"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, June 11, 2011

DOE pushes on with the destruction of for profit schools

The DoE is working hard to push through a rule the impacts for-profit schools even though this ruling is currently under investigation by their own department's Inspector General.

Over at the DoE, they’ve been working with Wall Street short-sellers to push regulations that would all but destroy the for-profit education system. Short-sellers, who stand to make a fortune once that regulation is fully implemented and have zero expertise in education policy, have been intimately involved in the drafting “Gainful-Employment” rules that essentially mean a certain percentage of graduates have to get jobs related to their field of study in order for a for-profit institution’s students to qualify for financial aid. Read more at Big Government

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) called on Mr. Duncan to answer why the rule must be imposed at the moment, when questions about the suitability of a HELP Committee hearing witness for Democratic Senator Tom Harkin are still unanswered.

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) had this to say about Senator Harkin's HELP Committee,

Not even trying to hide the partisan intent of the Health Education Labor and Pension (HELP) under Sen. Harkin’s leadership, today’s committee hearing was titled Drowning in Debt: Financial Outcomes of Students at For Profit Colleges. This is not the first time Sen. Harkin (D-Iowa) has convened the HELP committee to help grind his axe with for-profit colleges, and will likely not be the last. Given the intent and witness list for today’s hearing it is not surprising that Senate Republicans did not show up. What would have been the point?

The details of the ruling are:

...for-profit schools meet at least one of three criteria for their students to qualify for federal aid: at least 35% of graduates must actively be paying down their loans; graduates must spend less than 30% of their discretionary income on paying off loans; finally, graduates must spend 12% or less of their total income on loan payments. Fail to pass one of these tests three times in four years, and the school must close its doors for good.

Why is this significant? Tuition at for-profit schools averages about $10,000 per year less than private not-for-profit schools. These innovative schools consistently lead the way in online education and cater to the needs of local employment markets in ways that traditional schools do not. In other words, those that are successful must be punished so the government run schools don't look so bad. Simply more dumbing down of America.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Warning to Parents: The State Knows Your Child's Educational Needs Better than You.

This story about parents being forced to place their homeschooled children into public school comes from Canada but don't get too complacent if you are in Missouri. This type of ruling may be coming to a school district near you:

Four children ages 9, 7, 5 and 3 from a homeschooling Catholic family in Notre-Dame-des-Bois in Qu├ębec, Canada have been ordered into public school for socialization and non-phonics reading instruction. The judge had previously ruled the oldest children must be placed into the public education system for "socialization" and this most recent ruling included the younger children be placed in state run care. (Judge) Bernier also criticized the mother's teaching style, saying the use of phonics to teach reading is out-dated.

Apparently there have been no allegations of abuse; the judge believes the children are not socialized enough and are being taught to read in an "old-fashioned manner".

Why should this concern you if you are in the United States? Here is Missouri, we had a bill introduced this year lowering the compulsory age for school and mandatory kindergarten. This bill did not pass, but homeschoolers have been fighting the same battles for many years. From Culture Vigilante:

The past several years have seen a movement in the legislature to instill cradle to grave control of your children via the educational system. In 2009 SB 291 (go to page 62 and read the changes marked in boldface) forced a rise in compulsory attendance age from 16 to 17, and very restrictive mandates that revised the law outlining graduation requirements. These changes were a devastating blow to the homeschool community who suffered the side effects from this unnecessary educational regulation. In 2010 Sara Lampe introduced legislation that would lower the compulsory school age from age 7 to age 6, and require full day kindergarten in public schools.

You are seeing the attempt of the erosion of parents' authority to educate their children in the way they see fit in Missouri. You can see it in action in Canada and also in New Hampshire where a Christian homeschooled student was ordered into public school. No abuse was discovered by social service agencies for the Canadian children or the American student. The courts apparently believe the students are learning in the way the state deems appropriate.

One of the younger Canadian children had either a mild or severe hearing loss; this fact is not clear from the news reports. The judge found the older children "demonstrated difficulty" getting along with other children after being ordered to start public schooling. The judge made the finding the family failed to act quickly to correct learning disabilities, despite their doctor’s testimony to the contrary.

I found one blogger who supported the government ruling. The rest of the news accounts are incredulous parents cannot educate their children in the way they see fit. Having a child who is hearing impaired (as I do) is like walking through a mine-field. There are numerous conflicting studies on the appropriate way to educate hearing impaired students. If we had stayed in the school district and used the one method offered to my child (which was not appropriate to his needs), I doubt he would be the student and person he is today. The lone blogger supporting the state writes:

Although given few facts in this media maelstrom, I would bet that given a chance to fully analyze the children’s situation, I would be more likely to agree with the judge than with the home-schooling parents. The nu
t of it is this: We should protect children from “bad teachers,” whether in schools or at home.

Why would he agree with the state rather than the parents? What makes these parents (as he implies) "bad teachers"? Is it because they were not educating the children in the manner deemed appropriate by the state? Why should we as parents believe the state or a school district knows better how to educate our children than the parents do?

Looking at the educational success of hearing impaired students over the last two decades from our previous school district in Kansas leads me to believe we made a better decision for our child than any IEP team could have crafted or a judge could have ordered. Imagine that. We knew our child's needs better than governmental employees and bureaucrats.

As one commenter wrote in response to the Canadian ruling:

That’s really the part that makes this whole thing insane. To order a child who would not, in the ordinary way of things, be compelled by law to attend school, into compulsory *daycare* — even if the rest of the ruling made sense, that would undo any “child’s-best-interest” rationale driving the judge’s decision. Is this a precedent for potentially requiring any family, including families whose older children do attend school, to enroll their preschool-aged children in –not just preschool, mind you, but daycare facilities, because not to do so is to neglect, criminally, a small child’s supposed social needs? This element of the case makes it not about homeschooling at all, really, but about the role parents should play in the lives of their own children. Welcome to “Supporting Cast,” Mom and Dad.
cation of a child, wanting to protect children from the external environment they perceive as bad. They have deprived the children of a proper education."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

DOE Sics SWAT Team on California Man

There are those who would have you believe that the US Department of Education is a benevolent, or at least benign, public agency - practically a pussy cat, who just wants to help the little children. But make no mistake, this cat has teeth and they bite.
(photo courtesy of News10 KXTV)

A Stockton CA man was awoken on Tuesday at 6:00 a.m. by a SWAT team sent to his home by the Dept. of Education. After being held, along with his three children, in a squad car for 6 hours so federal agents could search his home, Mr. Wright was finally released, because the person they were looking for, his estranged wife, was not there. The law enforcement action came as a directive from the Officer of the Inspector General, a semi-independent branch of the education department that executes warrants for criminal offenses such as student aid fraud, embezzlement of federal aid and bribery.

Though the OIG would not comment specifically on why they had authorized the search warrant for Mr. Wright's home, they did say that it was "part of an ongoing criminal investigation," possibly into student loan fraud committed by Mr. Wright's estranged wife. We can only hope that Mrs. Wright was part of a massive fraud scheme involving hundreds of thousands of dollars. Otherwise the deployment of 15 SWAT members would seem excessive for perhaps failing to disclose a second source of income when applying for a student loan.

Mr. Wright is currently seeking restitution from the Dept of Ed for the cost of his door, which the SWAT team felt the need to break down just as he was answering their knock in his boxers. He would also like an apology for unnecessarily traumatizing his children. No response yet from the DOE on that.

Did you know that their was an enforcement division associated with the US Dept of Education? Did you know they had the ability to serve search warrants or that they came armed? According to their official statement,

“The Office of Inspector General is the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Department of Education and is responsible for the detection of waste, fraud, abuse, and other criminal activity involving Federal education funds, programs, and operations. As such, OIG operates with full statutory law enforcement authority, which includes conducting search warrants, making arrests, and carrying firearms. The acquisition of these firearms is necessary to replace older and mechanically malfunctioning firearms, and in compliance with Federal procurement requirements.

The DOE also recently purchased 27 fourteen inch barrel shotguns for this division, to replace older or malfunctioning ones. So remember when you are going up against the DOE for the Common Core Standards, Race To The Top or any of their other "helpful" programs and operations, they are coming to the table armed for enforcement . You can bet if the humble Dept. of Education has this kind of firepower and authority for enforcing their programs, the IRS will have even more for enforcing the Health Care Act. Is it time to stop the overreaching yet?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Announcing a New Website for Your Educational Questions

Do you go to townhall meetings and don't know what questions about education to ask your legislators?

Do you know how common core standards are close to becoming 'national' standards which in turn will become a 'national' curriculum?

Do you know that if school districts don't like the common core standards it is almost impossible for them to "opt out"?

Do you know how the common core standards compromise the state's right to educate its children?

Do you know about the invasive personal information due to be gathered on your human capital...and your family for "educational" purposes?

Do you know about Race to the Top?

Do you know about the Federal government circumventing state legislatures by granting stimulus money to the states for Race to the Top mandates even if your state did not "win" the Race to the Top competition?

Do you know about the reauthorization process for No Child Left Behind?

Do you know about the additional costs to states and districts because of the unfunded mandates in the Common Core standards?

Do you know how to contact your legislators to tell them not to sign on to the science/history standards being crafted?

Do you know your legislators could be drafting legislation not to implement standards adopted by your State Board of Education?

Do you know if your state signed onto Common Core standards, it is part of a consortia of states and your state can no longer set its own standards?

I'm pleased to announce the launching of a new website that will hopefully answer these questions about:
  • Common Core standards
  • Race to the Top
  • Longitudinal Data System
  • Common Core Assessments
  • Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
  • No Child Left Behind
  • Family Education Right to Privacy Act (FERPA)
Here is an excerpt from Truth in American Education:

Truth in American Education (TAE) shines a beacon of light directly on the government’s behind-the-scenes efforts to drastically alter American education. As taxpayers, parents and concerned citizens, we believe that proper respect for the American people requires that major educational changes be subject to an open and public discussion prior to approval and implementation, not the other way around.

Truth in American Education provides information to parents, taxpayers, school board members, educators and legislators who are concerned about these issues. At the heart of it, the disposition of these issues will determine whether the federal government and elite, special interest groups have the right to form the hearts and minds of children and whether we will reject, or affirm, the concepts laid down by our founding principles.

Missouri Education Watchdog is proud to be a Network Participant with other organizations concerned about the centralization and crony capitalism present in education today. These organizations hope this website will become an important resource for educational answers and research as Americans discover about the transformational changes in the delivery of education.

Visit the site and the Facebook page. Discover the "Truth in American Education" you won't hear from the Department of Education, many politicians and special interest groups. The Truth in American Education advocates welcome your thoughts and ideas.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Is this Information Necessary for Educating Your Child? Just Wait. The Questions Will Become More Intrusive.

The educational Longitudinal Data System may be in operation sooner than thought in terms of asking invasive personal questions. Here is a story from the UK Daily Mail about a California school in the Dry Creek School District requesting this information on a school enrollment form:

Did you deliver your child vaginally or by c-section? If you check the c-section box you’re asked to include why the surgery was performed. (Note: The questions are marked as optional.)

A follow-up story on Mominformation blog states the district has rethought its practice of asking for this information:

Story update: Momformation reached out to Dry Creek School District this morning and heard back from superintendent Mark Geyer this afternoon. He says the question about how a child was delivered at birth was included in a health form required for enrollment that was created in 2007. At the time, research indicated that children delivered by c-section were more likely to have certain learning disabilities and health issues. Geyer says the district looked into the matter after the CBS segment and found that research related to c-sections has changed. This morning, the district introduced a revised form. “The question about c-sections might have been pertinent at the time the form was introduced,” Geyer said. “But we’ve realized that the research has changed and there’s no longer a correlation.

Parents, taxpayers and teachers are outraged in their comments in both postings. They don't like the intrusiveness of the question and many tell the story of having birthed children via C-section and then those same children winding up as honor students through school. Some commentors believed this question could be construed as labeling parents who had a baby born according to convenience rather than from necessity. According to the school, it believed learning disabilities were more likely if a child was born by C-section, but research has changed. However, look at this 2010 report regarding C-section births in Scotland which states:

The researchers found out that earlier delivery is proportionate to higher risk of learning disabilities. About 4.9 percent of the studied cases were having special education needs. 1, 565 kids born before during 37 to 40 weeks needed Special Educational Needs (SEN). Kids born at the 39 week were more likely to have learning disabilities than their counterparts born at the 40 week of pregnancy. The study was carried out for 12 years.

The scientists also mentioned that SEN was more relevant and desired during the school time in the kids that were born after 40 weeks. They concluded that a complete gestational period ensure healthy and normal life for babies. They believed that till now, when the previous researches only considered babies born at 37 week as preterm as compared to the term babies born in between 38 to 40 weeks, this research can be useful to analyze and assess the SEN and learning disabilities in the babies.

Is this the beginning of assessing your human capital based on their entrance into the world? Should your human capital be labeled as high risk for learning disabilities before they even are enrolled in school because he/she was born via C-section?

Is this the start of obtaining personal information for the alleged educational benefit of your human capital? The new data system questions want the legal ability to know the religious and political belief of you and your child. If parents believe asking about the birth circumstances of a child is intrusive, they might be surprised to discover what else schools and the government want from you and your human capital.

Maybe you could state your student was adopted and you don't know the birth history. This most likely would place your human capital in yet another category for at risk students. How can a school possibly service a student without knowing the biological background of the human capital? Oops. It's difficult to place a label on human capital who doesn't come with full disclosure.

The following type of information will be easy to glean from your adopted human capital, or for any human capital if questions aren't answered by the parental unit. As we all know, it's very important to know information such as this to educate your child:

Eye Color

Source: Handbooks
The color that best describes an individual's eyes.

Code Set:

  • Black - N/A
  • Brown - N/A
  • Red - N/A
  • Blue - N/A
  • Green - N/A
  • Hazel - N/A
  • Violet - N/A
  • Other - N/A

Monday, June 6, 2011

Who is Setting Educational Mandates? *A Higher Echelon of Humans, the World's Elite Thinkers, "the Anointed."

The Education Secretary and Commerce Department Secretary nominee are operating under the same theories. You can change the name of the players and specifics but you can see the game plan. Substitute the Secretary of Education's name, Arne Duncan, for the Commerce Department nominee's name and the educational buzzwords into the description of the energy "blueprint", and you have the idea of what's occurring in public education today:

The wise man smiled and proclaimed that government should use "regulatory steps"(common core mandates and assessments) as well as market forces (charter and virtual schools) to intervene in the power generation (public education) sector. The man also told his UC Berkeley audience that government (the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governor's Association (NGA), which have both received funding from the Federal government) should set higher targets for non-fossil-fuel-based energy production (test score and math and communication art standards) and penalize producers (teachers and administrators) that don't comply. The issuer of these decrees was John Bryson (Arne Duncan), who at the time just happened to be CEO (secretary) of Edison International (the Department of Education), a company (governmental agency) whose fortunes (control) would increase under alternative energy (educational) mandates. Bryson (Duncan) now happens to be President Obama's nominee (secretary) to head the Commerce Department (who is in charge of the Department of Education). Just another day in Barack Obama's crony capitalist paradise.

I'm highlighting the first and last paragraphs of this fine article. As you read the rest of it, think how this nominee is on the same page as Arne Duncan, the CCSSO, the NGA and Bill Gates. It's all about control and mandates and creating great wealth for pre-selected assessment and software companies:

The UN, "renewable energy" ("education reform") companies like Edison (Achieve, Pearson, Microsoft), people like Bryson (Arne Duncan), and Bryson's (Duncan's) champion, Barack Obama, lay claim to the all-knowingness required to buck the trend, beat the odds, and make the impossible possible. Using methods that have repeatedly built living hells, the Obamas, Brysons (Duncans), and other elitist-corporatist-clueless visionaries (Bill Gates) of the new reality will fashion a wind-powered (common core-powered), emerald-forested (students must learn the same material at the same rate), chicken-in-every-pot (everyone goes to college) utopian paradise.

Republicans don't like the views of the Commerce nominee because of regulations and mandates. So why are they (state and national politicians) jumping on the educational train to crony capitalism and the utopian paradise?

It's basically from the same political playbook as the Commerce secretary nominee's.

(*Title adapted from the American Thinker article.)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

"More Bottom Up or Top Down? It's Keynes and Hayek Throwing Down" in this Rap Video


The debate about which economic theory the United States should be following oftentimes comes down to the argument between Keynesian and Hayekian theories by politicians and political pundits. Here is a brief description of both theories:

  • Keynesian economics is an economic theory named after John Maynard Keynes (1883 - 1946), a British economist. It was his simple explanation for the cause of the Great Depression for which he is most well-known. Keynes' economic theory was based on an circular flow of money. His ideas spawned a slew of interventionist economic policies during the Great Depression.
    In Keynes' theory, one person's spendings goes towards anothers earnings, and when that person spends her earnings she is, in effect, supporting anothers earnings. This circle continues on and helps support a normal functioning economy. When the Great Depression hit, people's natural reaction was to hoard their money. Under Keynes' theory this stopped the circular flow of money, keeping the economy at a standstill. (From wisegeek.com)

Here's Part II of Keynes vs. Hayek Rap Battle from econstories.tv.

From the extremely creative and clever website:

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Great Recession ended almost two years ago, in the summer of 2009. Yet we’re all uneasy. Job growth has been disappointing. The recovery seems fragile. Where should we head from here? Is that question even meaningful? Can the government steer the economy or have past attempts helped create the mess we’re still in?
In “Fight of the Century”, Keynes and Hayek weigh in on these central questions. Do we need more government spending or less? What’s the evidence that government spending promotes prosperity in troubled times? Can war or natural disasters paradoxically be good for an economy in a slump? Should more spending come from the top down or from the bottom up? What are the ultimate sources of prosperity?
With the advent of more technology being used in the classroom, this should be shown in economic classes everywhere. Maybe something catchy and fun to watch will cause students (and adults) to pay attention to the reasons of our severe economic woes.
If teachers are allowed to move into serious discussions in their classroom about economic theories and can use their own curriculum, the site offers some great links for students to study:

Get the Story Behind the Fight of the Century

Interested in learning more about the ideas debated in “Fight of the Century”? John and Russ discuss the ideas and thought processes behind the video in a new episode of EconTalk, available at EconTalk.org as well as on iTunes.
Then dig deeper by checking out the following links featuring economists and thinkers from across the spectrum.
Wouldn't it be a great day in public education when students would become more interested in economic theory (which they should be interested as we are spending their future with our $14 Trillion debt) and less interested in learning the fine art of boycotting and petitioning?

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