"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, September 8, 2012

Local School Districts and States Don't Set School Policies...They're Controlled by the White House.

"The ultimate outcome of Obama’s education scheme will actually be economic: a sweeping redistribution of suburban education funding to the cities".

At the link is an article by Stanley Kurtz about how your local and state school boards are useless in the educational direction of the school you support with your local taxes.

Should the White House control what your kids learn?, adapted from "Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities, Kurtz not only raises the question of not only SHOULD the White House control what your kids learn, he also explains:
  •  HOW the White House is controlling what your kids learn 
  •  WHO the White House is giving this control to...bypassing your local school board and state while you have the privilege of paying for what the federal government mandates
  •  WHY the White House is controlling what your child learns
The transformation of  locally/state controlled public schools is evolving into centrally/federally controlled schools. The Federal Government is quietly taking over school boards'  authority to set taxation rates, deciding enrollment policies,  standards/assessments and ultimately, curriculum.  

When your legislator or school board member/superintendent pats you on the head and says "don't worry, I LOVE local control", give him/her a copy of Kurtz's article and ask his/her reaction after reading what's really occurring in educational reform. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Missouri Coalition Against Common Core

We are joining the efforts of a growing number of grassroots groups in many states, who are seeking to rid themselves of Washington's control over the public education system. The Common Core State Standards are a necessary key to dial in US education to a global education and worker development system. They remove control for what and how our children are taught from our elected school boards. They, despite what the developers say, will direct the teachers how to teach, or may eventually remove the need for the local teacher as classroom instruction is turned over to on-line sources. Their implementation is expensive and, in Missouri's case, unaccounted for.

Today we are launching a website dedicated to this issue, Missouri Coalition Against Common Core. There, we plan to provide background documentation and support materials that you can take to your legislator, school board member, PTA/PTO, and others to show the path we are on and the need for our state to get out of Common Core State Standards. The longer we wait, the harder it will be to extricate ourselves.

We have loaded some of the background material on there already and plan to add to it daily. There will be a petition that individuals and organizations can sign stating that we want out of CCSS. Please visit the site, join so that you can get action updates and share the link with others.

Missouri Coalition Against Common Core - moagainstcommoncore.webs.com

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Pay Attention When Checking Out at JCPenney

We've all heard it a hundred times. You go to check out at the store and the cashier asks if you would like to add some small amount to your total to help support XYZ charity. The small amount usually entices most people to say, "Sure." The charity gets some money, the store gets to brag about its charitable donation and you have an easy way to feel good about something for the day. Its a win-win-win.

This month, JCPenney is going to ask you to support a charity at check out, but this time you may want to pay attention to who this charity is. Throughout the month of September JCPenney customers can round up their store purchases to the nearest whole dollar and donate the difference to Teach For America. It's a small amount. Less than a dollar. Why not do it?

The key here is small amount. A small amount of teacher training is what TFA gives its teachers before throwing them into some of the toughest classrooms in America. Five weeks of training compared to almost 5 years for the average teacher. A small amount is what those new teachers make over their two year stint with TFA.

TFA will justify that by telling those teachers they will get lots of experience and will make a big difference in the lives of the children they are teaching. Wanna know what else is big with TFA?  The amount of money they have raised so far. They currently have $300 million in assets. Nicholas Stix reporterd, "A tax exempt nonprofit, TFA reported annual operating surpluses of $35 million, $114 million and $37 million in its last three federal filings."

A small amount is also the amount of improvement TFAers have been able to demonstrate in their student's performance. Results are mixed and, according to a former TFA Research staff member now Sr. VP Heather Harding,  some statistics sited by TFA are unreliable. For instance, their claim to advance students 1.5-2 years in a single year may not be quite accurate. A small percentage of TFA recruits (15%) teach subjects and/or grades that are assessed by state standardized tests which means that many of them must rely on assessments they design themselves to assess growth. Another study claimed TFA-taught students gained a full month in math over their non-TFA taught peers, however they still ranked in the bottom 5th of students nationally.  Therefore, Ms. Harding says, the teacher efficacy claim "is not a particularly rigorous statistic. I don't think it stands up to external research scrutiny."

There is a recent trend to place more TFA teachers in charter schools. In 2007-2008, the last year stats are available, TFA placed 33% of its recruits in charters. To the extent that charters are able to select their student population, one would expect to see TFA student performance increase. Beware of studies that do not account for this selection effect.

President Obama still wants to gather together an army of the best quality teachers to improve our schools. Teach For America wants to have their recruits in this army, but the question of their quality has still not been answered and is very much in doubt. Meanwhile JCPenney would like you to add a few cents to your purchase to help the perpetually struggling TFA. Before you face this question at Penney's you may want to talk to some teachers you know, or read up a little more on TFA.

What Does TFA Mean to Missouri ...

An Army of Teachers in the Jefferson Arms? 

Hansel and Gretel in TFA

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Walk away from School Districts Striving to have "Distinguished" Teachers Under Bill Gates' LEAP Program.

According to Bill Gates' funded assessments,  Denver teachers need to teach social action to become a "distinguished" teacher. 

Walk away from public education in Denver as fast as possible.  Stop the silly talk about how charters, vouchers and education reforms will "save" education.  Find other alternatives for your children.  It's a sinking ship. As long as schools are directed by special interest money for certain agendas, public schools' curricula may have other purposes in mind than just the 3 R's.

Read below and determine if this is a system worth saving.  From utahnsagainstcommoncore: "The 4th 'R' of Education: Rebellion":

Last night, former gubernatorial candidate and talk show host, Morgan Philpot posted online a link to this alarming article from the Daily Caller:

According to NBC affiliate KUSA, Denver Public Schools is implementing a new system to evaluate teachers. In order to achieve a coveted “distinguished” rating, teachers at each grade level must show that they “encourage” students to “challenge and question the dominant culture” and “take social action to change/improve society or work for social justice.”
The new DPS teacher assessment system, called LEAP (Leading Effective Academic Practice), stems from state legislation passed in 2010 and is overwhelmingly funded by a $10M grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
So let me get this straight. The Gates Foundation signs a 2004 agreement with UNESCO to create a global education system, puts $100 million into funding and promoting Common Core, sponsors a conference on eugenics, funds biometric tracking of children, and now they are funding social justice based teacher evaluation systems. Darn, I wish I could find a pattern here that our state leadership could latch onto.
Debbie Hearty, executive director of the Office of Teacher Learning and Leadership at DPS, told KUSA that she wants kids as young as first graders to emulate Martin Luther King, Jr., Mohandas Gandhi, Rosa Parks and others.

“Education that causes action is really important,” Hearty said. “It’s what our kids do with what they learn and apply in the real world.”

John Peterson, a history teacher at Denver’s East High School, was less enthusiastic about the new metric.
“I really don’t think it’s the right place for the school district to expect teachers to push students to become activists,” Peterson said.

KUSA stressed that LEAP is a pilot program subject to change based on input from teachers and others.
“I hope it’s seen by the district as an overreach or an error,” Peterson added.

Pam Benigno, the Director of Education Policy for the Independence Institute, a libertarian-leaning Colorado think tank, said she views the evaluation criteria as an abuse of power.

Younger children could become confused after receiving encouragement from teachers to attack the dominant culture, Benigno suggested. She also wondered how the new criteria would be used to assess algebra and music teachers.

“Half of the kids in DPS aren’t even reading at grade level, yet the school district wants to make them into little social activists,” Benigno said. (MEW emphasized)

Want to know more about LEAP in Denver?  It's amazing what Bill Gates' $10 Million will buy in a school district.  Susan Ohanian wrote an excellent article last year about LEAP and Bill Gates' involvement.  Ask yourself why Bill Gates is spending so much money telling school districts (and it's not just in Denver) how to operate.  From "A Monster Rubric to Define Who's Effective and Who's Not":

NOTE: The Denver Public School System and the teachers' union are partners in a $10 million grant from the Gates Foundation to fund an overhaul of the district's teacher support and evaluation system. Here's how the Denver Post described it:

Denver Public Schools testing system to give teachers in-class evaluations and feedback

By Yesenia Robles
The Denver Post
Posted: 01/30/2011

An effective teacher will ask students to explain their answers whether they are right or wrong. Effective teachers also wait about 3 to 5 seconds for students to respond, but will give more time to students who are English language learners.
Those are part of the specifics outlined in a 28-page rubric that will be used to evaluate teacher effectiveness at Denver Public Schools using a new framework two years in the making. A pilot version of the framework, called Leading Effective Academic Practice, or LEAP, has been sent out for testing in 16 DPS schools this month.
"We have to roll it out to see how it works, but we really hope it will help us identify our highest performers so we can learn from them and spread that knowledge to the lower-performing teachers who need support," said Tracy Dorland, executive director of educator effectiveness for DPS. . . .

Here's the announcement from the Gates Foundation:
Date: January 2010
Purpose: to accelerate the district’s human capital reform by implementing an aligned teacher performance management system based on research findings from the measures of effective teaching project with student achievement and growth at its core

Amount: $10,000,000

Of course, this is peanuts. Elsewhere, Gates spent big bucks to define teachers in its image:
Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching sites:

  • Hillsborough County Public Schools (Tampa, Fla.): $100 million

  • Memphis City Schools: $90 million

  • Pittsburgh Public Schools: $40 million

  • The College-Ready Promise (five charter school networks in Los Angeles: Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, Aspire Public Schools, Green Dot Public Schools, Inner City Education Foundation, and Partnerships to Uplift Communities Schools): $60 million

  • Ohmygod, how many pages are in their rubrics? 

    I'll add my own OMG statement.  Dorland has taken a page from the Nancy Pelosi handbook of explaining health care reform and applying it to education reform:

    "We have to roll it out to see how it works, but we really hope it will help us identify our highest performers so we can learn from them and spread that knowledge to the lower-performing teachers who need support," said Tracy Dorland, executive director of educator effectiveness for DPS. . . . 

    Are you ready to take your child out of public school systems supported (or taken over by Bill Gates, take your pick) by LEAP and the Gates Foundation?  Are you tired of these educrats utilizing unproven and untested theories and methods on your children?  I want children to learn in this type of classroom (Ohanian's description) rather than a classroom dictated by assessments and rigidity:

    The education managers who add up the points from official classroom observations can't judge what really counts: Flexibility, the ability to bounce back after 63 defeats, ready to try again. I'm not much interested in seeing how a teacher carefully structures her lesson so that the kids stick to the objectives and the bell always rings in the right place--just after she makes her summary and gives the prelude for what will come tomorrow. I want to find out if that teacher is flexible and tough and clever and loving. I want to be sure she's more nurturing than a halibut.

    What does she do when a kid vomits (all over those neat lesson plans)? Or an indignant parent rushes in denouncing a book? Or the worst troublemaker has a meltdown? Or somebody spots a cockroach under her desk?

    The most wonderful satisfactions of teaching happen in the blink of an eye and are usually unplanned and unexpected. You can miss their importance and lose their sustenance if your eyes are glassily fixed on the objective your lesson plan promises you'll deliver that hour. Our joy is in the daily practice of our craft--and often in those unexpected interruptions. We must talk, not of time on task but of the tantalizing vagueness and the lumps in the throat, the poetry and true purpose of our calling.

    Bill Gates be damned: Keep your eye on the sparrow, not on the Standards.

    Tuesday, September 4, 2012

    Message to PTA: There are Serious Concerns Regarding Student Privacy. They're More Important than Wrapping Paper Sales.

    As a public education student, your child has little expectation of privacy and control of gathered personal data to federal agencies.  Where's the PTA's outrage?

    JR Wilson has written an article for parents to read and understand what happens to their child's privacy when they cross the threshold of the school building.  Your child's data  now belongs to various state and federal agencies, as well as private researchers. 

    The PTA and PTO Boards in public schools should be alerting parents to the massive data gathering on public education students.  Ask your organization or principal exactly what those documents you sign at the beginning of every year allow for data gathering on your child. The Maryland PTA in 2010 opposed data gathering for military recruiting use.  Where's the outrage from the PTA about student personal data being released to federal agencies and private firms designated to receive this information by the Department of Education?

    Don't hold your breath your PTA will alert you to the massive data grab.  The organization received $1 Million from an early proponent of Common Core standards, Bill Gates.  To gather the data the Common Core is necessary.  The PTA probably won't come out against the data retrieval portion of Common Core.  It's received money to support the implementation of the standards which includes tracking students.

    If you are alarmed at the increased scrutiny of personal data and use of this data for financial purposes to organizations, you can use this opt out form from educationnewyork.com.   We urge you to visit that website for more information on privacy issues for your child and family.

    This article was originally published August 27, 2012 on EducationNews.com at


    Parents Need to Know About Student Data Privacy

    Trusting Parents

    When enrolling or filling out forms during the school year, parents give schools personal information about themselves and their child. A school employee enters the information into the school office computer.  No thought is given to this since computers are a good way to store, organize, and manage data. Most parents don’t realize the data doesn’t stay In the school office computer.  The computer is networked and shares data with other computers. This information or data once it is entered becomes a part of a district or multi-district database that is uploaded to a state longitudinal data system at least once a month.

    Are parents informed this is happening with personal information they provide?  Are parents asked permission, or consent, for their information to become part of a database beyond the confines and use of the brick and mortar school?  Should parents be made aware of this practice?  Should they be required to give consent?

    State Longitudinal Data Systems, Purposes, and Prohibition

    The state longitudinal data systems are for preschool through grade 12 education and post secondary education or P-16.  Basically, states are collecting data on all preschool through grade 16 individuals.  It is interesting to note for the purposes of data collection, the “P” for preschool means birth to school.  They want to collect data from the time of birth through an individual’s career. 

    Federal legislation calls for the collection of data to include:
    ·   gender,
    ·   ethnic or racial groups,
    ·   limited English proficiency status,
    ·   migrant students,
    ·   disabilities,
    ·   economically disadvantaged,
    ·   assessment results,
    ·   demographics,
    ·   student-level enrollment,
    ·   program participation,
    ·   courses completed,
    ·   student transcript information,
    ·   transfers, teachers,
    ·   family income. 

    Will state longitudinal data systems collect data beyond what is called for in legislation?  What is the purpose of the data collection?  How will it be used?  What will be next?  Collecting prenatal data?  The pre-conception gleam in the eye data?  In addition to the state longitudinal data systems containing far more information on students, parents, and teachers than necessary for educational purposes, I believe the system will eventually include information on all taxpayers with or without kids (twowks) so they may be held adequately accountable for how others spend their hard earned tax dollars.

    There has been a push for state longitudinal data systems for many years. As early as 1965, the initial Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA) mentions providing support for collecting and storing data and using automated data systems.  Federal legislation and programs encourage or require data collection systems and the development of state longitudinal data systems. These include:
    • Goals 2000
    • Educate America Act
    • Improving America’s Schools Act
    • No Child Left Behind
    • America Competes Act
    • American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
    • Race to the Top.  (see sidebar)

    Each state has a State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) and names their SLDS a little differently to suit their own creativity.  As an example, Oregon has Project ALDER:  Advancing Longitudinal Data for Educational Reform and Washington has CEDARS:  Comprehensive Education Data and Research System.

    The early stated purposes for data collection was to determine things like graduation rates, job placement rates, and program effectiveness.  The Race to the Top created mandates for data systems to be used to inform decisions and improve instruction.  While this is laudable, it is questionable as the driving need for data collection. An abundance of available data and research findings has been ignored in the reform education decision-making process. Many reform measures being pushed from the federal level on down have no evidence of effectiveness--some have evidence of negative effectiveness -- yet continue to be foisted upon the states and local districts to implement.  Are our decision makers Confusing Evidence and Politics?  Do they really have our students’ academic interest as a top priority?  Does anyone know how to make effective decisions based on this information?  Will the information be so overwhelming as to be useless except for cherry picking to support pet programs?  Who will benefit most?  Our students?  Private corporations?  Non-profit corporations?  Individuals and groups in positions of power and authority?          

    Our society’s moral and ethical values may have slipped to the point that individuals and groups in positions of power and authority feel it is appropriate to publicly release information that most people feel is confidential.  Recently, state officials in Oklahoma posted private educational records of several students online.  This information may not have come from their state longitudinal data system but think of the control and power such information provides, especially if one is able to personally identify individuals.  When big brother has the informational goods on the public, are people likely to speak up or will they maintain a cautious place in line?

    There is a prohibition on the development of a nationwide database of personally identifiable information (PII).  The Act that created No Child Left Behind says:

    ‘‘Nothing in this Act (other than section 1308(b)) shall be construed to authorize the development of a nationwide database of personally identifiable information on individuals involved in studies or other collections of data under this Act. 20 USC 7911.

    Does that mean it is okay to develop a nationwide database provided no personally identifiable information is used?  It appears the federal government is dancing around the issue of developing a nationwide database.  While the federal government is not developing it, they are supporting, promoting, encouraging, and funding with tax dollars the development of state longitudinal data systems.  An effort, the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) is well underway, with federal encouragement, to have the state longitudinal data systems compatible for data sharing between and among states.  This effort will result in a defacto nationwide database.

    The Data Quality Campaign’s report Data for Action 2011 Empower with Data indicates no states having all 10 Essential Elements of Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems in place in 2005.  In 2011 every state had at least 7 of the 10 Elements in place and thirty-six states had all 10 Elements in place.

    The Data Quality Campaign lists the National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) among its Partners.  The NGA and the CCSSO joined efforts in an initiative to develop the Common Core State Standards and shares some of the same partners.  Both the Data Quality Campaign and Common Core State Standards Initiative have been supported with grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (see 1, 2, 3).  The Common Core State Standards has provided investors and entrepreneurs with a lucrative market place.  Besides the technology industry and service industry, who stands to financially gain from the Data Quality Campaign and the state longitudinal data systems?

    The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) are working to Promote the Voluntary Adoption of a Model of Common Data Standards and say: 

    The U.S. Department of Education will facilitate the leveraging, and where needed, the development of model common data standards for a core set of student-level variables to increase comparability of data, interoperability and portability of data, and reduce collection burden.

    Funding for State Longitudinal Data Systems

    It is difficult to determine how much taxpayer money states have spent on longitudinal data systems.  As indicated above, there are numerous sources of funds available.  The Statewide Longitudinal Data System Grants Program does show how much grant money has been awarded to each state from their program.  Since 2006 over $612 million has been awarded with $254 million of that in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (stimulus) funds.  Information from this program’s website has been compiled into a table showing amounts each state has been awarded.

    Personally Identifiable Information, Data Mining and Matching, and Security Breaches

    State longitudinal data systems are not to permit students to be individually identified by users of the system.  What about abusers of the system?  Data from state longitudinal data systems can be matched with data from other databases enabling the identification of individuals no matter how much effort is put into keeping personally identifiable information (PII) out of the state longitudinal data systems.  Records can be matched by identifying overlapping data. 

    With the ability to match data enabling the identification of individuals it is reasonable to think this data may find its way into the hands of data brokers and database marketers like Acxiom Corporation who may mine, analyze, refine, and sell the data.  While we may laugh at the Ordering Pizza in 2015 video, it hits real close to reality. 

    Eventually, whether for sport, competition, or profit, hackers will compromise the state longitudinal data systems.  Perhaps they already have been exploiting these systems and the public and parents are never informed it is taking place.  Below is a notice that I have written and which I believe should be provided to parents and all of the media.  For obvious reasons it never will.

    We have discovered that our state longitudinal data system servers were attacked, resulting in a security breach. The hackers were able to access information on all students, parents and teachers in the state. Our team has worked to secure the state longitudinal data system against this type of attack from recurring.

    Please understand that we are under no obligation to inform you that sensitive data about the students, parents, and teachers in the state has been accessed and copied by unauthorized and unknown individuals.  Since our data system contains no personally identifiable information you should comfortably know we assume no liability for any damages resulting from the hacker’s ability to personally identify individuals by matching overlapping information with other database information for which we have no control.

    We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience. Should you find the consequences of this security breach to be devastating to your life, we suggest you consider assuming another identity and start a new life.  Should you wish to exercise this option, for a fee we can assist you in this effort.  We take the security of our data seriously and can assure you we are taking measures to protect the system from this kind of breach until it happens again, at which time we will simply send you another message similar to this one reassuring you there is nothing to be concerned about.

    J.R. Wilson is a parent and an education advocate with 25+ years experience in public education as an elementary teacher, curriculum consultant, staff development coordinator, and principal.


    A Blueprint for Reform The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, United States Department of Education, March 2010

    A Statement of Common Purpose:  Chief State School Officers and State Higher Education Executives Promote the Voluntary Adoption of a Model of Common Data Standards

    “America COMPETES Act’’ or the ‘‘America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act” of 2007

    American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

    CEDARS:  Comprehensive Education Data and Research System

    Confusing Evidence and Politics, Jay P. Greene’s Blog
    Data for Action 2011 Empower with Data, Data Quality Campaign

    Data Cleaning: Problems and Current Approaches

    Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA) (P.L. 89-10)
    Page 49 of Public Law 89-10  April 11, 1965

    Goals 2000: Educate America Act (P.L. 103-227) MAR. 31, 1994

    Improving America's Schools Act of 1994
    Leveraging Federal Funding for Longitudinal Data Systems - A Roadmap for States

    Project ALDER:  Advancing Longitudinal Data for Educational Reform

    PUBLIC LAW 107–110—JAN. 8, 2002, An Act To close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice, so that no child is left behind.

    Race to the Top

    You for Sale: Mapping, and Sharing, the Consumer Genome

    Monday, September 3, 2012

    Does Your Child Have the Right to Self-Protection and Self-Defense at School?

    This book might go against Arne Duncan's on the Department of Defense's ideas on dealing with bullies. 

    The Departments of Labor and Health & Human Services are sharing information and directing programs with the Department of Education.  The DOEd door is now open to the Department of Defense.    

    WASHINGTON, Aug. 30, 2012 – The start of school is a good time to talk to children about the complicated and heartbreaking problem of bullying. Fortunately, there are at least two good websites devoted to the cause.

    The Federal Partners for Bullying Prevention website, created by the Health Resources and Services Administration and its eight partner departments, is offering a video challenge to help prevent and end bullying in schools and communities across the nation.

    The contest invites youth ages 13-18 to create a 30- to 60-second video to inform and motivate youth to prevent bullying. The videos should promote an environment of kindness and respect for others, and show how not to be a bystander to bullying, Education Secretary Arne Duncan says in a video on the site. Video entries must be submitted by Oct. 14.

    The Department of Defense Education Activity has joined in the federal partnership and has its own Web page on bullying preventionhttp://www.dodea.edu/StopBullying/ that gives advice to parents and kids about how to deal with bullies and prevent it.

    For parents, the DODEA site advises:

    -- If your child is being bullied, talk to his or her teacher instead of confronting the bully's parents. If no action is taken, talk to the principal;
    -- Teach your child nonviolent ways to deal with bullies, like walking away or talking it out;
    -- Role-play bullying scenarios with your child and help your child act with self-confidence;
    -- Practice walking upright, looking people in the eye, and speaking clearly;
    -- Don't encourage your child to fight -- he or she could get hurt, get in trouble or start more serious problems with the bully; and
    -- Involve your children in activities outside of school so they know they can make friends in a different social circle.

    The site offers these tips for children:

    -- If you are bullied at school, tell your teacher, school counselor, or principal. Telling is not tattling;
    -- Tell your parents or other trusted adults. They can help stop the bullying;
    -- Don't fight back. Don't try to bully those who bully you;
    -- Try not to show anger or fear. Students who bully like to see that they can upset you; and
    -- Try not to be alone in places where bullying is likely to happen, such as bathrooms or locker rooms.

    The list of suggestions say nothing about practicing self-defense except to alert adults and stay out of a bully's way.  In fact, self-defense is frowned upon.  I've highlighted those sentences in each list.  For both the parents and students, it emphasizes telling the school teacher or administrator as the best mode of action.  

    While I'm not advocating creating unprovoked physical fights, I am a mother who told her children if they were attacked, they had every right to defend themselves.  Isn't this the underlying belief on self-defense classes for women?  Here are some thoughts about self-protection and self-defense for women that could be applied to bullying situations as well, especially when they escalate to physical actions:

    Self defense and self protection are an important priority for women. The most common crime to happen to a woman is rape, but it is more about a feeling of dominance from one person over another rather than actual sex. According to statistics, the majority of rapes are perpetrated by men who women know. Assault on women is also a common crime because assailants assume women will be more passive and not fight back; this has to do with stereotypes of women. The best way for women to fight back against crime is to prevent it from happening by avoiding being alone or being in badly lit areas. However, getting into such situations is sometimes inevitable.

    The majority of rapes occur in the victim’s home. According to the Bureau of Justice, almost 40 percent of all rapes take place in the female victim’s home. In the event that rape prevention fails—such as by avoiding problem areas or making sure a woman is never alone—the best chance for survival is to fight back. Fighting back is not just necessary, but it is a moral right because protecting one’s self is paramount. 

    ...Women should always rely on their brains for self defense, particularly when it comes to forming the right staying-alive attitude. Using the brain for self defense is intimately tied to prevention. In order to use prevention methods to lower the risks of becoming crime statistics, women have to first use their brains to come up with the right precautions. If prevention falls short, then women will have to rely on their brains anyway in order to implement the physical actions necessary to protect themselves.

    Why isn't this "moral right" included in these videos and statements from the DOD?  When did protecting one's self involve running to tell an adult to stop bullying?  Fighting is not appropriate in all bullying situations.  But if a child is being physically attacked and there is no adult around, shouldn't a child understand he/she is not impotent and learn how to protect him/herself?  The DOD lists propagate an attitude of students not being able/allowed to defend themselves and that the only way to deal with bullies is to tell an adult. 

    This article, "Teaching your Child to Fight Back Against Bullies" makes the DOD's suggestions to parents and students on dealing with bullying look tame:

    Talk to your child to find out who the bully is and what he or she has been doing to your child. This may be difficult, because most kids are ashamed to let their parents know what awful things have been done to them. You must press on and find out all the details. Either the same day you find out, or early the next morning go to the school and talk to the highest-ranked person there (probably the principal) and scream bloody murder.

    Once again, over-react. If you are gentle in your approach with the school, little if anything will be done. 

    Demand that the bully be taken out of that class, or expelled from the school. Threaten law suits against the school and against the parents of the bully if there is even the slightest bullying against your child. If you don't get results go to the school board, pursue legal action. 

    Make life a living hell for the bully that attacked your child. Your son or daughter will probably hate all the attention you are putting on the situation, but for sure they will thank you for it later, and it is your primary job as a parent to protect your child from harm. Follow up after your complaint to the school. Ask your child if the bullying has stopped, go back to the school over and over again until you get what you want. No one messes with your child. 

    One Alabama school district is using a different tactic than what the DOD espouses.  It is teaching students and district employees to defend themselves against violent intruders.  It is tailored toward a Columbine situation rather than an everyday bullying encounter, but the lesson on the extreme version of bullying (terrorizing a large group of people) is important: 

    Police Lt. A.B. Green, who is overseeing the training, said hiding from intruders is sometimes not enough. 

     "We can train teachers and students to a certain degree. At a certain level, though, we have to train the students to use their last resource, which is to defend themselves," he said. "We want to remind them that they can also fight for themselves using whatever they can use. It's more like, if all else has been exhausted, you fight for your life."

    The city school system's current lockdown procedure has city school employees locking doors and hiding from intruders who come into a school. Now, employees are being told to flee from the intruder, and if necessary, fight. Students will soon receive the same training.

    "What the training really encourages is more than simply stopping and hiding," said Green. "That's really what we've been teaching nationwide is everybody stopping, locking the doors and hiding where you are. Those concepts work, but they're not an absolute."

    ...Running and throwing things at an intruder are the main lessons Payne-Giles said the training taught her, but she also learned what to do if an intruder gets into physical combat with her or anyone else at the school.

    "If they get too close, they teach us how to restrain them," she said. "One smaller woman can't restrain a large man, but what about three or four of them? That's why the training is not about doing it by yourself. It's about attacking en masse."

    How do you as a parent instruct your child on bullying?  How would you as a parent deal with a bullying situation to school administrators? 




    Sunday, September 2, 2012

    Does Tony Bennett Reflect the GOP's View of Education?

    This is what a Republican Superintendent supports in education.  Does this look state driven to you?

    What happens educationally in Indiana will happen in Missouri will happen in Florida will happen in Utah....and in any other state signed on to the Common Core standards.

    If Romney is elected president, will his new Secretary of Education support these unproven and untested standards?  Will a DOEd secretary support standards and assessments that are decided by private consortia instead of state driven standards and assessments?  Will a DOEd secretary support giving away state power of educational decisions to federally funded consortia busy creating a national curriculum and set of standards?

    The Huntington Teacher has published an excellent blog containing these type of questions to Indiana superintendent Tony Bennett.  He has been rumored to be a candidate for Secretary of Education and is currently running for re-election on the Republican ticket for his current position.  Bennett argued in front of the ALEC educational panel in support of these standards.  If Bennett were to be named Secretary of Education, this is a worrisome sign if you are concerned about further federal intervention in education.

    Model legislation opposing Common Core standards recently presented at the American Legislative Exchange Council will likely pass later this summer rather than in May following a media and political firestorm.

    While approved by ALEC’s education task force in November, the legislation has not passed its board of directors, who say they want to clarify its language before they take a final vote. ALEC is a conservative nonprofit that offers forums for legislators to share policy ideas and model bills.

    ALEC’s board did not consider retracting the model legislation’s stand against the Core, said ALEC Education Director Adam Peshek, but “wanted to make sure that the language was tightened up.”

    The legislation argues that a de facto single set of education standards impedes local innovation and moves the country toward a nationalized curriculum, neither of which benefits U.S. education. The American Principles Project, Goldwater Institute, and Washington Policy Center authored the model bill.

    “[Adopting the Core] almost universally occurred through state education board votes and without legislators' knowledge of what the national standards and tests entailed,” said Jim Stergios, executive director at the Pioneer Institute. “Only in the past year have state legislators started becoming familiar with the $16 billion unfunded mandate on states and localities, the federal legal prohibitions [against] Common Core, and the mediocre quality of the standards.  And now you are seeing a number of states advancing resolutions and legislation to pull back out of the effort.”

    The open debate preceding the legislation pit Core proponents led by Indiana Superintendent Tony Bennett against think tanks and scholars who had studied the cost, legality, and quality of the standards, Stergios said.

    The Core was initially funded by private foundations and state associations but became centralized when the Obama administration began funding tests correlated to them and required states to adopt them in exchange for federal money or loosened regulations.

    Now you know who Republican Tony Bennett is.  Revisit our blog on why we believe Republicans won't rescind the Common Core standards.  If Bennett is indicative of elected or appointed superintendents persuading politicians to be supportive of common core standards, then the idea of constitutional powers given to the state to make educational decisions free of federal mandates and strings is fiction.  


    Tony Bennett is the Republican candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction in Indiana.  As an incumbent Republican in a conservative state, he’ll probably receive votes by default.  

    But will Hoosier Republican voters truly understand what they are voting for if they punch the ticket for Bennett? 
    Will Republicans Disapprove of Government Transparency ?
    Bennett’s  Department of Education website has come under repeated scrutiny for transparency. 
    Dave Bangert of the Lafayette News Online asked several independent researchers to look for information at the DOE.  One researcher described the website as (an attempt to) obfuscate the numbers so that the taxpayer has a lot of trouble knowing what is going on, even though the bureaucrats will maintain that they are ‘transparent,’” 

    Will Republicans Accept Private Individuals Spending Public Tax Dollars?
    Jon Awbrey puts it this way: “It is a patent violation of democratic principles of representation to dictate that parents alone should have the power to sell off property that belongs to all and to liquidate resources that the long generations before us have entrusted to the future of us all.”
    Bennett, Superintendent of PUBLIC schools, has unapologetically supported a voucher system for private, for-profit schools. Instead of improving public schools, Bennett has worked to divert money from them. 
    Will Republicans Support Spending Public Tax Dollars on Religious Education?
    In the first year alone, $16 million dollars were diverted from supporting public school students in order to pay tuition for private and parochial school students.  Out of 301 private schools receiving public tax money only six were independent, non-religious private schools.  Indiana taxpayers are providing for sectarian, religious education. 
    Will Republicans Support Damaging Local Economic Development Efforts to Attract New Jobs?
    Mayors have expressed concern about the inappropriately low grades Bennett has given schools in Indiana. (22% of Indiana Schools – compared to its Florida model where 6% of schools received poor grades, despite the fact Indiana schools generally outperform those in Florida) Bennett’s model hurts the recruitment of new businesses to their community.   No stakeholders spoke in favor of the plan last January.  Nevertheless, Bennett pushed it through.  
    Will Republicans Want to Replace Local Control of the Schools with Federal Takeover?
    Bennett supports the Common Core State [sic] Standards (CCSS).  The CCSS undermines local control of the school system and mandates they follow a federally controlled, federally dictated curriculum.  Bennett has repeatedly been asked to defend this decision. (Despite repeated findings that Indiana standards were better than CCSS.) 
    Will Republicans Want the Federal Government to Control a National Database on the Populace?
    The information does not only include state wide assessment scores and educational data, it will include invasive personal data on students and families.  This data will be used to track children from birth into careers.  This data will be supplied to various Federal agencies and private researchers/companies determined by the DOE. 
    Bennett has been pushing an agenda in public education in Indiana that does not seem to fit with the Republican Platform.  Why?
    Bennett sits on the Board of Directors of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). This group was the instrument that developed the CCSS and the need for a  National Database.  According to their own website, they are “working in collaboration with strategic corporate partners.”   
    Put simply, Bennett has used his position to sell off our public schools to corporations with vested interests in profiting on the students in Indiana.  He’s counting on Republican voters to support him under such guises of “accountability,” “freedom of choice,” and “rigorous standards”.

    Will Republicans fall for this ploy November 6th?  The huge corporations hoping to profit off Hoosier children hope so.  Investors from around the nation have invested heavily in his campaign.
    As a person with a Republican family tradition, growing up in a traditionally Republican town, I can only hope Republicans in Indiana can distinguish between supporting business owners, and handing over our children to them.

    Hoosiers and non-Hoosiers alike have reason to be concerned about Bennett's views and if he were to be named DOEd secretary, the idea of states having power to direct their own educational delivery and direction is a constitutional fable.  From EdWeek and "Who Could be Romney's Education Secretary"?:

    State chiefs have dominated many people's lists. Often mentioned is Tony Bennett, Indiana's superintendent of Public Instruction, and one of the original members of Chiefs for Change. Bennett's been highly visible on education issues and has lots of fans among Republicans, including former Gov. Bush. 

    Still, in testifying before the House education committee, Bennett asked the feds to provide political cover ("guardrails") on K-12 reform efforts. Does that jibe with some Republicans' plans to shrink back the federal role? Would that matter?

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