"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, December 3, 2011

Are Public School Administrators So Incompetent They Have a 13 Year Old Boy Arrested for Burping at School? Yes.

Many administrators in public schools today are incompetent.  How and why are they incompetent?   Is it because the administrators themselves are inherently incompetent or is it the nature of public education jobs to nurture and expect incompetence?

Look at this article about US Representative Sam Graves and his meeting with Missouri superintendents.  Graves believes districts spend resources on decisions out of their local control, such as having to provide school lunches, programming, etc, set by the Federal Government:

U.S. Congressman Sam Graves told a group of educators he sees public schools unnecessarily picking up more and more responsibilities.

“The frustrating part is that schools are being called upon to do more and more of the parents’ role,” Graves said while speaking about the federal No Child Left Behind Act at Kearney Junior High School on Monday, Nov. 21. “And I think it’s wrong.”

These responsibilities, he said, aren’t limited to the mandate, which requires schools to improve student performance.First, schools were required to provide lunch, he said. Now, it’s breakfast, too, he said.

Graves is correct.   Schools are being mandated on what they must do in social programs and educational content.  The local schools have little input into how their schools operate.  What CAN local schools set?  Not much.  Your local school board and district can:
  • Hire teachers
  • Maintain the physical structures in the district and expansion projects
That is pretty much the "local control" politicians love to tout they want to protect.  Your local school board isn't setting the standards, assessments and in most cases, the curriculum for your student.  It can't.  It's been taken over by DESE and the consortia for Common Core standards.  But on the other hand, it is forced to pay for the Federal mandates which require more staffing to be sure the school district is performing to the DOEd's rules and regulations.

So why do you pay taxes for students in your district when your School Board has no input in how that money is being spent, save for teacher salaries and building upkeep/expansion?  What IS the function, then, of the School Board, the principals, the administrators and superintendents?  This group of bureaucrats is increasingly becoming nothing more than highly paid office workers.  Their autonomy has been stripped.  They do have to stay ahead of the curve on the numerous regulations coming from the Department of Education, so maybe that's why in certain districts (such as mine) they are paid quite well.  It must be difficult to be sure all the DOEd regulations are crossed and dotted so the district remains in compliance.

The teachers don't have autonomy either.  They are increasingly becoming more regimented in what they have to teach, how they teach it and when they teach it.  Many will have to teach to the test because if their students don't perform to particular levels, their job will be in danger.  Theoretically a passing student means competent teachers have taught that child.  But there isn't anything on that test page stating whether the child has special needs, is learning disabled, etc.  The teachers are feeling the pressure and so are the principals because if the principal can get fired if his/her school doesn't pass the required federal benchmarks. 

No local public education official has autonomy and they apparently are afraid of the Federal Government in the public school setting.  Maybe THAT'S why this ridiculous situation occurred:

A lawyer representing a 13-year-old student who was arrested for burping in class says there's a nationwide problem of schools handing off discipline to police. 

"They're calling it the public schools to prison pipeline," says civil rights attorney Shannon Kennedy. "They're criminalizing these delinquent acts instead of the traditional where you have a principal who disciplines children." 

Kennedy is representing a 13-year-old student that she says was handcuffed and charged with a crime for burping in his P.E. class. 

"A seventh grade boy burped once, a bunch of other boys laughed, maybe other people burped. It disrupted the P.E. class to the chagrin of this female teacher who called a school resource officer and had this boy handcuffed and charged with a crime in Albuquerque which is called Interfering with Public Education, a petty misdemeanor." 

Kennedy tells 97.3 KIRO FM's Ross and Burbank Show that the boy, reportedly an excellent baseball player who got an F in P.E. as a result of the incident, had no prior criminal history. 

"It's awful doing this to a child. It's terrifying for a 13-year-old boy who has never been in trouble before, who's not a gang member, who's not a drug dealer, he's facing tough, tough mean kids in the juvenile detention center." 

Listen to Attorney Shannon Kennedy:Boy handcuffed for burping in class

97.3 KIRO FM host Dave Ross says in his day, school officials provided ample authority for in-school enforcement. 

"When I was going to school. That guy was the vice principal. He was usually the scariest adult in the school. Ours had actually a withered arm so we were doubly frightened of him. And all it took was one look from him and you would immediately stop burping even if you had to." 

"The principal should be the one handling these situations," says Kennedy. "It's a failure of leadership." 

Kennedy is correct.  It IS a failure of leadership. With the climate in public education today, the local administrators are too incompetent to even handle age appropriate adolescent behavior without calling the police.  

The incompetence may not be due to an innate incompetence of the individuals at the schools, rather, it may be an inability to make autonomous decisions for fear of reprisals.  Should education be considered a "profession" any longer or is it now just a job for those who are good at taking orders and not being able to use good judgment in dealing with a burping 13-year old and giggling boys in a PE class?

This response from an answersyahoo.com comment says it all.  Maybe the administrators in Albuquerque should take some common sense advice on how to deal with teenage boys and harmless behavior.   It's from a young person responding to the question "why do boys think burping and farting is funny"?

That is a generalization; not all boys think burping and farting is funny. That's like me saying why do all girls care about how they look, when in fact not all girls care about how they look.

Anyway, the reason they do find it funny is because they're thirteen-years-old. They don't know how to act mature, as they're still very young. After a few years, they'll eventually stop burping and farting, and they'll stop laughing at it. Until then, you just have to roll with it. You can't expect much more from young teenagers.


Friday, December 2, 2011

What Does TFA Mean to Missouri Students Graduating With Teaching Degrees

On Wednesday we wrote about the Jefferson Arms building in St. Louis housing Teach For America offices and teachers once the renovation on the building is complete. Teach For America is the latest in a stream of education reforms that is meant to address, specifically, poor scores in urban and rural districts.  It is meant to harness the enthusiasm and energy of recent college graduates of STEM studies and provide them with work soon after graduation. It is meant to be a short term position which makes it an easier sell for TFA, along the lines of the Peace Corps.

But what are the unforeseen consequences of this program.  Sue Peters of Parents Across America and Seattle Education 2010, wrote about Washington State's experience with TFA.  The article provides some good warnings for unintended consequences.

On May 11, the University of Washington's College of Education announced it would sponsor Teach for America at its teaching college, providing the missing component to the deal that TFA, Inc. struck with the Seattle School District last fall.

Last November, Seattle's school board approved a (troubling and one-sided) contract to allow TFA, a short-term alternative teacher credentialing program, into Seattle's hiring pool for the first time. TFA, Inc. also demands a financial and university sponsor in order to brings its program to a new location, and charges school districts an extra $4,000 or more per year for each trainee, in "recruitment, placement and training" fees. (Apparently the millions of dollars from private investors $50 million recently granted to TFA, Inc. by the federal government isn't enough to cover expenses.) Those in the parent ed advocacy community guessed that ed reform sugardaddy Bill Gates would pony up at some point. And he did -- his Washington STEM organization will pay the $4,000 annual fee for the science and math TFAers, which would otherwise be billed to our cash-strapped district. But who would be the university sponsor? We waited for an announcement.

There were rumors that the University of Washington was going to take this on. After all, the new Dean of Education, Tom Stritikus, is a former TFAer himself, and he coincidentally wrote an op-ed  about the values of "alternative" teacher preparation programs in the Seattle Times, just a few weeks before then School Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson out of the blue proposed bringing TFA to our already teacher-filled, recession-struck district.  
The University of Washington already has a well-regarded M.A. teacher ed program (ranked ninth in nation by U.S. News & World Report in 2011). It takes two years and requires a year of student teaching in an actual classroom.

Then the announcement finally came two weeks ago. From the U.W. press release:
Teach For America negotiated directly with Seattle and Federal Way school districts to allow their corps members to interview alongside other candidates for open teaching positions in those districts. Corps members who are hired complete an intensive summer training institute before becoming U-ACT students and begining (sic) full-time teaching. Those hired will enroll as graduate students in the College of Education. They will earn teacher certification through U-ACT and, in subsequent years, a master's degree through one of the college's existing programs -- in Curriculum & Instruction, Special Education, Leadership & Policy Studies or Educational Psychology.
In this new arrangement, the students in the TFA special program will be housed alongside the full program students, but would only be required to take a five-week course, after which they would be deemed immediately eligible to apply for a full-time, full-salaried teaching position, while still learning on the job. The full-term U.W. students, meanwhile, won't be certified and able to enter the workforce until they have completed the first year of their program.
Not surprisingly, this announcement was not well received by Dean Stritkus' current M.A. teaching students. Outrage, dismay and confusion soon followed. One student referred to the UW-TFA deal as a "slap in the face." You can't blame them for feeling betrayed by Stritikus and the university.

Here they have been spending two years following the rigorous standards the dean ostensibly believes in, diligently studying the art and science of teaching, paying their own way for a $23,000 ($50,000 nonresident) masters degree at what they thought was a reputable teaching institution. They are spending hours of in-class time in actual public school classrooms getting invaluable experience, all in the hopes of applying for one of the rare teaching positions in the fall. Now they are being told that a stream of fresh grads will be brought in alongside them at U.W., given a special, condensed education, will do little to no student teaching, but will compete against them for the same jobs.

It must feel like running a 10-mile race, only to have the judges allow a group of new runners join in the last 100 yards and race you to the finish -- on skateboards.

St. Louis started getting TFAers in 2002 when 33 were hired. Since then, Teach for America St. Louis has grown to 190 teachers in 60 school in four school districts — St. Louis, Normandy, Riverview Gardens and Hazelwood — plus charter schools. This is listed as one of their success stories. Would those districts who lost their accreditation between 2002 and now think they are living a success story?

Governor Nixon likes this program and thinks they "are making a difference."  Has he asked any of the Education Bachelors and Masters graduates from Mizzou and Missouri State whether they think TFAers competing along side them without the years of special coursework they paid to obtain is making a difference for them?  Do the residents of Riverview Gardens, Normandy and Hazelwood know that they are getting teachers with only five weeks of teaching training?  And if that is in fact good enough for teaching, how do Mizzou and Missouri State justify the continued offering of a six year $80,000+ masters program in teaching?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

An Economics Professor, the Tooth Fairy and the Little Red Hen

The following is a revealing video clip on Valencia College students' views on "what the American Dream means to them" in an economics class.  These views are a compilation from 180 sophomores in three different classes under Professor Jack Chambless.  The professor had them expand their description of the "American Dream" and they wrote what they wanted the Federal Government to do to help them achieve their dream.  Chambless has made this a yearly assignment and he reported on the results from this year's economic classes.

Ten percent (10%) of the students wrote they wanted the Federal Government to leave them alone, not tax them too much and not saddle them with too many regulations.   Eighty percent (80%) of the students listed what they wanted the Federal Government to provide them so they could achieve the American Dream:

  • Free tuition and health care
  • Jobs
  • Money for a House
  • Money for Retirement
  • Money for Me (after taxing rich people)
Here is one interesting comment from a student that may perfectly sum up the definition of a nanny state replete with entitlement programs and federal regulations:

"As human beings, we are not really responsible for our own acts, and so we need government to control those who don't care about others." 

Wow.  Reread that quote.  Is it the function of government to control its citizenry, or at least those citizens who "don't care about others"?  Could it be these students know little about economics and even less about the Constitution and the function of government?

It is a fascinating video providing a view into the minds of the entitlement generation.  My advice to these students about economics?  Reread the childhood story The Little Red Hen.  Why should the little red hen be responsible for all the other animals who could help but were too lazy to do so...but then those same animals wanted to reap all the rewards?  

Shouldn't this be one of the first economic lessons children learn?   Do schools even allow the reading of The Little Red Hen or has it been banned because of its message of self-sufficiency and hard work?  Has the Little Red Hen been marginalized because some believe she is uncaring and won't share?    

Professor Chambless believes some of these students think there is a Tooth Fairy in Washington DC to provide them goodies and treats.   Watch the video, hear what the professor thinks is at the root of this entitlement mentality, his lesson on pickpocketing and how the American government is practicing this sleight of hand.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

An Army of Teachers in the Jefferson Arms?

The Post Dispatch ran an article 11-27-11 in the business section about the Jefferson Arms apartment complex remake proposed by McGowan Brothers Development  (MBD).  A key tenant in this project will be Teach For America who would  initially take 5,000 square feet of office space in the building, eventually expanding to 11,000 square feet.  Of the proposed 500 apartments in Jefferson Arms, TFA would like to see approximately 125 of them rented to 250 TFA teachers at a reduced rate that comes out to about 25-30% savings compared to similar properties in the area.  A charter school is also on the wish list for the Jefferson Arms as well as a conference center.

The property was bought in 2010 by David Jump, who many know as the agriculture-river barge-speculator who went on a buying spree in the 90’s and purchased nine buildings along Washington Avenue.  Though it was hoped he would be part of the downtown revitalization effort, Kevin McGowan of MBD, who bought some buildings with Jump, soon discovered that his partner preferred to hold onto the properties and wait for them to appreciate as opposed to investing in them.  Jump considered real estate a hobby and preferred to flip his real estate holdings. His tendency was to let others do the improvements and wait for the neighborhood values to rise.  For instance he purchased a building in that area in 1990 for $900K and then sold it for $4.2 million a few years later having done nothing to the building. Jump may be a shrewd investor, but you’d be hard pressed to call him a philanthropist. He bought the Jefferson Arms last year on a foreclosure and has used the parking garage fees to pay the debt service and taxes on the property.  He has, as is the past, made no improvements to the property other than to drive out all the existing residents.

Don’t fault Jump however.  Without his initial investment in this part of downtown St Louis, other businesses who came in to actually improve the Washington Avenue area would not exist; businesses like Pyramid Construction who was the Jefferson Arms previous owner since 2006.  Hard economic times crushed their vision of turning the building into luxury condos for seniors and drove Pyramid out of business.   Jump, with his buy it and hold it philosophy, lives on to make other deals.

This philosophy has gotten him into trouble with the city in the past.  The City of St. Louis Building Division cited Jump for numerous violations related to the Lesser-Goldman Building in 2005 , including its rotting window frames, missing bricks, defective and missing gutters and accumulation of garbage.  Perhaps this is what motivated him to work with MBD to actually do something with the Jefferson Arms property.  

Clearly Jump is not going to provide the funding for the remake of the Jefferson  Arms. So who is?  Perhaps the MBD and their mysterious Missouri Urban Revitalization LLC partner.  (A concerted check with the MO SOS could find no such corporation listed) The only web reference to MURL is on MBD’s own site,

“Missouri Urban Revitalization LLC is in business to help revitalize low income communities in Missouri.  MURL's principal partners have worked in blighted communities for over 30 years, and have identified many areas in Missouri that with a collaborative effort from MURL, the state of Missouri, the federal government, and local business's, and non profits these underserved communities can be mended.  MURL has made a strong community impact in downtown St. Louis along Washington Avenue, work that has drawn billions of dollars of investment to the area.  MURL has identified the need to increase educational services in these communities and has begun forming partnerships with groups to help improve the educational services provided in these low income communities.  MURL realizes that through better education a community can create a new culture, a more positive culture, a more productive culture.”

Matt Philpott, MBD Director of New Markets program said it is hoped the revamped apartment complex, “would bring a lot of people and activity to downtown” and increase demand for nearby services.  Does that sound familiar to anyone?

Recall the Ballpark Village proposal.  In 2008 the BPV was envisioned as a first-class entertainment and business center with 300,000 square feet of office space and 100-250 residential units.  It  would contain shops, restaurants, office space, a residential area and hotel accommodations at a price of $600 million which was supposed to be funded by future tax revenues.

The construction of Ballpark Village was expected to bring  2,000 permanent jobs to the area . "Ballpark Village is going to be spectacular, and we are thrilled that an agreement has been reached," said Blake Cordish, senior vice president of The Cordish Company, in a statement. "Most importantly, as we have experienced in other cities, Ballpark Village will act as an anchor for the continued renaissance of downtown St. Louis."


Jump forward just 3 years to 2011. The Ballpark Village vision has been scaled-back from 10 blocks to 2, from $600 million to $100 million with only 100,000 square feet of stores and restaurants and a new corporate headquarters for St. Louis-based Stifel Financial Corp. And now the project is looking for city and state officials to approve a plan to use an estimated $35 million in tax proceeds from the site to help fund its construction.

The plans for the Jefferson Arms are clearly in the early defining phase. The vision laid out in the  Post article sounds almost as grand as BPV. It’s ultimate scope and success will be dependent upon financing.  So how does Teach For America fit into this aspect of the redevelopment?

A little history of Teach For America - TFA was first created and funded by the re-established Higher Education Opportunity Act  in 2008 under the Education and Labor Committee. It grants funds for A) Recruiting and selecting teachers through a highly selective national process.  (B) Providing preservice training to such teachers through a rigorous summer institute that includes hands- on teaching experience and significant exposure to education coursework and theory. (C) Placing such teachers in schools and positions designated by high-need local educational agencies as high- need placements serving underserved students. (D) Providing ongoing professional development activities for such teachers’ first two years in the classroom, including regular classroom observations and feedback, and ongoing training and support. [Section 806, part (d)]

Teach For America recruits college graduates to commit two years to teach in low-income communities and become leaders in the movement to end “educational inequity.”  Anyone who has done college tours in the last couple of years has no doubt been overwhelmed by TFA’s recruitment efforts on campus. They do not specifically recruit those with teaching degrees.  In fact, at a time when we are so heavily stressing STEM courses, TFA would prefer to enlist (a word specifically chosen which we will explain later) top students in other disciplines to teach in inner cities or rural districts.  They connect these new “teachers” with local education placement agencies and school districts.  Any funding or benefits for these teachers are picked up by the school district in which they secure employment.

TFA’s role is to provide additional teaching instruction or help with local certification requirements since, as we said, many of these teachers do not have teaching degrees. They  also offer “no-interest loans and grants to help [their] corps members in their transition.”  These grants, $1-6k, can be used for testing and certification fees, travel to the TFA summer institute as well as relocation expenses. In 2010, more than half of the TFA corps received this transitional funding, totaling $7.7 million in awards. That came to 30% of their total funding for FY 2010 ($25m).  Last year they place 7,500 teachers in 33 regions across the country reaching 600,000 underserved pre-k-12 students. 

So did McGowan Brothers happen to stumble across TFA as an anchor tenant? Recall the last few lines of MURL’s mission statement, MURL has identified the need to increase educational services in these communities and has begun forming partnerships with groups to help improve the educational services provided in these low income communities.  MURL realizes that through better education a community can create a new culture, a more positive culture, a more productive culture.” They have an interest in education. So do many other for profit ventures because education is the market of the future. There is a lot of money to be made in education.

This year Fortune Magazine listed TFA 82nd on their list of 100 best company to work for 2011.  This was based on figures like a 10% job growth with 1,236 US employees.  Sounds like a tenant who will have the necessary funding going forward to pay their rent.

And where did McGowan come up with the idea of turning the apartments into reduced housing for new teachers? The Post article points to a similar project done in Baltimore, the Astor Court apartments.  They have 36 apartments in an “education community, where teachers can share common experiences in the building's meeting and research rooms.”

The project financing involved multiple partners including M&T Bank, Fannie Mae, the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development, the Baltimore City Healthy Start Program, the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, the Maryland Historical Trust, Mercantile Bank, Community Capital of Maryland, and St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. As an historic renovation, the project qualified for local, state and federal historic tax credits. The Abell Foundation provided loans and guarantees to complete the $6 million project financing.

Sounds like a lot of public money to provide the apartments in the first place, and more public money to subsidize them going forward.  This was important to Baltimore to bring in more teachers to their struggling inner city schools.  It may also be important to St. Louis to accomplish the same goal.  But it means that we are heading down the path of providing living amenities to public employees. The only other public employees who  receive such benefits are the military. Like the military, TFA recruits must sign on for a 2 year tour of duty. In exchange for providing those two years of service to their country in some admittedly hostile and dangerous environments, we will provide them a salary, health care, perhaps retirement plan and housing, not all through the exact same funding source, but through various taxpayer funded sources. So is creating this literal army of teachers the direction we want to go with education?

Watch for future blogs with more information on TFA and TEACH.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

OH! The HORROR! Cheese Sandwiches Served to Forgetful Students in the St. Joseph District in Missouri.

Apparently eating a cheese sandwich will impact a student's self-esteem in the St. Joseph School District. Some area residents are complaining because some children have to eat (gasp) cheese sandwiches and drink water if the child forgets his/her lunch or doesn't have enough to cover the lunch cost. Here's the previous article about the alternative lunch program from News-Press Now:

For those students who received alternative meals in the St. Joseph School District’s revised free lunch program, a cheese sandwich became like a scarlet letter of shame. Some would rather go hungry than take the free meal. “I saw one girl with her head on the table the whole lunch period. She didn’t touch her food at all because she was so embarrassed,” said Ms. Rhoad, the parent of a student.

These are not children who are receiving "free" lunch from the district, these are students who just might have used their lunch money on other tasty tidbits outside of the lunchroom:

In addition, some parents discovered that the lunch money they gave their kids was being ... well, diverted. Knowing that they weren’t going hungry, some kids would take the cash and buy other things instead of depositing it into their lunch account.“Some kids figured it out,” Steve Huff, assistant to the superintendent, said. “They said, ‘Hey, they’re going to cover me,’ so that money would find other uses.”

The school came up with an "alternative lunch" for these either forgetful or devious students:

First, keep in mind that these aren’t poor kids. The students in the alternative lunch program don’t qualify for free and reduced lunches; their parents can pay the $2.50 (on average) for a hot lunch.If schools allowed kids to run up lunch tabs and not worry about collecting outstanding balances, people would complain that taxpayer funds were being mismanaged and they shouldn’t have to make up for irresponsible parents.On the other hand, there’s no way a school can just refuse to serve lunch to a student with an outstanding balance. You can’t let kids go hungry, especially if you expect them to learn. So the district came up with the alternative lunch program, which is a good compromise.

Currently this alternative lunch program for middle and high school students is a cheese sandwich and water.

A parent from the Francis Howell School District exploded with laughter when told about these poor mistreated students (some readers in St. Joseph said prisoners eat better than these kids) who were served cheese sandwiches. When a student forgets his/her lunch or the lunch account is overdrawn in Francis Howell, he/she is served a safflower butter (not peanut butter because of peanut allergies) and jelly sandwich.

The cheese has been deemed too unhealthy and costly so cheese sandwiches are never part of alternative lunch fare in Francis Howell.

If providing alternative lunches becomes particularly appealing, why would a student ever spend his/her money in the lunchroom? Maybe if the student "suffers" (oh, the inhumanity) a couple of times by eating a cheese sandwich, he/she will be more responsible in the future bringing those notes home about a low lunch account amount or not spending lunch money in places for more fun items other than school lunch. It's not as if the parents aren't aware of the low lunch cost level:

Parents received letters saying that beginning Oct. 24, students whose lunch account balances fell below minus-$7 would receive an alternative meal. For elementary students, that meal consists of a cheese sandwich on wheat bread, pinto beans, applesauce and milk. Middle and high school students receive a cheese sandwich on wheat bread and a glass of water.Families are contacted at least three times before the lunch balance gets to the minus-$7 level, said Rick Hartigan, the district’s chief operating officer, including times when it reaches $5, and when it hits zero.

Why is the school board so "heartless"?

Three years ago, the free and reduced lunch rate climbed to 58 percent. The district recognized that there were families that didn’t qualify under the free and reduced lunch standards, but still suffered financial difficulties. The board of education authorized the nutrition services department to offer the full, regular hot meal to every student, regardless of his or her ability to pay.

“Everyone got a free lunch, the idea being that some of those kids that might fall through the cracks could have lunch instead of not going through the line. If you are hungry, you are not thinking about your schoolwork,” Mr. Hartigan said. “It was great empathy of behalf of the board of education. There’s an example of putting kids first.”But by doing that, the budget went into the hole each year.

The first year, the district had a $17,000 negative balance, the second year it lost $28,000. Last year the district had lost $45,000 — all due to unpaid lunch balances.“We discovered that a lot of students had been given money to bring to school to pay for their lunches, but knowing the school district would offer them a free lunch, used the money for other purposes. The board’s good will was taken advantage of in many instances,” Mr. Hartigan said.

School used to be a venue for learning personal responsibility and suffering consequences for irresponsible behavior. If you forget an important document when you are graduated and working in a job, will some entity come to your rescue to save you embarrassment brought about because of YOUR actions? These daily reminders and responsibilities in school such as remembering lunch money is training for the larger issues facing a student in the future. If having to eat a cheese sandwich because you forgot your lunch that day is the worst thing to happen to you during the day, I consider you a lucky child.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Obamacare Refers to People as "Units". Education Reform Refers to Students as "Human Capital". Worried Yet?

Elizabeth Scalia (The Anchoress) has an excellent article about the dehumanization of people under Obamacare. She recounts (and provides a transcript) of a radio interview she heard on the Mark Levin show from a neurosurgeon:

The caller said that he had recently gone to Washington to participate in a conference involving both the American Association of Neurosurgeons (AANS) and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS). I couldn’t take notes while driving, but the gist of the call was this: these surgeons were told, by a member of the Department of Health and Human Services that under the new health insurance legislation (aka Obamacare) government-insured people over the age of 70 who present with brain issues — stroke, hemorrhages, etc — would see no automatic surgical intervention, as they might now. Before any surgery could be begun, an “ethics” panel — made up not of doctors but of administrators and bureaucrats — would convene assess whether the person would be treated. “As a general course, though,” the caller said, “only ‘comfort care’ would be offered if you’re over 70.”
“So, generally speaking, it will be ‘comfort care only’ for patients over 70? That will be the rule, rather than the exception?” Asked a horrified-sounding Levin.
“Yes, but they’re not referred to as patients, or even subjects,” the caller corrected, “they’re called ‘units’. That’s what they called them.”

Appalling? Dehumanization at its ugliest? This has been going on for quite some time in the education reform movement. Students aren't individuals with individual needs. They are "human capital" and their inherent value is to supply the workforce.

You can access information about the workforce model envisioned by the education reform movement here. What is apparent from the Obamacare term of "units" and the education term of "human capital" is that there is a profound and intentional shift away from:

"Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth" (Abraham Lincoln)....to a Totalitarian Democracy: A system of government in which lawfully elected representatives maintain the integrity of a nation state whose citizens, while granted the right to vote, have little or no participation in the decision-making process of the government" (Israeli historian JL Talmon).

When you are deemed to be no longer useful to the "state", you are not provided services. Plain and simple. The current push toward labeling people as "units" and "human capital" negates their usefulness as human beings and instead, rates them according to their usefulness to the system. Look at the above graph. Human capital is not as important to an organization as it once was, so is it any shock human beings aren't as of much value in the larger society?

The system has supplanted the human beings who have supported it and the system is feeding the system, NOT the people it was designed to serve. The servant (the government) has now become the master of the people. Government panels (bureaucrats and administrators) will decide if and when you receive health care and what educational track is best for students to travel for the good of the workforce.

The connection between Obamacare and education reform is quite simple. Centralization and dehumanization are the primary concepts of these programs. Human beings (possessing souls and individual thoughts and desires) are now labeled and designated as inanimate objects: units and human capital.

This is how your government views its citizens. Scalia entitled her article "Assessing People as "Units" is Evil":

Assessing human beings as “units” is Evil.
Period, full stop. It is a diabolical disorientation. The only people who do not understand that are people who also have difficulty with that inconvenient old conscience thing.The caller to Levin’s show said he was a neurosurgeon, and of German descent. He mentioned his ancestry at the same time he discussed “units” and admitted he was distressed. The source of his distress was very likely his recognition of a the sort of ruthless efficiency someone in his family once knew first hand, either from one side of the ledger, or the other.

She is correct. I offer an addendum to her excellent title: "Assessing People as "Units" and "Human Capital" is Evil. What is occurring in educational "reform" is an educational version of Obamacare and just as evil.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Sunday Education Weekly Reader: 11.27.11

Welcome to the Sunday Education Weekly Reader for 11.27.11. This week's roundup:

  • The readers know more about what's wrong with Kansas City, MO public schools than the editorial board.
  • When do you think graphic sexual education curriculum will appear in US classrooms for students as young as eight years old?
  • A lesson on how immigrants were taught to become Americans and still hold onto their religious identity.
  • Question: How did the US EVER become a super power and send men to the moon without an overbearing educational nanny state?

The Kansas City Star editorializes about what Kansas City can do to encourage schools to become functional and not failing. As usual, a commenter sheds light on the problem more succinctly than the editorial board and with common sense:

Hiddy-ho, here we go - The school board is pointless because it doesn’t really matter who is on the board, the results will be the same – failure. To achieve success, the community needs to come to the realization that about 90 per cent of pupils who attend school in the Kansas City School District aren’t college material. Once the education program in the Kansas City is restructured away from college prep and toward training students to be employable in the trades and service industries, we might then began to see the beginnings of a successful school district. There is an old saying that “you can’t make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear.” However, a pigskin coin purse might be possible.


Graphic sexual education curriculum is present in UK schools for eight year old students and the parents aren't happy about it. From a parent who withdrew her child from the school showing the DVD:

‘The original letter from the school led me to believe that it (the DVD) was just about puberty,’ she said. ‘The title was not given so we couldn’t even look it up online. I couldn’t make the viewing parents were invited to, but I didn’t think I had any reason to be concerned.
‘The first I knew about its content was when I heard my daughter and her friend discussing it on the way home in the car. It caused such a stir. There were reports of some boys copying what they saw and jumping on girls after school.

With the push for international curriculum, it may very well be in US classrooms in the very near future. How does this type of curriculum make ANY student STEM ready and "globally competitive"?


This is a touching story on how a teacher taught young Jewish students in Hebrew Academy how to assume an American cultural identity while still retaining their religious heritage.


According to this author, the US government MUST become involved in the educational lives of INFANTS if the country is to become educationally competitive:

If we could fix things from birth to age four or five, reading scores in third grade would take care of themselves–there wouldn't be an American epidemic of reading failure in grade three.

Is this the role of US government? Whatever happened to the role of parents in their children's lives? And how can the government "fix things" for a child at birth? What "things" need to be "fixed"? Isn't the child's well-being a parent's responsibility vs the government's?

Educational thought for the week:

"Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for 'tis better to be alone than in bad company". --George Washington from Rules of Civility
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