♫ You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store ♫

Sixteen Tons Tennessee Ernie Ford

Ebeneezer Scrooge:  I have been forced to support the establishments I have mentioned through taxation and God knows they cost more than they’re worth. Those who are badly off must go there.

Scrooge 1970

I’m not going to stand by and allow our kids to go to failing schools

Representative Angela Williams Democrat of Colorado

There was a time when Unions and the Democrat party would rail against monopoly and the symbols of monopoly like the “company store” (not to be confused with the actual “company store” seller of fine linnens since 1911) where the workers dependent on the local company for their wages would spend said wages in a store owned by the company for their basic needs at the price the company set.

How times have changed:

The Massachusetts Democratic Party on Tuesday night voted to oppose a ballot question that would expand charter schools in Massachusetts, putting the party at odds with some of its members in the Legislature.

“Our local communities cannot afford to lose even more money to charter schools,” said former Rep. Carol Donovan, a Democratic State Committee member from Woburn, in a statement. “Already, cities and towns forced to make budget cuts every year due to the state’s underfunding of education and the money lost to charters. If this ballot question passes, it will create budget crises in hundreds of Massachusetts communities, and hurt the students who remain in our local district public schools.”

For those not familiar with Question 2 the Lowell sun reports:

upcoming ballot Question 2 would allow up to 12 charter schools or enrollment expansions every year. Preference would go to school districts whose academic performance places them in the bottom 25 percent of the state.

For a moment lets forget that the charter schools ARE in the local community and that they are in fact public schools within the local districts and consider what the committee woman is saying.

She is advocating that any child of a parent who can’t afford to pay twice for school (once for taxes and once for private school)  should be subject to a monopoly where regardless of the quality of the product, the safety of the environment where the product is produced or the end result of the use of the product every such child MUST use it.

That is the very definition of a company store.

Moreover said expansion gives preference to those places where the Monopoly has failed.

It’s interesting to note that, unlike the opposition, the support for Question 2 is bipartisan uniting Massachusetts GOP governor Charlie Baker:

“Closing the achievement gap and ensuring a quality education for all of the Commonwealth’s students is one of my top priorities,” said Governor Baker. “And charter schools, which are producing great academic outcomes, are one of many tools that must be part of the solution.”

‪And longtime democrats like state Senator Michael Rodrigues

“Public charter schools have helped to close the achievement gap by providing kids with longer school days, more personal attention, and outstanding results,” said Sen. Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport). “Lifting the cap, and providing more kids with the quality public education they deserve, isn’t about politics – it’s about what’s best for children.”

This is precisely what I saw at Amplify Choice in Denver where Democrat State Rep Angela Williams (now running for state Senate made a presentation on the difficulties of passing Charter school and school choice legislation

And boldly declared during her presentation:

It’s also why parents like Chhorvivoin Sumsethi are manning phone banks to pass it

Her child has been stuck on the waiting list for Lowell Community Charter Public School for two years. She has lost hope, she said, because it seems to take forever.

“I truly believe in competition for improvement of quality of education, and I feel that regular public schools don’t have enough competition,” she said. “And private schools — how many people among the general public can afford that?”

But as long as the Union owns the Public School company store and the Democrat party owns the unions Democrat voices like Rep. Frank Moran of Lawrence and Senator Rodriguez will be the exception rather than the rule.

Until that changes it will take ballot questions like question 2 to give Massachusetts voters a chance to decide if the Union company store has gets any competition.


If you like what you see here please consider hitting DaTipjar




Olimometer 2.52

Please consider Subscribing. Right now our subscribers consist of 1/50 of 1% of our total unique visitors based on last years numbers.

If we can get another 150 subscribers at $10 a month (another 1/10 of 1% of those who have visited this year) We can meet our annual goals with no trouble, with the same number of subscribers at $20 a month I could afford to cover the presidential campaign outside of New England firsthand.

And of course at that price you get the Da Magnificent Seven plus those we hope to add on and all subscribers get my weekly podcast emailed directly to you before it goes up anywhere else.


Choose a Subscription level



and if you want to fight the MSM company store join the Have Fedora Will Travel pledge drive to send me to cover Donald Trump on the road

I got to Redstate a tad late on the final day as I had crashed the night before quickly and needed to pack. The Hotel agreed to hold our bags as checkout time was noon and our flight wasn’t until 6:50 pacific. As soon as I was done I headed over to Redstate and the interviews began

I talked to Kevin Boyd who had also attended Amplify choice

And then managed to speak to Katie Pavlich

It was interesting to note the fame she had gained over the last few years didn’t keep her from manning the registration table greeting people as they came

Followed swiftly by Ed Morrissey who also talked a little Pope Francis with me

But the interviews were not confined to TV personalities and bloggers I talked to attendees such as Todd

and Joan

who had offered me & dawife a ride to the airport which would have been our backup emergency plan

In between interviews I also saw the presentation of Senator Cory Gardner

Sen Cory Gardner
Sen Cory Gardner

And Carly Fiorina, whose speech I was tweeting out as it happened

It’s my opinion that other things not withstanding the highlight of redstate was when Leon Wolf opened things up to the crowd, I wrote about that here.

And later interviewed Leon about it.

One of the most interesting interviews of the trip was with Kelly Maher who not only talked policy but carries a Wallaby in her purse

For those of you who skip the interview I wasn’t kidding

Welby the Wallaby at Redstate
Welby the Wallaby at Redstate

But in the end my flight time ruled the roost so I had to head out but I managed to catch Pundit Pete who had attended both Amplify choice and redstate on the way

I caught the springhill suite shuttle back to the hotel and after gathering our stuff waited a bit while they made one more run before taking us to union station. As Valery & I waited Amelia Hamilton showed up with Kimberlee Kaye and together they were my final interview of the trip

From there came the shuttle, the train the airport and the flight. Denver was behind us and the storms that had been hitting New England ahead but our oldest and his friend were there to pick us up and get us home and by 3:30 AM on Sunday I was able to put my head to pillow and sleep in my own bed.

As good as the week was, that was a real pleasure.

Dash: But Dad always said our powers were nothing to be ashamed of, our powers made us special.
Helen: Everyone’s special, Dash.
Dash: Which is another way of saying no one is.

The Incredibles 2004

Last Sunday when I woke up after getting home from Denver I turned on the TV as I got dressed for the Madonna Della Cava festival and noticed a commercial playing attacking Charter Schools and question 2 which began with the words.

“400 million dollars, that’s how much charter schools will drain from Massachusetts public schools this year”

Under normal circumstances this would be more background political noise that I would ignore but I had just come back from the Amplify choice conference put on by the Franklin Center where we spent a day and a half listening to speakers talk about Charter Schools both in Denver and across the nation.

And having attended said conference I knew that best the “Save our schools” crowd was being deceptive and at worst they were lying through their teeth because that statement ignores a cogent fact about charter schools…

Charter schools are public schools.

That would seem to be a rather important fact for that argument but an ad saying: “400 million dollars, that’s how much money will be spent on some public schools instead of others this year”  is unlikely to scare voters.

From that point the ad argument doesn’t get better.

400 million syphoned from local districts that desperately need it.

Except for the fact the Charter Schools are still part of the school districts that they are located in.

400 million that won’t fund more science and technology…

Actually the 400 million will just fund science and technology at a different school as anyone who joined me in visiting the Denver School of Science and Technology last week would know and met Sheila…

…and some of her classmates

The three wise young women
The three wise young women

…would see that science would not suffer, it will prosper.

arts or preschool, counseling or smaller class sizes

In fact charter that money would not only fund smaller class sizes which are the norm at charter schools but would fund them for groups that traditionally don’t get them as this enrollment chart shows:

In fact the STRIVE charter schools in Denver enrollment is 97% of color reflecting the neighborhoods they operate in.

$400 million unavailable to the 96% of students who don’t attend charter schools

That sentence is funny , it would be just as accurate to say to describe the $1.013 billion budgeted to the Boston Public schools as….

$1.013 Billion dollars unavailable to students who don’t attend Boston public schools”

…which again isn’t going to scare anyone.

The “save our schools” ads when they finish with

“Let’s improve public schools for all students, not just a select few.”

Forgetting for a second that by this argument your public school should not get a new lab because said lab is not for all public school students, just for the select few that go to it. It ignores that fact that the rising tide of Charter schools tends to lift all boats as evidenced by the results in Denver before expansion of charter schoolsDenver mid 2000'sand after
denver after

What is this ad actually arguing? It’s arguing to keep schools that are failing from having to compete with schools that are not, and it’s counting on the fact that most of the people seeing this ad, did not attend the Franklin Center #amplifychoice event this year.

Or to put it another way this “save our schools” ad is completely dependent on its audience being uneducated and uninformed about the results charter schools bring to protect failing public schools

Rather ironic isn’t it?

If you want to find out more about charter schools check out the #amplifychoice hashtag here or check out these posts at DaTechGuyblog:

Denver Day Two The Zoo and then Six #AmplifyChoice Conference Interviews

Denver Day Three Part 1: Panels and speakers

Denver Day Three Part 2: Da Writers at #AmplifyChoice

Denver Day Four Part 1: #AmplifyChoice on the Road


There were a lot of expenses involved in a week in Denver not the least being missing a week’s pay from my job. If you’d like to help me cover them please consider hitting DaTipJar below

Also this is week 4 of our 6 week tryouts for Da Magnificent Prospects You can check out their work Monday evening, Tuesday at Noon, All Day Thursday and Saturday at noon. If you like what you see from them consider hitting DaTipjar in support of them (and please mention their name when you do) as both internet hits and tipjar hits will be part of scoring who stays & who goes.

(If you can’t see DaTipJar button below on their posts use the one on the 2nd column on the right)




Olimometer 2.52

Please consider Subscribing. If less than 1/3 of 1% of our readers subscribed at $10 a month we’d have the 114.5 subscribers needed to our annual goal all year without solicitation.

Plus of course all subscribers get my weekly podcast emailed directly to you before it goes up anywhere else.


Choose a Subscription level



Day Four in Denver and the last day of Amplify Choice started with a Bus Trip to a pair of charter Schools in the Denver area and me being me I took advantage of the time waiting for the bus after mass to interview bloggers Art Gallagher

and Mark Lerner

some bloggers during the wait for the bus

and then on the bus to interview Aaron Gardner

Once we got to STRIVE Prep the CEO Chris Gibbons gave us a presentation

Chris Gibbons of STRIVE Prep
Chris Gibbons of STRIVE Prep

He discussed STRIVE, how they operated, the various cost saving functions (for example the multiple schools shared a single administration, cafeteria and gym) The college acceptance rate (97%) and took multiple questions from the audience.

When the presentation was done I interviewed the community outreach manager for STRIVE

I was very impressed at the idea that even though there is a waiting list for all the grades for the school that they go door to door to recruit students so the whole community knows the possibilities.

We then headed or the next school when Will Franklin who I interviewed the day before produced a Drone with a camera on it from his backpack to take aerial photos of the schools.

We then walked to the nearly adjacent Denver School of Science and technology, Where we were given a brief introduction of their methods

As we were going upstairs for our final presentation I spoke to one of their graduates Shelia who was college bound.

once upstairs we had a second presentation where questions were taken. Here is a brief excerpt.

at the end Shelia and two other students who had graduated and had internships in companies also took questions.

The three wise young women
The three wise young women

All three where immigrants or children of immigrants and all had excelled. What impressed me the most was when I asked the responsibilities of a work environment was not unfamiliar thanks to the expectations from their time at the School of Science and Technology.

This officially concluded Amplify choice but there was still the bus trip back and there were still interviews to get one on the way back to the bus with Rich Eber:

And one on the bus with blogger and radio talk host Abdul Hakeem Shabazz

When we got back to the hotel those staying for the box lunch stayed. Others were heading to Union Station and their outgoing fights including Darvio Morrow who would be my last very brief interview of Amplify choice cut off by loud cleaning and the impending bus trip.

But there was no more time, the bus was leaving, Amplify choice was done, it was time for Redstate


There were a lot of expenses involved in a week in Denver not the least being missing a week’s pay from my job. If you’d like to help me cover them please consider hitting DaTipJar below

Also this is week 4 of our 6 week tryouts for Da Magnificent Prospects You can check out their work Monday evening, Tuesday at Noon, All Day Thursday and Saturday at noon. If you like what you see from them consider hitting DaTipjar in support of them (and please mention their name when you do) as both internet hits and tipjar hits will be part of scoring who stays & who goes.

(If you can’t see DaTipJar button below on their posts use the one on the 2nd column on the right)




Olimometer 2.52

Please consider Subscribing. If less than 1/3 of 1% of our readers subscribed at $10 a month we’d have the 114.5 subscribers needed to our annual goal all year without solicitation.

Plus of course all subscribers get my weekly podcast emailed directly to you before it goes up anywhere else.


Choose a Subscription level



The speakers and the presentations are obviously the meat of the Amplify Choice conference but no less important are the writers / blogger who attended and I spoke to as many as I had time to.

Since there wasn’t a lot free time I struck the lunch ine:

I spoke to Kemberlee Kaye of Legal Insurrection

and Ernesto Cullari

And Will Franklin

We would see him again tomorrow

Once the presentations were over it was time to clear the room for dinner so I packed up as soon as I could and caught managed to talk to Heather Kays

We saw a glimpse of her during the Ben Scafidi interview and she was on the panel of reporters who cover the subject as well (Incidently her piece at Watchdog.org Teachers and tummy tucks: Buffalo’s $5 million bill for cosmetic surgery is a must read.)

and of course old friend and past Magnificent Seven writer AP Dillon

Her going onwards and upwards is the reason why we are interviewing Da Magnificent Prospects

Just before the dinner keynote & managed to grab Fay Anderson

Her point about the safety of charter schools as a motivation for parents was repeated in the keynote and is well made.

And my last interview of the night was James Foytlin

Now some of you might think that these are a lot of interviews, I suspect that if you do so, you’re new to this blog because I still had two more days in Denver to go and you ain’t seen nothing yet.


There were a lot of expenses involved in a week in Denver not the least being missing a week’s pay from my job. If you’d like to help me cover them please consider hitting DaTipJar below

Also this is week 4 of our 6 week tryouts for Da Magnificent Prospects to replace AP Lady Liberty Dillon that I interviewed above, You can check out their work Monday evening, Tuesday at Noon, All Day Thursday and Saturday at noon. If you like what you see from them consider hitting DaTipjar in support of them (and please mention their name when you do) as both internet hits and tipjar hits will be part of scoring who stays & who goes.

(If you can’t see DaTipJar button below on their posts use the one on the 2nd column on the right)




Olimometer 2.52

Please consider Subscribing. If less than 1/3 of 1% of our readers subscribed at $10 a month we’d have the 114.5 subscribers needed to our annual goal all year without solicitation.

Plus of course all subscribers get my weekly podcast emailed directly to you before it goes up anywhere else.


Choose a Subscription level



After a pleasant reception at the end of day 2 for attendees on Day three in Denver the Franklin Center event began in earnest with the speakers.

It started with a presentation from the Colorado League of Charter Schools which documented the improvements in Denver since the rise of Charter Schools.

The fact that if a Charter school doesn’t perform it closes makes a huge difference in terms of performance, the people involved know their jobs and business are on the line.

The Next speakers were State Rep Angela Williams & Dr John Evans who talked about the political struggle to get these things into law Rep Williams (who is running for state senate) noted the need to keep people at the table and Dr. Evans talks of the various struggles.

The compromises involved in getting bills passed is considerable. The way I see it the problem is less the local pols who either having children or friends with children in the system have an intrinsic interest in success but the national groups have an intrinsic interest in seeing it fail.

The independence institute came up next with three speakers Pam Benigno

Ross Izard

and Erick Valencia who I didn’t managed to get an interview with

The Blaine Amendment designed as an Anti-Catholic measure which failed on the national level but was pushed as a requirement for statehood by congress has been used as a club against the progress of charter schools. On the bright side it likely means that Islamic schools pushing sharia are not going to be funded either which is something that didn’t come up in any of the panels but which hit me right off. It also struck me that if, as the various presentations suggested that losing regulation was such a benefit for charter schools why not repeal these rules altogether for all schools?

There were many other presentations including the makers of Frack Nation

Education writers at Amplify Choice
Education writers at Amplify Choice
(who advised us to tell a story with clear heroes an villains) A talk on home schooling (which was due to a suggestion by one of the attendees, A strong talk on the constant legal battles on the state level (Since the federal win on Zelman vs Harris was 5-4 I expect to see the left go federal again) A presentation on what was done in Douglas County (where accountability is king and every single innovation involved long protracted legal fights) and some panels consisting of some of the writers who attended (those interviews will later) but from my conversation with the writers who attended the most popular speaker, bar none was Professor Ben Scafidi

His presentation was on statistics and the raw numbers and was DEVASTATING. It displayed that the schools systems were adding administration at a rate MUCH greater than the increase in students and teachers. His presentation was very tweetable

Even more devastating was the fact that even in states and districts like Louisiana and DC where the student population fell, the number of administrators still soared. It’s basically a jobs programs for bureaucrats.

At the end of the evening was dinner presentation by Ed Choice formerly the Freeman (as in Milton Freeman) foundation which talked about how this fight for school choice will makes all the difference for those who are trapped in bad schools and poor education.

Bottom line I learned that there is a lot going on in the fight for school choice that I had no idea about. I’m pleased to say that I came away much better informed.

A postscript. Just a few days later back home I would see a Wisconsin State legislator on CNN defending rioting and looting while talking about people who have no hope to get out of poverty. the presenters at Amplify Choice are fighting hard to give that hope through educational opportunities that are not defined by class or race lines.

I wonder how many of those office holders decrying such situations spend their time on the federal state and local levels fighting against groups like Ed choice and people like our presenters to maintain the status quo?


Back from Denver and over the next 30 days the bills will be coming in. While the Franklin Center covered most of the Trip there were incidentals that add up. So if you like what we do here and would like to help it continue please consider hitting DaTipJar below




Olimometer 2.52

Please consider Subscribing. Right now our subscribers consist of 1/50 of 1% of our total unique visitors based on last years numbers.

If we can get another 150 subscribers at $10 a month (another 1/10 of 1% of those who have visited this year) We can meet our annual goals with no trouble, with the same number of subscribers at $20 a month I could afford to cover the presidential campaign outside of New England firsthand.

And of course at that price you get the Da Magnificent Seven plus those we hope to add on and all subscribers get my weekly podcast emailed directly to you before it goes up anywhere else.


Choose a Subscription level



Day two in denver began, after daily mass, and the interview I posted with Fr. Scott yesterday with a trip to the zoo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Alas the shuttle from the hotel doesn’t make it to the zoo but does make it to the city park where we can walk to the zoo from.

The park is beautiful but the problem is there are a ton of geese

Which makes for a fun game of dodge the geese droppings, but if you finish the game you eventually get to the zoo and meet with some delightful volunteers like this one

and of course interesting animals like the Komodo Dragon

After a hot walk back to our starting point we headed back to the hotel where Valery headed up to the room while I set up in the lobby to begin interviewing the people coming for Amplify School choice hosted by the Franklin Center and I spoke to and finally met Josh Kalb who invited me

and then we began interviews with my fellow attendees Steve Frank now with California political review: and facebook is here

He’s been doing this before there was a net to do it with

And Tom Balek whose site is Rockin’ on the right side

and yes he has a band to go with it.

After the reception I spoke with some old friends like Galts Girl Michelle Ray:

And new friends like Shelby Blakely whose blog is PolitiCulture Upstream

When I meet an intelligent young lady like Shelby I regret DaSons weren’t here along with DaWife.

And finally Sonja Harris who blogs all over Texas including at Texas GOP votes, Conservaties in action where she’s known as Red Sonja, and fights for the cause of life.

I have three cameras with me here but one look at her camera makes me jealous.

Several of them also sat for audio podcast interviews that you’ll have to listen to future podcasts to hear

I also ran into many old friends from Rob Eno to Bridget Fey and former Magnificent Seven writer AP Dillon and also Kira Davis who to my shock & hers has family in Fitchburg and would occasionally visit.

It was a great pleasure to see them and meet others and I really enjoyed having the chance to finally introduce DaWife to some of my net friends.

All were anxious to see what the Franklin Center had in store for us the next day, they would not be disappointed.


There will be a lot of expenses involved in a week in Denver not the least being missing a week’s pay from my job. If you’d like to help me cover them please consider hitting DaTipJar below

Also today week 3 of our 6 week tryouts for Da Magnificent Prospects, You can check out their work Monday evening, Tuesday at Noon, All Day Thursday and Saturday at noon. If you like what you see from them consider hitting DaTipjar in support of them (and please mention their name when you do) as both internet hits and tipjar hits will be part of scoring who stays & who goes.

(If you can’t see DaTipJar button below on their posts use the one on the 2nd column on the right)




Olimometer 2.52

Please consider Subscribing. If less than 1/3 of 1% of our readers subscribed at $10 a month we’d have the 114.5 subscribers needed to our annual goal all year without solicitation.

Plus of course all subscribers get my weekly podcast emailed directly to you before it goes up anywhere else.


Choose a Subscription level