Monday, May 23, 2016

Texas - highest U.S. graduation rate but lowest SAT scores?

There are groups in Texas that claim that "Texas has enjoyed the highest graduation rates in America for several consecutive years."  This claim comes from TEA data and is questioned by multiple organizations in Texas including graduate schools of education and business concerns.

The accuracy of this claim can easily be questioned due to the history of enrollment by grade in Texas. Texas is only now up to graduating as many as 79% of the 9th grade full enrollment 4 years earlier.  TEA creates their higher graduation rates by shrinking the size of the 9th grade class in multiple ways, including eliminating the huge numbers taking 9th grade for a second time in Texas. Texas also "disappears" thousands of 9th graders by graduation due to designations such as "home schooling" or "returning to Mexico," or any of other of a large numbers of such categories used in Texas for this purpose.

Here are the Texas enrollment numbers by grade:

Even more troubling while some are bragging about a questionable graduation rate are the numbers indicating Texas has one of the lowest SAT score averages in the nation!   How does Texas avoid talking about this?
Data in chart above is from http://blog.prepscholar.com/average-sat-scores-by-state-most-recent 
Using the 2014 data, only three other states and D.C. have lower SAT averages than Texas.  But those four test either 96% or 100% of their students.  They have worse SAT averages than the 62% of students tested in Texas.  What would happen if Texas tested 96% or more?  Is there any doubt Texas would have the worst SAT average in the nation?

Then using the 2015 SAT scores you see an almost identical pattern again!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Texas Kindergarten Enrollment 2015/16 down 3.5% in one year!

The numbers posted for Texas Public School Enrollment for 2015/16 indicate that the dropping birthrate is now being reflected in our school enrollment. Last year Texas had 390,550 kindergarten students. This year it is down to 376,813, a 3.5% drop in just one year!
Texas School Enrollment by Grade 1997 to 2016 with graduation rate calculations.
Texas has made monumental graduation rate progress over the past 20 years, but we still have the lowest SAT and college readiness rates in the nation.  More investment must be made in education.  A potentially dropping school enrollment is not a time for Texas to save money.  We must raise student achievement far beyond the internal STAAR tests which results can be manipulated within Texas. We must compare our students on national tests.


Imagine if the four states with lower total SAT scores than Texas were able to only select the 62% of their better motivated students to take the SAT as Texas did.   What do you think the chance is that their average total scores would be higher than Texas?   This is why it must be admitted that Texas probably has the lowest SAT scores in the nation if 100% of students were tested.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Helping Urban Children of Poverty achieve like Suburban Middle Class Kids

The power of expressed and documented parental dreams for a child cannot be over-estimated. The book "Dreams from my Father" by President Obama is only one example.  

The School Time-Capsule Project has worked since 2009 to encourage parents to write such priceless letters to their child.  The response has rarely been higher than 30%.  Now a new approach is being used.  We are now asking students to write a personal letter to their parents asking for such a letter back to them. Instructions are attached to the student's request.

This major improvement to the School Time-Capsule Project was the idea of Ms. Kiki Lincoln, the Language Arts Coach at Quintanilla Middle School. She described it to me yesterday!  This is a big improvement!

Imagine that these 6th graders also ask their parents to include in that potentially priceless letter one story from their family history.  It should be a story that their parents want them to remember 30 years into the future, an important piece of their family story.

With such a personal request in a letter from their own child many parents will respond.  

The resulting parental letter would then be studied by the child, often leading to discussions with their parents. That letter would be brought to school and used in Language Arts Class as students write letters to themselves about their own plans for the future.

Parents should be prepared to write such letters to their child every year from 6th through 12th grade, until their child graduates from high school.  

A child changes a lot in just one year.  Each letter will be different, with a different story from their family history.  The more a child knows about their family history, both painful stories and wonderfully positive stories, the better.  It all helps ground a child in a valuable history providing a valuable foundation for life. 

A written record is being created.

All the letters would be placed into one self-addressed envelope for each student and then stored in the school time-capsule, a 500-pound vault bolted to the floor in a prominent place in the school lobby.  

If parents immediately see how priceless these letters are, they can certainly ask for photocopies of them to keep, or to place inside the time-capsule so that the originals can be kept at home.  That is certainly understandable, and encouraged if requested. 

Each year the letters from the previous year would be returned to the child and parents for use in preparing to write the new letters.  That only changes with the 8th grade letter that is written with plans for 10 years into the future.  The 8th grade letters will remain in the time-capsule for a decade.  

Students must also know that upon their return to get back their letters, 10 years after the 8th grade, they will also be invited to speak with current students about their recommendations for success.  Such priceless mentoring has already started at Quintanilla with the reunion of the Class of 2006 to retrieve the letters they wrote a decade ago.  It will now be an annual event, making the future ever more real for Quintanilla students.

In high school the annual letter writing pattern continues.  The final 12th grade letter will also be planning for 10 years into the future. 

Imagine how powerful those high school 10-year reunions will be as students read their letters, and their parents letters, once again.  Most important, imagine the power of what these former students can say to students sitting in the same seats they were in a decade earlier!

These are the plans working within the School Time-Capsule Project as of May of 2016. We have just completed the second 10-year reunion at Quintanilla Middle School.

Graduation rates for Quintanilla students have more than doubled and continue to rise. The most recent School Effectiveness Index (SEI) for Quintanilla is the highest of all 35 middle schools in Dallas ISD!

These achievements are all in spite of the 96 percent poverty rate for Quintanilla students which remains!  In addition, discipline problems and pregnancy rates at Quintanilla have dropped dramatically since 2006.  The best birth control is active personal planning for the future!

This year is the first year that all Quintanilla students will be writing letters.  It used to be only an 8th grade activity, but Quintanilla wants to raise their record SEI score even higher than the 59.3 in the above chart.  This change will intensify the focus on the future for all students.  Quintanilla will stay on top, unless other schools begin to have a more effective future focus with all of their students, the best competition possible for DISD students!

Actively planning for their futures, in cooperation with their parents, will continue to help students of poverty to achieve more like, and in some cases certainly better than, middle class students from any Dallas suburb!  The progress must continue!

Dallas Morning News Editorial of 5-8-16 on DISD Board Election

Our children are the winners!
Not the losers as stated in this sad editorial.

Attached to this URL please find the sad editorial the Dallas Morning News published immediately after the DISD Board Election of Saturday May 7, 2016.  It was a powerful election that put in place strong leaders wanting to support students, parents, and teachers.  But this editorial saw things terribly differently.  Again, please read it at: http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/20160507-editorial-reformers-take-hit-in-disd-trustee-votes-but-kids-stand-to-be-the-real-losers.ece . Notice how consistent the comments being made to it are.

As of this morning, 5-9-16, there have been 46 relatively consistent comments as to how off-base the Dallas Morning News and those supporting the people endorsed by the News have been. These comments are posted below as the News has a practice of erasing such comments after some months.

A permanent record of these comments needs to be made, something the Morning News does not appear to want to go down in history due to their comment erasure practices.  This is one time the direction Dallas has decided to move should be recorded and celebrated by more than just the 5-7-16 vote.

Below are public comments as of 8:38 am on 5-9-16.  
The "LikeReply" vote is under the comment being liked:
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miss_adieuX3 hours ago
The comments here say it all. I had given up reading local press touting the failed reformy/deform trash, but am glad I checked back in for this "tears of the clowns" editorial!
The voters have sent a message that the local oligarchs' agenda is unacceptable for the children of this city.
Hopefully, the exclamation point will be Mita Havlick winning the runoff, sending Dustin back to his privileged little realm of private school, the chamber of commerce, and the business founded by his grandmother.
I'm guessing his "steering purposeful initiatives" looks different for his alma mater, Greenhill (where he sends his kids,) than it does for public schools and charters/Uplift. 
Those of us steering vehicles around town will apparently not be spared the surfeit of his giant campaign signs, at least not for another month.
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PattyEvans8 hours ago
Is it just me or did the patsy that wrote this garbage not have the balls to put their name on it?
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drsteve110111 hours ago
But, but, but ... Dustin Marshall has the most signs in the neighborhood.
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miss_adieuX3 hours ago
LOL! And many of them are yuuuge. 
I'm horrified at the thought of an increase for the run-off... though perhaps they could be recycled afterwards to patch holes in leaky DISD school buildings - or repurposed into office furniture for the DISD offices at 9400 North Central.
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MindingtheStore12 hours ago
The DMN is having a childish fit because the public didn't fall for its usual trick. Confound them
even more by voting for Mita Havlick in the run-off.
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We never trump anything lately
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ParisDomane6214 hours ago
This sounds like a Mike Miles Era editorial.  Right:  The Reformers want positive change and those opposed to the kind of changes they have in mind are part of the Status Quo crowd.  How polemical of you!   You follow the national news, I assume.  Can't you see that Elites like the editorial Board of the DMN are being rejected by people precisely because the policies that serve the Elites do not serve the average person. These results represent the ongoing attempts to de-professional teaching.  ND BY THE WAY, The Woodrow Wilson feeder pattern is an example the entire city should pursue.  
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MindingtheStore11 hours ago
@ParisDomane62. The elites aren't happy with just controlling City Hall; they wish to control it all.
Reject their tactics and their endless spewing of the words "reformer" and "status quo." The reformers have brought us nothing but falling test scores, huge teacher turnover, and micromanagement of teachers. It hasn't worked; neither has it worked to elect BOT members who have no kids in DISD and have a political agenda that doesn't work in the best interests of DISD children.
Elect Mita Havlick, a parent with real skin in the game---not some pretended "reform" mantra and
PAC backing by the power brokers.
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Carolyn_Rios15 hours ago
You are so wrong it is ridiculous! The students of DISD have been losing ever since Miles came to town. If you wanted to write about what is really going on, you would write about how teachers are micromanaged to the point of not being able to teach, how there are way to many tests being given, and how the TEI evaluation system is absolutely ineffective and unreliable in telling a good teacher from a bad one. Many teachers have been lost over these things. That affects children. Maybe now this district can get on the right track.
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disdstakeholder15 hours ago
DMN, what is Dustin Marshall's "long track" record in public education?  In spite of Grigsby's accusation that we "haven't done our homework" or are "ignorant" if we aren't supporting Marshall, I have listened, read and researched Marshall's "long track record", and I see that he shows a commitment and advocacy for charter and private schools- also his support is primarily from the Dallas political machine, and I am skeptical of his motives.   Please prove me wrong with some facts.  I want the most qualified candidate to fill the trustee seat.  What has he done? What are these "transformative initiatives" that you write about? 
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RaymondCrawford16 hours ago
First you humiliate the dog attack victim, and now you cry over Faz not winning. So much wrong here
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Nrodriguez16 hours ago
"Joyce Foreman more known for disruption than unification"...that's an out and out lie and slanderous. She has been nothing but pro-student and pro-teacher during her tenure. Just because she's ask hard questions does not make her disruptive.
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BillBetzen14 hours ago
@Nrodriguez When Trustee Foreman's demanding transparency leads to some calling her disruptive, what is really happening?  What is being kept secret?  Trustee Foreman is a hero for DISD children!
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elliemayhem19 hours ago
The fact that the "reformers" took a hit speaks volumes to how much credibility the DMN has these days.
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mike.macnaughton19 hours ago
Still another clueless, stinking pile of horse manure from the DMN editorial opinion writers. Sharon Grigsby, is this your work? Demagogues? Please...get a grip.
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mike.macnaughton18 hours ago
Oh, it's Ms. Grigsby for sure. The writing style is the same.
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drsteve110120 hours ago
Maybe I'm dense, because I don't get it. You bellyache and moan for diversity, then when you get it, you complain that the diversity of opinions that don't fall into lockstep with your ideas are inimical to the students. Remember, diversity goes beyond race and ethnicity; it also includes ideas and opinions. Deal with it.
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BillBetzen14 hours ago
@drsteve1101 Why Is the Dallas Morning News only comfortable with an all male DISD Board?  They certainly are not supporting the two women remaining on the board over this transition, and they have only been supporting male replacements in spite of the fact that dedicated and capable women are running with MUCH more experience and hundreds of more volunteer hours inside DISD than the men the Morning News endorsed.  
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drsteve110114 hours ago
The gender of the candidates doesn't bother me near as much as the endorsement of one candidate who graduated from a private school and sends his own kids to private school, yet wants to be on the public school board. Seems to me he talks the talk, but doesn't walk the walk. Aside from being a taxpayer (presumably), which is mandatory if you want to keep your property, he is not a DISD stakes holder. To me, that endorsement makes no sense at all. Cronyism at its best, I guess.
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BillBetzen13 hours ago
@drsteve1101 I agree with your point, but having watched the DISD Board for many years, women trustees, with ONLY one exception, have been the first to become critical of Mike Miles type management and the internal secrecy that grew within DISD under Miles.  Just look at the past 4 years.  Where were the men who raised alarm over this falling student achievement?  Three of the four women on the board raised alarm during these tragic years in DISD history!  Children were neglected as Dallas did not adequately listen to these three dedicated trustees who were also all women!  
When will this decline in achievement stop? (Hopefully it has already, but that data is not yet in.)

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drsteve110112 hours ago
Miles was an utter train wreck. BTW, all of our kids are DISD graduates (pre-Miles), and doing quite well, thank you (knock wood). I think at least one had you for a teacher, Bill.
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BillBetzen10 hours ago
@drsteve1101 It may also have been my son Mike who taught Physics at Booker T. Washington until he had served 18 great years, but he transfered out of DISD during the third year of Miles.  They all recommended him for DTR and the raises involved, but he wanted no more of it.  He joined the 6,000+ teachers who left under Miles.  A dozen teachers left Booker T. that year.   BTW almost never has such turnover.  That is the so-called "reform" that the Morning News was defending with the very poorly written editorial they posted 24 hours ago.  
It is long past due that Dallas focus on DISD data and discuss it in open public meetings.  What is really happening and why are there no such meetings to focus on the data that is supposed to be driving change in DISD?
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drsteve110110 hours ago
Might have been Mike. Had one at Booker T, one at SEM, one at Hillcrest. As for the data, when I was in E&A, our reports (including data) were published on the DISD website. That was pre-Miles. Don't know about now.
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Tami Walker from Facebook 21 hours ago
Your judgement against Mita is ridiculous and uneducated. Makes me want to fight harder for her until the runoff!
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JustaGuy 21 hours ago
I smell sour grapes.  The people have spoken.  Too bad that your liberal agenda has failed to reach the people again,
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BillBetzen 20 hours ago
The DMN agenda is not "liberal" by any stretch of that term. The issues are not liberat/conservative but are centered on timely transparency of all deidentified performance data. That data documents the progress 2007 to 2011 reflected in data through 2013. It also shows the decline since 2012 reflected in the data since 2013.
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drsteve110119 hours ago
Having worked in the DISD Evaluation and Accountability (data collection and analysis) department, I can attest that this statement is 100% accurate.
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Tod Grimes from Facebook 21 hours ago
We really need transgendered locker rooms.
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ksksjt 22 hours ago
Are you kidding me with your comments about Mita Havlick?!? This is just more proof that you have not taken the time to listen to Mita and learn why she entered this race and what she plans to do when she becomes the District 2 Trustee. To say that Mita just wants to protect the Woodrow Wilson feeder pattern is not only ridiculous but offensive to her and everyone that has worked so hard for her during this election. It's one thing for the DMN to endorse and support a candidate but for you to report false statements about other candidates is completely unacceptable!! Mita is in race for all the right reasons and wants every child to get the amazing education they deserve no matter what district they live in. Shame on you DMN!!! 
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JamesDeLeon22 hours ago
Making the assumption that so-called school reformers work for the welfare of children is dead wrong. All too often so-called reformers work for their buddies who run so called non-profits who pay them six figure salaries for their efforts. All too often so-called school reformers give the Education Testing Services and Pearson a steady stream of cash.

Building trust and collaboration, maintaining neighborhood schools, and ending the hideous reliance on pencil-and-bubble exams is what real reform is all about.  The DallasNews.com editorial board seems to be quite lost and dangerously promotes reforms which don't work.

Just look at the big mess HISD is in after seven years of your so-called education reform.

www.houstonisdwatch.com
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Can the kids read, write and cipher? No.
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Jonny23 hours ago
Hopefully this new group of board members fizzles out the pay for performance scheme that the old guard was trying to push through.
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BillBetzen23 hours ago
@Jonny It was before my retirement that one of the first pay for performance plans was used and I consider it to have been a great success!  If a teachers students in any given year did significantly better on the final area-wide testing then that teacher received a bonus that year.  One year, possibly 2009, I remember receiving an extra $3,000.  This was in addition to the regular salary.  It worked and was certainly encouragement to remain a teacher and work even harder.
One of the many problems with TEI is that mentoring and immediate feedback appear to have disappeared as the district went to 35% test scores and 15% student feedback combined with a 10-observation score system for the remaining 50%.  
I have made futile open records requests attempting to determine the correlation between high scores on the 10 observations with the high scores on the 35% that is due to student achievement.  Nobody within DISD talks about this obvious area needing study.  If this system is working there should be a high correlation between the 50% score and the 35% score.   Absent that, the TEI is a fraud played against the people of Dallas to destroy DISD with record teacher turnover so charter schools have less competition. 
What is that correlation?
Remember that charter schools have monumental teacher turnover, over twice as high as ISD's in Texas.  Some Uplift schools have had turnover greater than 70% in just one year!  How is that good for education?  
I fear money and the making of money is a big factor in the crisis we face in DISD.  See http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/2016/01/charter-schools-as-investments-2016.html
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PriscillaClark1 day ago
Correct me if I'm wrong. The DMN supports the Reformers over the Demagogues. The Reformers have brought us lower test scores year after year. If the DMN really believes “student outcomes trump everything else” then how can they support the reformers? 
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FullContact291 day ago
Okay, you're wrong.
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PriscillaClark23 hours ago
@FullContact29 And I'm wrong how? Name one "reform" that has benefied student outcomes.
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DianeBirdwell1 day ago
What a lousy, immature editorial!
Look, let us make one thing clear: Oak Cliff, NOT you-- NOT the Oligarchy, got to vote, and they wisely chose someone who is involved, intelligent, NOT burdened with personally embarrassing issues and NOT in a conflict of interest status---Got it?
The "status quo" you tout is double-speak, because YOU actually try to keep the REAL status quo going--- one where a small group of people meet behind closed doors to choose the path for kids they never Haden schools their own kids do not attend!
Why are you so afraid to have a teach pair of eyes and ears on the Board? Why are you so afraid of parents who saw the bullying of Mike Miles and the cowardice of Eric Cowen in faking to handle it?
Your refusal to see past your puppet masters is why your newspaper had to keep laying people off. You become less integral to the city every day.
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RiaConn1 day ago
It seems that with the DMN shutting down the only commenting site available they still didn't get the backward results they wanted.  Vote Havlick and let the children be the winners in this propaganda driven, regressive reform DMN seems to seek.
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Ramon_Mejia1 day ago
This editorial is garbage. But what can one expect from a so-called publication employed with self-important publishers, editors, and writers who follow their corporate employers’ political line. Don't act like you actually are concerned about the education of our youth. If you did, you'd be writing legitimate op-eds addressing how our student's have been receiving subpar education.
You're more than welcome to come see how what you call so-called reforms have helped my 7th and 8th graders. Go to sleep. Can't wait until this publication closes its doors because its foolish to expect objective reporting anytime soon.
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W._Ryan_Williamson1 day ago
So, DISD children are losers?
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DianeBirdwell1 day ago
They were losing big time under Miles, but maybe we can throw out the vestiges of his disastrous decisions!
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BillBetzen1 day ago
This DMN editorial is wrong! Today's trustee election was a major step forward for Dallas ISD. With only one exception, the candidates supported with the biggest campaign funds and endorsed by those who most strongly supported Mike Miles, did not win! There are many reasons for that.
The public is noticing the damage done to DISD over the past three years: the record loss of teachers and declines in student achievement, all surrounded in an atmosphere of secrecy within a district claiming to be “driven” by this same alleged data that is not reported monthly for unknown reasons.  Nothing is more important than student achievement!  Why is it missing? See http://dallasisd.us/
Now DISD can move toward a more truly transparent district that is really driven by data that is made public in the most timely fashions possible. Our students and our city will be the winners. Secrecy must end! The data should be posted online monthly as part of the superintendents report.
Does the Dallas Morning News truly support the formation of a $1.6 billion bond program with no minutes made of the task force meetings, no record of attendance or of the decision making process, or who supported which decisions made? Does the Dallas Morning News support this? (See the record below!) One of the people the Morning News endorsed was a co-chair of the Future Facilities Task Force which operated in such secrecy!
How is such secrecy in the best interest of DISD children?

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PattyEvans1 day ago

All the people backed by the DMN are high rollers with connections so deep to politics it's sick. Don't be pissed that the people in the district in which they represent voted for doers over the paid fors. Specifically D7. Do 2 seconds of research and you will find the same money goes to the candidates supported by the DMN.