"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

Search This Blog

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Who Protects LSU Students from Bullying Attacks...from their Professor?

The current administration has made it an educational priority to eliminate bullying from public education. As the Washington-Post reported in October 2010:

The Obama administration is launching a campaign to prevent anti-gay bullying and other harassment at school, advising educators that federal law protects students from many forms of discrimination.

The advisory from the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights, to be made public Tuesday, does not break new legal ground, officials said. But the officials described it as the federal government's most comprehensive guidance to date on how civil rights law applies to the sort of campus situations that in some cases have led persecuted students to commit suicide. President Obama is expected to help promote the initiative.

"We've got to dispel this myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage," Obama said in a video posted last week on the White House Web site.

"Our goal here is to provide school districts, colleges and universities with details about when harassment can rise to the level of a civil rights violation and what they should be doing about it," Russlynn H. Ali, assistant education secretary for civil rights, said Monday.

The article talks about two kinds of bullying; those based on sexual orientation and religious beliefs. I think most people believe bullying is primarily perpetrated from one student (or students) to another student. Do these anti-bullying guidelines also apply to other types of bullying AND to teachers or college professors who bully certain students?

Consider this story about a college professor who bullies students in a Solar Systems Class at Louisiana State University. It is reminiscent of a previous posting on our site, "The Assassination of Children and Critical Thinking as Presented by Choice Architects":

Education in the K-12 grades is the perfect time to advance an agenda. Remember this video from the group 10:10? (Disclaimer: graphic content). Is this not a shining example of choice architects using fear to further their agenda? Take a different position and you are exterminated. This English reporter likened it to Eco Facism.

The video is a clear example of choice architecture and what we are facing in the re-shaping (aka "transformation") of our public education system. We are to go along with the choice architects or face extermination.

Do you remember that video? Children who did not agree with the teacher were literally "blown away". Fast forward the global warming agenda from elementary school to college and you have an actual example of a professor not tolerating differing opinions in a classroom in LSU. The video from this classroom exercise shows Dr. Bradley Schaefer exhibiting bullying tactics:

At the end of the class he has the students do a group exercise and gives each section different questions for which they must present an answer to the class. The group on the right side of the room (the group that believes the "US should do nothing" in regard to global warming) is given a piece of paper that says:
Your professed policies have a substantial likelihood of leading to the death of a billion people or more. (A) Estimate the probability that you personally will be killed in an ugly way because of your decision? (B) What is the probability that any children of yours will die in ugly ways due to your current decision.
Die in ugly ways? This professor has decided to try to weed out anyone who disagrees with him by using scare and guilt tactics. He sustains the violent imagery through the entire class, telling students, “Blood will be on your hands,” and pooh-poohing deaths from September 11th (“3,000? Whatever.”) in light of the toll global warming would take. Toward the end of his lecture he indicts the students who prefer no new legislation on climate change:

So, you see, the trouble here is the people on that corner [points at right side of room]. They’re wanting to do nothing. They’re wanting to let global warming take its toll. People decades from now will have deaths in the billions if we do nothing, and that will solve the problem.

Dr. Schaefer doesn't push a button and blow students up, but he intimidates and bullies them for their beliefs. Where is the legal protection for these college students from ridicule? They might want to obtain legal counsel for bullying relief as it doesn't seem as if the college administration will protect their interests:

What about Professor Schaefer? Will he be held accountable? Not likely. The LSU department chair told the Chronicle he did not think any action would be taken to punish or even reprimand Schaeffer. He did say that he would take seriously any student complaints if he hears any.

But why wait to hear from students, who may not complain if they want to preserve their grades, when all the evidence is in? The footage from this class is a smoking gun, and LSU is too deeply invested in maintaining the politically correct system to take responsibility and do the right thing.

Why have civil rights legislation that applies to a select group and not another?

I have two questions: Is there such a thing as critical thinking allowed in public education at ANY level today and why is this professor talking about global warming in "Astronomy 101: The Solar System"?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Federal Pay Czar at Mizzou Business School: "Government Determination of Private Executive Pay"

I hope the press covers this talk today by Kenneth Feinberg, the Federal Pay Czar. He will be speaking at the University of Missouri's Business School. Check out the title of his speech:

The lecture by Ken Feinberg is entitled "'Government Determination of Private Executive Pay: Opportunities and Challenges." He is scheduled to speak at 11 a.m. December 3 at the University of Missouri's Trulaske School of Business.

I'm on the edge of my seat waiting to read the reports of Mr. Feinberg's determination on how the government has the legal authority to determine private executive pay. It will be interesting to discover if he speaks to regulating determination of executive pay solely to those companies receiving bailouts, or if he wants to see this applied to other private industries. Based on this NY Times piece from last year, this seems to be the underlying agenda of the administration and it will be carried out via the EPA method of doing business:

...the administration could seek to put the changes into effect through regulations rather than through legislation.

One proposal could impose greater requirements on company boards to tie executive compensation more closely to corporate performance and to take other steps to ensure that compensation was aligned with the financial interest of the company.

If the Business School wants to educate their students on good business practices and how to grow an economy, perhaps the School should ask Donald Trump or some other successful entrepreneur how to actually contribute to an economy, rather than listening to how the government can set your pay rate when you are employed in private industry. I'm sure the business students will aspire to an executive position that includes a salary capped by the government. That will certainly inspire innovation and the quest for excellence, right?

I have an idea. To offer a fair and balanced discussion to the business students, the school should offer "Government Determination of Private Executive Pay: Opportunities and Challenges: Why This is Constitutionally Illegal".

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Civics Lesson for the Day: Who Writes Legislation? (Hint: It's not the Legislators)

Who writes legislation? That would be a great civics lesson, wouldn't it? Do public schools even teach civics today? I searched the Internet for the answer to that question...who writes legislation?

The first answer that appeared was from govtrackinsider.com and came from ultra-liberal Pete Stark's office. (This is the official who stated the Federal Government could do most anything in this country. Congressman Stark seems to have little regard for the powers granted to the states via the Constitution). The office did a good job of going through the steps of how a bill is crafted, but the "short" answer from the Congressman's office is a bit obtuse for me:

If you want to know who ac­tu­al­ly puts pen to paper, it’s non­par­ti­san staff lawyers who work for Congress who know the ex­it­ing law they are af­fect­ing in­side out. They do that under the di­rec­tion of of­fice staff for Mem­bers of Congress and con­gres­sion­al com­mit­tees, who vet the bill with out­side ex­perts and ad­vo­cates. Some­times those ad­vo­cates (i.e. lob­by­ists) pro­pose changes in the form of leg­isla­tive lan­guage. But did they write the bill? Prob­a­bly not.

Consider the Health Care Bill. How did a new administration roll out a bill more than 2000 pages long in a span of a few months? This blog (Romanticpoet's Weblog) does a thorough job showing the connection of the Apollo Alliance's influence and/or authorship of the bill. The Muckety maps linked in the blog are especially interesting showing how many interests were involved in the passage of the bill. It is common knowledge today and has been admitted by the Apollo Alliance that they did indeed write the Health Care bill AND the Cap and Trade bill. Pete Stark's office got this one wrong. Lobbyists' hands created this bill.

Children are not sacred in this grab for control and we have witnessed the staggering takeover of the educational industry by foundations interested in "helping the children". Bill and Melinda Gates' names keep surfacing while researching the forces behind the sweeping changes awaiting public education. This article in Inside Higher Ed questions why foundations such as Gates' are involved so closely with the Department of Education:

Michael S. McPherson, president of the Spencer Foundation, approached the same set of developments, but from the perspective of what he called a "professional skeptic," the natural outgrowth of an organization that takes as its mission the fostering of research about what works, and what doesn't, in education.

In a commentary that was polite yet pointed, McPherson expressed reservations about the change in philanthropic approach that Gates and Lumina have so eagerly embraced. "When we look at this movement" that the "outcomes-based" foundations have joined, "it's not just any old outcome -- it involves changes at the national level in ... government institutions' behavior," he said, referring to public schools and state-supported colleges.

Foundations are "not supposed to be involved in politics," McPherson said, and while he said specifically that he did not think that the charities' advocacy and efforts to "change federal policy" break the law, "it is in tension with the original spirit of what foundations are designed to do: go off and do their own thing," he said.

"This represents a shift from working at the edges to a concerted effort to change the core, working through political avenues," McPherson said. "These are people nobody has voted for.... They hold everybody else accountable but haven't been elected themselves."

Embedded in this article is a link from Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). The reporter details the connections between Gates and The Department of Education:

“The Gates program and the Arne Duncan program are pretty much the same program,” Nancy C. Detert, chair of the Education Committee in the Florida Senate, told the New York Times (10/28/09). Mike Petrilli, vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, agrees, telling the Puget Sound Business Journal (5/15/09), “It is not unfair to say that the Gates Foundation’s agenda has become the country’s agenda in education.” The Business Journal noted that as of that date, the Fordham Institute itself had received nearly $3 million in Gates Foundation grants.

Technically, the lobbyists may not have written the bill, but the lobbyists certainly crafted what they wanted in the bill. We've informed readers on this blog who is setting educational policy in Missouri, known as "Vision for Missouri Public Education". It's not the State Board of Education, it's being driven by two educational lobbying groups, Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA) and Missouri School Boards' Association (MSBA). Heck, these groups don't even try to hide the fact they are the main groups writing the policy. This is from the "Vision" website:

The Missouri Association of School Administrators and the Missouri School Boards’ Association are undertaking a joint effort to develop a “Vision for Missouri Public Education.” This joint effort will involve school board members and school administrators across the state in developing a comprehensive vision for Missouri’s public schools.

MSBA and MASA represent those charged with legal responsibility for governance and executive leadership of Missouri public schools. The two groups each have developed positions for which we advocate each year, but the groups have not developed a comprehensive vision for public education. The shortfall of state and federal dollars has legislators and state leaders looking to our organizations for leadership and the financial support for public education likely will get worse before it gets better. In the absence of any vision and/or plan, proposals such as vouchers, open enrollment, tuition tax credits, etc. will be seen as alternatives.

While these two groups have been charged with the legal responsibility for governance and executive leadership of MO public schools, I question whether this also gives them the right to write legislation for our students. The goals of their policy is clear: to deny parents the use of vouchers, open enrollment, tuition tax credits or any other plans which would compete with the traditional public school model.

Read the vision plan for Missouri and research into Bill Gates' involvement with the Department of Education. The parallels between groups who dictated health care and cap and trade policies, and the groups who are attempting the takeover of the educational system are striking. They all require complete federal control, punitive measures to the states, individuals, and businesses.

Who writes the legislation in our country today? Groups with special interests with hidden agendas and deep pockets. Remember the quotation linking Gates to the Department of Education:

"This represents a shift from working at the edges to a concerted effort to change the core, working through political avenues," McPherson said."These are people nobody has voted for.... They hold everybody else accountable but haven't been elected themselves."

These are the people currently writing educational policy and legislation to make money off our children and the taxpayers. It's the educational version of the Health Care bill. And that's the sad civics lesson for today.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Educate Yourself on "Cabbagegate" and Senate Bill 510

Education is a life long pursuit. Adults not receiving formalized education still need to be aware of legislation and political decisions affecting their lives.

Here is some information on Senate Bill 510, also known as "The Food Safety Modernization Act". It passed with a large majority. On its face, who wouldn't want safe food? Perhaps the senators paid about as much attention to this bill (or read it) as they did the Health Care bill. Let's highlight one particular point about what is really in this bill from Natural News called "Top Ten Lies about Senate Bill 510":

Lie #4 - S.510 will exclude and protect small farmers

The Tester Amendment, which was finally included in S.510, excludes farmers who sell less than $500,000 worth of food each year from the more onerous paperwork and compliance burdens described in the bill. But this dollar amount is not indexed to inflation, meaning that as the U.S. dollar continues to lose value due to the Federal Reserve counterfeiting machine running at full speed (more "quantitative easing," anyone?), food prices will continue to skyrocket -- and this will shift even small family farms into the $500,000 sales range within just a few years.

In fact, a single-family farm with just four people could easily sell $500,000 worth of fresh produce a year right now, even before inflation. Remember, $500,000 is not their profit, but rather the gross sales amount. The profits on that might be only $50,000 or even less.

Furthermore, this $500,000 threshold means that small, successful farms that are doing well and would like to expand will refuse to hire more people or expand their operations. To avoid the tyranny of S 510, small farms will try to stay small, and that means avoiding the kind of business expansion that would create new jobs.

This "lie" is apparent already. Watch this youtube clip of a farmer with two acres in DeKalb County, Georgia being prosecuted by the American government. He's been growing crops on his land for 15 years, giving food away and selling some at a local farmer's market. So, what is his crime? He apparently is growing too much food. And even though he rezoned for agricultural status (with his neighbors' approval), he is still being prosecuted for the original charge. His fine is currently set at $5,000.00.

The farmer, Steve Wright, probably won't reach the $500,000 threshold set forth in the new law, but the fact the government can fine a person for growing too many vegetables on their own property should cause concern for any Constitution based thinking person.

Educate yourself on the control we are experiencing from this administration and ask yourself why this control is necessary. Watch the video. Steve Wright wants to know the answer to that question as well. I'll leave you with this tidbit. This bill outlaws "heirloom seeds". What are heirloom seeds? Here's an explanation from an email I received:

I just looked up what an "heirloom" seed is (I wasn't aware). Here's what I found:

"An heirloom plant, heirloom variety, or (especially in the UK) heirloom vegetable is a cultivar that was commonly grown during earlier periods in human history, but which is not used in modern large-scale agriculture. Many heirloom vegetables have kept their traits through open pollination, while fruit varieties such as apples have been propagated over the centuries through grafts and cuttings. The trend of growing heirloom plants in gardens has been growing in popularity in the United States and Europe over the last decade."
So, what you're saying is that Congress wants to OUTLAW the growing of NATURAL, non-modified FOOD??????? God's food?????? ILLEGAL??????? Is that it??

And a response from another person:

Yes that's it ! Heirloom seeds will re-seed
so you always have seed for the next year(s)
Government control means having genetic modified
seed that will NOT re-seed
making us all dependent on seed producers
Like Monsanto.

And is Monsanto involved in this food safety bill? You decide. Gee, it seems as if the senators know less about bills and the resulting consequences than the people...again.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The New Meaning of Diversity: Honor Class Cancelled if Minorities Don't Meet the Testing Entrance Requirements

Evanston Township High School may drop an Honors English class because it doesn't meet diversity goals. There are too many white students and not enough minority students in incoming freshman English honors class, so the school is planning not to offer the class according to the Chicago-Tribune:

Across the Chicago region, high school officials say they are making inroads in diversifying their advanced classes, but Evanston is considering the boldest step of all: eliminating an elite honors English course that has traditionally been offered to the highest-achieving incoming freshmen — usually white. The superachievers — freshmen who outscore about 95 percent of their peers nationally on eighth-grade achievement tests — would no longer have their own class, beginning next fall. A year later, the same approach would be taken with freshman biology classes, if the school board approves the proposal.

The superintendent is ..." excited about moving away from racially segregated classes," he said at a packed school board meeting earlier this week, adding that all freshmen should be taking challenging courses that will propel them to even more rigorous classes as upperclassmen.

According to the article, the reason this segregation occurs is not because of ability, but because of decades of grouping and tracking. The school believes being placed year after year in certain learning groups impedes a student's ability to learn at a challenging level. The answer? Penalize those super achievers who score very high, can learn at an accelerated rate, and make those achievers attend more of a diverse class that is not "racially segregated".

Do you think the school would have taken such a radical step if the classes had been diverse? No, it wouldn't. Read the article. This step has been taken to make sure there is equal distribution of education regardless of student ability. This is the core mission Race to the Top and Vision for Missouri Public Education: equal distribution of teachers/administrators and educational opportunity, no matter the ability or desire of the student.

Is this the plan to make public education students globally competitive? Placing all students on the same level and teaching them in the same manner? This is absurd. Students who are goal oriented and high achievers might as well stay home and take online courses. They'll certainly be challenged more in a virtual setting than sitting in classes learning information they already know.

What happened to Martin Luther King's statement, "judge a man not by the color of his skin but by the contents of his character"? Perhaps we can expand it to Evanston Township High School honors class...for appropriate classroom placement, judge a student by test scores, ability and desire to learn, not the color of his/her skin. It seems as if these high school students are judged solely by their color, not their ability.

What exactly are we paying for in public schools today? True learning or political correctness?

Monday, November 29, 2010

What's Most Important in School Tests--Manners or Mastery?

This is an excellent post by Ann Althouse on the fallacies of standardized testing and what it really accomplishes. ( Hint: it's not really about educating students to master material). As the New Times article she refers to in her blog states:

As test scores fast become the single and most powerful measurement by which educational outcomes are being judged, more schools might find themselves engaged in what has become a pivotal debate: Should students be rewarded for being friendly, prepared, compliant, a good school citizen, well organized and hard-working? Or should good grades represent exclusively a student’s mastery of the material?

If you are confused on why we are facing a conundrum on the question of "what should a test measure" and how our public schools became so muddled in their mission to educate students, read the comments after Althouse's post. Education issues create passion as commentors debate the reason for America's educational decline. These posts are indicative of the myriad of reasons people believe the system is failing. The readers raise some excellent points but it becomes a virtual shouting match between adults regarding philosophy of education, experiences as educators, etc.

It is apparent people are angry about US educational "experiments" and I sense there is a desire to return to the fundamentals of education and teaching. Read the comments and see if you agree.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Elementary Primer Gets a Modern Technological Makeover? At least it does in India.

When our oldest son was diagnosed hearing impaired in the early 90's, my husband and I were excited when the closed caption option was embedded directly into the television and we did not have to rely on an external "black box" for this function. We began using the captioning feature all the time and very rarely do we even turn it off today, even though our son is away at college.

We used the closed captioning in hopes it would "fill in the blank" for those words he could not access auditorially. The educators also thought it would help reinforce written language as it relates to sentence structure. I believe it helped not only our hearing impaired son, but also our younger son. He was raised watching all television programs with the caption on and he became a prodigious reader at an early age. I believed (although I had no proof) one reason he did read so early was the connection of oral language to written language, and it made reading comprehension that much quicker.

I might have been onto something with thinking the captioning helped reading skills. Here is a piece from "Planet Read":

Same Language Subtitling (SLS) is simply the idea of subtitling the lyrics of existing film songs (or music videos) on TV, in the ‘same’ language that they are sung in. Call it Karaoke on Bollywood for mass reading! A deceptively simple innovation, SLS is already delivering regular and inescapable reading practice to 150 million weak-readers in India. “One of the most cost-effective ideas... Such subtitles could be used worldwide to increase literacy and cost almost nothing.” – The New York Times

Check out on the site the speech from Bill Clinton as he gives out the award for the "Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2009". He stated, "Same Language Subtitling doubles the number of functional readers among primary school children". This type of captioning is more advanced than the captioning currently available for regular programming; this educational captioning is highlighted in real time with the spoken word.

This is a common sense approach that parents could use as their children watch television or dvds. Just think of it. It is as the New York Times states: “One of the most cost-effective ideas... Such subtitles could be used worldwide to increase literacy and cost almost nothing.”

It's heartening this group is receiving recognition for providing a service that is cost effective and educationally proven to increase literacy. Try using captioning at home if you have pre-reading children or those struggling with reading. Just keep an eye on the captions when cities such as "Pascagoula" are introduced into the conversation! Sometimes even captioners need spelling tests!
Site Meter