"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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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"Constitution Week and Citizenship Day" vs "International Education Week" as presented by Missouri DESE

I was poking around the Missouri DESE website and saw this article celebrating "International Education Week 2010".

International Education Week is an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. This joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education is part of our efforts to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences in the United States.

What do these programs entail that the US Department of State and US Department of Education are supporting? This is from a link on Hilary Clinton's remarks explaining the purpose of this week (archived from 2009). I want to focus your attention on one particular paragraph:

International educational exchanges help students and educators around the world to understand one another better. Together, we must respond to the challenges of poverty and hunger, climate change, public health, and economic revitalization.

There was no statement from Secretary Clinton for this year's celebration. As this 2009 letter was linked on the website, I assume these are still the stated challenges for 2010. Let's examine and look for the details one year later on exactly how she envisions American students responding to poverty and hunger, climate change, public health, and economic revitalization in her comments. After looking through the site, I couldn't find any written specifics from her on how these goals are to be accomplished. The theories and goals espoused by this administration are long on rhetoric but lacking in details.

We still come back to the question, though, how are we to respond to these pressing problems? Whose and/or what theory do we teach? Let's access information available to us one year later after Clinton wrote this 2009 letter to determine this administration's intentions on how to present educational content to schoolchildren.

  • I am making an educated guess on Clinton's theory on how children should respond to the problem of poverty and hunger. Obama has been clear on his intent to align the United States with the United Nations and its goals in this endeavor. We know how he will integrate this stated goal to school children...

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability

  • Target 7A: Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs; reverse loss of environmental resources
...Arne Duncan will make them into "good environmental citizens".

  • In the climate change debate, Al Gore's movie "Inconvenient Truth" has been shown to not be factual in certain areas. Could it be that the scientific data he was using was tainted by special interest groups? Could it be that global climate cycles are controlled by solar flare activity and while man certainly contributes to environmental problems, man is not the main reason for fluctuations?

  • Regarding public health, do we use abortion as a means of birth control and do we subscribe to Ezekiel Emanuel's "complete life cycle"? This theory places the most financial allocations for medical care of those aged 15-40 years. This is from the opening paragraph of Emanuel's document:

We recommend an alternative system—the complete lives system—which prioritises younger people who have not yet lived a complete life, and also incorporates prognosis, save the most lives, lottery, and instrumental value principles.

  • I would like to know Secretary Clinton's ideas on economic revitalization and what economic theories American students will learn. Do you believe common core standards in economics will mean students are solely taught the current administration theory of income redistribution?

What we are highlighting here is the danger of not knowing the specifics of how these goals are being presented/taught in the schools. We are not adverse to learning about other cultures and understanding the connections between countries. We are concerned about how this information is presented and what mandates are being handed down by the Federal government. Missouri and 30 other states signed onto common core standards even before they had been presented for review. Perhaps it would be a good idea to call your district and ask your superintendent how these goals are being presented in the classroom during the "International Education Week".

I was curious if DESE had such a wealth of information on its website for "Constitution Week and Citizenship Day" observed every year (by law) in September. I accessed DESE's site for special day and week celebrations and while it is listed, there is no accompanying information what the Constitution is, what is represents, and how it outlines our important liberties. Perhaps this is because this administration believes the Constitution is a "living document" and as it is currently in flux, students shouldn't be concerned about it much. That's just a guess on my part.

I am going to ask a question for which I already know the answer: Does the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in Missouri believe in American exceptionalism or is it acquiescing to the Department of Education's and the US State Department's agenda? However, there are two questions I don't know the answer to...when did the US State Department become involved in education? And why?

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