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Education

Recent Posts

Education

collegeThis has been causing a stir online, as it should.
 

While a majority of the public (55%) continues to say that colleges and universities have a positive effect on the way things are going in the country these days, Republicans express increasingly negative views.
 
A majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (58%) now say that colleges and universities have a negative effect on the country, up from 45% last year. By contrast, most Democrats and Democratic leaners (72%) say colleges and universities have a positive effect, which is little changed from recent years.
(Pew Research)

That’s quite a swing. Some of it may have to do with Republicans who went to college now being unwilling to identify themselves as such, or even as “Republican-leaning,” due to entirely legitimate embarrassment, even shame, over being connected in any way with the pitiful, disastrous buffoon currently in the White House. (Though most will unfortunately continue to vote Republican, unless things get really awful.) Response bias is real, though its significance varies.
 

As for most of it, though, how much is because colleges purportedly “indoctrinate” atheism, feminism, socialism, and so on? And how much because they believe those who went to the fancy colleges are getting all the money? Especially when the college guy boss down at work is always full of sincere, regretful reasons why, though you’re a good worker and they really like you, they’ve only been able to come up with a total of $0.60/hr in raises, total, for the last four years?
 
I don’t claim to know the answer to that.
 
Comment below fold.
 
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Minnesota AG Swanson sues DeVos

by Dan Burns on July 7, 2017 · 0 comments

devosJust 19, so far? Hopefully more will get behind this righteous endeavor.
 

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson and officials from 17 other states and the District of Columbia say federal officials broke the law by delaying rules meant to protect federal student loan borrowers.
 
The lawsuit filed in federal district court Thursday says the U.S. Department of Education and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos violated the Administrative Procedure Act when they postponed rules set to take effect July 1.
 
The rules would have streamlined the process for students defrauded by their colleges to seek loan forgiveness. They also required colleges at risk of closure to provide a financial guarantee to cover potential losses to taxpayers.
(MPR)

A couple more education-related items:
 
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Vouchers, DeVos, and unions

by Dan Burns on June 26, 2017 · 0 comments

school3Three items.
 

More than 34,000 students are enrolled in Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program. That’s 3 percent of students statewide. In a recent investigation of the program, NPR found some private schools turning away children with disabilities and LGBTQ students, but it was impossible to say, at the time, whether those students who are using vouchers are any better off academically.
 
Researchers Mark Berends of the University of Notre Dame and R. Joseph Waddington of the University of Kentucky have spent years studying this question, and they’ve given NPR an early look at their findings…
 
When comparing these students’ achievement after the switch to their test scores the previous year, the researchers found:
 
Voucher students experienced “modest annual achievement losses” in math, especially in the first two years after leaving public school.
 
In English/language arts, voucher students showed no benefits.
(MPR)

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Teacher shortages and school “choice”

by Dan Burns on June 9, 2017 · 0 comments

abandonedOne wonders how many science teachers in particular are being hoovered up by for-profit charters.
 

The Chokio-Alberta School District, nestled in the agricultural belt 50 miles east of the South Dakota border, serves two rural communities with a combined population of just under 500. The district has about 150 students.
 
This past year, when Superintendent David Baukol hired Shaun McNally to teach 7th-12th grade science, he felt relief. A teacher shortage has left districts across the state scrambling to fill positions in math, science, technology, and special education, especially in rural areas.
 
But with only one science teacher for a combined middle-high school of 73 students, Baukol doesn’t know what he will do if McNally ever leaves. He was the only person to apply when the job was posted last year, which doesn’t breed confidence in anyone else coming along soon.
 
“We’re just barely holding on by a thread,” says Baukol. “If we had not had this science teacher apply, we would have been in dire straits. What would we have done without a science department?”
(City Pages)

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minnesota_state_capitolWith the end of the regular legislative session at the end of today, some things have been getting through. So far, while nothing’s perfect, the Party of Trump is for the most part not getting its way.
 

Higher fees for hunting and fishing licenses are in and major changes to the buffer law are out as the House voted 83-51 to pass the omnibus environment and natural resources finance conference committee report late Sunday night.
(Session Daily)

 
The reworked Legacy bill got bipartisan support.

 
The Higher Ed “compromise” may not yet be up to snuff, to get Gov. Mark Dayton’s signature.
 

The Omnibus Elections bill does not include the vote-suppression measures that had been sought by Republicans, led by Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake).
 

Also, no “backdoor vouchers.”
 

But Republicans were forced to give on a big priority: a plan for tax credits to people and companies who donate to private school scholarships for low-income children.
(MPR)

I’ll keep you posted.
 

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schoolsA few items.
 

But it isn’t just rural Americans who oppose vouchers. Polls have shown that opposition to voucher schemes is widely shared by Americans across the board. Phi Delta Kappa, an international organization for professional educators, regularly polls Americans to get their opinions on vouchers. Polls have shown opposition to vouchers ranging from 57 percent to as high as 70 percent.
 
More tellingly, Americans in rural, urban and suburban areas have voted against vouchers repeatedly at the ballot box. Since the 1960s, vouchers (or similar plans) have appeared on ballots in several states as referendum questions. All have been defeated, usually by wide margins.
 
(Diane) Ravitch, in her speech to the Friends of Texas Public Schools, said aside from the negative educational and financial implications of voucher schemes, there’s a social and civic impact as well.
 
“A public school brings people together. A public school is a place where people learn democracy. For many people, it’s the first opportunity they have to work together with their neighbors toward a common goal. To work together on behalf of their shared goals for their children.
(AlterNet)

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MN lege: When will the crazy end? Part 4

by Dan Burns on May 4, 2017 · 0 comments

minnesota_state_capitolThree items. Regarding the first, you may recall that during the Pawlenty administration Local Government Aid was slashed, to the point that local governments had to hike taxes on businesses just to provide basic services. And believe it or not, Party of Trump legislators want to go down that road again, though in less flagrant ways this time around.
 

The Governor’s proposal—by virtue of its larger appropriation increase in 2018 and by the fact that it does not rescind that increase in 2019—provides larger aid increases for more cities in both 2018 and 2019 than either the House or Senate proposals. For example, 679 cities receive an aid increase relative to current law in both 2018 and 2019, and for 532 of these cities, or 78 percent, the increase exceeds two percent. No city experiences an aid reduction relative to current law in either 2018 or 2019 under the Governor’s proposal.
 
To this point, the analysis in this proposal has been in nominal dollars (i.e., dollars unadjusted for inflation). Because inflation erodes the purchasing power of LGA over time, it is important to examine the change in aid in real (i.e., inflation-adjusted) dollars.‡ Only the Governor’s proposal provides LGA funding sufficient to maintain the real purchasing power of LGA dollars at the 2017 level in both 2018 and 2019 for a significant number of Minnesota cities.
(North Star Policy Institute)

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schoolsWe’ll see how hard the deformers push this in the legislature, when crunch time comes. Traditional public schools these days are turning out kids who are simply too smart to buy into conservatism – the failed ideology of f*cking idiots. The righties are beyond desperate to undermine that.
 

Gov. Mark Dayton has been a longtime opponent of efforts to allow public money to follow students to private schools.
 
But the governor said he was asked to publicly repeat his position, so that’s what he did Wednesday: “I will veto any bill that has vouchers attached to it.”
 
That’s not all, though.
 
Dayton clarified that his opposition extends beyond the traditional concept of private school vouchers. He opposes provisions in the House and Senate tax bills that would give breaks to people who donate to organizations that deliver private school scholarships, saying too many charities would want similar status.
(MPR)

Here is important background information.
 

Conservatives continue to push vouchers and private school tax credits, despite new research (summarized in a recent North Star article) indicating that this approach is counter-productive to improving student achievement. Minnesota is among the states considering expanding the K-12 education tax credit to include contributions by individuals and corporations to foundations that provide vouchers and other funding for private schools. If we do the math, it becomes apparent that a large portion—up to 82 percent—of these private contributions to private schools would be effectively paid for with public dollars…
 
Ultimately, these educational tax credits for individuals and corporations will result in de facto public funding of private educational choices, with relatively little public oversight over how the dollars are spent and without proof that student achievement goals are being met (or even adequately measured) or that teachers are fully qualified. In some instances, public dollars could be subsidizing institutions that have a political affiliation or social agenda. The public will not decide how these public tax dollars are spent, but rather private corporations and wealthy individuals, whose goals may not align with the public interest.
(North Star Policy Institute)

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Get investigations of DeVos back on track

by Dan Burns on April 14, 2017 · 1 comment

devosAnd a couple of additional items.
 

In the lead-up to billionaire Republican megadonor and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ confirmation, numerous media outlets published deep-dive investigations into DeVos’ background, significant political contributions, potential conflicts of interest, far-right ideology, and negative influence on Michigan policies.
 
But since she formally took over at the Department of Education, the investigative work seems to have mostly dropped off; coverage of DeVos has focused more on her public gaffes than the inner workings of the agency she now runs. It certainly doesn’t help that DeVos and her department have struggled with media transparency. As education media writer Alexander Russo wrote, “DeVos takes press questions at events only occasionally, has yet to grant a formal interview with a major national education reporter, and heads a department that only intermittently provides answers in a timely manner – through a spokesperson whose name reporters are forbidden to use. The agency has even struggled to put out her weekly schedule in advance of public events.”
 
It’s time for investigative journalists to dig deeper and shine light on DeVos’ priorities, such as early staffing decisions at the Education Department. There’s certainly plenty to explore — many of the temporary staffers in the Education Department are veterans of the right-wing think tank echo chamber on “education reform,” and some have anti-LGBTQ and anti-black track records. Like DeVos, almost none have spent significant time as educators.
(Media Matters)

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Trump, DeVos look to crush student borrowers

by Dan Burns on March 27, 2017 · 0 comments

Student-loans-can-be-a-challengeIn the world we’re in:
 

Student loan companies will be free to charge thousands of dollars in fees to borrowers who miss payments, even if they immediately attempt to catch up, the Trump administration said (March 16), reversing Obama-era guidance that banned the charges.
 
The reversal was the first visible move on student loan policy by Trump’s Education Department, and suggests the administration may ultimately take a more industry-friendly approach to student lending…
 
USA Funds, then the country’s largest guarantor of indirect federal loans, sued the Education Department in 2015 for the right to charge a fee as high as 16% to people who had started to repay their loans within 60 days of defaulting. The woman at the center of the case had tried to repay her loans just 18 days after she was told she had gone into default — and then was hit with $4,500 in fees on a loan of $18,000.
(BuzzFeed)

“The number of hungry and homeless students rises along with college costs” (MPR)
 
In a potential, better one:
 

The election of 2016 forced us, like so many Americans, to reconsider much of what we imagined we knew about our country and our society. For example, only a few months ago there was a growing, nation-wide movement for tuition-free higher education. At the time, we proposed debt forgiveness for the many Americans – the figure now stands at 43 million – who carry the burden of student loans.
 
Now, all three branches of government are under the control of ideologues who espouse a harsh and individualistic brand of conservatism. That forces us to ask ourselves: How can we pursue such an ambitious and visionary goal when we are confronted with a direct challenge to the communitarian ideals that have guided this nation to its best achievements?
 
And yet, individually and together, we have reached the same conclusion: this is a more important time than ever to reaffirm our bravest and highest values. Jubilee – the ancient concept of debt forgiveness as an affirmation of community – reflects those values. We can reject the reactionary principles that the right wing represents by embracing the concept of a student debt jubilee as the symbol of our long-held community values.
(OurFuture.org)

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