Educate All Students, Support Public Education

September 28, 2016

Report on California Charter Schools

Filed under: Charter Schools — millerlf @ 6:15 pm

Why California’s charter school sector is called ‘the Wild West’
By Valerie Strauss September 28, Posted at Washington Post

California Gov. Jerry Brown has to decide whether to sign legislation mandating more charter school accountability.

This is the second of four posts on the state of the charter school sector in California.

The charter school sector has grown over the last few decades amid a debate about its virtues and drawbacks — and even whether the publicly funded schools are actually public. Some charters do a great job, but even some advocates (though not all) are finally admitting that too many states allowed charters to open and operate without sufficient oversight.

Ohio and Utah have vied for the distinction of having the most troubled charter sector, along with Arizona, where there are no laws against conflicts of interest and for-profit charters do not have to open their books to the public. There’s also Michigan, where 80 percent of the charters are for-profit. And Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale recently issued a report and declared his state’s charter school law the “worst” in the nation. It’s a race to the bottom.

California deserves special attention as, in many ways, the charter Wild West. It has more charter schools and charter school students than any other state in the nation. One billionaire even came up with a secret plan to “charterize” half of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Among the problems:

* A report released recently (by the ACLU SoCal and Public Advocates, a nonprofit law firm and advocacy group) found that more than 20 percent of all California charter schools have enrollment policies that violate state and federal law.

*In some places, charter schools open without mentioning their existence to the traditional school district in which they reside, prompting lawsuits by the districts. The Grossmont Union High School District, for example, sued to shut down two charters operating in Grossmont under agreements signed by another school district. The San Diego Union-Tribune quoted Scott Patterson, Grossmont’s deputy superintendent of business services, as saying, “It’s been described as the Wild West out there.”

*A Mercury News investigation published in April revealed how the state’s online charter schools run by Virginia-based K12 Inc., the largest for-profit charter operator in the country, have “a dismal record of academic achievement” but have won more than $310 million in state funding over the past dozen years.

*One charter school principal doubled as a National Basketball Association scout, traveling first class to basketball games around the country — and charged his travel expenses to his charter school.

*One charter school closed in 2014 after state auditors found a number of issues, including indications that administrators funneled millions of dollars in state funds to the schools’ operator and her family and friends. As the Los Angeles Times reported, some of the allegations against the school operator were downright “bizarre.” Auditors questioned the use of school funds to pay a more than $500,000 settlement to a former teacher who sued, claiming she had been wrongly terminated after she was ordered by the school director to travel to Nigeria and marry the director’s brother-in-law so he could become a U.S. citizen. The operator’s penalty? She paid “a $16,000 fine for misconduct that includes using public education funds to lease her own buildings,” the Times said.

What these reveal is a state charter law that allows the schools to operate loosely, with little if any accountability or transparency to the public. The charter lobby in California has successfully fought off legislative efforts to bring more accountability to the charter sector — at least so far.

Now, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has to decide whether to sign a bill passed by the state legislature that would require more accountability and transparency from the state’s charters schools. Brown, who has been a supporter of charter schools, has not indicated what he will do, though California’s treasurer, John Chiang, has said the legislation is vital to make charter schools more accountable to the public. Brown, who started two charter schools when he was mayor of Oakland, last year vetoed a bill that would have banned for-profit charters.

The following is the second of four parts on California charters, written by Carol Burris, a former New York high school principal who is now executive director of the nonprofit Network for Public Education. She was named the 2010 Educator of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State, and in 2013, the same organization named her the New York State High School Principal of the Year. The four-part series will be part of an extended national report on charter schools that will be published by the Network for Public Education in 2017.

[How messed up is California’s charter school sector? You won’t believe how much.]

By Carol Burris

Bryan Juan was falling behind in high school credits. Desperate to graduate on time, he left his public high school and enrolled in Desert Sands Charter High School. “I started off okay,” he said. “But even though I went almost every day and worked hard, I could not catch up and do all the paper packets — especially on my own. I got discouraged. I left and went back to my public school.”

Bryan was not alone in his failure at Desert Sands. The 2015 four-year graduation rate of the charter was 11.5 percent. Even worse, over 42 percent of the students who should have graduated that year dropped out of school altogether.

Desert Sands Charter High School enrolls nearly 2,000 students; almost all are Latino. It is part of the Antelope Valley School District, but you will not find it listed on Antelope’s website. Nor will you find Desert Sands at the Lancaster, Calif., address given on its own website. Bryan’s classroom was located in an office building across from a Walmart, nearly 100 miles away from both Antelope Valley Schools and the Desert Sand’s address.

Desert Sands is one of 15 independent learning center charter schools, which are defined as non-classroom-based independent study sites, connected to Learn4Life, a network of schools that claim to provide personalized learning. On its website, Learn4Life tells prospective families that it connects students to resource centers so that they can receive one on one instruction because “no two students are alike.”

Bryan’s classmates, Mayra and Edith, who also returned to the public school from Desert Sands, found their experience at the charter to be anything but “personalized.” They described education at Desert Sands as no more than a continuous cycle of paper packets, optional tutor appointments and tests that students continue to take until they pass. Three calls to three different Learn4Life charter schools confirmed that the instructional program was driven by paper packets that students pick up and complete. After packet completion, students take a test to earn credit. Although students can make an appointment for help with the packet, they are required to come by only once a week.
Content from EPIX NetworkThe price of power
When the whole world is watching, there’s no room for the mistakes that normal people make.

Of the 15 charters authorized to Learn4Life operated corporations, 13 are required to operate high-school grade levels. Each school has its own name, principal and sponsoring district, but uniqueness ends there. The schools are in reality a web of resource centers sprinkled in office buildings, strip malls and even former liquor stores. They advertise themselves with nearly identical websites with the same pictures, quotes, descriptions of program, principal letters and a common phone number and address. The homepage of the Desert Sands High School is indistinguishable from the homepage of Diego Valley, as well as the homepages of 11 other high schools that are part of the chain. All that differs is the name of the school.

Diego Plus is one of the many corporations operated by Learn4Life. Diego Plus and its three Learn4Life charter schools (Diego Valley, Diego Hills and Diego Springs) are defendants in lawsuits filed by Grossmont Union High School District, San Diego Unified School District and Sweetwater Union High School District. The three charters opened their resource centers in the three complaining districts without notifying them. They were authorized by and are the responsibility of the Julian, Dehesa and Borrego Springs school districts, each of which receive considerable income for supervising these charters located far beyond their boundaries.

In total, the three Learn4Life Diego Plus charters enroll almost 2,000 students. Their respective four-year 2015 graduation rates are 10.8 percent, 19.3 percent and 0 percent. Forty-five percent of the students in that Diego Valley cohort dropped out of the charter school. It does not appear that long-distance supervision of storefront schools is working out well for kids.

Transparency and accountability, as well as legal efforts to force legal compliance, have been stymied and complicated by the continual changes in Learn4Life corporate names and addresses. A recent petition to the court on behalf of the Grossmont Union High School District lists 13 corporate names located at the same Learn4Life address. In 2014, there were no less than eight not-for-profit corporations listed at that Lancaster address that filed tax returns[1].

Each of those eight corporations received funding from the state of California. During the 2013-14 school year, the sum of all government grants given to those eight related corporations was $61,476,306. About 11,000 students are enrolled in the 15 Learn4Life schools[2].

Officers of the Learn4Life corporations play musical chairs with titles, often receiving compensation from several different corporations. For example, Steve Gocke is listed as the superintendent of Desert Sands Charter. In 2014, Gocke received $139,750 for serving as the secretary for the two different Learn4Life charter schools. Dante Simi served as the chief executive of six different Learn4Life related corporations and the CFO of two others. According to the organizations’ 990s, his 2014 compensation was $270,200. Dante’s son-in-law Skip Hansen serves as a senior vice president, and received a six-figure salary for his services. Simi’s wife, Linda, is also listed as a key employee of one of the corporations.

Perhaps all of the above attempts at obfuscation might be forgiven if the schools were actually getting the job done. But they’re not. The average 2015 graduation rate for the schools was 13.73 percent. Two of the schools had graduation rates of 0 percent. Dropout rates for cohorts ranged from 27.6 percent to 53.9 percent.

Are these alarming rates solely a result of serving at-risk students? Although Learn4Life advertises that its mission is to serve students who dropped out or are at risk of dropping out, its schools take students as early as ninth-grade, including those who simply want a quick and easy way to graduate early. There is no requirement for prior failure before entering the schools.

Learn4Life schools are not an anomaly. There are 225 independent learning charter schools comprising nearly 20 percent of all charters in California. In San Diego County alone there are 35, including three associated with Learn4Life. The 2014 graduation rate for all of the students enrolled in San Diego’s independent center charters, including the more successful home-school programs, was only 44 percent.

Given the results, why are so many Independent Learning charter corporations springing up across the state? Unlike brick and mortar charters, independent learning centers are relatively easy to set up and run. They appeal to disadvantaged students who want to work and finish high school, drop-outs who want to return to school, students who have emotional or physical health issues, home-schoolers, and teenagers who would prefer to not have to get up in the morning and go to school.

In addition, running independent learning centers can be very lucrative. One of San Diego County’s largest networks of independent learning centers is the Altus Institute. It advertises on billboards and runs ads in movie theaters and on television. Altus operates Audeo Charter, Audeo Charter II, the Charter School of San Diego and Laurel Academy. It has a total K-12 enrollment of about 3,000 students and takes in tens of millions of dollars in state and federal revenue. Like Learn4Life, its learning centers are located in malls and office buildings. Its younger students are home-schooled.

In 2014 compensation for Altus Institute President Mary Bixby was $371,160 — exceeding the total pay plus benefits of the superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District that serves nearly 130,000 students. Bixby is a board member of the charters, a full-time employee of one of the schools and also receives compensation for being “on-loan” to two others Altus schools. Such obvious conflicts of interest would be illegal in a public school.

Financial benefits extend beyond those who run the independent learning charter schools. They are also cash cows for the far-flung districts that authorize them.

Julian, a tiny elementary district, has fewer than 300 students that attend its schools, and it has not had a contested school board election since the 1990s. Nevertheless, there are nearly 3,000 students who do “independent study” at dozens of “resource” or “learning centers” operated by three corporations under charters that Julian sponsors, yet which operate outside its boundaries. A uniform complaint filed against the district identified that Julian receives more than $1,542,552 from charter oversight fees, creating a bloated administration whose salaries depend upon the oversight funding, thus creating conflicts of interest in regard to the fulfillment of oversight duties.

Such conflicts of interests have led to criminal behavior. In February 2016, former Mountain Empire superintendent, Steve Van Zant, pleaded guilty to felony conflict of interest charges after it was discovered that he was personally receiving 5 percent of the revenue generated from oversight fees from the 13 charter schools his district authorized beyond its boundaries. In addition, some of those charters hired the Van Zant consulting firm, EdHive, which provided services to the charters. Its website bragged that it could find authorizing districts for the those who wanted to open Independent Learning Centers that would save the charter schools money.

When the Van Zant story broke, the California Charter School Association agreed that the case raised legitimate concerns. However, legislation to address the problem of districts authorizing charters in other districts, and even other counties, was opposed by the California Charter School Association (CCSA) and vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2014. A present bill on the governor’s desk, SB 739, would put a small restriction on a district’s ability to open independent learning center charters in other districts by ensuring that the sponsoring district is fiscally solvent (does not have a negative certification), thus decreasing the profit generating motive.

Despite the recent scandals, California Charter School Association Advocates, the political arm of CCSA, is opposing SB 739, along with AB 709, which would subject charters to the conflict of interest and transparency rules that public schools follow.

Although the original intent of the independent charters may well have been to scoop up at-risk kids and give them a second chance, the lack of criteria for student placement, along with inadequate regulations have led to obvious abuses. There are now far too many independent learning charter schools whose operators, some with no background or expertise in education, make substantial salaries, while cash-strapped districts grab students and revenue from other districts miles away.

Worst of all, the students who need the most support and daily guidance from adults are in charters that do not require much contact at all.

Mike Matsuda, superintendent of the Anaheim Union High School District, is fighting what he considers to be the predatory practices of yet one more independent learning charter, Epic Charter, which has entered his district. His powerful statement to the Orange County Board of Education can be found here. Matsuda, who has been recognized for his leadership by Education Week, understands how tough it is to serve at-risk students well.

“Educating and engaging marginalized students who often suffer from chronic depression due to poverty, family dysfunction, or exposure to emotional or physical violence in the neighborhood is a complex process that’s definitely not cheap,” Matsuda said.

His Anaheim High School Program for at-risk youth and former dropouts directed by counselor/social worker, Joe Casas, provides emotional support and ensures that students have access to enriching electives, the community, field trips and the extracurricular life of the school. “All of this makes kids feel as if they have a home with us,” Casas said.

Meanwhile, Bryan, Edith and Mayra who came to the program from Learn4Life are now making good progress toward graduation.

“Teachers are more on my case to get work done. I come every day and if I have personal problems, there are counselors to help. It’s more supportive here.” Mayra said. Edith agreed. “Here there are assemblies and field trips and people to talk to. I feel like I’m home.”


September 26, 2016

Wisc. Congressional Rep. Mark Pocan on School Vouchers

Filed under: Vouchers — millerlf @ 1:23 pm

Mark Pocan MJSentinel 9/25/16

Taxpayer-funded voucher schools lack high educational standards for students and teachers, discriminate against certain students, and fail to demonstrate true academic achievement.

When I first came to Congress, I called on the Government Accountability Office to study taxpayer-funded school voucher programs across the country. Wisconsin is home to the nation’s first and largest taxpayer-funded voucher experiment with more than 31,000 students enrolled in the program across the state. The GAO report, which was released last week, confirms many of my deepest concerns.

Taxpayer-funded voucher schools, the report found, lack high educational standards for students and teachers, discriminate against certain students and fail to demonstrate true academic achievement. Republicans in Wisconsin and across the country are breaking our public education system by depleting funds from public schools and rerouting them to the comparatively few students in private schools.

In Wisconsin, about 79% of the new students who received a taxpayer-subsidized voucher in 2013 were already attending private schools. This means taxpayer dollars are not being used to advance public education, but instead are being used to subsidize the education of a small number of students already enrolled in private schools. Students and teachers in public schools are suffering from diminishing funds, and it demonstrates a tactic to further privatize education. According to a report from the Wisconsin State Journal earlier this year, funding for voucher school students across the state was up 14% while funding for our public school students is down by 4%. This marked the first year in which school districts experienced a drop in state aid in order to pay for students living in district boundaries but attending private schools.

Taxpayer-funded voucher and charter schools exhaust needed resources in public education and they also fail to serve all students. Advocates for people with disabilities, including the ACLU and Disability Rights Wisconsin, have raised concerns that Wisconsin’s school choice program, either tacitly or explicitly, allows voucher schools to discriminate against students with disabilities in their admission policies. Many of these programs cannot even meet the basic needs of students with disabilities who are enrolled in their program, leaving students and their families struggling to find appropriate educational services which would have been otherwise guaranteed in a public school.

A number of revelations from the report further call into question the legitimacy of these schools. The GAO’s report found some taxpayer-funded voucher schools do not have a set of minimum criteria for the teachers tasked with educating our kids. It also was disturbing that GAO confirmed that taxpayer-funded voucher schools can mandate religious requirements for students as a part of admissions criteria.

The Milwaukee Sentinel Journal reported earlier this summer that Right Step Inc., a taxpayer-funded voucher school in Milwaukee, was being sued by a group of parents for allegedly abusive practices. Reports indicate that only 7% of students tested at this school met English language arts proficiency and 0% were proficient in math.

In its report, GAO recommends that the federal Department of Education issue guidance on how taxpayer-funded voucher programs affect federal education dollars and public school systems. I agree the Department of Education should provide additional guidance but I also believe taxpayers must demand accountability from taxpayer-funded private voucher schools that do not have the same level of accountability as public schools.

It is unconscionable for taxpayers to continue funding these profit-making schemes disguised as schools. It is time for the Department of Education to protect students and further clarify the steps to ensure oversight. After all, this should be about quality education for our kids.

Mark Pocan is a Democratic congressman from Madison.

Charles Blow on Police Violence: American Epidemic, American Consent

Filed under: BlackLivesMatter — millerlf @ 1:03 pm

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Columnist Charles Blow NYTimes Sept. 26, 2016

Credit Andy McMillan for The New York Times

Another set of black men killed by the police — one in Tulsa, Okla., another in Charlotte, N.C.

Another set of protests, and even some rioting.

Another television cycle in which the pornography of black death, pain and anguish are exploited for visual sensation and ratings gold.

And yes, another moment of mistakenly focusing on individual cases and individual motives and individual protests instead of recognizing that what we are witnessing in a wave of actions rippling across the country is an exhaling — a primal scream, I would venture — of cumulative cultural injury and a frantic attempt to stanch the bleeding from multiplying wounds.

We can no longer afford to buy into the delusion that this moment of turmoil is about discrete cases or their specific disposition under the law. The system of justice itself is under interrogation. The cultural mechanisms that produced that system are under interrogation. America as a whole is under interrogation.

We are in a new age in which the shroud has slipped and trauma has risen.

This is a video age, in which facts that were previously filtered though police accounts and media sources, that were previously whispered over shoulders at barbershops and across kitchen tables, have been buttressed by the immediacy and veracity of visual proof.

It is an age in which the language of resistance has been set and accepted, in which the mode of expression and resistance has been demonstrated and proved effective. It is an age of enlightenment and anger, of fear and frustration, of activism and alertness. Black America is beyond the breaking point, a point of no return.

And in this era, the discussion around these issues must be broad and deep because the actions required to address the problems must be broad and deep.

This moment in our nation’s history is not about how individual fears are articulated — in an emergency call, in an officer’s response, in weapons drawn and fired, in black people’s desire to flee for their lives, in black parents’ anxiety about the safety of their children. This moment is about the enormous, almost invisible structure that informs those fears — the way media and cultural presentations disproportionately display black people, and black men in particular, as dangerous and menacing and criminal. It’s about the way historical policies created our modern American ghettos and their concentrated poverty; the ways in which such concentrated poverty and its blight and hopelessness can be a prime breeding ground for criminal behavior; the way these areas make poverty sticky and opportunity scarce; the way resources, from education to health care to nutrition, are limited in these areas.

We keep talking about choices, but we don’t talk nearly enough about the fact that choices are always made within a cultural and historical context.

People didn’t simply choose to live in neighborhoods with poor housing and poor schools and crumbling infrastructure and few grocery stores and fewer adequate health care facilities. There were many factors that created those neighborhoods: white flight, and the black flight of wealthier black people, community disinvestment, business lending practices and government policies assigning infrastructure and public transportation to certain parts of cities and not others.

And the people living in those communities — sometimes trapped in those communities — make choices, sometimes poor ones, within that context.

We may say that a poor choice is simply wrong and the offending party must deal with the consequences. But poor choices made in a poor environment don’t have the same consequences as those made in wealthy environments. For poor people, the same poor choices are punished more often and more severely, compounding their deficit.

Then America takes it further, imputing the poor choices of a few onto a whole race, and in so doing sets the stage for disaster. This creates the suspicion and fear that can lead to the deaths we’re seeing, in which the person killed may have made no poor choices, in which the only poor choice was the pulling of a trigger.

This is what people mean when they talk about the impact of systemic racism in these cases and in these areas. It is not that the police harbor more racism than the rest of America, but rather that racism across society, including within our police departments and system of justice, has been erected in ways that disproportionately impact poor, minority communities. That is acutely clear in these killings.

Republican vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence said last week, “We ought to set aside this talk, this talk about institutional racism and institutional bias,” calling it “rhetoric of division.” That is exactly the opposite of what we should do.

The police are simply instruments of the state, and the state is the people who comprise it. The police are articulating a campaign of control and containment of populations and that campaign has the implicit approval of every citizen within their jurisdictions. This is not a rogue officer problem; this is a rogue society problem.

How Democrats For Education Reform (DFER) Hijacked Public Education

Filed under: DFER,Ravitch — millerlf @ 12:55 pm

Diane Ravitch Post 2014

This post was written in 2014, but it remains relevant today. DFER (Democrats for Education Reform) raises large sums of money from hedge fund managers to promote charter schools. The free market has been very good to hedge fund managers, and they think that public schools should compete in a free market too. They are not in the game to make money, but to promote their ideology of free-market competition. DFER and its related organizations, like Education Reform Now, and Families for Excellent Schools, are spending millions of dollars in places as far-flung as Denver and Massachusetts. It may be confusing to the public to see “Democrats” promoting school choice and accountability, since these have always been Republican ideas for school reform. But, it made no sense to create a group called Republicans for Education Reform because Republicans don’t need to be convinced to private public schools.

Leonie Haimson, parent advocate (and a member of the board of the Network for Public Education), asks:

How did this happen? How did our electeds of both parties enable corporate interests to hijack our public schools?

Her answer:

A small band of Wall St. billionaires decided to convert the Democratic party to the Republican party, at least on education — and succeeded beyond their wildest dreams – or our worst nightmares. And now we have electeds of both parties who are intent on helping them engineer a hostile takeover of our public schools, which has nothing to do with parent choice but the choice of these plutocrats.

What can you do about it?

Contact the Network for Public Education and find out how you can become active in your local or state organization that supports public schools and opposes privatization.

If you live in Massachusetts, join parents and educators who are fighting Question 2, which would allow unlimited expansion of charters to replace public schools.

Get involved.

dianeravitch | September 25, 2016 at 12:00 pm | Categories: Accountability, Charter Schools, Corporate Reformers, Democrats for Education Reform, Education Industry, Privatization | URL:

Donald Trump:The Cartoon

Filed under: Fascism,Trump — millerlf @ 12:51 pm

September 21, 2016

Trump’s Hitlerian disregard for the truth

Filed under: Fascism,Trump — millerlf @ 9:21 am

The Economist, a fine British newsmagazine, is rarely wrong, but it was recently in strongly suggesting that the casual disregard for truth that is the very soul of Donald Trump’s campaign is something new under the sun. The technology — tweets and such — certainly is, but his cascade of immense lies certainly is not. I’d like to familiarize the Economist with Adolf Hitler.

I realize that the name Hitler has the distractive quality of pornography and so I cite it only with reluctance. Hitler, however, was not a fictional creation but a real man who was legally chosen to be Germany’s chancellor, and while Trump is neither an anti-Semite nor does he have designs on neighboring countries, he is Hitlerian in his thinking. He thinks the truth is what he says it is.

Soon after becoming chancellor, Hitler announced that the Jews had declared war on Germany. It was a preposterous statement because Jews were less than 1 percent of Germany’s population and had neither the numbers nor the power to make war on anything. In fact, in sheer preposterousness, it compares to Trump’s insistence that Barack Obama was not born in the United States — a position he tenaciously held even after Obama released his Hawaiian birth certificate.

At the time, people tried to make sense of Hitler’s statements by saying he was seeking a scapegoat and had settled on the Jews. Not so. From my readings, I know of no instance in which Hitler confided to an intimate that, of course, his statements about Jews were, as we might now say, over the top. In fact, he remained consistently deranged on the topic. He was not lying. For him, it was the truth.

Trump’s fixation on Obama’s birthplace is similar. It was not, as far as he’s concerned, a lie. It was a strongly felt truth that he abandoned only last week and then only under intense pressure — not out of conviction. To Trump, the lie was not what he had been saying about Obama’s birthplace; it was the one he had told when he finally was compelled to say that Obama was born in the U.S.A. The reason he did not apologize for having so long insisted otherwise is that an apology would have crossed his personal red line. Like a child, he had his fingers crossed.

Donald Trump’s campaign praises the Republican presidential nominee for ending the ‘birther’ controversy while his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton says he must apologize to President Obama. (Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)

Just as Hitler’s remarks about Jews were deeply rooted in German anti-Semitism, so was Trump’s birtherism rooted in American racism — with some anti-Muslim sentiment thrown in. Trump’s adamant insistence on it raised issues not, as some have so delicately put it, about his demeanor, but instead about his rationality. It made a joke out of the entire furor over revealing his medical records. I’m sure that Trump is fine physically. Mentally, it’s a different story.

In a purloined email, Colin Powell called Trump’s birther fixation “racist.” But the former secretary of state has never done so publicly, and his hesitation about Hillary Clinton — “for good reason she comes across as sleazy” — is no excuse for being AWOL in this fight. Like Henry Kissinger, George P. Shultz and some other GOP grandees, he has retreated to a neutral corner, as if the fight is not his, too. They all have their qualms with Clinton, but not a single one of them can possibly believe that the United States and its values will not survive her presidency. A Trump presidency is a different matter.

It’s a mistake to make the unreasonable compatible with the reasonable — to think, say, that Trump cannot be serious about this birther stuff or building a wall or likening the difficulties of becoming a billionaire to the loss of a son in Iraq. That was the authentic Trump, a man totally unburdened by concern for anyone else.

 There is no lie that cannot be believed. Even after Germany had murdered most of Europe’s Jews, allied investigators at the end of World War II found that many Germans believed, as historian Nicholas Stargardt put it, that their country’s defeat only “confirmed the ‘power of world Jewry.’ ”

Germany was not some weird place. At the advent of the Hitler era, it was a democracy, an advanced nation, culturally rich and scientifically advanced. It had a unique history — its defeat in World War I, the hyperinflation of the 1920s — so it cannot easily be likened to the contemporary United States. But it was not all that different, either. In 1933, it chose a sociopathic liar as its leader. If the polls are to be believed, we may do the same.

Read more from Richard Cohen’s archive.

September 18, 2016

Immigration Data

Filed under: Immigration — millerlf @ 5:25 pm

Strength in Diversity: The Economic and Political Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians

January 1, 2015

Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians constitute large and growing shares of the U.S. workforce, tax base, business community, and electorate. Immigrants (the foreign-born) account for one out of every eight people in the United States, and one out of every six workers. Almost one half (46.7%) of immigrants are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote. “New Americans”—immigrants and the children of immigrants—account for one in nine registered voters. Moreover, one out of every five people in the country is Latino or Asian. Together, Latinos and Asians (both foreign-born and native-born) wield $2 trillion in consumer purchasing power, and the businesses they owned had sales of $857 billion and employed 4.7 million workers at last count. Immigrant, Latino, and Asian workers, taxpayers, and entrepreneurs are integral to the U.S. economy—and they are a potent electoral force.

1 in 8 people in the United States is an immigrant.

  • The foreign-born share of the U.S. population rose from 7.9% in 1990, to 11.1% in 2000, to 13.1% in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The United States was home to 41.3 million immigrants in 2013, which is more than the total population of either California or Canada.
  • More than one-quarter (28%) of the foreign-born population came from Mexico as of 2013. More than a quarter (29.5%) came from Asian countries, while 11.6% came from European countries, 9.6% from the Caribbean, 7.7% from Central America, 6.7% from South America, and 4.4% from Africa, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Approximately 46.7% of the foreign-born were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2013.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised 3.5% of the population (or 11.2 million people) in 2012, according to a report by the Pew Research Center.
  • There were 4.5 million native-born, U.S.-citizen children with at least one parent who was an unauthorized immigrant in 2010, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • 22.7% of all children in the United States (16.8 million) had parents who were immigrants as of 2009, according to the Urban Institute. Of these children, 85.9% were U.S. citizens.
  • 82.2% of children with immigrant parents were considered “English proficient” as of 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.

1 in 5 people in the United States is Latino or Asian.

  • The Latino share of the U.S. population grew from 9% in 1990, to 12.5% in 2000, to 17.1% (or 54 million people) in 2013. The Asian share of the population grew from 2.8% in 1990, to 3.6% in 2000, to 5.1% (or 16 million) in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
    • More than one-third (35%) of Latinos and two-thirds (66%) of Asians were foreign-born in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
    • Nearly one-quarter (22%, or 16.3 million) of all children in the United States in 2010 were Latino, according to the Urban Institute.
    • More than half (57.9%) of Latino children in the United States had at least one foreign-born parent, according to the Urban Institute.

Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians are large and growing shares of the U.S. electorate

  • In 2012, 11.8% (or 18.1 million) of all registered voters were “New Americans”—naturalized citizens or the U.S.-born children of immigrants who were raised during the current era of immigration from Latin America and Asia which began in 1965—according to an analysis of 2012 Census Bureau data by the American Immigration Council.
  • Of these, 15.2 million voted in 2012, representing 11.4 percent of all those who voted.
  • 10.7 million registered voters were naturalized citizens, while 7.3 million were “post-1965” children of immigrants.
  • Latinos accounted for 8.4% (or 11.2 million) of U.S. voters in the 2012 elections, and Asians 2.9% (3.9 million), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

1 in 6 workers in the U.S. is an immigrant.

  • The nation’s 26.3 million foreign-born workers comprised 16.5% of the labor force in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
    • In 2014, foreign-born workers were more likely than native-born workers to be employed in service occupations (24.1% vs. 16.4%); in production, transportation, and material moving occupations (15.6% vs. 11.2%); and in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations (13.7% vs. 8.4%), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Unauthorized immigrants contribute to the U.S. economy.

  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised 5.1% of the U.S. workforce (or 8.1 million workers) in 2012, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from the United States, the country would lose $551.6 billion in economic activity, $245 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and approximately 2.8 million jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a 2008 report by the Perryman Group.
  • A 2010 report from the American Immigration Council and Center for American Progress estimates that deporting all unauthorized immigrants from the country and somehow “sealing the border” to future unauthorized immigration would reduce U.S. GDP by 1.46% annually—or $2.6 trillion in lost GDP over 10 years. Moreover, the U.S. economy would shed large numbers of jobs.

Unauthorized immigrants pay taxes.

  • Unauthorized immigrants in the United States paid $11.8 billion in state and local taxes in 2012, including $7.1 billion in sales taxes, $1.1 billion in personal income taxes, and $3.6 billion in property taxes, according to data from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
  • Were unauthorized immigrants in the United States to have lawful permanent residence, they would pay $14.1 billion in state and local taxes, including $7.8 billion in sales taxes, $2.3 billion in personal income taxes, and $4 billion in property taxes.

The purchasing power of Latino and Asian consumers totaled $1.9 trillion in 2012.

  • Together, Latinos and Asians accounted for 16% of the nation’s total purchasing power, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.
    • The purchasing power of Latinos totaled $1.3 trillion in 2014 (an increase of 495% since 1990), and is projected to reach $1.7 trillion by 2019.
    • The purchasing power of Asians totaled $770 billion in 2014 (an increase of 567% since 1990), and is projected to reach $1 trillion by 2019.

Latino and Asian businesses had sales of $857 billion and employed 4.7 million workers in 2007.

  • Together, businesses owned by Latinos and Asians comprised 14% of all U.S. businesses, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 Survey of Business Owners.
    • The nation’s 2.3 million Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $350.7 billion and employed 1.9 million people in 2007 (the last year for which data is available).
    • The nation’s 1.5 million Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $506 billion and employed 2.8 million people in 2007.
  • New entrepreneurs in the U.S. are also becoming increasingly diverse, according to the 2015 Kauffman index on startup activity. More than 40% of new entrepreneurs are comprised of Black, Latino, Asian, and other non-white entrepreneurs, with most of the rise coming from Latino (22.1% of new entrepreneurs) and Asian entrepreneurs (6.8% of new entrepreneurs).

Immigrant business owners contribute greatly to the United States’ entrepreneurial ecosystem.

  • From 2006 to 2010, there were 2.4 million new immigrant business owners in the U.S. who had total net business income of $121 billion (15% of all net business income in the U.S.), according to Robert Fairlie of the University of California, Santa Cruz.
  • In 2013, 18% of business owners in the United States were foreign-born, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute and Americas Society/Council of the Americas. Furthermore, 28% of “Main Street” business owners—owners of businesses in the retail, accommodation and food services, and neighborhood services sectors—in the U.S. were foreign-born in 2013.
  • According to the 2015 index on startup activity from the Kauffman Foundation, immigrant entrepreneurs now account for 28.5% of all new entrepreneurs in the U.S., which is up from 13.3% in the 1997 index.
  • Immigrants continue to be nearly twice as likely as the native-born to become entrepreneurs, with the rate of new entrepreneurs being 0.52% for immigrants, compared to 0.27% for the native-born, according to Kauffman’s 2015 index.

Immigrants are integral to the U.S. economy as students.

  • The 886,052 foreign students who were in the country during the 2013-2014 academic year contributed $26.8 billion to the economy in tuition, fees, and living expenses, according to NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Additionally, international students and their families contributed to creating or supporting 340,000 jobs. For every 7 international students enrolled, 3 U.S. jobs are created or supported by spending occurring in the following sectors: higher education, accommodation, dining, retail, transportation, telecommunications, and health insurance.
  • Foreign students contribute to metropolitan areas in the U.S. From 2008 to 2012, according to the Brookings Institution, 85% of foreign students pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher in the U.S. attended colleges or universities in 118 metro areas, and they paid $21.8 billion in tuition and $12.8 billion in living costs.
  • Foreign students also contribute to innovation in the U.S. In 2009, “non-resident aliens” comprised 39.8% of master’s degrees and 44.7% of doctorate degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy.

Here are 10 more conspiracy theories embraced by Donald Trump

Filed under: Fascism,Trump — millerlf @ 5:13 pm

By Jose A. DelReal September 16 Washington PostDonald Trump said he was ending the controversy about whether President Obama was born in the United States. (SHAWN THEW/European Pressphoto Agency)

As Donald Trump on Friday withdrew his allegation that President Obama was not born in the United States, he offered another debunked accusation in its place: that his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, created the “birther” movement before he became its champion.

That moment marked the latest instance in which the GOP presidential nominee has elevated a discredited allegation — echoing comments circulating on social media — and injected it into the presidential contest. Trump has regularly come under fire for repeating unfounded rumors as fact, and has been challenged by fact-checkers and opposition groups on scores of statements he has made.

Below is a short history of similar unsubstantiated claims Trump has repeated.

1) That President Obama did not attend Columbia University

At the height of birther movement, Trump also insinuated on occasion that the president had not truly attended Columbia University. Trump once also offered $5 million to charity if Obama released his college transcripts, which he hoped would reveal the president’s birthplace.

“Our current president came out of nowhere. Came out of nowhere,” Trump said in 2011 at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, according to a transcript by PolitiFact. “In fact, I’ll go a step further: The people that went to school with him, they never saw him, they don’t know who he is. It’s crazy.”

2) That Trump’s taxes were the subject of an audit because he’s a Christian

In another instance in February, Trump said that his tax returns may be under audit by the Internal Revenue Service because of his religious faith.

“Well, maybe because of the fact that I’m a strong Christian, and I feel strongly about it and maybe there’s a bias,” he said during a CNN interview.

“I can tell you one thing: I am audited when I shouldn’t be audited,” Trump said later. “I tell my people: Why is it that every single year, I’m audited, whereas other people that are very rich, people are never audited — and they don’t even know what I’m talking about when I talk about audits.”

3) There’s something “very fishy” about Vince Foster’s death

Trump’s claims have echoed theories and conspiracies popping on social media and various fringe blogs on the Internet.
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In May, Trump suggested that something was amiss in the “very fishy” suicide of former White House aide Vince Foster, which has been at the center of conspiracy theories for decades.

“He had intimate knowledge of what was going on,” Trump told The Washington Post in May, speaking about Foster’s connection to the Clintons. “He knew everything that was going on, and then all of a sudden he committed suicide.”

4) That Antonin Scalia may have been a victim of foul play

When Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death was announced in February, Trump spread rumors about potential foul play:

“And it’s a horrible topic. But they say they found a pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow. I can’t tell you what — I can’t give you an answer. You know, usually I like to give you answers,” Trump told a conservative radio host, Michael Savage. “But I literally just heard it a little while ago. It’s just starting to come out now.”

5) That Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael, was linked with JFK’s assassin

In May, citing a National Inquirer cover, Trump suggested that the father of GOP primaries rival Sen. Ted Cruz had been involved with President John F. Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. That connection was uncorroborated, and Cruz, blasting Trump, called the real estate developer a “pathological liar.”

Trump threatened his own efforts to unify the party in July — the day after he formally accepted the GOP nomination — when he repeated the claim at a news conference where he tore into Cruz because the senator refused to endorse him during a prime-time speech.

6) That vaccines are connected to autism

Last year, Trump stirred controversy during a presidential debate when he said that vaccines may cause childhood autism.

“The child, the beautiful child, went to have the vaccine and came back and a week later got a tremendous fever. Got very, very sick. Now is autistic,” Trump said. “I’m in favor of vaccines. Do them over a longer period of time. Same amount, just in little sections.”

7) That he witnessed thousands of Muslims celebrated 9/11 in New Jersey

Trump claimed last year that he had witnessed on television thousands of Muslims celebrating the collapse of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. No such footage has ever materialized.

“There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down,” Trump said on ABC News in November, one day after he made similar claims at a campaign event. “I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down — as those buildings came down. And that tells you something. It was well covered at the time, George.”

8) That he was attacked by the Islamic State

After a man charged security barricades in March during a campaign event in Dayton, Ohio, Trump insisted that the young man was a member of the Islamic State because of a hoax Internet video he and his staff had seen circulating online.

The man, who had attempted to rush the stage, was charged with disorderly conduct but no ties to the Islamic State were found. Pressed on that later during an interview with Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press, Trump insisted: “”No, no, no, no. He was, if you look on the Internet, if you look at clip,” Trump said.

9) That climate change is a hoax

Trump received flak for suggesting years ago that climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese. Earlier this year he walked back that statement and said that he was joking.

10) That Obama bribed New York’s attorney general to investigate Trump University

At times, Trump’s claims have seemed calculated to deflect attention away from himself. At a campaign rally in February, Trump insinuated that Obama had bribed New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to launch the investigation against Trump University, the embattled for-profit education business licensing Trump’s brand.

“The attorney general of New York meets with Barack Obama in Syracuse,” Trump said, according to a transcript by the Huffington Post. “The following day he sues me. What they don’t say is, I believe, $15,000 or a lot of money was paid to the attorney general by the law firm in California that is suing me.”


September 16, 2016

Alberta Darling Attacks Milwaukee Once Again

Filed under: Darling,Vouchers — millerlf @ 11:13 pm
Alberta Darling takes aim at MPS while many voucher schools are mis-educating Milwaukee children, with no accountability.


Sen. Darling: Why Won’t Milwaukee’s Leaders Stand Up for Kids?

 Posted September 12, MacIver Institute

September 12, 2016

By Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills)

Thousands of kids remain trapped in failing Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) while the city’s leaders continue to ignore the problem. There are more students in failing schools in MPS than the entire population of the city of Stevens Point. State Senator Alberta Darling says when it comes to failing schools, Milwaukee leaders are AWOL.

“It breaks my heart to see city and school leaders drag their feet while there are MPS schools where not a single child can read proficiently,” Darling said, “They are putting a failed system ahead of kids.”

Last session, Senator Darling gave the Milwaukee Public School Board the authority to give Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver the power to turnaround a failing school. The board refused, leaving thousands of kids trapped in failing schools.

“All I hear from Milwaukee leaders is give us the money instead of the reform,” Darling said, “We are trying to help out school kids and all the leaders want is a handout. It doesn’t work like that.”

The Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program (OSPP) focuses our combined resources on mitigating all of the challenges these students face by providing wrap-around services. The longer the implementation of the law is delayed, the longer it will take for these vital services to improve the health and safety of the community around the turnaround school.

“OSPP puts kids ahead of the system,” Darling said, “Our attention and concern will remain on the students who are trapped in failing schools. Parents can take comfort that a turnaround school is headed to Milwaukee and their kids will have an opportunity to succeed.”

Senator Darling represents portions of Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha Counties.

State Supt. Evers Gives State of Education Address, Hints at Budget Priorities

Filed under: Public Education — millerlf @ 5:02 pm

eversState Superintendent Tony Evers foreshadowed priorities of the 2017-19 state budget request he will submit to the governor later this fall in the annual State of Education address today. Three items that he stressed were:

  • providing resources to students that reflect the need to increase equity and close achievement gaps,
  • building the educator workforce so every student has a teacher who is well trained and well compensated, and
  • paying for schools in a way that avoids mounting inequalities.

In the interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Evers said he will ask for Per Pupil Aid (the categorical aid outside of revenue limits that has been distributed to all districts equally) to be weighted for students who are impoverished, learning English, struggling with a disability or low-income. That would mean districts that serve lots of those types of students would get more funding; districts serving fewer of those students would get less.

To address teacher shortages in rural districts, he told the Wisconsin State Journal in an interview that he will propose to “level the playing field” among school districts by giving more money to schools in rural areas that have trouble matching salaries offered by wealthier districts.  He will propose reimbursing each rural school district with $5,000 to $10,000 to allow the districts to match competing job offers for their teachers.

Supt. Evers also plans to propose more funding for mental health training in schools and for summer school learning opportunities.

Read More: DPI Release; State of Education Speech; Wisconsin Public Radio; Appleton Post Crescent

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