"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, November 6, 2010

"The US military and its veterans constitute an imperialistic, oppressive force." Is this the future teaching of Common Core American History?

Perhaps this a sneak preview of common core curriculum your Missouri (and other states who will/have adopted common core standards) student will learn in history class about World War II.

American Thinker writes: "A group of 25 selected professor historians met in Hawaii at a workshop sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). They were to present and hear scholarly papers on the history of these United States in World War II. It was to be a high-level intellectual rendering of that war receding now into history". The conference was entitled "History and Commemoration: The Legacies of the Pacific War."

Here are some of their findings as reported by Professor Penelope A. Blake, Rock Valley College in Rockford, IL, who attended the government funded seminar:

1. The U.S. military and its veterans constitute an imperialistic, oppressive force which has created and perpetuated its own mythology of liberation and heroism, insisting on a 'pristine collective memory' of the war. ...
2. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor should be seen from the perspective of Japan being a victim of western oppression (one speaker likened the attack to 9-11, saying that the U.S. could be seen as "both victim and aggressor" in both attacks); that American "imperial expansion" forced Japan's hand: "For the Japanese [according to one presenter], it was a war to defend their unique culture against Western Imperialism and the Pearl Harbor attack could be seen as a "pre-emptive strike."
3. War memorials, such as the Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery [on hallowed ground in Hawaii] (where many WWII dead are buried, including those executed by the Japanese on Wake Island and the beloved American journalist Ernie Pyle), are symbols of military aggression and brutality 'that pacify death, sanitize war and enable future wars to be fought" ...
4. The U.S. military has repeatedly committed rapes and other violent crimes throughout its past through the present day. Cited here was the handful of cases of attacks by Marines in Okinawa... (Not cited were the mass-murders, rapes, mutilations of hundreds of thousands of Chinese at the hands of the Japanese throughout the 1930s and 40s) ...
5. Those misguided members of the WW II generation on islands [such as] Guam and Saipan who feel gratitude to the Americans for saving them from the Japanese, are blinded by propaganda supporting "the image of a compassionate America"...
6. It was 'the practice' of the U.S. military in WWII to desecrate and disrespect the bodies of dead Japanese. (Knowing this to be absolutely false, I challenged the speaker/author, who then admitted that this was not the 'practice' of our military) ...
7. Conservatives and veterans in the U.S. have had an undue and corrupt influence on how WWII is remembered, for example, successfully lobbying to remove from the Smithsonian Enola Gay exhibit, images of the destruction caused by the atom bomb ...
8. Conservatives are reactionary nationalists (no distinction was made between nationalism and patriotism), pro-military 'tea baggers' who are incapable of 'critical thinking.' Comments were made about 'people who watch Fox News' not caring if the news 'is accurate or not...' ( The end result of this deprecation within the conference room was to discourage debate and create an atmosphere of intolerance to opposing views) ..

Dr. Blake was so concerned about these findings she contacted her Illinois Congressman, Donald Manzullo. Her letter in its entirety may be found at Powerline, the first blog to cover this story. Read the entire letter. She details the shameful revisionist history our scholars possibly have in store for our public education students.

Not only does Dr. Blake detail what was discussed in the workshop, she demands this revisionism be investigated and monies withheld from future historical dishonesty:

The NEH is requesting an operating budget of 161 million dollars for 2011, including over 71 million to support conferences like the one I have described. I ask that you do everything in your power to delay approval of this request until the NEH does the following:

1. Reviews all NEH conference and workshop proposals and supporting materials to eliminate any overt political agenda;

2. Illustrates to Congress and the American people an ability to create programs which support sound and objective scholarship and provide forums for debate in which all sides are recognized and encouraged;

3. Eliminates all intolerance and pejorative language towards any group or viewpoint;

4. Commits itself to a fair and balanced view of our nation's history and humanities, acknowledging its mistakes but also honoring its achievements.

To demonstrate the above, any group or institution requesting a grant from the NEH should be required to submit its entire schedule of presenters and a complete list of the literature which will be discussed at the conference to ensure that varied sides of any issue will be represented and respected.

Until these actions are taken, I sincerely doubt that the majority of Americans would approve of their tax dollars supporting this academic attack on American history and culture. I plan to do everything in my power to inform American voters of this issue, and I trust our elected officials will take heed of their constituents' reactions.

Take this last paragraph to heart. I would add to Dr. Blake's statement; I don't think the the majority of Americans approve of their tax dollars supporting the choice architects at work in the tweaking of K-12 curriculum that is now nationalized. If the NEH sponsors workshops like this one, and the findings of the "scholars" are so revisionist to paint American veterans as "martyrs of their sacred war", conservatives as "reactionary nationalists"...pro-military "teabaggers" who are incapable of "critical thinking", taxpayers had better be concerned these viewpoints will be predominant in any nationalized standards presented to public school children.

Permit me a bit of snarkiness here. This workshop was supposedly to be a high-level intellectual rendering of that war receding now into history. Does "high-level intellectual rendering" include calling American veterans "martyrs", and calling conservatives "teabaggers incapable of critical thinking"? That sounds like elitism and choice architecture at its ugly best.

Dr. Blake stated in her letter to Congressman Manzullo:

In my thirty years as a professor in upper education, I have never witnessed nor participated in a more extremist, agenda-driven, revisionist conference, nearly devoid of rhetorical balance and historical context for the arguments presented.

Thanks to Dr. Blake for her courage in standing firm in her professional and personal convictions and contacting her congressman to this historical revisionism occurring in this workshop. Which historians do you think are writing the standards for the common core history curriculum? You better hope they don't subscribe to the revisionist viewpoint. If so, your child will hear nothing about American exceptionalism. It doesn't exist in their world.

Watchdogs should contact Congressman Manzullo to ensure no future funding is given to NEH until this matter is investigated for truthfulness and historical accuracy. This is a government funded entity. The government is dictating (via choice architects) common core standards. This is not a good sign for those interested in honest recounting of history. The Congressman's contact information is here. We need a voice in Congress to review the choice architects' vision of American history.

You might also want to read Dr. Blake's response to the overwhelming number of letters she has received in support of her letter to Congressman Manzullo. Note that James Leach (jleach@neh.gov), contact for NEH funding, is apparently unimpressed with the uproar and that he will propose no meaningful changes in the NEH process and intends to continue to fund future projects by the East-West Center. Now is the time to alert the new House members of this questionable use of taxpayer funding. Maybe Mr. Leach intends to continue future projects; but if the Republicans are made aware of this revisionism, perhaps THEY won't fund future projects.

Perhaps you need to forward this blog to veterans' groups. I doubt they would appreciate being portrayed in such a way as they were in this workshop. In fact, I think I will forward this to my WWII veteran father. This is shameful.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Have the Conservatives Broken the NEA's Neck Alinsky-style?

The NEA didn't fare too well in the elections on Tuesday. This article chronicles the losses the NEA backed candidates suffered, and the major losses were in the House. The union also lost on many initiatives it had backed.

An interesting map is listed here, showing Republican gains in governor positions. Elected state education commissioners listed as partisan saw six out of seven positions being filled by Republicans. Based on the NEA's past endorsements, I would be highly suspect if the NEA threw any significant financial support to these Republican candidates.

Perhaps more and more voters are suspect of NEA backed candidates these days. Could it possibly be because of the "tools" listed on its website for its new teachers and recruits includes reading Saul Alinsky? I would be concerned if my children were around union members who read Alinsky as a training tool and whose "formula for success" was:

Agitate + Aggravate + Educate + Organize

This formula espoused by union leaders to teachers who transmit values to children doesn't sit well with me and apparently other voters. This training information provided to new union members only confirms parents' nagging concerns of the unions not focusing on students' needs and achievements, but rather, on their own power and goals.

As we noted in the previous post on the St. Louis NEA, the union promotes this Alinsky idea, among others:

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".

And, as we pointed out previously, if you are conservative, you better watch your neck. Good luck to the new Republican governors and education commissioners. You've been warned by the NEA-it hits, it hurts, it is dangerous.

However, the voters have flipped the roles on the NEA this election cycle. The power restored to conservative politicians and educators may be the most radical event to occur in this election. The NEA's power has been muted and with Republican governors and commissioners in control, it may find its agenda slowed and its own neck on the chopping block. How's that for irony?

Maybe Society has good reason to fear the Radical...the American voter.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Will we witness the Breaking of the Federal Educational Piggy Bank?

Elections have consequences. This article from Education Week points out the ever changing state of educational funding. Many of the Democrats on education committees were defeated and we may discover the over reaching goals and mandates of Race to the Top or other educational funding will not occur:

Republicans seized control of the U.S. House of Representatives and significantly bolstered their majorities in the Senate in Tuesday’s election, an outcome that will almost certainly mean an end to emergency education aid to states and will heighten pressure for a more limited federal role in K-12 policy.

Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, the House minority leader who is likely to become the speaker of the House, said in an election-night speech that Republicans will “take a new approach that hasn’t been tried before in Washington—by either party. It starts with cutting spending instead of increasing it. Reducing the size of government instead of expanding it.”

Those of us interested in education will be anxious to see if Mr. Boehner's ideas include returning the process of educating students to the states. States SHOULD be able to set their own curriculum and standards, but with adoption of Race to the Top or common core standards, this right has been surrendered. Many taxpayers still do not understand the gravity of the situation of public education.

Some taxpayers in my school district believe our district is locally controlled and we set the agenda. The only agendas our school board control are property expenditures, teacher/administrator salaries and personnel decisions. In fact, these are the only agendas most districts in Missouri control; none can set curriculum, at least in language arts/English and math. This is the sad fact of reality in Missouri that some folks don't understand or realize.

We recently had two controversial bond issues floated in our district; one was for a $33 Million construction project for schools, the other was a $15 Million aquatic center. A group of private citizens paid for an advertisement in our local newspaper, the Webster-Kirkwood Times, in favor of these issues. The last paragraph captured my interest:

"Kirkwood R-7 is a "hold harmless" district. This means our community, not the county, state or federal government pays for our schools. Kirkwood R-7 derives almost 92% of our school funding from our constituents. Legislators and bureaucrats in Clayton, Jefferson City and Washington, DC do not and will not determine the quality of education received by our children. We will decide with our vote the answer to this question and quite frankly we believe local issues such as education are best decided by those who are directly impacted".

I agree with the writers that "local issues such as education are best decided by those who are directly impacted". What these citizens don't realize is that the legislators and bureaucrats in Washington, DC DO and WILL and ARE determining the quality of education received by our children. If you believe expanded classrooms and swimming pools determine the quality of education, you would agree with these citizens' point of view. If you believe the quality of education is determined by curriculum and the autonomy of teaching, you would disagree with that point of view.

I am hoping the new Republican House will agree with me; state of the art buildings, perks, and increased federal spending aren't what children will remember or ultimately need in their public education. These won't help them in their critical thinking skills. Solid curriculum devoid of political correctness and teachers who are allowed to teach content rather than to the test will make the difference in students' lives.

I hope the title of the Education Week piece comes true:

"GOP Gains Could Prompt Funding, Policy Shifts"

Monday, November 1, 2010

Call to Voters: "The Gift of Freedom's Fountain Flows for Me and You"

In celebration of November 2, here's a video from an overseas patriot..Trevor Loudon. He is the creator of the New Zeal blog from New Zealand. The title of this posting comes from a line of the song these third graders in Virginia are singing in celebration of the USA. Here's a bit of background on Loudon:

I'm a libertarian activist and political researcher from Christchurch New Zealand. I believe in freedom with responsibility, not freedom from responsibility. My ideal society is one in which government is confined to protecting its citizens from criminals and external enemies. I believe in working with all those who are moving in broadly the same direction.

It is your responsibility to vote on November 2. As the children sing in this song, freedom IS a gift. Don't take it for granted. It can easily be taken away.

In the event you witness some problems in the voting process or witness fraudulent practices, here's a phone number to call sponsored by Let Freedom Ring:

If you are a poll watcher, or notice fraud while you are voting, you may call
1-877-611-VOTE (8683).

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lost in Space...and Asheville, North Carolina

I've recently returned from a trip to the Asheville, NC area. It's beautiful in the Smoky Mountains, particularly at this time of year. Asheville is an interesting city, quite liberal in its political leanings, while the surrounding communities could be considered more conservative. North Carolina is considered part of the "Bible Belt" and you can still spot signs in peoples' yards in the shape of crosses inscribed "Jesus Saves" and many yards contain three crosses, remembering Jesus and the two others crucified.

The City of Asheville has the motto: "It's not normal to be normal in Asheville". The religious base of the small surrounding towns and the more secular leanings of Asheville create an interesting cultural tension. That tension was apparent in this recent editorial and subsequent comments in the local paper, the Asheville Citizen-Times, on Saturday, 10.30.10.

Entitled "Public Schools should teach Scientific Fact, not Religious Faith", the editorial ostensibly equates teaching creationism to teaching religious faith. The staff used the responses from the candidates to make this leap:

When asked whether the General Assembly should be involved in the issue of teaching creationism or evolution in public schools, not one of the five candidates who attended would say flatly that creationism should not be taught. Republican Tim Moffitt did not attend, though he showed up for a meet-and-greet afterward.

Democrat Jane Whilden said “both sides should be taught and discussed.” Democrats Susan Fisher and Patsy Keever said the matter should be left up to the state Board of Education. Republicans Mark Crawford and John Carroll stressed their Christian faith. Crawford said such decisions should be made by local boards.

Where in those responses does it state that religious faith be taught? I don't see that the candidates are espousing teaching catechism or specific religious tenets. I see candidates leaving it up to local or state boards for decisions on teaching a theory...whether it be creationism or evolution.

The editorial staff goes on to state:

There are not two sides to the issue; there is only one. Evolution is a scientific theory that has been validated time and again over the century and a half since it was promulgated by Charles Darwin.

Creationism is a religious doctrine based on a literal reading of the first chapter of Genesis.

Are these office-seekers so ignorant they do not know this? Or, and this is more likely, were they dodging the question in order to avoid the wrath of the creationists? In either case, it was a sorry performance.

This was astounding to me. According to the staff, "there are not two sides to the issue; there is only one". Really? This country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Whether or not a student believes in those principles is irrelevant. To understand the history of this country, a student needs a background on what Judeo-Christian principles entail. As expressed in "Lost in Space" by the Robot when danger was afoot: "WARNING WILL ROBINSON, WARNING!", that one sentence by the editorial staff speaks volumes.

If you erase the historical references to your history, you can rewrite it to your own design. This is choice architecture at its best...or worst, depending on your view and the importance placed on the foundations for the Declaration of Independence.

The editorial staff goes on to impugn the office seekers by calling them "ignorant" and indicating they had a "sorry performance". Is that because they dared to have a differing opinion from those who are more scientifically minded and allegedly smarter? Haven't we been hearing this label (among others) bestowed on tea partiers from leaders who don't want to listen to taxpayers?

Just a quick side story...we ate at a fabulous Southern restaurant, Tupelo Honey. You MUST stop and eat if you visit the area. It has unbelievable grits, biscuits, frog legs and fried green tomatoes. We were at the southside location (just outside of Asheville proper); it is the second location of the original restaurant in the city. We had a perky and fun waitress who told us we were at the location with the good bar, but it WAS away from civilization...we were maybe three miles from the city limits. I got a good chuckle from that little tidbit. We "southsiders" were not quite up to par with the city dwellers.

I guess that's how the editorial staff thinks about those poor souls with the "Jesus Saves" crosses in their yards. They believe students shouldn't receive instruction on creationism, a theory important in the crafting of the Declaration of Independence. Barack Obama, when talking about this document, omits any reference to the Creator. The founders understood the meaning and success of our country depended on the understanding and belief that our rights were bestowed to us by a Creator, not a government:

Ask yourself: Without the “endowed by their Creator” phrase, does Obama’s paraphrase adequately convey the true meaning of the Declaration? It certainly could be argued that Obama’s reference to “all men are created equal” suggests a Creator, and that his reference to “inalienable rights” (“unalienable rights” in the actual Declaration) suggests that these rights transcend government. But there is also no doubt that his paraphrase is far weaker than the original — so much so that many who hear only the paraphrase without recalling the missing words will not understand that the uniqueness and greatness of America stems from the recognition that rights come from God.

That recognition of the fundamental foundation of the American republic is badly needed today. This is particularly the case when government operates as if it there are no restraints on its powers, and the people as a consequence become increasingly fearful that the freedoms they’ve enjoyed in this wonderful country of ours could become a thing of the past.

The newspaper editorial represents Choice Architects at work. The Asheville Citizen-Times is following this administration's cue. Warning, Will Robinson. Dr. Zachary Smith (aka the Citizens-Times editorial staff) is out to rewrite American history and our understanding of the role of government. Why else would it insist there is only one side to the issue of existence?
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