"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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Friday, September 9, 2011

"There was a time when going to university meant you would learn something...

.....These kids will learn something important. What they’ll learn from this is just how tolerant and clear thinking their liberal administrators are."

I took the title from a readers' comment on this HotAir blog about political correctness at Marietta College in Ohio and remembering (or not) at a September 11, 2011 service the almost 2,977 people who died on American soil.

Should you care to contact Marietta College on its stance of its edict on American flags, here is the contact information for the president of the college: jean.scott@marietta.edu. Apparently the page for planned activities had not yet been pulled from the college website as of Friday night, 9.9.11:


College announces events planned for 10th anniversary of Sept. 11

american-flagsMarietta College will mark the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. with multiple events over six days, including a candlelight vigil on campus.

The College Republicans are sponsoring the candlelight vigil at 9 p.m., Sept. 11 in the Kremer Amphitheatre. Pastor Rodney Lord will say a few words in remembrance of 9/11, as well as lead the group in a prayer.

Sarah Snow ’13 (Huntsville, Ala.), President of College Republicans at Marietta, said the club has worked with the Young America’s Foundation to put together the event, which also includes a 9/11 Memorial at the amphitheatre.

Starting at 5 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 11, College Republicans are going to place 2,977 American flags, as well as complementary flags provided by Student Life to represent the other countries impacted by the attack.

Snow said the flags will remain up through the candlelight vigil. She says they also plan to hand out “Remember 9/11” buttons.

“I was in fifth grade when 9/11 happened and it was very traumatic,” Snow said. “I think that one event really changed the outlook a lot of us have on life. The past few years there hasn’t been too much on campus on the anniversary of Sept. 11, so we wanted to do something extra this year.”

Alpha Tau Omega fraternity is conducting its own memorial service at 11 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 11, on the Christy Mall. The service will have a few speakers, including Student Senate President Ryan Nolen ’12 (Belpre, Ohio).

“The Absence of Shadow,” a photo exhibition that came to campus as part of the Perspectives Series soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, will be on display again from Sept. 9-12 in the Andrews Hall Great Room.

The exhibit includes 200 powerful and poignant images relating to the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

Contributed by professional and amateur photographers, this collection of photos represents a “democracy” in that anybody and everybody took them. Photographs by world-famous photographers hang next to the pictures by police officers, firefighters, business people, housewives, schoolteachers, construction workers, and even children.

The photos are displayed anonymously and hang informally, without frames, from wires stretched across the gallery’s walls.

Following the actual anniversary there will be a few other College-related events to explore issues raised by 9/11. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is sponsoring all of the following events.

Pizza & Politics will make its fall debut at 5 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 13, with a focus on Constitution Day. The group will discuss freedom of speech and how Muslims in the U.S. see/experience freedom of speech.

On Sept. 14, there will be a public speaking session on the misconception of the Arab-Muslim culture in the western world, and the stereotypes Muslims experience in the U.S. This will be held at noon in the Alma McDonough Auditorium. Later that day will be the first Global Palate of the semester from 6-7 p.m. in the Great Room.

The final event is a faculty and staff lunch on how to work with students from the Arab-Muslim culture at noon on Sept. 15.



As HotAir Tina Korbe writes:

To place flags in such a way as to count citizens of other countries among Americans is not to diminish their citizenship in their home countries but rather to express that they fell on the side of America in a visible, tangible, horrific clash between the Islamist terrorist’s worldview and the American’s worldview.

Apparently Marietta College doesn't share Ms. Korbe's viewpoint. Our prayers go out on this particular weekend to the friends and family of those who were injured or died on September 11, 2001.

Forget the Rule of Law. The New Rule of Government: "BUT, BUT, WE WANT IT"!

The two lines I found absolutely astounding and did not hear one commentator address from the President's speech were these (the full speech is here):

"What kind of country would this be if this Chamber had voted down Social Security or Medicare just because it violated some rigid idea about what government could or could not do? How many Americans would have suffered as a result? "

What do you think he means by "some rigid idea about what government could or could not do"? Could he possibly mean the laws that govern the land are inconsequential? Maybe even the Constitution shouldn't be followed because it might just get in the way of what we want? Why should we bother with any laws?

It reminds me of children wailing: "But I want it"! The parents know the child cannot learn discipline of saving money and discipline of spirit if all his/her needs are satisfied all the time. The child grows into a miserable, shrill, spoiled and selfish adult. Chaos ensues in relationships as it becomes "all about ME" and there is no framework to reign in impulsive choices and desires.

This is what our nation is evolving into...a President and his administration stating "We're going to implement decisions that we want through mandates, federal grants and regulations. Congress is truly inconsequential".

In education, we see it as...Race to the Top, Common Core standards, mandates to institute trigger options without benefit of legislation, free food and clinics in school through HSS and Dept. of Agriculture...and on and on. We have no way to pay for these programs and many of them are unconstitutional, but apparently that's not a problem.

The administration wants education reform. It doesn't care how it gets it. Laws don't matter. As Van in Blogodidact writes:

But his most telling line, to my mind, was this - in what was said, and the much more meaningful portion that was not said, but was very much implied by it:
"What kind of country would be, this chamber had voted down social security or medicare, just because it violated some rigid idea about what government could, or could not, do."
The easy reply to this is that this nation would be a far more closely knit one, a far wealthier one, one that would be significantly more free, and one with a much sounder rule of law, without those two Article 1, Section 8 shredding programs. Why do you ask? Why did he ask? In hopes of successfully distracting from and ignoring several issues.

  • One, that few things are more divisive to society than govt charity; I do not see Social Security or Medicare as kindnesses, but as one of the first measures to begin breaking apart the bonds and responsibilities which had bound us together for so long.
  • Two, to point out how annoying, and obstructionist it is having to follow the rule of law is, and how the Constitution should be ignored, so that the President can more easily deliver goodies to his fans.
  • Three, he wants very much for the Constitution to be sidelined and ignored, in order to be able to 'do good' for the American people.
Truly we are in a nanny state. " All praise be to the Federal Government for its profound charity and love it is showing to the American people while it takes our money and makes decisions for our lives."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Arne Duncan Would Have Become President in Case of a Catastrophe

Twitter Alert!

Politics K-12 (@PoliticsK12)

9/8/11 6:14 PM
Secretary Duncan will rule the world if there's some sort of disaster tonight. He's the one cabinet official not at Capitol during speech.

If you are an educational wonk you saw this tweet tonight. It sent shivers up my spine thinking about Duncan's Race to the Top redistribution of education and personnel (think about "fairness" and not so much about "education" and you've got the plan) and how he would institute that in the event of a disaster if the top officials were unable to carry on their duties. His total lack of understanding the Federal role in education is stunning (the DOE really is not constitutional) and I would expect he would continue that dim view of the Constitution should he ever have the top political position.

How do you think Duncan would rule as President in the case of a disaster? Just today, Duncan was on his Rust Belt Bus Tour (another "Magical Mystery Bus Tour") and the purpose of a plan of his Chicago visit to a high school was announced:

The purpose, according to Duncan's office is to "discuss and celebrate the progressive education reform happening across Illinois."

What does "progressive education reform" entail? Google those words and you'll find references to Dewey, Montessori, social justice, no competitive sports, child-centered, democracy, to name a few. Now let's look at what Duncan wants with Race to the Top and his vision for education:

Some of Duncan's vision includes:
  • Federal mandates masqueraded as state choice
  • Standards and assessments are nationalized (which is illegal)
  • Redistribution of teachers and administrators and students
  • Programs that track infants through the education system through age 20 and into the workforce with data shared with various federal agencies and private vendors
  • The establishment of community centers in schools that will feed your child breakfast, lunch and dinner and provide medical clinics for their physical needs
Those are just a few of the progressive ideas he has. He wants to be your "Education Daddy"! Forget Uncle Sam. You've got Uncle Arne. In the event of a disaster during the President's speech, he'd be your perky progressive pal.

Come to think of it, is he any different than any other Cabinet Secretary or Czar in this administration? Maybe the thought of Arne Duncan taking over shouldn't send shivers up your spine. You might as well just shrug your shoulders because it's business as usual. He's just another progressive official implementing a progressive agenda we've seen in all the other Federal departments.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Common Core Has Teachers Scrambling

The Core Standards are coming! The Core Standards are coming! Get out your lesson plans!

Wait. You're not ready with lesson plans? No resource materials? Ed Week reported today that many teachers and principals are desperately searching for hard to find resource materials to teach the new common standards. Given that Common Core standards were supposed to be about "doing less reinventing the wheel, and more sharing of good stuff," it was surprising to read how difficult it was for people to find the necessary resources. Catherine Gewertz admitted,

I'd been hearing that some of the lead writers of the common standards had videotaped sample lessons, but even some of those who had worked on them couldn't tell me where I could find any more than a couple lessons. Eventually, I found a bunch on the website of the Council of Chief State School Officers' group that focuses on common-standards implementation. The link on its page takes you to a YouTube video collection of lessons in math and English/language arts, put together by the James B. Hunt Institute, which has worked to promote the common standards. And judging by the number of times these videos have been viewed, I'm not the only one who had a hard time finding them.

The New York state department of education has assembled a clearinghouse of resources for the common core, as well. One page on that site is devoted to curriculum exemplars, which include sample units in math and English/language arts. It also has a series of videos explaining key aspects of the common standards, including a sample lesson by David Coleman, one of the two lead writers of the English/language arts standards, on Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address." Presumably, more of these clearinghouses will crop up as states and districts develop them.

Ed Weeks' writer rightly questioned how much of this type of material will be available for free once the standards are fully adopted, and how much will be produced for a price by for-profit entities, adding additional cost to the education system.
The consortia have articulated plans to make a boatload of resources available for free, in centralized locations (although not without controversy, since some see the federal funding of that work as blurring the line drawn to protect local decision making). How much states and districts will have to invent [or buy] for themselves, and whether that is actually a good thing, will bear watching.
Assuming the laws of supply and demand will apply to these hard to find materials, their price is likely to rise steeply as the deadline to begin teaching the standards draws closer.

There is still time for teachers to develop these plans on their own which they will no doubt be scrambling to do. I can't help wondering, if all these promises about free lesson plans and video resources do come to fruition, why would we need to send our kids to a brick and mortar school? We could just use these resources and teach this stuff at home. And if teachers are just going to use preset plans and video instruction, will we even need people with special teaching degrees to lead the classroom? Choose to have, yes. But NEED? Maybe not so much.

For those who are interested, the SMARTER Balanced consortium appendices contain draft content specifications with examples of the kinds of questions students are likely to see on the assessments the group is designing. (See Appendix D for the English/language arts, and Appendix C for math.)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Opt-Out Campaign Announced on Protecting the Privacy of Students' School Records

I was asked to retweet the following article. In addition to retweeting, I am reprinting this important information on how to protect your student's privacy even as the DOE is intent on gathering intrusive data so it can track your human capital from birth into the workforce.

Read the following from Education NY, take action, and spread the word to other taxpayers and parents. Learn how to protect the privacy of YOUR child's school record. Visit the website for other important information on how student data is being sold to third parties and other privacy information:


National Opt-Out Campaign Informs Parents How to Protect the Privacy of their Children's School Records

Parents have rights under the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act to restrict access to their children's personal information.

New York, N.Y. -- As cases of identity theft, database hacking, and the sale of personal information increase daily, the need to protect children's privacy becomes even more urgent. Schools are a rich source of personal information about children that can be legally and illegally accessed by third parties. That's why Education New York's National Opt-out Campaign is alerting parents to their rights under the federal Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) to restrict third-party access to their children's information and encouraging them to review their school's annual FERPA notification at the beginning of the school year.

Parents concerned about their children's privacy should be aware of how easily personally identifiable information can be bought and sold by marketers as well as by identity thieves. The Federal Trade Commission recently issued a Consumer Alert to parents warning of the risk of children's identity theft and urging parents to safeguard their children's school records and directory information. http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt056.shtm

FERPA was enacted in 1974 to protect the privacy of education records and directory information -- which can include name, address, phone number, date of birth, and e-mail address, among other personally identifiable information. However, under FERPA, directory information can be disclosed without parental consent.

Parents should be aware that FERPA protects the privacy of the record and not the child. Kathleen Styles, the Chief Privacy Officer at the U.S. Department of Education, which oversees FERPA, said: "One thing that's important to remember about FERPA is that it's not a confidentiality statute for information about children -- it's a confidentiality statute for information in education records." http://www.educationnewyork.com/files/071211_sess3.pdf

As the new school year gets under way across the country, parents have an opportunity to become proactive by finding out who has access to their children's personal information and "opt out" of allowing the school to share any or all of that information with third parties.

With the Opt Out Campaign, Education New York is informing parents of their rights under FERPA as well as the gaps in the law that have resulted in numerous information privacy breaches around the country and a robust market in children's personal information.

Parents and others interested in children's privacy are encouraged to visit http://www.educationnewyork.com/optout to learn more about:

- The growing problem of child identity theft.
- Current law and legislation protecting children's privacy.
- Who's illegally accessing your children's personal information.
- How opt-out forms can be adapted to give parents more options to protect information.
- What some states are doing to further restrict access to student information.

Education New York is an independent source of education news from around the nation. Education New York was founded in 1995 by Sheila Kaplan, an education and information policy expert and researcher. For more information, visit http://www.educationnewyork.com or e-mail Sheila@EducationNewYork.com. Follow Education New York on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/educationNY

Monday, September 5, 2011

As Summer Winds Down, Let's Think of Course Offerings for the Coming Year. How About "Beekeeping 101"?

Since the Department of Education is determined to make us "global" in our educational pursuits and interests, perhaps schools should take a page from Britain's educational plan of....beekeeping. The subtitle reads:

Learning to look after bees has transformed the behaviour of unruly pupils, says headteacher

In PE, the children study the waggle dance that scout bees do to tell the other bees where nectar is to be found. In cooking lessons, they use honey in their recipes, and in geography, they learn how different parts of the world make use of bees.

Business advisors have helped the children open a shop selling honey in the school playground. The pupils weigh the honey and work out pricing, write ads for the shop and design branding for the jars.

An unexpected benefit has been the effect the bees have had on behaviour. Baker says they have had a "massive impact" on challenging pupils:

"One of the big things for me is getting children to think of others, and to be aware of their responsibility to others. With some children, you can't get them to understand that in relation to other children, but you can show them using bees, chickens or plants."

One pupil was a regular visitor to the school's behavioural support house because of his violent outbursts of kicking, punching and throwing furniture around. While he struggled with academic work, he discovered that he excelled at the the practical side of beekeeping: making the wooden frames that go into the hive, and dismantling the hive to access the honey.

When the Guardian's bees expert, Alison Benjamin, visited the school, the pupil told her: "The bees made me peaceful and calm."

"It's not just him, other unruly children have also risen to the challenge. They have finally found something they like to do at school and they are good at."

The introduction to sociology, psychology, capitalism, science, art, animal husbandry, geography, consumer science (home economics), and wood shop (is it still called that?) is all wrapped up in one course. It would be less expensive and more "hands on" than the expensive computers needed in schools and most importantly, such a class involves participation in the educational process:

Baker wholeheartedly recommends beekeeping: "When I first looked into it, I was thinking of the curriculum. But it has had unexpected spin-offs – it has given parents and children a common interest, improved the behaviour of disaffected pupils, and worked on the two extra 'r's' in the curriculum: respect and responsibility."

Do you think such "respect and responsibility" can be enhanced through a virtual online course? Maybe we should ask the kids who are in a beekeeping club at Maplewood Middle School in suburban St. Louis their thoughts on that question.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Writing Assignment.. Finish This Sentence: "We Live in Very Strange Times When...."

Here's your chance to practice your writing skills.

A challenge has been handed down to readers at American Thinker. The only requirement is to start your paragraph or sentence with "we live in very strange times when"....and then finish your thoughts on what you find most mystifying, alarming or nonsensical on political decisions being made and/or implemented in America. The current comments are quite thoughtful; it's time to add your own. From American Thinker:

We live in very strange times, when billions of taxpayer dollars quietly evaporate into thin air; when the IRS openly gives money from citizens to illegals; when massive debt is good for the government but bad for the taxpayers who have to pay the interest; when new jobs are non-existent while our media and government become hysterical over a tropical storm; when we allow Hezb'allah to establish large military and drug distribution bases in Mexico, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela that sell "white death" to our children; when electric cars come with a $7,500 bribe of taxpayers dollars and still don't sell; when black unemployment continues to exceed Depression-era levels; when unions have become the rabid dogs of the American political system; when you can't sell lemonade without a permit but the ATF can sell weapons to Mexican drug cartels with a permit; and when you need a picture ID to board a plane, but not to vote.

This Labor Day weekend I'd like to invite the thoughtful readers of American Thinker to comment with their own examples of these very strange times. Just start with the phrase -- We live in very strange times.

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