"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, March 26, 2011

Can Kentucky Students Speak Mandarin with a Southern Accent? The P20 Innovation Lab will Soon Find Out.

Do you remember this commercial by Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW)? The Chinese professor is speaking to a group of Chinese students in 2030 about great nations failing under crushing debt and now China owns the United States because of the massive amount of debt owed by the US to China.

Do you think The Kentucky P20 Innovation Lab saw this commercial and decided Kentucky students might want to get ready for this takeover? Here are some issues and goals from its Global Issues Lab:

Issue 1: World language requirements for P-12 graduation and university admission

As requirements for world language proficiency change in Kentucky, we will need new curricula and world language and culture assessments that can be coordinated P-20.

Issue 2: Credit for proficiency versus seat time.

With educational trends that encourage independent student learning and stress standards and proficiency-based teaching and learning, granting credit by proficiency in lieu of seat time is becoming more common. Kentucky is positioned to take a leadership role in such initiatives nationally.

Issue 3: Chinese as a critical need language.

In Kentucky, as in much of the nation, there is a critical need for innovative models of extended, well-articulated P-20 Mandarin Chinese language programs with the teaching expertise to lead learners to a high level of proficiency.


The following goals delineate the overall objectives of the Global Portals Lab as it works toward models for scalability.

1. Develop internationalized curriculum and assessments pathways for P-20

· Develop a curriculum map to be proficiency based and articulated with higher education admissions requirements, degree and study opportunities in world language and cultures with Chinese as the pilot

· Provide professional development for teachers to create and use Chinese language proficiency assessments at elementary, middle and high school levels.

The document goes on to state there is also a need to expand partnership with the increasing Hispanic population and in homes where English is not the first language. What is the goal?

The over-arching goal of the lab is to develop a plan to support the participation of high school students and teachers from central Kentucky schools districts and their peers in schools in Carlos Ruis Burneo, Ecuador; in partnership with UK and PUCE College Of Education students and faculty in building international connections and collaborations (including service-learning) to promote positive learning experiences for near and far participants.

The reason for these programs?

The United States is becoming increasingly diverse (U.S. Census, 2000) and is anticipated to be even more diverse with the largest growth in Latino and Hispanic populations. No where does this diversity have more impact than in the nation’s schools. However, many teachers and school districts have limited resources to meet the needs of this diverse population, especially those children and families for whom English is not their first language (i.e. English Language Learners). Therefore, this planning laboratory seeks to facilitate a partnership among educators in central Kentucky and in Santo Domingo, Ecuador to develop an authentic and innovative approach to this issue using evidence-based models of communication, collaboration and consultation.

It seems as if Chinese language is to be taught so Americans can be globally competitive and on the other hand, Kentucky students and professors get to travel either virtually or in person to Ecuador to understand and address the diversity present in the Hispanic population in Kentucky schools.

Maybe Kentucky is ahead of its time or sees the future. Its children will be able to speak Chinese when China calls in America's debt and at the same time it will spend resources to assist Hispanic students who for some reason cannot assimilate into America culture.

Is this new definition of American exceptionalism?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Question: Is a Version of the P20 Pipeline Already Being Used in St. Louis?

We've written previously about the educational data sets ready to be implemented for students to supply the workforce and reported in Pajamas Media. Data is set to be gathered via a P20 Pipeline on your student for information on blood tests, eye and hair color, gestational age at birth, voting status, non-school activity information and other interesting information. Your student will be tracked from preschool through age 20 and into the workforce. The data prepared is quite extensive and there are 351 data sets listed in the Education Data Model.

Why wait for a child to enroll in school to gather information? Selected pregnant women in the St. Louis City, Jefferson County, and Macoupin County, Illinois areas could be part of a national children's study for their children from birth through age 21. This is a story from Fox 2 in St. Louis detailing the collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and major medical universities.

What is the stated purpose of this study? By following children from the moment of birth until they turn 21, researchers hope to find out what role the environment plays in how children mature and grow. But environment is more than air and water; it also includes family, neighborhood, income, school, and race, among many other factors. By monitoring their environments, and running periodic blood and genetic tests, researchers want to answer hundreds of questions about children. (Emphasis added)

Does this information from a study about children from birth to age 21 either voluntarily or through school records bother you? Do you want the government and school to know details about your family, income and genetic information? We know what the purpose of the educational data system is from the Illinois Data System Warehouse Document.
It is to provide the workforce:

The term workforce is defined as consisting of the workers engaged in a specific activity, business or industry or the number of workers who are available to be assigned to any purpose as in a nation’s workforce.

The public workforce system is a network of federal, state, and local offices that function to support economic expansion and facilitate the development United States workforce. The system is designed to create partnership with employers, educators, and community leaders in order to foster economic development and high-growth opportunities in regional economies so that businesses find qualified workers to meet their present and future workforce needs. (Emphasis added)

This educational data is to be shared with the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services. Where is the information from the pregnant women study being shared? From the National Children's Study website:

The National Children’s Study is led by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in collaboration with a consortium of federal government partners. Study partners include the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the NIH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Here is some of the information they will gather on children in this study. (For a more detailed report you can access the 76 page brochure here). It seems as if it will indeed ask and answer hundreds of questions about children. Combined with the data sets from the schools, it appears there isn't much varying Federal agencies (over 40 Federal entities in the Children's study alone) won't know about your family or your child. Do you believe this is a positive development? Why do all these federal agencies need to garner information on families and individuals? Is this the role of government?

Whether you think it is a valid role or not, the government is already studying its first baby in the region. Here is an article about the first St. Louis infant born into the National Children's Study: http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/news/2011/03/08/first-baby-born-into-national.html

A version of the P20 pipeline has arrived in St. Louis with a week old infant.

h/t to CT

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Vacation Liberty School - the antidote to socialism

Back in February this year Gallup conducted a poll that measured, among other things, how people felt about socialism. Though it scored the lowest of any of the terms polled (others included: small business, capitalism, free enterprise), it still received a positive score from more than a third of those surveyed ( 61%-Liberals, 39%-Moderates, 20%-Conservatives!) Those who have studied socialism in the countries where it has been tried, recognize the inevitable collapse of this system and its true goal, the permanent establishment of a ruling class and a working class. Those who haven’t, fall for socialism’s beguiling Utopian descriptions and uplifting tag line (From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.) They don’t recognize that it is just a step on the trail to full blown collectivism which is usually only achieved at the end of a gun. This could explain Gallup’s numbers. So how do we help those 20, 40, and 60% realize what’s at the end of the path they would like take?

Public education seems to be barreling down the same track, so don’t count on your kids’ school to enlighten them. Group projects, workforce training, and the ever growing list of regulations will stifle their individuality and push them towards making choices based on what’s best for the collective. A precedent of government bail-outs, entitlements and disregard for constitutional limits point to a future where there are no logical consequences and winners are not chosen by their effort but by their contacts to those who control the money.

A group of St. Louis mothers wants something more for their kids so they are taking matters into their own hands. The St. Louis As A Mom group will be hosting a Vacation Liberty School (VLS) this summer for kids entering grades 5-8. Modeled after a program started in Kentucky last year, the St. Louis VLS curriculum will, through instruction, performance, small group discussions and games designed to teach in a fun interactive way, take children on a week-long exploration of the founding principles of personal and economic freedom. Just as the American colonists discovered the principles of liberty through a variety of experiences and experiments involving societies and human nature, children will discover the principles for themselves by experiencing systems and situations that either do or don’t have the principles of liberty built into their structure. The entire week is staffed by dedicated volunteers including lifelong teachers, ministers, nurses, Boy and Girl Scout aides and, of course, moms.

Kids will play the Bubble Game where they will see personal motivation and free enterprise play out, with no coaching from the adults. They will literally find the balance between anarchy and tyranny. A member of the Black Robed Brigade will be there to speak about divine providence in the founding of America and the importance of defending the freedoms found here. And through it all the kids will earn VLS "money" that they will manage, save and spend. They will also feel the impact of inflation.

The mission of As a Mom is to support, encourage, inspire, mentor, educate, inform and mobilize principled mothers, grandmothers, daughters, & guardians – Moms – who actively fight for their children’s future. They proudly stand up for our nation’s Constitution by creating a sisterhood of Mommy Patriots both online and in person dedicated to the 9 Principles & 12 Values of” The9.12 Project”* To which they add this: Children are a gift from God and a sacred responsibility.

So if you are in the St. Louis county area and are looking for something for your emerging teen to do this summer, check out the VLS website. Another program is already being worked on for the St. Charles area. And if you think this sounds like something you’d like to bring to your area, contact STL VLS to receive a program package StLouisVLS@gmail.com or 636-203-5828.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

If accountability is so great for teachers, why don't we apply it to legislators too?

A couple weeks ago very few people outside of Perrin-Whitt Consolidated Independent School District knew who John Kuhn, their superintendent, was. His letter to several Texas legislators, now known as The Alamo Letter, has changed that and added another perspective to the debate on what is wrong with today’s education. The letter basically calls on the legislators to stop pandering to big business at the expense of education funding. It also points out that continued accountability (i.e. testing) requirements come at the expense of less money for teachers. The financial situation in Texas is slightly different from that of Missouri although both states are facing declining state income in a struggling economy.

A follow up interview with Mr. Kuhn provided to Anthony Cody of Ed Week provided some additional thoughts that are far more universal. He spoke about the problems with accountability and how it has led TX to focus on just four main areas of study; math, science, social studies, and language arts. Not surprisingly these are the four main areas where standardized tests are available or required. He went on to suggest that if accountability were really so great we would apply it to all public servants. “Why do we not require our legislators to make ‘Adequate Yearly Progress?’ We have the data from their congressional districts, do we not? There is crime data, health care data, poverty figures, and drug use statistics for every state and federal legislative district. Why, exactly, do we not establish annual targets for our legislators to meet?” He says that if fixing all the problems in education were possible simply by applying accountability, then that same accountability applied to government would “eliminate 100% of poverty, crime, drug abuse, and preventable illness by 2014!”

He notes that lack of accountability does not explain the continued success in other areas of education not covered by common assessments.

Therefore, the only saving grace in the arts and foreign languages and vocational classes and athletics is that we have passionate people teaching those subjects who really care about their students and their subjects. And that is the core of my disdain for this ugly baby called accountability--if the test-and-label philosophy really worked, then you would think there would be far worse teaching going on outside the core classes, but there isn't generally. Why? Because good teachers are motivated by passion and a moral sense of mission, not by the threats of absent bureaucrats.

Mr. Kuhn also characterized the narrative of the school reform movement as, “a simple formula: kids are victims, teachers are the villains, and some administrator is the messianic hero. A dynamic personality comes into a bad school and doesn't accept mediocrity. He or she cleans up the discipline and fires all the bad teachers, confronting the wicked teachers' union along the way.” This sounds great and, as he says, sells books, but it also, “relies on the same dangerous logic that tyrants use to justify lording over peasants and restricting their liberties. In this case, the benign dictator is a self-promoting principal or superintendent with all the answers, and the poor clueless peasants in dire need of a paternalistic leader are the teachers.”

It is worth it to read the entirety of the Ed Week interview. Mr. Kuhn notes that other superintendents have contacted him to offer their support and thanks for saying what many of them have been thinking. The simple fixes that legislators and reformers promote, or in some cases force down our throats, are often anything but simple for those who have to carry them out. The real world is less simple and more messy. In the real world, students’ families struggle with poverty, crime, poor health care and addiction. All these societal influences can make it difficult for children to learn and nothing but a superman of a teacher is going to get children from the worst of these situations to a four-year college. For some, a good sustainable life may simply be growing up to raise a family, go to church and hold a local manual labor job. We are heading towards a definition of successful education that would deem such a person a failure and penalize the system for not making them be otherwise.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Question for Legislators: You Like Sovereignty for Health Care and Food...but Not for Education. Why Not?

Remember "Cabbagegate"? This was the tale of a DeKalb County Georgia resident who was facing a fine for growing too much food on his two acres. He rezoned it to agriculture status, but he was still charged for growing too much food.

This sounds unbelievable, doesn't it? Folks in Maine are taking these actions by the federal government quite seriously. Here is a story about citizens in Maine who voted unanimously at a town hall meeting to pass an ordinance that reinforces its citizens' God-given rights to "produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing," which includes even state- and federally-restricted foods like raw milk.

"Tears of joy welled in my eyes as my town voted to adopt this ordinance," said Mia Strong, a Sedgwick resident who frequents local farms. "I am so proud of my community. They made a stand for local food and our fundamental rights as citizens to choose that food."

This story reminds me of the health care sovereignty stand states have taken against Obamacare. Local and state entities are drawing the line for increased federal regulations that take away more and more individual freedoms.

My question for state legislators: why aren't you taking a stance against the incredible federal intrusion into education? Local control is gone and state control is being eroded away. State Boards of Education will be dissolved into "regional centers" for states. There is no reason for State Boards; state decisions for education have been signed away.

Why are politicians missing the opportunity to advance educational sovereignty? Look at it this way. Rewrite the sentence about food sovereignty to address educational sovereignty:

I am so proud of my community. They made a stand for local education and our fundamental rights as citizens to choose that education.

To the Missouri legislators and other states facing the same issue with common core standards: would you please explain the difference between health, food and educational sovereignty? Isn't sovereignty to be protected by our state legislators? Why aren't our elected officials addressing this question? Do our politicians REALLY believe the Federal government or a consortia (which receives Federal funding) should be directing our education?

Viewing our state legislators' current legislative educational bills (and in other states, based on emails I've received), the answer to that last question, is apparently, sadly, "yes". I can't find one (in Missouri) that attempts to rescind common core standards, stops funding of the standards, or prohibits the future signing away of our history and science standards when they come up for review. State sovereignty is non-existent when it comes to education in our state. Why don't they craft bills protecting educational sovereignty? Why are their fingers in their ears and their eyes closed when we ask this question?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Union Education Must Begin In Elementary School

AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Liz Shuler said, in an interview for People’s World, the on-line newsletter of the Communist Party USA, that the unions need to bring their message to elementary level education. "High school is too late" to educate students about unions and workers, said Shuler. To support her contention, she pointed to the students who went with their teachers to the recent protest in Madison WI. Wisconsin had passed a mandate for labor education within the public school system years ago. Perhaps she didn’t really pay attention to the interviews with some of those students who said they weren’t sure why they were there. Another group of students freely admitted they were just there to get out of going to school. Is it possible to sincerely protest in support of better conditions for the people most directly responsible for keeping you where you don’t want to be?

It would appear from Ms. Shuler’s comments that the goal is not improved education for the child, merely a more union friendly student. One commenter noted on another site that picked up this story that, while she did receive some education about labor while in school, she got all the education about unions she needed from seeing them strike in her home town of NYC, seeing the damage they did to private property in their protests and watching what they did to her chosen profession, teaching. Now, after 40 years of teaching, she said she had “not encountered a high school teacher possessing the knowledge that [she] had in tenth grade.”

Never was there a more clear case of a group viewing your children as human capitol to be shaped by the needs of the workforce. "When school children start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of school children."- Albert Shanker (President of the United Federation of Teachers from 1964 to 1984 and President of the American Federation of Teachers from 1974 to 1997.) Need we say more?

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