"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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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Somebody Had to Watch Al Sharpton's "Reclaim the Dream" Rally Today...

I feel as if I am in an alternative universe as I watched Duncan speaking at the "Reclaim the Dream" rally today in Washington, DC. This is the rally Al Sharpton threw together in answer to Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally. As you may have read previously, we questioned why a sitting secretary in the government would appear at such a partisan event.

He did talk about education and you can find the video clip here from C-Span. Duncan's speech begins right around the 02:00:40 mark:


His speech lasts about four minutes, and in that time frame, he speaks about many issues regarding education. He tells parents to turn off the television, for teachers to stop making excuses, for churches to open their doors during the week for children, for community members to tutor, volunteer and mentor and for students to take their education very seriously.

He believes education is the civil rights issue of the day. Duncan said, "we've waited too long, we've been too complacent....we've accepted second rate schools".

Okay. He says he wants citizens and parents to become more involved in education. Then why in the original 800 page RTTT document are parents not even mentioned as being an integral part in the planning of these mandates? Why should churches try to mentor children during the week when no mention of God is allowed in the schools? Why should churches partner with the public school when that same school derides the mere mention of a Deity and doesn't allow silent prayer?

Listen to what Arne Duncan says, then study the goals of RTTT, the push for common core standards, and you will understand these are mandates that do not lend themselves to any involvement from parents, citizens or churches. If there is no local involvement, then I suspect the student's desire to achieve is decreased dramatically. The teachers have problems with students who don't want to learn, and no common core curriculum or Federal mandate will fix such a student. Tongue in cheek remark here: we all must have skin in the game...right? I'm thinking that's just talk from this administration.

I reject his notion that "we've waited too long, we've been too complacent, etc., etc." Federal funding has exploded over the last four decades and test scores have not improved:


He probably is on to something: parents, citizens and churches are an integral part in public education. What Mr. Duncan has put forth, however, is the antithesis of that model. His words are hollow. If he really wanted to give those children he was speaking to in Washington, DC today a decent education, he would reinstate the educational vouchers he pulled from those families last year.

Mr. Duncan isn't reclaiming any dream; he's repeating and worsening the nightmare of public education over the last forty years.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Calls for Abolishment of the Department of Education Continue

You may have read one of our latest blogs about a teacher in the trenches and Neal McCluskey, Cato Education writer, agreeing the Department of Education should be abolished:


Here we have another viewpoint from New York state and the National Review Online:


Some of Derbyshire's ideas are tongue-in-cheek, but he raises good points. The same points our teacher and McCluskey made in their statements. Not all students are college material, mandating standards is not wise, more funding does not guarantee success, and we don't have the money to implement these programs. Oh, one more tiny problem...it's not constitutional.

Is anybody in Washington listening? The chatter is becoming increasingly louder and more strident.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Obama Loses Chicago...Writer and Three Dog Night Calls the Administration and Arne Duncan Out

Hat tip to a watchdog for this article from a Chicago blogger:

As our previous posting stated, no one is happy with the Arne Duncan education plan. It's bad for teachers, students, parents, taxpayers, administrators. The plan is allegedly going to increase test scores by redistributing teachers, plunging states further into debt, taking away curriculum control from states by creating common core standards. According to studies for the last four decades, increased federal funding for schools has created NO significant increase in student achievement.

Here's a musical offering to Duncan:

Thanks to Three Dog Night. Perfect label for the Department of Education.

Robin Carnahan and the Missouri NEA Receive a Big, Fat F

If you needed one more reason to vote against Robin Carnahan, this might just be the ticket:

Even as the NEA questions its decision to vote for Obama and his policies, it throws its support behind a candidate who is as progressive left as the current administration.

If you are parent, I would be worried this organization has so much control over teachers and agendas. These are the teachers who are teaching your children. There is a disconnect on critical thinking for this organization. It's thinking: "Let's vote for a candidate who supports the Democratic agenda that is not helping students and putting Americans further into debt".

With all due respect, Carnahan is wrong when she supports federal money going to schools. It's unconstitutional. She should know that if she is running for a Senate position. She's also wrong if she thinks RTTT and common core standards give teachers a voice in federal decisions that affect education.

Memo to Robin: this administration is oppressive in its mandates. If you had read the original 800 page RTTT federal document and subsequent common core standards, you would know control is taken away from state legislatures, schools, teachers and parents. Maybe I just hit it on the head? Do you think she's read the documents and can understand its implications? It is a problem with Democrats today and their idea of transparency; they have to pass the bill to know what's in it. I suppose it's just standard operating procedures for Congress in today's political climate to sign documents with no due diligence.

I give the NEA and Robin Carnahan a big, fat F. With a red marker. Fail.

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.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cuba Gooding Jr and the American Taxpayer Rant

We recently wrote about the misgivings we had regarding the newest bailout for the teachers and how it was really going to be used. The American Thinker has the same concerns we do:


States can put off spending the money until as late as 2012. Just in time for the governor's election in Missouri. Is it a coincidence that DESE or anyone in the state has a clue where the money will be spent? Who has control of the money in Missouri? Why, that would be Governor Nixon. Why hasn't he come out with a statement touting how many jobs he is going to reinstate with this windfall?

Do you ask yourself where this money is going? Why would teachers receive pay raises in this environment and a boost to their pensions? Where is this money coming from? Could it be, just possibly, from this fund? Could our government be lying to the taxpayers on how this money is to be spent? Could the administration be buying favor with the NEA? Are your taxdollars padding union coffers?

I suggest you copy this post and send it to your representatives, senators and respective governors. We, the taxpayers, need to adopt Cuba Gooding's role in "Jerry Maguire". Consider Tom Cruise any one of your elected officials:


Tom Cruise asks Gooding, "What can I do for you"?
Gooding responds, "It's a very important, it's a very personal thing...SHOW ME THE MONEY". We want the government to show us how this money is being spent. We want the transparency we were promised!

Keep asking them that question...have your official show you the money trail for this bailout and see how he/she answers. Keep asking that question in Cuba Gooding style. Don't let up. It's YOUR money!!
If he/she can't "show you the money", I would suggest you find a candidate for 2012 to be your "new agent". You can't keep an agent who won't deliver for you. Cuba Gooding knew he had to fire someone who didn't believe in him or wouldn't represent his best interests. Whose interests are your officials representing? The teacher unions operate from YOUR tax dollars.
We have every right to know how our money is being spent...or misspent. Show me the money, indeed.
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