"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, October 18, 2010

Blink. What Happened to the Transformational Education Plan for Missouri? UPDATED!

Is there something the State Board of Education,
Missouri School Boards Association (MSBA) and Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA) are hiding from the taxpayers and parents of Missouri?

Earlier we reported on the failure of Missouri not receiving Race to the Top funding. After accessing the MO DESE website late summer, we discovered "Vision for Missouri Public Education". We blogged about this new, transformational plan for schools and the language which mirrored Race to the Top language. We stand by our statements we previously made:

I can answer the question "Vision for Missouri Public Education" poses underneath its logo..."why are we undertaking this initiative"? Chris Nicastro has made it clear from November 2009 that she always intended to adopt Race to the Top goals, even if no funding would be made available by Arne Duncan. She has always intended to cede state sovereignty. That is why she signed common core standards. The state has received separate funding for charter schools and funding to ostensibly hire back laid off teachers. Why does Missouri need Race to the Top funding? State control is already gone.

I hadn't read much about the new plan lately so I thought I would see what the educational professionals were planning for our Missouri students. The plan had received coverage (from the MSBA's news site) when it was first unveiled late summer:

More than 100 school board members and superintendents gathered in Jefferson City on August 30 to begin a project designed to define the vision for public education in Missouri for the coming years. The "Vision for Missouri Public Education" project is a joint effort of the Missouri School Boards' Association and the Missouri Association of School Administrators. Its goal is to develop a plan outlining a vision for the state's public schools by October 2011.

MSBA President Dave Wright told the gathering, "The one thing we will not tolerate is business as usual. We are interested in developing ideas that will literally transform public education in our state."

Among the speakers at the event was Missouri's Commissioner of Education Dr. Chris Nicastro who said Missouri ranks in the middle in most measures of student achievement and that needs to improve. She said, "A clear vision and a few very focused, high-impact goals will be critical to drive the improvement efforts necessary to bring about world-class results." She also highlighted the critical importance of early childhood education as a key component of any vision for our schools.

Note the last sentence in this article:

Information on the progress of the "Vision for Missouri Public Education" project will be posted on www.visionforMOpublicschools.org.

In fact, this the link where we received the information on the transformations ahead for our students and our schools.

I wonder if DESE, Missouri School Boards Association, and Missouri Association of School Administrators didn't appreciate our blogging on this plan of which they were so proud . I went to the website I previously visited for updates and information and the site has been taken down for updates or revisions and is password protected. Pick a username and password...try it. You'll receive this message: Username and password do not match or you do not have an account yet. Silly me. I just can't seem to find anything on the screen that directs me on how I can open an account.

Why is the information about the plans for our students and schools now hidden from the taxpayers? MSBA and MASA are funded with state and/or federal funds to transform our schools. They want to "literally transform public education in our state." Those are the exact words from MSBA President Dave Wright. These are plans for public educational facilities. If I am not mistaken, public schools are funded by the taxpayer, and as such, plans for the transformation of these schools should be transparent and available for review by the public.

Why have these plans been taken off the internet and password protected? Perhaps a Sunshine Request is in the making to access this information. The plan is to be revealed to us in 2011 and is being paid for by tax dollars for public education. I would like to know what the public servants (paid by tax dollars) have in mind for our students.

Aren't you tired and fed up of being considered an "inconsequential conduit" that channels money away from public schools? Blink. Better catch that coverage on the meeting while you can. I'll wager that's the next item to disappear. Thank goodness for screen shots.

UPDATE: I received a question on who to contact about this decision about the information disappearing. I would suggest you contact MASA. This is the contact information from the news release:

Let us know at Missouri Education Watchdog what you find out!

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