"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, April 14, 2012

Should Freedom of Expression be Allowed in a Public High School if it Could Incite Violence?

Should this shirt be banned from public school?

Should wearing a shirt proclaiming "RIP" for a gunned down young man be allowed to be worn in an Omaha high school or banned?  AsktheJudge.info writes:

Did the t-shirt constitute “. . . a respectful display of their feelings for a fallen friend” as the plaintifff’s lawyer has stated? Or did the school act properly in preventing a disturbance on campus and possible gang violence?

Here's the story of the shooting of Julius Robinson who split off from one gang to form his own gang and a former gang member gunned him down with a .357 Magnum resulting in Robinson's death.   Here is a link from 2008 when the shooting happened with readers' opinions.  

Friday, April 13, 2012

Independent Mizzou Paper Staff Resign Over April Fools Edition

The Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor of the independent Mizzou paper, The Maneater, have resigned after the publication of their controversial April Fool's edition. Abby Spudich, former managing editor, resigned on Tuesday and Travis Cornejo, former editor-in-chief, resigned Wednesday afternoon. Comments to MEW have indicated this is a paper intended for freshmen and sophomores to practice their journalistic skills on before entering the school's journalism program. That would appear to be accurate if you read pages from the issue in question here, here and here (you have to love the juxtaposition of the ad for The Value Of Culture Lecture next to the editorial on this page).  The writing is, at best, sophomoric. It is crude, lazy, and generally sad examples of what our school system currently develops in some young writers.

Some have compared The Maneater's writing to the popular satirical publication The Onion, but that is like comparing a LeapFrog LeapPad to an iPad.  Here is a writing sample about food from The Onion:
What Kind Of Powdered Chocolate Drink Mix Have We Unleashed Upon The World?
I write this in a state of profound despair, paralyzed with horror at the chocolaty abomination our thoughtless actions have wrought upon an unsuspecting world—a world that never asked for another chocolate drink mix, nor lived in true want of one. While all mankind will suffer in the fudgy genesis we have so callously brought forth, the responsibility for this pestilence is mine alone to bear. We played God with flavored milk, and now all of humanity must pay the price for our hubris—a price I fear may be much higher than the $2.99 markup at most supermarkets. 
 Here is a writing sample about food on campus from The Maneater:
To close the price discrepancy gap, CES will no longer offer Gatorade for the bargain deal of your soul and your first-born child. Instead, it will offer caviar, truffles imported from Italy and centaur meat, all for the low price of your soul and your first born child.

"We saw that students were unhappy going bankrupt buying cheap products and we listened," Cream said.  "Now they can go broke buying fancy food."
This article also created such lofty characters as the Miserable Scrotum Association, Superstar Looney Toobs and journalist Sheep Dickenburger.

One is clever and witty. The other is a train wreck.

Satire, which I assume is what the writers at The Maneater were aiming for, does not need to hit its reader over the head.   People can be entertained, even duped, by good satirical writing as many were by the NPR piece (from April 1st) N.Y. Preschool Starts DNA Testing For Admission that reported on a prestigious New York City preschool which was embarking on a program to collect DNA from future applicants. Their purported goal was to look for, "genetic markers that indicate future excellence — things like intelligence, confidence and other leadership traits."  Though the article (which was entirely fictitious) created quite a stir and boosted NPR's readership for a few days, fooling even some sophisticated readers, it did so without a single slanderous or profane word. At worst, it poked fun at New York's wealthy who are stereotyped as being willing to do anything to get their children into "the right schools."

Bringing a sledgehammer to a diamond cutting is the philosophy of transgressive journalism and appears to be the guiding philosophy of The Maneater, as was noted in the first article in MEW. Starting with the temporary new name Carpeteater (a non-veiled reference to the lesbian community) and continuing with references to Vagina Avenue (which wasn't even related to the article topic) and "Cunter Allwood's" article that mentioned students banding together to "fu*% sh#@ up," the paper was a Joe Frazier-esque assault on the civilized reader.

Initially the University called for disciplinary hearings for the staff at The Maneater. Adam Goldstein, attorney advocate for the Student Press Law Center, said "The First Amendment gives you a civil right to be derogatory and profane. As a public entity, if the university took steps to discipline speech that is protected by the First Amendment, they could open the university up to a lawsuit for civil rights violation." That, and the fact that both Spudich and Cornejo have resigned, may be the reason why the University has now dropped such hearings.

Mr. Goldstein's assertion that the first Amendment gives you the right to be a boor or a crass loudmouth is an interesting interpretation. Those who have taken the time to study history outside of the classroom understand the importance of the first amendment from the founder's perspective. They were begging to have their grievances heard by those with power over them without fear of retribution, not seeking protection for one's right to stand on a street corner and shout, "Zounds good sir. Thou art cukold."One could perhaps forgive a young lawyer, who has been indoctrinated with the fairly modern concept of placing case law and precedent at the center of our legal system, for his butchered understanding of the First Amendment. 

That still leaves the question of the role of journalism, as well as its rights and obligations. The fourth estate has moved far from its original role as the watchdog of the government.  Today much of the mainstream press walks arm and arm with the administration.  Another segment, represented by the likes of The Star and The National Enquirer, continues to exist because of the free market. So long as there are people who are willing to buy them, advertisers will be willing to buy space in them and they will continue to publish their provocative half truths or all out lies, though no one will ever take them seriously as a newspaper. Their staff will have jobs only so long as an acceptable number of the public find their writing an amusing diversion. They will never, however, cross over to real jobs in news reporting. (The staff at The Maneater should take note.)

The role of the press is no longer clear in the minds of the general public so it is not surprising that The Maneater has divided the Mizzou student body as well. They tend to fall into three camps:
  1. The paper went too far and the resignation of the Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief is not sufficient. All the writers of that particular edition should apologize as well and face consequences
  2.  The paper went too far, but the appropriate parties have done the right thing and the issue should be dropped.
  3.  All the outcry is an overreaction. The paper was a harmless joke and people should get over it.
A journalism student and writer for MU Global Communications, an online site that covers international news at MU, Nuria Mathog describes the divide perfectly:
A lot of this plays into students' perception of the role of journalists in society. Students who believe that journalists must strive to be inclusive of different viewpoints, especially those of minorities and other marginalized groups, tend to present arguments that fall into the first two categories. In contrast, students who believe that journalists have no obligation other than to the public as a whole are more likely to vouch for the validity of the third point.*
* Ms. Mathog's views do not necessarily reflect those of MU Global Communications.
The first Amendment only prohibits official government action with regards to free speech. It does not prohibit public response or consequences.  Media Matters recognized this when David Brock began three years ago developing a plan to harass and boycott local businesses that advertise on conservative talk radio. In his plan, willing cohorts who may not even be in the business's state, make offensive or threatening calls to local businesses, terrorizing their staff and tying up lines so true customers cannot get through, all in an attempt to push those businesses into withdrawing their advertising from conservative radio. Mr. Goldstein's statement is correct in the court's opinions today.  There is nothing wrong with what these people are doing and their speech is protected.

This, however, is a sword that cuts both ways.  If enough of the students at Mizzou feel that The Maneater is, in the parlance of the press, a useless "rag," then simply ceasing to buy the paper will cause its advertisers to also pull their support and the paper will fold. Even a coordinated effort to make this happen would be covered under free speech. The University can sit back and allow the free market to do what they cannot. They just have to remember that everyone learns at a different pace and some students may take longer than others to learn the lesson of the April Fool's edition.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Scary Time at Meramec Community College as Students Brawl...and a Little Child is Thrust into the Fighting.

Kirkwood Patch reports on a melee at Meramec Community College in Kirkwood, Missouri.  The article contains a video from eBaum's World of the fight.  What is particularly disturbing is a very young child witnessing and being carried into this violence.  Frightening events happen on college campuses today having nothing to do with academic learning.

From the article:


Two people sustained minor injuries from the violent fight that broke out on the St. Louis Community College at Meramec campus Monday.

It's unclear whether the two who sustained injuries were involved with the fight, according to DeLancey Smith, director of communications for the college.

The three people arrested after the fight were arrested on charges of assault, Smith said. The degree of the charges is unclear at this time. An official incident report has yet to be completed and filed by campus police.
The altercation that drew a crowd of bystanders broke out between the Business Administration and Communications South buildings afternoon passing periods. Police responded to the scene at 1:50 p.m., according The Montage

Campus police responded within minutes after receiving a report of a disturbance. Five officers, including a lieutenant and chief, responded to the incident. A bystander video shows police arriving on the scene 90 seconds after the fight broke out. STLCC believes police arrived on the scene much sooner, Smith said.

The video shows one officer holding a can of pepper spray. Smith said the spray was never dispersed and was used as an element of restraint.

The communications director said the incident was a rare occurrence.

"This is the first fight I've seen on any campus, and I've been with the college for two years," Smith said. "It's certainly not a common occurrence at all."

Police handled the situation in the appropriate manner, Smith said.

"As a public institution, we're always trying to tweak emergency management procedures," he said, noting that one campus is conducting a security drill Friday. "It's really on the top of our mind. With all the incidents (on campuses) across the country, every institution has to aware of incidents like this."
Those arrested Monday were booked through the Kirkwood Police Department. Their cases will be referred to Kirkwood Municipal Court, according to The Montage.

Community Schools in Chicago? Arne Duncan's and Rahm Emanuel's Dream...Parents Say "Not so Fast'

Oops.  One of Arne Duncan's goals of education, envisioning schools becoming community centers to supplant parental influence and responsibility, might have hit a snag in Chicago schools. 

...we need to lengthen the school day. We need to lengthen the school year. Our calendar is based upon the agrarian economy.

Children in India and China are going to school 25, 30, 35 more days a year. They're just working harder than us. So, we need more time, particularly for disadvantaged children, who aren't getting those supports at home.

If children are hungry, they need to be fed. It's hard to learn if your stomach is growling. We need to take that on. If students can't see the blackboard, need eyeglasses, we need to do that. If students need a social worker or counselor to work through the challenges they're facing at home in the community, we need to do that.

And so I -- my vision is that schools need to be community centers. Schools need to be open 12, 13, 14 hours a day six, seven days a week, 12 months out of the year, with a whole host of activities, particularly in disadvantaged communities.

And when schools truly become centers of the community, where you have extraordinary teachers, the best teachers, the best principals, great nonprofit partners coming in during the non-school hours to support and do enrichment activities, social services, then those students will beat the odds, will beat poverty, will beat violence in the community, will beat sometimes dysfunctional families, and be productive citizens long term. They will go to college.

This is the vision of Duncan.  "The extraordinary teachers, the best teachers, the best principals, great nonprofit partners" will step into the shoes of the roles of parents and the government bureaucrats and the nonprofit partners who are using taxpayer money to drive education will save the students.

Wow.  Stars in your eyes yet?  Ready to turn your kids over to the system?  Maybe not so fast.  Parents might not be so infatuated with governmental intrusion into their lives according to this article from chicago.cbslocal.com writing about teachers and parents pushing back on Duncan's plan to Mayor Rahm Emanuel.  Emanuel wanted to lengthen the school day to 7 1/2 hours for all students.  He was not successful in that goal. However he was able to extend the school year:

Emanuel said, even scaling back to 7-hour days for elementary schools, CPS will be providing a great deal more classroom time for students, given that the district also lengthened the school year by 10 days starting next school year.

“We are gonna go from 170 days to 180 days; from 5 hours and 45 minutes to 7 hours. That comes to 40 additional days of instruction,” he said.

The teacher union's side of the story:

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis had a lukewarm response to the mayor’s decision to scale back the longer school day for elementary schools.

“The mayor moved his toe a half an inch from the starting line. He needs to do more, and he needs to listen with both ears,” she said. “It is not the length of time, but the quality of time that truly matters here.”

She acknowledged the mayor was moving in the right direction by backing off his demand for a 7 1/2 hour school day for elementary students, but she didn’t mince words about what she thinks is a failure to come up with a broader-reaching education policy.

“There’s no plan. They’re just numbers again. There’s still no plan. This was never a plan. This was a political slogan. We need to be extraordinarily clear about what that means: nothing. There is no plan,” she said.

Lewis also went after the mayor for closing neighborhood schools without listening to input from parents who opposed the closures. She said the mayor has marginalized parents by installing a hand-picked board that goes along with his every wish.

She called for specifics from the school district on how officials plan to pay for longer high school days, while maintaining funding for foreign languages, music, and physical education.

A statement from some parents:

...not all parents were happy with a 7-hour day for elementary students.

Wendy Katten, co-founder of the parent group Raise Your Hand, said, “Personally, I think 7 (hours) is probably too long for the primary grades.”

On Monday, parent groups complained that they were being left out of the decision-making process on school day length. As they demanded a meeting with Mayor Emanuel in front of his office the group Chicago Parents for Quality Education said parents support more classroom time for their kids, but most think 7 1/2 hours is too long.

They called for a 6 1/2-hour day, about 45 minutes longer than the current school day.

Jonathan Goldman, who has children at Thomas Drummond Elementary School, said Monday that school officials should present a budget for the longer school day, noting in Boston and Houston, schools are spending an extra $1,300 to $2,000 per pupil to lengthen the school day.

 The teachers don't want to teach longer without more compensation and maybe the parents don't trust the teachers and/or administrators to have their children for an extended period of time if what this commenter on the cbslocal.com site writes is true:

Playing a major role in Wednesday’s report were findings that school employees falsified applications for free lunch programs to get their own children a benefit to which they were not entitled.

CBS 2 Investigator Pam Zekman and the Better Government Association first broke the school lunch fraud story.

The free and reduced lunch program costs CPS an estimated $100 million a year. On Wednesday, CPS Inspector General James Sullivan’s report confirmed findings of falsified applications, calling the violations a serious and possibly system-wide problem.

The report also found more than $1 million in improper benefits paid to retired teachers.
The full report is available on the inspector general’s website.

The federal lunch program was meant to provide nutritious meals to poor children to help them learn.

It requires that parents fill out applications certifying the gross income of their family, with an income cap that varies depending on the number of children in the family.

But as CBS 2 disclosed in 2010, school board employees – including teachers at North-Grand High School – were routinely misstating their income so their own children could qualify for free or reduced lunches.

Among them was math teacher Virgilio Santos, who earned more than $70,000-a-year at North-Grand.

“How can you qualify for the free lunch program with a salary like yours? More than $70,000?” Zekman asked Santos in 2010.

“Sorry, sorry,” was all he said as he drove off.

In the report released Wednesday, the inspector general found 11 North-Grand employees falsified those applications, as well as two parents in law enforcement, so that their children could get free or reduced lunch.

A school clerk also falsified applications for her children, who were attending other schools.

Disciplinary action was being sought for all of the employees involved.

As CBS 2 reported last year, Ascunsion Ayala was removed as principal at North-Grand for allowing falsified applications to be filed by her staff.

Better Government Association Executive Director Andy Shaw praised the move to fire Ayala last year.

“The buck stops at the principal’s desk. She allowed a ripoff of our tax dollars,” Shaw said.

There also was a humorous anecdote in the report. One teacher not only excluded her teacher’s salary from the free lunch application, but she also overstated the size of her household by including the name of her family dog as a child.

School officials declined to be interviewed on camera about the report, but said in a written statement that the findings are disappointing and the new leadership at CPS will not tolerate any activities of this nature.

The inspector general’s report also says the school district improperly paid retired teachers for holiday, vacation and sick time when they worked as substitute teachers. In all, the report says retired teachers working as substitutes collected $1.13 million in improper benefits from 2007 to 2011.

Under a deal with the Chicago Teachers Union in 2007, retired teachers are ineligible for benefit pay and are paid at a per diem rate for substitute teaching.

A system update to block such payments was arranged as a result of the investigation. Sullivan also recommended the district tighten its controls and try to recover money improperly paid.

So much for governmental role models for kids and taxpayers, eh?  Mayor Rahm Emanuel is not much better than mid-level bureaucrats. From the same article:

The union has also repeatedly blasted the CPS plan for a longer school day, saying officials haven’t sufficiently explained how the extra time would benefit students or how the district would pay for the extra time teachers would be required to work.

The union was further infuriated when Emanuel and Brizard urged schools to break ranks with the union and go ahead with the longer school day on their own. The schools that complied received an extra $150,000 in funding from CPS, and teachers at the schools received $1,250 bonuses and 2 percent raises.

This is a story of deceit, thievery, abuse of position, no budgets, blackmail and coercion.  No wonder the parents have reservations of Emanuel's and Duncan's dream of a community school.  As inadequate the government wants you to believe parents have become, maybe these governmental bureaucrats are even worse for children.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

MN Social Studies Standards Paint a Picture of a Different America

Though there is plenty of discussion occurring regarding the language arts and math standards that have been drafted for Common Core, there is some solace in knowing that at the end of the day a noun is still a noun and 2+2=4.  When it comes to history or, as the progressives have renamed it, social studies, what seems reasonable to teach becomes far less clear. The Common Corers will tell you they are only working on math and language arts, but only a fool would believe there are not people already assigned to develop standards for "social studies" and science.  These are two subjects where it is often difficult to separate fact from ideology.  

We found one state who is working to develop new social studies standards and a professional view of those standards. Marjorie Holsten, an attorney and teacher of the US Constitution for home schooled students and a board member of Education Liberty Watch, reviewed  the third draft of the social studies standards for MN high school students which is now available for a final public comment period. What she found in these standards is staggering and is provided here in its entirety to preserve the thoroughness of her comments.

As an Attorney who has taught Constitutional Law to homeschooled high students at local homeschool co-operatives for a number of years, I was anxious to review the content of Minnesota’s new proposed Social Studies Standards for senior high students.  I hoped to see studies of the founding documents of our nation, including discussions of how the checks and balances our founding fathers drafted were intended to limit the power of government to allow people to fully enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without governmental interference.  I knew I would be disappointed by the content, but was unprepared to have my breath taken away by the amount of historical revisionism, liberal bias, and politically correct indoctrination.  I cannot help but think of the statement of Hans Schemm from the Nazi Teacher’s League who said, “Those who have the youth on their side control the future.’”
The Social Studies Standards have four sections:  U.S. History, World History, Geography, and Economics.  The U.S. History Section is by far the worst and is the only topic covered in this article.
The word “analyze” appears 26 times in the U.S. History Standards, and the word “evaluate” appears four times.  The acts of “analyzing” and “evaluating” require students not only to learn and understand material, but also to make judgments.  When students are given only a limited amount of information, and what they are given is one-sided, any judgment they make will be skewed.  It is inappropriate to require students to do so much analyzing and evaluating under these circumstances.  In contrast, the World History section uses the word “analyze” only 7 times, and uses the word “describe” 36 times. (Obviously there were two different authors, with the author of the U.S. History being far to the left of the author of the World History Section.)
The first section on U.S. History is appropriately titled, “U.S. History – Beginning to 1620.”  1620 was a landmark year in our nation’s history, as that was when Pilgrims in search of religious freedom landed at Plymouth Rock.   Stunningly, the standards make no mention of the Pilgrims.  Instead, attention is focused on people “forced to relocate to the colonies.”  (§  Students are asked to describe the indigenous peoples before European colonization (§, and then “analyze the consequences of early interactions between Europeans and indigenous nations.”  (§  This is followed by a requirement that students analyze the impacts of colonial government on “enslaved populations.”  (§  Students then study “the exploitation of enslaved people” (§, “the development of non-free labor systems,” and “the experiences of enslaved peoples.”  (§  It gets worse.
The next historical section is called “Revolution and the New Nation, 1754 – 1800.”  One would expect students to learn about America’s early leaders and why they gave their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to win independence from the tyranny of Great Britain.  Not so (likely because they are old, dead white men.)  Instead, students “evaluate the impact of the Revolutionary War on individuals, communities, and institutions in North America.”  (§  No mention is made of Britain’s Declaratory Act of 1766, which is considered “the line in the sand” that caused the colonial leaders to consider independence, the concept of taxation without representation, the Boston Tea Party, or other actual and important historical events.
The next section titled “the foundation of the United States government and nation” finally introduces students to our founding documents and specifically names the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (§  No mention is made of “self-evident truths,” or “inalienable rights,” let alone the same being endowed by our creator.  No mention is made of the Articles of Confederation and why they didn’t work, of the founding fathers, or any of the first ten amendments collectively known as the Bill of Rights.  No mention is made of the Constitutional Convention, the ratification conventions, the Federalist Papers, and how we have in existence more than 15,000 original documents and writings from these conventions to facilitate the determination of original intent.  (Surprise – not – there is also no mention of original intent.)  Absent complete and accurate information, students will not be able to accurately “analyze the impact of early documents…on the development of the government of the United States.”  (§
Students then move forward to “Expansion and Reform, 1792 – 1861,” where they study westward movement and resulting conflicts “focusing on the dispossession of indigenous land and the impact on indigenous nations.”  (§  This might be expected in a liberal college class entitled “Indigenous Studies about Evil White Supressionism,” but not in a class to be taught to all public high school students in Minnesota.
Students then skip several major wars, including the Barbery Wars (which is why Thomas Jefferson had a Koran in his library – he wanted to understand the Muslim pirates, contrary to Congressman Keith Ellison’s attempted revisionism that Jefferson had an affinity for Islam), the War of 1812 (during which Francis Scott Keys wrote our national anthem), the War of Texas’ Independence (students will never “Remember the Alamo” if they never learn of it), or the Mexican-American War (where Mexico and the United States agreed on the boundary between the countries).  Students study the Civil War (discussed below), but then skip World War I.  The course should more accurately be called “Select portions of U.S. History.”
The next time period is “Civil War and Reconstruction 1850 – 1877.”  I applaud the commission for having students “analyze the debates over state’s rights, popular sovereignty, and political compromise,” (§  This is followed by an assignment to “describe significant individuals, communities, and institutions instrumental in the Civil War Era” (§, which is the first time students learn about important individuals in our nation’s history.
Students then move to “The Development of an Industrial, Urban, and Global United States, 1870 – 1920.”  This seems appropriate until one sees that students are to “analyze the impact of westward movement on individuals, communities, and institutions,” (§, and then examine America’s imperialism (§  Students then analyze American Indian Policy, and the “impact on indigenous nations” (§, followed by “the establishment of labor unions.”  (§  The liberal bias is very evident, especially in light of the noticeable absence of the concepts of rugged individualism and American exceptionalism.
Students then learn about racial segregation (§, disenfranchisement, growth of racial violence, and the debates about how to achieve freedom and equality.”   (§  This liberal vein continues to flow as students next “evaluate the effectiveness of the political responses to the problems of industrialization, capitalism, urbanization, and political corruption.”  (§  Capitalism is the cornerstone of the freest nation in the world, and the reason immigrants come to America by the millions, both legally and illegally.
Students learn nothing about World War I, and move directly to the Great Depression.  Significant discussion could take place here regarding economic policies that caused and contributed to the great depression and its duration.  Instead, straight out of left field, students “examine the contributions of individuals and communities in relation to the art, literature, and music of the period.”  (§
Students also “analyze how the New Deal addressed the struggles of the Great Depression and how it transformed the role of government.”  (§  There are two opposing schools of thought relating to the New Deal, one of which holds that the unconstitutional government-expanding legislation comprising the “New Deal” prolonged and worsened the depression.  Ample opportunity exists to show that policies that are being implemented today were tried in the past, and failed miserably.  Students need to be able to learn from mistakes of the past.
Students then study World War II.  One would hope that they would learn about the aggression of the Axis forces, culminating in the Pearl Harbor attack that launched America into World War II.  Instead, students discuss “the factors that led to choosing a side for war.”  Choosing a side?  Like our leaders considered joining Hitler in his goal to exterminate the Jewish people?  I don’t think so.  This politically correct but historically questionable discussion of World War II would not be complete without a discussion of “its impact on the role of women and disenfranchised communities in America.”  (§
Students then learn about “Post World War II United States,” which includes a study of “political ideologies,” where students are asked to “explain how these differences contributed to the development of the Cold War.”  (§  Fortunately, students are taught about actions taken by the United States “to resist the spread of Communism.”  (§  (Notably, Hitler also spoke out against Communists – students will not likely learn about the evils and millions of deaths caused by Marxism and totalitarianism.)
Students then move into the Vietnam War era, a highly turbulent time in American history.  Room exists for much mischief in the teaching as students “analyze the cause and effect of the domestic response to the Vietnam War.”  (§
Students them move into the Civil Rights era, complete with a requirement that they “analyze” different movements including African American, Native American, Women, Latino American, and Counter Culture.  (§  Students must also “understand the changes in American Indian policy” and “analyze its impact on indigenous nations.”  (§  My guess would be that there would be inadequate coverage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination based upon sex and race.  I would also surmise that no mention would be made that it was the Republican party that fought for civil rights for all, the Democratic party that fought against such rights, and that civil rights hero Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican.

As a homeschooling parent who evaluates curriculum before I purchase it for my children, I would reject this course in its entirety on the basis of it being inaccurate, incomplete, and biased far to the left.  I encourage everyone reading this to make your voices heard and submit comments here to the Minnesota Department of Education as well as to your legislators (House and Senate) to support the legislation currently in the House Education Finance Omnibus bill (HF 934) that delays the review and implementation of the social studies standards for another year.and requires legislative approval."

See this entire article at  Education Liberty Watch

It may be frustrating that your child struggles with learning math through the latest fad in teaching process, but what will their future be like if this is what they learn about the country they live in?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Sad Tale of Education Reform that Just Creates More Centralized Control

I've been in contact with a fellow traveler on the education reform road and he's sent me a couple of items worth reading.

The first follows up on why your vote does count, as evidenced in Missouri's recent school board elections and razor thin margins for candidates in many townships.  He writes with some dismay, about correspondence he received from his Republican state representative, a "conservative" in the Missouri Legislature:

Here’s the candidate for School Board endorsed by my Republican state representative:

Stephen Johnson: 
   (1) Continue to support student achievement milestones that Francis Howell has accomplished over the past several years to prepare our students for life beyond Francis Howell
   (2) Ensure fiscal responsibility and complete all ongoing construction projects in the district
   (3) Help prepare the public, teachers and students for the new rigor Common Core Standards in learning will present.
GOP: short for Go Proregressives!

How did the election turn out?

Another one for your 'every vote counts tally', from Francis Howell:

Candidates Votes Pct
 3403 27.47% Marty Hodits *
 3020 24.38% Stephen Johnson *
 3048 24.61% Eric Seider
 2916 23.54% Marie Haupt

The least objectionable candidate was Marie Haupt, and while the GOP favorite didn't win, the two who did were all about 'Lets find the most efficient way to indoctrinate skills!' and Common Core enthusiasts.

Maddening. Literally.
Question: When did a "conservative legislator" in Missouri begin supporting educational directives set forth by a progressive federal administration?  But why stop at the state level?
He later sent me this interesting announcement (below) from Freedom Works, another "conservative" organization touting

 "Lower Taxes. Less Government. More Freedom".  

How do current educational reforms accomplish these goals?  Do they increase local/state control of schools (the ability to set curriculum, standards and assessments) and decrease the control and spending of the Federal Government (opt out of federal mandates)?  The answer is "no" to the lessening of federal control and the resumption of local control and autonomy.  Race to the Top mandates abound in these reforms.  It's the DOEd and NCLB on steroids.  My educational traveler writes:
... and in yet another sign that 'Left' and 'Right' are just two sides of the same body, FreedomWorks! is trumpeting:
"A Huge Victory for Kids
On April 4th, after months of hard work, FreedomWorks activists celebrated as the Louisiana State Senate finally passed HB976 and HB974, two bills that mark a historic overhaul of the state’s education system."

The first commenter gets it, 

"How can Freedom Works, a conservative web site support Governor Bobby Jindal’s education plan that is the U.S. Department of Education's "Race to the Top" program? ", but the rest pile on to him for being a union loving, non-christian, democrat supporter.

And another happy, upbeat week begins.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Trangressive Journalism at University of Missouri?

Have you heard of the word "trangressive"?  Here's a definition:

Transgressive may mean:

Journalism was not listed in these descriptions of trangressive practices, probably because journalism was originally taught and centered on reporting the facts.   The female student editor of the University of Missouri student newspaper, The Maneater, wrote a "trangressive" journalistic piece for April Fools Day that wasn't appreciated by many readers.  She used terminology offending certain groups and like the word "teabaggers", she used a word which insinuated sexual practices.  From the editor's mea culpa letter:

Although many parts of this edition were vulgar and offensive, I want to first take the time to explain the masthead. I truly did not know that “carpet eater” is a derogatory term used for a lesbian. Had I known, I would never have even considered using it. I chose the masthead because I thought the pairing of the play on words of “The Maneater” with the sexual innuendo of that term could be funny. I realized there was a sexual connotation in this term, but I did not realize it was derogatory toward the LGBTQ community. Not knowing is not an excuse, however, and I’m sure that if I had brought this to every member of the 24-person editorial board, and made sure that every single person had read it, someone would have known this was a slur. Unfortunately, I did not do this, and my ignorance has harmed other people. I could not be more sorry about this. I’d also like to note that the negative connotation that masthead carries does not reflect the opinion of the editorial board. 

Other derogatory words toward women were also printed in this edition, such as “cunt,” “slut” and “whore.” This was a massive oversight on our part. I allowed these to be printed because my thinking was that, as they were used in a satirical way and mostly as plays on words, the context in which they were used did not speak to women and the treatment of women. My poorly thought out rationale, which I realize now was wrong and potentially dangerous, was that since they were not used in a way that glorifies the mistreatment or objectification of women, they were not offensive. I realize now that these words in and of themselves can contribute to further prejudice, no matter the context. In addition to offending people on a personal level, the April Fool’s issue could detract from the work campus organizations and individuals have done to create a more inclusive campus. These words communicate beliefs that neither The Maneater editorial board nor I believe. Language and context is a false dichotomy, and the language in this edition was not at all acceptable. 

I can't locate a copy of the original April Fools piece but there are several sites reporting on the Maneater publishing a questionable article.  The reader comments from letters to The Maneater's editor are quite interesting.

Jill said:

How many times are we expected to accept apologies from this newspaper? This is at least the third egregiously offensive Maneater publishing that's taken place this semester. (The first two being "Grindr lovin', had me aghast" by Emma Woodhouse, and 'Jane Eyre: Prude 'n' proud" by Claire Landsbaum.) As an MU student I cannot stress enough how sick and tired I am of hearing about what the Maneater's done now. Do you realize that every offensive, insensitive, disgusting thing you print negatively affects the image of our entire university? And our journalism school? If any of you expect to be taken seriously in the world of journalism, I'd advise that you think cautiously about what exactly you've permanently tagged your names to, and remember that future employers, and professors, and classmates, won't forget your names or this garbage you've written. Like a previous comment stated you are not the Onion. You are not the New Yorker, you are not even the Missourian. You are the Maneater. Trying to 'shock' people into reading your paper, writing 'humor' that does not translate, or having to release a letter of apology once a month doesn't bode well to increase the credibility of your product, or of you as individuals. So grow up, knock it off, and remember that you represent our university. 

A different point of view:

Mark said:

The fact that this apology needs to be written is offensive to me. Not because I was displeased by any article in the April Fool's edition, but because no one seems to have a sense of humor or skin thicker than tissue paper. The offense that people have taken to this issue is more disgusting to me than every profanity, slur, vulgarity in the English language. Since I am so outrageously offended by other people's offense, I demand the immediate apology from everyone who claimed to be harmed, because overly-sensitive, self-righteous, sanctimonious umbrage is repulsive to me. Oh wait, that's not how things work. If you're offended by words used purely for humor's sake then your offense is completely manufactured and corresponds to nothing in the real world. Words are not inherently offensive; they are only hateful when they are intended to demean or degrade another person. As anyone with an I.Q. above 14 would be able to tell you, the April Fool's edition clearly did not use the terms maliciously, so any hurt feelings are purely the result of someone looking to be offended. If you think the word choice was childish, immature, or otherwise below the journalistic standards that the Maneater ought to adhere to, then you'll find no argument from me. If you're upset because you think the word "cunt" is always, in every circumstance, in any context whatsoever, unacceptable, then you are incalculably more immature and unprofessional and pathetic than anything contained in the April Fool's edition of the Maneater. Grow up. If you're legally an adult, you should start behaving like one.

Enter "transgressive" journalism 101:

Jordan said:

I applaud the Maneater for owning up when their words caused backlash. However, if you can't take risks at a student paper, then where else can you? I know the April Fools issue offended some, but I don't believe that the writers were trying to be hurtful. Being transgressive is important; especially for our young journalists. (emphasis added)

And to end the comments:

Sara said:

I'm sorry. I understand this is an apology but how are you that unaware that the word "Carpetbagger" was not extremely offensive? It is sad that the people supposed to have the most knowledge of the world and it's culture can be so socially unaware of this. And also unaware that printing the word "cunt" is not satire, and if this was any other journalist they'd be shamed and fired. I understand this was supposed to be a "joke". But really, your priority is to the students you write to first. And you did not humor them, you insulted. The letter to the editor said it perfectly- "This is not journalism."


  • If what The Maneater (apparently is has happened before) writes is NOT journalism, then what is it?
  • Can/should journalism be described or permitted to be "transgressive"? 
  • Why is being "trangressive" important for young journalists?  Is such writing factual or opinion oriented?  
  • Is there any difference today between journalism and satire? 
  • Is there any difference today between journalism and fiction writing?
  • Is it permissible to write derisively about some groups (teabaggers vs carpet eaters) and not others?
  • Are these questions raised in journalism classes not only at the University of Missouri but also nationwide?  

Here is an article on this issue ("How The Maneater Pissed Off Mizzou's Campus...Again") from J-School Buzz, a student-run blog about the Missouri School of Journalism that publishes content without prior review from journalism school faculty.  J-School Buzz describes itself:

JSB Editors operate this blog out of a commitment to keeping this journalism school as one of the best in the world. That commitment is expressed through questions and careful examination, with the hope that this blog will only improve the Missouri School of Journalism. JSB wants this J-School to be known as the kind of place that fosters the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation that is more important now than ever in journalism.

It appears JSB does a better job in journalistic techniques and possesses more journalistic integrity than does the school sponsored and state funded journalistic newspaper, The Maneater: "The student voice of MU since 1955".

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Quahogs, Easter Eggs and The Sunday Education Weekly Reader 04.08.12

Welcome to the Sunday Education Weekly Reader for 04.08.12.  

  • I discovered doyle-scienceteachblogspot.com during the week and it is a great read.  The posting Clamming on Good Friday imparts the lesson for the Easter season (the physical meets the miraculous) and I hope you enjoy it.  This blog is worth reading on a regular basis. It should please readers there is a teacher of this caliber teaching children.  It's a treat in the proverbial Easter basket!

Happy Easter!

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