"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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Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Three R's of Education Today: Redistribution, Retribution and Repudiation

The three R's used to represent what children learned in school: Reading, 'Riting and 'Rithmetic. Those three R's were the basic principles and goals for public education, but we are under new rubrics in the educational arena. The modern and not so improved three R's currently coming from the Department of Education (and other Federal agencies) are Redistribution, Retribution and Repudiation.

What is Redistribution in Education? The USDA is involved with the Department of Education and the USDA will be providing for breakfasts and lunches schools served in public schools through the "Community Eligibility Option". The official announcement states:

Section 104(a) of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 amended section 11(a)(1) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1759a(a)(1)) (the law) to provide an alternative to household applications for free and reduced price meals in high poverty local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools. This alternative is referred to as the Community Eligibility option.

To be eligible, LEAs and schools must meet a minimum level of students directly certified for free meals in the year prior to implementing the option; agree to serve free lunches and breakfasts to all students; and agree to cover with non-Federal funds any costs of providing free meals to all students above amounts provided in Federal assistance. Reimbursement is based on claiming percentages derived from the percentage of students directly certified. (emphasis added)

The claiming percentages established for a school in the First Year are guaranteed for a period of four school years and may be increased if direct certification percentages rise for that school.

The law requires that the Community Eligibility option be phased in over a period of several years. As a result, the Community Eligibility option is available in eligible LEAs and schools in three States selected by Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) for the school year (SY) beginning July 1, 2011. An additional four States will be added for each SY beginning July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2013. The option is available nationwide to all eligible LEAs and schools beginning July 1, 2014.

It is currently offered in Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee. Here is a question and answer document on the program in the Springfield, Illinois district. It verifies this is open to all students in the pilot school (regardless of income) and the process will require no paper work from the parents as the information will be pulled from...a database on families. The data will come from such government records recording homeless students and Head Start (school records), and Food Stamps and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (Health and Human Services Department).

This is just the start of the longitudinal data base at work. It will identify needy families so the government will be ready to assist families at a finger stroke. And even if your family is not in that economic group, your child can still receive a free breakfast and lunch. It's as if it's a continuation of the free lunches in the summer for some communities. What benevolence on behalf of our cash strapped Federal government. Oh, but not so fast. Remember, the state will have to pay for what the Federal government won't cover. We know our states have cash to make up any deficits arising from this bill, right?

This is redistribution of resources that doesn't stop at the food line. Clinics are springing up in schools as well, so now the parents don't have to worry about feeding or obtaining medical care for their children. This article is about the $14 Million Federal Grant just for the state of California to expand its school medical clinics. When and if the Pre-K Race to the Top Initiative is enacted, your state will also be required to care for children from birth.

Retribution is parceled via impossible mandates and unrealistic goals. If a state can't meet these unreachable benchmarks, the DOE can mandate "turnaround models" which operate under Federal mandates. The Department of Education does not exist to "help" states. The Federal Government should not be directing any programs for the states in the first place. There is no "partnership" between the Federal government and the states. The states were given the authority to check the Federal government's encroachment in state decisions, and the Federal government should not be dictating and mandating to states' educational policies. It doesn't have the authority to set these mandates and the retribution it throws around is untenable.

And what does Repudiation represent? It is the repudiation of the rights of local communities and states to set educational standards for their own citizens. It represents the reality of a totalitarian democracy.

The three R's just aren't what they used to be. Does anyone think this new version will help children learn more effectively?


  1. As usual, the United States education system has gotten off track and away from teaching the crucial basics and we can watch the Chinese, Japanese, etc. educational systems excel and surpass the United States.
    And it's a shame that the Rams football team has to donate 2,000 seats to the St. Louis students bribing them to attend the first day of the school year.

  2. From a reader who asked that this comment be published anonymously:

    This program is part of a greater evil; the evil of middle class dependency that will lead to an ever larger government. The Obama Administration wants the recipients of this program to realize that if they don't vote for Obama and the Democrats they will lose their child's free lunch program.

    The Government will continue to borrow money for this and other unnecessary giveaways, irrespective of the economic damage, so as to get themselves further entrenched in power. They are trying to create such a large number of dependent people that they will have electoral majorities. Their hope is that these majorities will override sensible people who are alarmed by rising debt and a failing economy.

    If they win in 2012 and Obamacare gets past legal challenges they will have met their goal. Obamacare will give the government the ability to make us buy things we don't want. Without this ability to confiscate money they will go into default. Obamacare's mandate sets a precedent that gives the government the legal ability to take away all our freedom and our money.

    They have been planning this all along. It is alarming and causes me to commit myself even more to the Tea Party cause.

  3. I taught in a MO school that had a health clinic. We applied for federal grants to have the clinic because our students HAD NO ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE. Now if you think there's something evil or underhanded about wanting kids to be healthy, I don't know what to tell you. Perhaps if you had seen 5 year olds who had never been to a dentist and had more black than white teeth you would understand. How about a child with diabetes who is near death? Is there something evil about wanting that child to be able to come to school and have access to health care that keeps him alive? And before you say this is a parental responsibility, remember it's kind of hard to find health care for your child that is NOT AVAILABLE in your community.

    Perhaps you should do your homework before criticizing programs you don't understand.

  4. Again, I go back to the question. Is it the role of education to provide child care from infancy, feed students and provide health care? That is a fair question. If the current model is to become a full fledged social service agency for children, then call it for what it is. If you read Arne Duncan's vision for education, it is clear he wants schools to become community centers and provide guidance that churches and parents used to provide.
    Why is this? When did the government supplant the parental responsibility to provide for children? Why is health care NOT AVAILABLE in a community? This merging of different federal agencies into schools is troubling. Look at the article. Now data will be accessed so people don't have to fill out so much paperwork. It sounds benign and that the "government is here to help".
    It's the road to entitlement and you can see how well that's worked out for England. Raise a generation on entitlements and when they need to be reduced, people have no clue on how to begin to become self-sufficient.

    Here is a clip on Duncan's vision.


    When you start looking at children and the educational system as a "pipeline" and that "pipeline" (P-20) will track children from birth to age 20 to the managed workforce, this lumping of services makes more sense. It's easier to track students when it's all housed under one building.

  5. I'm glad your own children have access to affordable health care. I'm glad they are well fed and go home from school to loving adult parents who have the time and the education to help them with their homework and tuck them into bed at night. That's wonderful.

    25% of children in MO are on food stamps. The majority of them live in families whose income is so low they can't afford health care. And the reality is that kids who are sick don't do very well in school. A child with a toothache won't learn to read today. A child with severe allergies will have a hard time concentrating and memorizing those all important math facts. Until their health care needs are met, these children will continue to fail and yes, be left behind.

    This is not a conspiracy to control all children or to take responsibilities away from parents. Every school health clinic plan has an opt out procedure. That is mandated by federal law - parents must approve the health care offered to their child. So if your child is fortunate enough to attend a school with a health clinic, you will have the choice to say no, you don't want health care at school. And fortunately for the children who do need the care, their parents will be allowed to say yes and their children will be cared for.

  6. @Anonymous.

    With all due respect, you are missing the point of the article. The question is: is this role of education? I am not debating that low income children need medical care. I am concerned about the intertwining of social services into the educational sphere.

    If you access these articles on "longitudinal data systems"


    you might see that this is not some conspiracy theory. The "P-20" pipeline is operational to a certain extent in the United States. If you want your child and family tracked by the government from the birth of the child, through age 20 and into the workforce, then you will see no problem with the integration of federal agencies into schools. If you believe that the United States should become a managed workforce, in which the businesses access "human capital" from the national data base (supplied by school records which are fed into HHS and Dept of Labor), then you will see no problem with these federal agencies operating in a school building.

    If you believe the government is only here to help you, that is your right. I believe the government is here to help citizens, but there is an ultimate goal to use that information for a purpose that has less to do with educating your child...it is to track your child so your child can supply the workforce needs. That's from governmental websites, not something I've concocted.

    Read the information on P20 pipelines and the data systems. Tell me why data sets want to know intrusive information on families and children. Tell me how that data is to be stored and tracked and why. Tell me what that has to do with education.

    Again, it is disingenuous to state I do not want health care for low-income children. The question is the appropriateness of clinics in schools and the intertwining of federal agencies in educational facilities. If you believe in a highly centralized Federal government with interagency sharing of information, you probably don't have an issue with this arrangement. There is a problem with the sharing of this information via FERPA regulations which Arne Duncan wants to loosen and I expect the data sets will become quite intrusive and shared even beyond these agencies.

    Why citizens get upset about credit card breaches but not the sharing of their children and family information being shared with HHS and the Department of Labor is puzzling to me.

  7. Of course this isn't the role of education. The problem is the need is there, it is real. Schools are stepping up. Kids will continue to be left behind when they are in need of health care and when they are hungry. Instead of waiting for communities to fill the need, schools are taking care of their kids, even though it shouldn't be their responsibility.

    No I am not concerned about the data being kept by the govt or by any agency administering this program. Data is part of life in the 21st century. Every time you use one of those discount shopper cards the store is compiling data about your purchasing habits. Every time you use your cell phone you are contributing to the data being kept on who you call and when you call them. We lost this data argument about 10 years ago.

  8. The schools are not stepping up to provide the services, it is the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Agriculture that are coming into the school buildings. The schools (DOE and districts) are not taking care of the kids, it's the other federal agencies.

    If you are not concerned about the data being kept, then let's go ahead and tear up the FERPA regulations protecting family privacy. While we're at it, let's tear up the Constitution as well. If we're on our way to a managed economy (like China), our personal freedoms won't mean a darn thing, will they? If we've truly lost the data argument, then we truly have lost America and the right to self-determination. Your life is now dictated by a data set.

    Meanwhile, we'll all get free medical care and free food and be told what our job is.
    Crazy? Not really.


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