"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, December 31, 2011

Teaching Human Capital Widgets to Behave More Like Humans

What is the most important subject a student studies in school today?  It might surprise you what one school believes is the path to success for a student.

Arne Duncan would have you believe math, science, and technological courses are THE paths for students to succeed.  Patrons of the arts bemoan the cuts taking place in music and visual arts.  English teachers are concerned that fictional readings are being phased out in favor of non-fiction; there's no time to read for pleasure or to tweak creative thinking.

Shop classes are a blast from the past as technical, hands on skills are frowned upon in this era of computerization.  Even though we're told that childhood obesity is a pervasive problem in the United States, physical education classes are being cut because the new assessments are taking too much time for children to play.

Some education gurus insist classes be taught for:
  • healthy eating
  • bullying
  • sex education
  • diversity training

It seems as if every group has its own agenda for what's important for human capital.  These small human capital widgets need to perform and be trained for the workforce so they can become productive workers for the Department of Education, Department of Labor, and Department of Health and Human Services.  Happy and productive workers mean a happy and productive country.  Does this sound a bit like China's view of its citizens?

It does to me.  A child's individuality and personality is being wiped away for the efficiency and good of the country and a specific agenda. In the quest to never be judgmental toward anyone (regardless of behavior or actions) and being raised by parents and in a society with this same attitude, students are lacking an important skill.  What is that missing quality in some students that is all important in 'life skills'?  According to a state school in England, these students have not learned...manners.

The school has decided that etiquette must be taught to state students not to necessarily give them a moral center and to treat others as they would like to be treated (I suppose that's too much like the Golden Rule)...it's to make them more employable.

Students will learn such skills as:
  • posture
  • dressing for success
  • how to eat properly
  • clear speech and voice training

In fact, there are etiquette lessons for three year olds in Britain to ensure proper behavior as they grow up so they can become useful citizens.  From a commenter on etiquette lessons for the 16 year olds:

This ties in neatly with the PMs idea about improving family life.  However, it seems to also take it as read that families no longer have the input into their children’s upbringing that they once had.

This situation and the one that Mr Cameron seeks to improve have arisen from several generations of poor parenting.  Whilst he is to be commended for trying to change this situation by using an interlocutor, I believe that he will be disappointed with the outcome.  There needs to be an understanding of how this process of family degradation developed.

The fact that many parents do not now have the time or the inclination to help their children through the ways of natural parenting is not only sad but it is also a dereliction of duty.  Teachers, social workers and the police do not and cannot offer a separate way of teaching children that will allow parents to abrogate their responsibilities.

Will this be another new social program adopted in schools, teaching behavior and good manners traditionally reserved (and expected) for families to impart?  What purpose do families serve (other than paying taxes and supplying the children for the public education system) if students do not even know basic etiquette?  How can parents be held accountable so the schools can return to teaching academic subjects instead of teaching students how to behave so they can land a job and then keep it?  There actually is some accountability in this situation as the parents are being asked to pay toward the classes their children have to take because the parents did not/could not/would not teach them appropriate social behavior.  The parent's lack of initiative and/or laziness is costing them financially and should be a source of embarrassment for the parents and students.

Miss Manners must be aghast at this serious breach of etiquette by parents.  It takes time away from the academic teaching to their children, and instead focuses on how to make them behave responsibly so they can become employable.  Teaching etiquette is reserved for the parents, not the state.  Parents should want what is best for their child so he/she will become a worthwhile and decent person.  The state wants the student to behave well because that is what's best for the state to succeed.   Learning and integrating etiquette in daily life for the purpose of becoming a decent and caring person is much different than learning it to advance the cause for the workforce.  

Here's a question about the data to be gathered on students on the longitudinal data base to be provided to the workforce: how will rating manners and etiquette fit onto a spreadsheet?  The skills learned from the touted 21st century goals in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) may fit well in data collection...human behavior and/or personal skills, not so much.  Maybe human capital widgets really aren't widgets at all.   

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Teachers Sing about "Common Core Magic". Are They Under a Spell?

Teachers appear once more on youtube singing about Common Core standards.   This version from South Dakota is described as a...Blues song written collaboratively by Scott Simpson and South Dakota 9-12 English Language Arts teachers working on disaggregating and implementing the new Common Core State Standards. 

According to the song, teachers have the "Common Core Blues", feel stressed out and confused, but ultimately, they know the standards are the answer to educational woes.   

Read the lyrics and remember, teachers, taxpayers and students have been sold out by the politicians, unions and special interests to get these standards adopted.  As professionals, teachers should be rising up and refusing to be trained in unproven, untested and unconstitutional methods of educating children using taxpayer money. 

Collaboration and using standards in South Dakota (that are also used in Alabama and Philadelphia PA) won't necessarily 'create success'.  The song says the teachers are looking for "Common Core Magic".  That might be one kind of magic teachers don't want to conjure up.  It creates bureaucratic nightmares, underfunded mandates and loss of any local and/or state educational control.  This video about common core standards invokes the use of prayer, but prayer won't help this disastrous educational edict.  It's beyond redemption.

Here are the lyrics and the video:


Got to get me some standards

Some standards I can use...
Yeah, I'm here with my computer
And my DIS-AG-GRE-GATIN' shoes
I got 'em bad, I got 'em good,
These Common Core Blues...

Well, I'm just an English teacher searchin'
Sittin' waitin' for a sign
You know there's somethin' heavy on my brain...
And it's standard 11-12 RL9
Gotta keep pushin', though my head hurts,
Keep tellin' myself, it's all gonna be fine!

We come from 'cross South Dakota,
Our training is the key.
We're here for COL-LAB-O-RATION,
COL-LAB-O-RATION for our posterity.
So we're singin' this here blues song
Just to save our sanity.


Gotta check out all this info 
Common Core magic's what we seek,
Gotta toss the dusty garbage
From our lessons, oh, are we gonna tweak!
Gotta spread the word to all the peeps
Rusty relics are gonna FREAK!

In preppin' my lessons
I gotta shift into rewind
I want 'em to KNOW, UNDERSTAND & DO
So we won't be drivin' blind.
No, I don't wanna leave 'em,
Don't want to leave all those students behind!

Oh, but Time, she's against me
Tryin' to align standards I can use-
Gonna, pray to the inservice gods
Pray, pray to the inservice muse...
Please please give us the time,
The time to plan, align and light the fuse!

Cause those students are comin' in
From 'Bama, Philadelphia PA
They're bringin' all sorts of skill sets
(Who can make sense of this anyway?)
Well the common Core Standards
Are gonna hook us up, hook us up for success today.


Many have been here before...
Many will come this way again.
Challenges? Yeah, we can name a few!
But now, fellow teachers, we must begin!
Continuity, communication, and materials...
Finish this by..wait, finish this by WHEN?

See, I gotta tell you somethin'
It ain't easy to make a change!
This whole process 
Is really kinda strange.
How am I gonna use this
Back down home, on the Range?

Guess I gotta change my way of thinkin'
With this new Common core...
Gonna have to help ALL my students
To face the world with a roar!
Yeah, yeah-bring it on DOE...
What move is in store?

Chorus 2X

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Department of Education Just Won The Data Jackpot

Emmett McGroarty, executive director of the Preserve Innocence Initiative of the American Principles Project and Jane Robbins, a senior fellow with the APP, wrote a great opinion piece that was featured in today's New York Post regarding the new access the Federal Dept of Education just granted itself to a wide range of data about your children.  We are including it here in its entirety for your convenience.
Would it bother you to know that the federal Centers for Disease Control had been shown your daughter’s health records to see how she responded to an STD/teen-pregnancy-prevention program? How about if the federal Department of Education and Department of Labor scrutinized your son’s academic performance to see if he should be “encouraged” to leave high school early to learn a trade? Would you think the government was intruding on your territory as a parent? 
The government will have the ability to look at
any data they want to regarding your child.
Under regulations the Obama Department of Education released this month, these scenarios could become reality. The department has taken a giant step toward creating a de facto national student database that will track students by their personal information from preschool through career. Although current federal law prohibits this, the department decided to ignore Congress and, in effect, rewrite the law. Student privacy and parental authority will suffer
How did it happen? Buried within the enormous 2009 stimulus bill were provisions encouraging states to develop data systems for collecting copious information on public-school kids. To qualify for stimulus money, states had to agree to build such systems according to federally dictated standards. So all 50 states either now maintain or are capable of maintaining extensive databases on public-school students. 
The administration wants this data to include much more than name, address and test scores. According to the National Data Collection Model, the government should collect information on health-care history, family income and family voting status. In its view, public schools offer a golden opportunity to mine reams of data from a captive audience. 
The department’s eagerness to get control of all this information is almost palpable. But current federal law prohibits a nationwide student database and strictly limits disclosure of a student’s personal information. So the department has determined that it can overcome the legal obstacles by simply bypassing Congress and essentially rewriting the federal privacy statute. 
Last April, the department proposed regulations that would allow it and other agencies to share a student’s personal information with practically any government agency or even private company, as long as the disclosure could be said to support an evaluation of an “education program,” broadly defined. That’s how the CDC might end up with your daughter’s health records or the Department of Labor with your son’s test scores. 
And you’d have no right to object — in fact, you’d probably never even know about the disclosure. 
Not surprisingly, these proposed regulations provoked a firestorm of criticism. But on Dec. 2, the Department of Education rejected almost all the criticisms and released the regulations. As of Jan. 3, 2012, interstate and intergovernmental access to your child’s personal information will be practically unlimited. The federal government will have a de facto nationwide database of supposedly confidential student information. 
The department says this won’t happen. If the states choose to link their data systems, it says, that’s their business, but “the federal government would not play a role” in operating the resulting mega-database. 
This denial is, to say the least, disingenuous. The department would have access to the data systems of each of the 50 states and would be allowed to share that data with anyone it chooses, as long as it uses the right language to justify the disclosure. 
And just as the department used the promise of federal money to coerce the states into developing these systems, it would almost certainly do the same to make them link their systems. The result would be a nationwide student database, whether or not it’s “operated” from an office in Washington. 
The loosening of student-privacy protection would greatly increase the risks of unauthorized disclosure of personal data. Even the authorized disclosure would be limited only by the imaginations of federal bureaucrats.
Unless Congress steps in and reclaims its authority, student privacy and parental control over education will be relics of the past
Read original: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/how_the_feds_are_tracking_your_kid_xC6wecT8ZidCAzfqegB6hL#ixzz1hrKISgfc.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Will the Joplin & Kirkwood School District Playbooks of 'Educational Equity' Doom Private Preschool Providers?

It's government to the rescue.  Or is it?  Joplin Missouri suffered a devastating tornado earlier this year.  Lives were lost, properties destroyed and services delayed.  A result of the tornado was a disruption in child care provision as many private centers were destroyed.

Private business owners tried their best to adapt to these circumstances such as day care center owner Diana Heckmaster.  From the Joplin Globe:

She and her daughter own The Learning Tree, which opened in a temporary location at 101 Plaza Drive after the May 22 tornado.  At her old location, she was licensed for 56 children, with 46 enrolled. At her new home, she’s licensed for 48, but is at 30 with no waiting list. She said she expects to be licensed for as many as 88 children after a state inspection in January.

This private citizen should be patted on her back for her nimbleness and plan of action after a disaster.  The government should be delighted it has private taxpaying citizens contributing to the pot of state funding.  But alas, this is not the case:

The Joplin School District has announced plans to expand its day care openings to accommodate up to 600 children by next August — 425 more than the district serves now.  Orem said that if the district saw a need to go beyond the 600 children planned for next August, it would expand further. The district would likely have to hire at least 20 more teachers for 600 children, Orem said, to fulfill required provider-to-child ratios. The day care would be open to the community, not just district employees who have children that age.

Why does the district believe there is a need for the government to provide day care for its students?  The article states that 24 of the 35 centers have reopened.  One day care provider said that many residents left the area after the tornado and many centers are not at capacity at this time.  

Apparently the district believes only public education can provide what small children "need" and it is exists to help those parents who don't want to pay for childcare.  The bureaucracy's only goal is to help students and families:

Orem said there are many benefits for children who attend early childhood centers, including better pre-reading skills, more extensive vocabularies and stronger basic math skills.

She said the district’s goal of improving graduation rates is also tied to day care, since children who attend day care have higher graduation rates.

Told that some local providers didn’t see the need for the school to create spots for up to 600 children, and that they were worried the school might undercut their business, Orem said: “We’re not trying to take away from any preschools or day care or home care. We were told that there has been a need and there were waiting lists with people taking buses to Webb City and Carl Junction and parents weren’t working, or that licensed day care was too (expensive).

“I understand the day cares’ position. I know that they want to keep their day cares full and we are not trying to compete with them at all. We just want to make sure the need is filled. There was a need before the storm and a need now, and it’s going to take time to build back.”

I would like to read those studies she cites on educational progress for children in day care centers.  I've read studies where daycare has been shown to not be beneficial to young children, and in fact, any gains made by children are negated by third grade.  You can see how this is advancing.  My school district (Kirkwood) implemented "free" kindergarten this past month at an initial cost of $850,000. 

You can figure out the scenario.  When the test scores for 5 year olds aren't where the consortia believe they should be, we will institute "free" preschool.  This universal "free" preschool was seriously debated in our long-term educational vision for the state, Educated Citizenry 2020.  One senator involved in the plan said "it is gathering dust on the shelf".  I'm not sure that is true.

According to the article:

The at-risk students at Joplin Early Childhood qualify for federal Title I funding so their families don’t have to pay for services.  

The families don't pay for the service, but taxpayers do.  This isn't fair to middle class parents, though, (this was the "educational equity" argument from our superintendent to open the "free" kindergarten program to all students) so now the districts must offer this to families who can afford unmandated programs:

Orem said children from middle-income families have the hardest time finding quality day care because low-income families qualify for Head Start and other programs, but middle-class families do not.

Look for what's happening in Joplin (with the excuse of a tornado) and brace for it coming to your district soon.  It's wrapped in these terms and beliefs:
  • "educational equity"
  • the government is responsible for the cost of educating ALL children (regardless of income) from birth 
  • skewed or nonexistent studies on the benefit of preschool education tied to long term educational benefit
  • the cessation of private companies providing childcare services since it is now "free" to all families
  • the arrogant attitude of public school bureaucrats stating the public system will provide better pre-reading skills, more extensive vocabularies and stronger basic math skills
Start recognizing the circular arguments and half truths from the districts:
  • these programs are not "free"...the cost is funded by the Federal government, state government and/or the district via taxes
  • the government does not necessarily provide better services than private industries 
  •  by using taxpayer money, districts are relegating many private day care providers to the unemployment line, and the taxpayers will have a double taxburden supporting more public employees AND unemployed private employees.  

From two other day care providers:

“You look at the providers that have lost everything and they’re still trying to open back up, and if the school is going to open it up, I don’t know if there’s going to be enough kids,” Gould said. “It could put some of us that are small-business people at a different standpoint.”

Kid’s Corner, 2602 S. Wall Ave., also was destroyed in the tornado. Owner Terri Malcom said the center is rebuilding on the same location and hopes to open in April. It is licensed for 60 children.

“It will hurt us bad and they’re going to use our own tax dollars to do it. Doesn’t feel very fair.”  


Monday, December 26, 2011

What did your kids (or kids you know) receive for Christmas? Will those Gifts Make them Creators or Consumers?

Blogger David McElroy has an article about the Christmas presents children receive and how these presents reveal what adults expect of them.   He has some interesting thoughts on how children learn to create (or not).  

I remember one of my favorite gifts at Christmas when I was seven years old.  It was a small collapsible metal desk with a matching chair.  What wonderful memories I have about that desk!  I spent countless hours at that desk writing and creating art.  It represented a blank slate where ideas and creativity were allowed to come forth.  What sort of toys caused your imagination to percolate?  

From David McElroy:

The gifts we give children shape them and reveal what we expect of them

by David McElroy

For many children, the passing of years is marked by when they got for Christmas. There was the train set when I was 3 (which you see above), walkie talkies and a “spy kit” when I was 9, chemistry set and electrical experiment kit when I was 11, and books for most years thereafter. The things I got seemed to reflect who I was and how the people around me saw me. I wonder how much our childhood gifts shape us?

I’m thinking about this because of different presents I’m seeing for kids around me today. Two contrasting examples stand out, because they represent entirely different approaches, at least in my mind.

A couple of my friends have a beautiful and charming young daughter named Linnea. Among Linnea’s Christmas pictures this morning, there’s a whole series of her with her 36 new containers of Play-Doh. She looks happy, and it makes me imagine all the things she’s going to pull out of her little imagination and bring to life with those little pieces of modeling clay.

A 12-year-old neighbor of mine named Joseph came running over to me excitedly a couple of hours ago to tell me that he had gotten an iPhone 4S for Christmas. He knows that I have an iPhone and he’s told me about wanting one before, so he couldn’t wait to tell me about his.

Nobody could accuse me of not thinking the iPhone is a great gift. (An iPhone that I gave someone four years ago stands out as the Christmas present I’ve been most happy to give so far.) But as I thought about different things that kids can get — and what those things represent — that Play-Doh looked better and better.

It’s not really fair to compare what you give a 12-year-old and what you give a 3-year-old, but these still represent different philosophies, it seems. One represents being more passive — consuming content — while the other represents a blank slate that can become anything. Many of the things that kids receive today — smartphones, gaming devices, media players and so forth — are all about being passive. I wonder if that is going a long way toward creating a generation that’s more comfortable consuming content than creating it.

Linnea’s parents are both artists. They don’t do it for a living, but they’ve both made films and have creativity and insight about the world around them. It seems to me that the dozens of containers of Play-Doh reflect that creativity — and they reflect that they want her to create, rather than just be a passive consumer.

I don’t object to kids getting iPhones — although it surpasses everything I could have even imagined when I was 12 — but I wonder whether we help them in the long run with presents like that. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s not a big deal. But I just know something inside me says they’d be better off with someone that would encourage them to make things instead of consume things.

Decades after I got that train set when I was 3, I still have parts of it. The engine and tender sit proudly on a bookshelf near my desk. That’s it below. I used and abused it as a kid. I pulled the engine out. I broke parts of it. I fixed what I broke. The cow-catcher from the front is missing today. I learned to imagine it was something more than it was. I made up (and even recorded) stories that would embarrass me for you to hear today.

But that train and others that followed were things that required my imagination. They helped shape me. They made me a creator rather than just a consumer. I think that’s a good thing.

Linnea might not still have her Play-Doh decades from now. (I suspect it will have dried out by then.) But I suspect she will keep a sense of imagination that will be fostered by parents who want her to be creative. Joseph will be a consumer with his iPhone, but there will be no lasting impact. I know which one I think got the better present today, even if Joseph wouldn’t understand that.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wishing you a Politically (In)correct Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!  Merry Christmas!  Merry Christmas!

As December 25 has been designated a Federal Holiday since 1870 for Washington DC employees and since 1885 for all federal employees, we determine it politically correct to wish all of you a MERRY CHRISTMAS!

The question is then, why all the hoopla by some saying it is politically incorrect to shout MERRY CHRISTMAS?  Just exactly what is so criminal and loathsome about those two words? 

Here's a youtube video from the Newman Club (location unknown) and its rendition of "The True Meaning of Christmas":

Newman Club Christmas Show 2011

Twas the month before Christmas
When all through our land
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand.

See the PC Police had taken away,
The reason for Christmas -- no one could say.

The children were told by their schools not to sing,
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.

It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say
December 25th is just a 'Holiday'.

Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!

CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod
Something was changing, something quite odd!

Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.

As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas -- was no where to be found.

At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.

Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty
Are words that were used to intimidate me.

Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton,Wolf Blitzen
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton !

At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.

And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace

The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.

So as you celebrate 'Winter Break' under your 'Dream Tree'
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me..

Choose your words carefully, choose what you say
Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS, not Happy Holiday !

We now provide you another offering on the true meaning of Christmas and those beautiful words from Luke courtesy of Linus:

MERRY CHRISTMAS and great joy to you.

An Education in Procrastination Courtesy of Keb Mo

It's Christmas Eve!  Have you finished your shopping?  The economists hope there are a few of you out there waiting until the last minute to find that perfect gift as the economy could use a shot in the arm.

Blues singer Keb Mo has a song for you "guy" procrastinators (his label, not mine), "Shoppin on Christmas Eve".  He explains in a youtube holiday message:

I love his attitude toward shopping and having to meet a deadline..."I won't worry and I don't hurry for anything". This is an educational insight into those personalities not stressed out by others' expectations.

Here's a link for the song in its entirety and here are the lyrics:

Shopping On Christmas Eve (print)

Twelve days to Christmas
I got plenty time
I don’t feel much like shopping but you see I got
A lot on my mind (for instance)
Got no money and that aint funny this time of year
But you know me
I do all my shopping on Christmas eve

Three days till Christmas
Getting kind of late
But I love to just sit around and just procrastinate
I won’t worry and I don’t hurry for anything, no
Cause you know me
I do all my shopping on Christmas eve

Some like to shop early in the year
When the sales are good and the parking lots are clear
Some shop in the summer time when Santa’s not around
Rudolph on vacation and the elves are out of town
Black Friday is a good day to spend all your dough
But my money goes a whole lot further down at the dollar store

Some like to shop y’all early in the year
Cause the sales are good and the parking lots are clear
Some shop in the summer time when Santa’s not around
And Rudolph on vacation and the elves are out of town
Black Friday is a good day to spend all your dough
My money goes a whole lot farther down at the dollar store
(Yes it does now)

Times running out I got four hours to go
The clock is ticking and I still don’t know
What to buy her its down to the wire
(that’s alright I still gotta a little time)
Cause you know me
I do all my shopping on Christmas eve

Yea I do all my shopping peoples
Yes I do on Christmas Eve

If you've finished shopping, enjoy your Christmas Eve.  If you are just getting started, a word of advice: if she is extra special, you might want to skip the dollar store.  That's a common sense lesson of the day.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Common Cartridge for the Common Man

G.K. Chesterton once said, "Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another." Technology now seeks to do that digitally with the Common Cartridge. IMS Global Learning Consortium (aka ITIMS or IMS GLC) wrote the specification for the Common Cartridge which provides, "state-of-the-art practice in online education and training into an easy-to-follow format for creating and sharing digital content."

Basically, the cartridge is software that allows the user to combine a bunch of digitally available source material into one "lesson plan." Their platform allows users to go from one digital source to another without having to search, or log in, or wait for third party software to load.  This video,(look at the first video called "Introducing video for IMS Common Cartridge") demonstrates how the CC is intended for use in the classroom.  It is envisioned as a teacher resource for now.

Notice the classroom portrayed in this video.  Each student sits at a desk with a computer, working individually on their cartridge (which may not necessarily be the same one that their neighbor is working on). The role of the teacher is to periodically check on the students and offer advice.  Since there is no dialogue for the teacher in the video we are left to guess at the nature of the guidance they offer.  It COULD be offering some personal insight to the teachings of Aristotle, or it could simply be, "click on this tab to find that information."  You begin to see the evolving role of the teacher in the classroom with Common Core through Common Cartridges.

The video also gives a glimpse of what constitutes learning in the future.  After watching several similar videos about the cartridge I noted that they all sourced Wikipedia on their topics.  A student recently told me, "Teachers hate Wikipedia more than they hate guns." It would appear that Icodeon shares no such visceral aversion to that digital source. The cartridge also pulls in information from Facebook and Twitter.  In this way they seem to agree with Mr. Chesterton.  These two social media tap into the psyche, or soul, of a culture. Their accuracy might be a little in doubt and thus their place in a classroom could be questioned, but education in the future may care more about how people FEEL about a topic than the facts themselves.

One of the benefits digital media has over print media is its ability to be updated almost instantaneously.  If only Mitt Romney's book had been produced digitally he would not have had to explain its change on health care.  With digital media we can do as the first lady Michelle Obama demanded, “We’re going to have to make sacrifices, we’re going to have to change our conversation, we’re going to have to change our traditions, our history and we’re going to have to move to a different place.”  What would  George Santayana, who said, "Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it," think of a history that was constantly subject to change as people were trying to study it?

The internet is a vast a wondrous place where fact and fantasy are separated only by a mouse click. The Common Cartridge is being rolled out as a tool that teachers can use to tap into this vast source of information to supplement or enhance their teaching experience. Teachers already do this with things like White Boards in their classrooms, but Common Cartridge will make that process more stream lined, like plug-n-play. Their only limitation will be to use the IMS approved basic curriculum sources.  This will be IMS members (who pay heavily for the privilege of membership), like Khan Academy. That list grows as the CC is expanded to its ultimate goal of worldwide education. The plan is already underway to have global education standards and Common Cartridge provides an easy way to do that.

At least initially, teachers will have the freedom to assemble the cartridge any way they like.  It's not too hard to imagine a parent conversation in the future sounding like this, "Oh I like Teacher A so much better than Teacher B. Her cartridges are so much better than his."  How long do you think it will take before school systems decide to promote Teacher A to making the cartridge for the entire school or district in order to free up the other teachers' time to collect data?  But since all work is now being done on the computer, which can collect data by the second, maybe we won't even need teachers to do that.  Yes, I can see the teacher's role evolving.  And to think it all started with Common Core Standards.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What in the World is Going on with Teachers? Common Core Praises Appear Again in Song.

We reported a few days ago on the singing Pep Squad teachers extolling the virtues of the Common Core standards.  We now have another set of teachers praising, literally and figuratively, Common Core standards This version takes on a religious fervor by the end of the clip.  It is set to the tune of "We are the World". 

From youtube and an unnamed school:

The words are difficult to understand, but the gist of the message is this:

There was a time when a child was left behind
They couldn't read, write or graph a line
There's a choice we're making
To change the world today
Ensure.........to day to day

We're Common Core
We are the standards
We're arguments to evidence to make a difference
It's the choice we're making
To set the students high
Ensure the betterment of you and I.

Now is the time 
To put it on the line
To try so the system won't decline
We're creating words (?)
For the brand new century
Ensure a brighter day for you and me.


....To make a smarter place for you and I.

Unlike the previous posting we had about teachers singing about the excitement of instituting common core but looking uncomfortable, this group seems enthusiastic and ready for the challenge to save the students.

These teachers appear to have bought into the argument that because of common core standards, miraculous turnarounds for student achievement will occur.  Maybe the teachers won't be so excited when they discover many of them will be replaced by teachers from Teach for America and the common cartridge with preloaded curriculum.  Experienced teachers won't be needed for data driven assessments and predetermined curriculum. 

We'll be writing about the common cartridge and its importance in the implementation of common core in our next post.  The teachers might be singing a funeral dirge instead of a celebratory hymn about common core when they see how the common cartridge will work in the classroom and replace many of them. 

I doubt the common core will "ensure a brighter day" for teachers or students.  A "one size fits all" education is not appropriate for teachers or students.   The private companies developing the common core and common cartridge will be whistling a happy tune for the money made from taxpayers, but teachers, students and parents will probably be singing the blues as education becomes less about learning and even more about teaching to data driven tests.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What Does It Say About You When You Give A Lottery Ticket for Christmas?

If you listen to the radio these days you can’t help but hear ads to give someone a Missouri Lottery ticket for Christmas.  And if you are at all philanthropically inclined, the MO lottery looks like a good place to spend your extra holiday dough.  They give to Missouri education. These are the top three educational areas that received funding from the MO lottery this year:

$117,879,552 (3% total program funding TPF)  Foundation Program
These funds help pay for the Foundation Formula, transportation, early childhood special education services, Career Ladder, vocational education and early childhood development.

$19,590,000 (67  % TPF)  Special Education Excess Costs
The "High-Need Fund" was established to reimburse school districts for the educational costs of serving children with individualized education programs exceeding three times the current expenditure per average daily attendance. This fund will be both disability- and placement-neutral, creating a safety net for school districts that have no way of projecting the extraordinary cost of certain high-need students.

$12,160,473 (100% TPF)  Classroom Trust Fund
The fund consists of all monies transferred to it under section 160.534, RSMo, all monies otherwise appropriated or donated to it and all unclaimed Lottery prize money. The money deposited into the fund is distributed to each school district in the state qualified to receive state aid on an average daily attendance basis. The funds distributed shall be spent at the discretion of the local school districts.

Other areas that received funding are:

$7,768,606 (77% TPF)      Public Placement Excess Cost Program
$4,331,325 (29% TPF)      Performance-Based Assessment Program (MAP)
$1,400,000 (3% TPF)        Vocational Rehabilitation Program
$390,000 (55% TPF)         Virtual Schools
$100,000 (100% TPF)       Character Education Initiatives

That’s a total of $271 million for Missouri education.  Who says we don’t spend enough on education?   Still, I can’t help but ask what it really means if you give a lottery ticket.

  • “Here.  I only care enough to spend 2 bucks on you for a worthless piece of paper that has exactly 3 seconds of potential enjoyment.”
  • “I’m giving you a gift that, should it prove more valuable than the $2 I spent, will cause a long lasting uneasiness in our  relationship as we try to decide how much of that gift you are then obligated to share with me.”
  • “Because I care so much about you, I’m giving you a gift that has a long documented history of ruining people’s lives.”

Missourian Janite Lee won $18 million in 1993. The South Korean immigrant was generous with her winnings using them to pay for educational programs, community services, and political organizations.  Lee was reported to donate $277,000 to Democratic political candidates so that she could have dinner with Bill Clinton, Al Gore and President of South Korea.  She also bought million-dollar houses and cars. Lee gambled $347,000 a year away which is not a surprise for someone who got their money through gambling. She was eventually forced to file for bankruptcy with a paltry $700 left in her account.

Other lottery winner stories are similar:

Evelyn Adams won the New Jersey lottery not just once but twice (1985, 1986) to the tune of $5.4 million. Today the money is all gone and Adams lives in a trailer. "Everybody wanted my money. Everybody had their hand out. I never learned one simple word in the English language -- 'No.'

 William "Bud" Post won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania lottery in 1988 but now lives on his Social Security ($450 a month) and food stamps.  "I wish it never happened. It was totally a nightmare."

Suzanne Mullins won $4.2 million in the Virginia lottery in 1993. Now she's deeply in debt to a company that lent her money using the winnings as collateral.  

Ken Proxmire was a machinist when he won $1 million in the Michigan lottery. He moved to California, went into the car business with his brothers and within five years, Ken had filed for bankruptcy.  "Dad's now back to work as a machinist," says his son.

Willie Hurt of Lansing, Mich., won $3.1 million in 1989. Two years later he was broke and charged with murder. His lawyer says Hurt spent his fortune on a divorce and crack cocaine.

 One Southeastern family won $4.2 million in the early '90s. They bought a huge house and succumbed to repeated family requests for help in paying off debts. The house, cars and relatives ate the whole pot. Eleven years later, the couple is divorcing, the house is sold, and they have to split what is left of the lottery proceeds. "It was not the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow," says their financial advisor.

Jeffrey Dampier won $20 million in the Illinois Lottery in 1986. Upon receiving his prize, the generous winner immediately began showering friends and family with expensive gifts including cars, houses and exotic journeys. Unfortunately, on July 26, 2005 Dampier’s sister-in-law and her boyfriend kidnapped the millionaire and shot him in the back of the head, which killed him instantly.

Billie Bob Harrel Jr. won a $31 million Texas jackpot in 1997. First, he bought a ranch, six houses for himself and family, and some new cars. Like many winners, he had trouble saying no to those who ask for his funds. As a result, Harrell’s life became too stressful to handle. Twenty months after becoming a millionaire, he committed suicide.

Jack Whittaker, a 55-year-old man in West Virginia, hit nearly $315 million in the Powerball Lottery on December 26, 2002. A few months later, thieves broke into his car and stole $545,000 while he was visiting a strip club. A year after claiming his prize, Whittaker was arrested for threatening the life of a bar manager. And by the end of the year, his 17-year-old granddaughter whom he had been giving a $2,100 weekly allowance was found dead of drug overdose. His daughter - mother of the dead granddaughter – died afterwards of as-yet-undetermined causes.

Yep.  If it weren’t for the educational funding, it would be hard to justify a lottery purchase for a stocking stuffer.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

High Schoolers Want to be Economic Billionaires! The Occupiers Won't like this Video.

This is a video from two high school economic students at Knightstown High School in Knightstown, Indiana detailing their plans in becoming billionaires.  It is a project for a class assignment and adapted from Travie McCoy's song "Billionaire"


Here are the adapted lyrics from students Josh Sorrell and Jon Jordan referring to economic theories learned at school:

I wanna be a billionaire so freaking bad
Import all those things i never had
I wanna be on the cover of Surplus magazine
Smiling next to Nielson and his rings

Oh everytime demand shifts right
My favorite product raises its price
It's the only product that i like, i swear
The market better prepare for when i'm a bilionaire

Yeah i would be at the top of the market
I would buy all the stocks
Everyday is business so give me your stock list
I'd determine the best time to buy and make a bunch of money without losing a dime
Not just anyone could understand the market like me
There to busy keeping there businesses away from me
Been a couple months since I shown up but you can see me running the money.
I'd probably run you out of business
You can't forget about your only competition.
Everywhere I go imma have my own show
So you better watch out yo

Oh everytime demand shifts right
My favorite product raise it's price but it's alright
Yeah because it's the only product that I like, alright i swear
The market better prepare for when i'm a billionaire.
Oh oh oh oh when i'm a billionaire.
Oh oh oh oh.

I'll be trading with the president.
Bartering for his delegates
Then I compliment on his political endeavorates.
Toss a couple milli in the air just for the heck of it
But keep the twentys, tens, and bens completely separate
And yeah be in a whole new tax bracket
We in a recession but let me take a crack at it
Because I'm the only one that can make my MR equal to my MC
But I will make sure my TR is always bigger than my TC
They better not tax me
I'll lower my quantity
Just to make a profit
Then pull out my wallet and put it in the air
And sing

I wanna be a billionaire so freaking bad
Import all of the things I never had
Uh, I wanna be on the cover of Surplus magazine
Smiling next to Nielson and his diamond rings

Oh everytime demand shifts right
My favorite product raise it's price
It's the only product that I like, alright I swear
The market better prepare for when i'm a billionaire.
Oh oh oh oh when i'm a billionaire.
Oh oh oh oh.
I wanna be a billionaire so freaking bad.

The teacher, Mr. Nielsen, is  teaching these young men economic theories of free market capitalism and the chance for them to own their own life...they have a dream of financial freedom and innovation instead of waiting on the government for a handout or redistribution of wealth.  This video is quite different than the 99% 'Occupy Now' message of shared suffering and "fairness".  

Mr. McCoy declares his desire to become a billionaire but doesn't give us an idea on how he will accomplish the goal.  Mr. Nielsen is helping these students establish goals based upon their desires,  then teaching them how to develop plans to make it happen.  He's providing the tools students will use to shape their adult lives.  These tools or lessons will allow them to pursue and create opportunities to become self-sufficient...and perhaps billionaires.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Teachers Get Reassigned to the Pep Squad for Common Core

Maybe we should cut the women in today's video some slack. Teachers are required to create all sorts of things as part of their professional development programs that they might not choose to do on their own, so it entirely possible these ladies were coerced into creating this rap about teaching Common Core Standards.  It is hard to tell whether the clear trepidation on their faces is due to having to perform a musical number for the camera or because they are cheering something that, in their own words, will drastically alter and diminish their role as teachers. 


Chorus:  Focus on student engagement
Practices communication
Relevant data, yes  
Common Core Essential Standards change how we teach

No longer can a teacher be the sage on the stage
Common Core Essential Standards change how we teach
Become the guide on the side the students to engage
Common Core Essential Standards change how we teach

The other verses contain these points:

No list of algorithms to memorize
Graphing calculators and real world ties

A variety of problems, problem solving strategies
Complex texts and technologies

Hands on inquiry with questions to promote  
Analysis of data, not answers by rote

Clear and concise, rubrics (whole)* guide   
students will improve the quality of work with pride

* hard to understand in the video

Has it come to this, that our teachers are turned into cheerleaders for federal education policies?  Their creativity is being applied to simplistic forms more typical in nursery rhymes about basic behavioral mores, even though their audience is presumably their peers. 

The message is that teachers should be happy and excited about the new common core standards.  But the message also says that the teacher's new role is to stand on the side of the class and provide data to education administrators. It is no wonder they all look a little uncomfortable.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday Education Weekly Reader for 12.18.11.

Welcome to the Sunday Education Weekly Reader for 12.18.11.  This week's highlights:

  • Readers in Charlotte NC are smarter than the Charlotte Observer editorial board in educational matters
  • Do you agree with Arne Duncan's job performance?
  • A follow up to our previous posting about 'Occupy North Pole' at the George School

Charlotte, NC readers take the editorial board to task and educate the writers on the scam operated on taxpayers and the push to spend even more federal money in Pre-K public education:

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that if a parent works with their child from birth to 4 years old and teaches them their colors and some words, they will be better off starting kindergarten than if they had not.
The stupidity lies with government getting more involved in the lives of those entitled - just let the government handle it and not the parents.
I feel very sad for our country and our kids and grandkids, because the America as we knew it will be dead and gone very soon.
Welcome to Europe. 

 Here's your chance to vote in an Arne Duncan poll.  (No fair peeking at the results before you vote!)  As the author of the poll states:

Don't underestimate the power of my polls. The last one I did was on Michelle Rhee. A year later, DC Mayor Fenty was defeated and Rhee was gone. Okay. It took a year. I'm just sayin' ...


We reported about the Quaker sponsored George School's Christmas play based on 'Occupy North Pole' and questioned what Christmas tradition the occupiers represented.  Perhaps the school is beginning a new tradition of supporting violent protests.  Check out the events the school had scheduled for December 3:


10:00 a.m. Go with Tom and Becky Hutchins to see Occupy Philly and to the Friends Center to learn about the Quaker/Occupy connection

 A reader alerted us to the tuition charged for this Occupy friendly school:

Boarding Students — $45,710
Includes tuition, room and board, and some materials/lab fees. 

Day Students — $31,780

Includes tuition, all meals, and some materials/lab fees. 

These students certainly know what's it's like to be part of the 1%...right?


Educational quote for the week:

Christmas gift suggestions: to your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Parents Have Just Not Been Successful

Deb Levine is an education entrepreneur. She saw a need and filled it.  The need she saw was for better information about sex that children could access in middle school. The school was not providing enough information. "The message has basically be distilled down to; wait to have sex and when you do use a condom."  And the parents efforts "just weren't successful."

The reporter does not ask her to clarify what she considers successful parenting about sex. The fact that children have questions about something is more a statement about the nature of youth than a condemnation of an educational forum. She, however, seems to think that this thirst for knowledge demonstrates a void in public education. So Ms. Levine developed the ISIS website, so that kids could address the "icky" matters of sex with total strangers.

ISIS also has a mobile app that can give kids daily sex advice.  The tidbit for the day this story aired was,  "Talk it out. If you have sex, talk with your partner about safe sex, getting tested and what you like before you get in bed."  Such a statement, without supporting context and values, would probably throw a typical 6th grader into a panic. The implication that they are supposed to know what they like "in bed" as an immature prepubescent could ratchet down their already shaky self confidence. But there is probably some totally disinterested stranger on a hotline who could answer their questions.

The good news is that this "tool" is already in the public school curriculum in Chicago and DC.  And ISIS is working on getting into other schools as well. Gee, maybe she could get it into the CCS. Wouldn't that be just what every middle school parent wants?

Friday, December 16, 2011

The George School Christmas Program Promotes the Christmas Tradition 'Occupy the North Pole'

The  Quaker based George School in Newton, PA sponsored an annual Holiday Dance Performance this past weekend.  As one boarding student from South Africa stated:

“The holiday dance is our opportunity, as dancers, to really get everyone in the spirit of Christmas for holiday weekend....we kick off with a fun performance on Friday that always has exciting costumes. We create a story centered on a Christmas tradition.”

So what hallowed Christmas tradition did the school center its celebration on this year?  This year's selection was the well known and beloved tale of Santa's workshop being taken over by eminent domain for oil and the resulting 'Occupy North Pole' movement helping Santa regain his workshop:

Here is the storyline of the 'Occupy North Pole' saga:

This year’s dance theme is based on an original story written by Barbara Kibler, who has been a George School dance teacher for twenty-eight years. The action takes place in the North Pole with Santa Claus and his elves losing their workshop as a result of eminent domain. Soon, the elves’ work is outsourced and the workshop is taken over by a new corporate conglomerate, whose acronym is GREED. The sad and unfulfilled executive in charge begins using background checks to determine if children have been naughty or nice.

From this plight, Occupy North Pole is born. 

This is an interesting interpretative program based on a Christmas tradition.  Aren't Christmas traditions usually centered on tales of peace, love, joy, compassion, giving and worship?    The revisionist Christmas tradition in this school centers on a story of greed, evil capitalists, outsourcing, and revolution. 

Ho Ho Ho.  The Occupiers have rescued Santa and his elves from the evil doers.  Whatever would Christmas be without these protesters?  The Occupiers are the "saviors" and have allowed Santa to open once again to make toys for children world wide.  Hallelujah. 

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