"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, November 20, 2011

The Sunday Education Weekly Reader: 11.20.11

Welcome to the Sunday Weekly Education Reader for 11.20.11. This week in review includes stories reporting on:
  • Lessons for OWSers from Monty Python and a university professor
  • Tracking kids from kindergarten to college in Washington state
  • An unintended consequence of Common Core standards for school districts
  • Educators thumbing their noses at NCLB and state accountability measures for one student
What Have the Romans Done for Us? is a piece combining the meaning and contributions of capitalism via Monty Python and Gary Wolfram from Hillsdale College.

These are good lessons for OWSers on the benefits of capitalism.

Wolfram writes:

Whenever I watch media coverage of another Occupy Wall Street event I am reminded of an exchange between Jewish protesters in the 1979 Monte Python movie Life of Brian. One of the protesters asks another what the Romans have brought to the area and the conversation goes like this:

Question: All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?
Answer: Brought peace?
Response: Oh, peace – shut up!

The point is that the Roman institutions brought a good deal to the area that was being overlooked by the protesters. The Wall Street protesters, in their hatred of capitalism, overlook things including the fact that over the last 100 years capitalism has reduced poverty more and increased life expectancy more than in the 100,000 years prior.


Washington state education officials know a lot more about your kids than they ever knew about you. They can now track a child from kindergarten through college enrollment and soon will be able to tell you everything about every kid who has gone to school in Washington from preschool through their first job.

How did the US ever put a man on the moon, did entrepreneurs create new industries and other countless Americans live fulfilling lives without the government tracking student achievements? Look at the excerpt above from the article: officials...soon will be able to tell you everything about every kid who has gone to school...

That unfortunately will include such information as eye color, gestational age at birth, political affiliation, family income and over 300 other data sets.


Missouri's Superintendent of Education stated last year the implementation of Common Core standards would cost the state $0. That's right, $0. One of the most "transformational" changes in education would be free! From DESE in a previous posting on MEW and our analysis:

"No additional costs are anticipated for revising and maintaining the standards in Missouri".

The new system will include assessments for grades 3‐8 (much like our current MAP), end‐of‐course tests (again, the same or similar to those we are currently using), and tools that all teachers can use to improve classroom instruction. The plan also calls for the system to include an end‐of‐high‐school assessment which will measure mastery of elementary and secondary content and assure that every child is ready to go on to post‐secondary training, education or employment. There is no cost to Missouri associated with the SMARTER‐development assessment system.

Pay attention to the last sentence. The new assessment system relies heavily on computer generated assessment answers from the students. This means districts will need computers for each student, or expanded computer labs at every school. We believe these assessments will be very different from the ShowMe standards and WILL require extensive professional and software development for districts. Again, who is going to pay for the computers needed by students required by the mandates? Where is the money to train the persons necessary to score these new on line assessments?

Perhaps Nicastro was partially correct in stating the implemenation of Common Core is $0 if she is talking about the cost to the state. To the districts, however, it's a different story. They are the ones particularly hard hit and stuck with these unfunded mandates. More computers are necessary to comply with the common core assessments. With more computers mandated to be compliant, districts face the responsibility for not only paying for them, they must also pay for their repairs.

How are districts to pay for laptop repairs with shrinking budgets? Will this be happening in your district?

William Shuttleworth, superintendent of the Maine School Administrative District No. 28, said he “shivered” when he recently wrote out a check for $56,000 in repairs to laptops at the district’s Camden Hills Regional High School. He added: “I don’t want to write another one.”

Failing students take a toll on NCLB and AYP reporting in school districts and can impact funding and adminstrators' jobs.

This superintendent takes a chance with a struggling student and remembers why he has the job. It's not for test scores; it's to help students.

Educational thought for the week:

" Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. " --George Orwell

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