"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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Monday, August 23, 2010

A Teacher and Cato Institute Hit the Bullseye Dissecting the Department of Education

I came across this article from Cato, originally published in October 2009. We are witnessing the largest power grab attempt by the Federal Government in state education through RTTT, common core standards, and federal teacher bailouts. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Let's look at what Neal McCluskey, Cato education writer has to say about the Federal Government's foray into education in 2009 and where we are today:


The basic question McCluskey asks is "what is the proper Federal in education"? His answer: "The proper federal role is no role, because the Constitution gives the feds no authority over American education". This gives constitutionalists a thrill up their legs. It should. He's right.

Read and think about what he is saying...study the graph he provides and just let it soak into your brain...the TREMENDOUS amount of spending the Federal Government has poured into schools for FLAT learning results.

So, what does a teacher in the classroom have to do with Neal McCluskey and his theories?

Below is an excerpt from a teacher in a public school setting responding to questions on what was not working at the public schools. I won't tell you where this teacher is located, he/she could be anywhere in the United States. This scenario is what the Department of Education wants for the teachers and students? These mandates will not help our students excel in the "global environment" or increase test scores. Neal McCluskey believes it; the teacher lives it.

This teacher has been operating under "No Child Left Behind" standards. Teachers generally don't like these standards, as you will read below. NCLB is about to be replaced with even more mandates from the Obama administration which will cost more millions, create new testing protocol, and will throw the educational system into even more chaos.

Words from a teacher in the trenches:

Let me first say I am for abolishing the federal Department of Education. According to the 10th Amendment, education is a state issue. Nearly every single federal program handed down to me by politicians who know extremely little of education not only harms teachers, but more importantly harms kids.

Bush's No Child Left Behind is a perfect example. According to this law, every child has to read on-grade level. This mandate points out the fact politicians know nothing of education. I am an extremely optimistic person, but it is simply a fact that you cannot possibly get every child to read on grade level. Some kids simply cannot do it. Some kids are not intellectually ready for it. Some kids have an extremely difficult home life and are more worried about their daily survival than learning how to read. However, it sounds so good coming from the president and our heroic legislators, doesn't it? They're requiring teachers to get every child on grade-level.

This is my single biggest frustration as a teacher. Here's why: Two and a half hours are taken out of my instruction time a week so that I can teach 5 to 6 elementary students out of a total of about 60 how to read. All other students are given low-quality instruction. This is not completely the fault of the teachers. We are given NO time during contract hours to prepare lessons for the low achieving students OR the other 55 students. I work with our low students and because I accept nothing less than my best, I spend additional non-contracts hours making lessons for the low achieving students. However, most teachers will not do that. As a result, the rest of the 55 kids receive substandard instruction that oftentimes includes a worksheet.

So, does Bush's NCLB plan work? After working with my 5 students last year, they did improve; baby steps I would say. But, they will never read on grade level. So, their baby steps were at the expense of the 55 other students. Sounds like liberalism, eh? Nobody is allowed to achieve and we have to devote all energies to our low kids. Don't get me wrong, we SHOULD help ALL of our students, but, if I was given that 2 and a half hours back, I could MUCH more effectively help every SINGLE student in my classroom.

Common Core Standards --- I oppose these mostly because they are federally mandated. (Yes, states can choose to adopt them, but the fed are dangling money in front of the states who are cash strapped. Unfortunately the dollar signs win out over values (except in states like Texas and Alaska). We already have standards in my state. They're called Grade-Level Expectations and Course Level Expectations. Our standards in my state are among the very best. Many states model their standards after ours….so we adopted the standards and here's what going to happen. Our standards will be thrown out, we spends MILLIONS of dollars re-writing standardized tests, re-educating teachers on new standards that are not needed. Districts have to spend MILLIONS Of dollars re-writing curriculum and districts tests that were based on the old standards…ETC…the list goes on and on. Common Core Standards have absolutely nothing to do with accountability. We are already held accountable at the state level where, constitutionally speaking, it should be. Common Core Standards are, in my opinion, unconstitutional and a colossal waste of tax-payer money.

You've heard from Neal McCluskey and a teacher. This teacher is living the reality McCluskey writes about. They have the same message.

What do you think? Do you have faith in more mandates and more programming from the Department of Education? If "No Child Left Behind" did not succeed, why should this new plan be any different? Who is benefiting financially from the rewritten tests, curriculum, and the need for synchronized data systems? Do you believe this is for the benefit of the students or could it be for other interests?

If you study the FACTS of the Department of Education's directing of curriculum, you have to come to the conclusion this intrusion into states' rights has been an abject failure. Again, study the graph. That graph provides stark answers to the questions above. Come ask Neal McCluskey on September 10, 2010 YOUR education questions in St. Louis:


Missouri Education Watchdog will be there. We hope Neal can give us some advice on how to stem this disaster known as the Department of Education.

1 comment:

  1. "What do you think? Do you have faith in more mandates and more programming from the Department of Education? If "No Child Left Behind" did not succeed, why should this new plan be any different? Who is benefiting financially from the rewritten tests, curriculum, and the need for synchronized data systems? Do you believe this is for the benefit of the students or could it be for other interests?"

    Nope, I've got zero faith that this, or any other 'initiative' will accomplish anything worthwhile.

    Certainly numerous firms, and reams of bureaucrats are benefiting from the rewriting of tests & curriculum, but I don't doubt they are doing it 'for the benefit of the students'... but that should be about as comforting as Washington's physicians’ telling Martha that 'we're doing all we can to save him', as they continued to bleed him and give him mercury, etc.

    If the entire philosophy behind what they consider to be 'educational' is wrong headed, redoubling their efforts - no matter their good intentions - is going to make our schools that much worse off, just as Washington's physicians frantic efforts to save him put him in the grave all that much faster.

    I don’t suppose McCluskey would have any charts going back to the mid-1800's, when the Federal Gov't first freed itself of the Constitution and became involved in the business of the states with the Morrill Land Grant Act?

    I also wonder if we could go back in time to that point and show them McCluskey’s charts, whether or not that’d convince them to not get involved in mandating standards for education? I doubt it... then as now, it has much more to do with what they want to believe they can do ‘improve education’, than with what is actually effective and true.

    Thanks for the heads up on September 10, 2010, I'll try to be there.


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