"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, September 1, 2010

Parents are "Inconsequential Conduits" that Channel Money away from Public Schools

My intense interest in the deficiencies of public education began when my son was placed in a special education program for hearing impaired children. He began attending school when he was 3 years old and we filed due process when he was just turning 6 years old. It became apparent he preferred to talk rather than sign, and this choice was not welcomed by the district. This went against its "preferred educational method". Even though we paid the taxes for the district and the district was servicing our child, it was inconsequential what our preferred educational method would be for our child.

The IEP (Individualized Educational Program) we had for our son was in reality just a "fill in the blank" for hearing impaired students. It didn't matter what the individual needs of a child were; if those needs didn't fit into the system offered, the system could not accommodate that child's needs. We requested the district pay for private school tuition as there was no program in the district that could teach him to talk. No district teacher had specific training in oral education to teach our son that skill.

During our administrative law hearing, the teachers testified that if he made some progress during the year, the district had provided some educational benefit. According to IDEA, they were legally correct. When pressed by our attorney, these teachers stated if he learned his ABCs in one year, they would be satisfied, and had met the district's obligation to our son. The level of low expectations the district had for our child was absolutely stunning.

Our son was 6 years old and hearing impaired. He has no learning disabilities such as processing issues. His ability to learn was certainly higher than taking one year to learn the alphabet. I used to think this low expectation was because he was deaf. Apparently not:


Read the comments from the Institute for Justice after you watch the video. This particular paragraph regarding school choice caught my attention: "The powerful teacher unions and their allies had filed suit against the program (school choice). At one point they argued that parents are "inconsequential conduits" channeling money away from public schools".

The Institute of Justice took this lawsuit to the Supreme Court...and won. She was lucky. We lost our case on appeal. But in other ways, we won. I'll explain that in just a bit.

I have a few thoughts I would like to share with you.
  • This nanny state educational attitude has been pervasive for many, many years in public education. Perhaps this began in earnest when the Federal Department of Education was created in 1970 and local control became diluted to the point where it is now practically nonexistent.
  • We still are considered "inconsequential conduits"...just read the proposal by the Federal government for RTTT and the MO proposal for funding. Parents truly are considered for two reasons only: to provide the children and the taxes to perpetuate the system. From testimony I listened to in our lawsuit, I learned a valuable lesson: school systems do not exist to protect children; the system exists to protect the system.
  • Unions protect the teachers. The unions do not have the interest of the children in mind. That was apparent in our lawsuit and the one highlighted by biggovernment.

I hope the young girl from 10 years ago is doing well in school. I mentioned previously that we won, even though we lost our case. When we realized what low expectations these teachers had for our son, we were able to move from that district with no qualms. We never looked back. We didn't know what was ahead of us, but we sure knew what we were leaving behind...a system that did not allow children to succeed to their highest potential.

We moved to a city with oral deaf schools, and our son received intensive private instruction for 5 years. He then mainstreamed...and is now completing his second year of college. He considers spoken language his primary language. Financially and emotionally it was difficult, but in the long run, it was the best move for our son and our family.

My story and this young girl's story is not unusual or unique. Biggovernment has the title correct in its article: Public School FAIL. I am just heartsick for those children who cannot escape failing systems...or those who have their vouchers pulled from them, such as the students in Washington, DC.

To be stuck in systems that believe learning your ABCs in one year is adequate progress is the epitome of failure and disgrace. Parents MUST have a choice to escape systems that are failing their children. Parents MUST have that choice because the public education system and teacher unions really do believe parents are "inconsequential conduits".

This girl's father and I know it. We've lived through it.

(ht to a watchdog for the biggovernment link)

Some People Think Football is a Matter of Life and Death....

Today's title is a partial quote from Bill Shankly, a Scottish footballer (1914-81). The quote in its entirety: "Some people think football is a matter of life and death...I can assure them it is much more serious than that". Why would we be writing about football on a educational website?

American Thinker has one of the best articles to appear about Race to the Top and the writer takes most of his points from a football playbook:


If you are having a difficult time to wrap your head around the educational "reform" Arne Duncan and company has in mind for American students, taxpayers, teachers and administrators, read this article. Robert Weissberg makes it easy to understand for those who love football. Readers can understand this is indeed serious business and it is time we force an interception to change the momentum of the game.

Missourians should read the article below and realize these Race to the Top goals apply to our state even though we didn't Race to the Top funding:


We have lost state control of our state educational decisions. Chris Nicastro, Commissioner of Education, made certain our state sovereign right was ceded to the Federal government. Missouri bought into federal control that has never produced measurable student achievement. The football analogies still work for us. Contact your legislators and demand they start utilizing a different educational playbook.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Race to the Top is renamed "Vision for Missouri Public Education"

I received an interesting email from a watchdog about a recent meeting of Missouri educators and administrators. Here is the link from the SE Missourian noting the meeting:

This watchdog asked, "Does anyone know WHO was at this meeting"? Of COURSE we DON'T. Everything this state department of education does is behind closed doors and under the radar. The Missouri State School Board voted on adopting common core standards two months before the stated agenda. This was done because this adoption of standards needed to have been done before the second round of Race to the Top was closed.

This meeting was "to develop a plan for the future of public education in the state". Let's discover what Chris Nicastro thinks the "future of public education in the state" might just look like:
This is a different name for Race to the Top. The goals are the same. We have common core standards. We have charter school funding coming in to the state. We have consortium of states or "coalitions". We are again talking about competing in a global economy. We are "transforming" our educational systems which was the goal of Race to the Top.

Remember the language of Race to the Top...transformation, distribution, consortium, human capital, global economy and competitiveness, world class education. The language in "The Vision for Missouri Public Education" is eerily similar. You can find Missouri's original proposal for Race to the Top here:

Pay close and particular attention to what Chris Nicastro writes on page 40:

"Implementation of the reform plan described in this proposal will not stop if the state does not win Race to the Top funding...In the absence of Race to the Top funding, the state and its partners would continue moving forward but will do so over a longer time-period and, in some areas, will have to adopt a more incremental approach".

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.

The question remains: "WHO was at this meeting in Jefferson City? What school board members and administrators were present in selling our sovereignty to the Federal government"?

Were the parents and taxpayers represented in this meeting? Are parents and taxpayers ever invited on the planning stages for transformational changes in the schools they pay for? They were not included in the planning for Race to the Top and I would hazard to guess they are not included in these meetings either.

I suggest you contact your legislators and demand an answer. Do they know the actions of this out of control commissioner of education? Do they realize we are not being represented in this "transformational" plan for Missouri education?

Do your legislators understand the enormous spending bypasses them? The governor, Nicastro, and the State Board are making financial and legislative decisions without legislative process. Demand your legislators stop the state department of education, State Board of Education, and Governor Jay Nixon. They are overstepping and overreaching. They are giving away our sovereignty and putting us further into debt. This is outrageous.

Once again, you don't have any input on your child's education. You just provide the child and pay the bill. You have no voice in the process. Contact your legislators today. This march to the takeover of the Missouri educational system must be stopped.

The Kirkwood School District buys into the National Practice of Spending Money it Doesn't Have

American Thinker writes about the foolish spending of taxpayer money:


The writer cites example of his district urging parents to apply for free lunches for their child, even if the family doesn't qualify. He then highlights the waste of taxpayer money for a community college instructor retreat complete with food and dancing. The retreat finished with a talk by the chancellor bemoaning the sad state of the budget.

This reminds me of the bond proposals put forth by the Kirkwood School District. It wants to build an aquatic center and expand schools to accommodate all day kindergarten classes. This is in a land locked district with a stagnant student population. Here's a previous blog about the wasteful KSD Board:


It's time to stop this wasteful spending. Watch this blog for information on how KSD residents can launch a strong offensive against these proposals. If you are in a different district, watch your school boards. Watch the spending. It's YOUR money and YOUR kids and YOU have a voice.

Arne Duncan Thrown Under the Bus by a Department of Education Employee

Wikileaks might want to take a look at this internal document leaked by a Department of Education employee. Perhaps the Department of Education will launch an investigation on who threw Arne Duncan under the bus:


Not only should a sitting secretary NOT attend a partisan rally such as Al Sharpton's, he should also not be strong arming employees to attend such an event. I would think Wikileaks would jump all over this story as it "publishes and comments on leaked documents alleging government and corporate misconduct". Hillbuzz aptly named these actions as "more propaganda on our dime". Certainly smacks of misconduct to me.

A big hat tip to the anonymous Department of Education employee who leaked the memo to the Washington Examiner.
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