"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Friday, July 23, 2010

A Musical Offering for Arne Duncan and Department of Education

I love to post appropriate musical titles with blogs! I hope you enjoy today's selection:


I am dedicating this song to the Department of Education and Arne Duncan: "I hear you knocking, but you can't come in...I hear you knocking, go back where you've been...."

If you have been following the postings on this site, you are aware we are not in favor of common core standards. We are opposed not so much to the idea of standards, we are opposed to national standards. You may ask, why would we be opposed to the Federal government controlling every aspect of our schools?

If we study the facts, when a governmental agency becomes too large, it becomes ineffective. We read about the inefficiencies, corruption, lack of attention, and accountability in the VA Hospital services, Fannie and Freddie, Social Security, just to name a few agencies not known for their wise use of taxpayer money. Cash for Clunkers was a failure and the stimulus funding has been a waste of a tremendous amount of taxpayer money. Perhaps it has helped the government sector in terms of jobs, but the private sector continues to languish.

Let's look at what's been happening in the educational realm. The Federal government has tremendously increased its educational spending over the last 40 years. Here is a previous Missouri Education Watchdog posting with the numbers and graphs illustrating the enormous amount of money we (the taxpayers) have spent on education:


What have we received for these millions and millions and millions of dollars? Apparently not a whole lot as it relates to student achievement. Student scores on the SAT/ACT have been flat for forty years. Does anyone else think something is not working by throwing money at the problem? Does anyone else think this money and control being asked for is not really for the children, but for bureaucrats and unions?

By passing these common core standards in Missouri, the State Board of Education apparently thinks the Federal Government has some great ideas for our kids to succeed. Passing the common core standards is necessary for states to be eligible for Race to the Top funding. What are some of those ideas in Race to the Top?

  • Instituting a longitudinal data system in every state, partially funded, that will share your student's academic and personal (family, emotional/physical health data)information with agencies (is anyone else concerned about family relationships and health information...physical and mental...being available to bureaucrats?);
  • The redistribution of highly effective teachers and principals, meaning teachers will be reassigned to "poor performing" schools and those teachers not deemed to be highly effective will be transferred to higher scoring schools. Why live in a district with a good, solid reputation? Several of the teachers working in your district may be substandard, but, that's redistribution of wealth of talent, a stated goal of this program. If your state receives Race to the Top funding, it MUST follow this mandate.
  • Relinquishing the control of district curriculum. If the national standards teach 2 + 2 =5 or the earth is flat, and you don't agree, too bad. The curriculum has been dictated by a board made up educators/professionals of several states, and you, as a parent and taxpayer, have no voice. Envision Pandora's box opening when sex educational standards are set, or history books undergo politically correct revisions.

Neal McCluskey of Cato raises some important points in this debate and the delusion of some state educators on what common core standards represent and how they will operate:


I agree with McCluskey, the states will NOT be in the driver's seat to make decisions. Educators go to college and receive degrees to become an educator. I also have a college degree. Why do I understand (and they don't) that Missouri will not be able to set its own standards if it doesn't agree with some of the national standards? Maybe it's because I've read the proposals which are very specific stating if states do not meet the requirements MANDATED by the Federal Government, the funding will be pulled....and it all falls down like a deck of cards. We will be left with a huge debt and huge mess. Even if we do follow the mandates, we are still left with debt...the state must find $150 Million to enact these mandates. As we need to cut $1 Billion from the state budget next year, does anyone want to guess where these unfunded mandates are to be found?

This is such a shell game...the Feds say, "We'll give you money"! The governors and state school boards say "yes"! They send us a check and we then have to pay more for the money the government just gave us. Is your head spinning yet? Oh, but wait! For that money, we also sign over our control to set standards; AND we are mandated from a centralized agency, so the money for which we've given up our state sovereignty can be pulled if Missouri doesn't fulfill the federal obligations to the Federal Government! Oh, one more "minor" detail, the states were given the authority by the Constitution to educate its citizens, not the Federal Government. But why pay attention to the Constitution? That document seems to be a bit inconvenient and inconsequential in crafting legislation today in Washington, DC.

Honestly, what has happened with people and state agencies wanting and pleading to give up their authority? I know I sound like a broken record...but it's OUR money and OUR kids!

This is what occurs when our officials sell the state's claim to sovereignty and take money to become more controlled by a centralized government. The total takeover of the schools is knocking on the doors of Missouri, and our State Board, Education Commissioner and governor are inviting them in....for control, more debt, and proven incompetence of the Department of Education.

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