Category: Education

Neil Gorsuch plagiarized multiple authors in book and academic article

Senate Republicans intend to change the rules of the Senate in order to confirm a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) for this guy:

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch copied the structure and language used by several authors and failed to cite source material in his book and an academic article, according to documents provided to POLITICO.

The documents show that several passages from the tenth chapter of his 2006 book, “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia,” read nearly verbatim to a 1984 article in the Indiana Law Journal. In several other instances in that book and an academic article published in 2000, Gorsuch borrowed from the ideas, quotes and structures of scholarly and legal works without citing them.

[…]

…six experts on academic integrity contacted independently by POLITICO differed in their assessment of what Gorsuch did, ranging from calling it a clear impropriety to mere sloppiness.

You read that correctly. Neil Gorsuch, who is likely to be confirmed to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Antonin Scalia, plagiarized other people’s writings on more than one occasion. Gorsuch isn’t just too ideologically extreme for our nation’s highest bench. He’s too unethical for our nation’s highest bench.

One of the most right-wing newspapers in the entire country couldn’t find a single Betsy DeVos supporter in the education community

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post was originally written on Medium by the administrator of this blog and has been republished in full.


Above the fold on the front page of today’s issue of The News-Gazette, a Champaign, Illinois-based newspaper that covers the east-central part of Illinois and has a very right-wing reputation, was this story about how many in the public education community are opposed to the nomination of Betsy DeVos to the office of U.S. Secretary of Education.

In The News-Gazette’s attempt to find a DeVos supporter, they couldn’t find a single one in the educational community in East Central Illinois.

The strongest opposition to DeVos came obviously from teachers’ union leaders, although many in management (i.e., public school administrators) strongly opposed DeVos as well. Sheila Greenwood, the superintendent of schools in the Bement, Illinois public school system (covering southern portions of Piatt County, Illinois), said this about DeVos:

Bement Superintendent Sheila Greenwood was so appalled by how DeVos answered senators’ questions last month that she contacted her legislators, “begging them to put a stop to this insanity.”

“She couldn’t answer basic questions about schools, funding or assessment. She is uber-wealthy and has no experiences with public education because she lives like the 1 percent and knows nothing,” Greenwood said. “I think Trump will have his puppet and others will run the department.

Jeremy Darnell, the superintendent of the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley public school system in Illinois (map of district here), said this about DeVos:

Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Superintendent Jeremy Darnell was unimpressed with her hearing, as well, saying it was “very evident” she lacks understanding of current education issues.

[…]

“Votes should be cast on merit, preparation and the ability to effectively fill an essential role in our national government, not party line politics,” Darnell said. “All appointments should be considered for their ability to effectively advise our elected leadership. No leader can be a master at all so the essential need to surround yourself with experts in their field is more important today than ever.

The Bement and Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley school districts are located in some of the most Republican areas in all of Illinois, and voters in both school districts voted overwhelmingly for Trump.

The closest person that The News-Gazette could find to a DeVos supporter was Mr. Seth Miller, the superintendent of the public school system that I attended, the Westville Community Unit School District in Illinois. I’m paraphrasing, but Mr. Miller’s thoughts about DeVos were basically of the “give DeVos a chance if she’s confirmed” mentality without offering any explicit support of DeVos:

“We have the best educational system in the world. A leader who is committed to children, who need access to public education, would receive my support,” Miller said. “… Spirited debate with informed constituents helps make us a strong country — big enough and brave enough for diverse opinions. It is my hope that whoever is confirmed as the next secretary of education will help perpetuate this democratic ideal in our public school system.”

Having seen video clips of the Betsy DeVos confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, it is clear to me that, if confirmed, DeVos would be a downright horrible Education Secretary.

Betsy DeVos confirmation hearing POSTPONED because Trump’s appointees aren’t being properly vetted

The controversy regarding Republican President-elect Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress attempting to ram through Trump’s appointees without Trump’s appointees being properly vetted by federal ethics officials is not going away. In fact, one of Trump’s appointees, Betsy DeVos, who is Trump’s pick for U.S. Education Secretary, has had her confirmation hearing postponed until next week because the federal Office of Government Ethics (OGE) has not been able to complete its end of the vetting process:

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee announced late Monday that it had rescheduled the confirmation hearing for Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos.

“At the request of the Senate leadership to accommodate the Senate schedule, we have agreed to move the nomination hearing of Betsy DeVos to Tuesday, January 17th at 5:00 p.m.,” Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and ranking member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said in a release late Monday.

While Betsy DeVos has made it clear for a long time that she wants to destroy public education in America, what is an even bigger problem than that is the fact that multiple Trump appointees, apparently including DeVos, have not been properly vetted to the legal standard, not a political standard, for vetting a presidential appointment. I’ll even add that, given the seriousness of the fact that OGE has not been able to properly vet Trump’s appointees, the letter from the OGE Director regarding the issue should have been addressed to the entire Senate, not just Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

Tom Perez doesn’t get it: listening to people is not a strategy to rebuild the Democratic Party

In the third paragraph of the statement on the front page of Tom Perez’s DNC chair campaign website, this is literally the first sentence of the third paragraph of Perez’s statement:

But most of all, we need to listen.

Really? Listening is what would be Perez’s top priority if elected DNC chair? Give me a break! If listening was the most important skill set to being a successful NASCAR driver, Tom Perez would be a multi-time Daytona 500 winner. Of course, Tom Perez isn’t a NASCAR driver, and listening is not the most important skill set to being a successful NASCAR driver. The same principle applies to political party management. I’ve always been of the belief that who you listen to is more important than whether or not you listen to anybody. Tom Perez has made a living listening to President Obama and his corporate neoliberal political allies promote a globalist, pro-free trade economic agenda that destroyed rural and blue-collar America, cost America millions of jobs, and helped Donald Trump win the presidency. I strongly fear that Perez would listen to the same political professional class that destroyed the Democratic Party under Obama’s watch if elected DNC chair.

Real leaders fight for what they believe in. Keith Ellison is a fighter. While Tom Perez and other Obama Administration officials were busy trying to convince Members of Congress to approve of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal (or, as I like to call it, Obama’s economic surrender to Victor Charlie), Keith called out the Obama cabinet for supporting horrendous trade deals with foreign countries. Keith took on the Obama cabinet, fought to stop the TPP, and won!

Now, Obama’s allies, still butthurt over TPP being effectively rejected by the American people, are now leading the opposition to Keith Ellison’s campaign for DNC chair. Keith defeated the Obama Administration once before, and, although I don’t think that he’ll do it again, I sure hope he does! We need a Democratic party that is less concerned about chasing suburban women and more interested in fighting for policies designed to rebuild America’s middle class.

Email shows that Green Bay (WI) city clerk denied easier access to early voting to college students because they vote for Democrats

A recently-released email shows that Kris Teske (who is female), the city clerk of Green Bay, Wisconsin who was appointed to the office by Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt, had blatantly partisan motives in denying easier access to early voting to students at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay:

Green Bay’s city clerk asked state officials if she could rebuff a request to put an early voting site on the UW-Green Bay campus because, in her words, “students lean more toward the democrats,” a newly released email shows.

The email, first reported Tuesday by The Nation Magazine, was from Green Bay City Clerk Kris Teske, an appointee of the city’s mayor, Jim Schmitt.

Schmitt describes himself as nonpartisan. He was considered for a post in Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s Cabinet, and records show he contributed to the campaigns of Republican lawmakers.

Note that “Democrats” was misspelled by Teske; the first letter is capitalized, since the name of a specific political party is capitalized due to being a proper noun.

For voters in Green Bay, only one early voting (in Wisconsin, the term “in-person absentee voting” is used to officially describe early voting) site is available for the entire city at Green Bay City Hall. Google Maps estimates that the drive time from the UWGB campus to City Hall is 12 minutes, and the quickest route involves the use of an Interstate highway, meaning that the early voting site is not easily accessible by those without a motor vehicle. Google Maps estimates that, via a route that one can legally walk or ride a bicycle on, it would take 28 minutes to ride a bicycle from UWGB to City Hall or 1 hour and 46 minutes to walk from UWGB to City Hall.

It’s clear to me that Green Bay, Wisconsin city officials want to make it harder for college students to vote because the Republican economic policies of Donald Trump, Ron Johnson, Mike Gallagher, and their right-wing cohorts are absolutely awful for them.

It’s a national tragedy that many of America’s college students are homeless

Earlier this month, Glamour magazine posted an article to their website about a subject that, while most people wouldn’t find to be exactly glamorous, is a very serious issue facing our country: homelessness in higher education. You’d have to read the entire article, which you can view here, to truly understand how serious of an issue homelessness in higher education is.

The article is about Brooke Evans, a formerly homeless student at University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) who helped start a food pantry for students at UW-Madison. In addition to her efforts to start a food pantry for her fellow students, Evans has advocated for, among other things, requiring college and university cafeterias to accept food stamps and offering free mailboxes to students at her university who don’t have a postal address. Evans has gone above and beyond in her efforts to advocate for improving the lives of college and university students in America.

Evans isn’t the only college student in this country who has been homeless while in college. In fact, federal statistics has shown that over 59,000 applicants for federal student aid last year reported being homeless, and homelessness among college students in America is on the rise. There are a perfect storm of circumstances contributing to an increase in college homelessness, most notably that an increasing number of students from low-income households are attending college, that a college or university education of some kind is needed for virtually every good-paying job in the United States nowadays, and, most importantly, that tuition and other college-related expenses have risen dramatically in recent decades.

I admire Brooke Evans’s advocacy for homeless and poor college students. We really need a lot more people like her to stand up for our country’s most vulnerable and forgotten-about people.

In 2011 email, Bruce Rauner made false, racist claim about Chicago public school teachers

In a 2011 email to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other people seeking to dismantle the Chicago public school system, Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner claimed that half of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) teachers are “virtually illiterate”.

Not only is that an absurdly false claim about public K-12 teachers in our state’s largest city, it’s also a flagrantly racist one.

According to the CPS website, 50.3% of CPS teachers are white, and the race/ethnicity of 1.7% of CPS teachers is unknown. That means that 48% of CPS teachers are of a known ethnic minority. I’m very convinced that Rauner was referring to non-white CPS teachers as “virtually illiterate”.

The latest email release from Rahm’s administration in Chicago has proven that Rauner is a total racist who thinks that minority teachers are illiterate, and that the Rahm-Rauner agenda to destroy public education in Illinois is motivated by racism. The truth of the matter is that public school teachers in Illinois, whether it be in Chicago or another part of our great state, are intelligent, functionally literate, and do a great job of educating our state’s children.

Kathleen Vinehout for Governor of Wisconsin? NO WAY!

It’s become public knowledge in Wisconsin political circles that State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) really wants to run for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Wisconsin in 2018.

However, Vinehout is not a progressive, and, in fact, her views on some political issues are in line with far-right Republicans like Scott Walker.

Prior to being elected to the Wisconsin State Senate, Vinehout was a member of Democrats for Life, an anti-abortion organization. As a Wisconsin State Senator, Vinehout voted with Scott Walker and the gun manufacturers’ lobby for legislation designed to make it easier for off-duty and former police officers to carry out school shootings in Wisconsin public schools. While Vinehout is great on most economic issues and issues related to ending corruption in politics, her views on social issues are very right-wing and more in line with Republicans like Scott Walker.

While I will not move to Wisconsin to run for governor myself, after this year’s general election, I will write a blog post strongly criticizing a second potential Democratic candidate for Governor of Wisconsin. Make no mistake about it, the individual who I will criticize is the embodiment of a Scott Walker Democrat, and, if the individual were to run for governor, the individual would have a lot of support from the Democratic establishment, but I will not provide any more clues as to who the individual is at this time.

Katrina Shankland knows more about the NFL’s player salary structure than Scott Walker does

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The author of the blog post is a New England Patriots fan who lives in Illinois, and Wisconsin State Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) is, like the vast majority of Wisconsinites, a Green Bay Packers fan. Anyways, the Chicago Bears are a bunch of losers.


At a recent private, invite-only “listening session”, Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, while claiming that the NFL’s free agency system should be a model for paying public school teachers, demonstrated that he has no knowledge of how the NFL’s player salary structure works. Here’s what Walker said:

If the Green Bay Packers pay people to perform and if they perform well on their team, (the Packers) pay them to do that…They don’t pay them for how many years they’ve been on the football team. They pay them whether or not they help (the Packers) win football games.

Wisconsin State Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point), the Assistant Minority Leader of the Wisconsin State Assembly, issued this brilliant response to Walker’s absurd claims about the NFL player salary structure and absurd comparison between NFL player salaries and Wisconsin public school teacher salaries. I encourage everyone who is reading this blog post to read Shankland’s statement in full, but I’ll summarize three points that Shankland made in her statement:

  • NFL teams often have a total player payroll that is well under the league’s salary cap, whereas public school districts in Wisconsin are barely able to make payroll thanks to Walker’s funding cuts to public K-12 schools in Wisconsin
  • NFL players have a strong labor union representing them, whereas Walker and his Republican allies severely weakened Wisconsin public school teachers’ unions by restricting collective bargaining rights.
  • For the third point, I’ll directly quote Shankland: “…the NFL does pay their athletes regardless of whether or not they win games. Ask the Chicago Bears about this.”

For those of you who are wondering, the Chicago Bears compiled a record of 6 wins and 10 losses, and failed to make the playoffs, in the 2015 NFL season. Oh, and NFL players do not lose a penny of their base salary if their team loses a game.

The salary and unionization structure of NFL players and that of public school teachers in Wisconsin are not identical by any rational person’s imagination. I applaud Katrina Shankland for having a far better knowledge of the NFL player salary structure than Scott Walker does.

Bruce Rauner’s War on Downstate Illinois

Republican Governor Bruce Rauner has, despite winning a very large percentage of the downstate vote in the 2014 Illinois gubernatorial election, waged a war on downstate Illinois ever since taking office, much of which involves, either directly or indirectly, his political hostage-taking in regards to the state budget (which Illinois has operated without for a very long time because of Rauner).

There are several reasons why Rauner’s destructive politics has negatively impacted downstate Illinois.

Agricultural education

Rauner has, as recently as March of this year, targeted agricultural education, which has helped thousands of Illinois farmers better understand the land and farming practices, for complete elimination of state funding. This is obviously a blatant attack against downstate Illinois by Rauner, since nearly all of the agricultural industry’s economic activity in Illinois occurs downstate.

Higher education funding in general

It’s not just agricultural education that has been negatively impacted by Rauner’s War on Higher Education. Higher education in general, and, in particular, Eastern Illinois University, have felt the wrath of Rauner since taking office. Rauner has refused to fund public higher education institutions in Illinois. Eastern Illinois University, which serves a very conservative region of the state, has been forced to lay off nearly 200 employees and is on the brink of being forced to permanently shut down.

Illinois State Museum

Another casualty of Rauner’s War on Downstate is the Illinois State Museum, which is located in Springfield. The state museum was forced to close due to the lack of a state budget, meaning that the art exhibits, natural history exhibits, and other exhibits housed at the state museum are not accessible to the public.

Whoever Democrats nominate in the 2018 election for Governor of Illinois will have to address the concerns of downstate voters in order to defeat Bruce Rauner.