"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 14, 2012

Common Core Standards and Sofas. Slipcovering vs Reupholstering Education.

Can we slipcover or do we need to reupholster education?

We just had our sofa recovered and it looks fabulous. The "bones" of the sofa were good.  It was just the outside fabric that was old and tired and needed to be replaced.  We didn't have to strip the sofa down to its wooden frame and use new stuffing and material for the sofa to be useful.  This analogy of sofa stuffing and slipcovering can be used in reference to the education reform facing the majority of states via Common Core standards and the NCLB/ESEA waivers so "graciously" granted by the Federal government to states agreeing to the Federal guidelines.

Think of common core standards as stuffing in a couch.  Common Core standards replace state standards.  If you lived in a state such as Massachusetts that had exemplary standards, it's as if your stuffing in your very usable couch has been ripped out and replaced with stuffing of lesser quality.  The CCS stuffing has not been tested or even "manufactured" in final form, so it is uncertain whether or not they will "sit well".  This new stuffing will require a significant cost in material and labor for implementation, when the prior stuffing was fine and even superior to the new and "improved" stuffing.

The waivers are stuffing as well.  The NCLB/ESEA mandate stuffing didn't work so what did the Federal Government do?  It just replaced it with other mandated stuffing.  It didn't matter what the states/districts needed for their individual couches, the DOEd instructed them what stuffing to use and how to use the stuffing.  One state may need firm stuffing, one may require softer stuffing.  Not every couch or type of stuffing works for every household, just like a "one size fits all" education doesn't  fits every state, district, or school, much less every student.

Questions.  If 93% of the schools in Missouri were successful, then why has the stuffing (Common Core and waivers) been replaced and mandated for 100% of the schools?  If 7% of the schools were failing, why have ALL the schools been reorganized under unproven, untested and underfunded mandates?  If the vast majority of the schools had good foundations, why are they required to be overhauled?

Why should all couches be stripped and rebuilt because some were broken?  Why should all schools be under the same mandates to ostensibly "fix" the minority of failing schools?

Friday, July 13, 2012

McGhee Needs a Little Education About Education

Mike McGhee has been a Republican Representative in the Missouri legislature in District 122, which is in the middle of the state but closer to the western side than the eastern, for the past eight years.  He is currently running for the Missouri Senate in District 21.  In an article in the Richmond News, McGhee shared his thoughts on education. Of note:
  • He’d rewrite funding directives to take all the money earmarked for education and divide it by the total number of children in Missouri schools. Everybody gets the same,” saying that after criteria is set, the money would be spread out equally “to educate the children.”
  • He considers children the most valuable resource in the state.
  • He believes Missouri teachers are underpaid.
These first three are right out of the progressive handbook and should be a red flag to anyone who calls themselves a conservative.

Dividing the money completely evenly is one way to define "equitable." It is also the way a communist or Reverand Al Sharpton would define equitable distribution. It is extremely simplistic and at its core contains the assumption that money is the problem in education. If that were truly the case, then the children in St. Louis who receive $16k/student, compared to $10-12k for many suburban districts, would not only be getting a better quality education, but would also have the higher test scores to prove it. Neither of those is true. Changing the way the money is divided up will not improve education for anyone in the state, and may very likely decrease the quality of education in some areas.

Anyone who refers to people as human capital or children as a resource is highly suspect. If children are a resource then they are no different than our state's lead supply and can be just as easily exploited. Children are a family's legacy, a spiritual vessel into which they pour their culture and knowledge. The state should be there to help with the transfer of knowledge aspect of child rearing, not take it over for its own purposes.

Teachers salaries in Missouri, in terms of pure dollars, ranks us 41 in the nation. But then, who would expect our salaries to be anywhere near those of teachers in New York or California where the cost of living is so much higher.  If you look at the Teacher Portal's ranking of states on their Comfort Score, Missouri ranks 16. The Comfort Score examines average salaries (both starting and overall) and compares that to the cost of living. Our closest neighbors on the scale rank as follows: Kentucky-15, Nebraska-17, Oklahoma-18, Mississippi-19, Louisiana-20 and Kansas-21. Doesn't make us look so out of line especially considering that their economies are doing better than ours.

McGhee further thinks, 
  • Better schools would entice families to move to Missouri rather than to reject an opportunity because they fear the schools are substandard.
This is one of those political phrases that sounds really good, until you stop to think about it. Families need a job first to be enticed to come to the state. In tough economic times people will not turn down a job because the schools are less than ideal. The census showed that people are moving out of the state to follow the jobs into our neighboring states whose school systems are statistically similar to ours. Right to work, tax changes and tort reform would entice businesses to come here. Like it or not, a great school system is fairly far down on a business's list of considerations when choosing where to locate. People will move where the jobs are and worry about fixing the schools once they get there.

When asked where his interest in education came from, McGhee stated that when he and his siblings graduated from the Kansas City school system, none of them were able to read or write. He believes things are no different today.

He quotes another line right out of the education reform playbook when he says that, "Kids need to be educated first so they can do the jobs when they graduate.” This is birth-to-job training of people for the workforce of tomorrow. It sounds really good to the average parent, because one of their missions in life is to raise children who will be self sufficient and a big part of that means getting a job. But if schools become training grounds for jobs, they will only teach what corporations tell them they want their future workers to know. Why waste time on things like history or the arts? Where in this scenario does the local community get to say what they want their children to learn?

The McGhees live on a farm between Odessa and Bates City where he raises cows and horses.  If school is, as he stated, where you learn your career skills, I wonder which public school in Kansas City taught him to raise farm animals. He also somehow managed to start a business at 22 without having learned to read and write in public school. Maybe he learned some of those skills from his family, or in 4-H or Boy scouts which he is still actively involved in. Somewhere there is a disconnect in his thinking about the role of public education in a person's success in life.

From the rest of the Richmond News article Mr. McGhee sounds like a very nice and caring man. But if you are going to go out and speak about, or worse actively pursue a policy change in, education you need to educate yourself on both the current facts and also history.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Education Reform: The Federal Government just "Can't Stop"

Parker Brothers Game Board or Federal Government's Involvement in Education?

The Jefferson City News Tribune published a thought provoking editorial questioning the federal involvement in education and it elicited a spirited discussion in the comment section:


Why are people in public life so reluctant to admit a mistake?

The question resurfaces with the federal government’s insistence on reauthorizing a sweeping education law that 26 states, so far, have abandoned.

The question also is largely rhetorical. Elected officials fear admitting errors will scuttle re-election. So, instead, they strive to appear perfect, a pretense not consistent with being human.

With regard to the “No Child Left Behind” federal education law — championed by former President George W. Bush — the Obama administration’s reauthoritization effort appears inconsistent.

It is inconsistent with granting waivers to states and with Obama’s across-the-board insistence on blaming Bush.

No Child Left Behind poses two important issues: Is education a federal responsibility and are federal standards the best way to improve academic performance?

The answer to the first question — from a constitutional standpoint — clearly is no. The U.S. Constitution largely is silent on education, in contrast to the Missouri Constitution’s emphasis on providing and funding public education.

As a practical matter, however, Americans have raised concerns about statistics indicating U.S. students are academically inferior to their peers in other countries.

Public concerns attract candidates’ platforms and promises. And — for good or ill — education has been characterized as a national problem in need of federal mandates.

But Obama’s waiver option has been sought by and granted to more than half of the states, with another 10 applications pending.

Now, we get this confusing, convoluted statement from Education Secretary Arne Duncan: “A strong, bipartisan reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act remains the best path forward in education reform, but as 26 states have now demonstrated, our kids can’t wait any longer for Congress to act.”

But our kids haven’t been waiting; the federal law has been in effect for 10 years. And many states want out.

Failure to push for reauthorization, however, might be construed as an admission that the federal government is imperfect.

And we mustn’t have that. 

Following the editorial are comments questioning the Federal government's involvement in education and the amount of control it wields in directing state/local educational policy and state/local school district budgets. One of the last  comments caught my attention and I  believe demonstrates a lack of understanding of the egregious effects of this current education "reform":

Clayton 19 hours, 16 minutes ago

Now, we get this confusing, convoluted opinion from the News Trib. Has every federal responsibility been listed in the constitution? The answer to this question clearly is no.

The only valuable idea in this piece is the second issue mentioned: "are federal standards the best way to improve academic performance?" Then the author proceeds to ignore his/her own question. So what's the point of this opinion peace? A. To complain that politicians don't admit mistakes? (really?) B. To all but claim that NCLB was unconstitutional? (seriously?) C. To add a few sparks to the tinderbox and get readers debating tired issues in the comments thread? (bingo)

A more well written piece would push us to think about solving the core issue, rather than arguing about the constitution.

And we mustn't have that. 

My thoughts?
Clayton writes:  
So what's the point of this opinion peace? .......C. To add a few sparks to the tinderbox and get readers debating tired issues in the comments thread? (bingo)   
If "tired issues" mean:

  • the privatization of public education with no taxpayer accountability, 
  • the lack of power of states to now set their own educational directives, 
  • federal mandates create an establishment of a national longitudinal data base to track children from birth so they can be assessed for workforce needs.....
...then it's not "Bingo".  It's the Parker Brother's federal government version game of Can't Stop.  More onerous mandates coming at states and school districts won't "reform" education in the least. It just feeds the power hungry federal agencies, creates a huge crony capitalist "edreform" market that will bankrupt states and local school districts, violates citizens' right to privacy, keeps federal bureaucrats employed and doesn't educate students.
Clayton continues: 

A more well written piece would push us to think about solving the core issue, rather than arguing about the constitution.

Clayton may have missed the point the editorial was making: the core issue DOES stem from Constitutional discussions.  The states were to educate their citizens, not the Federal government.  When education became a federal entitlement program (one size fits all)  instead of a state's responsibility to its unique citizenry, what you see is the deterioration of serving students.  The autonomy of the state and local districts has been reduced to becoming facilitators of federal policy. 

The core issue is taxpayers can't make decisions for their schools or their children because of  federal mandates that should have never been foisted on states and school districts.  When personal, local, and state decisions are taken away, what do you think is going to happen?  When "educational opportunity" becomes "educational equity" and the goal is "equal outcome", the solution is obvious: have serious discussions on why the DOEd is involved in education in the first place and reduce the federal involvement in education.

Freeman(1990) defines gender equity as the set of behaviors and knowledge that permits educators to recognize inequality in educational opportunities, to carry out specific interventions that constitute equal treatment, and to ensure equal educational outcomes.
Is this the "Bingo" moment?  Is this the core issue?  Shouldn't we be debating the Federal Government's insistence  and continued spending on a mandate (equal outcome) that can never be realized?  Shouldn't we be questioning, as does the News Tribune: Is education a federal responsibility and are federal standards the best way to improve academic performance?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Who's Looking At ObamaCORE?

The people of the Utah Republic have done a great job pulling together the facts about Common Core Standards.  They are asking the questions we at MEW want answered: How is what's happening in American education any different than what's happening with American healthcare? Why aren't more people rising up against what the federal government is doing to education in their state?

We know ObamaCare will Destroy America... Who’s looking at ObamaCORE?
Bill Gates is funding Obama’s takeover of K-12 education and no one is blinking an eye.
• 45 states are implementing ObamaCORE...Obama’s unconstitutional Common Core State Standards for K-12 education which are national (international) standards & assessments created by two assessment companies funded by the 2008 stimulus.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) developed the
United Nations Millennium Declaration. The OECD sits on the Bill Gates-funded Advisory Group to the National Governor’s Association to implement the Common Core State Standards.[1]

Q: Why does it matter that Bill Gates is financing the United Nations Millennium Development Goals?
A: 2 of their 8 goals are Universal Education & Sustainable Development (Agenda 21).
Gate’s money funds the UN’s goals and they’re being implemented in our local K-12 schools right now!
Q: Why did Microsoft (Gates) sign a contract with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 2004? [2]
A: "to remold the entire American system" into "a seamless web that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone," coordinated by "a system of labor market boards at the local, state and federal levels" where curriculum & "job matching" will be handled by counselors "accessing the integrated computer-based program." [3]
Education Secretary Arne Duncan at the Sustainability Education Summit in Sept. 2011 said,
"Today, I promise you that [the Department of Education] will be a committed partner in the national effort to build a more environmentally literate and responsible society... We must advance the sustainability movement through education... Education and sustainability are the keys to our economic future-and our ecological future. [4]
The UN called 2005-2014 the “Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.” [5]
By 2014, their education “standards” will be implemented into K-12 American Education.

See Gates calling for 0% carbon emissions through population control:

PLEASE look into these stories to educate your friends, family and state leaders!

[1]: http://www.achieve.org/BenchmarkingforSuccess
[2]: http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/05/ed-watch/12-2-unesco-gates.htm
[3]: http://mississippipep.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/controversial-author-marc-tucker-to-speak-at-ms-dept-of-education-statewide-forum-sept-14/ [4]: http://www.uspartnership.org/main/view_archive/1
[5]: http://www.unesco.org.uk/education_for_sustainable_development

Many Organizations are Against Common Core including:
· Heritage Foundation · CATO Institute · Pioneer Institute · Friedman Foundation
· American Principles Project · Eagle Forum · Goldwater Institute · Hoover Institute
· Truth in American Education · Conservative Teachers of America · United Women’s Forum 

Compare: U.N. Logo  with U.S. Partnership Logo

 See Agenda 21 for Dummies:
See How Agenda 21 is being implemented in the United States: 

For more information go to: UtahsRepublic.org/common-core 

There is a great timeline for CCCS on their website. We have covered it before on MEW but follow their link if you need a concise refresher.

With Common Core Standards the federal government is telling you what the minimum coverage policy is and that you must buy it, whether you can afford it or not and whether you want it or not. There are companies in the education business, just like there are in insurance,  who are more than  happy to have the federal government mandate more business for them. And just as  insurance coverage does not guarantee you access to medical care (see Canada or the UK), having common core standards does not guarantee your child academic success. Neither program addresses the real problems in these areas, and the cynic in me believes they were never intended to. Where are the rallies and candidate promises to fight Common Core Standards like they promise to fight Obamacare?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Why is Diane Ravitch Ambivalent on Common Core Standards? Am I Missing Something?

Questioning if federal mandates are wise educational reforms? Why the ambivalence?

I don't understand Diane Ravitch's ambivalence on whether to support untested and underfunded common core state standards that will plunge states into millions of dollars of debt.  Am I missing the elephant in the room?

A National curriculum is illegal. The Pioneer white paper Road to a National Curriculum makes this very clear (pg 3).  Common Core standards and Race to the Top bypassed state legislators...and voters.  The standards and assessments are being crafted by private companies, not state educational departments.  The standards and assessment process is partially funded by the federal government.  

The federal government is promoting a national standards and curriculum agenda.  We should not be focusing on whether the standards are "good" or "bad" or need to be "tweaked".  We need to ask why the federal government has been given the power to drive standards and assessments through a process in which it threatened to withhold federal money from states if states did not adopt these standards.

Why should there be any discussion on the standards on their validity as standards?  The conversation should be on their constitutional validity and the stripping of state power to set educational directive and direction for citizens. 


I have neither endorsed nor rejected the Common Core national standards, for one simple reason: They are being rolled out in 45 states without a field trial anywhere. How can I say that I love them or like them or hate them when I don’t know how they will work when they reach the nation’s classrooms?

In 2009, I went to an event sponsored by the Aspen Institute where Dane Linn, one of the project directors for developing the standards, described the process. I asked if they intended to pilot test them, and I did not get a “yes” answer. The standards were released early in 2010. By happenstance, I was invited to the White House to meet with the head of the President’s Domestic Policy Council, the President’s education advisor, and Rahm Emanuel. When asked what I thought of the standards, I suggested that they should be tried out in three or four or five states first, to work out the bugs. They were not interested.

I have worked on state standards in various states. When the standards are written, no one knows how they will work until teachers take them and teach them. When you get feedback from teachers, you find out what works and what doesn’t work. You find out that some content or expectations are in the wrong grade level; some are too hard for that grade, and some are too easy. And some stuff just doesn’t work at all, and you take it out.

The Common Core will be implemented in 45 states without that kind of trial. No one knows if they will raise expectations and achievement, whether they will have no effect, whether they will depress achievement, or whether they will be so rigorous that they increase the achievement gaps.

Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution thinks they won’t matter.

The conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which received large grants from the Gates Foundation to evaluate the standards and has supported them vigorously, estimates that the cost of implementing them will be between $1 billion and $8.3 billion. The conservative Pioneer Institute estimates that the cost of implementation would be about $16 billion, and suggests this figure is a “mid-range” estimate.

The Gates Foundation, lest we forget, paid to develop the standards, paid to evaluate the standards, and is underwriting Pearson’s program to create online courses and resources for the standards, which will be sold by Pearson, for a profit, to schools across the nation.

Of course, every textbook publisher now says that its products are aligned with the Common Core standards, and a bevy of consultants have come out of the woodwork to teach everyone how to teach them.

In these times of austerity, I wonder how much money districts and states have available to implement the standards faithfully. I wonder how much money they will put into professional development. I wonder about the quality of the two new assessments that the U.S. Department of Education laid out $350 million for.

These are things I wonder. But how can I possibly pass judgment until I find out how the standards work in real classrooms with real children and real teachers?


This reminds me of the "we have to pass it to find out what's in it" argument.  It's rather astounding that public education is now regaled to taxpayers paying for standards, assessments and curriculum dictated by private companies, propped up by Federal mandates, and there is even a question of whether to support such a system.

I shouldn't be so surprised.  Since it appears we have become a nation based on the end justifies the means vs a nation based on principle and law, common core standards, longitudinal data systems and the private takeover of public education can be implemented with hardly a whimper from the politicians supposedly charged with upholding the Constitution. 

The readers' comments to the article illustrate this tension.  This comment illustrates one result of this multi-billion dollar unproven, untested and unconstitutional Nancy Pelosi style of "reform":

 in response to dianerav

I have neither endorsed nor rejected the Common Core national standards, for one simple reason: They are being rolled out in 45 states without a field trial anywhere. How can I say that I love them or like them or hate them when I don’t know how they will work when they reach the nation’s [...]

I retired two weeks ago, after 31 years as a public school teacher. I watched my school being infected with the ccss madness this year. It broke my heart.

Monday, July 9, 2012

What School Board Associations Should Be Teaching their Members: They Have Little to No Power in Educational Decisions for their Districts

The actions of most school board members to Federal Control of their schools

The Missouri School Board Association's explanation of its purpose sounds promising.  From the first two paragraphs under "history":

The school board is a unique institution in American culture. It has served to keep schools close to the people as our system of public education has changed over the years. School boards offer citizens from all walks of life the opportunity to determine the community’s direction and vision for their children’s education.

From its very beginning as a state, Missourians have recognized the importance of locally controlled public schools. The Act of 1820, which allowed Missouri to become a state, established the township as the first way of organizing schools. This system led to the creation of many small, autonomous schools governed by local citizens. Then, in 1839, the Geyer Act was passed. This Act is generally recognized as the real beginning of organized education in Missouri. It eliminated the township system and created what were known as sub-districts governed by three trustees. Another sweeping revision of Missouri’s education laws in 1874, gave almost complete control of schools over to local citizens. Among other things, citizens were empowered to elect local school district directors.

from the last paragraph:

School boards remain an essential institution to ensure that local communities are connected to their public schools. Whether large or small, urban, suburban or rural, we’re all striving to provide the best educational opportunities for our young people. And we’re doing it together through the Missouri School Boards’ Association.

It's unfortunate the original intentions for school boards aren't true.

Today's school boards have no autonomy to set standards, assessments and other policies.  These have been taken over by the state, the federal government and the consortias controlling Common Core standards.  The legal authority for local districts to set their own curriculum doesn't have much meaning when the curriculum must follow the standards and assessments.  The proponents of Common core are now touting the standards evolving into a national curriculum.

If your school board members still insist the district can set its own curriculum, that statement is legally true, but the curriculum is being dictated by the standards and assessments.  It's similar to this sentence from MSBA: citizens were empowered to elect local school district directors....what good does it do for citizens to elect district directors who are figureheads?  Symbolic votes don't actually give power to school board members to control educational decisions on behalf of their local taxpayers.  When you are voting for a school district member today, you are voting for them to hire teachers and maintain physical property.  The rest of the decisions have largely been determined by the state or federal level bureaucrats and the school board needs to find the money to pay for these unmandated educational delivery and content decisions.

Excerpted below is an op ed from a Citrus County Florida school board member describing her job as it really is...largely symbolic from a time when local school board members could actually drive the direction of the district, rather than its current configuration of having to pay for state and federal (not local) mandates:

From State Board member Pat Duetschman in Citrus County chronicleonline.com:


The issue for you, the voter and taxpayer, is much more personal. You elected me and four other school board members and a superintendent of schools to determine what is best for students in Citrus County schools. But our hands are now being tied by people who are not accountable to you or any voter of Florida. You should be angry — I am.

The educational reform movement that supports the growing list of mandated tests is led by people who are not elected. Private corporations and foundations are dictating the educational standards — readily adopted by state legislators, most of whom are not educators nor do they seem willing to listen to them. The mission and future of public education has been dramatically changed by their efforts and hinges now 100 percent on test scores.

The rules for testing and scoring in public schools are set by the commissioner of education and a six-member state Board of Education. These people are all political appointees, most holdovers from the Jeb Bush administration. They are accountable to no one except perhaps the governor who has not interceded in their controversial decisions. They are also the ones responsible for the recent debacle of test scores plummeting, changing the passing rates, and now sending letters to parents declaring the lower scores are simply a reflection of new assessment procedures and not a reflection of student performance.

A lot of chest-thumping has gone on recently by those claiming the tests are the sole factor in improvements to student performance and graduation rates. If that were so, all schools in Florida would be performing at the same level. The truth is teaching matters and tests don’t teach. School superintendents and school boards have been the ones to create educational policy, hire the best teachers, provide effective training, develop evaluation and assessment systems to track student performance all year long, and finally to analyze data to set priorities and be accountable for results.

We are also the ones who must deal with the ramifications of the test scores. To undermine those very people who have actually and daily provided the environment and ability for students to thrive is a gross injustice. To give credit to a test for student learning is a deception.

So the question to you, the voters and the taxpayers, is this: Who do you ultimately trust to make the decisions that impact our public schools? Is it the locally elected boards and superintendents who will meet with you face to face, answer your questions, talk with you in the grocery store, lose sleep over our students and be willingly accountable for student performance — or the corporations, big-money contributors and political appointees who may never have stepped foot in a classroom and don’t answer to you? 

This is also the heart of the resolution and efforts by Florida’s school boards to push back against unreasonable mandates that make no sense for our students, are punitive and cause more problems than they solve.
When the Florida commissioner of education, who is appointed, not elected, tells a room full of hundreds of elected school board members to basically stop questioning the testing regime and to do as we are told, something is terribly wrong with the balance of power and I honestly feel is a significant challenge to democracy.


I believe this type of statement will never appear in the Missouri State Board Association (or any state board association's) website FAQs, do you?  Never mind the fact this is geared toward Florida, this board member's experience is similar to any state that adopted Common Core standards.  Remember, the standards and assessments are "common" and a shared experience.  What is happening in Florida is happening in Missouri, is happening in Massachusetts, is happening in Georgia....tweak it here and there (appointed members vs elected members) and you've got the same sad scenario.  

 Refer back to the first sentence on the MSBA's website:

From its very beginning as a state, Missourians have recognized the importance of locally controlled public schools.

Missourians and residents from other states recognize the importance of locally controlled public schools.  The fact is: THEY DON'T EXIST ANY LONGER.

From the last paragraph:

School boards remain an essential institution to ensure that local communities are connected to their public schools.

Local communities are only connected to their public schools (now being directed by private companies) in that they pay for mandated programs they may not need...or want...or can afford.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Will History Common Core Standards Detail How One Man Made a Difference? The Sunday Education Weekly Reader 07.08.12

A Most Important History Lesson for Humanity

Welcome to the Sunday Education Weekly Reader for 07.08.12.

The following video will illustrate the type of individual to whom Nobel Peace Prizes should be awarded.   The incredibly courageous and compassionate acts of Sir Nicholas Winton were not recognized when they occurred.  Five decades later, we are fortunate to have a visual record on the impact of his actions.

Since textbooks will soon be a thing of the past and computers will be used to impart information, this clip should be part of any historical curriculum.  If history common core standards overlook this hero, then states should use their "allowed 15%"in the Common Core guidelines to remember this remarkable man who stood up to hate and totalitarianism and saved children from death.


In December 1938, Nicholas Winton, a 29-year-old London stockbroker, was about to leave for a skiing holiday in Switzerland, when he received a phone call from his friend Martin Blake asking him to cancel his holiday and immediately come to Prague: "I have a most interesting assignment and I need your help. Don't bother bringing your skis." When Winton arrived, he was asked to help in the camps, in which thousands of refugees were living in appalling conditions.

In October 1938, after the ill-fated Munich Agreement between Germany and the Western European powers, the Nazis annexed a large part of western Czechoslovakia, the Sudetenland. Winton was convinced that the German occupation of the rest of the country would soon follow. To him and many others, the outbreak of war seemed inevitable. The news of Kristallnacht, the bloody pogrom (violent attack) against German and Austrian Jews on the nights of November 9 and 10, 1938, had reached Prague. Winton decided to take steps.

"I found out that the children of refugees and other groups of people who were enemies of Hitler weren't being looked after. I decided to try to get permits to Britain for them. I found out that the conditions which were laid down for bringing in a child were chiefly that you had a family that was willing and able to look after the child, and £50, which was quite a large sum of money in those days, that was to be deposited at the Home Office. The situation was heartbreaking. Many of the refugees hadn't the price of a meal. Some of the mothers tried desperately to get money to buy food for themselves and their children. The parents desperately wanted at least to get their children to safety when they couldn't manage to get visas for the whole family. I began to realize what suffering there is when armies start to march."
In terms of his mission, Winton was not thinking in small numbers, but of thousands of children. He was ready to start a mass evacuation.

....After the war, Nicholas Winton didn't tell anyone, not even his wife Grete about his wartime rescue efforts. In 1988, a half century later, Grete found a scrapbook from 1939 in their attic, with all the children's photos, a complete list of names, a few letters from parents of the children to Winton and other documents. She finally learned the whole story. Today the scrapbooks and other papers are held at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, in Israel.

Grete shared the story with Dr. Elisabeth Maxwell, a Holocaust historian and the wife of newspaper magnate Robert Maxwell. Robert Maxwell arranged for his newspaper to publish articles on Winton's amazing deeds. Winton's extraordinary story led to his appearance on Esther Rantzen's BBC television program, That's Life. In the studio, emotions ran high as Winton's "children" introduced themselves and expressed their gratitude to him for saving their lives. Because the program was aired nationwide, many of the rescued children also wrote to him and thanked him. Letters came from all over the world, and new faces still appear at his door, introducing themselves by names that match the documents from 1939.

The rescued children, many now grandparents, still refer to themselves as "Winton's children." Among those saved are the British film director Karel Reisz (The French Lieutenant's Woman, Isadora, and Sweet Dreams), Canadian journalist and news correspondent for CBC, Joe Schlesinger (originally from Slovakia), Lord Alfred Dubs (a former Minister in the Blair Cabinet), Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines (a patron of the arts whose father, Rudolf Fleischmann, saved Thomas Mann from the Nazis), Dagmar Símová (a cousin of the former U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright), Tom Schrecker, (a Reader's Digest manager), Hugo Marom (a famous aviation consultant, and one of the founders of the Israeli Air Force), and Vera Gissing (author of Pearls of Childhood) and coauthor of Nicholas Winton and the Rescued Generation.

Today, Sir Nicholas Winton, age 97 (in 2006), resides at his home in Maidenhead, Great Britain. He still wears a ring given to him by some of the children he saved. It is inscribed with a line from the Talmud, the book of Jewish law. It reads:

"Save one life, save the world."

Czech filmmaker Matej Mináč made a documentary film of Winton's life "Nicholas Winton – The Power of Good" which won the International Emmy Award in 2002. The Gelman Educational Foundation has licensed a DVD of this film for use in educational settings. The DVD and an accompanying Study Guide are available from the foundation. (The Study Guide is also included as a PDF file on the DVD.) To request a copy of the DVD send us the following information: The date(s) on which the screening(s) will take place; who the audience will be; the number of people you are expecting at each screening; and whether or not the audience will be paying. Send the information by email to the Gelman Educational Foundation by clicking here.

Here is a video from www.internationalschoolhistory.net explaining in more detail his effort to save children.  It is amazing to see and hear the feelings of British high school history students as they learn about WWII and Sir Winton's actions:

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