"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, August 4, 2012

Chinese Olympian's Father Could Be An American Dad Some Day

The story of Chinese diver Wu Minxia, who was not told of her grandparents' death or her mother's breast cancer until after she won the gold medal in this year's Olympics, revealed a truth about Chinese culture and its attitude towards children. The Vancouver Sun reported that the athlete's father  Wu Jeuming said,
"We even kept the news that her grandparents died from her. When grandma died, [Wu] seemed almost like she had a premonition, and she called us asking if she was okay. We had to lie; we told her, 'everything's okay.'"
"It's been like this for so many years. We long ago realized that our daughter doesn't belong to us completely. Enjoying the company of family? I don't think about it. I don't dare think about it."
Minxia started swimming at age 6 and joined the nation's Project 119 which specifically seeks to identify children as young as 5 to train to be Olympic athletes.  By 16 she had moved away from her family to a training compound where the work was intense. The goal - to glorify the state by winning Olympic gold.  It is no secret that the Chinese officials have only contacted the gold medal winners to congratulate them. The rest, the silver and bronze winners, have not lived up to the state's investment in them and deserve no attention.

Dr. Keith Ablow, a licensed psychiatrist and FOX contributor, commented on this sad story stating that we Americans were lucky we didn't live in a society that believed our children belong to the state.

Not yet, Dr. Ablow, but soon they may be. The writing is on the wall.

At a recent DESE conference, this presentation was made on the state's Early Learning Campaign.  Page 2 of the presentation said bluntly,

We must EDUCATE, GRADUATE, TRAIN every potential child born in Missouri to ensure the workforce needed in Missouri to attract companies.
Our own state has referred repeatedly to our children as human capital. Here they come right out and say something that could be in the Chinese Project 119 mission statement. The goal is to train children to be the capital needed to attract business to the state. Your child is bait.

Where are the pro-lifers on this issue? The statement refers to every "potential" child born in MO.  They are looking at the unborn and they are making a claim on them before they are born. Once they are born they will be tool of the state, not a spiritual being or a sacred life. You cannot be pro-life AND accept this view of children entering the world.

Page three might well have been written by Karl Marx.

High-quality early childhood programs allow parents to go to work confident their children are in safe, nurturing environments.
Your job, parents, is to go to work. The state will provide daycare. You provide the raw materials for its needs.

The state says it is investing in education. Actually it is investing in human capital. They have reduced humans to the equivalence of iron ore or factories. Decisions about education will be based on return on investment, not parent or student satisfaction with the education delivered.

Read through the rest of the presentation, if you can stomach it. However well intentioned at reducing the "achievement gap," the state is going to force these programs on parents and infants because, economist Dr. James Heckman says, "Investing $6,000 per child [in an intensive 2 year early childhood program for infants and toddlers] has a “lifetime societal benefit” of up to $69,000. A ROI greater than 10:1." Isn't that great? 

Watch for the catch phrase "Now For Later" cropping up in newspapers, banner ads on the web, business journals and direct mailers and remember it stands for  (investing Now For a productive workforce Later)

The presentation, given to DESE on July 29-31, was presented by Tom Rose, Columbia Board of Education and George Lombardi, Missouri Department of Corrections.  Would it be fair to say that the state only sees two paths for children, school or prison? Either way, they are laying a claim on your children. Someone needs to tell Dr. Ablow.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The New Hybrid Public/Private Education - Coming Soon To Your School

Remember when everyone was all upset that the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was going to require people to purchase something just to be considered a citizen in good standing?  But then the Supreme Court reassured us that it wasn't a criminal matter if we didn't purchase health insurance, because it was just a tax.  Citizens would just be fined. However,  the IRS has been named as the enforcement agency for the healthcare bill, and according to section 7201 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), it is a federal crime for anyone to willfully attempt to evade or defeat the payment of federal taxes. The IRS has the authority to incarcerate anyone found guilty of tax evasion. So how is it an honest statement that failure to comply with the terms of the PPACA will not result in criminal incarceration?

Why am I talking about health care in an education blog?  PPACA, like Freddie Mac and Sallie Mae sets up a hybrid public/private entity which ties people to government while enriching private businesses. If you want a home, your mortgage is ultimately going to be owned by the government through Freddie Mac. If you want a student loan, the pressure has been applied to send you into the arms of government supplied student loans (which are a great investment for Uncle Sam since they can never be forgiven.) The government is forcing you into a businesses relationship with private insurers with PPACA. They have already stated that their end goal is a single payer system, but those private insurers know that the government will contract with them to manage that system so they will end up with guaranteed business no matter what.  The reason this topic is here is because they are setting up the same scenario in education.

Stephanie Simon of Reuters attended a gathering of investors in Manhattan, and the business sector they were looking to invest in is education. The conference was billed as a how-to on "private equity investing in for-profit education companies," and was attended by about 100 hedge fund managers, venture capitalists, and education vendors.
"You start to see entire ecosystems of investment opportunity lining up," said Lytle, a partner at The Parthenon Group, a Boston consulting firm. "It could get really, really big."
...The entire education sector, including college and mid-career training, represents nearly 9 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, more than the energy or technology sectors.
...Traditionally, public education has been a tough market for private firms to break into -- fraught with politics, tangled in bureaucracy and fragmented into tens of thousands of individual schools and school districts from coast to coast.
Now investors are signaling optimism that a golden moment has arrived. They're pouring private equity and venture capital into scores of companies that aim to profit by taking over broad swaths of public education.
And government is pushing for them to be able to do that. From education reform advocates pushing for the expansion of charter schools, to Teach For America creating its own shorthand education degree course collecting money both from government and students to pay for their business, to the coming explosion of on-line learning, there are so many profit avenues into public education.
The goal: an education revolution in which public schools outsource to private vendors such critical tasks as teaching math, educating disabled students, even writing report cards, said Michael Moe, the founder of GSV ( an investment firm in Chicago that specializes in education.)
Back to the question of why talk about the health care situation in an education blog. Just like you are required now by the government to purchase something from a private company for health, you will be required to pay a private business (through your taxes if not directly) to comply with the government mandate that your child be educated.  You must send your child to school. Homeschool parents know this all too well as many of them are harassed by school officials and local police for being unfit parents who fail to do the right thing and send their kids to public school. Unless you are strong enough to do the work of educating your child yourself and put up with push back like this, you have no choice but to send your child to public school. Now that the job of that  public school is being outsourced to private business, you are in essence required to participate in a private business contract not of your choosing.  If you don't, and the PPACA is the legal precedent, you might be subject to incarceration.

I have no problem if a charter school wants to come in and try to do a better job educating children. But in the current environment of regulation, they will only be able to provide the regular public school education in a different building. I have no problem if a company wants to create educational modules to help teach a subject. But if the government is going to have the authority to either bless that method or not, regulating whether the module fulfills the governments requirements, then we will not have the free market operating.  We will have the continuation of government control over education and government selection of winners and losers in the private sector. We will have yet another pubic/private hybrid on our hands that is the worst of both worlds.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

StudentsFirst, the Full Court Press (Arne Duncan would be Proud) and Olympic Videos in Missouri.

StudentsFirst practicing Arne Duncan's love of basketball moves.

StudentsFirst's full court press has started in Missouri.  We've gotten 2 new lobbyists for the organization (one is from the national office), Lea Crusey lets us know which Missouri politicians support RTTT-like mandates  and we now have a video from the organization with an Olympic theme of American students falling behind in educational competition with other countries.

We are somewhat behind the curve of some folks in getting this video.  It hit the national circuit last week and it has not been a critical success with many bloggers, educators and writers.  They take Ms. Rhee and her organization to task for this video. From Rheefirst:

StudentsFirst ‘Olympic’ ad reaction roundup

The coverage wasn’t all bad, however.  RedState loved it.

Below is StudentsFirst email about American students falling behind other countries.  Read it and determine what you think about the video.  One bit of information about international testing that just might skew Studentsfirst's message is that the US educational systems test every public education students, including special education students.  Other countries don't test all their students so these test results might not be "apples to apples".  Here's another thought: if American students are "falling behind", maybe this is because of the onerous federal mandates districts and teachers must adhere to...and what does "education reform" of the Obama administration and private organizations do?  Just creates MORE mandates via Common Core/RTTT. 

 StudentsFirst should make a video pointing out that fact instead of placing all the blame on teachers and public schools.  They can't possibly succeed with unattainable standards and mandates.  Was nothing learned from the failure of NCLB?  Apparently not.  It's just easier to blame the teachers and schools that have to teach under goals that can never be reached:


No bronze, no silver, and certainly no gold.

The London Olympics are well underway and, while our athletes are putting on an incredible performance, the U.S. continues to fall behind in a far more important competition: our children's education. We can do better than this.

While our teachers and students are working incredibly hard, the U.S. education system has failed to give them the support they need to succeed. The sad thing is, we know what it takes to improve things, but we just aren't doing it.

Let me give you an idea of how badly we're doing. If our education system jumped into a pommel horse routine ... well, let's just say it wouldn't look too pretty:

That's right: 25th place in math and 17th in science.

If the U.S. education system is ever going to go for gold we need to shape up. Your involvement is helping StudentsFirst bring common sense reforms to states across the country, but we need your voice to help us spread the word.

See how U.S. education stacks up and share our latest video with your friends and family now:


Thanks you for all you do -- keep it up.

Hari Sevugan
Vice President of Communications

P.S. Learn more about how we can make change in a new op-ed written by Michelle Rhee in USA Today: http://ow.ly/cE5lT

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Who Is StudentsFirst Backing in the MO Elections?

This arrived in our mailbox this week from StudentsFirst.

We are pleased to announce our endorsements for the 2012 Missouri Primary Elections for elected offices in the State's General Assembly. The endorsed candidates below have been selected based upon their responses to a questionnaire on education policies and, if incumbents, their record of support for common sense education reform efforts. All those endorsed have clearly demonstrated their commitment to improving education for all children in Missouri.
           [Note: SF's letter did not identify party, but we have added it to show that this is not limited to one party.]

  • Representative Steve Webb (D) - 67th House DistrictRep. Webb's leadership as Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus has been vital to the advancement of education reform discourse, as well as passing of education reform legislation, in Missouri.
  • Representative Jamilah Nasheed (D) – 5th Senate District  Representative Jamilah Nasheed plans to bring her experiences from the State House to the State Senate this coming year. As Chair of the Urban Issues Committee, Rep. Nasheed is highly qualified to tackle the problems facing students in urban school districts.
  • Representative Chrissy Sommer (R) – 106th House District Parents are among the most critical stakeholders in education. As the former President of the Harvest Ridge PTO, Rep. Chrissy Sommer has firsthand experience in working with schools to improve outcomes for students.
  • Sarah Gillooly (D) – 24th House District Sarah Gillooly is a community activist who has spent her career advocating for the most vulnerable members of society. If elected, she will carry that passion with her to the State House.
  • John Sellars (R) – 134th House District Throughout his career, John Sellars has held various management positions that have taught him how to be an effective leader. As a substitute teacher and spouse of a a long time schoolteacher, he brings a practitioner's perspective to the challenges currently facing Missouri's school system.
  • Representative Bill Lant (R) – 159th House District Representative Bill Lant is a former school board member with a deep understanding of the problems currently facing Missouri's schools.
  • Representative Sylvester Taylor (D) – 75th House District Rep. Taylor has been a strong proponent of what is best for kids in his district. If reelected, he will advocate for changes that will improve outcomes for students not only across his district, but also across Missouri.
  • Derrick Good (R) – 111th House District  Derrick Good is a practicing attorney who is familiar with the intricacies of the law. If elected, he will work to prioritize education reform legislation that provides teachers with meaningful feedback on their teaching performance.
  • Eugene Dokes (R) – 70th House District As a former member of the Navy and a businessman, Dr. Dokes understands the meaning of responsibility and public service and will work to ensure that Missouri's children are adequately prepared to compete in the 21st Century.
  • Representative Penny Hubbard (D) – 78th House District  Representative Penny Hubbard has been one of the strongest Democratic voices for education reform that puts the student at the center of every decision in the State House. If reelected, she will continue to be a supporter of improving schools both in St. Louis as well as across Missouri.
  • Representative Kevin Elmer (R) – 139th House District  Representative Kevin Elmer has a great track record of prioritizing what is best for students. In this coming legislative session, he will continue to be an advocate for Missouri's children.
  • Representative Mike Colona (D) – 80th House District As the House Minority Whip, Rep. Mike Colona is one of the most influential proponents of education reform in the Missouri Legislature.
  • Mike Owens (D) – 84th House District  Mike Owens is a 30-year veteran journalist who knows what it means to hold public officials accountable. Owens plans to bring this sense of accountability to the school system if elected to the State House.
  • Representative Mike McGhee (R) – 21st Senate District Making sure every child in Missouri has the option to attend a high quality school is one of the priorities of Rep. Mike McGhee's Senate race. His belief in the need for real change to improve public education that, if elected, will make a difference for all children not only in his district, but also across the state.
  • Martin Casas (D) – 79th House District  Martin Casas is a parent and small business owner who has campaigned on the importance of great teachers and great schools for all children. If elected, he will prioritize education reform as one of his top priorities.
  • Representative Ward Franz (R) – 33rd Senate District, former Chair of the Republican Caucus  Representative Ward Franz is a leader looking to move from the State House to the State Senate. As the former Chair of the Republican Caucus in the House, Rep. Franz will be a powerful proponent of education reform in the Senate.
  • Lt. Governor Peter Kinder (R)  As the current Lt. Governor, Peter Kinder has worked to help the state to prosper. LT. Governor Kinder has been an advocate for some of the most vulnerable groups in Missouri and, if reelected, will continue to be an advocate for students across Missouri.

For those who have forgotten what StudentsFirst is, this is the brainchild of Michelle Rhee who has become the darling of education reform.  You can read more about her and this group here, here, here and here.

StudentsFirst goals for Missouri are:
  • revised teacher evaluations (already done with Common Core Standards and the NCLB waiver we recently received - don't know what else SF can do); 
  • tenure reform (tenure is covered by district contract which is currently negotiated individually by each school district - I guess SF would like to take that decision out of local control as well)
  • school choice (i.e. charter schools which will only provide choice to the parents in which building their child will be taught Common Core Standards).

Martin Casas is the only one who has some prior knowledge of SF, Rhee and education reform.  His wife was in Teach For America. It would behoove the others on this list to do a little more research into StudentsFirst and other Michelle Rhee creations before listing SF's endorsement on their campaign page. That research should make it clear fairly quickly that the education reform movement is more about corporate control and profit than student achievement.

Exempli Gratia - this email was sent to Diane Ravitch and provides a personal account not at all uncommon for TFAers (the author was actually in a Teaching Fellowship program, but it was established by Michelle Rhee and organized in almost exactly the same way as TFA.)

There has been so much debate about educational reform and about Michele Rhee and her Students First organization. I am compelled to describe my experience this past June with the Rhode Island Teaching Fellows Program, a Rhee brainchild. The Teaching Fellows work along the same lines of The New Teacher Project but the Teaching Fellows is an alternative route to teacher certification. The premise is to attract people from the public sector and after 5 weeks of training they will be employed as first year’s teachers in high needs urban schools. The catch phrase is “Let’s close the achievement gap” and get your teaching certification in an alternative route program-well yes I know all about the achievement gap and only starting to realize all the components at work and I decided to re-enter school to become a teacher and this program sounded perfect. I could not have been more wrong

We start week one learning this militant type tactics of behavioral control-such as “Do it again” “Do it now” and “Slant” to name just a few-we practice this over and over again in a highly structured environment where our every move is scheduled and monitored. We are told where to sit, when to stand and when to speak-they occasionally mix up the tables I believe so friendships are not formed and “talk” starts.  We have lunch in groups with our coaches. We are actually scheduled to meet with our coaches for “debriefing” where we are told not to talk and only answer with yes and no. We watch videos of children in which these tactics are employed in other States

Students are drilled on how to line up, hands by side, mouths closed-told which way to turn and what muscle to move next. They are instructed like they are in the military or prison. All the kids in the video are of course black-these behavioral control tactics are of course not utilized in white schools. A strict agenda is posted in the morning requiring us to adhere to it without question. We are at this point working 16 hours a day and not thinking clearly at all. We are then told to start working on lesson plans that we will implement in the field experience component in the evening and e-mail them to our coach for a review. This lesson planning has to be evidently self-taught as I have taken no education courses, which is one of the requirements of the program. 

The second week of the program we begin the field experience component is a 4 week 2.5 hour class consisting of students requiring summer school to recover credits. These are the very students we are supposed be so concerned about with the achievement gap. After 1 week of training we are individually thrown in front of this class of 22, still being monitored by training team members. I will argue that I am NOT an effective teacher after one week of training and these kids WILL suffer because of it. By the third day, 6 of my students were not in class and I believe they will ultimately drop out and as an inexperienced RI Teaching Fellow I am completely responsible; it is reprehensible what we are doing to these kids. 

At the end of this 5 week period we are then placed in an urban school where we are allowed to teach under an emergency teaching certification. At this point we are required to join the TNTP academy where throughout out the year we attend classes and workshops to get our own teaching certification after one year. So the premise is that to qualify for the $5500 educational grant through AmeriCorps you must work in a high need urban school in Rhode Island, what is called the urban4-Providence, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, and Central Falls. These are exactly the only districts we are allowed to apply to. We are also enrolled in AmeriCorps and will receive our educational grant of $5500 after one year of service. 

The cost of this TNTP academy is $6ooo-hmmm…so I will argue that the Teaching Fellows Program doesn’t care one bit about closing the achievement gap but in fact victimizes our low income minority students to achieve their own agenda which is enrollment in the TNTP academy and to fill their own pockets with outlandish salaries. . I saw advertisements on employment agencies sites for jobs within the Teaching Fellows organization paying anywhere between $60-and $78,000.00 per year-a lot of income to certify perhaps 20 teachers a year in the State of Rhode Island and my guess is less than half of those will stay in the high needs urban public schools. When I began the program there where 28 fellows; I was the fourth to drop out by the eighth day. I believe this organization is syphoning money from public education grants to serve their own purposes and the students that are being harmed are the low income black and brown students in these high needs urban schools. Michelle Rhee and this organization need to be stopped. I have decided to continue on and obtain my M.A.T. and become an effective teacher the proper way in two years and not destroy the lives of unsuspecting students on my way. I am continually looking for ways to expose this organization for what it is and hope it’s days are numbered before any more harm is done to these students.
–Theresa Laperche

These are the kinds of programs and the thought process endemic to StudentsFirst and Michelle Rhee.

Did you know, Representative Nasheed, that St. Louis City schools have a certain number of positions set aside for these people that cannot be filled with more qualified teachers?  Did you know, Representative Sommers, that the national PTO was one of the groups behind the development of common core standards which will take control for what the children are taught in the classroom completely away from the teacher, principal and school district, when you were president of the Harvest Ridge PTO? Probably not because the local PTO is never consulted on curriculum or classroom policy. They have been relegated to being primarily a fundraising operation for the school and allowed only to participate in school functioning on the fringe. Are you aware, Lt Gov. Kinder, that charter schools have an 83% failure rate, are frequently run by hedge fund companies that are outside our state, produce test scores that are at best comparable with the local school (and often are worse) and tend to provide little control to the local board for their operation?

Is this what we want coming to our state? Is this what you were thinking of when you talked about education reform Mr.Ms. Representative?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Don't you know the Answer on why the DOEd Needs so Much Money? "It's for the Kids!"

July 31, 2012

REMEMBER WHEN OBAMA CRITICIZED WASTEFUL CORPORATE JUNKETS? Watchdog: Junkets held by Education Department cost taxpayers $1.5m a year. “Last year’s four-day conference, which opened in late November, was hosted by the U.S. Department of Education at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The year before that, the event was at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando. . . .Sole-source contracts were used to select sites for the events, according to internal Education Department documents obtained by The Washington Examiner. The MGM event cost taxpayers about $1.6 million, according to the agency, including $790,000 paid to an outside consultant to help plan and present the conference.”
Best bit: “The keynote speaker was the department’s secretary, Arne Duncan. His topic: controlling college costs.” Heh.

We have our own little story brewing in Missouri on questionable costs on education while DESE is hundreds of millions in the red and can't even meet its formula funding.....keep tuned.

Once Common Core Standards are Instituted, DC Public School District Won't have to Pay Students to Attend School.

High stakes testing AND paying to students to attend school will develop that love of learning.

Common Core standards and RTTT mandates will entrance students so strongly, they will flock to classrooms and listen intently so they can be assessed every three weeks to see what they've retained.   The love of learning is re-instituted and the educational problems in schools will be solved!  Finally!  RTTT and Common Core and the billions of dollars needed for implementation will solve the problems of students not learning and performing well on standardized tests.  Oh, that Arne Duncan is so smart.

Yep.  That's the ticket.  DC will save so much money when they won't have to pay their students $5.25 per hour for summer school next year.  Those nationalized standards, assessments and curriculum will provide the impetus to ensure student success and innate desire to learn.

The 95 students who voluntarily signed up for the summer school program will receive half of an elective credit. But to fill the 400-student session with at-risk students, DCPS reached out to the Department of Employment Services. More than 300 students flagged by DCPS and who had signed up for the Summer Youth Employment Program were told that school would be their jobs this summer.

Taxpayers once again are paying kids to go to school. 

This summer isn't the first time the city has paid students to learn. The District allowed a Harvard University group to pay about 3,000 middle-school students up to $100 a month for good grades during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years. Grades overall didn't improve significantly.

It's not just in DC.  Money is also given to students in various school districts including schools in Ohio, New Jersey and Florida. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Former Michelle Rhee Principal Registers as StudentsFirst Lobbyist in Missouri.

StudentsFirst National Outreach Director now a registered lobbyist in Missouri. 

Meet one of the newest lobbyists in Missouri for StudentsFirst who will try to recruit more Missouri legislators to sign on to the reforms set forth by that organization. Ximena Hartsock became a registered Missouri lobbyist for StudentsFirst in May 2012. This is from the StudentsFirst website where National staff office members are listed:

Ximena is an experienced advocate for education reform and currently leads national outreach efforts at StudentsFirst. Prior to joining StudentsFirst, she served in former Washington, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty's executive cabinet. She has over a decade of experience working in the Washington DC public school system in multiple capacities, including her roles as a teacher, Assistant Principal and Principal and Deputy Chief of Teaching and Learning. Growing up in a family of teachers in Chile, Ximena’s strong commitment to improving opportunities for children and the philosophy that education is the most powerful equalizer have deeply influenced her both personally and professionally. A graduate of the University of La Serena in Chile and The George Washington University, Ximena has an extensive background in research with an emphasis on English Language Learners and the impact of parental involvement on student achievement.
As an immigrant, I feel I have an obligation to give back to a country that has provided me with so much. The education I have received has greatly contributed to the rich opportunities I have had here in the United States, and I truly believe that education is the most powerful equalizing force in society. There are few causes nobler than providing a high-quality education to all children so they have a chance to fulfill their hopes and dreams. There is rarely a more deserving fight than ensuring that all children have a fair chance to succeed.


From Linkedin: 

Dr. Ximena Hartsock
National Director of Outreach at StudentsFirst
Washington D.C. Metro Area
Education Management
Nonprofit; 11-50 employees; Education Management industry
January 2011Present (1 year 7 months) DC-CA
Oversees national outreach efforts.

Dr. Ximena Hartsock's Experience:
National Director of Outreach

Deputy Chief of Teaching and Learning

District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS)

Government Agency; 1001-5000 employees; Primary/Secondary Education industry
20072009 (2 years)

Ross Elementary School
2006 – 2007 (1 year) Washington DC
Assistant Principal
Harriet Tubman Elementary School
May 2004 – June 2005 (1 year 2 months) Washington DC

Dr. Hartsock's tenure in DC was under the leadership of Michelle Rhee.  Here is some additional information on Dr. Hartsock from the Washington Post:

Hartsock has a doctorate in leadership, educational administration and policy studies from George Washington University. She also has a master's degree in education from the University of La Serena in Chile, as well as undergraduate degrees in philosophy and Spanish education from the same school. After completing her undergraduate studies, Hartsock taught high school in Chile and elementary school in Virginia. 

Over the past four years, she has gone from being an assistant principal at Harriett Tubman Elementary School to principal of Ross Elementary School, where her students posted gains in reading and math on the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System, and then to the D.C. public schools administrative post.

Dr. Hartsock has an interesting background in Washington DC  politics and connections.  Her job in the Fenty administration's executive cabinet did not end well:

  • She was rejected for the position of parks and recreation in DC in 2009. She was an interim in this job for a short time when she left the DC Public School system.  This link from a voting councilman gives a differing reason for the vote not approving her  purportedly because of racial bias. 
  • This link provides more background information: D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty today introduced his latest choice to head the Department of Parks and Recreation, Jesús Aguirre. Like his controversial predecessor, outgoing interim-cum-acting director Ximena Hartsock, Aguirre comes from DCPS, where he's been Director of Operations under Michelle Rhee. In a rare move, Hartsock was denied confirmation by the D.C. Council, whose members cited, among other things, her inexperience in matters related to sports and recreation. In a press release, the mayor's office described Aguirre's duties at DCPS as having been responsible for overseeing "day-to-day support on staffing, facilities, finances, and logistics, as well as rapid response during emergent incidents" for over "120 school principals and instructional superintendents." Not a lot of recreation in there, either.
  • One of the reasons ostensibly she was not confirmed for this position was her professional relationship with Rhee and Mayor Fenty.
  • Here is Dr. Hartsock's statement on why she was not appointed as the Department of Parks and Recreation in DC: “They discriminated against me for being Latin and a woman”
  • This wikipedia link gives a detailed history of the DC parks system and background of the refusal of the city council to confirm her as director.


The Missouri legislators must need help learning about education from a seasoned bureaucrat not afraid of political battles.  The original lobbyists for StudentsFirst are based in Missouri, but apparently, they weren't delivering enough votes for the organization to implement most of their programs.  Dr. Hartsock has been through the grinder of DC politics and politicians, so dealing with the Missouri legislators will probably be a piece of cake.

Since we're under common core and under the direction of federal mandates and a consortia based out of Washington state for our educational decisions, it doesn't matter if lobbyists are from Washington DC to "advise" legislators on  how they should vote for legislation proffered by groups (such as StudentsFirst) not based in Missouri. 

These organizations and lobbyists tell  taxpayers and parents that they have the best interests of MISSOURI children in mind, even though they may not live in Missouri or be based in the state.  From the Missouri StudentsFirst website:
Take Action: Missouri

Missouri students are struggling.  Every child deserves a great teacher and a great school.
StudentsFirst members are working right now to pass new laws that will put student interests first.  Tell us how you want to be involved.

Action Center

Please email your state senator and ask them to vote YES on HB 1526.
Take Action

Google "studentsfirst" and your state, and you will most likely find the same concern about your students as it exists in Missouri.  StudentsFirst writes: "Missouri children are struggling".  Approximately 7% of Missouri districts were struggling.  Why is StudentsFirst in Missouri when a small percentage of schools were designated as failing? Who should decide what makes a "great teacher" and a "great school"?  StudentsFirst or local communities?

Missouri taxpayers should be tickled to death the National Director of Outreach from a self-described "education management industry" will be speaking with Missouri legislators  to convince them to run schools via a business management model.  Just think.  Missouri can do away with elected school boards.  Who needs local representation anyway?  Taxpayers can rest easy.  All school decisions can be made by these private companies.  Just send them your children and  your money and they'll take care of everything else.

Dr. Hartsock worked with Michelle Rhee in DC and suffered the same fate as Ms. Rhee when the political winds shifted.  Now it appears StudentsFirst and its lobbyists want to try the same experiment that didn't work in DC schools with a different set of politicians and bureaucrats for all the schools in Missouri. 

With the increase of lobbying pressure of StudentsFirst and registering a national staff member as a Missouri lobbyist, there must be a lot riding on the line for the education reform movement in the state, don't you think? 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

What Might Einstein Say About Common Core Standards?

The description of common core standards and who we are becoming as a society....predicted by
How Albert Einstein might possibly react to the "one-sized fits all" curriculum and high-stakes assessments beginning in kindergarten:

I have been asked to examine the New Jersey Core Curriculum Science Content Standards, and am amazed a child manages to get to Kindergarten without hating science. The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives--and you've managed to create little adult clones......

....Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.  What has happened to the concept of kindergarten, literally the "garden of children"? Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.

 He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed. Look at the madness of your standards.  It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.

Read more on Einstein's "common core" theory at doyle-scienceteach.blogspot.com

From a Cousin in Aurora, Colorado and the Sunday Education Weekly Reader 07.29.12

Welcome to the Sunday Education Weekly for 07.29.12

My cousin sent this to me not long after the Aurora shootings.  She writes:  

I watched this and thought I should send it to lots and lots of people with all the garbage that's gone in Aurora.  I smiled and cried at the same time ...but want to share this with you.  It's a very good one.

In the midst of suffering, the human spirit can triumph.  This spirit of perseverance cannot be chalked up to tracking human beings, assessments fashioned by education companies to determine future employment opportunities and students' resultant data sets.   The joy in life is connecting with human beings (not human capital) in ways that don't even require words.

With thanks to my dear cousin.

Happy People Dancing on Planet Earth
Video Credit: Matt Harding & Melissa Nixon; Music: Trip the Light
Explanation: What are these humans doing? Dancing. Many humans on Earth exhibit periods of happiness, and one method of displaying happiness is dancing. Happiness and dancing transcend political boundaries and occur in practically every human society. Above, Matt Harding traveled through many nations on Earth, planned on dancing, and filmed the result. The above video, the latest in a series of similar videos, is perhaps a dramatic example that humans from all over planet Earth feel a common bond as part of a single species. Happiness is frequently contagious -- few people are able to watch the above video without smiling.

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