"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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Thursday, July 15, 2010

SAUL ALINSKY--Reading assignment for NEA recruits in St. Louis

Teachers not currently affiliated with the NEA in the St. Louis area are receiving some "gentle persuasion" to join and were provided the following reading assignment:


Notice the name of the link: NEA tools. Think about that for a moment. NEA tools. Tools for what? Oh, I am certain these would be tools to help teachers become more effective in the classroom so students can achieve at a higher level. Right? After all, it does state "We hope that ARs and local leaders of all political stripes will discern from Alinsky's books grassroots organizing strategies that will best help us bring our members together around the common goal of improving public education".

Read the rest of the article. Nowhere in this NEA site does it mention the word "student". It would appear the NEA's idea of "improving public education" means improving its power in the public education sphere.

I base my belief from excerpted passages that I want you to pay particular attention to; read the entire article and research them for yourself:

  • Society has good reason to fear the Radical. Every shaking advance of mankind toward equality and justice has come from the Radical. He hits, he hurts, he is dangerous. Conservative interests know while Liberals are most adept at breaking their own necks with their tongues, Radicals are most adept at breaking the necks of Conservatives".

  • He will fight any concentration of power hostile to a broad, popular democracy, whether he finds it in financial circles or in politics.

  • Using eyes, ears and noses as tactics in the art of how to take and how to give: Example for noses: "If your organization is too tiny even for noise, stink up the place".

Many of you are probably aware of this book and the tactics named. We have witnessed in the political sphere these tactics being used by many different groups. Teachers have a special responsibility to children and parents. Should teachers be employing these tactics and still be around CHILDREN?

Note the ending of this posting on the NEA site:

  • Alinsky was hated and defamed by powerful enemies, proof that his tactics worked. His simple formula for success..."Agitate + Aggravate + Educate + Organize"

This theory is being pushed by your St. Louis NEA organization. I'm not convinced this group is sincerely concerned about your child, first and foremost, are you? I'm certain this group has minimal concern about your child.

Keep your eye on your teachers and this union. This group doesn't give a whit about test scores, graduation rates, etc. It is solely concerned for its self-preservation and control. I would suggest you start your own reading list for your child. Perhaps you should read Alinsky's book so you know your teacher's driving purpose for being in the classroom. And, if you are a conservative, watch your neck.

(ht to a watchdog)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Missouri State Board of Education's version of Paul Simon's song "Slip Slidin' Away"

I'd like to use a bit of musical interlude to set the premise of this entry (thanks to Paul Simon):


We suspected an ulterior motive when we discovered the State Board signed onto Common Core standards two months earlier than planned. As noted in previous posts, the Missouri State Board members, appointed members, signed on to these standards in June. It was on track for adoption in August. So, why the rush?

Neal McCluskey, Cato Institute Education writer, has some interesting thoughts on this matter. Isn't it interesting his theory mirrors exactly the actions of our State Board?


McCluskey sets forth many reasons our state education boards keep us (parents and taxpayers)in the dark, but perhaps one of the most compelling is the standards must have been approved by August 2 to stay competitive in the Race to the Top funding quest. Race to the Top has become one of the worst examples of incompetent planning and wasteful programs from DC. The original funding amount to the states totalled $4.35 billion. The total amount of funding currently available is in question. Certain senators now want to pull out a percentage of the $4.35 billion to fund teacher salaries, leaving less money awarded to states.

Doesn't this give you great confidence in the Federal government as it slowly takes over our schools? Heck, this group can't run "Cash for Clunkers" and we are supposed to trust them to educate our children? They want states to sign away control for standards not yet formulated for amounts that are nebulous. If the Federal government operated in the private sector, it wouldn't last a month with these type of decisions and maneuvers.

The states have to agree to give control of their curriculum and staffing process. What do the states receive in return? They take on millions of dollars in unfunded mandates (about $150 Million in Missouri) and no local control. Does that seem like a sound business decision to you? The MO Department of Education is still pursuing these funds. It wants the taxpayers to take on a tremendous amount of debt even as the state has to cut one BILLION dollars from the budget next year.

It's no wonder the State Board wants to slip these votes through and hope you don't notice. Be a watchdog. Start accessing the Missouri DESE website daily. That's how we found out about the quiet "slip slidin' " away of our state's rights. We're watchdogs like you.


You never know what you will discover.

Innocence will soon become an archaic word

I haven't written on this story before now as I was waiting for the Helena, MT school board to meet and hear from citizens about proposed curriculum changes for its students. That doesn't seem too unusual on its face; districts tweak subject content every year.

What makes this unusual is the new "human sexuality" course proposed for students beginning in kindergarten. A draft proposal from the Helena school board may be found here:


The most egregious parts of this draft begins on page 36. Do you believe kindergartners need to know the correct labelling of body parts? Children in first grade are taught that same sex attraction is fine. Sexual positions are discussed by grade 5.

Here is a write up from last night's meeting in Helena:


The arrogance of this board is astounding. I have been in written communication with a mother from this district who has a kindergartner. She confirmed to me that this curriculum was done "behind closed doors" for the last 2 years, and there was only one parent on this committee who had a student in the district. The other members were educational professionals with older children; children who would not be affected by these new standards.

The song by Don Henley keeps circling through my brain:


"....this is the end...of the innocence". Once our children's' innocence is gone, it can never be recaptured.

This behavior by this school district is arrogant and mirrors Washington, DC "politics as usual". Perhaps this is the way our policies are written today by ALL our elected (and appointed) officials; in secrecy, no real citizen input, stonewalling, limited discussion and no awareness or concern for the PEOPLE WHO ARE PAYING FOR THIS EDUCATION AND THEIR CHILDREN WHO ARE UNDER THEIR POLICIES.

I sound like a broken record, but I keep coming back to it...it's OUR money and OUR children. Stop this destruction of our children's innocence.

Sexual terms introduced to kindergartners? Really? And why is this a good idea for 5 year old CHILDREN? And I'll leave you with this thought for Missouri readers. Your State Board of Education signed onto to common core standards, aka national standards...what will happen if this becomes national curriculum? It's a realistic possibility. Keep your eyes open. Question your school district on its sexual education policies.

The Tempest in the Teapot

Many thanks to Keith Williams of Kirkwood for passing this information to me and others in the Kirkwood School District. Keith put out an email last week informing readers about the $48 Million bond proposal to be presented at the Board meeting Monday night, July 19. Many questions from taxpayers have ensued as to the necessity of an aquatic center, new kindergarten rooms and a track at a middle school.

Will the district listen to these comments? Will the board turn a deaf ear to the citizens? Will the board learn to differentiate between necessities and luxuries?

There appears to be a disconnect between reality and fantasy, not only in DC, but also in the halls of the Kirkwood School District. Read these emails carefully. The frustration is great and the elected leaders need to listen.


Hello again, Kmailers 14 July 2010
Last week my sarcastic musings about the gigantic bond issue that the Kirkwood School Board wants to float sure hit a raw nerve with most of you readers. Kmail got 3 cancellations and a boat load of great Emails in return. I asked for your opinions and you kindly offered them in quantity! I can only hope the School Board reads this Kmail, they might learn what Kirkwood is telling them in no uncertain terms. Pasted below you will find 20 or 30 of your more interesting letters. ( including cancellations) Draw your own conclusions. I've got plenty more, but I think you get the idea of what most Kmailers are thinking would be wise for the School Board to do..
Sadly, I received not one single opinion pointing out why or how Kirkwood and our school kids' education will benefit from this gross spending spree for a non-essential wish list of useless "educational" goodies. Just spend, spend spend on anything handy.
What kind of lesson are we teaching our ourselves? The Kirkwood School District has basically paid off one of its credit cards, and it wants to go on a new spending spree? Let's make do with what we have for a while instead of buying shiny new useless things on credit.
By the way, I see where the Board has issued a clarification on the "free" Kindergarten pitch. Parents will continue to have to pay tuition for full day kindergarten, so nothing has really changed, except that everyone's taxes will go up. If the Kindergarten parent thinks they will now get "free" all day kindergarten they have been sadly misled.
Additionally, there has been nary a peep of the need for the operating funds that will be required next year, nor of increased maintenance and technology expenses associated with expansion of the physical facilities. Enrollment has not substantially increased in the last ten years, tax collections have nearly doubled.
Hang on to your wallets, your children, and your homestead Kirkwood, the school board wants to mortgage them all.
Kmail policy is NOT to print the name of the originator of a response unless given permission by the writer.
Keith Williams for Kmail

Please take us off your email list at once. We agree with nothing you have said, nor do the large majority of our friends, neighbors and colleagues in Kirkwood. Thank you for your prompt attention to this request. W Family
Wow, I didn't really need to read past the first couple paragraphs. This sums up everything that is wrong with the way governments on all levels view tax revenue. Frustrating, depressing, absurd. How can I help?
Keith, THANK YOU! This is exactly what I was thinking. I was already peeved a couple of months ago when I read they were spending $330,000 on a new awning by the Dougherty Ferry school entrance, so students don't have to stand in the rain. Three hundred thirty thousand dollars! You can buy a very nice Kirkwood house for that, and this is just a roof! How about we save some money and just buy all the students gold-plated umbrellas?

You are correct, there is no semblance of fiscal responsibility in the district. Astroturf is absolutely unnecessary. I'm sure they will claim it's to save on maintenance of the grass, but we all know that several years down the road we will need to "maintain" the astroturf by replacing it, just as we had to replace the all-weather track about five years after it was installed, and are now replacing it again.

I like sports as much as the next guy, but this is not the mandate that our school district was created to serve. I am currently looking to move, and have so far been looking in Kirkwood, but if it looks like this is going to pass, I will expand my search to the neighboring suburbs. Thanks again -- I'm glad to know I'm not the only taxpayer who's feeling fed up with the big spenders. E M
Keith, You would think the Realtors in town would be livid. This just has to chill the market. kp
You are not thinking big enough. Kirkwood needs to raze the entire high school complex (rebuild a stat-of-the art high school somewhere else), buy out some adjoining properties and build a giant lake so we can have a KHS Yachting Team. I want maximum bang for my buck!!!! JC
Keith Our home tax doubled during 2002 and 2009 (100% increase).Our tax acceleration exceeds that of one of the premier, wealthiest counties outside of California! James
Keith, Hang in there! I certainly agree with you. bt
I can't tell where in your editorial the sarcasm ends and the facts about what the Board actually either wants to do or is just considering begins. So I can't trust any of it. Just the cold hard facts and letting the reader make up his own mind would make your piece more powerful. js
Keith Has anyone looked @ these board members personal credit scores?Don't know about you but I treat my business spending with the same principals I run my personal finances. Who are they to frivolously spend OUR hard saved cash! D M
Don't be fooled! Voters, they are playing games with the aquacenter prop. They bet you will say yes to kindergarten improvement , since it's kind of free, and be satisfied saying no th the nutty prop. The kindergarten is prop is not frre. It's a brand new "home improvement loan" with the staffing expense undisclosed at this time. Be a little indignant at this devious approach. DS
I saw in theWebster-Kirkwood Times this past Friday a picture of 9 female high schoolers from Kirkwood High who had traveled to France for spring break. PARIS, FOR SPRING BREAK. If the parents can send them to Paris, they should be able to raise the money for the new sports facility they think their children deserve to have at taxpayer expense. GC
I as one vote concur with you. Can't not see our Kirkwood elected officials finding ways to spend money with the economy unstable as it has been. If the student population is shrinking as well then they need to re think ways to conserve monies not spend. LW
Great thoughts, thanks for the information. The community needs to get a look into this and be prepared to get the vote out in opposition. With this bond issue, how much has this school district achieve from their original $100 million request several years ago? I bet we are about the same point, KPS just sliced it up to shove it down our throughts. RR
Thank you, thank you Keith. You are on a roll; that is enough information for everyone to join in the fight with vigor c l
First of all I am embarrassed that I was not aware of the school boards request for/and proposed use of these funds. If what you are describing is true then I totally agree that we need to stick to educational necessities for near, and possibly, the long term. I have been a resident of Kirkwood for about 50 years and even though I sent my kids to private schools I always supported the Kirkwood school district when my vote was needed to raise taxes. However, this request is out of line and at least for now, I can't and won't support it. Yours Truly, P
A beautiful piece of sarcasm! I enjoyed reading it, and am inclined to agree with you. BTW, my faith in the democratic process was renewed recently when I toured the redone Kirkwood Public Library. Though I was sorely disappointed when the first tax and bond issues failed so badly, I now see that a more modest redo of the old was the right course of action. Separately, I would be interested to hear your take on the state of the Historical Society, and the Save Mudds' Grove campaign. cr.
Keith, thanks for the update. You are so right on! Who is paying for the new astro turf state of art drainage football field with a tunnel to the locker rooms? I heard it was the Pioneer Booster, Kirkwood school district foundation, and US? I am really disappointed if the KSDF is using their funds for this project. In the past they only used funds contributed by me and other parents and alums to fund educational in the classroom or teacher student activities. If they are contributing to this football field then no more money from me.
'As you probably know we have also ended up with the highest paid suburban school district Superintendent. It's not his fault. Dr. Dameral whined every year for more and more salary and bonus . Now we have a Superintendent of a fairly small district making top income. You should check this out. My complaint on the board was always that the Superintendent and Admin people's salaries were getting out of line with teacher salaries. People on there are now are in their third or fourth terms. We need new blood on the board for a new focus. This group has got to go. They are out of touch with the real Kirkwood. pb
Is there anyone in town supporting this besides the School Board ? eww
Thanks Keith, I need to read this more closely, but I can tell you, as a parent of a Kindergartener, adding full day Kindergarten for all kids sounds like a good idea to me. I thought it was crazy I had to pay out of pocket for Kindergarten in such a highly regarded district. I do wish that was separated from the "aquatic center", which I'm not sure I'd support at this time.Food for thought. Thanks again, Matt
I'm interested in the issues that arise in Kirkwood. I think K-mail is an invaluable resource to bring that news to our citizens. And okay, I'll even listen to your lengthy opinion on the topics--it is afterall YOUR newsletter and I value hearing every side to the story before making up my own mind. But is there anyway we could get the same important information without the tedious "comedy" routine? It is unbelievably tiresome and annoying beyond words to even get through your beleaguered messages at times--even when I may fully agree with your stance. Sir, with all due respect, you are no Oscar Wilde. Leave the "ranting-old-man-who-thinks-he-is-witty routine" to the stand-up comedians and pass on the worthwhile topics with any related intelligent thoughts to your interested audience without grating on their nerves to the point of distraction.
Amen Mr. Williams! Thanks again for making me smile with your satirical and poignant prose! DP
Thank you Keith: It's about time someone speaks out about the rising taxes in Kirkwood. I am a senior citizen and have lived in Kirkwood since 1971. It is becoming increasingly hard for me to justify staying here with the laws, bans and taxes that Kirkwood keeps implementing. The school taxes are out of hand. If the parents of the children attending Kirkwood schools feel that their kids "need" these amenities, let them pay for them. That's what we do in private schools.What can we do to stop this from even getting on the ballot since Kirkwoodians seem to approve every tax increase. I wonder, if like the government, they even read or understand the issues before they vote.A concerned Kirkwood citizen. gc
We agree with you 100%. We suggest that you make a list of names that also agree and submit to the Board. This e-mail gives you permission to use ours.Thanks,E +L B
Keith – Thanks again for an informative letter. I must say that I was shocked to find out some of the ways our tax dollars are considering being spent by Kirkwood. The last time I checked we were in a major recession. I agree that we should see how the artificial turf on the football field works out before additional projects are started.
Quite honestly I don't understand why the decision was made to change the field to astro turf at the high school. I was under the impression that the "natural" turf was the better choice. It definitely is much more attractive. And considering that Kirkwood prides itself on how environmentally friendly we are, why would we want to "slap down" the synthetic stuff. It reminds me of a line from Joni Mitchell's great song "Big Yellow Taxi" which echoes my sentiments about so much that is happening here in our fair town…"paved paradise and put up a parking lot…you don't know what you've got til its gone!" Sue
As long term residents of Kirkwood, we protest the proposed bond issue in the strongest way possible. We, the propery owners affected are now taxed to the hilt; Now facing the joy of a tax reduction which you propose to steal from us by unfounded, luxury projects is an insult.Certainly you all cannot be so far out of touch as to persist in this, and expect to continue holding those impregnable seats of taxing authority. jj
Did anyone happen to notice that Des Peres and Kirkwood sales taxes also went up the first of July? Was that the new metro tax we voted on? And I did find out the other tax increase we had was for the 911 updates. Plus the Kirkwood library tax is now on my bill - that was the only increase on our personal property tax this year.
A former CFO for the school board had an interesting letter to the editor in last weekend's Post - he didn't seem to be in favor of the bond issue! Wish I could remember his name. And my papers are recycled already.sp
Kieth,I'm with you. Not needed. I will vote NO
BRAVO!!!!! I'm behind you, no along side of you on this issue.
I guess the school board must think Kirkwood is recession proof? WRONG, I cannot afford more taxes for anything. kate
I moved from Kirkwood in February '09 (didn't want to, but that's a different story) and tried like crazy to orchestrate a way back (my offices are there; loved the micro-commute!) UNTIL I started reading all this K-Mail, and other sources, reporting the goings-on in my previously beloved Kirkwood. I was fairly vocal about the absurd request to change Rifle Range Drive to something PC....OMG. So this report of $$ shenanigans by the school board sealed the deal for me. I'll buy a house in some other zip code.Your opinions expressed in this e-mail mirror my own....and people wonder what's wrong IN America???? As if the shenanigans in the White House weren't enough..... red B
Thanks for the the e-mails, Keith, I read them all. I can`t believe that at this time, that the school board could possibly consider this type of spending. Less stop this before it happens, by attending the school board meeting, scheduled for the 19TH, and voice our opinons. Bob
Thanks for a great email! I am with you ALL the way. jm
I agree . BigH

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Department of Education magic tricks...that don't work

This is a current article from American Thinker. The author talks about putting different names on the same failing schools, which somehow turns them into "high-performing" schools. Does that language sound familiar? That "high-performing" label applies to everything from teachers, to schools, and to administrators in Race to the Top language. RT3 suggests this will be accomplished by taking the highest performing teachers and administrators, assigning them to the "low-performing" schools, and it's magic, ladies and gentlemen! Low performing schools will turn around, teachers and administrators will become superheroes because of their dedication and record of performance, and all will be right in the educational world.

Read this piece below and then let's talk about the real issues with failing schools and why the Federal government's ideas of more spending and shifting of personnel is not the answer:


I want to draw attention to a couple of the author's paragraphs:

"Instigating Detroit's third-world slide is its schoolchildren's woeful academic performance. A mere 2% of its high school graduates are prepared for college-level math; just 11% are ready for college-level reading. In 2008-2009, its graduation rate was 58% compared to the national average of 89%. In 2009, Detroit public-school students posted the worst math scores in the forty-year history of the National Assessment of Educational Progress test. Students are fleeing at jailbreak speed -- between 1997 enrollment dropped from 175,168 students to 84,000 and continues to fall, and those remaining are probably the worst of the worst.

The statistics are hardly unusual; noteworthy is Detroit's intended solution, and it is here that the third-world virus may escape the laboratory and infect America more generally. The chief culprit is something called the Excellent Schools Detroit initiative, a solution backed by state officials, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, and two wealthy private foundations. Its aim is to increase the high school graduation rate from 58% to 80% and then insure that 90% of these graduates enter college. Critically, to achieve this aim, low-performing schools will be closed and replaced with, according to officials, seventy high-performing schools".

I highlighted the last few sentences. This is the same position the Missouri State Board of Education has taken in its push to secure federal funding for unfunded programs such as Race to the Top. The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and other businesses initially supported this program, and in fact, the Ewing Kauffman Foundation of Kansas City underwrote $100,000 of the first proposal the State Board drafted in 2009. Does this sound familiar to the backing Detroit schools received?

Look on the Missouri DESE website regarding graduation rates and the several articles addressing this problem:

It is a laudable goal to increase high school graduation rates. It is unrealistic to prepare all students for college. The stated goal of this administration is exactly that, to prepare every student for college. Are we setting up students in Missouri for the same trap in which the Detroit students find themselves? I fear the third world virus WILL escape the laboratory and infect Missouri.

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