"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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Friday, July 20, 2012

MEW Presentation On The State of Education In Missouri

Last night we gave a presentation on the state of education in Missouri to a group of concerned motivated citizens. They say you have to pick your battles.  The subject of education is very broad and the system as a whole is very entrenched. We will have to take many bites of this apple to get where we would really like to be. For this presentation we tried to focus on the issues of control and finance and identified actions people could take to address those issues within the our state. See the whole presentation here or on the page link in the side bar of the blog.

Watch this blog for a petition to get Missouri out of Common Core Standards and return control for our curriculum to the state and our local school boards, coming soon.

If you are interested in reading more about the history of how we got where we are in American education, we recommend Charlotte Iserbyt's book in our enrichment area "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Will the ACLU File Suit to Stop Privacy Gathering on Citizens' Physical Traits? Now the Government is Tracking Tattoos.

Will tattoo information appear on student data sets?  If a student has the wrong tattoo on his/her body, it may not bode well if FBI information is shared with the Departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services.  From next.gov:

The FBI is consulting local police and vendors about technology currently in use that can spot crooks and terrorists by interpreting the symbolism of their tattoos, according to government documents. The inquiry follows work already underway at the bureau and Homeland Security Department to add iris and facial recognition services to their respective fingerprint databases.

If tattoo data sets are added with other data to be gathered on public school students such as eye color, voting status, blood type and wage earnings, the government will have a plan on where your human capital will fit into the workforce or if he/she can be labelled a possible terrorist.  Where's the ACLU when you need them?

Privacy implications are only briefly addressed, in the context of policies regarding “what special guidelines will be followed when dealing with tattoos in ‘sensitive’ locations?” and other images that perhaps should not be in public records.

The bureau also wants to learn about vetting pictures, sharing access to the database; and ways for multiple agencies to coordinate on data gathering.  (MEW note: this is similar to DOEd plans to share educational information with various federal agencies and private researchers)

The basic concern of reliability isn't considered:
The request does not discuss the reliability of such systems. Researchers at the University of Notre Dame recently found that iris patterns alter with age and the accuracy of sensors used to capture iris images degrades over time, raising doubts about the use of that single physical trait to confirm identities.

If iris patterns alter with age, wouldn't student data entered based on student maturity and interests (as well as flawed assessments) be skewed as well?   The regulation to allow FERPA to gather invasive personal information from public education students and shared with other federal agencies has not been scrutinized for reliability either.  

Is this data the government so desperately wants for citizen tracking worth the price of liberty for the sake of the government's control of human capital?

Maybe the following information will be entered on your human capital's data set if he/she gets a tattoo and whether he/she is government compliant and a good "fit" for the workforce.  From timesofnews.com and the story of Chinese professional tennis player Li Na:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The President Continues to Divide - This Time The Teachers

The White House just posted this press release on their site about a new corps of Master Teachers for STEM subjects that they are developing (highlights are mine.)
Today, the Obama Administration announced the President’s plan to create a national Science, Math, Technology, and Engineering (STEM) Master Teacher Corps. The STEM Master Teacher Corps will begin in 50 locations across the country, each with 50 exceptional STEM educators. Over the next four years the Corps will expand to include 10,000 of the best STEM teachers in the nation. In joining the STEM Master Teachers Corps, these educators will make a commitment to champion the cause of STEM education in their respective communities, and will receive additional resources to mentor math and science teachers, inspire students, and help their communities grow.
Improving America’s STEM education is one of President Obama’s top priorities.  As he has said repeatedly, efforts to improve STEM education are “going to make more of a difference in determining how well we do as a country than just about anything else that we do here.” A world-class STEM workforce is essential to virtually every goal we have as a nation – whether it’s broadly shared economic prosperity, international competitiveness, a strong national defense, a clean energy future, and longer, healthier, lives for all Americans.   If we want the future to be made in America, we need to redouble our efforts to strengthen and expand our STEM workforce.
The Obama Administration is committed to ensuring America’s students are prepared to succeed in an increasingly competitive economy. To do so, we must make sure effective, capable teachers are guiding our youth in the classroom. By creating a STEM Master Teaching Corps to inspire students, and by giving these educators the necessary resources to teach well, we are investing in America’s future.
In a roundtable today with a group of K-12 math and science teachers at the White House, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz, OSTP Director Dr. John Holdren, and PCAST Co-Chair Dr. Eric Lander announced the proposal, which the Administration will launch with the $1 billion allocated in President Obama’s 2013 budget plan currently before Congress.
At the same time, the Administration also announced the immediate dedication of $100 million from the Teachers Incentive Fund to help schools establish well-defined, attractive career paths in STEM education for teachers who excel. The program will require these highly effective teachers to model STEM instruction for their peers and take on additional responsibilities in their school districts.
Already, 30 school districts across the Nation have expressed interest in competing for this funding to boost their STEM programs.
The President’s proposals build off a carefully considered recommendation from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) to applaud our Nation’s STEM educators, retain talented individuals by incentivizing STEM teaching, and encourage teacher cooperation to improve STEM education across the country.

So, just to be clear, he's creating an elite subset of Master Teachers within the teaching corps who will receive extra money and model their behavior for other teachers in just a few specific subjects that the government has decided are the ONLY things that will save our economy. That should be great for everyone in the history, English, foreign language and arts departments. No money for you. And for everyone already teaching the STEM courses looks like there's one more group you have to join if you don't want to be left behind in the pay scale. It's probably a safe bet that you  get to be one of the 10,000 future Master Teachers only if you teach a certain way and certain ideologies. Anyone else see a great way to keep global warming in the classroom?

The goal is to create a STEM worforce, not to provide worldclass education for kids, and he's seeding this effort with $1 billion, but there is no plan for how such a program will continue to be funded and by whom.

According to the list of attendees at the roundtable, teaching STEM courses is now part of our Domestic Policy. Just as a reminder to everyone, the Domestic Policy Council was started in 1993 by President Clinton and a part of its mission is to  "ensure coordination and communication among the heads of relevant Federal offices and agencies.  Which agencies need to be coordinated?  Here is the list of people who regularly attend DPC meetings.

Director - Cecilia Munoz (Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy)
Deputy Directors- Mark Zuckerman (Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy)

Jonathan Greenblatt (Deputy Assistant to the President and Director Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation)
Joseph R. Biden (Vice President of the United States)

Kathleen Sebelius (Secretary of Health and Human Services)

Janet Napolitano (Secretary of Homeland Security)

Hilda Solis (Secretary of Labor)

Eric Shinseki (Secretary of Veterans Affairs)

Ken Salazar (Secretary of the Interior)

Arne Duncan (Secretary of Education)

Shaun Donovan (Secretary of Housing and Urban Development)

Tom Vilsack (Secretary of Agriculture)

Ray LaHood (Secretary of Transportation)

Gary Locke (Secretary of Commerce)

Steven Chu (Secretary of Energy)

Timothy F. Geithner (Secretary of the Treasury)

Wonder what tasks will fall under the "additional responsibilities" these Master Teachers will be required to take on in their school districts given this list of people who will be overseeing this program?

Can't wait to see the union response to this. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

In Education Reform, We are all Utahns Now.

Their arguments hold true in your state too.  Remember, these standards are "common".

Folks in Utah are making a unified effort to get common core standards overturned in their state.  How standards were implemented in their state is how it happened in Missouri and other states: standards signed onto by the governor, state board of education officials (appointed, not elected officials in MO), superintendents and union representatives.

Did you notice what group of stakeholders was missing?  The voters were never given the option to vote on standards affecting their local schools, districts and their students.  This occurred even as the taxpayers are the ones footing these unfunded mandates...estimated in MO to cost $350 Million.

Utahns are facing the same future as Missourians with these standards because they are common.  States can no longer differentiate themselves and decide on their own standards.  The "common" in common core standards is of utmost importance in a "one-size fits all" education to be adopted in the majority of school districts.

I received the following letter from Utahns Against Common Core.  Citizens from all states should study their site and techniques and start the journey to compel their legislatures to eliminate these untested, unproven, unfunded and unconstitutional mandates.

This letter could be written to any of the State Boards adopting Common Core.  It will give you an idea on how to approach these members and what questions you would like answered.  It is quite astounding that the taxpayers who fund these bureaucrats cannot receive factual documentation on the claims these officials state are true:


Letter to State Education Officials

Alisa Ellis sent this letter to Brenda Hales, other USOE officers, and the State School Board this morning. We wanted to share this with the public and ask that you share this as well. There is a need for a hearing, perhaps in an education committee interim legislative meeting. Questions are not being fully answered by state officials who continue to say we’re wrong but without producing documentation.
Brenda -
I know you and others at the State office are frustrated with our continual fight against Common Core.  This is why I feel it is time we sit down and talk.  As noted after the public forum at Granite district offices by a reporter (loosely quoted) “both sides left further entrenched in their views”.
I have seen the articles and statements put out by you and others at the state office and I have read many, many government documents relating to the Common Core Standards and other educational reform ideals.  From my perspective the documents and the statements  put out by your office do not mesh.
I’ve seen your timeline and also studied the minutes of your meetings.  I’ve studied the minutes from other states and feel that there is a lot of misrepresentation.  I know you feel that I am misinformed but I can assure you I’m more informed than I’ve ever been in my life.
Of course there are some documents and meetings I am not privy too and so I feel it is imperative to sit down with you and Superintendent Shumway and go over all the questions I and other parent’s and citizens have. At a meeting on April 6th with Governor Herbert, he promised to help us set up a meeting with Superintendent Shumway and so I’ve copied his secretary to get that ball rolling if I must.
I would like to see documentation to the statements made by the state office.
I would like to see exactly how you and other’s in UT wrote the Math and ELA standards.  Especially after I listened to the audio of the board meeting where you said they didn’t want us (UT) to send a team to help write the standards because they didn’t want it to turn into a Constitutional convention.  I’d like to see a comparison showing the difference between Common Core State Standards and the Utah Core.  I am very confused as to how UT claims to have written copyrighted standards.  I read in the NCLB waiver that UT cross-walked our standards with Common Core standards.  I’d like you to show me exactly how that was done and like I said show me the differences in the standards.

I’d like to know why members of the board are of the opinion that UT is not bound to any contractual obligations.  We have an approved waiver application to NCLB (contractual obligation) and yet members of the board are of the opinion we can change our standards whenever we want.  Be prepared in the meeting to explain exactly what process this will take when we’ve agreed to the definitions in the document and attached evidence of how we’ll meet the requirements outlined by the Dept. of Ed.
It is not effective to continue this “he said, she said dialogue”.  We must have a meeting.  I recognize it is summer but feel an urgency to sit down and talk with you.
I am available this week.
We do not need to keep down this path of confrontation.  It is not conducive to constructive dialogue.  I have 6 children in the public schools in UT and have no plans of backing down on my questions until I am satisfied that the answers given are backed up by fact and documentation and that this is the best move for our state and our children.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you,
Alisa Ellis

One reader responded to Alisa's letter and her comment holds true for all common core states.  My only addition would be not only did the federal DOE push for these standards and assessments, they were also supported by two private entities unaccountable to taxpayers, the NGA and CCSSO:

I stand behind you Alisa. This should be the start of a public petition for a legislative hearing. 

After all, Common Core was never approved by our representatives in the Utah legislature or brought up in the public forum before it was signed into law and yet it deals with our most precious resource, our children. It never went through the US Congress either and yet the Federal Gov’t is spending billions of tax payer money implementing Common Core. It was pushed only by the Dept of Education, which is an unconstitutional entity run by the questionable Arne Duncan, and Obama’s executive overreach of power, causing the biggest national takeover of education in history. It was approved immediately by our Utah Board of Ed without doing a cost analysis or a trial run anywhere in the nation. Legal documents do not mesh with the USOE’s unproven claims that they continue to publicize.

A legislative hearing would be a great opportunity for BOTH sides to offer up their facts and come to a conclusion which is best for our Utah children. Thank you for standing up with courage and calling Brenda Hales and the USOE on the carpet for their very poor decision making, lack of documented facts and elitist attitude towards the parents, representatives and citizens of this state.


We are all Utahns Against Common Core now.  Take a page from their playbook and start holding these bureaucrats accountable.  Public officials are spending our money and using our children for reforms having little or nothing to do with improving education.  Here is the link of Utahans Against Common Core Standards' petition you could fashion for your particular state:

Based upon the factual evidence documented at www.UtahnsAgainstCommonCore.com I ask the Governor, State Board of Education, and State Superintendent to immediately take the steps necessary to rescind Common Core adoption, SBAC membership, the Race to the Top application, the No Child Left Behind waiver, and all other requirements upon the state that are related to these, and return to the Utah Core standards in use prior to Common Core adoption.

Second, I request the Utah Attorney General in conjunction with the Federalism Subcommittee of the Constitutional Defense Council, to review all documentation related to such applications and contracts as mentioned above to ensure our state sovereignty is held inviolate. I further request that this review of programs, documents, and applications, include an examination to ensure no private or personal information about students is transmitted outside of local schools and districts.

Third, inasmuch as the Utah State Board of Education adopted Common Core State Standards before they were even finalized, failed to perform a cost analysis related to statewide adoption, and failed to hold public meetings where citizens could review the actual standards prior to adoption, I request that a committee be appointed to rewrite Utah’s standards through a well-developed and transparent process that includes numerous public hearings and input from committees that utilizes knowledge-based, academic, clearly worded, grade-level specific, measurable standards from other states as models.

Fourth, give individual schools and districts full local control with the ability to adopt their own high standards, assessments, and research-based curriculum to encourage and allow for greater parental participation in the education system.

Fifth, I request that a committee of legislators and citizens be formed to develop a 5-year plan to get Utah off all federal funding of education, and if the federal government threatens to pull non-education related funding away from the state as we pursue this course, that this knowledge should be made public and fought with the assistance of the state Attorney General.

Sixth, I ask that the state strengthen privacy laws and make sharing of personal student data with any state or federal entity a crime both for the one disseminating and the recipient who requested personal information.

[Your Signature]
You can access more information from the Facebook page:

Monday, July 16, 2012

Man Made Disasters: Arne Duncan as Department of Education Secretary and Common Core Standards

Arne Duncan as DOEd Secretary & Common Core Standards: Man-Made Catastrophes

Unlike hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes, the educational reforms and the current Secretary of Education supporting the reforms are not natural catastrophes.  The standards and Arne Duncan in his current position as Secretary of the DOEd are man-made (legislative and private interest) catastrophes.  The reforms have been crafted through the years to centralize and nationalize education which will allow tracking of students from the cradle through their life to benefit the government, not the student.   Arne Duncan praises these reforms every chance he gets even as they take away power from states and local school districts, and permits governing authority of public schools to private entities.

The below results are from two EdWeek polls rating Arne Duncan's job performance and measuring support of Common Core standards.  Granted it's a small poll and not scientific, but readers who follow this publication have an intense interest in education from many different angles.  

 Arne Duncan is a dismal failure and Common Core is coming under increasing scrutiny.  

Why are local districts and states having to follow this disastrous Secretary of Education's equally disastrous Common Core mandates?  We can't control natural catastrophes but we sure as heck can push back on this man-made disastrous Cabinet appointment and these unproven, untested, unfunded and unconstitutional mandates.


Last week we asked:
“What grade would you give Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s job performance?”
The results were as follows:
A – 3%
B – 3%
C – 6%
D – 16 %
F – 72%
This week we want to know your thoughts on the following question:

As you may know, all states are currently deciding whether or not to adopt the Common Core standards in reading and math.  If adopted, these standards would be used to hold the state’s schools accountable for their performance.  Do you support or oppose the adoption of the Common Core standards in your state?
Do you support or oppose the adoption of the Common Core standards in your state? (Poll Closed) 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday Education Reform Comic Strip that Isn't Funny...and The Sunday Education Weekly Reader 07.15.12..

Featuring a Sunday comic that isn't funny or "for the kids".

Welcome to the Sunday Education Weekly Reader for 07.15.2012.

We are highlighting a cartoon from archcomix.com highlighting education reform issues.  I picked it up from GF Brandenberg's blog:

Instead of attempting to reproduce the entire cartoon here, let me give you the URL so you can look at it.

The art isn't perfect, but it does lay out the issues behind NCLB, RTTT, charter schools, TFA, and so on.

It does address most issues but omits probably the worst "reform" to come out of these plans: the longitudinal data system and the tracking of student/family data so that human "capital" can be groomed to supply workforce needs.

For a good basic discussion about most of the reforms, it's a good read and delves beneath the veneer of school "choice" touted by both liberal and conservative politicians.  Whether or not you agree with all the contentions, the comic hopefully will raise awareness of citizens on who is behind the reforms and why.  The reforms go way beyond "it's for the kids".  An educated citizen should understand where his/her taxpayers dollars are being spent, who is controlling those dollars and who is benefiting from those expenditures.  It might surprise you that tax dollars are headed to "public" education controlled by private corporations unaccountable to those same taxpayers funding the educational reforms.

 It goes beyond just the desire for private corporations to make money in charter schools, however.  Think data capture.  That will yield much more money in the long run than charter schools.

You can access the entire comic here.

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