"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, May 5, 2012

Abandoned by Her Parents and once Labeled a High School Dropout, Girl Receives Scholarship from Harvard

'If there is anybody at all who has a dream,' Ms Loggins told WBTV, 'then they can definitely make it happen. There are no excuses. It depends on you and no one else.'

h/t Ann Althouse


Here is more information on Dawn Loggins' journey from shelbystar.com.

Listen to an interview from the reporter who broke the story here.  

Here is a comment on the shelbystar.com site from Dawn's sister via Facebook:

Alexis Sweazy

Also, to add to this story, Dad knows, I wrote him a letter right after she called me and told me. But, I agree with my big sister. My mom didn't contribute to any of this, she was the one that went to Tennessee with Dad and didn't come back until my birthday party, without telling anyone she was staying. It turns out, they were living in a tent in Tennessee, I talked to her maybe once. I've always lived with my dad's parents, so I've had a steady home, but my sister, she's never had that. I kept track of all the times they have moved since I was six years old. 12 times in six years, most of the time I didn't see them once a month even, maybe once every 2 or 3, if I was lucky. As I got older, their homes got worse and worse living conditions. When they were living in one of their houses, Dawn slept in the basement. Christmas eve, the basement started to flood, and Ash had to move all of her things that might get damaged. I said all this to say this. As you can tell from Dawn's story, you can do anything you put your mind to, Dawn has been trying to get that point across to me and Kiley for a while now. When you think you've got it bad, think that other people have it worse. Also think that if Dawn can do this, you can face your everyday life and overcome it. And think of all the blessings you have been given that other people might not have been given.

A Tale of the Two Julias. Which Life do you want for Your Child?

Is this the life envisioned for "Julia"?  Is this what you want for your child?

 The Obama Administration has released "The Life of Julia", the story of the government taking care of "Julia" from cradle to grave.  She has no worries in her educational decisions (they are scripted out due to Race to the Top and Common Core standards), her college is practically paid for, as well as her health and retirement pension.  It's quite a life.  The government has Julia's life all figured out for her.  All she has to do is show up, fit in the blueprint the government has planned for her. 

The Heritage Foundation quickly came out with its own version of Julia's life, "A Better Life for Julia".  Instead of the government controlling and supplying everything for Julia, she learns to be self-sufficient and powerful in her own life.  Heritage also provides rebutting information to the Administration's claims, such as the idea that Julia must enroll in Head Start to be succeed in school:

Despite spending $167 Billion on the Head Start program, a recent government study could find no lasting effects for participants.  

What is the better message to be teaching children?  To be dependent or self-sufficient and free to make their own decisions?  If Julia's life turns out according to this administration's plan, Julia should learn the definition of "proletariat" because that's what she is in the eyes of the government; she's too incompetent to be able to run her own life and be responsible for herself:

proletariatnoun working class, the masses, lower classes, commoners, the herd, wage-earners, lower orders, the common people, hoi polloi, plebs, the rabble, the great unwashed (derogatory), labouring classes, proles (derogatory slang, chiefly Brit.), commonalty a struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat

Follow the hashtag #julia on twitter for thoughts on these two different views of education and life choices (or not) of Julia.  You can access more stories about Julia here via HotAir.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Reader Calls Carpetbagging StudentsFirst Request Asking Missouri Citizens to "Pick up the Phone...Hooey"--Part II

Educational reform in Missouri?

The carpetbagging organization StudentsFirst is pleased with the passage of HB1526 which is now advancing to the Senate.  This bill states teacher performance, not seniority, should govern teacher layoffs.  From the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

JEFFERSON CITY • The Missouri House's Republican leadership pushed through one of its priorities today, passing a bill aimed at ending some job protections for veteran public school teachers.

Under the bill, school districts that have to let teachers go because of falling enrollment or declining revenue could not base layoff decisions on seniority.

A teacher's performance -- including "evidence of increased student achievement" -- would be the most heavily weighted factor in the decision, according to the bill.

Supporters said teachers should be held accountable for their performance.

"This bill's about freedom, it's about empowerment of local school districts, and it's ultimately about whether your children have the chance to succeed," said Majority Leader Tim Jones, R-Eureka.

Rep. Joe Aull, D-Marshall and a former school administrator, viewed the bill as a slap at teachers.

He said Missouri's teacher pay ranks 47th in the nation. Yet by many yardsticks, such as a 10 percent rise in the state's high school graduation rate, Missouri schools are improving, Aull said.

"These statistics tell me that somebody's doing a pretty good job, and that somebody is teachers," he said.

The House had already scaled back the bill, removing provisions that would have set up a teacher evaluation system based in part on student growth, as measured by standardized tests and other means.

StudentsFirst, a California-based national student advocacy group, has been lobbying for the bill and running television ads touting it. The group said it was pleased to see the slimmed-down version advance.

"We have an opportunity here to take a solid step forward on a truly bold educational reform," said Lea Crusey, state director of StudentsFirst.

Lea Crusey, who has no experience in Missouri as a teacher or administrator once again knows what is best for Missouri students.  Does this sound the same as other special interest lobbying groups knowing what is best for students?  This is a fight between the teacher unions and the educational reformers who want to diminish the unions' hold on educational matters.  

Representative Jones talks about the "empowerment of local school districts" to now make decisions.  That's partially true as districts can make this decision based on state action.  What is lost in this discussion is that the local districts still don't have autonomy to make their own decisions for their own schools in terms of how to fire teachers (that's from the state), assessment choices and in practicality, curriculum decisions since the curricula must fit the assessments.   Are these the same legislators that tout "local control"?
The legislature seems content to let the Common Core consortia drive how and what Missouri children learn so why are they so concerned about the control of teacher tenure? Is it because StudentsFirst approves of common core and centralized, nationalized control of education?

Below is another email sent from a reader signed by Ms. Crusey which urged support from Missouri residents on HB 1526.  Note the second paragraph.  Just who should be setting these teacher and principal evaluationsStudentsFirst?  The unions?  The legislature?  The local school district?  Again, does the parent/taxpayer even have a voice in these decisions?

Take note of her third paragraph.  She's as much special interest as the groups she rails on about.  

***see remarks below (Email header):" xxx, can you pick up the phone today?"

Dear xxx,

Missouri's education policies must put student interests above all others -- now is the time to stand up for student-focused education reform.

Missouri legislators are considering a bill that would be a big win for our students. HB 1526 will help make sure that every Missouri student has a great teacher by establishing meaningful teacher and principal evaluations statewide that reflect student learning. It is the right thing to do for our kids.

Unfortunately, special interests are coming out in force in defense of the status quo and are lobbying against this bill. Please take a minute to call your legislator and tell them to vote YES on HB 1526 so that every Missouri child has the benefit of an effective teacher. If you click on the link below, we’ll give you all of the information you need and even connect you to your representative.

Call your representative now!

Meaningful teacher and principal evaluations will enable Missouri to build an excellent teacher workforce by finally recognizing and retaining excellent educators and providing support to those who need improvement. In addition, the legislation being considered will make sure that even when layoffs are unfortunately necessary, the most effective teachers will stay in the classroom. Layoffs will no longer be based solely on seniority but will take teacher quality into account.

Teachers have the most significant impact on student success of any in-school factor. Every Missouri student deserves an excellent teacher. Please make sure your voice is heard -- tell your representative to vote in support of HB 1526 so that Missouri's kids have the best teachers possible:


Thank you for your support at this critical moment.


Lea Crusey
Missouri State Director, StudentsFirst


****From the reader: 

 I'll pick up the phone when StudentFirst actually put students first: first in line to receive blame for not working, first in line to suffer the consequences of consciously rejecting the educational system.  When my kid sits in class and is surrounded by 5 students who shove the worksheet back in the teacher's hand and say, "Don't even bother.  I ain't doin' that sh**" we need to blame those students first and not the teacher for "failing to motivate them."  What a bunch of hooey.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Carpetbagger StudentsFirst Missouri State Director Knows What's Best for Missouri Students--Part I

Are carpetbagging educational reformers coming to your state?

A reader received an email from one of our new national educational lobbying groups in Missouri, Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst organization.  This article from Fast Company details Rhee's vision and method of operation.  Rhee makes it sounds as if the choice of education would be delivered back to the parents, but that's not accurate.  A different set of laws and regulations written by private corporations, organizations and lawmakers will replace those now in place.  It's one set of power brokers taking over another set of power brokers with the taxpayer/parent looking on from the outside.

StudentsFirst, a private organization, is attempting to determine and drive legislation that it believes is "best for children" in Missouri and other states.  A one-size fits all educational system, whether it be teacher tenure, charters, standards, assessments...should be implemented in all states.  Think of it as a centralized, national plan for children, taxpayers and local school districts.  It's not "choice".  It's an identical plan for every child, every taxpayer, every teacher/administrator in every state.  Taxpayers are funding these decisions made by lobbying groups and implemented by state legislators.  The lobbyists are determining through legislative process how educational decisions should be made and how education is delivered with taxpayer funding.

When children are viewed as human capital and the main purpose of education is to provide human capital for a successful global economy, it would make sense that the Missouri State Director from StudentsFirst who isn't from Missouri, doesn't live in Missouri or even works in Missouri can make statements that she knows what Missouri students, parents, teachers and administrators need.  When you have a centralized system, individualistic and regional differences don't exist. Cogs in the system must be the same and treated as such.

Lea Crusey, Missouri State Director of StudentsFirst, signed her name to the letter below.  Who is Lea Crusey?  From LinkedIn:

Lea Crusey

Education reform advocate
Sacramento, California
Public Policy
  • University of Chicago
  • Claremont McKenna College
  • Princeton High School
She was a former TFA member, Research assistant the the Center for Race Politics and Culture, CTA project manager and President of KIPP schools. Most recently she was working to get rid of cars in downtown Chicago.  Does this background make her uniquely qualified to speak about what Missouri needs in education?  She was in Missouri recently testifying in favor of charter schools, but other than that, there is no evidence of any long term connection to Missouri in terms of employment or residence.

The education reform carpetbaggers are taking over education and using taxpayer money and children for their agenda.

From a StudentsFirst email to a Missouri resident:


Dear xxxx,

Research shows that the teacher in front of the classroom has the largest impact on student success of any in-school factor. That's why every Missouri student deserves great teacher.

The problem is that current bureaucratic policies and outdated systems do not support the development of an excellent teaching force. In fact, they get in the way. Effective teachers are not recognized for their impact on student learning and struggling teachers are not given the support they need to improve. But we have a chance to change that this year.

Missouri legislators are considering a bill right now which would establish a teacher and principal evaluation system that would reflect student learning and value all the different ways teachers support learning in their classrooms and schools. Missouri's teachers would finally get meaningful feedback about their performance and receive professional development tailored to their specific needs. And principals would be held accountable for student results. The Missouri House will vote on the bill this week and the Senate vote will soon follow.

Please ask your legislators to support meaningful evaluation for Missouri's educators!

Teacher evaluation should be based on multiple factors including student achievement growth, principal observations, and more. Principals should be evaluated based on student learning and their ability to recruit and develop an excellent teaching force. The legislation being considered does just that.

Most importantly, this teacher and principal evaluation system will result in a more effective teaching force. This is what Missouri's students need so they have the best possible teachers and the best chance at success. Please tell your legislators to pass HB1526!


Thank you for your continued efforts to make sure every Missouri student gets a quality education. I’ll be in touch again soon.


We'll have more email requests from Ms. Crusey tomorrow.  She has more advice for us in Missouri on what we need in our schools.

carpetbagger [ˈkɑːpɪtˌbægə]
1. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) a politician who seeks public office in a locality where he has no real connections
2. (Business / Insurance) (Economics, Accounting & Finance / Banking & Finance) Brit a person who makes a short-term investment in a mutual savings or life-assurance organization in order to benefit from free shares issued following the organization's conversion to a public limited company
3. (Historical Terms) US a Northern White who went to the South after the Civil War to profit from Reconstruction
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Turner Decision Sends MO Legislators Back To the Drawing Board

In an unusual ruling yesterday judge David Lee Vincent III ruled in favor of the Clayton School District saying that students did not have the right to transfer to accredited districts for free. The ruling hinges on the last two words in that sentence. Judge Vincent said that the Hancock Amendment, which prevents the state from creating unfunded mandates, makes it impossible for school districts to comply with the student transfer law (which had already been ruled valid in previous court cases)  because it places a financial burden on receiving school districts. If schools were forced to comply, Vincent wrote in his 16-page decision, it “would overwhelm area school resources to the extent of adversely impacting local districts. To no ones surprise, it all boils down to the money.

Judge Vincent had heard one of these cases before. He ruled in favor of the school districts in 2008, but the state's high court overturned his ruling two years later and sent the case back to him for trial.  Some definitive legal argument had to be made, because the list of unaccredited school districts is growing. St. Louis city schools were first, followed by Riverview Gardens and Kansas City school districts.  The legislature has been working on legislation to address the problem, like allowing adjacent districts to annex unaccredited schools which was being considered in Kansas City. They also were working on a possible business tax credit option that would allow some of the public school students to go to private schools on scholarships paid for by local businesses.

Yesterday's ruling provides more scaffolding upon which to build a solution, but the full answer is still as clear as soup.

There are now stronger calls for the complete dismantling of the KCSD which has been deemed incompetent. But St Louis is under the governance of a three-member Special Administrative Board (SAB), which has a member appointed by the Governor, one by the Mayor of St. Louis and one by the President of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, and those hand picked individuals did not save St. Louis schools from unaccreditation. 

Watch for the next rallying cry to have school districts turned over to mayoral control. Mayoral control of school district matters is not unique. New York City, Boston, Cleveland and Washington, D.C., are among the cities giving ultimate responsibility for their schools to their mayors.  

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson has chosen Breakthrough Charter Schools as his ticket out of poor city schools. D.C. Mayor Gray has developed the public charter school board and committed an additional $25.7 million to help those schools next year. The D.C. Public Charter School Board currently oversees 52 public charter schools on 93 campuses serving more than 29,000 students living in every ward of the city.  Public charter schools now serve approximately 39% of all public school students in Washington, D.C.

Mayor Bloomberg has pushed for increasing the number of charter schools in NYC for years. Most recently he pushed for, and got, teacher ratings to be made public, including ratings of 217 charter school teachers. [In a weird twist, one of the purported benefits of charter schools is their high teacher turn over. This is supposed to indicate a more efficient system that identifies bad teachers earlier and gets rid of them faster than public schools.]

Given this history with mayoral control, in our current education reform environment, it is not unreasonable to see people lobbying to give KC and STL mayors governance over their school districts. And when that happens, look for a push for charter schools in both cities. We will be watching to see which hedge fund managers, entrepreneurs or wealthy capitalists are salivating at the cities' borders waiting for their chance to meet with the mayor to get their charters open.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Good Life does NOT include Common Core Standards

This is a perfect post explaining why common core standards are not in the interest of students.  Common Core standards are to prepare students to promote the global economy; it's not for the education of the student as a person to develop his/her innate talents and gifts.  Remember, students are "capital", not "human beings".

Send this post to your local and State Board of Education:

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The good life

We have never worked harder and have never enjoyed work more, because, with rare exceptions, the work was significant, self-directed, constructive and therefore interesting. 
Helen and Scott Nearing  
Grown by a student in B362.
Our children are not working for themselves. They are working for the global economy, for corporations, for efficiency, for tests scores.

This is not an idle thought. Our Secretary of Education has stated that the purpose of art in school is to promote the global economy.

Money is indeed a powerful thing. In our culture money gets you food without dirt, water without lifting, a roof without hammering.Science and art are pushed by Mr. Duncan because they contribute to the global economy.

If I'm a kid, this is what I am hearing: the only kind of work that matters is the kind that makes money, usually more for someone else than yourself. We're asking them to do things in school so that they can "compete" in a "global economy"--what does that even mean?

You know what my students are most proud of in school? The kind of pride that has a kid come to me before class and say "Look at this!"?
  • A shirt designed, cut, and sewn by her own hands.
  • A cookie mixed and cooked by his.
  • A silly riff on a ukelele composed while meandering between classes.
  • A simple paper certificate for winning a drama competition.
  • A carrot grown in class.
 Significant. Self-directed. Constructive.

My students are younger than the idea of a global economy. They're still genetically human, and they behave, for the moment, as humans have for thousands of years.

Learning about levers back in '75

How much longer will we keep trying to tear the human out of them?
Do you remember our posting on the young girl being tutored on her math facts and the last sentence she uttered in the youtube video?  Does she say this because she wants to be "globally competitive"  or is it because she feels competent and proud?  Is she exhibiting pride because she wants to be a cog in the economy or because of her human emotion of accomplishment?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Educational Tidbits about Israel, Politicians and School Lovers in the Sunday Education Weekly Reader 04.29.12

Welcome to the Sunday Education Weekly Reader for 04.29.12.

From Israel and Lessons from Abroad:

"There is an urgent need to ‘restart’ the concept of education, to re-examine the connection between scholastic scores and the school culture. It is time to go back to the basics — to educational environments motivated by human values, not comparisons and numbers, but rather to healthy ‘sanctuaries’ for children and youth."
Chaim Peri, Israeli author of “Teenagers Educated the Village Way.”

We probably won't see that here in the United States.  Arne Duncan believes everything is data driven.  He's decided we need be "global".  Forget about the "village".  And basing education on human values?  Wishful thinking that probably won't happen in public education under the current administration's plan.

What does education have to do with human values in the global scheme of the workforce?  Students are human capital, remember.  Human capital is important only for what it can produce for the workforce, not for any human morality it will bring to the workforce.

If educational bureaucrats behaved like politicians, this is what our public schools would look like...wait, do they already?  Is Arne Duncan the same as a politician?  He's setting policy and enacting regulations.  Sounds like a politician to me. From Growls:

If Politicians Set the Standard for Honesty

At the Independent Institute’s blog, The Beacon, on Friday, Robert Higgs set about wondering what life would be like “if politicians’ honesty set the standard for others.” Several of the examples included:
  • If engineers were no more honest than the typical politician, all of the bridges would fall down.
  • If accountants were no more honest than the typical politician, every firm would go bankrupt.
  • If carpenters were no more honest than the typical politician, every house would collapse.
  • If electricians were no more honest than the typical politician, we would all be electrocuted.
The bottom line for Mr. Higgs?
“So, the questions naturally arise: Why does anyone place any confidence in anything a politician says? Why does anyone expect anything but deception and predation from these dishonest reprobates? Why does anyone seek social improvement or economic salvation from the programs these ne’er-do-wells devise and implement? Why, indeed, do people continue to tolerate politics at all? (This last question presupposes, of course, that those who wish to use the political process to commit a de facto crime—that is, an act that, if committed privately, would be seen as plainly criminal—will be entirely in favor of politics because using the government as their agent-perpetrator offers a way to legalize their crimes. My question pertains to the noncriminal element of the population.)” (emphasis added)
Dallas Weaver then adds his comment: “We tolerate it because they are masters at diversion and we can’t see what they are doing. We see this in spades with the present diversion on the wealthy and the Buffet rule game that would have zip impact on the budget deficit.”

Thank you, Bob Higgs!

It's a bit like the smoke and mirrors present in pushing Common Core (they are NOT state led) and other RTTT type mandates that have little or nothing to do with authentic educational reform.


Where, oh where, have all the role models gone?

The principal and secretary of a charter school are video taped on a student's cell phone being intimate with one another while school is in session...in a classroom...in this report from abc15.com in Quartsize, Arizona:

This youtube video contains remarks from students and parents regarding the educators' behavior.   The student videographer may have a future in covert operations.
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