"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, January 14, 2012

Republicans are Supporting the Federal Takeover of Education. How to Register Your Displeasure with the Republican Leadership.

This picture of Obama, Arne Duncan and Jeb Bush illustrates the bipartisanship present in the current educational reforms pushed by the current administration.  

We keep asking the question: Why are Republicans backing the federal centralization of education Aren't Republicans supposed to be the party of small government and individual liberty?  Haven't we heard the Republican politicians on the state and national level state decry Obamacare because of the mandates impinging on individual choice?  Aren't Republicans supposed to be from the party not aligning itself with increased centralization?  What's the difference between the takeover of healthcare and the takeover of education?

Why are Republicans such as Jeb Bush wrapping themselves in the educational mandates in Race to the Top or the Educational Reforms Formerly Known as Race to the Top?  These mandates are from Arne Duncan and are nothing but the Federal Government directing public education on all levels to the point where local school districts are ruled impotent and useless.  This impotence and uselessness of legal institutions and officials reminds me of the current stance of state legislators.  They state, "Oh, it's all the Board of Education's doing.  Oh, it's all the governor's fault.  Oh, it's not OUR fault we have mandates the state can't afford.  Oh, we think centralization is a good thing, don't you worry about it, it will all be fine".  

They refuse to act on not implementing the standards or refuse to fund unconstitutional programs that plunge us into more debt.  They look at voters and shrug their shoulders.  I'm thinking we might as well have mandates to do away with the state legislature since it can't apparently have any influence or power in standing up against federal regulations and mandates.  Taxpayers might as well save the money paying state legislator salaries as they aren't apparently interested in protecting the state constitution from federal intrusion.

Many of our legislators want to expand charters and expand Teach for America which will take school decisions out of local districts' hands (and taxpayers) and give them to private companies and DESE.  Once again, public money is being used to fund education via agencies and companies unaccountable to the taxpayers.  Are you feeling good about this scenario?  Why aren't the legislators on the state level acting to keep us out of debt and increased federal control? 

This lack of action has been noted by a former teacher and writer in California.  Doug Lasken has written a great piece calling Republican politicians to task for their refusal to confront this educational nightmare head on.  It's time to call these politicians to task for supporting this administration's disastrous educational policy:

Stop the Department of Education’s Power Grab

Doug  Lasken
Here’s my bio: I am a retired LA Unified teacher of 25 years, currently coaching debate at a private school (I also teach writing in Korea each summer through the UCLA Writing Project) and I have consulted for a number of research institutes, including Fordham, Pioneer, and WestEd .  I have been politically active in the “education wars” for many years, starting in the 80′s when, as a classroom teacher, I was told never to teach English to Hispanic students (per so-called “bilingual education”), never to teach grammar, spelling or phonics (per Whole Language), and never to use direct instruction for science (per “constructivist” philosophy).  I have freelanced many articles across the county on these subjects and am now engaged in opposing the Common Core standards, a colossal cash cow that will do virtually nothing for American education..  This petition represents my current level of frustration with the GOP for not acting as the opposition party it is supposed to be against Obama’s corrupt and ill-advised education initiatives..

Best, Doug Lasken
We the undersigned do not agree on all things, but we are in close agreement on education, and in particular these five propositions:
1.  The federal government is barred by the United States Constitution from imposing academic standards and public school curricula on the states, the very thing it is attempting to do through the Obama administration programs Race to the Top (RttT) and the Common Core Standards(CCS).
2. In addition to imposing standards and curriculum on the states, RttT mandates that states collect extensive and detailed personal information on students, and that this information be submitted to the federal Department of Education, from which it will be available to other agencies.  We oppose this on Constitutional grounds.
3. The national price tag for CCS is estimated at $30 billion (and perhaps as much as $210 billion) most of which cost is to be borne by the states. This money will enrich special interests- publishing and testing empires- but will do virtually nothing to save America’s bankrupted public schools. The undersigned believe that spending $30 billion on standards is like painting a car before junking it- good for the painters, a useless expense for the car owner.
4.  The news media has decided that since conservatives object to spending money, and since conservative views are represented in the Republican party, then people who object to RttT and CCS must be represented by the Republican party.  The undersigned have found, however, that the Republican party, as distinct from individual candidates, does not represent those seeking sound education policy.  Time and again, at all levels from local to federal,the undersigned have encountered ignorance and indifference regarding RttT and CCS from the Republican party and the people it has helped to achieve office.  Republicans as much as Democrats have been seduced by the $30 billion and slick sales talk into acquiescence to RttT and CCS.  The news media is oblivious to this.
5. Therefore, we the undersigned here state that the Republican party does not represent our views on American education, that the Republican party is in fact aligned with the Democratic party in pushing through wasteful and highly problematic Democratic programs, and that we therefore disavow allegiance to and support of the Republican party in its policies towards education, and we ask that the media acknowledge that this diminution of Republican support has occurred.
If you would like to sign this petition, write to Doug Lasken at dlasken514@aol.com

Friday, January 13, 2012

Aristotle Is Dead

Aristotle RIP
Ok, so that's not exactly news. He's been dead for 2300 years or so. But the deductive reasoning Aristotle championed is now dead. Sure he made some errors in his conclusions about the natural sciences, but that was because his access to the technological means to truly study natural phenomenon was limited, which skewed his conclusions.  But was he wrong to even investigate and form those opinions?  Ask any high school or older student today and you will probably hear, "Yes, he was wrong." His conclusions were opinions and all opinions are equal, therefore, there is no point in investigating any opinion.

Dr. Stephen Anderson wrote an essay on moral education programing in Canadian schools titled, Moments of Startling Clarity.  His essay, published in Education Forum, looked at the phenomenon of moral relativism and political correctness in the minds of today's students.

You would think that a population who has been so steeped in the language of minority rights and  character traits would recognize human rights abuses and be able to form opinions against such practices.  But this example, from his senior philosophy class, paints a different picture of the mind of today's youth.
I decided to open by simply displaying, without comment, the photo of Bibi Aisha. Aisha was the Afghani teenager who was forced into an abusive marriage with a Taliban fighter, who abused her and kept her with his animals. When she attempted to flee, her husband's family caught her, hacked off her nose and ears, and left her for dead in the mountains. After crawling to her grandfather’s house, she was saved by a nearby American hospital.

I felt quite sure that my students, seeing the suffering of this poor girl of their own age, would have a clear ethical reaction, from which we could build toward more difficult cases. The picture is horrific. Aisha’s beautiful eyes stare hauntingly back at you above the mangled hole that was once her nose. Some of my students could not even raise their eyes to look at it. I could see that many were experiencing deep emotions. But I was not prepared for their reaction.

I had expected strong aversion; but that’s not what I got. Instead, they became confused. They seemed not to know what to think. They spoke timorously, afraid to make any moral judgment at all. They were unwilling to criticize any situation originating in a different culture. They said, “Well, we might not like it, but maybe over there it’s okay.” One student said, “I don’t feel anything at all; I see lots of this kind of stuff.” Another said (with no consciousness of self-contradiction), “It’s just wrong to judge other cultures.”
 The refusal to judge receives the highest esteem in today's culture. Denyse O'Leary wrote of TheBestSchools.org :
In recent decades, a new view has taken root. The new view is that courage and cowardice have no intrinsic reality. Neither does the classical virtue of justice or the vice of injustice. It all depends on how you feel about things, which in turn depends on your culture. That underlies the students’ inability to move from “I feel bad” to “This is wrong.”
Holding this view means that one is incapable of seeing the wrongness of genocide by the Hutus, or human sacrifice of the Mayans, or stoning of rape victims by fanatical Muslims. And if you cannot see that such behavior is wrong, you are not motivated to do anything to stop it.

It could be said that this cultural relativism arose from the field of anthropology where early anthropologists refused to judge the cultures they were studying because such judgements were based on Western social biases. This belief led to their refusal to sign the 1947 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Carolyn Fluehr Lobban, a professor of anthropology said, "[T]his view is being challenged by critics inside and outside the discipline [of anthropology], especially those who want anthropologists to take a stand on key human-rights issues."

Writer Elsa Zee, who teaches college in Canada, has heard the mantra many times in her classroom; all opinions are equal.  From her own black students she heard that slavery was neither good nor bad.  Either view is just an opinion and all opinions are equal.
And then, one day, I realized: their opinion has nothing to do with thinking. It has to do with not thinking. They don't give - in fact, they don't have - any arguments, not even bad arguments, bad thinking. Nothing at all. Not even a logical fallacy. Not a single shred of backing.

They just "
know" that opinions are equal.
I'm thinking this explains why, even if they KNOW what communism really is (which most of them don't), today's youth will not see anything bad in it.  They will actively resist forming an opinion about a political system that killed 62 million of its own people. Whether they do so, to adhere to a virtue of politically correct non-judgementalism or, because they do not wish to investigate and think too hard about it in the event they must defend their belief, we won't know. But we can assume they can't be counted on to stand up for what is right.  An even scarier thought is that they will go along with anything dished out by our own government because forming an opinion about or investigating it is "wrong."

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Judy Collins and the Majority of Americans "Really Don't Know Clouds At All" and the Danger to Individual Privacy

Do you remember Judy Collins' song "Both Sides Now" in which she mentions clouds, love and life?  She may have been on the cutting edge of technology in the late '60s and she didn't know how prophetic her words were regarding America's (and global) current technology phase.  We are living in an age that allows data to be gathered from every human capital's life. 

We've written about the common cartridge and the plan for a child's curriculum to be pre-loaded, plugged into a computer and delivered to the student for his/her study.  The teaching profession will cease to become a profession, as teachers will mainly monitor the student's progression (or non-progression) with the curriculum.  Direct teaching will become archaic as there will be decreased need for human instruction. 

This administration believes to become globally competitive, we need to know what the other countries around the globe are doing and what they are studying so we can play on the same field with the same data.  In this era of teaching "globalism" and the belief we are living in a global community and not an exceptional nation, an international curriculum becomes desirous and important.  We now need the common cartridge to supply a national curriculum with the desire (the Clinton Global Initiative) to adopt international goals for education.  We are not only ignoring the fact Federal law states a national curriculum is illegal, we are jumping ahead on the global Monopoly board  eager to be part of international educational goals.

Via technology we can now be part of the global community, compare our nation to others (and vice versa), and live the international dream.  Forget about the American dream, it has been extinguished in favor of common and international goals.  How do we believe this revised global dream is occurring and replacing the American dream?

  • First, states must adopt common core standards because all the other states have to talk to each other to determine how their particular state is doing in implementing the standards and the result of the implementation.  The data has to be uniform in the comparison and cut down on variables.
  • Second, the data is required to be sent to varying Federal agencies (Departments of Education, Labor and Health & Human Services) so they can run their own data supplying the answers to their particular questions and agendas.  Traditional educational data (name, address, emergency information, test results, etc) is expanded to include the social and personal data needed to service the child.
  • Third, this information can be supplied to third parties the Department of Education deems appropriate in the interest of education without your knowledge or permission.
  • Fourth, in the circumvention of the FERPA law, there is no language indicating this information will not be shared with foreign entities.  Why should there be any withholding of this information if it is to be used for the "global good"?
Your family's and child's information will be used from the time your child is born and all through the workforce.  Where will this information be stored?  In the Cloud.  Don't know much about the Cloud?  Here's an article from the Wall Street Journal describing the storage of data by the cloud where data taken from your child will reside:

At its most basic level, the "cloud" is simply the Internet, or the vast array of servers around the world that comprise it. When people say a digital document is stored, or a digital task is being performed in the cloud, they mean that the file or application lives on a server you access over an Internet connection, via a Web browser or app, rather than on "local" devices, like your computer or smartphone.

What are some pitfalls of personal information being stored in the Cloud?

Another problem is privacy. Many of these cloud services have good security, but prying hackers are relentless and smart, so consumers should be careful about what they store in the cloud. You may not care if a family photo is swiped, but your Social Security number is a different matter.

The cloud with "educational" data (paid for by school districts via taxpayers) will store this information and will then be used and/or sold for data driven decisions.  This is ostensibly done to improve education.  Starting at birth, children will now be tracked and assessed and this information entered into the cloud throughout their stint as a public schooled student.  

Here is an article from MIT highlighting Google Chairman Eric Schmidt's speech about how life will be structured for us and our children and our increasing dependence on increased data.  From  MIT News:

A “global mind” comprising humans and computers offers huge opportunities for informed decision-making, democratization of information, and world-wide problem solving, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said at the MIT Sloan School of Management Tuesday.

Schmidt said the rapid accumulation of data will push people to find better ways to solve global problems, with new, faster technology to back them up.

Throughout his talk, titled “The Future of the Global Mind,” delivered before a capacity audience at the Wong Auditorium, Schmidt committed himself to the idea that evolution of and access to technology will benefit humanity. Discussing world leaders’ approach to the global economic crisis, Schmidt said that many world leaders he has met are extremely well-informed about the issues, and can offer thoughtful interpretations of the relevant facts and data.

“Technology is not really about hardware and software any more,” Schmidt said. “It’s really about the mining and use of this enormous [volume of] data” in order to “make the world a better place.”

This is the future of the world envisioned by this current administration as well as it is ignoring FERPA law and writing regulations allowing your child's data to be released to the global cloud.  Do you believe that it is our DATA that will make the world a better place or the PEOPLE inhabiting the world?

If you subscribe to the mindset that people are only important for their data, then you should jump on this technology bandwagon with MIT and Eric Schmidt.  If the endgame is the person's data, the path taken to get there is secondary.  The purpose of educational data is not to improve the education itself, it's to improve the data resulting from the education.  It doesn't matter WHAT the curriculum is...as long as the data is trending upward, it can be deemed a success. 

Do you know you are providing this information on you and your child to venture capitalists and technology companies via the Federal government for free and without your active permission?  Just by your child walking into a public school and receiving services entitles the government to data mine your child.  The data is fed into the cloud and then transmitted to who, what and where?  

When Mr. Schmidt states "the mining and use of this enormous [volume of] data” (is used) in order to “make the world a better place” who is deciding how and why this information is to be used?  Whatever happened to the apparent archaic idea that the individual could affect change on his/her own?  Would Abraham Lincoln have achieved the presidency based on his data set?  Did Lincoln require government intervention (or private research firms) to reach his goal?  Would he have been allowed to pursue his goals based on his data set of failure? 

According to Schmidt's and Arne Duncan's theory, people are valuable on the global level for their data and need to be tracked so an institution, agency and/or entity can "make the world a better place".  This is important to understand.  The data is for the WORLD to become better, NOT the individual.  The need of the state supersedes the desire of the individual.   The information is to be used for governmental systems, the workforce, and private companies making a financial killing interpreting human data sets. 

When children are born today, parents should negotiate a price for the government to take data information for their child. There is no free lunch and there should be no free data taken from your baby for the government to use for its purposes via through the Cloud.  The government belongs to the people, the people do not belong to the state.  The peoples' data does not belong to the state nor should be taken from the people.

As Judy Collins sang in her song about clouds:

But now they only block the sun/They rain and snow on everyone/So many things I would have done/But clouds got in my way

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Why Should You Stand Up Now?

The catalog of dystopian literature that is required reading for middle and high school is quite large; from 1984, to Brave New World, to The Giver. So you would think that with all of us reading these novels, and seeing the wretched outcome which began with the best intentions, we would be on our guard against having any of that happen in our real world. Unfortunately, these books tend to plop you down in the middle of the new "utopian" society and rarely take you through the path that society traveled to get there. Recognizing that path is critical to preventing society from ending up in the dystopia. Andy Andrews has written a book that brings that path into focus as he tries to answer the question, "How Do You Kill 11 Million People?"

The book is a short read but it effectively lays out the position that we at MEW have been trying to make for almost  a year now. Andrews chooses to examine, from among many possible examples, the way the Nazi government was able to eradicate 11 million people with the minimal use of force and personnel. Through a policy of lies and incremental changes, they were able to ultimately herd people, who sometimes outnumbered the Nazi guards 100:1, to the concentration camps. The general public was not willing to envision where the incremental changes being imposed might be going.  By the time they were confronted with that reality, their fellow citizens were passing through their towns in cattle cars toward the death camps.  Even then many were not willing to face their own failure to stop the small changes that were made earlier.

One particularly chilling passage from Pastor Erwin Lutzer's book When a Nation Forgets God, illustrates how human tendencies can lead to such horrific outcomes.  A German eyewitness recalls what people thought in the last 30's. (emphasis mine),
We heard stories of what was happening to the Jews, but we tried to distance ourselves from it, because we felt, what could anyone do to stop it?
Each Sunday morning we would hear the train whistle blowing in the distance, when the wheels coming over the tracks.  We became disturbed when we heard cries coming from the train as it passed by. We realized that it was carrying Jews like cattle in the cars!
Week after week the whistle would blow.  We dreaded to hear the sounds of those wheels because we knew that we would hear the cries of the Jews en route to a death camp. Their screams tormented us.
We knew the time the train was coming and when we heard the whistle blow we began singing hymns. By the time the train came past our church, we were singing at the top of our voices.  If we heard the screams, we sang the more loudly and soon we heard them no more.
Years have passed and no one talks about it now, but I still hear that train whistle in my sleep.
The German people were not uneducated or ill informed.  They had a great Prussian education system and lots of news sources. But their leaders delivered the ultimate plan to them in stages and lied to them during the implementation phases to keep the people from rising up when they surely had the numbers (and clean conscience) to put a stop to it.  This is why groups like Missouri Education Watchdog, Homeschooling United, and Truth in American Education are trying to expose the grand plan for education and get parents to speak up when the incremental changes are being imposed.

So yes, Parkway PE teachers may have just wanted a fun tool to get kids to think about exercising more.  But the P20 database is already set up which can track individual student data. So, as long as it's been collected, what's to stop someone from adding the PolarGoFit data in there. (Maybe under: Amount of Non-school Activity Involvement , Health Condition Progress ReportOverall Health Status)  From this point on, whatever the local school administration intended for that data is irrelevant. The data is out of their hands and the grand plan moves forward.

The plans already exist to share data from the LDS with various government agencies like Health and Human Services. This is where the data gets tied in to Obamacare.  The government already plans to pay for everyone's health care which means they really do care about what you are doing now to maintain good health. They have convinced people that all health care policy will be reasonable and responsible.  How do we know that?  Because they have promised it will all be based on data. Where will HHS get this data?  Why, from the P20 LDS of course. So you can pretty much count on that data about how sedentary you or your child was to be used to make decisions about the type and amount of health care services you or your child receive in the future.  This is not wild conjecture.  This is fact and it is pretty logical. What started as a simple accommodation on your part to wear some sort of tracking device will likely become the means by which you will be denied certain care in the future.

To all the parents who do end up going to their school board to fight against things like the PolarGoFit bracelets or the banning of home-packed lunches, while you may feel a little like someone who brings a tank to a knife fight, keep in mind that you may in fact be dismantling the train tracks before the boxcars can be loaded with human beings.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What Do Prince and Educational Reform Mandates Have in Common? They both Changed their Names.

We are delighted to feature a guest blogger writing about Race to the Top like mandates that Missouri instituted but without Race to the Top funding.  Similar to the announcement  of the singer Prince changing his name to symbols (and thereafter being referred to as "The Artist formerly Known as Prince"), the Race to the Top mandates and their copy cat mandates have evolved into a name changing event as well.  In the interest of being accurate and tracing their transformation, let it forever be known that the mandates instituted in Missouri will no longer be referred to as "Race to the Top".  Hereafter, one will correctly speak of them in terms of "The Educational Reforms Formerly Known as Race to the Top".

As we move forward in 2012 with regards to education reform in Missouri, there seems to be a bit of confusion among our state legislators on Facebook in understanding what Race to the Top (RTTT) was and how components of the federal program are now being implemented in Missouri schools.  First and foremost, Missouri DID NOT win a RTTT grant. I think most of us involved with the education issues understand and know this to be true.   When legislators respond to concerned citizens, they all state this fact. However, upon further research into the reforms and programs being put into place by DESE, it is normal to question the difference.   Below you will find the major components of the US Department of Education’s federally funded Race to the Top program.  This information can be found here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/fact-sheet-race-top

The Race to the Top emphasizes the following reform areas:
1.       Designing and implementing rigorous standards and high-quality assessments, by encouraging states to work jointly toward a system of common academic standards that builds toward college and career readiness, and that includes improved assessments designed to measure critical knowledge and higher-order thinking skills.   (Common Core State Standards)

2.       Attracting and keeping great teachers and leaders in America’s classrooms, by expanding effective support to teachers and principals; reforming and improving teacher preparation; revising teacher evaluation, compensation, and retention policies to encourage and reward effectiveness; and working to ensure that our most talented teachers are placed in the schools and subjects where they are needed the most. (Teacher and Leaders evaluation system tied to test scores)

3.       Supporting data systems that inform decisions and improve instruction, by fully implementing a statewide longitudinal data system, assessing and using data to drive instruction, and making data more accessible to key stakeholders.

4.       Using innovation and effective approaches to turn-around struggling schools, by asking states to prioritize and transform persistently low-performing schools. (turnaround model)

  •  In June 2010, the Missouri State Board of Education officially adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).   According to the DESE website http://dese.mo.gov/  Missouri schools need to transition to the new by the 2014/2015 school year as that is the first year all students will be REQUIRED to take the first Smarter Balanced Assessments aligned to the new standards.  DESE refers to the new assessments as the Next Generation Assessments. 
  •  According to the DESE site http://dese.mo.gov/qs/esea-waiver.html Missouri is in the process of creating an evaluation procedure for teachers and leaders.  Currently local districts may design their own evaluation systems.  Under the new system, schools may use either the DESE created model evaluation tool, or align their own evaluation tool to the DESE tool.
  • Missouri currently has a statewide longitudinal data system and most recently secured a company to provide student information services at a cost to local school districts. http://dese.mo.gov/ 
  • Missouri has already implemented the strategies in utilizing the turnaround model in the Kansas City School District.  Missouri also received a $9 Million grant from the Federal government to institute turnaround models and transform persistently low performing schools.  http://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/summary2010/moapp10.pdf

The state has also applied for a NCLB waiver to release our state from the accountability mandates within the law.  http://dese.mo.gov/qs/esea-waiver.html

In the 44 page waiver request, the state has to agree to certain terms.  It does not take a rocket scientist to make an educated guess as to what the federal government wants in return for granting the waiver.  If you guessed all of the above actions and compliances must be agreed to by a state, you are correct!  You receive a gold star and may move to the head of the class!

So… in light of all of the changes DESE has made over the past two years, I guess one could say the state of Missouri has fully implemented all of the components of RTTT, only one chunk at a time and without having to “officially” state that we won Race to the Top. 

I hope this clears up any confusion our elected officials may have with regards to RTTT and the NCLB waiver.  As anyone can clearly see, they are all one of the same!  Yes Virginia, there really is RTTT in Missouri!  Shh!  Just don’t tell our legislators that! 


Our guest blogger has eloquently explained the issues surrounding "The Educational Reforms Formerly Known as Race to the Top".  This concocted controversy of stating that Missouri didn't receive RTTT (even though we are instituting the mandates) should be put to rest so taxpayers and legislators can focus on the facts of the current educational landscape which is detrimental (and unconstitutional) for students, parents, teachers and taxpayers.

Enjoy "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince" singing about  "Controversy".  Our guest blogger has cleared up any such controversy about Race to the Top spin from our legislators. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Welcome to Common Core Math Standards! Slaves are Picking Oranges and Getting Beatings.

Did you read the story about the outrage of a Georgia school using references to slaves picking oranges in a Math problem? 

Some Georgia parents are outraged after they say an elementary school used examples of slavery and beatings to teach their children about math.

The problems in question appeared on a third grader's math assignment.

One problem said, ‘Each tree had 56 oranges. If 8 slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave work?'

But the questions didn't stop there. 

‘If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in 1 week?'

Terrance Barnett was outraged when he read his son's third grade homework assignment."I'm having to explain to my 8-year-old why slavery or slaves or beatings are in a math problem, that hurts," he said.

Another father, Christopher Braxton, had a similar reaction. "It kind of blew me away," said Braxton, "If Frederick, if anyone got any beatings you don't put that into the homework of any sort."

Reasonable taxpayers and parents like Mr. Barnett and Mr. Braxton ARE correct when they state "you don't put that into the homework of any sort".  What many parents and taxpayers are unaware about is WHY these type of comments may appear more often in math problems.  There is a reason and it's because of common core standards.  From the school:

The Gwinnett school district spokesperson, Sloan Roach, said the third grade teachers were attempting to cross curriculums by adding some social studies lessons into the math problems. But the problem with these questions was the lack of historical context. (emphasis added)

"We understand that there are concerns about these questions and we agree that these questions were not appropriate," said Roach.

Perhaps Mr. Roach should have explained the "cross curriculum" mandate this teacher was attempting to fulfill, otherwise known as Common Core standards.  The mandates (note that these are mandates, not suggestions) require the "cross curriculum" of math problems and social studies content.  From ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development):

"...although standards in science and social science are being considered, the common core standards currently address only English language arts and mathematics. Effectively integrating all content areas into instruction is essential for students to receive a comprehensive education.

By adopting Common Core's standards for their own, California and Massachusetts (MEW comment: insert YOUR state's name here) significantly weaken the intellectual demands on students in the areas of language and literature. They also weaken the base of literary and cultural knowledge needed for actual college-level work now implied by each state's current or draft standards." 

So how is a school teaching the social studies it now does not have time to teach because of Common Core Standards mandates?  They are combining math problems to include historical facts normally taught in social studies!  The teachers have no time to teach civics or history, so those clever folks (they are NOT your state or school district employees) who are now writing the standards for YOUR teachers have mandated they integrate history and cultural knowledge in a tidy math word problem.

The third grade teacher was probably attempting to integrate what he/she is mandated and "allowed" to do within the mandates.  This is one of the first egregious examples of how the common core standards nightmare will manifest itself.  Did the teacher use bad judgment in the curriculum written?  Yes and no.  "Yes" to the parents and taxpayers as it came across as being incredibly insensitive but "no" if you understand the legalistic and dispassionate interpretation of the curriculum integration mandate by the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

Again, these type of mandates circumvent common sense which Mr. Braxton succinctly sums up in one sentence:

"Whoever put together this paperwork and everything else, the schools and everything else shouldn't teach it this way," said Braxton.

Mr. Braxton is correct. "The schools and everything else SHOULD'NT teach this way".  When a school has been mandated to teach subjects in a "one size fits all" method, the argument and push back should be targeted to CCSSI, the state school boards and the governors who signed onto this unproven, untested, unconstitutional and underfunded experiment which will hinder students and teachers.

Welcome to the world of Common Core standards.  

Did the district provide enough training (maybe it didn't have the money available for these underfunded mandates) to this teacher so he/she could effectively integrate social studies and math "seamlessly" (a buzz word in Common Core public relations talking points)?  The teacher's treatment of an important subject in American history used out of  context in a math problem has caused concern on many levels.  Will the teacher now be labelled as an "ineffective teacher" so he/she can be reassigned or terminated and a TFA teacher can take his/her place in the classroom?

This whole scenario is a script for disaster. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Sunday Education Weekly Reader 01.08.12

Welcome to the Sunday Education Weekly Reader for January 8, 2012.  This week's articles include:
  • Question for the education political junkies regarding the latest Republican debate
  • Privacy concerns raised and lawsuit filed...but not regarding education privacy invasion
  • An update on student tracking bracelets
  • Parents should be careful what they wish for

Are you concerned about the state of American education?  Do you disagree with the increasing nationalization and centralization of standards constitutionally left to the states?  Are you hoping the Republican presidential candidates will take a stand against this tightening of the Federal noose?

I've received reports from two sources about the intriguing discussion of education between the candidates during the Republican debate on January 7, 2012:
  • One source says there was NO discussion of education by the moderator or candidates
  • Another source:   "The debate was two hours long.   Number of references to education = 1 (Ron Paul accused Rick Santorum of supporting NCLB), discussion time: about 15 seconds. There was not one question on education from the moderators."
Regardless if the educational debate lasted 0 seconds or 15 seconds, the federal takeover of education creating a system with no taxpayer accountability continues without serious debate.


A lawsuit has been filed against the Department of Homeland Security over its plans to monitor social media sites.

Where's the outrage over the Department of Education's circumvention of FERPA privacy laws gutting protection of the usage of student/family private data?  When did the act of walking into a public school allow the government to gather and share personal data of its citizens with agencies and private entities?


We wrote about the tracking bracelets used in the Parkway District in gym class and the future plans of the district to send them home with the students to measure behavior 24/7 for one week. The company manufacturing these bracelets, polargofit, is located in Finland, but China is ready to jump on the bandwagon as well.

The Chinese version may be more versatile and the school district might want to expand its tracking ability on students. There are tags for clothing, key fobs, etc which opens up a world of possibility for expanded tracking information.

UHF Access Control Tags & Wristbands
860~960 MHz ISO 18000-6B, ISO 18000-6C and EPC Gen 2 tags and wristbands for building security, personnel access control, student attendance, bag and equipment tagging, logistics, inventory and manufacturing management systems, toll collection, parking and vehicle access control and laundry management.

It's important to keep track of the human capital (and the physical data) needed for the workforce.  Yes, it's all for the children, right?

Should children from birth should be tracked by the government?
"In its successful Early Learning Challenge application, Massachusetts committed to establishing a system of developmentally appropriate assessment of young children, birth to third grade, including kindergarten entry assessment."

Maybe Ritalin can be prescribed for a squirmy 6 month old who doesn't fit into the standard data set for that age group.


Educational thought for the week:

‎"The way fathers play with their children also has an important impact on a child's emotional and social development. Fathers spend a much higher percentage of their one-on-one interaction with infants and preschoolers in stimulating, playful activity than do mothers. From these interactions, children learn how to regulate their feelings and behavior. Rough-housing with dad, for example, can teach children how to deal with aggressive impulses and physical contact without losing control of their emotions."

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