"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, July 7, 2012

"A More Misleading Article on Education Would be Hard to Write". Money Quote on Ed Reformer Article.

Still waiting for a breeze of common sense in education reform.

It was 108 degrees in St. Louis on Friday.  Our heat wave has been unbearable as it has in many parts of the country.  Intense heat creates short fuses in those who read articles containing education reform talking points rolled out by Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee and Bill Gates.  These talking points are long on spin and short on common sense and fact.

I came across an article about how both candidates should agree on educational reform plans.  It is an example of the spin vs fact model.  If heatstroke wasn't giving me a headache, the article written by Richard Whitmire entitled To the Presidential Contenders: Why Not Agree on Education? certainly would.  The original link I was going to use was from Education Views but trying to access it now gives a 404 error code.  It must have given the editors there a headache as well.  I was able to track in down through the Huffington Post:

When Romney was governor of Massachusetts, that state distinguished itself by dramatically raising standards and making sure more students moved to a richer curriculum. Romney didn’t launch those reforms, but he made sure they enjoyed a steady tailwind. Credit due to Romney.

Obama tacked right with Race to the Top, which offered financial carrots to states that designed real teacher evaluations and opened their doors for innovative charter schools. Defying the wishes of the unions is not easy for a Democratic president. Credit due to Obama.

There is a huge difference about these educational reforms not noted in the article: 

  • Massachusetts state standards were set by Massachusetts.  
  • Race to the Top mandates are federally driven in which teacher evaluations are tied to test scores based on private consortia standards, not state created. 
As to Whitmire praising Obama for standing up to the teachers' unions?

Susan Ohanian writes about how "defying the teachers unions" isn't so difficult for a Democratic president since AFT will be investing $10 Million into the educational reform movement controlled by the educational corporatists.  Apparently the teachers' unions are hitching their stars to the administration's plan.  Obama has union support (since he is a Democrat) and the unions will profit from the corporate takeover of education, just like Rhee and Gates.  That's considered some feat by Obama?

Gee, what does Obama need to do to have the unions not support him? These reforms which have been declared onerous in terms of teacher evaluations don't cause union leadership to blink much.  Read about the NEA's  summer convention in Washington DC and its support of this administration (Republican teachers uneasy at Obama-themed union convention):

NEA leaders have been urging members to hold house parties to educate their friends about why Obama, who addressed the convention Thursday by telephone to thank teachers for their support, deserves a second term. So it wasn't really a surprise that the union showed its support for Obama so overtly at the convention. After all, 72 percent of delegates at last year's NEA convention voted to endorse Obama for re-election -- the earliest the group has ever endorsed in a presidential election cycle. 

Obama supports Race to the Top.  (I hope he is remembered for RTTT as George Bush is for NCLB...not fondly).  Unlike Romney's educational support of state standards, RTTT was devised by the National Governor's Association and the Common Core State Standards Initiative to centralize education and develop a national curriculum.  Think of it as No Child Left Behind on steroids.  It's the expansion of federal control into state and local control of schools.

Several of the Huffington Post readers had the same reaction to Whitmire's article:

A more misleading article on education would be hard to write.
There's some good stuff there. Obviously, higher standards are a good thing. So is less remediation in college.

But then there are some prescriptions for making things worse. You praise RTTT? It's made teacher evaluations less accurate and introduced other impediments to education into schools. Charter schools? They're less effective than traditional public schools. We should be getting rid of the ones we've got, not creating more. Raise teacher quality? Probably not necessary, but we certainly wouldn't manage that with TFA "teachers"; when you allow someone who's only really qualified to be a sub or a classroom aide to pose as a teacher, that represents a LOWERING of standards.

Obama and Romney do seem to agree greatly on public education. Both of them seem eager to degrade or destroy it. And most of your recommendations would be an effective way to go about doing that. 


The main problem in educational policy today is that we're pursuing failed ideas from the past, on steroids:

1) Make kids memorize more faster, call it "rigor," and claim that prepares kids for the 21st century. 2) Use carrots and sticks to push students and teachers, despite ample evidence that this is a second rate approach.

3) Make high-stakes tests the centerpiece of it all, despite its longtime failures.
4) Keep claiming that market-based policies will create widespread excellence in something as complex as education, despite ample evidence to the contrary. Heavens, McDonald's can't even reliably deliver hot and crispy french fries!

Whitmire lauds TFA and charter schools, despite no evidence that either improves learning in real apples-to-apples comparisons. Scale up either approach and quality likely goes down noticeably while further de-stabilizing public education. I posted a longer piece today at EdWeek Online, on why dramatically scaling up charters will hurt more than it helps. The public sector simply does some things better than the private sector does, including educating the masses.

So, what we really need is vigorous disagreement about the continuation of failed policies such as NCLB and RttT.

P.S. When you control for poverty, American kids in 0-10% poverty schools would have been #1 in the world on the 2009 PISA reading test, outperforming all other nations. American schools are actually performing very well, considering the much harsher conditions they face. Thus, there is no reason for radical policy changes. 

(You can read more about Whitmire here and his approval of reformers like Rhee and charter schools).

The jig is up.  Taxpayers are tired of education reform talking points (from both presidential candidates) making little sense, creating more debt for more mandates (RTTT/Common Core) which are worse than the original mandates (NCLB), and requiring the tracking of student/family personal data that has NOTHING to do with education.  I hope this heatwave breaks soon and we can breathe in the air of common sense.  These reforms and less than factual ed reform articles are oppressive just like our current temperatures.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Missing The Point In Carson's Comment

Indiana Representative Andre Carson is receiving heat for his comments regarding education in a May 26th speech. The video has been posted on Breitbart's Big Government site and has received the vitriol of the right lashing out against this statement,
“America will never tap into educational innovation and ingenuity without looking at the model that we have in our madrassas, in our schools, where innovation is encouraged and where the foundation is the koran.”

Given Carson's history with Islam, the is pushback understandable. He converted to Islam in the early 20's under the tutelage of Imam Muhammad Siddeeq who is a former assistant to Louis Farrakhan and also counseled Mike Tyson. Though he tries to distance himself from Nation of Islam leaders like Farrakhan, the remnants of strings can still be seen on him.  Many will recall that he is the one who emphatically claimed that Rep. John Lewis was called the N word 15 times when Obamacare was passed by the House despite a single shred of evidence that that epithet was uttered even once. It is hard to think of such a man as not having his own agenda with the black caucus and certain sympathies towards Islam.

Carson went on in his speech to say,
"And that model that we are pushing in some of our schools meets the multiple needs of students. Most of us are visual learners. Some of us are auditory learners. We learn by hearing. Many of use are kinesthetic learners. We learn by doing, touching, and feeling. I have found, as my wife is a principal and I have a five year old daughter at Salema, that we need an educational model that is current, that meets the need of our students. America must understand that she needs Muslims.”
This last statement should be puzzling to many educators. According to Carson, Islam invented multiplatform teaching and is just dying to share this new innovation with the rest of the American education system.

Congressman Carson's campaign manager, Scott Carr, attempted to clarify the context of Carson's comments, saying he was "refer[ing] to a school model that is focused on addressing the different learning styles that enable success for our children, including the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners that often miss out in a one size fits all pedagogy.  This model is being championed by many public magnet programs, charter schools, and a significant number of faith-based private schools throughout this country – Christian, Jewish, and others.  The Congressman does believe that, like many other faiths, the American Muslim community is fortunate to have schools that follow a model that empowers these learning styles"

Nice try, but he specifically said that we need Muslims, not charter schools or faith based schools in general. He didn't even know that our "current" education model already includes all the things he mentioned. According to his actual statement, all of our teachers who have been teaching material in three of four different styles for over a decade must be secret Muslims. Our teaching universities who have entire courses dedicated to lesson plan modification for alternative learning styles must have developed those courses based on Koranic principles.

The fact is, there is nothing new in Mr. Carson's statement whether it is race baiting or education reform. He is just trying to sweep credit for the work of hundreds of dedicated education professionals for his personal community.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A College Essay Revisited. Humor and Creativity Never Go out of Style.

I picked up this following story on an email thread.   This story has been around since 1935 with different variations.  It has its roots in England as royalty was initially incorporated into the writing assignment. 

The variation on folklore reminds me of the variation on clothing fashions of today.  What's new is old, right?

If you remember wedge shoes and peasant dresses from the 70's, you might just be too old to wear them in 2012.  Body shapes change and what looked good on you when  you were 15 years old just doesn't look or feel the same 30 or 40 years later.  Enjoy those high heels when you are young!  Something happens to your feet as you age.  Maybe a great college essay would be to chronicle the effects of gravity on the human body through the decades.  Or maybe not.  As I exclaimed a few years ago watching aging relatives, "I've seen the future and it's not pretty!"

However, the flirting with passing fashion doesn't hold true with wit or knowledge.  Those attributes remain constant and should be appreciated and studied.   Consider this essay a modern (and American) twist on a humorous story.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day Thoughts

The oppressive heat may quell much of our Independence Day activities this year, but it gives us more time to reflect on the meaning of this holiday.  The wave of government intrusion into our individual lives is now close enough that many of us on the beach front can recognize it for the destructive tsunami that it is. Just like those waves, it is both broad and tall in scope, hitting us across a vast expanse of our everyday lives. It will be no less destructive in its slow steady overwhelming of everything in its path.

A child born into our country now is more likely to grow up believing that they are weak and incapable of achieving the adulthood many of us have known. The story of Julia is said to be their future. They will believe they come from cruel and greedy stock because their school will only teach about the impact of European invasion on the native peoples of the Americas when they learn  about the founding of this country.  If they learn about the religious persecution of the Puritans at all, it will be an abstract discussion.  They will have limited ability to understand a people who were desperate to escape a king and country, whose clergy had been bought by the monarchy, who therefore ruled virtually every aspect of the Puritans' lives.

Though the Puritans had been taught to read and were quite capable of doing it, they were forbidden by law from owning bibles written in English. That would have allowed them to see the holy scripture for themselves and their government knew the danger of allowing them interpret those words themselves. The clergy and King hid this fear under the guise that the people were not smart enough or strong enough to receive the word of God directly and thus needed an intermediary to act on their behalf, to take those confusing words, that spoke about concepts like personal obligation to increase one's talents, and make them understandable. Thus the Puritans were not allowed to practice their faith as they read it in the bible.

Today's child has little understanding of what religious freedom meant to the Puritans. Our children have had religion stripped from their lives. It has become taboo in the public square and the public school. Those who are lucky enough to belong to more devout families are being forced to compartmentalize their religion into some separate area that has little connection to their day to day living.  They live, as Nancy Pelosi said, doing their religion "on Sunday, in church." If they hear the Purtians were not allowed to practice their religion it is easy for today's child to mistakenly envy those children as being free from having to attend church once a week. It sounds more like a reward than a punishment.

To the Puritans, religion was no less necessary for living than food and shelter. It was wholly integrated into their lives. They were truly thankful for the food they managed to scrounge for a meal and bent their heads in honest grateful prayer before they ate it. If they managed to survive the latest onslaught of bacteria or viral infection it surely was by the grace of God. Relief from the elements was a blessing, not something available at the push of a button. Their life, their liberty came from their Creator and their religion was therefore a part of their very existence.

We need only look at sermons by ministers like Jeremiah Wright and other black liberation theologians to see what life could be like under a system where the clergy has all the power to read and interpret the bible for the congregation. And when those who are supposed to be the shepherds of our faith are also compelled to legitimize the  latest government action in their sermons, the distortion of the wisdom of the bible is epic.

Because the Puritans had gotten their hands on and read their bibles, they saw what we being done to their religion. They saw that God was being stripped from their lives and replaced with the King. It would be the same today if we found that our food supply was being tainted by our government with an addictive poison. Their only choice, one that many of them paid for with their lives, was to leave everything they had and knew behind and find a place where they could once again connect with their Creator and be free to practice their religion.

Those were the people who landed at Plymouth. Their spirit was written into our constitution which promised the freedom to practice one's religion without government interference. Yes, later others came who imposed particular religions on those living their particular colony, but the spirit of those first arrivals prevailed and eventually even those proscriptions were done away with.

Today's child is more likely to equate freedom and liberty with permissiveness and anarchy.  Freedom of speech has been interpreted to mean that anyone can say whatever vile, adolescent, or obscene thing pops into their head with (the mistaken notion of) impunity. Freedom to them means the ability to defecate on a police car while squatting in a public square at an Occupy event. Liberty is the release from personal obligation to both take care of and control oneself. Their own President legitimized this belief when he said that our constitution is weak because it did not spell out "what the government must do on your behalf" as if it were patently obvious that we needed some outside entity to do things for us.

Today's child would not have lasted that first winter in Plymouth. Our poorest suffer because they have neither the drive nor the skills to fend for themselves and thus wait out their misery until someone else steps in to help them. If today's child  were lucky enough to live through the cold and starvation, until the seas had settled and Captain Christopher Jones said, "Everyone get back on board, we're going back to England," today's children would be scrambling up the gang planks instead of waving goodbye to the last lifeline to the life they knew from the bay colony shore.

It is time we take a hard look at what we are teaching our children about their country in our public schools. We should stop teaching, as one teacher in southwest Missouri reported, how much the government owes you with a government produced worksheet designed to help students calculate how many entitlements they were qualified for. We should stop teaching that the writers and signers of our Constitution were merely slaving owning, rich deists, whose nail biting heartfelt debates in that hot meeting house in Philadelphia were some sort of amusing sport from Caligula's court.

Like the Puritans desire for the original document of their lives, the bible, we should light a fire in our children's hearts for the original founder's documents, for the true American history that they can read and interpret for themselves. Our academic clergy, who provide their interpretation of the founder's writings in our children's text books, are no different than the clergy of the 17th century. Are our children really as weak and incapable of self learning as they would have us believe? Do we have the strength to leave behind all that we have been taught in public school of our history and seek out the truth ourselves? Whether this country remains the place of liberty the Puritans established or becomes exactly like the oppressive regime they left may depend on our answer.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Career Tracking for Kindergartners. Parody or Fact?

ACT assesses kindergartners for college/career track so they can reach full potential?

Is this from The Onion or fact?

WASHINGTON -- A new digital tool to test academic and behavioral skills will target students starting in kindergarten.

ACT, the organization that developed the ACT college-entrance exam, will start testing the tool in the fall. It will be available to schools starting in 2014.The tool tracks students' career interests, academic performance and progress toward goals. It's designed to follow students from kindergarten through high school.
Jon Erickson, president of ACT's education division, said the goal is to identify and address gaps in skills needed for college and the workforce. The assessment combines traditional testing with teacher-led projects to generate an instant, digital score.

It's a multimillion dollar project, ACT officials said, but will be affordable and easily accessible.

Schools won't be compelled to use the new tool, but Erickson said he anticipates that entire states or groups of states will choose to utilize it. The tool can be customized to include state-specific benchmarks and other performance measures.

This was reported by The Huffington Post,  The Denver Post, and The San Francisco Chronicle.  The articles are identically written so the information must have come from an ACT press release.  Looking at the ACT website I can't find this particular information on kindergartners, however, there is enough for the casual reader to understand the ACT's purpose:

  • from http://www.act.org/
    We're building the first integrated lifelong assessment system so we can help millions reach their full potential.

Lifelong assessments are the longitudinal data systems connecting state educational records (which include personal non-academic information) to various state and federal agencies to track your child and your family.  Think of it as the cookies used in your computer or debit card to track your daily life. Your human capital (kindergarten or first grade...it doesn't matter) is tracked by organizations such as the ACT, Pearson, etc to determine what career your child should follow...and what the government will pay for in your child's schooling.

Read again the last paragraphs from the ACT information supplied to news outlets:

It's a multimillion dollar project, ACT officials said, but will be affordable and easily accessible.
Schools won't be compelled to use the new tool, but Erickson said he anticipates that entire states or groups of states will choose to utilize it. The tool can be customized to include state-specific benchmarks and other performance measures.

Obvious questions:
  • How is a multimillion dollar project affordable and easily accessible?
  • Who is paying for it?  Stimulus money? State budgets? If ACT is paying for it, how much money will it cost for the states to "buy in"?
  • Don't common core standards mandate (rather than 'compel') the use of longitudinal data systems regardless of the cost?
How do you feel about your child being tracked by private companies and this information is supplied to the government?  Is this the main goal of education?

What did kindergarten ago look like 50 years ago?  From The Cooperative Parent:

A very quick post as I continue to read through my school story, as told through my report cards and transcripts.

From the front and back of my kindergarten report card, 1963/64:

Because a child is composed of a body and a soul he is a PERSON. As a PERSON he has special attributes to be developed. These are intellectual and emotional, physical, social, artistic and spiritual. These different aspects of life are not nicely cut off from each other, but inter-penetrate to form one’s complete personality. The best education is that which aims to develop the WHOLE MAN.
We should all make sure that no aspect of the child’s personality is under-developed. (Words in UPPER CASE letters appear as such in the original text)

By providing for your child plenty of sleep—12 hours (7 o’clock bedtime).
  1. By developing habits of regularity (!) and personal cleanliness.
  2. By providing well balanced meals.
  3. By providing clothes, rubbers and galoshes which are easily managed by him in dressing and undressing.
  4. By marking your child’s name on clothes and galoshes.
A pupil is required to bring a note from home explaining absence or lateness.
Punctual and regular attendance is absolutely necessary for progress.

Today taxpayers, parents, students and the workforce need multi-million assessment systems and governmental mandates to ascertain what teachers were empowered to do in kindergarten.

The word "spiritual" is the word that should not be mentioned in today's assessments.  Silly word.  When you are seen as capital for the workforce instead as a human being, being spiritual or nurturing the soul is bothersome, tedious and unnecessary.   Reaching a student's full potential is dictated by ACT assessments, NOT dictated by any immeasurable spiritual depth.  Your worth is measured for the workforce, not for some innate level of spirit.

In 1963 the "Whole man" was to be developed?  Were these educators kidding?  Children today are groomed primarily for the workforce, not for their  intellectual and emotional, physical, social, artistic and spiritual attributes.  Education today is a multi-billion enterprise designed not for personal development, but for business/governmental purposes. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Obamacare and Education Reform Operate Under the Same Basic Principle: The Politics of Dependency

How many politicians will send their children to  public school to learn under Common Core/RTTT mandates?

Education reform has much in common with Obamacare:  Absurdities.
  • Education reform: Governors and state boards of education signed onto Race to the Top and Common Core standards even before they knew what was contained in the mandate and before the standards had been written. 
  • Obamacare: Nancy Pelosi's statement of having to "sign the bill before we know what's in it" should come to mind as malfeasance with taxpayer money.
  • Education reform: The states were promised some funding to implement RTTT/Common Core standards, but none of the awards would fully fund the several millions it would cost to implement these programs. Missouri could have received $250 Million for an estimated cost of a $389 Million implementation cost.  The governor and State Board thought this was a great deal, even though the state cannot afford its basic formula foundation obligation.  The state is $500 Million in the red for the foundation funding.  Just a few months ago, DESE, the governor, State Board and other departments signed onto a $1.6 Billion preschool program...with no federal funding.  Where is the state finding the money to implement this program?   
  • Obamacare: The politicians who voted for the bill did not know how much the Health Care total bill would be, but that didn't stop them from agreeing to unknown debt.  The current cost to implement is estimated to be $2.1 Trillion, even as the country faces a $16 Trillion debt.
Dr. Keith Abelow writes about the mindset Obamacare creates in Americans and he believes it's not healthy.  As you  read about the increasing dependence and inability to live your life because of government restrictions, put it in perspective of education reform.  States, school boards and individual schools no longer have the ability to make decisions on standards, assessments...and even the food offered for students to eat.  These decisions have been co-opted by the Department of Education and the NGA/CCSSI.

The DOEd has become our "parent"...it has decided what, how, who teaches our students and we must pay to further this dependency.  Educational issues, like health issues, must be decided by a centralized agency because we are incapable of making decisions for our own life, much less our own children.  Insert educational reform terms for medical terms and this explains why this "reform" will not empower taxpayers or students.  It just creates more taxes and dependence on the Federal government.

The cost of ObamaCare pales, economically or in terms of quality of care, in my opinion, in comparison to what President Obama's health care law will cost our country, in terms of mindset.

Here's why: The notion of an individual mandate, that is forcing Americans to buy something with their after-tax dollars (or pay a fine), can make citizens see themselves as serfs who actually have no right at all to the money they earn, and keep it only when it suits the federal government.  

Money is a metaphor:  Take away the right to determine what people do with their earned, after-tax income and you will take away their self-confidence, self-determination, creativity and courage to act on their beliefs and their ideas.
An American citizen who willingly allows the federal government to earmark his or her after-tax income and direct it to insurance companies is an American citizen who has decided that the government "knows best."  The federal government is, from that moment forward, (in at least some measure) that citizen's parent, leaving them only with an allowance, consisting of what's left after they buy what their "parents" in Washington tell them to.

Every human being knows in his or her heart that the ability to earn a living and make decisions about the money that flows to him or her is one of the hallmarks of an autonomous life.
An American citizen who willingly allows the federal government to earmark his or her after-tax income and direct it to insurance companies is an American citizen who has decided that the government "knows best."
Children and adolescents dream of the day when they will "have their own money," because they understand that the roots of the monetary/financial system reach deep into sacred notions of individual choice and freedom.  Take that decision-making capacity away from the individual, and you risk slingshotting him or her back to a pre-adolescent stance. You infantilize that person.

Seen this way, the individual mandate is, therefore, another in those forces unleashed by President Obama--along with lots of food stamps and lots of unemployment payments and lots of bailouts--which encourages adult Americans to turn to their government for nurturance, and to become angry at perceived oppressors when they feel unfulfilled. 

If you think that Occupy Wall Street was a spectacle, just wait and see how tens of millions of adult children, who have been told they can't decide how to spend their money, behave when their allowance dries up. 

Seen through this "We the Parents" lens, rather than "We the People," it should be obvious that ObamaCare is a terrifying trap. Under the guise of "helping" and "healing" and "caring" for Americans, it reminds them how vulnerable they are to illness. Under the guise of "fairness," it takes away their financial decision-making capacity.  In true Progressive fashion, it makes people regress and feel as though they don't know best how to manage their health or their affairs.  It renders them weak.

Deep inside, people despise being weak.  It is an affront to their God-given rights to SELF-determination and the pursuit of happiness.  Hence, the stance of federal government as parent that sits so well with President Obama opens the door to depression and all manner of ills (including drug abuse) that afflict those who feel disempowered.

With Egypt in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, with Iran building nuclear weapons and with Europe facing economic calamity, the last thing we need are lessons from Washington in how to be weak individuals. Because courage comes from deep inside, from each adult American in this nation it will, ultimately, be the only thing that stands between us and calamity. The individual mandate of ObamaCare is a virus that could destroy that good psychological DNA.  

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Educational Reform is Slavery and The Sunday Education Weekly Reader 07.01.12

What does increased taxation mean for education "reform"?

The Sunday Education Weekly Reader is reposting two blogs (rather than tweets this week) with serious questions about increased taxation and the results of this governmental power.  

Ponder these questions when thinking about the educational reforms and the increasing centralization of control and power by the Federal government and venture capitalists.   Education centralization is not only the death of individualization for common outcomes, it also includes government mandated, NOT voter approved, tax increases in the cost of common core standards, assessments and implementation.

Are taxpayers slaves to the system?  Should students be subject to a "reform" movement that is not about improving education, but is a movement for centralized power and control?


The central issue of our times:

The power to tax is the power to enslave.

For what are you willing to be a slave?

For what are you willing to enslave others?

Pass it on. Claim it as your own.  

What does this "power to tax" mean in the end?  Will this expansion of control "reform" education?  Remember, education reform is not really about "choice" or entrepreneurship.  These educational "entrepreneurs" are not using their own money for "choice schools".  They are not the "player" in the computer game Empire (below) with a "small limited amount of money to start a settlement".  They are using taxpayer money for their schools that are operating under the same mandates as traditional public schools. 

Their plan, however, is the same as the player in the game...to create a settlement and establish trades from which an economy could be created.  Read any educational venture capitalist company or educational company press announcement.  These companies aren't concerned a bit about what type of education students receive.  They just want a piece of the pie for the services needed.  They are quite content to deliver products required for a centralized and common educational plan.

Arne Duncan's talking points are not about reforming education, they are about making money from a planned educational economy while using tax dollars for this money making scheme.

A Lesson in Taxation…

Some many years ago, during the reign of DOS and Windows 3.1, I actually stooped to purchase a game off the shelf in a computer store.  It was called Empire.

The basic idea was to build a nation from a wilderness.  The play was set in a land region with no facilities at all.  The player had a small limited amount of money to start the settlement.  The plan was to create a settlement and establish trades from which an economy could be created. 

It was a fun game to play.  If the player failed to keep Caesar happy the player wound up as a slave rowing oars in the galley of a Roman ship.  If you managed to keep Caesar happy you were allowed to continue to build your nation.  If you succeeded in building your nation well you were eventually offered the seat of Caesar by a happy population.

One of the lessons I learned from this game was the negative effect of taxation.  During the course of one game it came to the point that I needed to raise cash for improvements and an army for defense.  So, I raised taxes.  The tax revenue actually started decreasing as the population of the nation started decreasing. People were moving out but I did not realize it.  So, I raise taxes again and again.  Finally, riots broke out all over the place in retaliation for the extreme taxes.  The riots had to be quelled and that too cost money, for containment of the people and to rebuild the damage.  I found the best solution to the discontent was to lower the taxes.  As I brought the taxes back in line with the original starting point the population started to increase again, the disturbances ceased and revenues started rising.  I found that by increasing the population through entertainment and trade the economy would produce more tax revenue even though I was not raising taxes.  This became a hugely successful strategy. So successful in fact that I could at certain points lower taxes from the starting point with greater returns as the economy increased in trade.

Yes, it was only a computer game and one might question the basis for economic reality.  None the less, it was a working experience which I never forgot. It was great to reach the level of Caesar.

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