CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A teenager grips the steering wheel and presses pedals. He sees wind-blown snow in front of him as he approaches the runway. A video game? No, George Radashaw is at a public charter school, simulating a flight in a Cessna airplane.
“I’ve always loved aviation,” the 17 year-old said, keeping his eyes focused on panels of high-tech instruments. “It started at 3. I saw an airplane, and I wanted to fly them ever since.”
Radashaw is getting his wish at West Michigan Aviation Academy. It’s a unique public high school in western Michigan that was started in 2010 by Dick DeVos with much encouragement from his wife, Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to head the U.S. Education Department, who will testify at a Senate confirmation hearing Jan. 17.
The nonprofit charter school has grown from 80 students in rundown office space at Gerald R. Ford International Airport to its own building with 600 students from seven counties. Some kids ride three public buses to get to the suburban airport. One teen stays with friends in the Grand Rapids area and commutes 150 miles to home on weekends. A public lottery is held each spring if applications exceed openings.
The school seems to fit Betsy DeVos’ philosophy about education and what she’s pledging to promote in Washington.
Betsy and Dick DeVos founded the Great Lakes Education Project, a school-choice advocacy organization that includes a political action committee. As part of Michigan’s bailout of the Detroit school district last year, the group and others with ties to the DeVos family successfully fought a proposal that would have created a commission to make decisions about opening schools, including publicly funded charters. It was blocked in the Republican-controlled Legislature.
“The answer isn’t bigger government,” she said at a Trump postelection rally in December. “The answer is local control. It’s listening to parents — and it’s giving more choices.”
Around the country, enrollment in charter schools grew from about 448,343 in 2000 to about 2.5 million in the 2013-14 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In Detroit, nearly a third of 113,000 students attend a charter school in the city or surrounding areas. Critics believe the schools are being opened largely unchecked.
Not all charters are as successful as West Michigan Aviation. The school is tuition-free, just like other Michigan charter schools or traditional public schools. It operates with a per-student allowance from the state, which is roughly $7,500 this year. But the DeVos couple also gave more than $7 million through 2014, according to family foundation tax records, including a $3 million no-interest loan to expand and equip the building.
“You need a benefactor. You need a supporter like Dick DeVos to do it,” said Patrick Cwayna Sr., West Michigan Aviation’s chief executive.
Dick DeVos, a pilot and son of billionaire Amway co-founder Richard DeVos, said it’s vital to be at the airport.
“That was a desire of Betsy’s and mine. … We felt it was important that kids are reminded daily about the possibilities in life,” he said. “Planes coming and going and people traveling to other parts of the world. Their futures could be a part of that.”
There are aviation classes in every grade, including history, plane maintenance, electronics and pilot instruction. The school has two Cessna 172 planes; one was donated by Delta Air Lines. Students who make a solo flight wear white shirts after reaching the milestone, standing out in a sea of kids in blue shirts.
Engineering also gets much attention, with classes in computer science, robotic systems and aerospace engineering. At the same time, there are traditional offerings of math, literature and foreign language. Not every student wants to become a pilot or even land in the aviation field.
“But if we get them inspired by looking at airplanes and slip them a high quality education while they’re not looking — all the better, right?” Dick DeVos said.
During the last school year, 28 percent of students were black or Hispanic, which is higher than the percentage of people who are black or Hispanic in Kent County. English is not the main language for 9 percent of students. A room is set aside for Muslims who want to pray.
There have been three graduating classes so far. The average SAT score last spring for juniors was 1072, according to the state, higher than the statewide average and among the top 10 in the county.
“I’ve been blown away by what I’ve seen,” said Alec Gallimore, dean of engineering at the University of Michigan, who has visited three or four times and been impressed by the diversity and work ethic.
Can West Michigan Aviation be replicated? Doug Harris, an economics professor at Tulane University who specializes in education, said specialty schools can be promising but some would have trouble sustaining themselves.
“The issue is less about whether they are niche schools and more about whether the educational themes and methods are expensive relative to more traditional approaches,” said Harris, who has criticized Betsy DeVos’ nomination as education secretary. “An aviation school requires an unusual amount of physical capital and teachers who know how to fly planes. That’s clearly going to be more expensive than a traditional school.”
Julia Stevenson, 17, is the student who commutes about three hours on weekends between Grand Rapids and home in Traverse City. She wants to pursue aeronautical sciences in college.
“My parents thought I was crazy,” Stevenson said of attending West Michigan Aviation. “But I got them on board because they knew it was my dream. I’m doing something I love.”
Associated Press researcher Monika Mathur contributed to this story.
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ROSWELL, Ga. (AP) — A deer came barreling through the showroom of an Atlanta area car dealership after jumping through an open window.
Local news outlets report the surprise visitor startled employees at Nalley Lexus in Roswell.
The dealership posted a video Monday on Facebook that shows the deer slipping and sliding on the showroom floor before running into the garage area and out one of the doors.
No one was injured.
Nalley Lexus employees joked that while the deer made it out safely, the animal still hasn’t returned their follow up sales calls.
MEXICO CITY (AP) — The U.S. citizen arrested by Mexican authorities in connection with last week’s shooting of a U.S. consular official in Guadalajara has been sent out of Mexico, the federal Attorney General’s Office said late Monday.
Its statement did not reveal where the suspect was sent, saying only that he was repatriated in coordination with U.S. authorities and in accordance with Mexican law. It said Mexican authorities would continue their investigation into the incident.
The statement did not give the suspect’s name, but an official with the Attorney General’s Office earlier identified him as Zia Zafar, a U.S. citizen. The official agreed to discuss the situation only if not quoted by name because the details had not been formally released.
The victim of the shooting survived the attack Friday. Neither Mexican nor U.S. officials released the victim’s name, but local media have identified him as Christopher Ashcraft. Ashcraft is listed on social networking sites as a consular officer in Guadalajara since 2016.
An American official in the United States who had seen a written summary of the investigation said authorities were still trying to determine a motive for the shooting. The official said a preliminary investigation found the suspect had mental health issues. The U.S. official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the investigation and agreed to speak to the AP only on condition of anonymity.
The official said the victim was recovering at a medical facility in Guadalajara and was in “stable condition” Monday.
Surveillance video of the attack shows a man with dark hair and sunglasses shoot into the official’s car as it exited an underground parking garage. The attacker then runs away.
After the attack, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City urged citizens to limit their exposure in Guadalajara. “They should also take care not to fall into predictable patterns for those movements that are essential,” the statement continued. “They should vary the times and routes of their movements.”
On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement thanking Mexico for the quick arrest.
Associated Press writer Christopher Sherman reported this story in Mexico City and AP writer Michael Balsamo reported from Los Angeles.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Few people realized it at the time, but the world shifted fundamentally a decade ago when Steve Jobs pulled the first iPhone from Apple’s bag of technological tricks.
“Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything,” Jobs declared as he paced across a San Francisco stage.
It obviously wasn’t an empty boast. We all know now that Jobs’ “magical product” has reshaped culture, shaken up industries, put computers in billions of pockets and made it possible to do just about anything with a few taps on a screen. Besides its then 3.5-inch touch screen, the first iPhone featured a browser for on-the-go web surfing and built-in apps to check email and get directions.
Apple has sold more than 1 billion iPhones since its debut, spawning millions of mobile applications and prodding other technology companies to make similar smartphones that have become like phantom limbs for many of us.
We use iPhones and their copycats to instantly share video and pictures with friends and family from almost anywhere. We use them to figure out where we are going. We use them to find the best deals while shopping in stores and to pay for stuff at the checkout stand. We use the phones to a hail ride, to tune instruments, to monitor our health and help find our next jobs.
Phones have gotten so smart that they even talk back to us via helpful digital concierges such as the iPhone’s Siri and the recently introduced Assistant on Google’s Pixel phone.
“IPhone is an essential part of our customers’ lives, and today more than ever it is redefining the way we communicate, entertain, work and live,” Apple’s current CEO, Tim Cook, boasted in a retrospective that the Cupertino, California, company posted on its website.
ROADKILL IN ITS WAKE
The iPhone’s revolutionary touch screen doomed the BlackBerry, another once-popular internet-connected phone. Mobile phones and their tablet cousins triggered a downturn in personal computer sales that is still unfolding.
An estimated 219 million desktop and laptop computers shipped worldwide last year, down from 264 million in 2007, according to the research firm Gartner Inc. Meanwhile, nearly 1.9 billion mobile phones shipped last year, up from 1.15 billion in 2007.
All told, Gartner estimates about 5 billion mobile phones are currently in use around the world compared to 1.3 billion PCs.
The eroding popularity of PCs spurred shake-ups at powerful tech companies such as Microsoft, Intel, Hewlett-Packard and Dell, none of which adapted nimbly to the mobile world unleashed by the iPhone.
Then-Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer scoffed at Apple’s glass-and-metal gadget, telling USA Today in April 2007 that “there’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.”
Microsoft wound up squandering the $7.6 billion that it spent to buy phone maker Nokia in a futile attempt to catch up to the iPhone. Ballmer stepped down as CEO three years ago and was replaced by Satya Nadella, who introduced versions of Microsoft’s popular Office programs that worked on Apple’s iPad — a tablet based on the iPhone.
A HUGE HIT … AND THEN A STALL
The iPhone’s success helped make Jobs a revered figure for many, and one whose October 2011 death was mourned around the world.
The device has established Apple as the world’s most profitable company with earnings of $45.7 billion on sales of $216 billion during its latest fiscal year. (Prior to the iPhone’s release, Apple posted an annual profit of $2 billion on sales of $19.3 billion.) Its stock-market value is hovering around $635 billion, thanks to a split-adjusted stock price that’s risen by nearly a factor of 10 since the iPhone’s debut.
Lately, though, the iPhone appears to be losing some steam. People are keeping older models for longer before upgrading or switching over to competing phones that run on Google’s Android software.
Apple suffered its first-ever decline in iPhone sales in its last fiscal year, causing the company to miss its revenue projections and hitting Cook with a 15 percent pay cut .
Most smartphones now run on Android, partly because Google gives away the software. That has helped iPhone rivals woo price conscious consumers, especially outside the U.S., with phones that are much cheaper than the iPhone, whose latest models now cost more than $649 to $849.
In his statement, though, Cook promised the iPhone is “just getting started. The best is yet to come.”
MIAMI (AP) — The NFL has begun a review of the concussion protocol conducted on Miami Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore when he left his team’s playoff game at Pittsburgh after being shaken up.
Moore was hit in the chin as he threw a pass, and the play drew a roughing-the-passer penalty on Pittsburgh’s Bud Dupree. Dolphins medical staff attended to Moore on the field, and he was evaluated on the sideline by an independent neurological consultant and team physician before returning to the game.
Moore missed only one play in Miami’s 30-12 loss Sunday.
Under a procedure in the collective bargaining agreement, the league, in consultation with the NFL Players Association, will review documents and video and interview the parties involved to determine whether the protocol was followed properly. The review doesn’t mean the NFL has drawn conclusions as to whether the protocol was followed, the league said in a statement.
The Dolphins declined comment Monday on the review but said Sunday that Moore was cleared by the neurological consultant and team physician to return to the game.
Moore said he wasn’t seriously hurt.
“I just got popped,” Moore said after the game. “I just needed a second there. I got checked out. I felt fine. It was more of my jaw than anything else. I felt good. I came back in and I was fine.”
After returning to the game, Moore lost two fumbles and threw an interception. Coach Adam Gase didn’t attribute the turnovers to any lingering health issues for Moore.
“When they told me he was coming back in, I started talking to him, and he was good,” Gase said. “The league did their deal, and our trainers, and they cleared everything.”
Was Gase surprised Moore received clearance to return to the game so quickly?
“I didn’t see the actual hit,” Gase said. “When they come to me, I just play off of that. I didn’t really know what was the exact injury and how he got hit.”
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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — As the last of the top jobs in the Trump administration are handed out in Washington, Gov. Chris Christie is looking increasingly like the guy in “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” who is told: “You get nothing! You lose! Good day, sir!”
With his own failed presidential campaign behind him and his support of Donald Trump unrewarded with a high-level post, Christie instead faces his eighth and final year as governor of New Jersey, where his approval ratings are a dreadful 19 percent.
His numbers have been dragged down by resentment over his national ambitions, his embrace of Trump and the George Washington Bridge traffic-jam scandal.
On Tuesday, Christie will deliver his annual State of the State Address, during which the 54-year-old Republican will lay out his agenda — and no doubt begin trying to salvage his legacy — to an electorate that would rather see him go.
“Gov. Christie has reached the nadir of both his popularity and his power, and, at this point, it appears there are few remaining opportunities to further his political career in any predictable way,” said Montclair State University political science professor Brigid Harrison. “That said, this is a politician who has consistently written his own script.”
Christie has, in fact, begun mending fences with Trump, paying a visit to Trump Tower last week where he met with the president-elect and staffers, and could end up joining the administration later on, according to people familiar with the discussions. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
While Christie in his 2015 State of the State focused on national issues with an eye toward the White House, he is expected this time to concentrate on problems closer to home, namely the state’s opioid addiction crisis.
“One thing you should know for sure is that I am going to leave this job exactly the same way I came into it,” Christie said recently. “Loudly.”
A former U.S. attorney who made a name for himself prosecuting political corruption, Christie swept into office in 2009 and governed with a blunt and often bruising style, tangling with ordinary people who dared challenge him in public.
He was widely praised for his field-marshal-like leadership after Superstorm Sandy ravaged the state in 2012 and for telling people to “get the hell off the beach” during a hurricane in 2011. He made the cover of Time magazine with the headline “The Boss.”
He cruised to re-election in 2013 and was seen as a strong potential 2016 candidate for president. But he was soon engulfed in scandal when it was learned that some of his allies had closed lanes and created gridlock at the George Washington Bridge to punish a Democratic mayor for not endorsing him.
Christie was not charged and insisted he had no knowledge of the plot. But testimony at the trial last fall of two of his loyalists suggested he knew more than he let on. And the scandal reinforced his reputation as a bully, contributing to his weak showing in the early presidential contests.
Christie soon threw his endorsement to Trump, though he was ridiculed mercilessly for his shell-shocked, thousand-yard stare at a campaign event with the billionaire businessman.
Trump tapped Christie to lead his transition team but passed him over for vice president. The pair had their differences, including a dispute over how Trump should respond to the release of the video that showed Trump bragging about groping women, and relations grew strained.
Days after Trump won, Christie was booted as head of the transition and Christie loyalists were scrubbed from job short lists. Christie was soon passed over for top administration positions, including attorney general, though he also turned down several jobs as well, according to a person with knowledge of Christie’s decision.
Back home in New Jersey, there is little affection for him.
In his seven years in office, a deal he made to shore up the public pension fund fell apart, a plan to change the school funding formula has stalled, and he has made little progress against the state’s notoriously high property taxes.
Last month, a plan he pushed to raise the salaries of top state officials in exchange for letting him profit from a book deal while in office collapsed amid a public outcry.
Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, attributed Christie’s low ratings to a number of factors, including Bridgegate, his backing of Trump in heavily Democratic New Jersey and a feeling among many people that the governor “has turned his back on the state and used it as a steppingstone for his own advancement.”
As for other career possibilities, Christie has said he could go into the private sector to make money, noting he is still paying off his children’s college tuition bills. He also wants to write that book. And he is a semi-regular host on a New York sports radio program.
“In the modern history of New Jersey we have not seen the kind of fall Chris Christie has had. He went from his tremendous re-election of 2013 to where we are in 2017,” said Ben Dworkin, director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics. “The man had a huge opportunity in his second term to reshape New Jersey because he had such a dominant performance, but it all seemed to have flittered away.”
Republican Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, a close ally of the governor’s, faulted the media for “trolling” for bad news about public officials.
“Once heads pop up in the 2017 race,” Bramnick said, “maybe Gov. Christie doesn’t look too bad.”
Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in New York contributed to this story.
This story has been corrected to show that Superstorm Sandy was in 2012.