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John Engler Resigns as Michigan State Interim President, Says Sexual Abuse Victims “Enjoy Spotlight”

Former Michigan governor, John Engler, will resign effective January 23, 2019, from his position as Michigan State University (MSU) interim president following comments he made about victims of sexual predator and former USA gymnastics team doctor and MSU physician, Larry Nassar.

In discussing a fund to assist Nassar’s victims in a January 11, 2019, interview with Detroit News, Engler stated that some of Nassar’s victims are “enjoying the moment [in the] spotlight.” From Reuters via aol.com:

The university’s board had scheduled a meeting for Thursday [January 17, 2019] to discuss a “personnel action.” While it was not known what that action was to be, the meeting was to come on the heels of an interview with The Detroit News during which Engler said:

“You’ve got people, they are hanging on and this has been … there are a lot of people who are touched by this, survivors who haven’t been in the spotlight. In some ways they have been able to deal with this better than the ones who’ve been in the spotlight who are still enjoying that moment at times, you know, the awards and recognition. And it’s ending. It’s almost done.”

When he was Michigan’s governor, in 1993, Engler brought a 20-gauge, sawed-off shotgun into a meeting of Michigan legislators to sensationalize school choice as a way to save students from allegedly violent, traditional public schools. In December 1993, the Michigan legislature passed charter school legislation that Engler signed into law in July 1994. (See pages 61, 62, and 74 in my book, School Choice: The End of Public Education?)

Decades earlier, Engler was one of a number of politicians who formed the early membership of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), formed in 1973 and largely kept secret from the public until Common Cause launched its 2012 whistleblower complaint against ALEC for exploiting its tax-exempt status by engaging in excessive lobbying.

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John Engler

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Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

.

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

 

Imbellus Assessments: Out of the Gate with $23M and McKinsey & Co. as Client

On January 11, 2019, Mark Bauerlein of the James B. Martin Center posted a piece entitled, “Be Wary of This Test,” about a testing startup, Imbellus, which has an impressive website deficient in any substance. Even so, Imbellus already has $23M in venture capital funding behind it.

According to Bloomberg, Imbellus was incorporated in 2015.

Imbellus is also on Twitter, with the last posting in June 2017.

The founder of Imbellus, 26-year-old Harvard dropout, Rebecca Kantar, is featured as one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30 2019 startups with $15 million plus in funding.”

What Kantar purports to do is create a cognitive assessment to rival– and apparently replace– the likes of the SAT and ACT. From Kantar’s Imbellus site:

Imbellus is reinventing how we measure human potential.

We build simulation-based assessments to evaluate how people think, not just what they know.

For nearly 100 years, college admissions tests have shaped our entire education system.

By rewriting this one line of code, we change the way the whole system operates.

Of course, Kantar cannot “rewrite the code” for ditching college admissions testing altogether; such rewriting would kill the market for her proposed product. No, she must keep the 100-years-of-college-admissions-testing market (for she hopes to make it her market) and simply offer a new and improved product.

But that product has yet to appear, even in fledgling form, for public inspection on the Imbellus site.  Nevertheless, Imbellus does offer a two-minute video featuring Sonia, Learning Scientist and Designer, who discusses designing an assessment for a “first client.” But forget interacting with any prototype.

It seems that Imbellus the Reinvented is indeed in the works– incubated elsewhere.

According to the November 01, 2018, Business Journals, Kanter’s Imbellus has been working with noted ed reform hub and world business leader with a dark side, McKinsey and Company, to develop its heretofore-$23M-funded, assessment product:

San Francisco-based Owl Ventures led [the investment], with participation from prior investors Upfront Ventures and Thrive Capital [belonging to Jared Kushner’s brother, Joshua] as well as Rethink Education.

The round brings Imbellus’ total funding to $23 million. …

Imbellus has been working with management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. since last year on a pilot of digital, scenario-based assessments as part of the recruiting and hiring process.

“Imbellus’ technology is helping us to expand the principles of our case study interviews to a much wider range of talent, providing engaging experiences that expose them to the kinds of problem-solving we do, while giving us accurate and detailed information on how they think about problems,” said Keith McNulty, McKinsey’s director of digital and people analytics.

If one is seeking info on specific Imbellus employees via the Imbellus site, there is no substantive word yet on that front. On the Imbellus page, “our work,” one is invited to “explore the design and engineering behind Imbellus Assessments and meet the minds leading our work,” except there are no “leading minds” listed. Not one. Not even Sonia (whose last name and credentials remain a mystery).

Not even Kantar herself.

But there is this five-page, 2018 educationaldatamining.org paper on Imbellus’ “partnership with McKinsey and Company… to build a simulation-based assessment that evaluates incoming applicants’ cognitive skills and abilities.” That paper lists the following five individuals as authors (Linkedin links added):

Why the five individuals identified as associated with Imbellus have yet to appear on Imbellus’ web site is a mystery.

However, it appears that the “first client” that Sonia (presumably Sonia Doshi) mentions in the two-minute video is McKinsey and Co. The Imbellus site isn’t telling for certain, but the above research study seems to indicate as much, and both Imbellus (on Linkedin) and McKinsey and Co. provide evidence of that connection:

Our firm has deep experience using in-person, scenario-based assessments (such as case interviews) in recruiting. Yet we miss more nuanced perspectives on the skills of some candidates and miss out on other candidates completely because we can’t meet everyone in person. McKinsey began investigating this problem in collaboration with a start-up called Imbellus, which has a team of data scientists, engineers, and psychometricians who aspire to replace traditional standardized tests and are committed, above all, to science. We also enlisted the help of UCLA’s National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) to help identify and measure the skills we need.

The result of this collaboration is a new scenario-based assessment designed to help our firm attract new and different talent profiles from all parts of the world. It not only evaluates candidates in a lower-stress, more engaging environment than a traditional test does but levels the playing field by minimizing the influence of a candidate’s background.

Imbellus’ “deep experience” seems to be this sole McKinsey and Co. project, in which 20-year McKinsey and Co. veteran, Keith McNulty, serves as second author.

According to McKinsey and Co., Imbellus already has its “team” in place. However, the lack of any specifics regarding the “leading minds” on the Imbellus web site is strange. Furthermore, if any readers are into game and software design, there’s room for you, according to Imbellus’ “career” page:

Current Openings

  • Platform Engineer (Full-Stack)
  • Associate Game Designer
  • Senior Software Engineer (Game)
  • Principal Game Engineer
  • Senior Learning Scientist
  • Fullstack Software Engineer (Game)
  • Strategic Finance Manager
  • Learning Science Researcher
  • 3D Artist

From the looks of Imbellus’ employment opportunities and McKinsey and Co.’s plug, Imbellus assessment will involve testing the thinking one uses while playing games. An excerpt from the 2018 McKinsey paper indicates as much and includes a word on Imbellus’ assessment aspirations:

We designed each scenario in the assessment based on a set of problem-solving constructs and workplace activities wrapped in a natural world setting. For example, in one scenario, users may be researching and evaluating an infected species in desert terrain. As users play through a scenario, we test them on both their cognitive process and product by capturing their telemetry data. These
hovers and clicks are captured as evidence to make inferences about their cognitive processing. …

Conclusions and Future Work

Results from the pilot are promising and show that the Imbellus scores can be used to build out predictive cognitive profiles of candidates. Indeed, these results showed that the cognitive profiles of users were predictive of their success through the McKinsey & Company hiring pipeline. Beyond predictability, these results also
show that cognitive processing skills can be captured and quantified using telemetry data within a complex problem-solving task.

To examine the generalizability of these results, we are currently conducting playtests with McKinsey & Company employees and candidates, globally. This extra testing will be used to help us iterate on the design of the assessment and refine our Imbellus scores. In the fall of 2018, we will run a large-scale field test with
an expected sample size of over 1000 of McKinsey & Company candidates.

The current version of the simulation is deployed in a secure, proctored environment. In the future, our assessments will be deployed remotely. As such, our assessment will aim to account for performance effects across demographic factors. At its core, Imbellus will leverage a data-driven, artificial intelligence (AI) architecture to prevent cheating. Every user who takes the Imbellus assessment will receive a unique task instance that, on the surface, is varied by its individual properties, complexity, and visual design, while structurally every task version remains consistent in its assessment. Through this approach, Imbellus assessments will prove robust against cheating, hacking, and gaming challenges that face many existing intelligence tests. Our assessments are designed for scale, enabling our team to reach a variety of domains and populations.

Looking beyond this work, we are exploring capabilities beyond problem-solving, including affective skills that are essential for success in the 21st Century workforce. At Imbellus, we aim to provide insightful data points on incoming applicants and current employees that will help companies build successful and sustainable teams in the future.

Ambitious– and as of yet, decidedly fledgling. Even so– despite an amazing lack of information on its web site– and despite evidence that Imbellus’ only client is McKinsey and Co. (not even mentioned on the Imbellus web site)– and with a McKinsey and Co. employee serving as second author on this single Imbellus study– despite all of this– according to Imbellus– there is an Imbellus waiting list.

No kidding: Imbellus has a link for “waitlist”:

Imbellus is eager to work with firms and schools whose employees or students use a variety of skills and abilities relevant to the future of work. We are inundated with interest in our approach to assessment. Please feel free to email us with interest at assessments@imbellus.com.

Okay. This Imbellus site offers no credentials for a single individual, not even creator Kanter. Interested parties can view no prototype, and though Sonia speaks of a “first client,” and though that client seems to be McKinsey and Co., specifics of that connection are not disclosed on the Imbellus web site.

But Imbellus does have money– $23M– and it seems that McKinsey and Co. is the chief org tapping into that cash for the moment as the Imbellus incubator.

Even as I was writing this post, January 14, 2019, PR Newswire indicated that “seasoned testing executive” and “veteran of College Board and AIR,” Jack Buckley, was just hired as Imbellus’ president and chief scientist:

LOS ANGELESJan. 14, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Imbellus, an assessment company pushing the bounds of simulation-based measurement, today announced the appointment of Dr. Sean P. “Jack” Buckley as President and Chief Scientist. Dr. Buckley, formerly Senior Vice President of Research at the College Board and Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, joins Imbellus from his most recent role as Senior Vice President of Research and Evaluation at American Institutes for Research (AIR).

“Jack has an extensive track record of leading interdisciplinary psychometrics, learning science, data science, and engineering teams to help the world measure student achievement and growth,” said Rebecca Kantar, Founder and CEO of Imbellus. “His move demonstrates a commitment to the next generation of high-stakes assessments, and we are thrilled to welcome him as a champion of our novel approach.”

In his role as chief scientist at Imbellus, Dr. Buckley will lead the continued development and deployment of these next-generation tools and build partnerships that will facilitate their application for college admissions, workforce, and lifelong learning. …

Dr. Buckley has held numerous positions in government, academia, and the private sector. In addition to his work at AIR, College Board, and the U.S. Department of Education, he has served as a tenured associate professor of applied statistics at New York University and an assistant professor at Boston College. He began his career serving in the United StatesNavy as a surface warfare officer and nuclear reactor engineer. He holds degrees from Harvard and the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

This is an interesting development: With Imbellus, Kantar states her ambitions in replacing the likes of the SAT, which is produced by College Board. And yet, the freshly-hired president and chief researcher of Imbellus is a former College Board executive.

Hm.

We’ll see where this goes.

According to Kantar’s 2017 Upfront Ventures video (see below– Upfront Ventures is one of Imbellus’ funders), Kantar’s plan appears to be to reproduce the outcomes of Imbellus’ work with McKinsey and Co. 300,000 times and then approach Harvard University (the final word in assessment according to Kantar) to talk Harvard into altering its assessment preference away from tests like ACT and SAT and toward Imbellus-demonstrated cognitive assessment.

This kind of psychometric research takes time. Academics are willing to devote such time to establishing an assessment, but the business world wants to turn a profit. And Imbellus is a business.

Again, we’ll see where this goes.

______________________________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

.

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

 

New Jersey Court Rules Against PARCC for Testing High School Proficiency

The New Jersey Department of Education (DOE) has run awry of its own proficiency testing statutes in trying to use PARCC tests for that purpose. Such is the determination of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, according to this December 31, 2018, ruling.

The appellants in the case are the Latino Action Network, the Latino Coalition of New Jersey, the Paterson Education Fund, the Education Law Center, and the NAACP New Jersey State Conference. The respondents are the New Jersey State Board of Education and Kimberley Harrington, Acting Commissioner, New Jersey DOE.

In its ruling, the court reminded New Jersey DOE of its own, pre-PARCC-established regulations regarding proficiency testing, the heart of which is as follows:

Enacted in 1979, the Proficiency Standards and Assessments Act (the Act), N.J.S.A. 18A:7C-1 to -16, requires DOE and the Board to “establish a program of standards for graduation from secondary school,” including “a statewide assessment test in reading, writing, and computational skills . . . .” …

In 1988, the Legislature amended the Act to provide that the test “be administered to all [eleventh] grade pupils and to any [eleventh] or [twelfth] grade pupil who ha[d] previously failed to demonstrate” proficiency. N.J.S.A. 18A:7C-6. Local boards of education must now provide remedial instruction to students who do not meet the State proficiency standards by the end of eleventh grade. N.J.S.A. 18A:7C-3. “Any [twelfth] grade student who does not meet” the “State and [school] district examination standards for graduation[,]” but “has met all the credit, curriculum and attendance requirements shall be eligible for a comprehensive assessment of said proficiencies utilizing techniques and instruments” approved by the Commissioner of Education, “other than standardized tests.”

Thus, from the above one may glean the following regarding New Jersey’s high school proficiency testing:

  1. The testing is to occur in eleventh grade;
  2. The test is just that– a single test;
  3. Students who fail the test on the first try are to be retested using the same, single test, and 
  4. Twelfth-grade students who are otherwise in good standing but who have not passed the test (presumably after retesting) are to be provided with an alternative assessment that is not a standardized test.

The issues addressed in the lawsuit include that as of 2016, the New Jersey DOE requires students to pass both the PARCC ELA 10 (English language arts test for tenth grade) and Algebra I tests (plural) as proof of proficiency, prior to eleventh grade, without opportunity for retaking the same test, and without the opportunity for alternative assessment that is not a standardized test.

The result is that the 2016 PARCC requirements contradict the 1979 and 1988 requirements regarding high school proficiency testing– requirements that are still on the books.

The case was argued before the appellate court on October 29, 2018; below is a distillation if the December 31, 2018, ruling.

First of all, the appellate court ruled that the test needs to be administered in eleventh grade:

DOE cites N.J.S.A. [New Jersey Statutes Annotated] 18A:7C-6.4 and -6.5, both of which the Legislature enacted after DOE adopted the PARCC assessments. Both statutes define “[s]tate assessment” as “an assessment required pursuant to State or federal law and administered to all students in a specific grade level or subject area and whose results are aggregated for analysis . . . .” DOE argues the Legislature signaled its intention to test proficiencies at grade levels, not necessarily pupils enrolled in eleventh grade.

The argument is unpersuasive. The ELA10, administered as an end-of-course test in the tenth grade, does not test eleventh grade proficiency. The Algebra I test has no connection to proficiencies at a specific grade level. Moreover, these two provisions are not inconsistent with the plain language of the Act, i.e., that DOE administer the graduation proficiency test “to all [eleventh] grade pupils,” N.J.S.A. 18A:7C-6, and the legislative purpose of the Act. We hold, therefore, that to the extent the regulations required testing of non-eleventh-grade students, they are contrary to the Act and are invalid.

Next, regarding the “test” (singular) vs. “tests” (plural) issue, the court ruled that DOE’s requiring both PARCC ELA 10 and Algebra I violates the single-test issue. From the ruling:

Appellants next assert that the amended regulations impermissibly impose multiple end-of-course tests instead of a single graduation exam as the Act requires. DOE counters by arguing the Act permits administration of tests “for these subject areas when courses are completed — which may occur at different times.”

The Act does not specifically use the words “single” or “comprehensive” to describe the required graduation proficiency test. However, N.J.S.A. 18A:7C-1 directs the DOE and Board to develop “a [s]tatewide assessment test in reading, writing, and computational skills . . . .” (Emphasis added). N.J.S.A. 18A:7C-6 states that “the State graduation proficiency test” shall be administered to eleventh grade pupils. (Emphasis added). N.J.S.A. 18A:7C-2 similarly includes the phrase, “[s]atisfactory performance on the [s]tatewide assessment test . . . .” (Emphasis added). The Legislature’s use of these terms suggests its intent to require one high school graduation proficiency exam rather than multiple end-of-course exams.

As to offering retesting options, well, the appellate court finds that DOE also falls short on this point:

We also agree with appellants that for classes graduating through 2020, the regulations do not provide for re-testing utilizing the same proficiency examination. In addition to requiring that the test be administered to all eleventh grade pupils, N.J.S.A. 18A:7C-6 provides that it must be administered to “any [eleventh] or [twelfth] grade pupil who has previously failed to demonstrate mastery of State graduation proficiency standards on said test.” This evinces the Legislature’s intent that students be given more than one opportunity to pass the same proficiency test.

N.J.A.C. [New Jersey Administrative Codes] 6A:8-5.1(f)(1) and (2) do not reference any opportunity for students graduating through 2020 to retake the PARCC ELA 10 and Algebra I exams. Rather, students who have not taken or have failed those tests can demonstrate graduation proficiency only through alternative methods: a substitute test like the SAT, passing scores on other PARCC assessments, or the portfolio review. …

Based on the record before us, it is unclear whether re-testing opportunities are routinely being provided for students. To the extent they are not, the regulations on their face violate N.J.S.A. 18A:7C-6.

Finally, the court finds that DOE must provide alternatives aside from standardized tests for twelfth graders who need such opportunities:

The plain language of N.J.S.A. 18A:7C-3 establishes that any twelfth grade student who has not passed the graduation proficiency exam, but who has satisfied all other “credit, curriculum and attendance requirements shall be eligible for” an alternative proficiency assessment “utilizing techniques and instruments” adopted by DOE “other than standardized tests . . . .” We do not construe the Act as prohibiting DOE’s adoption of PARCC testing; rather, the Act compels DOE to provide for alternative methods of assessing proficiency other than through PARCC testing or any other standardized testing process.

In conclusion, though the court found that the New Jersey DOE’s use of PARCC ELA 10 and Algebra I tests violates New Jersey ed regulations related to the state’s high school proficiency testing, the court decided to “sua sponte” (without the prompting of others) stay its judgment for 30 days so that New jersey DOE might “seek further review” in the New Jersey Supreme Court:

We hold N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1(a)(6), -5.1(f) and -5.1(g) are contrary to the express provisions of the Act because they require administration of more than one graduate proficiency test to students other than those in the eleventh grade, and because the [recently-adopted PARCC usage] regulations on their face do not permit retesting with the same standardized test to students through the 2020 graduating class. As a result, the regulations as enacted are stricken. To avoid disruption in any ongoing statewide administration of proficiency examinations, we sua sponte stay our judgment for thirty days to permit DOE to seek further review in the Supreme Court.

So, if it so chooses, the New Jersey DOE has a month to appeal to the state’s supreme court in order to try to continue using multiple PARCC tests, adminstered prior to eleventh grade, without offering retesting using the same, single test, and without offering alternatives to standardized testing that follow testing using a single test.

PARCC as a high school proficiency test is out of line with New Jersey’s own requirements for high school proficiency testing. One or the other must change; if New Jersey DOE takes this to the New Jersey Supreme Court, I think that will be the message it receives.

graduates

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Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

.

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

 

Locating Info on Newly-Formed (Ed Reform) Nonprofits

One of the marks of market-based ed reform is the issue of mushrooming nonprofits. Want an instant platform for advancing school choice? Non-career, instant teachers? Test-driven classrooms? Drumming up grass-roots-styled support for an outside, billionaire-funded, corporate ed project?

Start a nonprofit, and create a vague-yet-stylish website to promote it.

Discovering details behind newly-created nonprofits is difficult because of their newness. One might even wonder if the self-proclaimed nonprofit is actually a nonprofit in its own right.

For example: A colleague wrote to me about his search for information on two new organizations: Wayfinder Foundation and Memphis Lift. One question concerned whether these two orgs were nonprofits in their own right or simply programs operated by other nonprofits (namely, ed reform nonprofits) that were choosing to hide in the shadows.

In order to discover if these two orgs were orgs in their own right, my first though was to see if the orgs had their own EINs (employer identification numbers), which are assigned by the IRS.

So, I used the IRS’s tax exempt organization search engine to conduct a search on both Wayfinder Foundation and Memphis Lift.

The IRS search engine results indicate that the IRS has assigned both orgs EINs:

  • Memphis Lift EIN: 82-2560581
  • Wayfinder Foundation EIN:  82-1573252

The IRS search also included the statement that both orgs are eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.

Another means of discovering information about new nonprofits is the Charity Navigator search engine. In this case, I could have searched by either org name or EIN and discovered that both Wayfinder Foundation and Memphis Lift are indeed recently-established nonprofits. Below are the Charity Navigator search results for both orgs. (Note that there are no latest tax forms to view because the organizations are too new. Also, many of the category designations are live links that one can click on to read information about the meaning of a given category.)

EIN 82-1573252
Name in IRS Master File WAYFINDER FOUNDATION
Street Address 110 2ND STREET SOUTH
City, State, Zip WAITE PARK, MN 56387-1662
NTEE Code R99
NTEE Classification Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy N.E.C.
NTEE Type Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy
Classification Educational Organization
Subsection 501(c)(3)  (View the list of codes)
Activities
Foundation Status Organization which receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or the general public   170(b)(1)(A)(vi)
Deductibility Contributions are deductible
Affiliation Independent – the organization is an independent organization or an independent auxiliary (i.e., not affiliated with a National, Regional, or Geographic grouping of organizations).
Group Name [Not Applicable]
Ruling Date February, 2018
Asset Amount $0
Income Amount $0
Form 990 Revenue Amount $0
Latest Form 990 Return
Filing Requirement 990 (all other) or 990EZ return
Fiscal Year End December
EIN 82-2560581
Name in IRS Master File MEMPHIS LIFT PARENT INSTITUTE
Street Address 1637 BRITTON ST
City, State, Zip MEMPHIS, TN 38108-1309
NTEE Code B01
NTEE Classification Alliance/Advocacy Organizations
NTEE Type Educational Institutions and Related Activities
Classification Charitable Organization
Subsection 501(c)(3)  (View the list of codes)
Activities
Foundation Status Organization which receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or the general public   170(b)(1)(A)(vi)
Deductibility Contributions are deductible
Affiliation Independent – the organization is an independent organization or an independent auxiliary (i.e., not affiliated with a National, Regional, or Geographic grouping of organizations).
Group Name [Not Applicable]
Ruling Date May, 2018
Asset Amount $0
Income Amount $0
Form 990 Revenue Amount $0
Latest Form 990 Return
Filing Requirement 990 (all other) or 990EZ return
Fiscal Year End December

Both Wayfinder Foundation and Memphis Lift are shiny, new nonprofits bearing the marks of ed reform. For example, Wayfinder Foundation’s board of directors (no bio links available) includes reps from a charter school, businesses, ed reform nonprofit, Data Quality Campaign, and another ed-reform-promoting nonprofit, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) (for the Walton Foundation-UNCF connection, see this post)– which is promoting Memphis Lift along with other ed reform orgs (Stand for Children, Education Trust) in this “grasstops” ed-talking-points resource document.

For tax filings on fledgling nonprofits Wayfinder Foundation and Memphis Lift, we’ll have to wait. In the meantime, we can know that, yes, both Wayfinder Foundation and Memphis Lift are indeed newly-formed nonprofits in their own right, thus confirming one more piece in an ongoing, ed-reform-exposure effort.

money voting

_____________________________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

.

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

 

Vaping in the Classroom

One of the challenges of being a public high school teacher is developing a constant awareness of what is transpiring in my classroom. Even when I conference individually with my student, my eyes and ears are open in a hyper-observant manner that I have cultivated over decades.

Of course, times change, and over those decades, what I’ve needed to pay attention to has evolved– including smoking, it seems.

Now, there’s vaping.

I saw a commercial for vaping in which the advertiser stated that vaping is meant to help smokers who are trying to quit.

Nice try.

As that advertiser was speaking, I was hearing my own high-school-classroom, overlay script:

Vaping makes it easier for teenagers to access nicotine without being detected. Why, they can even vape during class, in the classroom, and many teachers would not even realize it because it would not occur to them to even consider that it could happen. Oh, yes, and that means we will make a load of money off of teens even as we promote the idea that Smoking Is Bad for Your Health.

Vaping in class– during class! I learned that this was possible only months ago. And part of the problem for many school districts is that they may not have adjusted their smoking policies to include vaping. As any student caught vaping would likely (and quickly) point out, a vape is not a cigarette. That is true. Vaping involves inhaling vaporized nicotine, and the exhale is not nearly as noticeable as that of a cigarette.

img_1409

Vaping in class. (Youtube, 2016)

What complicates detection is that the vaping instrument may look like a flash drive to the untrained eye. (The vaping device may be longer than a flash drive, but not always, I have learned.)

img_1410

A Juul brand vape. (Time)

img_1407

Juul vaping device charging via USB port (looking like an elongated flash drive) (EdWeek)

img_1408

Juul USB port charger (EdWeek)

img_1406
One Juul pod has the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes (EdWeek) and lasts for about 200 puffs (TIME)

 

According to coverage in a March 2018 article on vaping in TIME, the teen appeal was not part of intentional marketing:

Ashley Gould, chief administrative officer at Juul Labs, says that the product was created by two former smokers specifically and solely to help adult smokers quit, and that the company has numerous anti-youth-use initiatives in place because “we really don’t want kids using our product.” Gould also notes that Juul uses age authentication systems to sell only to adults 21 and older online, though most of its sales take place in retail stores, where state laws may allow anyone 18 and older to purchase the devices.

The design, she adds, was not meant to make the device easier to hide.

“It was absolutely not made to look like a USB port. It was absolutely not made to look discreet, for kids to hide them in school,” Gould says. “It was made to not look like a cigarette, because when smokers stop they don’t want to be reminded of cigarettes.” …

Does Juuling help you quit smoking?

It’s not yet clear. Gould acknowledges that Juul doesn’t have great end-user data since its products are mostly sold in retail stores, but she says the company is actively researching the effectiveness of its devices.

Research about the efficacy of nicotine replacement therapy using tools such as e-cigarettes and nicotine gum is relatively inconclusive. A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine even found that smokers trying to quit may actually have less success if they use e-cigarettes.

Even so, both the vape device and the vape action are easy to hide in plain sight in the public school classroom– all the more reason for school admin, teachers, and staff to educate themselves on the issue.

On July 31, 2018, EdWeek published the following video on vaping (also known as “Juuling,” derived from a brand name, Juul):

Regarding the long-term effects of vaping, not much is known yet because vaping is still relatively new. That noted, common sense dictates that vaping is problematic because nicotine is addictive, and the young person vaping is opening the door to chemical addiction by repeatedly inhaling concentrated nicotine and may well be damaging or otherwise impeding healthy growth and development.

Regarding the effects of vaping, the March 2018 TIME article offers the following:

While e-cigarettes contain fewer toxic substances than traditional cigarettes, the CDC warns that vaping may still expose people to cancer-causing chemicals. (Different brands use different formulations, and the CDC’s warning did not mention Juul specifically.)

It’s not clear exactly how e-cigarettes affect health because there’s little long-term data on the topic, says Dr. Michael Ong, an associate professor of general internal medicine and health services at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles. “We just don’t have a lot of information as to what the harms potentially are going to be,” he says. “There likely would be health risks associated with it, though they’re not going to be the same as a traditional cigarette.”

Doctors do know, however, that each Juul pod contains nicotine equivalent to a pack of cigarettes. That’s troubling, because nicotine is “one of the most addicting substances that we know of,” Ong says. “Having access to that is certainly problematic,” Ong adds, because it may get kids hooked, which could potentially lead them to later take up cigarettes.

Juul’s products come in flavors including mango, fruit medley and creme brûlée — and the chemicals used to flavor vaping liquid may also be dangerous, Ong adds. “Even if the manufacturer doesn’t intend it to be something that’s kid-friendly, it’s kid-friendly,” he says. A 2016 study suggested that these flavoring agents may also cause popcorn lung, a respiratory condition first seen in people working in factories that make microwave popcorn.

There we have it teachers: Vape Detection 101.

Watch out for those flash drives.

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Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

.

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

If You’re Wondering About Haas Hall Academy (Arkansas), Read This Post.

The following post is written by Elizabeth Lyon-Ballay, who identifies herself as a “former professional violinist and public charter school teacher” and “current stay-at-home mom and agitator for change.”

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Elizabeth Lyon-Ballay

Lyon-Ballay has been exercising her right to view public records via Arkansas’ Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Her desire to understand education in Arkansas stems from her “brief, tragic stint as a teacher in an open-enrollment charter school.” In this January 02, 2019, post, she offers extensive information gleaned from public records requests related to Haas Hall Academy, a Fayetteville, Arkansas, charter school with a student body notably lacking in special education students and English language learners, and including a mere 1% of black students.

Some excerpts from Layon-Ballay’s section about what she has “learned so far” from her Haas Hall Academy FOIA requests:

  • Haas Hall does not require all of their employees (who work daily with public schoolchildren) to have employment contracts or undergo background checks — even though the Arkansas Department of Education clearly requires it even for charter school staff.
  • Haas Hall doesn’t keep minutes from school board meetings that show a record of who is on the school board, which board members were present at each meeting, who was absent from each meeting, and what the vote on each agenda item was. That’s required by state law, too, since school board meetings are supposed to be the public’s opportunity to participate in school governance.
  • Haas Hall isn’t a sustainable public school. It’s a subsidized Potemkin village. Haas Hall has a huge slush fund in the form of a private foundation, so it doesn’t have to budget money to pay for “occupancy” expenses (its own buildings,) most of its advertising campaigns, or to reimburse its faculty/staff for their travel and lodging when they (frequently) represent the school at events that require hotel stays, restaurants, air fare, etc. …
  • Initially, the State Board of Education denied Haas Hall’s application to open new campuses in Springdale and Rogers. Haas Hall had been, demonstrably, circumventing the “open-enrollment” nature of its charter and enrolling students preferentially. (Yes, this is an open secret. No, that doesn’t make it okay.) Transcripts of the State Board of Education meeting on May 18, 2016 show board members raising questions regarding Haas Hall’s “improperly enrolled” students, and questions regarding the transparency and legitimacy of the “random drawing” enrollment lottery. For example, why would an application to take part in a random drawing ask potential students to describe their academic credentials? …

And here is my favorite:

  • Two Haas Hall students helped write the new lottery program. Dr. Martin Schoppmeyer, Jr. paid these teenagers for their work with envelopes of cash that he delivered, personally, to their AP Computer Science classroom.

There is much more to Lyon-Balley’s post, including (as one might expect in Arkansas, the Walton back yard) billionaire Walton family involvement. Those interested in Arkansas education– particularly the goings-on at Haas Hall Academy– may wish to follow Lyon-Balley’s writings as more of her requested FOIA information becomes available.

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Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

.

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

 

Is Sarah Huckabee Sanders Looking for Her Own “Rebrand” (aka WH Exit)?

Heads up: It’s political!

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It’s New Years Eve, and here I am, thinking about Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Sanders is the daughter of former Arkansas governor, Mike Huckabee, who in 2014 called for states to “rebrand” Common Core in order to sell it to the public. (Once he was running for president and Common Core support clearly threatened his political aspirations, in 2015, Huckabee circulated a petition to “kill” Common Core.)

It seems that daughter Sarah is hoping to do some rebranding– to her career. However, like her father’s attempt to repackage Common Core, that might be easier said than done.

According to Raw Story, it seems that Sanders wants to leave her position as White House press secretary but cannot find another job.

Furthermore, Sanders’ colleague, deputy press sec Raj Shah, has allegedly secured a position with newly-installed Supreme Court justice, Brett Kavanaugh, Inquisitr reports.

In his role as Sanders’ sidekick, Shah has been less visible (and less controversial in his statements, one might argue), and this limited visibility is likely to Shah’s advantage.

Sanders, however, has melded her career (how long this melding will last in the public memory, one can only guess) with the incredible, controversial mess that is the Trump White House. Arguably, anyone hiring Sanders drags that mess into their venue because her very public persona as Trump Defender Number One cannot simply be shaken off with a mere change of venue.

Hints of a Sanders-Shah White House exit first appeared in this June 14, 2018, CBS exclusive:

Press secretary Sarah Sanders and principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah are both heading for the exits, according to sources inside the White House and close to the administration. Sanders, who has become a confidante of President Trump since the departure of former communications director Hope Hicks, has told friends that she plans to leave the administration at the end of the year.

Shah is also considering his exit, but he has not yet settled on an exact date. Neither Sanders nor Shah responded to repeated requests for comment before this story was published. When reached Wednesday evening, both declined to comment on the record, and Sanders tweeted that she is “honored to work for @POTUS.”

As of this posting, Sanders has yet to comment on Twitter or elsewhere about the news that she is looking to leave her White House job, though she has been on Twitter since both Raw Story and Inquisitr published their stories.

As for Raj Shah, he has adjusted his Twitter bio to remove both his White House title and Trump’s twitter handle. Here is Shah’s archived Twitter bio from March 04, 2017; he lists himself as communications director (following previous communications director Hope Hicks’ exit):

@WhiteHouse Deputy Communications Director, Research Director for @realDonaldTrump

By September 24, 2018, Shah had moved into the press sec realm and was still using that title on Twitter despite the June 2018 CBS report:

@WhiteHouse Principal Deputy Press Secretary for @realDonaldTrump

By December 04, 2018, Shah had reduced his Twitter bio to simply “@WhiteHouse,” which is how it reads as of this writing.

Thus, Shah is already publicly breaking up with the Trump White House.

Meanwhile, Sanders remains faithful…

…perhaps playing the usual game until she is better positioned to make that rebranded break toward something rather than only– and obviously– Away From Here.

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Sarah Huckabee Sanders

______________________________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

.

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.