"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, March 24, 2012

These Teachers Probably won't be Appearing in a YouTube "Rah Rah" Common Core Video.

The Common Core standards have been distributed for teacher review and implementation and may not be as thrilling as presented by the private companies developing the standards.  A high school English department studied them and this writer finds them just a bit lacking.  From the Washington Post:

The Common Core exemplar we worked with was intellectually limiting, shallow in scope, and uninteresting. I don’t want my lessons to be any of those things.

How does this teacher's article compare with the youtube video about English teachers singing the praises of Common Core?  It would be interesting to ask those teachers about their beliefs of Common Core once they've studied and tried to teach them.  Teachers may  have to be team players and get excited about teaching in the way they are being mandated to do so, but according the Post article, there is a sense of foreboding an exactly what this teaching accomplishes...and what it does not.

Common Core focuses on collaboration, for teachers and students, but academic excellence doesn't seem to be on the menu.


Got to get me some standards

Some standards I can use...
Yeah, I'm here with my computer
And my DIS-AG-GRE-GATIN' shoes
I got 'em bad, I got 'em good,
These Common Core Blues...
Well, I'm just an English teacher searchin'
Sittin' waitin' for a sign
You know there's somethin' heavy on my brain...
And it's standard 11-12 RL9
Gotta keep pushin', though my head hurts,
Keep tellin' myself, it's all gonna be fine!
We come from 'cross South Dakota,
Our training is the key.
We're here for COL-LAB-O-RATION,
COL-LAB-O-RATION for our posterity.
So we're singin' this here blues song
Just to save our sanity.


Gotta check out all this info 
Common Core magic's what we seek,
Gotta toss the dusty garbage
From our lessons, oh, are we gonna tweak!
Gotta spread the word to all the peeps
Gotta spread the word to all the peeps
Rusty relics are gonna FREAK!
In preppin' my lessons
I gotta shift into rewind
I want 'em to KNOW, UNDERSTAND & DO
So we won't be drivin' blind.
No, I don't wanna leave 'em,
Don't want to leave all those students behind!
Oh, but Time, she's against me
Tryin' to align standards I can use-
Gonna, pray to the inservice gods
Pray, pray to the inservice muse...
Please please give us the time,
The time to plan, align and light the fuse!
Cause those students are comin' in
From 'Bama, Philadelphia PA
They're bringin' all sorts of skill sets
(Who can make sense of this anyway?)
Well the common Core Standards
Are gonna hook us up, hook us up for success today.


Many have been here before...
Many will come this way again.
Challenges? Yeah, we can name a few!
But now, fellow teachers, we must begin!
Continuity, communication, and materials...
Finish this by..wait, finish this by WHEN?

This Man Needs to Replace Arne Duncan. YES YES YES.

Forget fancy shoes, glitzy jewelry....my one wish?  I wish Missouri had Robert Scott as Commissioner of Education instead of our commissioner (Chris Nicastro) who supports all the initiatives from Arne Duncan, even though they are unconstitutional, unproven, untested and underfunded.  Scott, Texas Education Commissioner, is taking a stand against Duncan and the DOEd.  From the Washington Post:

.... the state education commissioner, Robert Scott, said the mentality that standardized testing is the “end-all, be-all” is a “perversion” of what a quality education should be. He also called “the assessment and accountability regime” not only “a cottage industry but a military-industrial complex,” and he attacked the Common Core Standards Initiative as being motivated by business concerns.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES!!!!  He is so on target!  A constitutionalist and realist!  He understands the standards have little to do with education and more to do for businesses to make money off taxpayers and students. How is it that this brave man knows what many bloggers, national writers,  and think tanks are writing about every day with the same conclusion?  Why have other state commissioners been blind to the takeover of education by the Federal Government and allowed to sell out their states' rights to set their state educational standards/assessments?

Scott is brilliant in his stance but be sure to read the readers' comments.  As of this writing, the vast majority are solidly behind Commissioner Scott....and the support of Arne Duncan is quite slight.  Here is a sampling:


Viva la revolution! Scott has nailed it:
"the mentality that standardized testing is the “end-all, be-all” is a “perversion” of what a quality education should be. He also called “the assessment and accountability regime” not only “a cottage industry but a military-industrial complex,” and he attacked the Common Core Standards Initiative as being motivated by business concerns."


Hip hip hooray! Excitement is roused in my soul. I yield to Jefferson:

"I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical."


I imagine that the following quotes could also relate to the collective institution of K-12 education and the perversion of this institution that we presently witness in regard to the testing mania:

"This institution [University of Virginia] will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it."
- Thomas Jefferson to William Roscoe, 27 December 1820[1]

"They [common-place books] were written at a time of life when I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to what-ever results they led, and bearding every authority which stood in their way."
- Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Thomas Cooper, 10 February 1814[2]


Cambridge Dictionary definition of beard, as in bearding above -- "to face, meet or deal with an unpleasant or frightening person in a brave or determined way”

Alas, some brave superintendents and Robert Scott bearding the authorities who churn out yet more decrees to deliver mind numbing tests (and prep) to our children in seemingly endless succession. Carry on.

Yes, there are tests. I give the occasional quiz or test to my students. I also assess homework, projects, and classwork. That gives me a truer picture of their progress than our yearly state tests. My students come from many different countries, and for those who get ot THAT soapbox, they are here legally. They are still learning English, so the standardized tests that we give don't give a true picture of what they know. I challenge all those on the testing bandwagon to move to a foreign country and attempt to take a test in a new language.

Teachers don't mind being evaluated, it's the type of evaluation that is the problem. Children are individuals, not products that are easily compared. I have seen such a narrowing of what we are able to teach. Real, meaningful learning opportunities are lost because we have to teach children to fill in bubbles instead of teaching them how to think creatively or how to problem solve.


Do we dare dream the tide is turning against the federal nationalization of education?  Can we ever hope to be delivered from data driven education?  Can we kiss Arne Duncan goodbye, if not now, in November 2012?  Can we nominate Robert Scott to assume a position (Secretary of the DOEd) with decreasing importance and power?

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Adminstration Goes For the Education Hat Trick

They started with RTTT for K-12 education. Their stated goal was to help states with the problems created by NCLB which specifically addressed K-12.  It was the first wedge into the public school system  for Common Core Standards. However, in the RTTT grant application was a requirement for developing early childhood (pre-K) education programs. They had no intention of being limited to K-12.  States like Missouri, who did not receive RTTT funding, still began implementing pre-school programs because more money would be available in the future and they had to show they were really committed to what the feds wanted.  Given the lightening pace of standards developments, we know have standards for pre-K.  But last week the administration went for the hat trick of education and proposed RTTT type funding for higher education.
At a hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, Duncan summarized the administration’s plans for higher education, including a Race to the Top-like program for college affordability and completion and a major expansion of the Perkins Loan Program. While much of the discussion was about elementary and secondary education, many of the most pointed questions from members of Congress dealt with the administration’s proposed new spending on higher education.
Much of the administration's proposed $70 billion increase in the Education Department's budget for 2013 will go to higher education, including the Perkins loan expansion, the Race to the Top for College Affordability and Completion, and Obama’s proposal to spend $8 billion on community colleges over the next two years, Duncan said. What it won’t do, in many cases, is add new money to existing programs, including the TRIO and GEAR UP programs for college readiness and federal aid that helps minority-serving colleges.
Aside from the Department of Education's blatant intrusion into state run education, which they are forbidden to do, the biggest problem with the administration's proposal is that it would penalize colleges for the actions of their state legislatures.
If enacted, though, the fiscal 2013 budget would lead to more money for traditional four-year colleges as well. The budget would create a $1 billion “Race to the Top” fund to reward colleges that keep their net price low and their value high, as the president proposed in his State of the Union address in January (though details of how that would be measured remain unclear).
Because state budgets have been cut, the subsidies to state schools have dropped which has forced colleges to raise tuition. This latest administration proposal would penalize schools for being fiscally responsible and would, in essence, force federally mandated spending/allocation changes on state legislatures. As if we don't have enough unfunded federal mandates to deal with.

The $8 billion price tag for the next two years may seem like a deal, but when you consider the pre-K education requirements from RTTT will cost our state alone $1.6 billion, you have to wonder how far that $8B will go for all 50 states.Legislators at the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies where Arne Duncan testified about this program, questioned why the administration was funneling money into new untested programs, when existing programs with proven track records existed. Mr. Duncan's response was to defend the community college spending as absolutely necessary to addressing the problem of unemployment.
This administration can't seem to remember their goal:  is it college graduation or jobs training? Duncan said the new Race to the Top program, as well as a similar competition to encourage innovation, are needed to encourage colleges to keep prices down and states to spend more on higher education.  But perhaps his most telling comment was,
“We at the federal level can’t do it by ourselves. We have to put some incentives out there to try to encourage them.”
Who has been telling the people over at the Education Department that they have to do it by themselves.... or even at all?
Also inlcuded in the administration's proposal was a $55 million competition for colleges and nonprofit institutions called “First in the World,”
"that encourage productivity and efficiency, with up to $20 million reserved for minority-serving institutions. The “First in the World” grants would be administered through the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, according to a person briefed on the administration’s plan, so no Congressional action would be needed to make that happen, beyond funding FIPSE."
Here's an interesting little fact about FIPSE.  One of the programs it supports is an EU-U.S. one-semester study program which provides opportunities for seniors and graduate students to study at one of the EU partner institutions by completing coursework and/or research, and broadens the field of study from food to non-food agricultural  materials and applications. One of the EU partnering institutions is Ghent University, Belgium who has departments in cutting edge fields like genetics, biotechnology, and physical land resources. You may recognize the name Ghent if you are familiar with Agenda 21. Their Centre for Sustainable Development is world renowned for its work on developing systems to aid localities in implementing the objectives of Agenda 21.  Given that this particular grant program focuses on biomaterial production and utilization, we now know that your American tax dollars, through the funnel of the department of education, are going towards developing biofuels.  Apparently nothing is beyond the grasp of Mr. Duncan's department, even energy research.

Combine all this with the Community Education schools proposed and we will truly have cradle to the grave big government indoctrination and oversight of everyone in this country.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ed Reformers Don't Value Public Input nor does this Teacher's Union. What IS "Public" about "Public" Education?

Following yesterday's posting about what ed reformers really think about parent and/or taxpayer input into the question of charters comes this story from California about a teacher's union not wanting parents to volunteer in the public schools.  From Hotair:

In Culver City, Calif., a local union wants to force unionization of — get this — parent volunteers at the local public schools. At several schools in the city, parents have banded together to form non-profit booster clubs to fundraise for and hire part-time teacher’s helpers, who also mostly come from the ranks of the parents themselves.

The local union — the Culver City Association of Classified Employees — is not OK with that kind of initiative. The union wants the parents to continue to fundraise, but to send the funds directly to the school district so the district can then hire union employees to fill the part-time positions. As the union’s scheme makes clear, the school district presently doesn’t have the money to hire anyone to fill the roles parents have voluntarily filled. The parent volunteers aren’t stealing existing jobs from union employees.

The union has taken its request to the labor-friendly Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), a “quasi-judicial administrative agency that is charged with upholding and administering collective bargaining statutes that cover employees working in California schools.”

If the union has its way, parents will have to raise even more funds to cover the additional costs of union dues, administrative overhead and higher union wages — but they’ll have no say over hiring, control, supervision or decision-making.  (emphasis added)  What’s to incentivize the fundraising in that scenario? As likely as not, parents will just stop putting forth the effort to raise funds in the first place — and students will lose the benefit of the added help in the classroom.

The taxpayers and parents can't win.  The ed reformers want to open charter schools and allow trigger options, but don't want taxpayers/parents to have much voice (as noted by yesterday's post), and this union doesn't want parents to volunteer for the school they are paying for.

Just where do taxpayers/parents have any say in what happens in their school districts?  Are they only supposed to pay for the schools, drop their kids off at the schoolhouse door and host wrapping paper sales?  Is that the extent of parental/taxpayer involvement in public education? 

Another Article on the Fallacy of Parent Trigger being Considered School "Choice"

Neal McCluskey of Cato eloquently states why the parent trigger option the ed reformers tout as school "choice" falls short.  From "Power Yes, Trigger No":


There is little question that parents have too little power in elementary and secondary education. In fact, they have almost no power: they can vote, but are otherwise usually relegated to being class moms, or holding bake sales, or some other fluffy “involvement” that gives them no real say over how their children are educated. Adding insult to injury, that doesn’t often stop professional educators from blaming parents when students don’t do so well.

To remedy the problem, the trendy thing seems to be “parent trigger” laws that would, generally speaking, allow a majority of parents at a school declare that they want to fire the staff, or bring in a private management company, or some other transformation. It’s been the spark behind some especially heated conflicts in California, as unions and parents of different stripes have been doing battle with each other. It is also the subject of a New York TimesRoom for Debate” exchange today.

While I sympathize—obviously—with those who advocate giving parents more power, I cannot help but conclude that the parent trigger is a very poor way to do this. For one thing, it is inherently divisive: what about the 49 percent, or 30 percent, or whatever percent of parents who don’t want the changes the majority demands? They’ve got no choice but to fight it out with their neighbors. It is also inefficient: individual children need all sorts of options to best meet their unique needs and abilities, but the trigger would just exchange one monolithic school model for another.

The trigger, quite simply, is no substitute for real educational freedom: giving parents control of education funds, giving educators freedom to establish myriad options, and letting freedom, competition and specialization rein. (emphasis added by MEW)

There is, however, one gratifying thing about the parent trigger: it has made historian Diane Ravitch—who constantly decries the destruction of “democracy” were we to have educational freedom—express outrage about ”51 percent of people using a public service hav[ing] the power to privatize it.”

Um, isn’t majority rule what democracy is all about? Or do government schooling defenders really just invoke the term because it sounds so nice and is such a potent rhetorical club?

The answer, it seems, is getting more clear.


A MEW thought: substitute the word "charters" for the bolded sentences above.  Charters don't offer the education freedoms the triggers don't offer either.  Charters and triggers are still public schools under public school mandates.  What choice is that?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Education Reformer UNMASKED as he Veers from the School Choice Talking Points. It's Quite Revealing.

Jay P. Greene's blog had an article about the WSJ bucking the teachers' unions and siding with school choicers entitled WSJ: Council on Foreign Relations Endorses School Choice:

But the real story is how much progress the reform movement has made when pillars of the establishment are willing to endorse a choice movement that would have been too controversial even a few years ago.

A few readers concerned about the school choice reforms presently being pursued made comments and were quickly discounted and dismissed by two readers.  Apparently not being astute enough to understand how uninformed I am, Allen (a supporter of charter schools and the school choice movement) and I engaged in a few exchanges.

If you read this blog, you know our concern about much of the school choice presented as choice is not authentic choice.  It's public school in a different building with different players, but it's still the same blueprint for education....common core standards and RTTT (or RTTT like mandates).  It's publicly funded but privately managed.  Think Solyndra.  I wrote:

I believe I’m actually talking about how PUBLIC schools should operate, and how they have no PUBLIC input, save for taxpayer money and the children the taxpayers provide to prop up a failed system.

I must have hit a nerve with Allen because in his last meaningful exchange about why I was so opposed to this quasi public-private partnership and that taxpayers/parents still had no significant or meaningful say in PUBLIC education for which they pay for, Allen responded:

“What charters should or shouldn’t be doing is none of your concern.  (emphasis added by MEW).  It’s the business of the people who open/run them and that’s where the responsibility ought to be. Parents can decide whether they like how a particular charter is run or not, as they choose, but third parties who have no immediate stake in the operation of the school have no good, educationally-relevant reason to mix in. They may have the power, and thus feel entitled to engage in a bit of dictatorial activity, but they’re unlikely to create a better result then the people who started/run the school. Certainly they won’t have as urgent an interest in making the school a success.”

Dear Readers, in my opinion, there you have the underlying belief of the education reformers in one paragraph.  Stunning, isn't it?  Here's part of my response:

You ARE an elitist, aren’t you? Unless you have forgotten, charters are PUBLICLY funded. They certainly ARE a concern of the taxpayers. Just who do you think you are? Are you allowed to give taxpayer money to private operators to let them operate in any way they think is appropriate and it’s none of the public’s business? Sounds like Solyndra! The government uses our money for private investing, the money is wasted on a failed project and the public shouldn’t be concerned and has no immediate stake in how that money was used?

Total arrogance. I believe you are the dictator in this argument. PRIVATE schools have no public scrutiny and they should not as they are PRIVATELY funded by PRIVATE money. Charters are not privately funded, just privately managed. Big difference.

The lesson I learned, when talking to education reformers, ask these questions before debating school choice options:

  • Should the government be funding private companies to deliver programs assumed to be a purview of the government to provide? 
  •  If the government insists on using public money for private companies to deliver services, do taxpayers have an inherent right to know how this money is being spent, or do you believe third parties who have no immediate stake in the operation of the school have no good, educationally-relevant reason to mix in?
Maybe you'll get lucky and run into Allen (so you can ask him himself) who I suspect just put in writing what the elite education reformers really think about taxpayers, parents and students....while using public money for their private gain. 


"Educational Bureaucracies Operate as if they are the Fourth Branch of Government"

Below is an excellent article on the Common Core Standards reprinted from The Georgia Public Policy Foundation:

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation is an independent think tank that proposes practical, market-oriented approaches to public policy to improve the lives of Georgians.

Since 1991, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation has conducted scholarly research and analysis of state public policy issues and worked to educate citizens, policy-makers and the media. The Foundation is state-focused, independent, non-partisan and market-oriented in its approach. Its philosophy is that good public policy is based upon fact, an understanding of sound economic principles and the core principles of our free enterprise system – economic freedom, limited government, personal responsibility, individual initiative, respect for private property and the rule of law.

Sherena Arrington of the think tank aptly and correctly describes what the standards are, how they were adopted with little legislative interest, and the enormous amount of unfunded mandates they will cost states.  If you are a resident of a state that adopted the standards, much of what she writes will be applicable to the cost and control the Federal Government and the Educational Consortia wields over your state's educational delivery and content. 

Wouldn't you think other political think tanks espousing the tenets of Federalism would craft their own paper on the absolute illegality of Common Core standards, longitudinal data systems and other states making educational decisions for another state?  

Bravo to Ms. Arrington for her clear analysis of these unconstitutional, unproven, untested, and unfunded mandates foisted on the American taxpayer.   


An Uncommon Approach to Costly Common Core Education Standards

By Sherena Arrington

Joseph Califano, secretary of health, education and welfare in the Carter administration declared that “in its most extreme form, national control of curriculum is a form of national control of ideas.” That was in 1977. This month, syndicated columnist George Will cited Califano's warning in a column bemoaning the Obama administration's latest education intervention through the Common Core Curriculum State Standards Initiative.

Almost every state in the nation has rushed to join the Common Core curriculum movement with hardly a thought of the cost, financial or otherwise. In most cases, however, the “states” have barely been involved. Simply put, massive educational bureaucracies have signed on to the Common Core and have expected, and generally received, no interference from the three branches of government. Whatever happened to that adage, “Look before you leap?”

In fact, states signed up for Common Core standards without even knowing what those curriculum standards would be. This seismic shift in education governance is quietly moving forward without so much as a whimper from most legislative bodies. State legislatures have been left in the dark.
In Georgia, where education already consumes half the state budget, taxpayers should know that the Legislature did not even receive a fiscal note on the cost of implementing Common Core standards. The appointed members of the State Board of Education voted in July 2010 to adopt Common Core standards and approved $1.3 million for fiscal year 2011 and another $1.27 million for FY 2012, but the Legislature has no awareness of the total costs that the state will incur in the long run. There has been no open debate about the cost and about the direction it would take the state.
Just who is in charge of the Common Core? The quick answer: primarily unelected educational “experts” who have no direct accountability to the people are the creators of the Common Core curriculum standards.

Two organizations take credit for developing the Common Core "on behalf of" the states, declaring, "These English language arts and mathematics standards represent a set of expectations for student knowledge and skills that high school graduates need to master to succeed in college and careers." These organizations, both based in Washington, D.C., are the National Governors Association’s Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) along with considerable advice from Achieve, Inc., ACT, the College Board, the National Association of State Boards of Education and the State Higher Education Executive Officers.

The federal government is quite careful to avoid any credit for the Common Core because such direct meddling into the curriculum of the states would actually be illegal, according to several federal laws. Instead, the federal Department of Education pushes the Common Core onto the states through the constitutional power of the Spending Clause. The letter of the law is met when states agree to conditions attached to grants, in this case embracing all the strings attached to the Race-to-the-Top grant and accepting the waiver conditions tied to No Child Left Behind. Such federal grants frequently are carrots to get states to voluntarily commit to federal educational goals, which end up costing states more money to administer than they ever receive in federal funds.

Citizens are expected to trust in this educational consortium and allow the Common Core full sway over their state's curriculum. A state may supplement the standards, but those additional standards may not exceed 15 percent for any content area and states cannot omit or change any of the other 85 percent.

Are legislators unable to lead a good debate on federalism or demand an accounting of the economic long-term costs to the citizens they represent? What about just old-fashioned liberty? Are legislatures ready to yield the very heart of the educational system, the standards that drive the curriculum, to unknown bureaucrats who are spread far and wide having virtually no accountability to state taxpayers? Or, what about the bare bones minimum of legislative oversight?

Educational bureaucracies seem to operate as if they are the fourth branch of government. They want the money appropriated by the legislature and to be left alone to do with it as they please. A shorter rein, constant accountability to the people and reducing educational dependence on federal grants would go a long way to ensuring that the people of each state retain control of their educational systems that are paid for with their tax dollars. 

Texas opted out in part because of the exorbitant cost of implementation: according to Lone Star state estimates, the cost would be upwards of $3 billion to implement new standards, devise new tests and purchase new textbooks to comply. Virginia, too, has opted out due to the additional costs and burdens.
Other states are starting to question their commitment to the Common Core. South Carolina is now attempting to apply the brakes, but not just due to costs. Governor Nikki Haley stated recently, “Just as we should not relinquish control of education to the federal government, neither should we cede it to the consensus of other states.”

Federalism matters. As Founding Father James Madison explained, federalism provides the constitutional backbone of liberty. Governor Haley recognizes that South Carolina has a duty to its citizens to protect their Tenth Amendment power over education. It remains to be seen whether the Legislature agrees, but now its people have an opportunity to weigh in on the decision. That is more than can be said for Georgians.

The Common Core provides a perfect example of how quickly a state can lose control of its K-12 educational system. Obviously, curriculum is central to education. With Georgia supposedly locked into the Common Core as a condition of the Race to the Top federal grant as well as the No Child Left Behind waiver, it appears the state will simply become the administrative agent for a nationalized curriculum through the adoption of nationalized standards, and the citizens will pick up the expensive tab.

This is what should be called, “education without representation.” Such a hands-off approach to K-12 educational policy is an abandonment of the Legislature’s constitutional duty to keep the agencies of state government accountable to the people, especially so when it comes to an agency whose mission consumes at least $7 billion in state taxpayer funds and $6 billion in local taxes annually.

Sherena Arrington, a political consultant and policy researcher, wrote this commentary for the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, an independent think tank that proposes practical, market-oriented approaches to public policy to improve the lives of Georgians.  Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation or as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any bill before the U.S. Congress or the Georgia Legislature.
© Georgia Public Policy Foundation (March 16, 2012). Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and her affiliations are cited.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Arne Duncan Loses Another Teacher's Endorsement

Arne Duncan is having a tough time selling his educational reform as noted by a teacher in Dissident Voice..."a radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice":

The terrorist leaders at the Department of Education hate what America stands for. They hate our individualism. They hate our creative thinking.  They hate every red-blooded American Norma Rae and are threatening our very standing in the world.  Our widgets (I mean students) used to be the best in the world. Now they’re outsourced.

These terrorists, led by Duncan, have murderous machines at their disposal; the spreadsheet, calculators, and deep pockets from Gates and friends.  They see each American child as a unit to be molded by their way of thinking and for the corporate bottom line. The president likes all that but he can’t show it. He’s on our side, remember?

But like the drones they are, the bureaucrats at DOE only do what they are directed to do.  If they’re told their mission is to leave no child’s behind left untested for God, Country and Pearson, they’ll do it. But their leader must go because he’s stuck in a new age of pedagogical thinking that is completely imaginary, supported by this administration; but the people are waking up.

Did Arne Duncan Make up a Bunch of Lies to Get $4.35 Billion for a Scam? (Race to the Top and Common Core Standards)

Have we just been scammed by Arne Duncan and the Department of Education?  Secretary Duncan bemoans the fact American children don't score high enough on standardized testing, there aren't enough "highly effective" teachers, there is not educational equity, we need to make all educational decisions on data (which is presently lacking), our kids are not college ready and all children must attend to college for the country to remain competitive.

Watch this video from Heidrick and Struggles, a private search firm on the lookout for talent on a global level:

2011 Global Talent Index - Overview & Methodology from Heidrick & Struggles on Vimeo.

The Global Talent Index is a unique research study designed to identify where talent is located in the world today and in the future. The purpose of this analysis is to help organizations identify potential talent challenges as well as opportunities around the world.

What country came in first as having the most talent?

The United States. 

What was an important component in achieving this rank?  Why, the "excellent education" the United States offers.

If our education is so excellent (number one in attracting and keeping talent), why are we instituting global initiatives, common core standards,and mandates to ostensibly catapult our students into a higher position or score?

What is all the brouhaha about the failing educational system in American and how American students are so far behind?  Does this private company which ranks the US as number one in talent have access to different data than the Department of Education has?  Could American taxpayers have been fleeced by this administration for purposes other than to improve educational services and train our students to become globally competitive?  According to this firm, the United States was doing very well without this mass infusion of billions of dollars, mandates and the nationalization of education.

What exactly is going on? 

Monday, March 19, 2012

What Do Readers on the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) Website think is the Primary Mission of Student Education? It's Quite a Surprise.

2012 ASCD conference logo
What is ASCD?  From the website:

Founded in 1943, ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) is an educational leadership organization dedicated to advancing best practices and policies for the success of each learner. Our 150,000 members in more than 145 countries are professional educators from all levels and subject areas––superintendents, supervisors, principals, teachers, professors of education, and school board members.

Our nonprofit, nonpartisan membership association provides expert and innovative solutions in professional development, capacity building, and educational leadership essential to the way educators learn, teach, and lead. (emphasis added)

If you are a parent and read this explanation of ASCD, you might assume learning was paramount to this organization, and education would be tailored to ensure the success of each individual learner.

View the ASCD Smart Brief from March 15, 2012.  Access "Ed Pulse" on the site where you will find results of an ASCD reader survey.  This question was posed on a separate educational email thread about this survey, "what do these results tell you about the values of public education teachers"?  Do these results align themselves with the organization's mission statement?

  ED Pulse 
What do you feel is the primary mission of public education?

To prepare students to fully participate in the social, economic and educational opportunities of our nation.  44.12%
To prepare students to participate in today's global society.  24.47%
To challenge students to meet their full educational potential.  15.15%
To foster the growth of civically engaged citizens.  7.02%
To master skills, such as analytical thinking and comprehensive reading and literacy.  5.05%
To help learners develop the skills necessary to keep our nation economically competitive.  2.68%
Other.  1.50%
To prepare students for the demands of a 4-year or 2-year college experience.  0.00%
To prepare students for vocational training.  0.00%
Arne Duncan won't be happy when he sees these results.  Every child is to be college ready so the nation can be economically competitive.  These voters list those goals at a whooping 0.0%. 

What does "preparing students to fully participate in the social, economic and educational opportunities of our nation" mean?  Do we want our students taught by teachers and administrators who believe this is the primary mission of education?  This smacks of preparing students for the collective experience, rather than focus on individual goals of "analytical thinking and comprehensive reading and literacy" (answered as most important by 5% of these respondents).

This site is primarily read by educators and administrators.  This would be a good site to visit from time to time if a parent and/or taxpayer would like to understand what these publicly paid employees and bureaucrats really think about the citizens paying for their salaries and benefits.  Maybe it's time for parents and taxpayers to reclaim the schools they pay for if the majority of public school teachers and administrators share the same view of readers in the survey below.  Respondents on this site don't give much credence to parental belief and authority. 

Previous question (01.26.12) on the ASCD site: Should public schools be legally obligated to provide an alternative curriculum to students, whose parents deem objectionable any subject or lesson taught in school?


 As we've written previously, the public education system today wants your children and tax dollars to sustain the system.  It doesn't want your input or direction in student education.  Even if parents have objections in what their student is learning (such as sex education in kindergarten), almost 7% believe the parents have to petition to determine what's appropriate for their child.   Over 85% of respondents believe parental wishes are inconsequential, should not be entertained, the educators are not obligated to alter their particular curriculum, and cause too much work for them. 


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