"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, September 27, 2010

"Waiting for Superman"...and the REST OF THE STORY

Where is dear Paul Harvey (or his equivalent) and the "rest of the story" when we need him most? The "Waiting for Superman" movie is exploding all over the airways and Internet in terms of conversation among the media. It has been touted as providing the answer to educational "reform", but we believe it is more of educational "control".

Our previous post detailed what Molly P, our contributor who is a teacher, thought about MSNBC's recent discussion about educational problems. Talking two hours about teacher tenure and believing setting up charter schools is the answer for failing public schools does not even address the underlying issue.

What is the underlying issue? Let's go back to the pesky Constitution. Amendment X is clear:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved the States respectively, or to the people."

The Constitution does not grant Federal authority over public education. This was left up to the states to educate their citizens. This is the underlying issue that Democrats, Republicans, the media, Bill Gates, and others seem to either misunderstand or ignore. All this prattle about "Waiting for Superman" doesn't include the premise that the $4.35 Billion "reform" package thrown together by Arne Duncan is unconstitutional. This is the educational version of the health care legislation.

Arne Duncan says he believes his reforms will ensure local involvement. With all due respect, I believe this is nonsense. The Race to the Top proposal is clear: to receive money, states must sign on to common core standards and adhere to the other mandates set out by Duncan and Company. Noncompliance will not be tolerated nor funded. And even if your state isn't awarded Race to the Top funding, your local/state control will probably disappear. Missouri renamed and moved Race to the Top objectives to another program, "Vision for Missouri Public Education."

We technically didn't receive any RTTT money to achieve these goals, but if you peruse the DESE website, you will see Missouri is receiving millions and millions of dollars to achieve these goals. Here is an excerpt from the latest DESE release about the latest federal assistance given to failing school districts:

"Schools in Kansas City, St. Louis and southeast Missouri were selected by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to receive a first-year share of the competitive grant awards in order to implement one of four intensive school-reform models identified by the U.S. Department of Education: turnaround, restart, school closure or transformation".

Pay attention to those four highlighted phrases. These concepts mirror Race to the Top language. The charter schools are under the same federal mandates as the public schools. How can a clear thinking person believe charter schools can be daring and innovative when they are under the same exact mandates as public schools? Also, these millions of federal dollars bypass the state legislature for dispersal. How's THAT for local control?

If you were distressed about the Health Care takeover from this administration, you should be as equally concerned about the educational takeover.
Where are the Republican state and national legislators on this issue?

Arne Duncan needs to tell the truth about the control his plans give to the Federal Government. This control strips away power from the states, taxpayers, parents, teachers and students. That is the "rest of the story" you won't hear in "Waiting for Superman".

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