Windmillin'

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Where politics and faith dance in the shadow of the windmill.

Don’t Count on It.

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Republican regulars have thought that Trump was different than their own vision. Ed Kilgore breaks the news: the support is consolidating with Trump.

Conservatives Are Losing Their Base To Trump

While Dems can think of rebuilding relationships with the disillusioned working class, the reality will be that the nationalistic right of Trump is likely to hold them. The folks more likely to come into play will be civic Republicans, those middle class, non-evangelical, educated voters. There are a bunch of them in the near suburbs and so offer potential as the Party turns to 2018. A Democratic Party that is sane (progressive but practical) may have some possibilities in the eastern townships.

Filed under: Democratic Party, Elections, , ,

Mapping the Future

MI76 : Gov 14 map This is a map that will drive many crazy in the GOP. As the red dots indicate, Gov. Snyder won decisively in the 76th District. Eleven precincts gave him at least a 20 point margin (and some came close to a full 40; a 70-30 split). The places where the party dominated on the SE side, the NE fringe (with the Riverside neighborhood tossed in) demonstrate why the district has the shape that it does. They were supposed to win in the off year, except, they didn’t. The gerrymander failed.

For party strategists, this map represents a what-if, a secret nudge of hope. But that partisan reading may miss the message. Take a look at the results for Winnie Brink.

MI76 14 mapPrecincts that were in the GOP column are now in her’s and what is more, they are there in decisive shape, with her winning with twenty percent margins (look at precinct 2-42, or precincts 3-77, and 3-59). Even in precincts where the Governor won big, the Brinks campaign tightened the margin (look at precinct 1-6).

One can look at this as a matter of hard work, that the campaign worked and earned the win. That is certainly the case. But this is also a map of hope, of a future.

Brinks strength even in the usually conservative neighborhoods points to the power of pragmatism within the City. The fact that both Brinks and Snyder win the same seats suggests a common persona, one of moderation, a look past the partisanship. There is surprisingly little of the Tea Party in this map (perhaps pct 1-21 or 1-23).

The Brinks campaign modeled this moderation as well, her’s was a campaign emphasized hard-work and pragmatic solutions. Where the term limits opponents had stumbled in the blue collar neighborhoods, Brinks won comfortably, sometimes even spectacularly.  And this was done without running away from her stance on abortion — a killer for most candidates a decade ago. Brinks again demonstrated that where one is moderate and hard-working, the questions on abortion can be handled.

As the City explores how it should continue to develop (that long conversation between the downtown and the left out), the Brinks win maps what a coalition might very well look like. Yes, we will always have the west side but most in the City want to see it succeed. And to do that, they are willing to cross lines and work together. It’s the sweat equity of hope.

And it bodes well for our City.

Note on the maps: The dots measure the size of the margin, from the lightest representing less than a one percent difference (a margin +/- 0.5 percent) to the darkest representing at least a twenty percent margin (60/40)

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , , ,

Two Dems better than one Republican

Tomorrow morning Steve Pestka joins Trevor Thomas in the race for the Third Congressional.

Pestka brings a solid record as a moderate, pro-life Democrat, a background that has attracted attacks by some, as well as spurred doubts by progressives in the community. To date, none have gone public with their misgivings.

Thomas has a local connection (Wyoming native, GVSU graduate) and comes off of a big win for the overturning of Dont Ask Don’t Tell. This work has brought him to national attention, at least in the LGBT communities. And Thomas is also young, 28.

Both are driven by a combination of the redrawn lines of the Third, and by the staunchly conservative stands taken by the incumbent, Justin Amash. Add to this that the prospect that 2012 may in fact look like 2008 (so Ruy Teixiera), the candidacy becomes hot property. In 2008, the new district basically broke even in its vote for Obama (177,195 McCain, 180,021 Obama).

If the district looks like a possible win, how are the two Dems ready for the challenge? Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Elections, National, , , , , , , , , ,

Virtually Political

The story today is the campaign by little tykes to expand the Virtual Charter Schools. I’m all for political theatre, but this seems a bit odd. Supporters of expanded access brought along  current students to read the names — 5,000 — of those who wanted to get in.

The staging is bit unusual. Were  a teacher at a general school to bring a bunch of middle school students to lobby for expanded teacher pay the howls of outrage would mount up, at least if the Mackinac Center’s howl a few years ago is any indication. So far on this? Virtual crickets.

What’s going on? Unintentionally or not, the image (and the protest) reveal more about our Virtual Charter. First the mobilization of the students to expand the school program is ethically questionable, particularly in the context of for-profit management systems. the students may think they are doing civic duty or politics, but they are actually in the business of sales. The questions about profit motive of the management of these schools, let alone the oversight of their curriculum — these all gain added currency because of this stunt.

But the second issue is perhaps the more interesting. Look at the picture: the image of students, younger sibs and moms in the background at the very least speak in the visual language of home school, if not the substance. This aspect of the program has been played down in Michigan discussions on the west side. When the measure went through the State Senate, MLive led with this human interest story:

LANSING – Critics of “cyber” charter schools said Wednesday there’s not enough information to determine whether the schools are successful, but Steve Slisko pointed to his grandson.
The boy has cognitive impairments that prohibit him from speaking, but he can work a keyboard – and attend the Michigan Virtual Charter Academy, one of two virtual charter schools in the state.

Yet the home school subtext tends to be right there, as  the MVCA site states,

Michigan Virtual Charter Academy is redefining traditional home schooling, but not within the home school network.

A Fox-17 report this past November further bears this out.

Michigan joins a number of other states with similar programs and impacts, including Pennsylvania and South Carolina.

However, one would be mistaken to think that such State support is necessarily a welcome move on the part of home schoolers. After all, the heart of the home school approach is a philosophic commitment about the appropriate locale for the education of one’s children. From within the movement, this development threatens to undo three decades of legal wrangling for recognition.

(The Home School Legal Defense Association) believes that a distinction between virtual charter schools and homeschooling is vital. While charter schools provide parents with another choice, we emphasize that they are still public schools in every sense of the word.
HSLDA also strongly cautions homeschoolers against enrolling in virtual charter schools. Many homeschoolers are seduced by attractive marketing and forget that virtual charter schools are actually controlled by the public school system. HSLDA does not represent students enrolled in full-time charter school programs.
HSLDA is also concerned that virtual charter schools will negatively impact the public and American lawmakers’ understanding of what it means to homeschool.

Agree or not, home schoolers have pushed their cause, and in their own way expanded both public speech and options in our education. The irony now, is that Republicans will subvert the home school movement with the virtual charter, much the same way that a decade ago the physical charter gutted the parochial schools. While the left believes that such charters will weaken the efforts of general schools, the likelihood is that the expanded virtual charter will instead weaken the home school movement generally, all for one obvious reason. It’s free.

Filed under: Education Policy, Michigan, Politics, , , , , ,

The Party of Self-Destruction

Once again in the recent school board election, the conservative wing decided to self-destruct. In this case, by making union support the deciding issue.

So late last week came this card:

Two flaws present themselves:

First, there is the delicious faux populism, comparing average  salaries: teachers $55,000, and “the average salary for you and me” of $33,000. This latter number is something of a mystery, to wit: per capita (i.e. individual) income in the metro area is roughly $33,000 and $20,800 in the city– but that’s calculated spreading total income over total individuals. A more realistic number is that of Household Income, and here too the numbers are off. Median Grand Rapids income is $43,900. Not to belabor this, but the “average salary” seems to be an entirely fabricated number.

And then, there is the over the top language, “Stop the Union Takeover ….” The issue at hand for the school board is not the question of Reform, or Excellence, but of the dreaded teachers and their union, the conservatives whipping boy/gal de jour. Now in fairness to the mailer, this sort of approach is a motivator for the conservative side of the fence, a fear-mongering, yes, but a motivator all the same.

Still, it is so fundamentally stupid. Stupid, for misreading the situation (none believe that Raynard Ross or Monica Randles are tools of the union — at least none who have met them).  But even more so, for how it corrupts the discussion that must take place. Grand Rapids Public Schools is up against financial constraints and the challenge of preparing children in poverty. This will take a coalition drawn from across the community. And one member of that coalition will most definitely be the teachers. Given that, where — why?– does one gain by attacking teachers?

Sadly, the post card is a microcosm of the same political notion at work in our state, notions that imagine that there is something like a free lunch when it comes to education. The attacks on teachers and even the notion of public schools to judge from some both function to degrade the schools we have, and leave our children and our community under-prepared for tomorrow.

Filed under: Elections, , , , , ,

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