Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A “MARSHALL PLAN” FOR THE POOREST CITY IN AMERICA: Flint Native Gordon Young's Provocative Proposal

In 2013, I interviewed Flint native Gordon Young, for a feature I produced that aired on a public radio station. Young's new book,“Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City”, had just been released.

The book chronicled Young’s adventures as he traveled from his home in San Francisco back to where he grew up in Flint. His quest was to buy a home, but the book was more a story of Young trying to reconnect with the city he said made him who he is.

His work has appeared in The New York Times, Slate, Politico, Next City, Utne Reader, and numerous other publications. 

Since 2007, Young has published Flint Expatriates, a blog for the long-lost residents of the Vehicle City. He is a senior lecturer in the Communication Department at Santa Clara University and lives in San Francisco.

Young recently published a follow-up to his book, profiling his friend P-Nut, whose home was destroyed in March by a fire.

“Long before Flint had a water crisis, it had an arson problem. And decades before Cher and Snoop Dogg arrived on the scene with their PR teams, or the journalists and presidential candidates showed up, my hometown was vanishing in ways both large and small. Shifting global economic trends aren’t big on taking union industrial strongholds along for the ride, and Flint was left behind to fend for itself. Obviously, it hasn’t fared well. Decades of double-digit unemployment, population loss, and artless budget cuts equal crime, abandonment, and burning buildings.”

Ironically, P-Nut's Civic Park home, shown at left in 2010, “was the childhood home of writer Ben Hamper, the autoworker and bestselling author of Rivethead: Tales From the Assembly Line, a searingly funny book on factory life in Flint.” 

Flint, Michigan tops the list in two unfortunate poverty departments. 

Numbers recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau show 45% of residents and 58% of children in Flint are living in poverty. These percentages not only place Flint as the poorest city in Michigan, but nationwide as well when comparing every American city with at least a 65,000 person population. 

Read Young's entire post, “How to Fix Flint”, at this link.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH: Diane Ravitch Exposes The “Whiston Weasel” On Her Blog!

Brian Whiston's school choice walk-back was given the red carpet treatment today by Diane Ravitch, who prominently featured the story on her blog.

But fear not, school choicers!

With charter tool Bill Schuette running for governor of Michigan, it looks likely the DeVos family's investment in corporate money lovin' Bill will pay off.

But I can still poke them with a stick, right?

Phi Zappa Krappa!

Monday, September 18, 2017

SCHUETTE JUMPS ON THE TRUMP TRAIN: Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette Endorsed By Subject Of Federal Criminal Investigation

After first misspelling his name, Donald Trump tweeted his support of Michigan's Attorney General, Bill Shuette Schuette, for Governor of Michigan.

Shuette Schuette, who launched his official campaign last week in Traverse City, thanked Trump for his support in a Facebook post.

Will the Trump tweets come back to haunt Schuette, and will his reaction sound like a scene from “The Godfather”? Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

WHISTON WEASELS: Edu-Gaffe Enrages “School Choice” Proponents; Michigan State Superintendent Of Public Education Forced Into Groveling Apology Over “Backwards” Remark

Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It’s what separates us from the animals…except the weasel. 
Matt Groening

A gaffe, it has been said, is when a politician tells the truth — or more precisely, when he or she accidentally reveals something truthful about what is going on in his or her head. 

A gaffe is what happens when the spin breaks down.

Superintendent Brian Whiston recently appeared with host Tim Skubick on his weekly public television show called “Off The Record”.
Whiston, Skubick
Many topics were discussed on the show, including the impact of public charter schools in Michigan. 

During the segment Whiston drew a hard line in the sand on charter schools — one of Michigan Republicans’ favorite education schemes. 

Asked about the performance thus far of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Whiston said it was too early to make a complete call, but he skewered the idea that “school choice” — i.e. charter schools — were the silver bullet to Michigan’s education woes. 

“While I do support choice - and I want to be clear on that - it's probably taken us backwards overall.”

“School choice is important. I support school choice, but Michigan has proven that school choice isn’t the answer,” he said. “If school choice was the answer, Michigan would be the top performing state because we have more choice than just about any other state.”

Whiston’s sentiment isn’t unfounded. 

A recent New York Times deep dive into Michigan’s charter frenzy pointed out that, “in unregulated educational sectors like Michigan’s, there’s evidence that charters have actually increased inequality [in school districts] … and districts with high levels of charter-school penetration, the authors found, have fared worst of all.” 

Whiston wasn’t done with Betsy after his choice comments, he even went after her affinity for vouchers, which would put public funds in the hands of private, parochial, and for-profit schools and charters. 

“We’ll never agree on that,” Whiston said, who has ardently opposed to voucherizing Michigan’s public education system in the past. “That issue is non-negotiable. I don’t think public tax dollars should be used for private education,” he said. 

(Gaffe alert! Cue the shitstorm!)

Let the official flackery begin: Superintendent Whiston responded with a comment that he thinks needs to be explained, so he's made the following statement: 

“In a recent appearance on the public television show Off The Record, I was accurately quoted as saying: "While I do support choice - and I want to be clear on that - it's probably taken us backwards overall." 

That was a poor choice of words on my part and I apologize for those words. I do not think that choice - as defined by multiple pathways within a district; outside district choices; and charter schools - has set us back. 

In fact, I say it is an important part of our education system and I support these choices - my record is clear on that. The point I was trying to make was: 

1. If choice (as defined above) was the only answer, then Michigan would be a Top 10 education state now, because we have more choice than just about any other state. Even with that said, I was clear in saying that I still support choice. Addressing school performance is much more complicated than just one solution, however - there are no quick fixes. The changes we need to make are complicated and will take time. 

2. We do have to take the politics out of the discussion and see how school choice has impacted districts that have lost students, and address that problem. But with that said, I still made it clear that I support school choice. So, let's be crystal clear - I support school choice for students and parents. I define choice as students having choices in multiple pathways within a district; outside district choices; and through charter schools.” 

Ben DeGrow, director of education policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a free-market think tank based in Midland that supports school choice, said he was “disappointed” with Whiston's original remark. 

“I think it says a lot that he felt compelled to clarify that's not what he meant,” he said. “At least in part that has to be due to the fact that thousands and thousands of parents in Michigan have a positive experience with choice.” 

Well, he would say that, wouldn't he?

The Mackinac Center is simply a mouthpiece for the DeVos agenda. During this charter school “free market” experiment the ranking of Michigan K-12 schools has dropped to the bottom ten. 

The profit-over-people mantra of the GOP Regime in Lansing is obvious. 

They sure made Whiston jump...and he didn't even have to ask “how high?”.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

SCIENTOLOGY CREEPS INTO SMALL-TOWN MICHIGAN: Per Wickstrom's “Living Solutions Center” Stealth Expansion Continues; Education Fa├žade Conceals Scientology Front Group's Recruiting Purpose

The Church of Scientology would like you to believe that Applied Scholastics is an educational program and merely a “Scientology-related entity.” 

To quote Public Enemy, “don’t believe the hype”.

As I revealed on May 1, 2017, Michigan Scientologist Per Wickstrom is using his drug treatment centers as bases for the spread of his Living Solutions Centers, planting his “flag” first here in Michigan in Manistee and Battle Creek. Since then, Wickstrom has expanded to Fort Wayne, Indiana and rural Harrison, Michigan.

Applied Scholastics functions as an educational organization to spread L. Ron Hubbard courses and Scientology ethics and beliefs in their schools. All schools licensed by Applied Scholastics are Scientology schools staffed and directed by Scientologists. 

Pitched as a peerless learning method allowing a person to learn any subject successfully, Hubbard's “Study Technology” (Study Tech) is founded on three principles: 

(1) use pictures and diagrams to illustrate the concepts being taught, 
(2) break down complex concepts so they can be mastered in a series of simple steps, and 
(3) always seek definitions for unfamiliar terms. 

These rules make sense and are harmless enough when phrased in plain English. But the Study Tech books present them in a different manner. The three principles are called "mass", "gradients", and "misunderstoods": special terms that are loaded with significance in the Scientology religion. And these concepts are presented in a doctrinaire manner that is also characteristic of Scientology religious instruction. Study Tech actually helps lay the groundwork for introducing Scientology into the schools. 

Since May, Wickstrom's Manistee Living Solutions Center has been joined by locations in Battle Creek and Harrison, Michigan, along with one in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Even worse, Wickstrom's Living Solutions Centers are looking for children—and they're coming for your kids. Here's the pitch the Fort Wayne location is using:

We at Living Solutions Centers promote and develop programs of effective education for educators, business trainers, tutors, parents, children and any individual who need improved study skills to enhance their scholastic, business and personal activities. Our mission is to provide everybody in the community with the learning tools they need to overcome the barriers of illiteracy and to enhance their abilities to understand and utilize written materials which they must deal with in all aspects of their lives.

In economically depressed Battle Creek, Living Solutions Centers even pitched a coupon offering a 50 percent discount on your first course.

First of many courses, I suppose, if they snag you.

Per Wickstom registered “Living Solutions Centers, Inc.” as a Nevada-based non-profit corporation on August 15, 2016. 

Although an application for a Certificate of Authority to legally transact business in Michigan as a Foreign Nonprofit Corporation was filed on behalf of Living Solutions by Slot Law Group attorney Nathanael Karnes on January 17, 2017, Michigan has yet to issue the certificate. 

Don't say you weren't warned.