"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 24, 2011

Wishing you a Politically (In)correct Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!  Merry Christmas!  Merry Christmas!

As December 25 has been designated a Federal Holiday since 1870 for Washington DC employees and since 1885 for all federal employees, we determine it politically correct to wish all of you a MERRY CHRISTMAS!

The question is then, why all the hoopla by some saying it is politically incorrect to shout MERRY CHRISTMAS?  Just exactly what is so criminal and loathsome about those two words? 

Here's a youtube video from the Newman Club (location unknown) and its rendition of "The True Meaning of Christmas":

Newman Club Christmas Show 2011

Twas the month before Christmas
When all through our land
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand.

See the PC Police had taken away,
The reason for Christmas -- no one could say.

The children were told by their schools not to sing,
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.

It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say
December 25th is just a 'Holiday'.

Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!

CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod
Something was changing, something quite odd!

Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.

As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas -- was no where to be found.

At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.

Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty
Are words that were used to intimidate me.

Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton,Wolf Blitzen
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton !

At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.

And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace

The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.

So as you celebrate 'Winter Break' under your 'Dream Tree'
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me..

Choose your words carefully, choose what you say
Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS, not Happy Holiday !

We now provide you another offering on the true meaning of Christmas and those beautiful words from Luke courtesy of Linus:

MERRY CHRISTMAS and great joy to you.

An Education in Procrastination Courtesy of Keb Mo

It's Christmas Eve!  Have you finished your shopping?  The economists hope there are a few of you out there waiting until the last minute to find that perfect gift as the economy could use a shot in the arm.

Blues singer Keb Mo has a song for you "guy" procrastinators (his label, not mine), "Shoppin on Christmas Eve".  He explains in a youtube holiday message:

I love his attitude toward shopping and having to meet a deadline..."I won't worry and I don't hurry for anything". This is an educational insight into those personalities not stressed out by others' expectations.

Here's a link for the song in its entirety and here are the lyrics:

Shopping On Christmas Eve (print)

Twelve days to Christmas
I got plenty time
I don’t feel much like shopping but you see I got
A lot on my mind (for instance)
Got no money and that aint funny this time of year
But you know me
I do all my shopping on Christmas eve

Three days till Christmas
Getting kind of late
But I love to just sit around and just procrastinate
I won’t worry and I don’t hurry for anything, no
Cause you know me
I do all my shopping on Christmas eve

Some like to shop early in the year
When the sales are good and the parking lots are clear
Some shop in the summer time when Santa’s not around
Rudolph on vacation and the elves are out of town
Black Friday is a good day to spend all your dough
But my money goes a whole lot further down at the dollar store

Some like to shop y’all early in the year
Cause the sales are good and the parking lots are clear
Some shop in the summer time when Santa’s not around
And Rudolph on vacation and the elves are out of town
Black Friday is a good day to spend all your dough
My money goes a whole lot farther down at the dollar store
(Yes it does now)

Times running out I got four hours to go
The clock is ticking and I still don’t know
What to buy her its down to the wire
(that’s alright I still gotta a little time)
Cause you know me
I do all my shopping on Christmas eve

Yea I do all my shopping peoples
Yes I do on Christmas Eve

If you've finished shopping, enjoy your Christmas Eve.  If you are just getting started, a word of advice: if she is extra special, you might want to skip the dollar store.  That's a common sense lesson of the day.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Common Cartridge for the Common Man

G.K. Chesterton once said, "Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another." Technology now seeks to do that digitally with the Common Cartridge. IMS Global Learning Consortium (aka ITIMS or IMS GLC) wrote the specification for the Common Cartridge which provides, "state-of-the-art practice in online education and training into an easy-to-follow format for creating and sharing digital content."

Basically, the cartridge is software that allows the user to combine a bunch of digitally available source material into one "lesson plan." Their platform allows users to go from one digital source to another without having to search, or log in, or wait for third party software to load.  This video,(look at the first video called "Introducing video for IMS Common Cartridge") demonstrates how the CC is intended for use in the classroom.  It is envisioned as a teacher resource for now.

Notice the classroom portrayed in this video.  Each student sits at a desk with a computer, working individually on their cartridge (which may not necessarily be the same one that their neighbor is working on). The role of the teacher is to periodically check on the students and offer advice.  Since there is no dialogue for the teacher in the video we are left to guess at the nature of the guidance they offer.  It COULD be offering some personal insight to the teachings of Aristotle, or it could simply be, "click on this tab to find that information."  You begin to see the evolving role of the teacher in the classroom with Common Core through Common Cartridges.

The video also gives a glimpse of what constitutes learning in the future.  After watching several similar videos about the cartridge I noted that they all sourced Wikipedia on their topics.  A student recently told me, "Teachers hate Wikipedia more than they hate guns." It would appear that Icodeon shares no such visceral aversion to that digital source. The cartridge also pulls in information from Facebook and Twitter.  In this way they seem to agree with Mr. Chesterton.  These two social media tap into the psyche, or soul, of a culture. Their accuracy might be a little in doubt and thus their place in a classroom could be questioned, but education in the future may care more about how people FEEL about a topic than the facts themselves.

One of the benefits digital media has over print media is its ability to be updated almost instantaneously.  If only Mitt Romney's book had been produced digitally he would not have had to explain its change on health care.  With digital media we can do as the first lady Michelle Obama demanded, “We’re going to have to make sacrifices, we’re going to have to change our conversation, we’re going to have to change our traditions, our history and we’re going to have to move to a different place.”  What would  George Santayana, who said, "Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it," think of a history that was constantly subject to change as people were trying to study it?

The internet is a vast a wondrous place where fact and fantasy are separated only by a mouse click. The Common Cartridge is being rolled out as a tool that teachers can use to tap into this vast source of information to supplement or enhance their teaching experience. Teachers already do this with things like White Boards in their classrooms, but Common Cartridge will make that process more stream lined, like plug-n-play. Their only limitation will be to use the IMS approved basic curriculum sources.  This will be IMS members (who pay heavily for the privilege of membership), like Khan Academy. That list grows as the CC is expanded to its ultimate goal of worldwide education. The plan is already underway to have global education standards and Common Cartridge provides an easy way to do that.

At least initially, teachers will have the freedom to assemble the cartridge any way they like.  It's not too hard to imagine a parent conversation in the future sounding like this, "Oh I like Teacher A so much better than Teacher B. Her cartridges are so much better than his."  How long do you think it will take before school systems decide to promote Teacher A to making the cartridge for the entire school or district in order to free up the other teachers' time to collect data?  But since all work is now being done on the computer, which can collect data by the second, maybe we won't even need teachers to do that.  Yes, I can see the teacher's role evolving.  And to think it all started with Common Core Standards.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What in the World is Going on with Teachers? Common Core Praises Appear Again in Song.

We reported a few days ago on the singing Pep Squad teachers extolling the virtues of the Common Core standards.  We now have another set of teachers praising, literally and figuratively, Common Core standards This version takes on a religious fervor by the end of the clip.  It is set to the tune of "We are the World". 

From youtube and an unnamed school:

The words are difficult to understand, but the gist of the message is this:

There was a time when a child was left behind
They couldn't read, write or graph a line
There's a choice we're making
To change the world today
Ensure.........to day to day

We're Common Core
We are the standards
We're arguments to evidence to make a difference
It's the choice we're making
To set the students high
Ensure the betterment of you and I.

Now is the time 
To put it on the line
To try so the system won't decline
We're creating words (?)
For the brand new century
Ensure a brighter day for you and me.


....To make a smarter place for you and I.

Unlike the previous posting we had about teachers singing about the excitement of instituting common core but looking uncomfortable, this group seems enthusiastic and ready for the challenge to save the students.

These teachers appear to have bought into the argument that because of common core standards, miraculous turnarounds for student achievement will occur.  Maybe the teachers won't be so excited when they discover many of them will be replaced by teachers from Teach for America and the common cartridge with preloaded curriculum.  Experienced teachers won't be needed for data driven assessments and predetermined curriculum. 

We'll be writing about the common cartridge and its importance in the implementation of common core in our next post.  The teachers might be singing a funeral dirge instead of a celebratory hymn about common core when they see how the common cartridge will work in the classroom and replace many of them. 

I doubt the common core will "ensure a brighter day" for teachers or students.  A "one size fits all" education is not appropriate for teachers or students.   The private companies developing the common core and common cartridge will be whistling a happy tune for the money made from taxpayers, but teachers, students and parents will probably be singing the blues as education becomes less about learning and even more about teaching to data driven tests.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What Does It Say About You When You Give A Lottery Ticket for Christmas?

If you listen to the radio these days you can’t help but hear ads to give someone a Missouri Lottery ticket for Christmas.  And if you are at all philanthropically inclined, the MO lottery looks like a good place to spend your extra holiday dough.  They give to Missouri education. These are the top three educational areas that received funding from the MO lottery this year:

$117,879,552 (3% total program funding TPF)  Foundation Program
These funds help pay for the Foundation Formula, transportation, early childhood special education services, Career Ladder, vocational education and early childhood development.

$19,590,000 (67  % TPF)  Special Education Excess Costs
The "High-Need Fund" was established to reimburse school districts for the educational costs of serving children with individualized education programs exceeding three times the current expenditure per average daily attendance. This fund will be both disability- and placement-neutral, creating a safety net for school districts that have no way of projecting the extraordinary cost of certain high-need students.

$12,160,473 (100% TPF)  Classroom Trust Fund
The fund consists of all monies transferred to it under section 160.534, RSMo, all monies otherwise appropriated or donated to it and all unclaimed Lottery prize money. The money deposited into the fund is distributed to each school district in the state qualified to receive state aid on an average daily attendance basis. The funds distributed shall be spent at the discretion of the local school districts.

Other areas that received funding are:

$7,768,606 (77% TPF)      Public Placement Excess Cost Program
$4,331,325 (29% TPF)      Performance-Based Assessment Program (MAP)
$1,400,000 (3% TPF)        Vocational Rehabilitation Program
$390,000 (55% TPF)         Virtual Schools
$100,000 (100% TPF)       Character Education Initiatives

That’s a total of $271 million for Missouri education.  Who says we don’t spend enough on education?   Still, I can’t help but ask what it really means if you give a lottery ticket.

  • “Here.  I only care enough to spend 2 bucks on you for a worthless piece of paper that has exactly 3 seconds of potential enjoyment.”
  • “I’m giving you a gift that, should it prove more valuable than the $2 I spent, will cause a long lasting uneasiness in our  relationship as we try to decide how much of that gift you are then obligated to share with me.”
  • “Because I care so much about you, I’m giving you a gift that has a long documented history of ruining people’s lives.”

Missourian Janite Lee won $18 million in 1993. The South Korean immigrant was generous with her winnings using them to pay for educational programs, community services, and political organizations.  Lee was reported to donate $277,000 to Democratic political candidates so that she could have dinner with Bill Clinton, Al Gore and President of South Korea.  She also bought million-dollar houses and cars. Lee gambled $347,000 a year away which is not a surprise for someone who got their money through gambling. She was eventually forced to file for bankruptcy with a paltry $700 left in her account.

Other lottery winner stories are similar:

Evelyn Adams won the New Jersey lottery not just once but twice (1985, 1986) to the tune of $5.4 million. Today the money is all gone and Adams lives in a trailer. "Everybody wanted my money. Everybody had their hand out. I never learned one simple word in the English language -- 'No.'

 William "Bud" Post won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania lottery in 1988 but now lives on his Social Security ($450 a month) and food stamps.  "I wish it never happened. It was totally a nightmare."

Suzanne Mullins won $4.2 million in the Virginia lottery in 1993. Now she's deeply in debt to a company that lent her money using the winnings as collateral.  

Ken Proxmire was a machinist when he won $1 million in the Michigan lottery. He moved to California, went into the car business with his brothers and within five years, Ken had filed for bankruptcy.  "Dad's now back to work as a machinist," says his son.

Willie Hurt of Lansing, Mich., won $3.1 million in 1989. Two years later he was broke and charged with murder. His lawyer says Hurt spent his fortune on a divorce and crack cocaine.

 One Southeastern family won $4.2 million in the early '90s. They bought a huge house and succumbed to repeated family requests for help in paying off debts. The house, cars and relatives ate the whole pot. Eleven years later, the couple is divorcing, the house is sold, and they have to split what is left of the lottery proceeds. "It was not the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow," says their financial advisor.

Jeffrey Dampier won $20 million in the Illinois Lottery in 1986. Upon receiving his prize, the generous winner immediately began showering friends and family with expensive gifts including cars, houses and exotic journeys. Unfortunately, on July 26, 2005 Dampier’s sister-in-law and her boyfriend kidnapped the millionaire and shot him in the back of the head, which killed him instantly.

Billie Bob Harrel Jr. won a $31 million Texas jackpot in 1997. First, he bought a ranch, six houses for himself and family, and some new cars. Like many winners, he had trouble saying no to those who ask for his funds. As a result, Harrell’s life became too stressful to handle. Twenty months after becoming a millionaire, he committed suicide.

Jack Whittaker, a 55-year-old man in West Virginia, hit nearly $315 million in the Powerball Lottery on December 26, 2002. A few months later, thieves broke into his car and stole $545,000 while he was visiting a strip club. A year after claiming his prize, Whittaker was arrested for threatening the life of a bar manager. And by the end of the year, his 17-year-old granddaughter whom he had been giving a $2,100 weekly allowance was found dead of drug overdose. His daughter - mother of the dead granddaughter – died afterwards of as-yet-undetermined causes.

Yep.  If it weren’t for the educational funding, it would be hard to justify a lottery purchase for a stocking stuffer.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

High Schoolers Want to be Economic Billionaires! The Occupiers Won't like this Video.

This is a video from two high school economic students at Knightstown High School in Knightstown, Indiana detailing their plans in becoming billionaires.  It is a project for a class assignment and adapted from Travie McCoy's song "Billionaire"


Here are the adapted lyrics from students Josh Sorrell and Jon Jordan referring to economic theories learned at school:

I wanna be a billionaire so freaking bad
Import all those things i never had
I wanna be on the cover of Surplus magazine
Smiling next to Nielson and his rings

Oh everytime demand shifts right
My favorite product raises its price
It's the only product that i like, i swear
The market better prepare for when i'm a bilionaire

Yeah i would be at the top of the market
I would buy all the stocks
Everyday is business so give me your stock list
I'd determine the best time to buy and make a bunch of money without losing a dime
Not just anyone could understand the market like me
There to busy keeping there businesses away from me
Been a couple months since I shown up but you can see me running the money.
I'd probably run you out of business
You can't forget about your only competition.
Everywhere I go imma have my own show
So you better watch out yo

Oh everytime demand shifts right
My favorite product raise it's price but it's alright
Yeah because it's the only product that I like, alright i swear
The market better prepare for when i'm a billionaire.
Oh oh oh oh when i'm a billionaire.
Oh oh oh oh.

I'll be trading with the president.
Bartering for his delegates
Then I compliment on his political endeavorates.
Toss a couple milli in the air just for the heck of it
But keep the twentys, tens, and bens completely separate
And yeah be in a whole new tax bracket
We in a recession but let me take a crack at it
Because I'm the only one that can make my MR equal to my MC
But I will make sure my TR is always bigger than my TC
They better not tax me
I'll lower my quantity
Just to make a profit
Then pull out my wallet and put it in the air
And sing

I wanna be a billionaire so freaking bad
Import all of the things I never had
Uh, I wanna be on the cover of Surplus magazine
Smiling next to Nielson and his diamond rings

Oh everytime demand shifts right
My favorite product raise it's price
It's the only product that I like, alright I swear
The market better prepare for when i'm a billionaire.
Oh oh oh oh when i'm a billionaire.
Oh oh oh oh.
I wanna be a billionaire so freaking bad.

The teacher, Mr. Nielsen, is  teaching these young men economic theories of free market capitalism and the chance for them to own their own life...they have a dream of financial freedom and innovation instead of waiting on the government for a handout or redistribution of wealth.  This video is quite different than the 99% 'Occupy Now' message of shared suffering and "fairness".  

Mr. McCoy declares his desire to become a billionaire but doesn't give us an idea on how he will accomplish the goal.  Mr. Nielsen is helping these students establish goals based upon their desires,  then teaching them how to develop plans to make it happen.  He's providing the tools students will use to shape their adult lives.  These tools or lessons will allow them to pursue and create opportunities to become self-sufficient...and perhaps billionaires.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Teachers Get Reassigned to the Pep Squad for Common Core

Maybe we should cut the women in today's video some slack. Teachers are required to create all sorts of things as part of their professional development programs that they might not choose to do on their own, so it entirely possible these ladies were coerced into creating this rap about teaching Common Core Standards.  It is hard to tell whether the clear trepidation on their faces is due to having to perform a musical number for the camera or because they are cheering something that, in their own words, will drastically alter and diminish their role as teachers. 


Chorus:  Focus on student engagement
Practices communication
Relevant data, yes  
Common Core Essential Standards change how we teach

No longer can a teacher be the sage on the stage
Common Core Essential Standards change how we teach
Become the guide on the side the students to engage
Common Core Essential Standards change how we teach

The other verses contain these points:

No list of algorithms to memorize
Graphing calculators and real world ties

A variety of problems, problem solving strategies
Complex texts and technologies

Hands on inquiry with questions to promote  
Analysis of data, not answers by rote

Clear and concise, rubrics (whole)* guide   
students will improve the quality of work with pride

* hard to understand in the video

Has it come to this, that our teachers are turned into cheerleaders for federal education policies?  Their creativity is being applied to simplistic forms more typical in nursery rhymes about basic behavioral mores, even though their audience is presumably their peers. 

The message is that teachers should be happy and excited about the new common core standards.  But the message also says that the teacher's new role is to stand on the side of the class and provide data to education administrators. It is no wonder they all look a little uncomfortable.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday Education Weekly Reader for 12.18.11.

Welcome to the Sunday Education Weekly Reader for 12.18.11.  This week's highlights:

  • Readers in Charlotte NC are smarter than the Charlotte Observer editorial board in educational matters
  • Do you agree with Arne Duncan's job performance?
  • A follow up to our previous posting about 'Occupy North Pole' at the George School

Charlotte, NC readers take the editorial board to task and educate the writers on the scam operated on taxpayers and the push to spend even more federal money in Pre-K public education:

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that if a parent works with their child from birth to 4 years old and teaches them their colors and some words, they will be better off starting kindergarten than if they had not.
The stupidity lies with government getting more involved in the lives of those entitled - just let the government handle it and not the parents.
I feel very sad for our country and our kids and grandkids, because the America as we knew it will be dead and gone very soon.
Welcome to Europe. 

 Here's your chance to vote in an Arne Duncan poll.  (No fair peeking at the results before you vote!)  As the author of the poll states:

Don't underestimate the power of my polls. The last one I did was on Michelle Rhee. A year later, DC Mayor Fenty was defeated and Rhee was gone. Okay. It took a year. I'm just sayin' ...


We reported about the Quaker sponsored George School's Christmas play based on 'Occupy North Pole' and questioned what Christmas tradition the occupiers represented.  Perhaps the school is beginning a new tradition of supporting violent protests.  Check out the events the school had scheduled for December 3:


10:00 a.m. Go with Tom and Becky Hutchins to see Occupy Philly and to the Friends Center to learn about the Quaker/Occupy connection

 A reader alerted us to the tuition charged for this Occupy friendly school:

Boarding Students — $45,710
Includes tuition, room and board, and some materials/lab fees. 

Day Students — $31,780

Includes tuition, all meals, and some materials/lab fees. 

These students certainly know what's it's like to be part of the 1%...right?


Educational quote for the week:

Christmas gift suggestions: to your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.
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