article was first published by the Jewish Journal.

It has become traditional at the end of the year to pay tribute to those who died during the year. Usually, they are famous or celebrities or both.

In this post, John Merrow pays tribute to educators (or people important in the field) who died in 2021.

He begins by paying tribute to the more than 1,000 educators who lost their lives to COVID.

He singles out nine people, “all of whom cared deeply about America’s youth and public education.”

Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, former president of Brown University, and former president of the New York Public Library. I endorse John’s admiration for Vartan. I was on the board of the NYPL when he was selected, and he did indeed save a great public institution from bankruptcy, in large part by wooing great socialites, like Mrs. Vincent Astor, to give generously.

He paid tribute also to bell hooks, James Loewen (author of Lies My Teacher Told Me), Shirley McBay, Robert Moses, Richard Robinson, Eli Broad, Denis Doyle, and George M. Strickler Jr.

As you (and John) might anticipate, I take issue with his characterization of Eli Broad as someone who “cared deeply about America’s youth and public education.” I am sorry that Eli died, and I express my sympathy to his wife and family, but I disagreed that he “cared deeply about America’s youth and public education.” He invested many millions in “training” urban superintendents to share his philosophy of top-down management and his belief that schools with low test scores should be closed, no matter how much parents, students, and staff protested. Many of the “Broadies,” as they were known, were complete failures. He devoted many millions to privatization of public schools, in Los Angeles and in cities across the nation. He selected an incompetent Broadie to run the bankrupt Detroit public schools, who increased the district’s deficit. He poured millions into Teach for America, to send inexperienced, ill-prepared teachers into the nation’s neediest classrooms.

John says he was critical of Eli’s passion for charter schools, and it was not surprising that Eli ignored his criticism. Eli was arrogant and believed that he was always right. I can’t find any evidence that he “cared deeply about America’s children” and for some reason, although both he and his wife were graduates of the public schools of Detroit, he was utterly contemptuous of public schools. He did not “care deeply” about public education. He cared deeply about turning public dollars over to private management.

So, thank you to John Merrow, for honoring the educators and advocates who died in 2021. He needed a different category for Eli Broad. Now, what would that be? Billionaires who thought they knew how to redesign American education to make it more like the corporate sector?

Marion Brady is an educator who has argued for many years that subject-matter based curriculum is wrong. He thinks we need to change our ingrained ways of thinking. He asks for your advice:

Brady writes:

In 1966, the Phi Delta Kappan published an article of mine criticizing the traditional “core” curriculum adopted in 1893 that organizes most of the middle school and high school day. I suggested an alternative organizer. 

In many more journal articles, in books published by respected presses, in chapters in others’ books, in nationally distributed op-eds and newspaper columns and in countless internet blogs, I’ve continued to argue that the core curriculum is the major academic reason for generation after generation of basically flat academic performance, and that a simple, cost-free “fix” for the problem has revolutionary potential.

Pushing back on my contention—at least for the last 25 or 30 years—is a corporately engineered campaign to privatize public schooling without triggering the public debate such a radical change in the bedrock of democracydeserves. That campaign’s wrong assumptions—that the core curriculum provides a “well-rounded” education, that competition is the main motivator of performance, that standardized tests measure what’s important, that rigor must replace “low expectations,” and teachers are the key to improving the institution—lock even more rigidly in place a 19th Century curriculum.

What’s wrong with the core?

There are eighteen items on my list of problems with the core and the way it’s usually taught. For brevity’s sake I’ll address only one of them—the one noted by dozens of well-known and respected thinkers and studies conducted by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Association of American Colleges.

That #1 problem: The world the core curriculum is supposed to explain is systemically integrated. The core curriculum is not.

In his 1916 Presidential Address to the MathematicalAssociation of England, philosopher and mathematician Alfred North Whitehead put it in simpler words. He said the curriculum’s “disconnection of subjects” was “fatal.”

He was right. Wikipedia explains the failure to react appropriately to that information:

The boiling frog is an apologue describing a frog being slowly boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death.

To see examples of how that works out in human affairs, follow any randomly chosen day’s news.

An alternative

Given institutional inertia, educating’s inherent complexity, machine-scored standardized testing, multi-layered education bureaucracies and education policy made by non-educators in Congress and state legislatures, the core curriculum can’t be dislodged. It can, however, be used in non-traditional ways that circumvent the core’s most serious problems.

The core organizes the study of a mix of math, science, language arts and social studies subjects. What learners need that the core doesn’t provide is an “organizer of organizers” that shows not just how all school subjects but all fields of knowledge fit together and interact to create a whole much greater than the sum of parts. Lacking that master organizer, a few schools use interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, transdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary studies and project learning, but those can’t be standardized to create the “subjects” that education bureaucracies require.

An organizer of organizers

Fortunately, an organizer of organizers doesn’t have to be invented or developed. All normal humans are born with brains that do that in the manner of the group or society within which individuals have been socialized. To solve most of the core’s problems, that master organizer just needs to be lifted into consciousness and put to useful work, something all adolescents are able to do.

Our organizer of organizers is easily understood. When attention is fixed on a matter of interest, five kinds of information integrate systemically to create sense—the same five kinds of information that structure languages, stories, drama, reports, textbooks, school subjects,conversation and so on: Time. Place. Actors. Action. Cause.

Instructional activities that allow learners to discover for themselves the knowledge-creating process and put it to work, move them to levels of academic performance far beyond the evaluating capabilities of standardized tests, and do so with an efficiency that allows the legitimate aims of a general education to be met in a fraction of the time spent on “covering the content” of the core curriculum.

The most legitimate aim of education is saving humankind. Reality is dynamic. Inexorable environmental, demographic, technological and social change create ever-more complex problems requiring new knowledge. New knowledge is created by the discovery of relationships between and among things not previously thought to relate—a newborn’s fussing and the appearance of a nipple; cigarettes and cancer; moon and tides; justice and societal stability; time and space.

New knowledge is essential, but even more crucial is an increase in depth and breadth of understanding ofcomplex reality by the general public. This is the ultimategoal of what we’re doing.


About a year after publication of the 1966 Kappan article, James Guiher, Vice-President of Prentice-Hall’s Educational Books Division, called. Could he and P-H’s Head K-12 Editor, Mike McDanield, come to Florida to talk?

Long story, short: They came, starting a long-running conversation ending with a project to produce a middle school-level American history textbook and a world cultures textbook consistent with my thinking.

“Rich” concepts (e.g. cultural assumptions, value conflict, social control, polarization, cultural interaction, system change, and so on) organized several weeks of study for each concept. Prentice-Hall’s college-level history and anthropology authors provided unique and engaging primary data for the concepts, and my brother and I wrote instructional activities using their data.

Traditional schooling emphasizes and rewards passive learner recall of information. The P-H project’s primary sources required learners to hypothesize, infer, value, extrapolate, correlate, imagine, synthesize, predict, estimate, generalize, and so on—exercise the dozens of cognitive processes that make routine human functioning possible and enable civilized life.

Every unit culminated with activities requiring learners to apply the concept to contemporary matters.

P-H’s marketing department printed and distributed the activities to middle school teachers nationwide and invited them to write reports about how the activities worked (or didn’t) and send them to inhouse P-H editors.

At the end of each semester, eight teachers whose reports seemed most perceptive were identified, P-H paid for their substitutes for a week, and flew them and us to a resort somewhere to rework, refine, and replace activities.

Thirty-nine middle school teachers participated.

The books were ready for publication in 1976, but a back-to-basics reaction to what’s now called “constructivist learning” prompted P-H’s marketing department to shelve the project, then change its mind and do a small press run in 1977 with no advertising or follow-up promotion.

End of project.

I know of no other curriculum development project that matches in thoroughness our effort to combine what are generally considered “best practices:” (1) A focus on powerful concepts. (2) Deliberate use of learners’ already-known, simple, comprehensive, natural information organizers. (3) Active use of learner firsthand, immediate, real-world experience. (4) Small-group cooperative learning to minimize threat and encourage “thinking out loud.” (5) Intellectually challenging but interesting, unfamiliar primary sources. (6) Correct modeling of the holistic, systemically integrated nature of reality. (7) Extensive writing and illustrating requirements. (8) Traditional schooling’s emphasis on two thought processes—recalling and applying—replaced by work requiring learners to use a full range of thought processes.

Salvage operation

Watching the destructive chaos created by amateur education reformers, ideologues and privatizers, prompted us to ask P-H about copyrights for the instructional materials we’d created.

They gave them to us in May 1990. We updated and reformatted the lessons to adapt them to the internet, put them online, downloadable free of cost or other obligation, and invited users to suggest improvements.

We’ve added instructional materials for general systems theory, world history, civics and science. That’s at odds with our belief that the general knowledge component of the curriculum should be a single, comprehensive course of study systemically integrating all fields of knowledge, with specialized course offerings expanded and offered as electives. However, recognizing resistance to change and existing bureaucratic boundaries and expectations, we’ve used traditional subjects in non-traditional ways to encourage acceptance and use of systemic conceptions of reality.

Notwithstanding the fact that our instructional activities require thought processes too complex to be evaluated by standardized tests, files routinely download by the hundreds weekly without a dime spent on advertising. If officials would remove the artificial performance ceiling created by the limitations of standardized testing and accompany academic work with exercises to improve classroom culture, we believe the ability of the young to cope with the messes they’re inheriting will be maximized.

Request for Advice

I’ll be 95 years old in May. My brother, Howard, 86. We’d like to donate our work—free of cost or other obligation—to an institution, organization or other entity on condition they create a suitable website, keep the activities downloadable and free for teachers to use with their own students, and encourage their continuous improvement, including across cultural boundaries.

If you a have suggestions for contacts who might be willing to talk about accepting what we’re offering, we’d really appreciate hearing from you.




My SUNY Press book, What’s Worth Teaching? Selecting, Organizing, and Integrating Knowledge, was published in 1989 and co-published by Books for Educators. The link below is to a pre-publication review by Philip L. Smith, Editor of the SUNY Press series of books Philosophy of Education. Smith is now Professor Emeritus, Ohio State University.

A revised version titled What’s Worth Learning? published by Information Age Publishing, is now free for downloading:

Links to illustrative instructional activities:

Maurice Cunningham is a political science professor at U of Mass who specializes in following the money, especially Dark Money, where the donors are anonymous.

The Koch-Walton backed National Parents Union is experiencing turmoil at the top and severe mismanagement with two boards of directors featuring revolving directors and a disappeared co-founder.. 

The organization is holding a convening on May 15 and its members should demand some answers. 

Here are questions they should be asking the leadership. Any media member who would like to learn about who is pulling the strings at NPU, feel free. 

1. National Parents Union has two boards of directors, one board listed on the NPU webpage, and another on record with the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s Corporations Division. The website board members are Peter Cunningham, Dan Weisberg, Vivett Dukes, Arthur Soriano, Vincent Slaughter, Maria del Carmen Parro de Cano, and Dr. Paul Bloomberg. The directors listed on the November 2020 annual report required in Massachusetts are Keri Rodrigues and Tim Langan. There are important legal consequences involved in serving as a director. Can leadership clarify who exercise powers over the National Parents Union? This would be a good question to be asked by Mr. Cunningham, Ms. Dukes, Mr. Soriano, Mr. Slaughter, Ms. Parro de Cano, or Dr. Bloomberg. 

2. The74 identified Ms. Rodrigues as elected in January 2020 to the presidency of NPU for a period of three years.  In the annual statement required to be filed with the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office in November 2020 Ms. Rodrigues is recorded as serving a term as president that ends on December 31, 2025. How long is Ms. Rodrigues’s term and when will the next election for officers of National Parents Union occur? A good question for anyone wanting to run for the well-compensated position of president.

3. In The74, Alma Marquez was identified as a co-founder and was also recorded as elected secretary-treasurer for a three year term. By August 2020 Ms. Marquez disappeared from NPU’s website. Ms. Marquez was also recorded as a director in NPU’s Articles of Organization filed with Massachusetts Secretary of State and signed by President Rodrigues on April 4, 2019. Ms. Marquez was dropped on the November 2020 annual report and from the webpage. What has happened to Ms. Marquez? Will there be an election for her successor as secretary-treasurer? 

4. Not only Ms. Marquez has disappeared. Original website board member Gerard Robinson disappeared sometime between November 15 and December 8, 2020. Since March of this year original website board member Bibb Hubbard has disappeared meaning, that two of the four original website board members and the co-founder have been ousted in little over a year. Why are they gone and what explains the management follies? 

5. In the 2020 annual report filed with the Massachusetts Secretary of State the two directors are identified as Ms. Rodrigues and Tim Langan. Ms. Rodrigues is listed as president and clerk, Mr. Langan as treasurer. They hold the same positions with Massachusetts Parents United (with one additional director), where they are also the two highest paid employees. Does National Parents Union have a Compensation Committee to assure fair compensation and adherence to ethical guidelines over conflicts of interest?Who are the highest compensated directors and officers, and what do they make?

6. On May 8 on Fox News Ms. Rodrigues stated that “We’ve got parent organizations in all 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico.” The only independent analysis of NPU membership shows that membership is largely charter schools and chains in twenty-two states with only four parent organizations represented. Will NPU go public with a list of its parent organizations?

7. According to published reports at The74, the Vela Education Fund, and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, National Parents Union has received funding from the following oligarchs through their own foundations or philanthropies they contribute to and control: the Walton family, Bill and Melinda Gates, Michael Dell, the late Eli Broad, Reed Hoffman, John Arnold, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and Charles Koch. Are there other major donors? What is the annual budget?

8. The Vela Education Fund, a joint venture of the Walton family and Charles Koch, funds National Parents Union as well as the Home School Legal Defense Association, which has been identified as conservative Christian and anti-gay. Is the funding relationship with Vela consistent with NPU’s stated goal of honoring diversity? 

9. Charles Koch also seems to be behind a new far right operation called Parents Defending Education, which is explicitly set up to fight against diversity and to honor the country’s white heritage. Will NPU denounce Parents Defending Education?

10. On the May 8 FoxNews program Ms. Rodrigues indicated reservations about the FDA’s approval and CDC review of the Covid-19 vaccine for 12-15 year olds. Is NPU advocating that CDC guidance is unreliable and that parents should not have their 12-15 year old children vaccinated against Covid-19?

A real board and real members would want answer to all of these questions. Open the floor!

[Full disclosure: as an educator in the UMass system, I am a union member. I write about dark money, democracy, and oligarchy.]

Maurice Cunningham is a professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts. His specialty is following the gobs of money poured into “education reform.” His exposes of Dark Money in the 2016 charter expansion referendum was a crucial element in turning the public against the referendum (you can read more about him in his blogs and in my book Slaying Goliath.)

In this post, published here for the first time, Professor Cunningham writes about the innocence or naïveté of Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, who met with a billionaire astroturf group and thought he was reaching out to ordinary parents and families.

Cunningham writes:

Who Got Suckered, Secretary Cardona or Readers of The74?

“The Pro-privatization education blog The74 recently published To Rebuild Trust with Families, Ed. Dept. Seeks Input from Outspoken Parents Group. The story purports to be about how Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona “seeks” the advice of parents and thus turns to the National Parents Union. But the National Parents Union isn’t about parents, it’s a front for oligarchs with “parents” in the name. So who got suckered here, Secretary Cardona or readers of The74?”

“Let’s start at the end of the post, with The74’s disclaimer:

Disclosure: The Walton Family Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and The City Fund provide financial support to the National Parents Union and The 74.

Let’s not stop there. Here’s an excerpt from The74’s first ever piece of NPU puffery, Mothers of Invention: Frustrated with the Educational Status Quo and Conventional Parent Organizing, Two Latinas Gave Birth to a National Parents Union.”

Marquez and Rodrigues raised seed money and funding for the recent convening from several philanthropies that fund education initiatives: The Walton Family Foundation; EdChoice; the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools; National School Choice Week; the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation; and The City Fund, which in turn receives funding from Walton, the Hastings Fund, the Arnold Foundation (now Arnold Ventures), the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Ballmer Group.

“Picture this. You’re a parent sitting at your kitchen table thinking about school just like millions of parents across the country. You call a friend across the country and decide to start a parents group. You’ll need some startup money so you divide up possible donors: ‘You call the Waltons, Eli Broad, Reed Hastings, and John Arnold. I’ve got Mike Dell, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Mark Zuckerberg, and Charles Koch.’

“A few months after ‘giving birth’ Ms. Marquez disappeared from her position as secretary-treasurer. No word from NPU or The74 on what happened to her. 

“You’d have to know this to get the irony of The74 writing a headline about rebuilding “trust” with parents. Maybe rebuilding trust with the Waltons, Koch, et al. but not parents. 

“Here’s how The74’s post begins:

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said Monday he wants “families at the table” as schools prepare for the fall, offering welcome news to parents who have felt shut out of efforts to help their children recover from the pandemic.

Last week, his staff took steps to fill up the guest list by contacting the National Parents Union, a network of advocacy groups that has been critical of distance learning, especially for low-income and minority students, and has pushed for schools to reopen.

On April 28, Christian Rhodes, chief of staff for the department’s Office of Elementary and Secretary of Education, met with Keri Rodrigues, National Parents Union’s founding president, and Marisol Rerucha, the group’s chief of strategy and partnerships.

Since then, the group’s representatives have been asked to work with the department’s School Climate and Discipline Work Group and the Office of Parent Engagement and Communication, and to be involved in a meeting regarding federal relief funds later this week.

“This is artful. It starts out with an actual quote from Secretary Cardona and then transitions to the only place one could go to hear the authentic voice of parents, NPU. If any of this is true, it is epically bad staff work. We can discuss corporate America’s value in education policy but Gates, Walton et al. have no problem getting a seat at the table. They just shouldn’t get one masquerading as parents. 

“Back to that kitchen table conversation. ‘Oh, and once we line up the Waltons and Gates and those other billionaires, we’ll need a chief of strategy and partnerships. Every parent group needs one of those.’

“Just wondering, who was the source for this information?”

“They feel like we represent a really important constituency,” Rodrigues said. “We were very clear with them. We’re not here just to be disseminating information from [the department]. We need to be informing policy.”

“It appears that the source was Ms. Rodrigues, not only a mother of invention but now able to read the feelings of DOE personnel. It doesn’t look like The74 spoke to any DOE source.”

The department’s invitation to the organization to be part of its “kitchen cabinet” follows accusations that the teachers unions have had greater access to the secretary and the administration than other interest groups. The National Parents Union represents groups that have largely blamed unions for slowing down the reopening process and say schools have failed their children during the pandemic. Parent organizations were not represented during Cardona’s March 24 reopening summit, and in early April, Rodrigues said she was “furious” that the department had not yet reached out to any groups within the network. With states facing a June 7 deadline to submit plans to the department for spending American Rescue Plan funds, some of those local groups now want to have more say in how districts spend that money.

“‘Kitchen cabinet’”? Here is something very basic from the concept of principal-agent theory. A principal, here the lead investor Walton Family Foundation, employs an agent, here Ms. Rodrigues, to pursue the goals of the principal. So you have an agent of the Walton family and its wealthy allies in Secretary Cardona’s “kitchen cabinet.” 

“Let’s continue with that paragraph because it’s really funny: “accusations that the teachers unions have had greater access.” With a link! But the link has nothing to do with accusations about teachers unions, it is to a story where First Lady Jill Biden is praising teachers for their matchless contributions to children’s development, Jill Biden honors fellow teachers in her 1st official event as first lady. I cannot make this up. 

“So who has made accusations against teachers unions? National Parents Union! Which is exactly what we should expect from an agent working for the anti-union Waltons and Koch.

“States are looking at revisiting what it means to have families engaged,” Cardona said at the Education Writers Association’s annual conference. “This pandemic taught us that we have to be nimble, we have to be flexible and we have to meet families where they are.”

As part of his “Help is Here” tour to local schools, mostly in the Northeast, the secretary has interacted with some parents who don’t represent particular advocacy groups. And Rodrigues said her group is directing the department to other organizations “doing important work.”

Cunningham concludes:

“Wait a minute, Secretary Cardona has already been meeting with real parents? I imagine one of the groups Ms. Rodrigues will be recommending is Massachusetts Parents United, which she also “founded” with millions in Walton backing and where the organizations Form 990 tax return shows that she was compensated $189,000 in 2019. 

“Here’s more artistry from The74, the very next paragraph:

“Rachel Thomas, a spokeswoman for the education department, said working with parents is “critical” to addressing academic inequities made worse by the pandemic.

“It’s with parents’ partnership that we can build our education system back better than it was before, and make sure our schools are welcoming environments that work for all students, not just some,” she said.

“The placement invites the reader to conclude that Ms. Thomas was responding to Ms. Rodrigues. But there’s no evidence she was. It’s just boilerplate. 

“The story goes on some, I provided a link above.

“National Parents Union is a sucker’s game. The question is, who got suckered, Secretary Cardona, his staff, or the readers of The74

“Or all three?”

[Full disclosure: as an educator in the UMass system, I am a union member. I write about dark money, democracy, and oligarchy.]

Andrea Gabor is the Bloomberg Professor of Business Journalism at Baruch College, which is part of the City University of New York. Gabor has written insightful articles about education in the New York Times and at She is the author of After the Education Wars: How Smart Schools Upend the Business of Education Reform.

The following is a summary of a chapter in her forthcoming book, MEDIA CAPTURE: HOW MONEY, DIGITAL PLATFORMS, AND GOVERNMENTS CONTROL THE NEWS, which will be published by Columbia University Press in June. She prepared this excerpt for this blog.

She writes:

For the past twenty years, American K-12 education has been on the receiving end of Big Philanthropy’s efforts to reengineer public schools based on free-market ideas, with foundation-funded private operators taking over large swaths of school districts in cities like Los Angeles and New Orleans.

Between 2000 and 2005 alone, three foundations—the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation—quadrupled their spending on K–12 education to $400 million. By 2010, the top 15 foundations had spent $844 million on public education.

Moreover, these Big Philanthropies coordinated their spending, investing in what Harvard’s Jal Mehta and Johns Hopkins’s Steven Teles call “jurisdictional challengers”—efforts aimed atupending traditional educational institutions, in particular public schools and school boards. Instead, the foundations funded a range of private and public institutions, including charter-management organizations and alternative teacher-development institutions such as Teach for America, as well as school-board candidates who would back the philanthropists’ reform agenda and help break the “monopoly” of public-school districts.

Diane Ravitch and a slew of other academics, bloggers and writers have documented the growing influence of Big Philanthropy and its convergence with federal education policies, especially under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, creating what the political scientist Sarah Reckhow calls “a perfect storm.”

As part of its soup-to-nuts strategy designed to maximize the impact of its gifts and expand its influence, Big Philanthropy has expanded its reach to universities, think tanks, government institutions, and the news media.

My chapter, “Media Capture and the Corporate Education-Reform Philanthropies,” in Media Capture, explores the efforts of the Big Philanthropy to shape public opinion by ratcheting up its spending on advocacy and, in particular, by investing in local news organizations. The philanthropies have supported education coverage at a range of mainstream publications—investments that often helped promote the foundations’ education-reform agenda. In addition, they have founded publications specifically dedicated to selling their market-oriented approach to education.

For the news media, battered by internet companies such as Craigslist and Facebook, which have siphoned off advertising revenue, funding from philanthropies comes at an opportune time. Nor can private foundations be faulted for supporting the news media, especially given the rise of “alternative facts” and demagoguery during the Trump era. Foundation funding has long been important to a range of respected news organizations such as The New York Times and National Public Radio, as well as established education publications, such as Education Week.This is not to say that this funding has unleashed a spate of pro-reform coverage. Indeed, I have published essays critical of the education-reform philanthropies in many foundation-funded publications. However, logic suggests that publications desirous of repeat tranches of funding will at least moderate their critical coverage.

What is particularly troubling are the large contributions to local news organizations—many of them earmarked specifically for education coverage—by foundations that explicitly support the takeover of local schools and districts by private operators. My chapter explores how philanthropic support of news organizations—including new publications founded and run by education-reform advocates—is aimed at creating a receptive audience for the foundations’ education-reform agenda.

The Gates Foundation’s effort to influence local and national policy via the news media is a case in point.

The Gates Foundation alone devoted $1 billion in the decade from 2000 to 2010 to so-called policy and advocacy, a tenth of the foundation’s $3 billion-a-year spending, according to an investigation by The Seattle Times.

Although much of that money went to analyze policy questions—such as the efficacy of vaccine-funding strategies—“the ‘advocacy’ side of the equation is essentially public relations: an attempt to influence decision-makers and sway public opinion.”

In 2011, The Seattle Times published an exhaustive article about its leading hometown philanthropic organization and asked: “Does Gates funding of media taint objectivity?” (At the time, the Gates Foundation also was bankrolling a slew of education policies, including the common core, and building political support for “one of the swiftest and most remarkable shifts in education policy in U.S. history.”)

The Seattle Times showed how the Gates Foundation funding goes far beyond providing general support for cash-strapped news organizations:

“To garner attention for the issues it cares about, the foundation has invested millions in training programs for journalists. It funds research on the most effective ways to craft media messages. Gates-backed think tanks turn out media fact sheets and newspaper opinion pieces. Magazines and scientific journals get Gates money to publish research and articles. Experts coached in Gates-funded programs write columns that appear in media outlets from The New York Times to The Huffington Post, while digital portals blur the line between journalism and spin.”

Indeed, Gates usually “stipulates” that its funding be used for reporting on issues the philanthropy supports—whether curing diseases such as HIV or improving U.S. education. And although Gates does not appear to dictate specific stories, the Seattle Times noted: “Few of the news organizations that get Gates money have produced any critical coverage of foundation programs.”

The Seattle Times story was written before the newspaper accepted a $530,000 grant, in 2013, the bulk of it from the Gates Foundation, to launch the Education Lab. The paper described the venture as “a partnership between The Seattle Times and Solutions Journalism Network” that will explore “promising programs and innovations inside early-education programs, K–12 schools and colleges that are addressing some of the biggest challenges facing public education.” The Gates Foundation contributed $450,000, with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation funding the rest.

In a blog post, the newspaper addressed the potential conflict of interest posed by the grant: “The Seattle Times would neither seek nor accept a grant that did not give us full editorial control over what is published. Generally, when a grant is made, there is agreement on a specific project or a broad area of reporting it will support.” The newspaper earmarked its funding for so-called “solutions journalism.”

It may be laudable for a publication to focus on “solutions” to societal problems. But almost by definition, a mission that effectively targets “success stories” diminishes journalism’s vital watchdog role.

Then too, Gates’s influence extends well beyond Seattle. The Associated Press documented the Gates foundation’s soup-to-nuts effort, in 2015, to influence education policy in Tennessee.

“In Tennessee, a Gates-funded advocacy group had a say in the state’s new education plan, with its leader sitting on an important advising committee. A media outlet given money by Gates to cover the new law then published a story about research funded by Gates. And many Gates-funded groups have become the de facto experts who lead the conversation in local communities. Gates also dedicated millions of dollars to protect Common Core as the new law unfolded.”

Meanwhile, the same year in Los Angeles, fellow philanthropist,Eli Broad, identified Gates as a key potential investor in his $490 million plan to dramatically grow the city’s charter-school sector. The plan included a six-year $21.4 million “investment” in “organizing and advocacy,” including “engaging the media”and “strategic messaging.” (The charter-expansion plan itself followed an $800,000 investment by a Broad-led group of philanthropists to fund an initiative at The Los Angeles Times to expand the paper’s coverage of K–12 education.) In 2016, Gates invested close to $25 million in Broad’s charter-expansion plan.

The Gates Foundation also served as a junior partner in one of the most audacious, coordinated efforts by Big Philanthropy to influence coverage of the education-reform story—the establishment, in 2015, of The 74 Million, which has become the house organ of the education-reform movement. The 74 has been a reliable voice in favor of the charter-school movement, and against teachers’ unions. In 2016, it published The Founders, a hagiography of the education-reform movement. And it has served as a Greek chorus of praise for the education reforms in New Orleans, the nation’s first all-charter district, while ignoring the experiment’s considerable failings.

Key contributors to the publication, which boasts a $4 million-annual budget, were the Walton Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Carnegie Foundation, and the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation. Soon after it’s founding, The 74 acquired a local education publication, the L.A. School Report, which itself had been heavily funded by Broad. In 2016, Gatescontributed, albeit a relatively modest $26,000, to The 74.


Laura Chapman is a regular reader and contributor. She is a retired educator and a crack researcher. She writes here about a letter from Education Trust and other groups to Secretary-designate Miguel Cardona, urging him to deny all state requests for waivers from the mandated federal testing this spring.

She writes:

Kevin Ohlandt of Delaware and I looked behind the curtain of this attempt by the Education Trust and several other charter-loving groups to “demand” Secretary Cardona refuse state waivers on standardized tests.

I looked at the footnotes to discern what “authorities” this hastily assembled group relied on is issuing their demand. Their call included some footnotes as if to prove the wisdom and validity of the tests.

Here is an excerpt from one source: McKinsey & Company.

“We estimate that if the black and Hispanic student-achievement gap had been closed in 2009, today’s US GDP would have been $426 billion to $705 billion higher. If the income-achievement gap had been closed, we estimate that US GDP would have been $332 billion to $550 billion higher (Exhibit 1).”

This absurdity is from a report, dated June 1, 2020, offering several scenarios of possible outcomes for students who would receive instruction online, or in person, or in hybrid arrangements. The report is so out of date that it should be an embarrassment to EdTrust and others pushing these hypotheticals.

The second footnote comes from the charter-loving Bellwether Education Partners. It refers to their October 21, 2020 titled “Missing in the Margins: Estimating the Scale of the COVID-19 Attendance Crisis.” This report estimates that three million of the most marginalized students are missing formal education in school–virtual or in-person. The estimate of three million comes from mostly federal estimates of the number of students in higher-risk groups in every state and nationally: Students in foster care, Students experiencing homelessness, English learners, Students with disabilities (ages 6-21) and Students eligible for the Migrant Education Program.

This report, funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, offers a series of recommendations already in the works for addressing the effects of the pandemic on K-12 education. Most of these recommendations have less to do with formal education than with tapping every possible community and state resource (except money) to provide food, shelter, and other necessities to survive unemployment and dodge the virus.
This Bellwether report also chases data from news reports from several large districts, the State of Florida and a study done in 2008.

This whole effort relies on out of date “estimates” of this and that, and offers recommendations of little use in addressing the systemic and immediate needs of students, teachers, their families and caregivers.

The last thing we and they need is to have anyone telling the Secretary of Education to keep the meaningless standardized tests.

Opt out and do so proudly.

In 2015, I wrote about a group of high school students in Houston who sued the state for underfunding public schools. Valerie Strauss wrote about them too. She wrote: ““The two students who filed the brief on behalf of the HISD Student Congress, an organization that represents about 215,000 students in the district, are Zaakir Tameez, a member of the 2015 class of Carnegie Vanguard High School, and Amy Fan, a member of the 2016 class of Bellaire High School.”

I have always believed that students have more power than they know and they need to speak up about their education.

The two young people who founded the HISD Student Congress–Tameez and Fan–filed an excellent brief, but their appeal on behalf of underfunded school districts was rejected 9-0 by the Texas Supreme Court, which is elected statewide and consists of Republicans. The court complimented the students on their brief on page 24 of the ruling, footnote 100:  “High school students Zaakir Tameez and Amy Fan, with the help of other students, have filed an excellent amicus brief.”

These are remarkable young people, our hope for the future.

After graduating from HISD, Amy Fan went to Duke University, where she graduated in 2020. She returned to Houston and is now the official advisor to HISD StuCon. She helped co-found a local civic engagement collective with other HISD StuCon alumni called Institute of Engagement. They just launched Shift Press, an online publication for Houston youth to tell their stories. 

Zaakir Tameez is a remarkable young man. After he graduated from high school, he enrolled at the University of Virginia. He was an intern with the President of the University of Virginia and with Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz. After his graduation, he was selected as a Fulbright Scholar and is currently studying in the UK. He will begin Yale Law School in the fall.

So much for the detractors of Houston public schools!

Zaakir Tameez recently wrote to alert me that the school district (HISD) is trying to take control of the HISD Youth Congress away from students.

HISD is now trying to take over the Student Congress and replace it with a “district-sanctioned vehicle” that operates “under the direction” of administrators. In other words, district staff recommended that the board dissolve the student-run, student-led group that has been operating for seven years now to create something new that they can control. 

It would mean so much to us if you could speak on this – a short blog post, or even a tweet. We are trying to raise awareness to fight back. It’s a sad situation, really. We’ve spent years advocating for greater funding & resources for HISD and to prevent the board takeover that is being planned by the State of Texas. 

But then, this. Without any heads up, they are attempting to take us over.  Not one board member or member of district staff has reached out to us yet to inform us of the resolution. I am attaching the resolution text and an FAQ on the situation…Your response would be so greatly appreciated. We’re proud that you came from the same schools that we did. 

The fact that anyone is discussing the possibility of martial law demonstrates how much Trump has degraded our democracy. When Hillary Clinton lost the election in the Electoral College in 2016, she graciously conceded; she didn’t demand endless recounts. Trump continues to whine about a “rigged” election, although historically it is the party in power that has the opportunity to “rig” any election. Although he lost more than 50 lawsuits in state and federal courts, his campaign is still litigating his loss, trying to throw out the vote in Pennsylvania. Since he apparently has no legal way to overturn the election, he is trying to dirty Biden’s clear victory over him, and at the same time, undermine the integrity of our electoral process, which is the basis of our democracy. He is a vengeful, spiteful baby, whining all the way out the door.

Amber Phillips wrote in the Washington Post about Trump’s desperate search for a way to overturn the electoral results, including martial law:

He’s thought about it. He’s hosted political and legal outcasts at the White House to talk about it.

Could President Trump declare martial law, or seize voting machines, or try to otherwise steal the election by force in his last month in office? Any of those would be an extreme escalation of Trump’s already unprecedented strong-arm tactics in his effort to overturn the election results.

The answer is no, he can’t do this stuff, say various national security and election law experts.

But even if these maneuvers aren’t in the president’s tool kit, it’s dangerous for him to talk about them in a way that risks normalizing them — let alone in Oval Office meetings, said nearly every expert The Fix spoke with.

“This is really dangerous stuff to start playing with,” said Rachel Kleinfeld, a national security expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “You cannot normalize extrajudicial action outside the rule of law and believe democracy will hold. Democracies are fragile, even ours.”

But even if Trump could do any of the things he might be entertaining, they wouldn’t actually change the election results: Here’s what he’s mulling, according to Washington Post reporting, and why experts say these efforts won’t get him what he wants.

1. Declare martial law 

What this would do: Trump would put the military in charge. It would implement and enforce curfews, keep people in their homes. Former Trump national security adviser Michael T. Flynn has suggested the military could force states to rerun elections. It could even stop members of Congress from coming to work on Jan. 6 to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win.

Could it happen? No, experts say. There’s absolutely no legal or political precedent for it. “Can the president invade the Congress of the United States? No, he cannot,” said Adav Noti, an election law expert with the Campaign Legal Center.

Some experts were skeptical the president could actually declare martial law in the first place. Governors have that power in their states, but the president doesn’t, Kleinfeld said. (The Post’s Gillian Brockell reports the Supreme Court has never ruled on whether a president can declare martial law without congressional approval.)

If you have martial law,” Kleinfeld said, “you have total suspension of the Constitution. So that’s a coup, and a coup in this country is not going to happen.”

Trump would also need military buy-in, and military leaders have said they’re not interested in entertaining any of these ideas. Experts were heartened that military leaders expressed regret for participating in a clearing of peaceful protesters outside the White House this summer so the president could pose for a photo he used for political purposes.

Also, declaring martial law wouldn’t do anything to change votes. What is a curfew in December going to do to change an election in November? States aren’t going to redo elections. And even if Congress were unable to certify results, on Jan. 20, the political and legal and military establishment would almost certainly recognize Biden as president. Biden has said he’s confident law enforcement would escort Trump out of the White House on that day if he refused to leave.

After reporting over the weekend that he was briefed on this idea by fringe advisers, Trump tweeted this, throwing cold water on the idea.

Trump has called plenty of accurate reporting “fake news” before, so it’s not the same as an outright denial.

2. Use the Insurrection Act to somehow get control

What this would do: This is slightly different from martial law in that it’s an actual legal tool the president has that allows him to use the military in extreme ways. The Insurrection Act allows the president to call in troops for domestic law enforcement, not unlike what he did this summer in Portland, Ore., during Black Lives Matter protests. It’s supposed to be used only in times of emergency.

But what emergency is there right now that would warrant the military taking to the streets? There is none. Trump could try to gin one up by encouraging protests across the nation on Jan. 6 as Congress certifies results, said Meredith McGehee, an expert in ethics in politics and the director of Issue One.

To that end, Trump allies are planning a rally in Washington that day. Trump is encouraging them: “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” he tweeted last week.

That’s scary language, said McGehee, who wondered whether Trump might try to do this in several cities to create the pretense of insurrection and chaos. “Now we have a president who is playing with the notion that we are going to solve conflict with violence,” she said. “That puts us up there truly with the banana republics.”

But this tactic would almost certainly face legal challenges and political blowback. “Talk about an idiotic idea,” Republican strategist Karl Rove recently said on Fox News. “There’s no ability for any president to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1803, claiming that the issue has got to do with the hubbub around the election.”

And just like declaring martial law, it wouldn’t actually change Trump’s results. The Insurrection Act “says nothing about: ‘Therefore the president can stay in power after he’s been voted out in a legitimate election,’” Kleinfeld said.

3. Seize voting machines from states

What this would do: It’s unclear, honestly. It’s an idea that’s been floated to the president on the basis he could somehow try to prove baseless claims that voting machines counted votes incorrectly, or that they were somehow hacked by communist countries.

But those claims been disproved. In Georgia, the Republican secretary of state has presided over three recounts, including one by hand, that confirmed the machines counted votes correctly. An Arizona judge allowed Republicans to view 100 ballots to search for fraud or miscounting, and they found nothing.

“We’re at a point where the votes have been counted,” Noti said. “The machines are done. There was no fraud.”

Also, this is illegal without states’ permission. The Constitution gives states the authority to run their own elections as they see fit. Taking the voting machines would fall to the Department of Homeland Security, and its head, Chad Wolf, has told the White House he’s doesn’t have the authority, according to Post reporting.

4. Set up a special counsel to investigate voter fraud

Trump has toyed with putting one of the most conspiracy-theory-minded lawyers in his orbit, Sidney Powell, into an official position to “investigate” whether there was fraud that led to his loss.

What this would do: Not much.

For one, it doesn’t seem like she’ll find anything. In six states he lost, officials have found just a handful of incidents worth investigating — nowhere near the tens of thousand of votes Trump would need to overturn his loss. The courts have nearly universally rejected his claims as well.

Two, she wouldn’t have much time. A special counsel can’t be removed by the next president, but a Biden Justice Department could just silo her and give her zero resources.

Three, the Justice Department would need to implement this, and it’s not clear Trump has that support. Attorney General William P. Barr said on his way out the door this week that he saw no need. His replacement, Jeffrey A. Rosen, hasn’t commented on this…

Of all the ideas floated out there, this one is the flimsiest, experts said. (But they stressed that they are all infeasible.) “Like all the post-election litigation by the president’s team, it’s all half-baked ideas that don’t have a basis in law and don’t have a basis in fact and don’t have any chance of success,” Noti said, “however success is defined other than whipping some portion of the American public into a frenzy.”

5. Have Congress protest the election 

What this would do: Again, nothing to change the election results. But this is one of the only ideas Trump has considered that he could legally do.

Well, not himself.

When Congress meets Jan. 6 to confirm Biden’s win, Trump has lined up several House Republican lawmakers to challenge as many as half a dozen states he lost. But they won’t actually succeed in changing the outcome. They don’t have support yet from a Republican senator, and without that, their objections die immediately.

If a Republican senator does join in — potentials include incoming senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama or Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky — Congress has to debate and vote on their challenges. Lawmakers will almost certainly vote them down, even the Republican-controlled Senate. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, has said these challenges are “going down like a shot dog.” There’s no legal basis not to accept state’s electors that, taken together, make Biden president.

So all of this talk about possible actions is just that: talk. And Trump will probably continue to talk, and tweet, about the election up to noon on Jan. 20, at which point he will be the former president.