"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, May 14, 2011

Hypocrites in the Universities and Their Meaning of Academic Freedom

Apparently the teaching of Communism and Anti-American ideas to college students aren't confined to the University of Missouri in St. Louis (UMSL) and University of Missouri in Kansas City (UMKC).

It's an acceptable (and condoned) practice to teach communistic principles and recruit students to join the Communist party in class, but when it comes to teaching free-enterprise principles to students, that's not an acceptable course. Free speech and academic freedom apparently is a one-way street in the universities. Communists and Labor Leaders are to be studied and revered; the private job creators...not so much.

Maybe Communism works well if you don't have to pay off student loans, but if you are in debt, free enterprise might just work better for you.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Education Debate Needs Reality Check and Focus

It is going to be just about impossible to “fix” public education when we do not have a consensus on what public education is supposed to be. Currently, it is supposed to be everything to everyone.

It is meant to produce students who have the skills that companies want so they can get jobs when they graduate. It is also meant to produce students with a love of learning that drives them on to secondary education. It is meant to teach Americans what students in other countries learn so we can compare our international test scores. But we also must teach a broad range of subjects beyond those that children, in the foreign schools we love to compare ourselves to, must learn.

Teachers and administrators should be educational screeners, but they should not have the ability to specifically diagnosis learning disorders. Public schools must accept all students, regardless of special educational needs. Public School Boards develop curriculum standards that all students will be taught and measured by, yet teachers are expected to provide individualized education plans for all students with learning challenges. Teachers alter curriculum and goals so that they are attainable by each student, yet somehow verify that all students achieve the same level of education. The schools are pressured to mainstream students with education disabilities or behavioral problems, while simultaneously providing the optimal learning environment, free of unnecessary distraction and disruption, for all students.

Schools must provide nutritional foods and nutrition guidance, help children with their personal health, teach morality and personal behavior. Teachers are expected to maintain discipline, but also respect (read - allow) all manner of culturally diverse behavior.

Everyone is pointing fingers at who is to blame for our “lack of success” (teachers, unions, the government, parents, students), and providing “solutions” to a process that lacks clearly defined the goals. Is it any wonder we have “failing” schools? We are all over the map on what we are doing in public schools. Because our focus is so scattered, we are lucky to get any of it right. If we are going to have national curriculum standards, then we simply must have the national discussion about what public education’s goals are. Given how many different people have an interest in public education, it seems unlikely a national consensus on goals could be anything but very minimal. Local control and diversity, as pointed out in the Conservative Manifesto on education highlighted Wednesday, points to a possibly better solution where control is returned to the local school boards to decide what defines successful public education and allows for specialized educational opportunities that meet the needs and desires of the students, not those of the state or the business community.

When you focus on the goal, your definition of success will necessarily change, and we must be ready to accept that new definition. Consider the case of charter schools. Most of the damning evidence against charter schools is that their test scores are at best the same as public schools (of course when you require them to follow the public school curriculum why should this be a surprise) and at worst they are below the public school scores. If your only goal is comparable scores for mass educated children, then charter schools become a crap shoot for success.

Now consider some of the students in the St. Louis Voluntary Interdistrict Choice program. Some parents in the VIC program simply want a place to send their kids that is free from the violence and gang influence in their local public school. If a charter school could be established in their neighborhood that was allowed to structure itself to provide this environment, where some of the, what I like to call “nice but not necessary”, curriculum could be set aside to funnel resources into providing a safe facility, where the kids don’t have to get up at 5:00 a.m. to be on a bus by 5:30 for a long ride to the suburbs, where they learn but are not pressured to meet a standard they aren't ready for, couldn't that school be considered a success?

Various charter schools with the freedom to meet specific population segment’s needs would produce students with the in depth knowledge or skill set that they want and provide the country as a whole with the diversity and creativity that keeps our economic engine running.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Voices from Both Sides of the Fence Unite in Standing Against Common Core Standards.

"Closing the Door on Innovation Why One National Curriculum is Bad for America" was issued May 5th and signed by more than 100 leaders in education, business, and politics, as a response to a document issued in March by the Albert Shanker Institute, which argued for common curriculum for the standards. The May 5th document also criticizes the U.S. Department of Education's $360 million investment in the development of assessments for the common standards (the money that was awarded to the two consortia of states in the Race to the Top competition.)

The group of signers argue that shared curriculum and tests will stifle innovation, threaten local and state control of education decisions, and standardize learning for students with diverse needs. Specifically its points are:

  • First, there is no constitutional or statutory basis for national standards, national assessments, or national curricula.
  • Second, there is no consistent evidence that a national curriculum leads to high academic achievement.
  • Third, the national standards on which the administration is planning to base a national curriculum are inadequate.
  • Fourth, there is no body of evidence for a “best” design for curriculum sequences in any subject.
  • Fifth, there is no evidence to justify a single high school curriculum for all students.

It also argues that shared curriculum and tests are prohibited by federal law. Arguments for a common curriculum are flawed, the signatories argue, because there is no evidence that it would lead to higher student achievement or that there is one "best" approach to curriculum for all students. Additionally, they say, the standards on which they are based are not sound enough to serve as the foundation for such a curriculum.

The one area where they agree with the Shanker Institute is in that curriculum should be developed before assessments, but such efforts should be decentralized and varied, not "centrally controlled" by an "elephantine, inside-the-Beltway bureaucracy."

Read the critical response to Common Core Standards and sign your name if you agree with their assessments.

Wheeling and Dealing in Jefferson City Does Not Bode Well for Educational Sovereignty. Call Your Senators NOW.

What's going on in Jefferson City today in education? Just this ominous bit of information
(adapted from an email):

The Republican led legislature is pushing a Charter School initiative that
may allow foreign sponsorships of Charter Schools companies outside of Missouri).

What this means to Missourians is that your tax dollars would go to out of state
management companies to sponsor and LOCAL CONTROL OF SCHOOLS WOULD BE LOST !!!!!

This would open doors for companies like La Raza to control Missouri Charter
These companies have been very anti-American in their curriculum in the past:


Call your senators and tell them you do not want any legislation to pass this
that would take local control of schools out of the hands of the
citizens. Sovereignty in
educational choice is at stake.


We've already lost our ability to deal with failing schools on the state level. We received a
$9,000,000 Federal grant that MANDATES how Missouri will "turnaround" schools.

Did you know the four turnaround models come straight from Race to the Top?

And here we all thought Race to the Top was dead in Missouri! No, it's been
resurrected with a different name.

Is this what we want for education in Missouri?
Call your senators NOW and
tell them we do NOT want foreign corporations running Missouri schools.

School Board Determines "The Declaration of Independence" Offensive and Removes From Wall

A California school board determines the Declaration of Independence promotes Judeo-Christian values and orders it removed from a school wall.

However, this same school board allows:

untouched displays, including but not limited to a 35 to 40 foot string of Tibetan prayer flags with images of Buddha, a poster with the lyrics from John Lennon’s anti-religion song, “Imagine,” which begins, “Imagine there’s no Heaven,” a poster with Hindu leader, Mahatma Gandhi’s “7 Social Sins,” a poster of Muslim leader, Malcxolm X, and a poster of Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, who claims he is a god, to remain in or about school(s) in your district.

I suppose diversity is allowed as long as it's not based on Judeo-Christian principles. We've all seen the bumper sticker stating: COEXIST. That sounds great but it doesn't seem to be working out so well for those who call themselves Christians. Your teachings aren't to be seen or heard if they are based on Judeo-Christian beliefs. You are taboo.

(h/t MP)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

UMSL and UMKC Lesson Plans: Promote Hate Speech and Acts of Violence.

Basic rule if you want to teach in a Missouri public university via Blogodidact:

You can stay on staff if you advocate acts of violence and recruit college students for the Communist party.

Like the other dishonest people you’ve known in the past, UMSL and UMKC are attempting to divert attention to ‘academic freedom’ in order to weasel out of what they’ve been caught Red handed allowing on their campuses, the issue has to do with the fact that Judy Ancel is at the very least a supporter of an ideology dedicated to overthrowing the government of the United States of America (see my previous post), that she, along with Don Giljum (an avowed Communist and union thug), supports the use of violence to accomplish their goals, and that far from keeping those their personal views, they both boldly brought them into the classroom, made them the center of the course, and even actually brought a communist party activist into class and gave him an unchallenged platform to spew his party line for two hours in front of your kids.

Is this the purpose of a university education in the state of Missouri? Should college students learn how to sabotage and promote acts of violence against the United States and private industry?

Apparently the chancellor and provost believe this hateful and violent speech and action is protected and welcomed:

our campus supports academic freedom, civility, diversity, open discourse and the pursuit of knowledge…
Tom George, Chancellor
Glen Cope, Provost”
Can you even imagine the uproar from the university system if a Libertarian or Republican speaker tried to recruit students for their party? Is it appropriate for any party to recruit members in class? Do you believe the statements of throwing cats into power plants to achieve labor goals fall under the umbrella of civility and the pursuit of knowledge?

This cover of academic freedom is ridiculous on it face for these lecturers. These statements should be condemned by the university, not protected under academic freedom. This is hate speech, pure and simple.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Department of Education's Theme Song to the Missouri Legislature: "Might As Well Face it, You're Addicted to Bucks"

Lyrics Adapted from Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love":

Your lights are on, but you're not home
Your mind is not your own
Your heart sweats, your body shakes
Another buck is what it takes

You can't sleep, you can't eat
There's no doubt, you're in deep
Your throat is tight, you can't breathe
Another bailout is all you need

Whoa, you like to think that you're immune to the stuff, oh
It's closer to the truth to say you can't get enough, you
know you're
Gonna have to face it, you're addicted to bucks

You see the signs, but you can't read
You're runnin' at a different speed
You heart beats in double time
Another bailout and you'll be mine, a one track mind

You can't be saved
Oblivion is all you crave
If there's some left for you
You don't mind if you do

Whoa, you like to think that you're immune to the stuff, oh
It's closer to the truth to say you can't get enough, you
know you're
Gonna have to face it, you're addicted to bucks
Might as well face it, you're addicted to bucks (x 5)


Your lights are on, but you're not home
Your will is not your own
You're heart sweats and teeth grind
Another bailout and you'll be mine

Whoa, you like to think that you're immune to the stuff, oh
It's closer to the truth to say you can't get enough, you
know you're
Gonna have to face it, you're addicted to bucks

Might as well face it, you're addicted to bucks (x 5)

This is a fitting song for an additional (announced May 5, 2011) $9,000,000 grant Missouri received for "turnaround" schools from the Federal government. Here's the PDF from DESE dated December 2, 2010 applying for School Improvement Grant (SIG) money. What does the grant provide?

The $8.9 million made available to Missouri is being distributed by formula to the state and will then be competed out by the state to school districts. Missouri's application, which includes its list of persistently lowest-achieving schools, as defined by the state, can be found here: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/summary2010/index.html.

School districts will apply to the state for the funds this spring. When a school district applies, it must indicate that it will implement one of four school intervention models in each of its persistently lowest-achieving schools for which it receives SIG funds, based on school needs:

  • TURNAROUND MODEL: Replace the principal, screen existing school staff, and rehire no more than half the teachers; adopt a new governance structure; and improve the school through curriculum reform, professional development, extending learning time, and other strategies.

  • RESTART MODEL: Convert a school or close it and re-open it as a charter school or under an education management organization.

  • SCHOOL CLOSURE: Close the school and send the students to higher-achieving schools in the district.

  • TRANSFORMATION MODEL: Replace the principal and improve the school through comprehensive curriculum reform, professional development, extending learning time, and other strategies.

This will cost $9,000,000 for these implementations? Closing schools, hiring/firing and reopening will cost that much money? Why is the Federal Government giving money to states and MANDATING how the states will address the problem of turning around failing schools? The Federal Government is not given the constitutional authority for such mandates.

Coincidentally, Missouri was addressing this same issue in HB393 during the current session: it was a STATE bill for a turnaround model. The House bill is almost identical to the turnaround model Missouri will now adopt under the federal mandates, except the federal money doesn't include tuition to private schools or vouchers, as the state bill listed. What happened to HB393 (the "Trigger Option" bill)? It stalled in the House and the last activity was February 16, 2011.

Could the representatives have known DESE had applied for federal funding in 2010 for these "turnaround" mandates? Could the representatives have decided it was easier and cheaper for the Federal government to bypass the legislature and secure these initiatives? Have our representatives decided to take money from the Federal government, thereby giving additional educational control to the Federal government? Do the people have no legislative redress for yet ANOTHER round of educational federal mandates?

Are the politicians accepting this money the ones who believe in state sovereignty or are these the politicians willing to cede sovereignty for federal dollars...which ultimately means more federal control? Is there group of "sovereignty minded" elected officials in the legislature willing to say NO to more federal money and send this money back before it is doled out and spent? Do the people have no say in how the schools are run any longer? If the running of the schools is decided on the Federal level, we might as well abolish school boards.

This is yet another step toward total federal control of the schools. And you thought the state legislators were going to protect us from the power grab? They seem to be "addicted to bucks". However, when you talk to them, they say they are for "local control". You might let your representative know this "turnaround model" was first introduced in...Race to the Top:

E. Turning Around the Lowest-Achieving Schools
Reform Plan Criteria
(E)(2) Turning around the lowest-achieving schools (40 points)
The extent to which the State has a high-quality plan and ambitious yet achievable annual targets to—
(i) Identify the persistently lowest-achieving schools (as defined in this notice) and, at its discretion, any non-Title I eligible secondary schools that would be considered persistently lowest-achieving schools (as defined in this notice) if they were eligible to receive Title I funds; and (5 points)
(ii) Support its LEAs in turning around these schools by implementing one of the four school intervention models (as described in Appendix C): turnaround model, restart model, school closure, or transformation model (provided that an LEA with more than nine persistently lowest-achieving schools may not use the transformation model for more than 50 percent of its schools). (35 points)

Race to the Top is nothing less than the Federal Government mandating all aspects of public education. Now it is renamed in the package of School Improvement Grant (SIG).

Where exactly is local control in the current construct of public education?
Local school boards can only hire/fire personnel, set salaries and provide maintenance on buildings. Curriculum is being crafted by the federal government, standards and assessments are crafted by the consortia which is funded by the federal government. Call or write your representatives. See if you get an answer to your questions on local control and that latest Federal government mandate of "turnaround schools"...which was ONCE a House bill that morphed into the Federal realm.

Here's one other question you might want to ask. The shortfall for next year's DESE budget was expected to be at least $9,000,000. Is any of this SIG grant going to plug up budget holes?

**And if you don't live in Missouri, you might want to check to see how much YOUR state applied for and how much it received from the SIG fund. Missouri is just one state that can't "get enough". The Department of Education is more than happy to provide the "guidance" the states need: they are all in deep.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Value of Mothers

From the very beginning, they choose the daddy. They provide the gestational environment which can, in a matter of moments, form the biological pathway the child will be on for life. They arrange the environment the baby will live in which, even if not ideal, is the best they can provide with the materials available. They provide the first medical screening, deciding if the child needs to see a doctor. They see that all biologic needs are met from intake of food, air and water, to the expulsion of various and sundry bodily fluids.

They usher the child into learning, first with the exploration of their ever expanding world, then on through public school or lessons at home at the kitchen table. They support the development of self esteem by providing positive feedback when appropriate and constructive feedback when the child’s effort is not his or her best. They draw the boundary lines for what is acceptable and what is not. They find the teachers to grow and develop the child’s interests and make sure the child gets to the lessons.

They will sacrifice their time to sit through countless hours of concerts, plays, games, recitals parent/teacher conferences and G-rated movies with the patience of Job. hey will listen to their child sob about things that they know, in the big picture, don’t amount to a hill of beans, yet still offer their sympathy and love. They can usually tell, just by looking at them, whether or not their child is lying. One look from mom can make a child beam or cringe.

And when these forces of nature gather their powers together to bring out of control bureaucracies back in line, you can bet they are going to do it.

Happy Mother’s Day to all our reader moms!

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